JREnsey blog for April 2019

Welcome! Get a cup of coffee and start your day with “Ten things everyone should know about Apostolic Pentecostals.”

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The Word for Today

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (II Timothy 3:14-17 NLT).

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More quotes that speak for themselves 

If a nation expects to be ignorant—and free—in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. – Thomas Jefferson

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory. – Kurt Vonnegut

An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. – Jeff Mallett

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. – James B. Conant

The smaller the mind, the greater the conceit. – Aesop

Success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles. – Walter Cronkite

The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively. – Henry S. Haskins

“Planned Parenthood puts most of its clinics in black neighborhoods to control the population, and its founder, Margaret Sanger was not particularly enamored with black people.” – Dr. Ben Carson

“I admire Margaret Sanger enormously. Her courage, her tenacity, her vision—I am really in awe of her. And there are a lot of lessons we can learn from her life and the cause she launched and fought for and sacrificed so greatly.” – Hillary Clinton (Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was an anthropologist who embraced eugenics as a way to control certain elements of the population, as per the Nazis and the Jews. She saw it as a way to control the black population.)

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Calvin and Servetus

Last month we reported on our visit to Basel, Switzerland to examine the manuscripts used by Erasmus in compiling a Greek text of the New Testament. If you missed that report, you can access it by going to the March Blog.

While in Switzerland, we also wanted to see Geneva, where Calvin ruled and applied his theology expressed in his primary work of Institutes of the Christian Religion, and where Michael Servetus became a martyr on Oct. 27, 1553 for his opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity. Taking his basic theology and the enforcement of it from Augustine, Calvin forced Geneva’s citizens to conform to his teaching. If they resisted, they were imprisoned, tortured, and many were executed (36 by the count of one French historian and as many as 58 by others).

We visited the cathedral Calvin confiscated from the Roman Catholics to use as his headquarters. It was intriguing to see the church, a staired pulpit, and Calvin’s own personal chair he sat in during services. To see that the same structure and adjacent buildings that were there then are still in use today was amazing. The picture above is what it looks like today, having had a Romanesque facade added to the front in the 1800s. Beneath it is the way the citizens of Geneva would have seen it during Calvin’s time.

Our main interest in Geneva was to find the location where Servetus was burned at the stake, having been tried by Calvin and found guilty of the heresy of denying the Trinity. We knew that a monument had later erected in his memory after it had dawned upon Geneva’s citizens what they had done. To find it took some sleuthing, and a little help from a local, but we were successful. The burn site is being renovated to accommodate a new underground subway station. The monument and statue of Servetus (right) was a couple of long blocks away.

The city was eager to be rid of the negative publicity they have received from their role in the Servetus affair. They erected the monument in 1903 as an “expiatory” effort, as if to say, “Enough already…we’re sorry. Let’s move on!” They acknowledge on the monument that the martyrdom was done in a different time and those responsible for the “error” should have been more considerate of one’s individual conscience. Actual wording on the back of the monument: “Respectful and grateful sons of Calvin, our great reformer, but condemning the error of his century and firmly subscribing to the liberty of conscience according to the authentic principles of the Reformation and the Gospel, have erected this expiatory monument 27 of October, 1903.

A statue cast in bronze (below) was also erected in 1903 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Servetus’ death sits nearby. It was originally rejected for Geneva by Calvin sympathizers and it was moved to a nearby city. It depicts a disheveled and sad appearing Servetus who had been a prisoner for months in extremely debilitating conditions. His clothing was ragged and he was showing the hunger and privation he had experienced. Those more interested in correcting the error and putting it behind them finally got the statue returned to Geneva.

The statue and monument are located in a nondescript location on the side of a hill directly between two streets that are only about 25 feet apart. Virtually shrouded by brush and tree limbs for much of the year, many locals are totally unfamiliar with its location. But it was of great interest to us because it reminded us that fundamental Bible truths have never been totally lost, just ignored or rejected by the masses. We owe something to Servetus for letting the 16th century world know that the Trinitarians (both Catholics and Protestants) had it wrong from the beginning and only maintained it as a cardinal doctrine by force. We cannot let his memory die.

We must never forget the value those who came before us placed on every parcel of doctrinal truth. How easy it would have been for Servetus to say, “OK, Jesus was the eternal Son of God.” He would have been spared the flames. Do we value our Apostolic message that much?

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Socialism is…

Socialism is like a mouse trap. It works because the mouse doesn’t understand why the cheese is free. – Patriot Post

What is the difference between socialism and democratic socialism? Socialism is when the state takes your money. Democratic socialism is when everyone votes for the state to take your money. – Patriot Post

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. – Alexis de Toqueville

C’mon, America…get a grip on reality, not illusion!

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10 things everyone should know about Apostolic Pentecostals (A/Ps) 

  1. A/Ps are people who love people.

We love all people regardless of their race, color, nationality or background. All stand on level ground as a part of the human family. God’s essence is love (I John 4:8), and as a part of His spiritual family, we are obligated to demonstrate that love to the world.

  1. A/Ps believe that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures are accurate, authentic, and authoritative (Deuteronomy 12:28).

We believe the Bible that contains those Scriptures was written by men who were inspired by God (II Timothy 3:16). It is trustworthy in its history, geography, philosophy and prophecy (Psalm 33:4). It contains God’s truth about the creation of all things, about man’s fall and conditional spiritual restoration, and about the future of the universe and the earth, including all people who have ever lived. It is the believer’s authority for doctrine and deportment (Romans 15:4; II Peter 1:19-21).

  1. A/Ps are among those who have looked to God for regeneration and renewal of fellowship with Him (Titus 3:5)—meaning we have placed our obedient faith in His redemptive process, and have repented of our sins of commission and omission.

We have recognized our sinful natures, and acknowledged that our only means of eternal salvation is to put our trust in His redemptive sacrifice on Calvary (Hebrews 9:22; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38).

  1. A/Ps follow faith and repentance with water baptism in His name, both of which were commanded by Christ and His apostles (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; John 3:5), combining to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16).

We acknowledge that the only way to deal with the sin problem in one’s life is to have them washed away in the process of salvation—in other words, through repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). Repentance involves confession of sin and one’s death to sin, while baptism represents a burial of the unregenerate man (Romans 6:4).

  1. A/Ps receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, as a vital element of the new birth (John 3:5), which empowers recipients to overcome the sins and temptations of this present world (Acts 1:8), and provides a positive hope that it will one day resurrect our bodies to go to live with the Lord in Heaven.

The infilling of the Spirit (Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18) is a resurrection into “the newness of life” (Romans 6:4), and is the “earnest of our eternal inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14), giving us hope for the future bodily resurrection: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11).

  1. A/Ps subscribe to a lifestyle set forth in the Scriptures, which befits a Christian believer and glorifies Christ (I Peter 1:16).

Christians are called to a life of holiness and separation (I Thessalonians 4:7; II Corinthians 6:17). Such a committed life is not only a better way to live, but is commanded in the Scriptures (Hebrews 12:14; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:16-24; Colossians 3:2-6).

  1. A/Ps believe in divine healing, having witnessed many miracles of physical healing. We still anoint with oil and pray for the sick as the Scriptures command (James 5:14,15).

Divine healing has been a part of the Christian experience from the beginning. Christ healed many during His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:24; Mark 3:10). He said future believers would also lay hands on the sick and see them recover (Mark 16:18).

  1. A/Ps possess an abiding hope for future glory with Jesus Christ in Heaven (Romans 8:18; Colossians 1:27; 3:4).

Faithful believers are promised a heavenly home with the Lord (John 14:2,3). He will return to gather His church and take them to spend eternity with Him (I Thessalonians 4:15-17).

  1. A/Ps embrace a monotheistic view of God as one divine Being (Deuteronomy 6:4) rather than a family of Persons in a divided, compartmentalized deity that was inspired by Grecian philosophy and mythology.

The oneness of God is threaded throughout both the old and New Testaments (Mark 12:28,29; I Timothy 2:5; Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is seen as the Son

of the eternal God rather than the eternal Son of God. He was the incarnation of the one God manifesting Himself in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16). Jesus affirmed His oneness with the Father (John 10:30).

  1. A/Ps are commissioned to spread the message of Christ and His offer of salvation into all the world (Luke 24:47), and we find happiness and joy wherever it is received (Acts 8:5-8).

The Great Commission is taken seriously as pertaining to all believers. We are told to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) “and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

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The way it was in March

          The Eternal Optimist:

“Thanks, Mom, for being a pro-life woman!”

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Thanks for visiting. Coming next month: Review of a just published book on the history of the doctrine of the new birth among Pentecostals in the 20th century.

JREnsey

Published in: on April 1, 2019 at 6:57 AM  Leave a Comment  

JREnsey blog March 2019

Thanks for joining us today for a few moments of contemplation.

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The Word for Today

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (II Peter 1:3,4) NLT).

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The way it is

  • Some give God the credit but fail to give Him the cash.
  • The Rapture: Future separation of church and state.
  • Church sign: “What Is Hell Like? Come hear our pastor.”
  • New NY congresswoman AOC declares victory over the modern day equivalent of slavery: jobs.
  • Does anyone know why AOC has come out against eating steak (read: cows), other than bovine flatulence ruining the environment? Hint: her chief of staff is Saikat Chakrabarti.
  • Remember: The men who wrote the 2nd Amendment hadn’t just finished a hunting trip. They had just liberated a nation.
  • I read somewhere that the Chicago police have replaced sirens on their cars with the national anthem to entice suspects to stop running and take a knee.

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Quotes that speak for themselves

“Feminism makes both men and women unhappy, but it was caused by boys who never matured into men.” – Rabbi Daniel Lapin

“It is easier to see the hand of God after we have passed through a crisis.” – A. T. Robertson

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” – John Owen

“The disciple of Christ today may be described in the words of Farrar , as ‘one who believes His doctrines, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His spirit, and imitates His example.’” – G. H. Trevor

A note to those who struggle with obeying Acts 2:38 because of what it might mean regarding their deceased loved ones who had not embraced it: Your obedience and salvation will not “unsave” anyone else. It will not effect their standing with God in the least. Do what you know to do, what you see is right, and let God’s wisdom and righteousness be their judge, not you. – JRE

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What is the connection between marijuana, mental illness and violence?

The following is excerpted from a speech by Alex Berenson, the author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.

Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.

Until recently, my wife Jackie­—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.

A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.

Of course? I said.

Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?

I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.

Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.

So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.

[Read the remainder of this astounding speech/article HERE.]

This is a must read for every parent and pastor!

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A Visit With Erasmus In Basel

The first week of December 2018 found me in Basel, Switzerland. No, it wasn’t a ski trip, or even a sightseeing excursion—it was an errand regarding the King’s business. I finally saw an opening to do something I had desired to do for decades—examine specific biblical manuscripts (MSS) collated and used to create the first Greek text of our Bible, which later became, with its sundry corrections, what is known as the Textus Receptus.

I was joined by Pastor Peter Connell of Oakley, CA. His willingness to make the journey with me was a blessing indeed. His eyes and ears joined with mine to get a firmer grip on the history of our English Bibles.

After months of preparation and communication with university authorities in Basel, we arrived there on a Sunday evening and began to prepare ourselves for what the next day would bring. We wanted to be among the first on Monday morning to enter the doors of the library of the University of Basel. Established in 1460, it is the oldest and largest university in Switzerland. The library was of particular interest to us because it held the manuscripts collated by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) of Rotterdam to create the first Greek text of the New Testament. We were there to touch them, examine them, and be witnesses to some of the most important documents regarding Christianity in the world.

We were guided through several locked doors into a basement examination room. They seated us at a table and brought all of the manuscripts out from a secure location and set them before us. Tears came as they freely allowed us to examine those six precious documents that served as the foundation for the Greek text used to produce some of our English translations of the Bible. It was overwhelming to hold them in our hands.

Erasmus had initially intended to produce an updated and corrected version of the Latin Vulgate, the version forced upon all Bible readers in the West by the Roman Catholic Church for over a thousand years. As the son of a Catholic priest and as a priest himself, he had learned Latin early in life and loved that language. His intense studies of the Latin Vulgate convinced him of its substantial corruption. Along the way, an English priest, John Colet, urged him to learn Greek, which he did. Ultimately, he would use Greek manuscripts to support the changes he would propose in the Latin Vulgate, the revision of which was his primary objective.

Erasmus moved to Basel permanently in 1515 to be near the printer, Johannes Froben, whom he would employ to produce his Latin New Testament and other works. Froben knew that a polyglot Bible with a Greek text had been produced in Spain by Cardinal Ximenes. It would also have the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint (Old Testament), Hebrew Old Testament, New Testament Greek, and even Aramaic for the Pentateuch—in six volumes. It was already printed but its distribution was delayed by the pope. If he could beat the Cardinal in getting Erasmus’ Latin New Testament to the market, Froben knew it could mean a financial windfall, especially if he could add a Greek text with it.

Erasmus did not come to Basel with Greek manuscripts in hand. He located about six Greek NT MSS in Basel, five from the local Dominican monastery/convent library, and one from the local family of Johann Amerbach. Not one was earlier than the twelfth century. None of them contained the entire New Testament, and all lacked the Book of Revelation. He arranged to borrow a copy of Revelation from John Reuchlin, an acquaintance in Augsburg, Germany, where the manuscript still resides today. We were unable to personally examine that manuscript because of its condition; however, it has been digitized and is available online.

In a matter of a few months, although Erasmus had not finished editing and collating the MSS, they rushed the work to Froben’s press in 1516. Erasmus freely admitted that his book was “precipitated rather than edited,” which triggered a number of mistakes and inaccuracies in the text.

Some of the manuscripts reveal that he had begun to edit them but stopped to hand it to the printer “as is.” This expediency probably paid off financially, but it did little to advance the reputation of Erasmus’ editorial skills in the public market. His later editions indicate that he had learned a valuable lesson from the way the first edition was handled.

All of the manuscripts were handwritten codices—large sheets of parchment folded into quires and bound as a book. Easily visible on the MSS were the editorial marks of Erasmus and the printer’s notations. Erasmus or some previous scribe had underlined Luke 2:33a, one of the variants that would prove to be misused in the future.

There were noticeable lacunae (parts of the manuscripts that were seriously damaged or missing), and one had a page that appeared to have some text removed by cutting. Others holes that had been patched, and correctors’ marks were in evidence. There were marginal notes and other marks common to most manuscripts. Of one manuscript, Erasmus said he “corrected the manuscript here and there and sent it on to the printer.”

Manuscript AN IV-11 (Basel University designation) containing the Gospels lacked a phrase in Luke 6:28 but had been added by a corrector in the lower margin. Erasmus’ corrections can be seen in a color of ink different from that of the original scribe, sometimes inserted between the lines. Stephanus did not consult this particular manuscript, which noted textual critic Bruce Metzger said contained “a lot of errors,” for his 1550 edition of the TR, but since his text was based on Erasmus’ work, its readings became part of the official TR. Those who speak of the Byzantine MSS as though they were pristine and not corrected or defective at any place—unlike the much older Alexandrian MSS—obviously haven’t seen them.

Manuscript AN III-11 containing Paul’s epistles and scribal commentary was interesting. The biblical text was centered on the spine side of the page with commentary surrounding it on three sides. At least three scribes had a hand in producing this 387-page manuscript, which ends with Hebrews 12:18 and does not have the last seven verses of that book.

Fortunately, Erasmus was able to add to his collection of Greek manuscripts over the next twenty years, as he printed four more editions of his text, making approximately 400 changes—including additions and deletions—over those years. Many of the changes were made before the English Bible translations from Greek began to come along in 1526.

We were also able to examine a large volume containing Erasmus’ Annotations, his personal notes made while compiling the text. They explain why he made the critical decisions to render the text as he did. To see his actual handwriting and clear signature seemed to take us back 500 years, making him more of a real person. We sensed that he could step into the room at any moment.

A common question we hear: Could you actually read the manuscripts? Yes and no. Have you ever experienced the difficulty of reading a 500-year old English handwritten document? Handwriting that old in any language is difficult to decipher. Of course, we could identify ordinary Greek letters and plainly written words, but medieval scribes writing in a cursive style were notorious for inserting many ligatures (symbols representing two or more joined letters) and abbreviations to save space on precious parchment. Special study and training are necessary to be able to actually read and accurately transcribe ancient handwritten manuscripts.

To create a complete Greek text of the NT was a momentous achievement. It had never been done. That being said, it left much editorial work undone for later textual critics who have picked up the torch in the last two centuries with much older MSS closer to the autographs.

My hat is off to Desiderius Erasmus. He was committed to preserving the written text of the New Testament, and probably did the best he could possibly do given the limitations he was handed. He deserves our appreciation for the initial effort he made toward the restoration and compiling of the Greek New Testament text. We should all be forever grateful. We are also indebted to the kind folks at the Basel University Library for their congenial hospitality and the freedom they extended to us, including the privilege to take the pictures of the MSS that you see here. Included below are photos of Erasmus’ tomb and  Froben’s press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Truth in art

Or perhaps at 3:46. It’s called “infanticide.”

Sorry, I just couldn’t pass that last one up!

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The last word:

Pray for America. No country seems to be replacing it as the last bastion of true Christian freedom.

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Thanks for visiting the blog. Feel free to leave your comments. Have a safe and blessed month in March. If it comes in like a lion, perhaps it will go out like a lamb.

JREnsey

Published in: on March 1, 2019 at 3:19 AM  Comments (1)  

JREnsey blog for February, 2019

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for February, 2019.

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The Word for Today

“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:1-6 NLT).

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Which nature will win the war?

A young lady in our church recently posted some thoughts online that were forwarded to me. They are worth sharing.

“This has been kicking around in my head for a few days, so I’m going to share it just to get it out of my head. LOL.

Every person has a nature that is hostile to God. Scripture refers to it as ‘flesh’ or a ‘carnal mind.’ We commonly hear phrases like ‘die daily’ and ‘crucify the flesh.’ In fact, those phrases have become so common that we no longer seem to recognize the struggle in them. To crucify the flesh daily is a battle! Yes, God’s strength will come in when we are weak, and the Holy Ghost gives power, but we still have a carnal mind that is literally at war with God. War is hard and ugly.

Which is why when people give into sin or walk away from the church, they may feel better for a while. When you wave the white flag and give in, you stop the battle. It isn’t uncommon that people feel ‘right’ or happy when they backslide because they have stopped fighting.

What is sad is that the wage you earn for that decision is death, but since it isn’t paid immediately, it is easy to ignore. God really does want us to live our best lives. What he wants for us is what is best for us, so if you feel yourself starting to slip, it is definitely worth putting on the armor of God and continuing the fight. And, if you have walked away, it’s not too late to come back (Romans 8:7-8).”

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Spiritually unhealed

An unhealed person can find offense in pretty much anything someone does.

A healed person understands that the actions of others have nothing to do with them.

Each day you get to decide which one you will be.

– Unknown

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Is a creed of any value?

Doubtless some would answer in the negative to that question. However, a famous theologian of another era had some interesting comments on the issue:

“A church with a little creed is a church with a little life. The more divine doctrines a church can agree on, the greater its power, and the wider its usefulness. The fewer its articles of faith, the fewer its bonds of union and compactness.

“The modern cry: ‘Less creed and more liberty,’ is a degeneration from the vertebrate to the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. Definitive truth does not create heresy—it only exposes and corrects. Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but nonetheless deadly.

“Very solemnly I would warn the reader against any teaching that decries doctrines, or which would reduce the creed of the church into two or three articles. We are entitled to no liberty in these matters. It is a positive and very hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine. A creed is what we believe. A confession of faith is a declaration of what we believe. The church must both believe and declare. The longest creed of history is more valuable and less hurtful than the shortest.”

– Benaiah Harvey Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible: Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews,

  1. 140, 146-7

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Some relevant questions

Should we impeach the President in the face of these following facts? The December Jobs Report:

  • 312,000 jobs added
  • 3.9% unemployment rate
  • 63.1% labor participation rate
  • 3.2% annual wage growth

Should the President have nixed Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Afghanistan or just the return flight? Was she more concerned about the soldiers there or subverting the State of the Union message here?

Can you believe that after only two years in office, Trump has already solved global warming, now called climate change since the coming of a snowy winter?

Can anyone explain how importing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from all over the world who will plug into our health care and welfare systems will be good for our economy?

Will Christian believers and ordinary American citizens ever find the courage to stand up against the leftist media and cut their pipelines into their homes?

How can caring Christians stand by while the criminalization of their faith is enacted by state legislators without a response? For a scary press release from a pastor’s council, go to: http://www.uspastorcouncil.org/news-events/current-issues.html/article/2019/01/23/texas-pastors-issue-warning-against-unequal-rights-legislation-by-democrats

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Spurgeon, forever relevant

The farther we get from Spurgeon in years, the more some of his views seem to be catching up with us. Try this on for size:

“It is painful to observe how many embrace anything if it be but earnestly brought before them. They swallow the medicine of every spiritual quack who has enough of brazen assurance to appear to be sincere. Be ye not such children in understanding, but test carefully before you accept. . . . Be sure you have the truth and be sure to hold it. Be ready for fresh truth, if it be the truth, but be very chary how you subscribe to the belief that a better light has been found than that of the sun. . . . Our ‘modern thought’ gentry are doing incalculable mischief to the souls of men, and resemble Nero fiddling upon the top of a tower with Rome burning at his feet. Souls are being damned, and yet these men are spinning theories. Hell gapes wide, and with her open mouth swallows up myriads, and those who should spread the tidings of salvation are ‘pursuing fresh lines of thought.’ Highly cultured soul-murderers will find their boasted ‘culture’ to be no excuse in the day of judgment.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Series II, pp. 26, 27.

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More evidence of the Bible’s accuracy

As archaeologists continue to dig in the Middle East, they consistently find evidence of biblical characters that history forgot. Some scientists and theologians became convinced that many of the individuals in the Bible were merely contrived to fit a storyline. Not so, says archaeology.

Some time ago the Biblical Archaeological Society published a list of over fifty Old Testament characters that were corroborated by archaeological inscriptions and coins. An example was the seal of King Hezekiah (below, right), which was found near or in the Palace of King David. It reads, “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, King of Judah.” Such discoveries brings to life the men and women we read about in the Bible.

Check out this current list of New Testament characters who have turned up in the digs (click on link below). An example is the “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus ossuary box (left). These are just two of a thousand reasons you can trust the Bible.

Agnostics continue to cast doubts on every proof of Bible accuracy, but they only succeed in making fools of themselves. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/new-testament-political-figures-the-evidence/?mqsc=E4020179&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=BHDDaily%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=ZE9A1IZ42

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Traditional masculinity is “harmful.” Who knew?

Thomas Gallatin

The American Psychological Association recently released its “guidelines” on masculinity and, to put it bluntly, it’s about as insightful as a barrel full of monkeys. Then again, that may be an insult to monkeys, as they instinctively display more intellectual consistency and credibility than does the APA’s condemnation of “traditional masculinity.” At least monkeys don’t dismiss the natural, innate biological differences between the genders as mere “societal constructs.”

In its “first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys,” the APA asserts, “Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health.” In fact, “traditional masculinity,” which the APA describes as “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression,” is “on the whole harmful” to men and boys.

Using leftist buzzwords such as “macroaggression, patriarchy, and cisgender”—the latter referring to a person whose sexual “identity” happens to match their biological gender—the APA concludes that “traditional masculinity” is a societal problem. Clearly, the APA is guided by the leftist theory that gender is a nonbinary social construct rather than a binary reality based upon biology. But even at that, one particular gender is just the worst.

For example, the APA alleges, “Although there are differences in masculinity ideologies, there is a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence. These have been collectively referred to as traditional masculinity ideology.”

After some backlash, however, the APA attempted to “clarify” its assertion with the following statement: “When we report that some aspects of ‘traditional masculinity’ are potentially harmful, we are referring to a belief system held by a few that associates masculinity with extreme behaviors that harm self and others. It is the extreme stereotypical behaviors—not simply being male or a ‘traditional male’ —that may result in negative outcomes.” But extremes were not the basis for the original APA argument; stereotypes were. So this clarification is actually obfuscation.

The fact remains that maleness or masculinity as well as femaleness or femininity share common, easily recognizable expressions in all cultures and societies across the world. In fact, one of the first things noted when an individual from one cultural group enters another are the natural binary expressions of gender. It is a universal reality based upon the reality of human biology.

National Review’s David French notes an obvious contradiction in the culture’s current “diversity” paradigm, writing, “It is interesting that in a world that otherwise teaches boys and girls to ‘be yourself,’ that rule often applies to everyone but the ‘traditional’ male who has traditional male impulses and characteristics. Then, they’re a problem. Then, they’re often deemed toxic. Combine this reality with a new economy that doesn’t naturally favor physical strength and physical courage to the same extent, and it’s easy to see how men struggle.”

The fact is that true masculinity is designed to compliment true femininity. The two are not one and the same, despite the gender-fluid argument the APA now espouses. Nor is “traditional masculinity” harmful to boys. Quite the opposite—they need more of it.

[Thanks to all those quacks over at the APA!]

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Some quotes about the negative impact of psychology and psychoactive drugs you may have missed:

“One hundred years from now, people will read current psychiatric textbooks with the same incredulity we have about blood-letting and snake oil.” – Douglas C. Sith, M.D., Juneau, AK

“Physicians need to start using their critical intelligence and wake up to the massive harm being done to our children under the guise of treatment.” – Eileen Walkenstein, M. D., author of Beyond the Couch

“Children don’t need diagnostic labels and medications; they need us! Drugs cannot substitute for good parenting and teaching.” – Fred Bemak, Ed.D., Ohio State Univ.

“Prior to the beginning of psychotherapy, spouses, lovers, children, close friends, parents and colleagues—not therapists—were the most important people in the client’s life….Psychotherapies that place the therapist in the position of the most important other are potentially pernicious, even unethical.” – Robyn Dawes, Ph.D., author House of

Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth

“What has become big business is in fact fraud. The evidence does not support the claims of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.” – Garth Wood, Ph.D., author The Myth of Neurosis

“I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all of their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their biochemical make-up, their diet, their lifestyle, and even the ‘karma’ from their past lives.” – Roger Mills, psychologist, author

“It appears that certain of the most influential pioneers in American psychology found in it an ideal vehicle for renouncing their own Christian upbringing in the name of science.” – Mary Stewart van Leeuwen, psychologist and author The Sorcerers Apprentice

“Those whose ancestors took comfort from the words of God and worshiped at the altars of Christ and Yahweh now take solace from and worship at the altars of Freud, Jung, Carl Rogers…and a host of similar authorities.” – Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld, author The Shrinking of America: Mythos of Psychological Change

“The popular image of Freud as an enlightened, emancipated, irreligious person who, with the aid of psychoanalysis, ‘discovered’ that religion is a mental illness is pure fiction….One of Freud’s most powerful motives was the desire to inflict vengeance on Christianity [and perpetrated] the clever and cynical destruction of the spirituality of man, and its replacement by a positivistic ‘science of mind.”’ – Thomas Szasz, M.D., author of The Myth of Psychotherapy

“[The drugs used] to ‘torture’ Russian political dissidents are exactly the same drugs use to ‘treat’ mental patients throughout the Western world….We are appalled to hear that, but we tolerate the same treatment of those of our citizens who have been labeled mentally ill by the psychiatric establishment.” – Peter R. Breggin, M.D., author Talking Back to Prozac

“We are often asked if we are ‘Christian psychologists’ and find it difficult to answer since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues…as yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.” – Poelstra Sutherland, Aspects of Integration, Christian Ass’n for Psychological Studies paper

“There is not one iota of evidence that addiction is a brain disease.” – Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, New York University

“The way to sell drugs is to sell psychiatric illness.” – Carl Elliot, Bioethicist, U. of Minn.

“ln the place of traditional theologies, a new ‘scientific’ religion [is] offered, mediated by a new class of priests. Human behavior would be explained without resorting to soul, spirit, God, Satan, angels, demons, sin, or guilt. Paradise would be restored by pointing men to their own inherent goodness and infinite inner potential.” – Dave Hunt, author The Seduction of Christianity

“It is time for psychiatrists to return to being physicians—not seers, priests, gurus, or pill pushers, but real physicians.” – Dr. Sidney Walker III, psychiatrist

“Do not, and I scream, do not trust psychologists, psychiatrists and the current drug-pushing culture of modern education.” – Dr. Julian Whitaker, Whitaker Wellness Institute

The humanistic psychology establishment in America is very strong. A few apostolic voices will probably not affect it much. Our concern is primarily for our own ministers and laypeople. We must make our voices heard in order to blunt its invasion into our ranks. Our purpose is not to impugn the motives of every psychotherapist in America. Many are sincere altruists. However, many are discovering too late the spiritual damage that can be done to solid Christian families is often irreparable.

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). That, dear reader, is wisdom from above!

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Clean your ears out with this:

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.

If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.

– Corrie Ten Boom

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Churches front and center in the culture war

In Austin, TX churches are fighting against an ordinance that forces them to consider female clergy and LGBTQ persons in hiring decisions. It states that employers cannot refuse to hire people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The city council says this ordinance “reflects our values and culture.” Baloney! It may reflect the council’s values but not the values of most Texans.

Reader alert! Five women now in our state legislature have formed the first LGBTQ Caucus. Can anyone out there see why all this is happening and where it’s going? Ever notice how many photos you see promoting same sex marriage with a woman performing the ceremony? Are our eyes wide open or are they drowsy with apathy?

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Remember the Alamo?

As a Texan, let me remind my friends in other states that 180 of us held off Santa Ana and two thousand soldiers with cannons for 13 days because of a wall!

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A quote from the Catholic Catechism

“The Bible tells us that Christians were baptized into Christ. They belong to Christ. The Acts of the Apostles (2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) tells us of baptizing ‘in the name (person) of Jesus.’ A better translation would be ‘into the name (person) of Jesus.’ Only in the 4th Century did the formula ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” become customary.’” — (Rev. John C Kersten, S.V.D., Bible Catechism (Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y., N.Y., l973), p. 164. (Image of this book and this text are available at http://www.trinitytruth.org/matthew28_19addedtext.html

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Stock up on Bible studies now to make 2019 the greatest soulwinning year in the history of your church.

Into His Marvelous Light Bible Study

IHMLCoverNo other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. It will convince any open-minded person (and some whose minds are not so open) that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. It’s possible that more souls have been won with this Bible Study than with any other single evangelism tool in the past 30 years. Discover how easy it is to share the plan of salvation with others. Available in both English and Spanish. English is available in both KJV and NIV.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each.

Help establish them with this…

Guide For LivingIHML_GFL_Revised

A follow-up study for the new convert. This little booklet may be given to the new convert to go through alone, filling in the blanks, and then bring back to you with any questions they may have. It covers the new birth—what has happened to them experientially—and walks them through what their responsibilities as new believers are now.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each.

 Order at advanceministries.org/store or call 936-537-0250.

Go to Amazon Direct Publishing to get these books:

Life Is Too Short To Spend With A Kicking Cow

by J. R. Ensey

being kicked, but when our time here is harassed by anger, drugs, unwarranted guilt, apathy, doubt, and other hangers-on, we need to get rid of them quickly. Our spiritual life suffers when the sins of the spirit are not dealt with properly. Here are a dozen chapters that deal with some of life’s “kicking cows.” Is there one in your life?          $12.95

Letters From A Roman Jail

by J. R. Ensey
Some of the most beautiful and truly meaningful words that flowed from the pen of Paul are found in his letters written while incarcerated in Rome. They graphically display the triumph of the pen over the sword. Nero’s sword took Paul’s head, but Paul’s pen took Nero’s empire! Topical format permits not just word study and exposition, but teaching ideas and application. This is a good book for new converts who enjoy studying the Word. Also good for Bible classes in Christian schools.    $12.95

The Role Of The Shepherdess

by Roffie Ensey
You will laugh and cry as you read through these inspirational pages. You’ll experience the highs and lows with the author as she takes you through the valleys and over the mountains of ministerial life. Roffie Ensey has participated in all aspects and facets of ministry discussed in the book – the wife of an evangelist, a home missionary, a missions administrator, a pastor, associate pastor (to their son), and Bible college president. It is written from the perspective of someone who has been there.        $12.95

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I love this picture of a baptism service in the Brazos River near Houston in c. 1905. That looks like a couple of Texas Rangers astride their mounts on the right.

Thanks for visiting the blog. Feel free to leave your comments. Have a safe and blessed month of revival and ingathering.

JREnsey

Published in: on February 1, 2019 at 1:21 AM  Comments (1)  

The JREnsey blog for January 2019

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for January, 2019. Happy new year to all of our readers! The blog contains fewer items this month due to a longer article that was promised last month.

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The Word for Today

“How you hate honest judges!
How you despise people who tell the truth!
11 You trample the poor,
stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent.
Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses,
you will never live in them.
Though you plant lush vineyards,
you will never drink wine from them.
12 For I know the vast number of your sins
and the depth of your rebellions.
You oppress good people by taking bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 So those who are smart keep their mouths shut,
for it is an evil time” (Amos 5:10-13 NLT).

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I am not ashamed… (Romans 1:16)

…of the Apostolic doctrine

…to be known as a child of God

…of being separate

…of His people

…of the way we worship

…of the manifestations of the Spirit

…that I am not ashamed!

…How about you?

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An Appeal to the Sons of Apostolic Pastors

A powerful word from the Lord was spoken by outgoing General Secretary Jerry Jones at the 2018 General Conference of the UPCI in Louisville, KY. He raised his voice as he passionately admonished those to whom his words may have applied: “You take your daddy’s church, or anyone’s church, and you take that [church] out of the Apostolic truth, you steal that building, and you steal those saints and you turn that into something [else]…that they paid their life’s blood for [that church]…they gave their treasure and their time and their commitment. God have mercy on your soul! You’re not only a backslider, you are a thief. It would be better for you never to have known truth than to have known it and walked away from it.” Thousands stood in agreement and some wept. Strong words, but we have all seen it happen.

In the attempt to interpret and apply what he so eloquently expressed, the following appeal is made to the sons of pastors who may be aspiring to assume their father’s or another elder’s pulpit.

Don’t equate a church with a “family business”

Pastors do not own churches, and they cannot bequeath what they do not own. Nor does one inherit a pastorate as one might inherit his fathers’s auto dealership. There are no succession rights in God’s kingdom. This is not medieval Europe where sons automatically accede to the throne held by their fathers.

Could it ever be right for a son to succeed their father? Absolutely. There have been times when it was obviously the perfect will of God. Certainly some fathers may feel more comfortable about their future and/or their retirement if their son takes over. Conversely, there have also been many situations where great harm was done to the church and the family when a family member was pushed through without a clear expression from God or the church body. Laymen are taught to trust their pastors and often yield to their wishes regarding a successor. Theoretically, a son assuming the pastorate could be the smoothest transition since the church would probably be more acquainted with his style than someone who is not well known by the congregation. By the same token, he may feel that he must put distance between himself and his father to establish his own identity and style, moving the church in a totally different direction.

A few years ago I did an extensive survey of churches going through the process of pastoral transition. It revealed that many pastors find it difficult to turn loose of the reins so that a successor can find the latitude he needs to effectively lead. In other situations, the incoming pastor felt that the elder must be totally set aside or vacate the church in order to make the drastic changes he envisions. Problems associated with pastoral transitions are rarely one-sided.

A common occurrence today is that long-serving pastors are assuming the role of Bishop in semi-retirement and their sons or other relatives are moving up to the position of pastor. In such a scenario, what sometimes happens to make Brother Jones’ comments so relevant and compelling? Too often the younger pastor takes the church in a totally different direction that amounts to serious compromise—even removing the church and himself from long-embraced fellowships. That is what he meant by “stealing a church.”

Allow me to suggest that new and/or young pastors build bridges to connect the generations in the congregation rather than erecting walls that inevitably separate them.

A change bridge

Frequently we are seeing walls go up quickly between the generations. Some younger pastors want to distance themselves from their elders whom they view as “not with it” or “locked in a time warp.” New worship styles, new platform configurations, and new lighting that mimics concert settings used by bands and entertainers are often installed early in the young pastor’s tenure. These quite often will virtually turn off the over 40 portion of the congregation. Walls go up, and rarely do they ever come back down.

It is true that subtle changes are often needed along the way. Change is not inherently ill-advised or wrong. However, drastic or sudden change may send a chill into the congregation and leave them wondering where the church is headed. When crossing a river of change, take time to build a bridge for those coming behind. Don’t leave them to struggle in any way they must in order to get across. Many might be lost in the crossing.

Bring the entire congregation along with you when changes are made in administration policies, or worship patterns, or when major physical appointments are incorporated. Don’t leave the older folks with question in their minds. They’ve been around and have seen some things. For instance, how tithing is apportioned is something in which a church board or at least a special committee should have input. The hiring of office personnel and the renaming of particular segments of church life can sometimes invite consternation. Renaming the platform a “stage” and the players of instruments a “band,” can create images and impressions that are difficult to dismiss. Communicate often with the elders of the church. Let them know the reasons for any substantial changes that may be in the offing. Good communication will almost invariably diminish the chatter and the potential angst.

The point is, don’t leave any portion of the congregation behind. The wisest young pastors are those that recognize the value of communication. Too often elders get the feeling that their voice doesn’t count, and it is whatever the more youthful portion of the assembly wants that really matters. Avoid division. Unify the assembly; don’t divide it.

A music bridge

Music and worship styles constitute a potential area of disagreement and dissension. If they change, it should be very slowly. Traditional music has had a definite role in discipling new converts. It encouraged the veteran saints of God when they were young in the Lord, and now helps maintain a hope for them as they grow older. Paul exhorted the congregations in Colosse and Ephesus to “(L)et the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Colossians 3:19; Ephesians 5:19).

Singing songs in service does more than merely create sound. They provide a platform for worship and training. Notice what Paul says singing does: 1) it helps instill wisdom, 2) it teaches the Word by including scriptural phases and truths, 3) it admonishes believers to turn their attention to the values set forth in the Word, 4) melody is made in the heart of the singers. Many of the worship songs used today are written by those who seem to care little about truth, righteousness, hope, and things to come. They contain a minimum of teaching or admonition, and melody is certainly not their object.

Most Christians over forty cut their teeth on the backs of pews while hearing “It’s All In Him,” or “At Calvary,” or perhaps “How Great Thou Art.” They taught truth and motivated trust. Note the three types of songs mentioned by Paul: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Would to God that songwriters would keep Paul’s words in mind when composing, rather than tagging in with the Hillsong groupies down the street, where only the “praise singers” know the songs. Songwriters and worship leaders should know the difference in a congregational type song and a chorus that might fit better in a setting of consecration and special worship moments.

Composers might remember that someday what they are writing now will be “out of date” and passé. A new genre will likely be developed and they will then feel left out to some degree. All know that few still sing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” or the soaring “Ava Maria” variety of songs. Times and song types change. That is a fact. Got it. But at the congregational level, wisdom would dictate a slower transition, with the consciousness that the traditional songs had a teaching and admonition factor that is missing in many contemporary worship choruses.

No, most elders do not feel that the congregation must sing “I’ll Fly Away” or “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There” in every service. But to abruptly depart from the old songs that helped to mold faith and trust in God in their youth can be traumatic to the soul. Why leave half the assembly (the half that pays most of the church bills) standing and barely mouthing the words on the wall, not having an idea of where the next note is going or even the meaning of the lyrics. Why not a mix of types and melodies? Make the transition simpler and easier. Build a musical bridge. It pays.

A lifestyle bridge

Somehow, in this era of the Internet and social media, youth find it easy to grasp the idea that “holiness teaching” is also passé and does not have relevance in today’s environment. “We must change our emphasis regarding holiness if we are going to reach our current generation,” the say. What does that mean—that they don’t like the Apostolic lifestyle so we should adopt what they like so they will feel comfortable in our services? Such an attitude flies in the face of a thousand scriptures.

Too often new or young pastors assuming a leadership position seem to feel that they must acquiesce to the contemporary Bohemian* mindset, as one pastor posted on his website. They evidently think numerical growth depends on the compromise of biblical standards of holiness. We are not here to merely build crowds; our purpose is to build churches, populated by God-fearing, Spirit-filled, right-living believers.

True, our ladies don’t still wear dresses that sweep the street as they walk. We get that. But that does not mean that there should not be a line drawn beyond which they should not go. A line creates a margin of spiritual safety for both Apostolic men and women. When a line is not drawn, then there is no line, and everyone does what he or she thinks is appropriate—traditional understanding of biblical holiness and the expressions of the corporate body be hanged. Finding God’s sense of modesty expressed in the Scriptures is not difficult. “Nakedness” in the Bible seems to include the exposure of the thigh, the upper part of the leg. Covering of the upper arm is not a bad idea either. High necklines and longer hemlines have always been sensible guidelines for ladies’ attire. Actually, dedicated Christian men and women intuitively know what is over the line in their apparel. It was disappointing to have the nation’s First Lady, just past, to set a style of sleeveless, low necklines attire for public and media wear. What leaders do will usually be reflected in constituents. Remember the adage, modesty quietens the emotions and evokes respect.

Young pastors, this appeal is to you. Some things will never be appropriate for pulpit wear. Ugly T-shirts hung out over pre-torn jeans and sneakers, for instance, are signboards pointing to the future. They say, “Bohemians, please love me! See, I am like you. I dress like you, and together we reject the old power styles of suit and tie. Come be a part of our liberated church.” Platform styles often betray where you are wanting to go, what you will be teaching, living and believing within the next three to five years. We have seen it over and over.

Ornamental jewelry will never be in proper style in Apostolic churches. Ladies cutting their hair and men wearing long hair will never be accepted as a biblically approved Apostolic practice. At least a modicum of personal decorum has marked the American Christian community since its founding. Sure, drastic changes are taking place in every segment of our society. But what the culture does is their business; what the church does is our business.

Immoral homosexual acts that lead to confusing sexual identities are condemned in the Bible and will never become acceptable to God or true Apostolic Christians. That which God loathes will never suddenly become licit in His sight. Biblical principles are unchanging. Current morals being advocated in America’s institutions of higher learning—and in many denominational churches—are destructive to our society and are invitations for God’s judgment. It is up to the spiritual leaders of our movement, including our young pastors, to set a higher standard that maintains our distance from the world—one that is supported by both Scripture and common sense.

Summary

We love and appreciate pastors’ sons who dedicate themselves to the pastoral ministry. To lead God’s people is a high calling and entails great responsibility. Therefore this appeal urges them to use wisdom in assuming the pastoral role, considering not just one but all segments of the congregation. To remove the church from a theologically conservative position to a more liberal one is not the will of God. Don’t even come close to being a church thief. If you feel that churches should be different from the way their fellowship teaches and what their traditional stand has been, then go start one of your own. Don’t steal one.

Backsliders who want to return to the Lord will seek for a place that that looks and feels like what they left back there earlier in their life. Should they walk into some churches today, they would not recognize it as being the church they walked away from. The energy of our churches should not be spent totally on reaching the current culture, but maintaining what we have. “Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain,” Jesus said to the church at Sardis.

If you are being considered for a leadership role in a church, tell them exactly what you believe and any changes you intend to make. Taking a church under false pretenses amounts to prevarication and deception. Leadership in the kingdom of God is serious business. May we all feel obligated to the Lord Himself who is the “head of the body,” as Paul declares. It is His church and He is the final authority. When Jesus changes the salvation message and rescinds the apostolic holiness declarations in the Bible, then we can change our message and positions. Until then, let us dedicate ourselves to strengthening the things that remain—among them, our Apostolic truth and identity.

 

* A free-spirited, unconventional, open-minded thinker opposing traditional values; usually dedicated to recreating society in their own image. (Not a reference to someone’s nationality.)

If this article is not relevant to your situation right now, but you know someone who might benefit from it, please send them a link to the blog.

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Stock up on Bible studies now to make 2019 the greatest soulwinning year in the history of your church.

Into His Marvelous Light Bible Study

IHMLCoverNo other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent soul-winning results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. It will convince any open-minded person (and some whose minds are not so open) that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. It’s possible that more souls have been won with this Bible Study than with any other single teaching tool in the past 20 years. Discover how easy it is to share the plan of salvation with others. Available in English, Spanish and Italian. English is available in both KJV and NIV84.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each

Guide For LivingIHML_GFL_Revised

A follow-up study for the new believers. This little booklet can be given to the new members to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It can also be taught as a text in a class. It covers the new birth—what has happened to them experientially, and goes through what their responsibilities as believers are now.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each

Order books and Bible studies from advanceministries.org or call 936-537-0250.

See more books at advanceministries.org/store

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Thanks for visiting the blog. Feel free to leave your comments. Have a safe and enjoyable New Year blessed by the greatest ingathering of souls in the history of your church. May the peace of God rule in your heart and home until Jesus comes.

JREnsey

Published in: on January 1, 2019 at 1:07 AM  Comments (7)  

JREnsey blog for December 2018.

Welcome! Get something hot to drink, prop your feet up and let’s visit.

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The Word for Today

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail” (Luke 1:26-37 NLT).

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Digging for doctrine in the Gospels?

If going to the Gospels alone for salvation and Christian living directives is your way, you may be on shaky ground. Can’t truth be found in the Gospels? Sure, whatever is there is truth…but what truth and for whom?

I just read a popular Internet blog that featured an article about the non-essentiality of baptism. Now that is a doctrinal issue. So what did he base his conclusion on that proves it is an optional rite? He went to the Gospels and found a couple of stories that settled the issue for him. The beggar in Luke 16 did not have to be baptized before he was ushered directly into Abraham’s bosom at death. And the old standby—the thief on the cross could not be baptized at that point, but Jesus saved him anyway.

Wow. Deep exegesis, huh? Evidently the poor theologian, which he passes himself off as, has never read past the Gospels, and perhaps not all of them. He apparently doesn’t know that just because the stories were found in the NT, doesn’t mean that they comprise the body of doctrinal truth that redeems us Gentiles in the present church age. But he is not alone; it is a common position. I am submitting the following theory for discussion. Check it out and let me know if I am on solid theological ground or out in left field. Your comments or alternative views are welcome.

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Let’s discuss:

Jesus and social justice in the Gospels

Many nominal Christians feel that the four Gospels are all we need to follow as Christians. If people live by the original words of Jesus only, will they not be saved? Do the books of the Bible that precede and follow the Gospels contain information essential for our eternal salvation?

The importance of the Gospels

We need the Gospels to unpack the eternal plan and the purposes of God. Without them, Christians would not have a foundation for our faith. They inform us of the identity of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity. They tell us the most important things He said and did, and why He came.

Matthew’s Gospel was primarily directed toward the Jews. Mark introduced us to a miraculous Christ, and leaned his pen in the direction of the Romans. Luke seemed to aim his words primarily at the Gentiles and John peered through the gates of Heaven to give us an up-close view of the One who came to save us.

In general, Christ’s hearers were instructed to place their faith in Him as Messiah, God’s anointed Son (Matthew 17:5). The narratives of the Gospels inform us of God’s love for the world (John 3:16) and that God wants all men everywhere—not merely Jews—to know how to be saved (Luke 24:45-47). His disciples were sent into all the world to preach the Gospel (tell the “good news”) of Christ’s substitutionary death for them (Matthew 28:19,20).

What the Gospels don’t tell us

In the Gospels, we are informed of the sinless blood Jesus shed for all people on Calvary, but the substitutionary aspect is not fully fleshed out. Faith and obedience will allow it to wash away our sins—if we know how to exercise our faith and what directives we are to obey. That is not spelled out in the clearest way in the four Gospels. The narratives end with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, followed by His visits with and instructions to the apostles before His ascension to Heaven. Now what?

One disciple had been told personally that he must be born again (John 3:3-7). He was left with only a vague idea of how to assimilate that experience. How does it happen?

Perhaps we need to cease searching in the Gospels alone for the plan of salvation. It is a frustrating search for specifics of personal redemption. We have the story of Him who died to provide that salvation, but the details of how we Gentiles get grafted into the tree of salvation are not found there. Jesus is basically teaching in the context of eliciting repentance and reformation from the Jews and motivating them to accept Him as their Messiah. Having said that, it is obvious that there are some good moral and ethical principles expressed in the Gospels. But if one is looking for how to be saved and live an overcoming lifestyle in this age, it won’t be found in a fully developed measure in the Gospels.

That is why He told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for “the promise of my Father” (Luke 24:49). Joining the light that comes with the baptism of the Spirit to the opening of their minds to the prophetic meaning of the Old Testament (Luke 24:45), it became crystal clear what Christianity was all about. Now we could get it directly from those who had been on both sides of the issues—the seekers and the finders.

Social aspects of the Gospels

The social message of the Gospels was aimed at those to whom Christ came—the Jews (John 1:11). It was part and parcel of their theocratic government, not just their religion. Christianity, however, is not a social construct. It is not entwined with…. ….to continue reading this article, click here

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A Christmas thought

Nature Abhors A Vacuum

J. R. Ensey

We all know that in nature there is an aversion to empty spaces. When space is vacated, something—seen or unseen—invariably moves in. About 2,365 years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle said it like this: “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Vacuum is Latin for “empty.” Emptiness begs filling.

To illustrate, merely blow air into a paper bag and watch it expand. Suck the air out and it collapses. In my Jr. High science class, we learned that air has weight and pressure. If you remove the air from a thin metal can, it

will collapse because the external air pressure is stronger than the metal can is able to withstand without the same air being on the inside. Water pumps operate the vacuum principle—remove the air above the water level and it rises.

In the oceans of the world, there are billions of sea creatures and many of them are looking for a home, a protected place to which they can retreat when predators are around. When a mollusk or other sea animal that builds a shell around itself dies, leaving the shell empty, another creature such as a hermit crab is likely to move in and make it his home.

Nature indeed abhors a vacuum, even in politicians’ heads. When common sense moves out, fatuity and corruption move in. Remove God and the Bible from public institutions and secular humanism steps right in.

Jesus added a spiritual dimension to the theory, explaining the principle this way: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).

The last two hundred years of Old Testament prophetic ministry—from Daniel to Malachi—were marked by dramatic nation-changing predictions. Each would come to pass as foretold, and some are yet unfolding as this is being written.

After Malachi’s final words, silence fell upon the Hebrew nation, forming a huge hole in their history. No voice from God or prophet would be heard for 400 years.

Even when God is silent, men are not. Into this vacuum rode Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror who by war would subdue a string of nations from Greece to Africa and India. History sides with the Genesis record to reveal that without the consciousness of God, men are innately violent. It was the consistent expression of this violence that motivated God to cleanse the earth by the Flood of Noah.

While Alexander was out conquering the rest of the world that was known to him, back home the age of the great philosophers had eased into this vacuum of history. Socrates had set the stage for Plato and Aristotle to expound both their sense and nonsense. It was then that Aristotle observed the truism horror vacui—“nature abhors a vacuum.” Without God in the equation, pagan minds will sit as judges in the high courts of men. You can look for Caesars and Herods to rise up when the prophets are gone.

Among the Hebrews, it was not much different. Wars were fought, won and lost, during the Maccabbean era. Didn’t Plato intone that sad connotation of the human family that “only the dead have seen the end of war”? The prophetic vacuum had sucked the life out of the last vestige of Jewish unity. They fractured into parties—Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Zealots, terrorists who bedeviled the Romans, formed yet another faction. After a fashion, they together substituted for prophets. Rabbis and synagogues largely replaced the old customs of the Temple and priesthood. Leaderless, the vulnerable Jews had been overrun and were under the Roman heel.

When the Daniels are no longer praying at their windows, and young men who won’t bow to idols, even in the face of fire, are no longer prominent, we can expect warmongers, violent men, and philosophers to replace them. When monotheism and the worship of Yahweh wanes, Hellenization and idolatry will fill the vacuum. Substitutes will be everywhere for the real. When traditional activities ordained by God are suppressed, something else shifts into their place. Carnality replaces godliness. Homogeneity succumbs to diversity. Holiness is reconstituted as moderation. True spirituality devolves into superstition or secular psychology. When Bible reading and devotions in the home are discontinued, Hollywood marches in.

The apostle Paul, with one eye on history and another on the future, said this: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world…” (Colossians 2:8). He knew these elements would move right into the vacuum in the believer’s life made by the exit of truth and righteousness. This was the sad story of the Hebrew nation.

But suddenly there appeared a star in the East, a sign in the heavens seen by those who were watching and waiting. Almost simultaneously in Israel, a young Jewess had a heavenly visitor who broke the silence from heaven with an unusual message: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31). Mary, this young woman who had never known a man, suddenly realized that she was expecting a baby. Months later, above a humble setting near Bethlehem, a host of angels appeared as a choir, singing a welcome to a baby on that first Christmas, a newborn who was destined to become the Prophet of prophets, a King of kings, and Lord of lords—Jesus the Christ, God in human form.

In Jerusalem, the devout and aged Simeon who had been waiting for many years for the Messiah to appear (Luke 2:25), felt a stirring in his soul. His excitement bore tears when he saw Mary and Joseph step into the Temple with Jesus. As he graciously performed the duties of the priest, he said, “Lord, I can now depart in peace for mine eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). At that moment an elderly prophetess, Anna by name, came in and seeing Jesus, began to give thanks to God for sending “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38) into the world. She knew.

Silence no more. The song of the angels, the first cry of Mary’s babe, and the wise words of Simeon and Anna had begun to fill the vacuum. A Savior, Jesus—the Lord from Heaven—had come on the scene. He would be introduced by His cousin, John, as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He would heal sick folk, lift the poor and needy, speak of eternal life, and ultimately give His life on Calvary that Gentiles like you and me could be ushered into His salvation covenant and kingdom.

Someday, the knowledge of Him “who is God over all” (Romans 9:5 ESV) will fill the earth, the sea and sky. It is said of Him who “filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23) and leaves no vacuum, that “of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).

Let it come soon, Lord.

Amen.

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Finger pointing can be self-immolating

Some wise guy, likely a 90-day wonder fresh out of one of the many universities in the northeast, posted an attack on Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) and his ministry called the Samaritan’s Purse. He condemned him for spending so much money and time in Africa and other places while overlooking some social issues here in America. Here’s part of what he said:

Brother Franklin: you need to read your Bible better. The sooner you do, the more and better work you can do in Africa and elsewhere with Samaritan’s Purse. We need your time focused not only on poverty but in addressing America’s original sin of racism. We need all you got for those fights. It’s time to end the culture wars and fully focus on the war against poverty, racism and injustice in our world.

Now FG and I are not on the same page theologically, but he has poured a lot of money and man hours into helping others lift themselves out of a pit of squalor and debauchery overseas. It is the shallowness of thought and their ignorance of history that is so appalling about the current generation.

“America’s original sin?” He is probably proud of that line, doubtless regurgitated from a classroom lecture on slavery. He called it racism, the “in” word at this point in time, and likely thought he had struck a vein of rhetorical gold. Without denying the reality that some individuals of all races may show residual signs of that evil, why can’t he and his ilk move toward social healing and admit that “America” corporately has indeed addressed that practice—outlawing it 156 years ago and legislating against it many times since then.

His words make me wonder if the transgressions he committed in his youth—that all kids and teens have—should still be held against him. Should his mother disown him now for the cookies he took from the jar without permission when he was five? Or the soft drink he snitched from the convenience store at eleven? Or the lie he told his middle school teacher about the dog eating his homework? Or the time he snuck into the circus without paying? I say until he has publicly paid for his “original sins” by making public confessions to his parents for the cookies, paying Barnum and Bailey back for the circus ticket, finding the teacher to whom he lied and offering an apology, and performing 90 hours of public service, he should drop the “original” line. But since he called himself a preacher and references the Bible, I will assume he has at some point in time found forgiveness for such peccadilloes. If so, let America enjoy that same freedom of forgiveness without painting the entire nation with a broad brush of guilt.

And before we accuse everyone else of racism, perhaps we ought to identify it more carefully and see who are the worst offenders. We might be surprised. As Pogo said long ago, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” And if the writer thinks he is going to eliminate poverty and injustice in this fallen world while condemning everyone around him as guilty for their existence, he missed the lecture on Realities at college.

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An answer for Obama

In response to Trump’s claim that he would get the economy moving ahead and bring jobs back from overseas, former president Obama asked, “What’s he gonna do? What magic wand does he have?” Not a wand, sir, it is called a backbone, something you never had.

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One liners seen on signs

Turning vegan would be a big missed steak.

For chemists, alcohol is not a problem, it’s a solution.

Despite the high cost of living, it remains popular.

Breaking: Cow stumbles into pot field; the steaks have never been higher.

Crushing pop cans is soda pressing.

He who laughs last didn’t get it.

Big shout out to my fingers! I can always count on them.

Irony: the opposite of wrinkly.

I tried to grab the fog but I mist.

I’m friends with 25 letters of the alphabet; I don’t know Y.

Well, to be Frank, I’d have to change my name.

Dogs can’t operate MRI scanners, but catscan.

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It’s OK to laugh…or cry.

Advice from S. Florida: Try to be late counting this week’s offering at church. You may wind up with more money.

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Next month:

“A plea to the aspiring sons of pastors”

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Thanks for visiting today. Feel free to leave your comments.
Have a wonderful Christmas enjoying your family and perhaps some special fixin’s. May the peace of God rule in your heart and home this Christmas season.

JREnsey

Published in: on December 1, 2018 at 1:19 AM  Leave a Comment  

JREnsey blog for November 2018

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for November, 2018.

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The Word for Today

Habakkuk 1:1-4: “This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision. How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted” (NLT).

Sound familiar?

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Fact of the month:

Modesty quietens the emotions.

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Praying the Word

When you have entered your closet and called the names of those you know and love who need help and healing, when you’ve mentioned all your kids and grandkids and others whose names were turned in at church with various needs, do you find yourself in the “Oh, God” time of your prayer, having run out of words?

Rather than get too deep in the “Oh, Gods,” why not pray the Word for awhile? What we mean by that is to let your mind go to specific scriptures, or take up your Bible and read a couple of verses from Psalms, Proverbs, or even Job, and you will quickly find some words to personally bring before the Lord. Or go to Ephesians and read slowly, asking the Lord to speak to you about yourself or someone who needs a covering of intercessory prayer.

Coupling the Word with prayer is refreshing, and it sometimes relieves you of the pressure of putting a string of words together in prayer. Wait on the Lord in humble submission. Nothing is more renewing and soul-cleansing that that.

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Time for fresh batteries or a heart exam?

Guys, do you ever get that special tingle when a very beautiful woman speaks kindly to you while looking directly into your eyes? That’s your warning buzzer telling you the batteries on your marital memory have just expired.

Ladies, do you feel your heart flutter when a handsome hunk gives you some special attention? That’s your common sense exiting your body. 

 

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Maybe I was wrong

I thought I heard the leftists and the liberal press claim that high school and college records were nobody’s business when Obama’s were the topic.

I did not realize that Obama’s economy was doing so well since he left office. He should have left office 8 years sooner and we would really be doing well.

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What other folks are thinking

Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I’m no more happy than when I had 48 million. ~  Arnold Schwarzenegger

I don’t believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we’re very skeptical. ~ Warren Tantum

Home cooking. Where many a man thinks his wife is. ~ Jimmy Durante

I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it. ~ Robert Benchley

As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind—every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder. ~ John Glenn

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What Tertullian was thinking

Tertullian gave some thought to the relationship of the church to the state. Christians did not curse the emperors, even those who mistreated them. They invited scorn, derision, and sometimes severe persecution because they were unwilling to give divine honors to the emperors. Believers knew the emperors were spiritually ignorant, in mental darkness, and held in sway by pagan philosophies. Although Tertullian lived during a period of relative freedom from the worst treatment, his statements probably mirrored the thinking of the time. He said,

“We are forever making intercession for the emperors. We pray for them a long life, a secure rule, a safe home, brave armies, a faithful senate, and honest people, a quiet world, and everything for which a man and a Caesar may pray…We know that the great force which threatens the whole world, the end of the age itself with its menace of hideous sufferings, is delayed by the respite which the Roman Empire means for us…When we pray for its postponement we assist in the continuance of Rome…I have a right to say, ‘Caesar is more ours than yours, appointed as he is by God.’”

Most emperors who initiated persecution did so only when they needed a scapegoat for political failure or an excuse for some disaster. As Tertullian once wrote after a season of persecution: “If the Tiber reaches the walls, if the Nile fails to rise to the fields, if the sky doesn’t move, or if the earth does, if there is famine or plague, the cry is at once: ‘The Christians to the lions!’”

Had Tertullian been reading I Peter 2:17?

Concerning ancient writers and thinkers, one must keep in mind that many of them wrote over a long period of time, during which they may have held a diversity of views. This was certainly the case with Tertullian. To make them appear to believe one view over their entire lifetime would be inaccurate. The post-Apostolic era was one that experienced considerable refinement of doctrinal and cultural views.

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Cal says what many only dare to think

“No country can maintain its character and purpose if it has what amounts to open borders. A common language is lost, there are fewer incentives to assimilate and immigrants can bring with them their own agendas and objectives. The hyphenating of various ethnic groups is proof enough that they seem to be less willing to be called simply Americans.” – Cal Thomas

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Where are churches headed?

It seems that every day some news comes down the pike that lets us know that this or that small step is leading churches toward a larger step in the future. Important changes usually occur incrementally. An adjustment here and another there often go unnoticed as significant.

Ads in print and visual media like to present the man/husband as some buffoon who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. The politically correct woman/wife is cool and smart—the sharpest knife in the drawer. All the radical egalitarianism being poured into our kids in schools and colleges is having an effect. A sea change in our culture is taking place. Some religious bodies feel the need to keep in step with the culture, so they are electing female leaders to head their denominations, perhaps as “proof” they are inclusive and broad-minded. A generation ago, some things we are now seeing were not even on the horizon. Collectively, we may have forgotten that direction is more important than speed.

The result?

You don’t need to be told. You can read the news and interpret it as well as anyone. The problem is that most men are intimidated to the point of silence on the issue of Christian leadership. To acquiesce is the inclination. Go along to get along. A few voices are appealing to us to take note of what is happening to our culture and our churches. Men are now marrying men, kids have no idea whether they are male or female. Transgenderism is trendy. While female politicians are leading the way in law and politics as this election cycle reveals, female moderators and administrators are leading the way in churches, creating an environment in which the feminist agenda can mature in the petri dish of liberal Christianity. There seems to be no stopping place. One change always calls for another.

One institution after the other is toppling. One of the latest is the Boy Scouts. For a while, unisex was the wonder word of the day, now transgender is prominent. What is next? Trinitarians are having to rethink the Godhead—they are all male at this point.

Christian leadership is undergoing a decided shift, so says author J. David Pawson in his book Leadership Is Male. He speaks out in opposition to cultural consensus guiding our church denominations. He argues the concept of God’s appointment of men as leaders in the church and in the family for two reasons: “First, I happen to believe it is the truth. Second, departure from the truth carries serious danger, both in belief and behavior.”

Dr. Wayne Grudem, popular author and active leader in several areas of Christian scholarship, authored the book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? In a review, Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said: “Wayne Grudem continues to exhibit faithfulness to the biblical revelation and courage in the light of near universal opposition, as exhibited most recently in this superb volume. Sailing under the flag of evangelical work, this new brand of feminism will take the church directly into liberalism. There is not a more important book to read on this subject than this one.”

Are our eyes wide open? Are we watching and listening? (At left, clergy praying God’s blessing on an abortion clinic in Ohio)

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Jesus’ wife is missing

As reported here a couple of years ago, a Harvard professor (one of that effete corps of impudent snobs up in “Bahston”) claimed she had found proof of Jesus’ marital status. If true, which one of the apostles do you think would have read the vows?

Anyway, professor Karen King had acquired an ancient papyrus fragment that quoted Jesus as referring to “my wife.” Infidels everywhere were giggling and making crude jokes.

A more thorough investigation of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus (pictured here) has been shown to likely be a forgery. Anyone surprised?

The so-called “Gospel” papyrus is a 1.5 x 3-inch Coptic papyrus fragment that contains the text “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” This papyrus fragment has been the subject of much debate in the scholarly community since 2012, when Harvard’s Hollis Professor of Divinity Karen L. King presented the papyrus at the 10th International Coptic Congress in Rome. The text in the papyrus suggests that early Christians believed Jesus was married.

According to Bible History Daily, the After nearly four years of scrutiny, debate and scientific testing, have we finally put to bed the hoopla surrounding the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? Evidently not. An investigative article by Ariel Sabar recently published in The Atlantic delves into the identity of the anonymous owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus, revealing more than anyone could have ever imagined.

Initial tests seemed to indicate that the papyrus was ancient, but ancient blank papyrus is available. And there are ways the ink can be made to look old. A sharp-eyed investigative team has concluded that there are “grammatical blunders” that a native Coptic speaker/writer would not have made. Also, nearly every word in the papyrus can be read in the Gospel of Thomas, a complete copy of which was among the Nag Hammadi codices. These codices were discovered in 1945, and the Coptic texts were published in 1956 and have been widely available online.

Karen King, perhaps the only one hanging on to the authenticity of the papyrus, was also known to have been in possession of another papyrus fragment she obtained from the same antiquities dealer. The anonymous owner of these papyri and his wife have reportedly been identified as hosts of pornographic websites, adding to the doubt of their integrity.

Give it up, Karen. Jesus was a bachelor. In the future be more discriminating in your choice of ancient artifacts—and their dealers. Jesus and porn pushers “don’t have no truck,” as they say in deep East Texas

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IHML Bible Studies

Win them with this…

Into His Marvelous Light Bible Study

IHMLCoverNo other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. It will convince any open-minded person (and some whose minds are not so open) that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. It’s possible that more souls have been won with this Bible Study than with any other single evangelism tool in the past 25 years. Discover how easy it is to share the plan of salvation with others. Available in both English and Spanish. English is available in both KJV and NIV.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each.

Help establish them with this…

Guide For LivingIHML_GFL_Revised

A follow-up study for the new convert. This little booklet may be given to the new convert to go through alone, filling in the blanks, and then bring back to you any questions they may have. It covers the new birth—what has happened to them experientially—and walks them through what their responsibilities as new believers are now.

AM Price 1-49 $1.75 each;  50-99 $1.50 each; 100 or more $1.25 each.

 Order at advanceministries.org/store or call 936-537-0250.

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The way it is

Sign of the times

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Deluged with blood

D. L. Moody once told this story in a sermon: “A good many years ago there was a convention held in France, and those who held it wanted to get the country to deny God and to burn the Bible. They wanted to say that men passed away like a dog and a dumb animal. What was the result? Not long after, that country was filled with blood. Did you ever think what would take place if we could vote the Bible and the ministers of the gospel and God out from among the people? My friends, this country would be deluged with blood. Your life and mine would not be safe in this city tonight. We could not walk through these streets with safety. We don’t know how much we owe God and the influence of His gospel among even ungodly men.”

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The Last Word

Get in the caravan!

Caravans are in vogue. And in the news.

I suggest we get in one. The one headed to the polls.

It is a crying shame that many Christians don’t bother to vote. Please don’t sniffle and whine if things go bad in America if you haven’t exercised your civil and patriotic duty to express your opinion where it counts the most.

Just do it.

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Welcome, Autumn!

JREnsey

Published in: on November 1, 2018 at 12:01 AM  Comments (1)  

JREnsey blog for October 2018

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for October, 2018.

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The Word for Today

“I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago…to paradise…and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God” (2 Corinthians 12:2a,3b,5-7a).

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Quote of the month:

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” – John Owen

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A plea for understanding

Once when I was referencing one of our keen Bible quizzers here at Living Way Church, I stopped him and asked, “Do you understand what the scripture you are quoting means?” I wanted him to grasp the meaning of the verse. He quickly responded, “I don’t have a clue.” We were in the Book of Romans.

A Bible that cannot be easily understood is of diminished value to the reader. God did not intend the Bible to be a book that only the priestly class could read and comprehend. That type of situation kept the Roman Catholic Church in power during the Dark Ages and Medieval Era. Based on my personal experience and observation—not a scientific poll—it is estimated that between ten and twenty percent of the King James Version is not comprehended by the average reader without reference books and some knowledge of how to use them. This can lead to serious misinterpretation. At what point does silence on this issue equal culpability?

Don’t be misled by those who claim smaller words with fewer syllables in the KJV should be the easiest of all versions to comprehend. It is not the number of letters or syllables that is problematic, but the syntax and word meanings that cause readers to stumble.

Did Jesus “prevent” Peter from speaking to those in the house in Matthew 17:25? No, He “anticipated” his comments and spoke to him before Peter said anything. Is Paul saying that living saints will not “prevent” those who have died from rising in order in the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:15)? Of course not. It means that the living saints will not “precede” them in rising. Did David “prevent” the dawning of the morning in Psalm 119:147 and “prevent” the night watches in the next verse? The Psalmist was merely saying that he was up early in the mornings to meditate upon the commandments of God.

            Nephews in I Timothy 5:4 once meant “grandchildren or descendants,” carriages (Acts 21:15) was used for “baggage,” rank in Genesis 41:5 once meant “strong and healthy,” and leasing (Psalm 5:6) meant “lying,” take no thought (Matthew 6:25) meant “not to be troubled or anxious,” and replenish (Gen 1:28; Gen 9:1) is used to mean fill where the modern verb means “to refill.” What of blains (Exodus 9:9), felloes (I Kings 7:33), besom (Isaiah 14:23), bruit (Jeremiah 10:22), or sith (Ezekiel 35:36)? These and hundreds of other such words should be replaced with contemporary terms easily understood by the reader in the twenty-first century. As Habakkuk 2:2 instructs, “Write the vision, and make it plain.”

We should appreciate those translators who have taken that advice to heart.

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BooksBooksBooksBooksBooks

Searching the Scriptures

By J. R. Ensey

Available in hard copy $19.95 and ebook $14.95.

A number of years ago, I embarked on a journey to learn more about the actual text of the Bible. I wanted to know how it came to us in the present form. The research took me to libraries (both here and abroad), the Internet, discussions with textual scholars, and the reading of many books (a weariness of the flesh), and earnest prayer. I wanted to know the truth.

The shallow claim of those who insist that only one 400-year old English translation—done with pre-set biased rules, few resources, by men who did not know the New Testament was written in Koine rather than classical Greek—should be viewed as “the Bible” demands a response. The attempt to find truth behind the manuscripts, the texts and translations seemed a worthy objective. Searching the Scriptures: Merging Truth, Texts and Translations is the result of that effort. It puts the early English Bibles, including the KJV, in perspective where they can be evaluated with contemporary translations by the sciences of papyrology, textual analysis, and linguistics. No doctrines are lost in the process and none are created in Searching the Scriptures.

If you have questions about the ancient manuscripts, the Greek texts, the differences in the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, the Critical Text, or in the translations available today, you will probably find some help here. What about the words or phrases in some translations that are not there in the medieval versions or vice versa? You will find some answers in this book.

Includes charts, comparisons of Bible translations, and other addenda that is helpful in the study of the Scriptures.

Apostolics, of all people, have no need to fear truth. To do so casts a shadow of doubt on the Holy Scriptures. The more one learns about the Bible, the more he respects it and trusts it.

Order @ advanceministries.org/store or call 936-537-0250

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I heard…

…that Nike has colin cancer.

…that all those folks pushing for socialism aren’t contributing much to society to begin with.

…Spartacus has been resurrected in the person of a senator to free all the slaves. Might he start with the Islamic nations?

…that Bill Clinton recently shared the podium with Louis Farrakan, leader of the Nation of Islam, making Farrakan look bad.

…that anyone can write an anonymous op-ed piece for the NY Times if it far enough left.

…that the London Times reported that 90% of sexual attacks at facilities in Britain related to incidents taking place in unisex changing rooms. Who could have predicted such a thing?

…that Trump is doing terrible things for America. Why, then, is Obama trying to take credit for them?

…that folks are returning their Nike shoes—said they hurt their feet when they stand for the national anthem.

…that the Hollywood actors are coming out for socialism, which reveals the extent of their patriotism and the depth of their common sense.

…that protesters are attempting to close an Austin church because of its stand for biblical morals. That one of the best reasons I can think of.

…that the pope thinks silence, meditation and prayer should be his response to the widening sex scandals in the RCC. I wonder why.

…that most Americans have not tasted of Venezuelan cuisine. But neither have many of the Venezuelans lately.

…that Brett Kavanaugh pulled a little girl’s braid when they were in first grade.

…it said that money can’t buy happiness, but it keeps the kids in touch.

…that the location of your mailbox shows you how far away from your house you can be in a robe before you start looking like a mental patient.

…that someone in the press suggested that Americans are the only people who will cross oceans to fight for freedom and democracy but won’t cross the street to vote. Better get across that street, folks!

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Christian college dumps Nike

College of the Ozarks, a private Christian college in Missouri, is cutting ties with Nike over its ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The college said, “If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them.” The college is a private liberal arts college known for loving America, our troops, and our flag. This isn’t the first time the college has taken a stand against things like this. Let’s encourage others to do the same.

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LGBT, Antifa demand Texas church shut down over sexuality

Protesters of the Antifa and LGBTQ brand surrounded a church in Austin, TX to shout against its stand on social issues, particularly homosexuality and transgenderism. Perhaps they really paid them a compliment. Regardless, it suggests that all Christian churches could be targeted for the same in the future.

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Is God in control?

Yes…and no.

Is He in control everywhere, in all things, in every life, at all times? What does the statement really mean? Are humans merely dancing dolls on a string manipulated by Someone higher up? Many find themselves confused when preachers make that popular statement about God’s control—usually spoken to combat a rising anxiety over scary developments in the culture.

It can only mean that He is in ultimate control. This is God’s universe, He made it, and He can do with it what He will in His own good time. But He gave man authority and dominion over certain elements of the creation (Genesis 1:26). But sometimes that statement rings hollow in the process of our earthly sojourn.

Was He in control in the Garden? If so, why did He not keep mankind from sinning and soiling His creation? Man was given a free will to make decisions, right or wrong. God does not control our choices or force Himself upon us. Our wills—carrying on life in our way—can mess up a lot of things and they are allowed to do so.

Was God in control of things during the pre-Flood era as man lowered himself to be described as “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only continually evil” (Genesis 6:5)? Was that God’s will for that time? Was God in control in Sodom? If so, how could He allow it to degenerate into the sordid culture that had to be destroyed by fire?

Scriptural passages often cited to ease concern over cultural debauchery usually are accompanied by the statement that “God is in control.” That is often of little comfort to those who have just lost everything in a flood or storm. Limiting that phrase in such times seems wise. We are not God’s judge, so we might circumvent misunderstanding in times of crises by offering comfort from other words.

We will always have questions, but not always the answers. God’s ways are not ours. But this we know—God’s ultimate control will ensure that history and prophecy are going to play out just as it is described in the Bible. He will control matters to see that not one jot or tittle will fail to come to pass. In the meantime, He depends on us Christians to do our part toward keeping our house—our community, our town, our city, our state, our nation—as clean from graft and depravity as possible, so that believers “may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:2.) That means we vote. We speak up. We stand for truth and righteousness. We encourage and pray for our leaders and representatives in government. We walk in faithfulness. We let our wills be lost in His.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

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Say it visually

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Why be concerned about politics?

Again, some wonder why I write about the political as well as the religious scene in America. It is because the political climate determines the ability of the church to carry out the Great Commission. Politicians can limit that ability or they can leave open the channels that give it freedom. I much prefer that our Constitution remains in place that provides us the opportunity to be the church and carry on the work of preparing people for eternity. The incremental slide away from religious freedom should be of great concern for every Christian.

Please take time to vote next month. It will make a difference.

JREnsey

Published in: on October 1, 2018 at 1:31 AM  Leave a Comment  

JREnsey Blog September 2018

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for September, 2018. Your visit is appreciated.

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The Word for Today

Proverbs 18:1-5 NLT: “Unfriendly people care only about themselves;
they lash out at common sense.

Fools have no interest in understanding;
they only want to air their own opinions.

Doing wrong leads to disgrace,
and scandalous behavior brings contempt.

Wise words are like deep waters;
wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.

It is not right to acquit the guilty
or deny justice to the innocent.”

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Mystery of the Basel papyrus solved

Not high-tech at all: The conservation of papyrus requires above all craftsmanship, expertise and time. A specialized papyrus conservator was brought to Basel to make this 2000-year-old document legible again. (Photo: University of Basel)

Since the 16th century, Basel has been home to a mysterious papyrus. With mirror writing on both sides, it has puzzled generations of researchers. A research team from the University of Basel has now discovered that it is an unknown medical document from late antiquity. The text was likely written by the famous Roman physician Galen (AD 130-210).

The Basel papyrus collection comprises 65 papers in five languages, which were purchased by the university in 1900 for the purpose of teaching classical studies—with the exception of two papyri. These arrived in Basel back in the 16th century, and likely formed part of Basilius Amerbach’s art collection. (I hope it was not a prescription for opioids! -jre)

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False prophecies

Forty years of continued false climate alarms have sounded since climate change scientists started making their cataclysmic predictions that global manmade pollutants will catastrophically raise global temperatures to the point of killing off crops and other species—mankind included—not to mention diminishing habitable land by rising sea levels due to melting icecaps. – GOPUSA

To politicians and the press: Hey, we understand false prophets/prophecies. You should have asked Christians about such prognostications before making fools of yourselves.

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An urgent message from Dr. James Dobson

Please take a few moments to read this recent post by Dr. Dobson. It is a message every patriot and every Christian needs to hear!

https://patriotpost.us/opinion/57638-an-urgent-warning-from-dr-james-dobson

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Cool designs for God’s house

More than a hundred colorful stone tiles that once decorated the floors of King Herod’s Temple Mount have been recovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The technique by which these geometrically-cut tiles were paved is called opus sectile, Latin for “cut work.” Reconstructing the patterns in which these tiles were laid can reveal what the Temple Mount floors looked like in the time of Herod.

Opus sectile is a technique for paving floors and walls in geometric patterns or figurative scenes using meticulously cut and polished polychrome stone tiles. These tiles were crafted and laid with such precision that there was hardly space to insert a knife-blade between them. Opus sectile floors were more prestigious than mosaic ones and were typically used in more important areas of buildings. Along with using frescoed walls, stucco decorations and elegantly carved columns, King Herod the Great (r. 37–4 B.C.) introduced this paving technique to Israel to decorate many of his palaces, including Masada, Jericho, Herodium and Cypros.

The first-century C.E. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus comments about the pavements in Herod’s Palace in Jerusalem this way: “The interior fittings are indescribable—the variety of the stones (for species rare in every other country were here collected in abundance).” Similarly, about the Temple Mount he writes, “The open court [of the Temple Mount] was from end to end variegated with paving of all manner of stones.” Jesus Himself may have stood on these very stones.

“What the Temple Mount Floor Looked Like” was an article published in Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2016

Frankie Snyder, Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira   •  08/05/2018

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Baptize with or immerse in?

I was asked recently where I got the idea that the KJV did not actually translate the Greek word baptizo (and its forms) but merely transliterated it as “baptize/baptism.” The answer is simple: from the KJV itself.

In the KJV Preface, written by one of translators but omitted from most Bibles today, we read the following (in their spelling): “Lastly, wee have on the one side avoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leave the olde Ecclesticall words, and betake them to other, as when they put washing for Baptisme, and Congregation in stead of Church.” (Preface)

In other words, the terms “baptize” and “baptism” were to replace “washing” (immersion) used by Wycliffe and preferred by the Puritans. This rule which guided the translators had the effect of concealing from the reader what God intended and required for him to do. For example, in Matthew 3:11 (and other places) the Greek bapto/baptizo is retained and merely transliterated, but should read “immersed in water” rather than “baptized with water.”1 This kept the Anglican Church doctrine and practice in concert with the Roman Catholic Church, into which many Anglican leaders had been initiated as babies by sprinkling or pouring. Therefore, the translators chose to leave the word untranslated, which accommodated those who preferred babies to be “baptized” by sprinkling or pouring rather than by immersion after they become believers.

Even though “baptism” is assumed by many to be an English term, in part because of its use in early English Bibles, “it does not carry the sense of the Greek word which it is employed to represent.”2 As Bernard and Aaron noted: “Let it be remembered that we contend for translation, irrespective of our own belief as to the meaning of the word ‘baptize.’ If that word means sprinkle, let it be so translated…make it plain.”3 Curiously, Matthew’s Bible uses “christen” in I Corinthians 1:14, probably reflecting Roman Catholic influence in the rite of baptism. If the KJV translators had put Apostolic doctrine ahead of Roman Catholic or state church tradition, they would have properly rendered the word as immersion.4

Notes:

1 Wycliffe had “wash” here, but Tyndale switched it to “baptise,” and was followed by Cranmer, Geneva, Rheims and the KJV.
2 Alexander Carson, Baptism: Its Mode and Subjects (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, n.d.), p. 279. Carson—reflecting a contemporary Protestant stance—states: “We do not believe that baptism, [used] as an English word, is synonymous with immersion. As an English term it respects no mode at all, but refers to what is considered the rite, apart from the mode.” (p. 383). That is how the word has come to be used and defined, thanks to Tyndale and the KJV.
3 David Bernard and Samuel Aaron, The Faithful Translation (Philadelphia: Lippencott Publishers, 1842), p. 20.
4 I note that in both John 1:26 and 1:33 the KJV renders the phrase “baptize with water” where the NASB uses “in water.” The KJV’s alternate choice of pronoun leaves open the idea of the use of water in baptism, as in sprinkling or pouring, whereas “in” would denote being in the water when the act is done. At various times the Anglicans have immersed the candidates, even babies, and at other times affusion or aspersion has been the mode. They evidently considered all as having equal validity. Wycliffe had “in water,” as did Rheims 1582. Tyndale, Cranmer, and Geneva split usage of “in” and “with” in those two verses. Either is technically correct, but one’s choice can indicate a doctrinal position or preference.

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The new teacher

A boy in Sunday school had been taught by the same teacher for a number of years. She had a way of telling Bible stories that always ended by saying, “and the moral of this story is….”

Eventually, the young man moved up in Sunday school and had a new teacher. After a few weeks, the minister asked the boy how he liked his new SS teacher. He replied, “She is great, but she does not have any morals.”

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Hot air trip

A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing from a boat below. She shouts to him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” The man consults his portable GPS and replies, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.”

She rolls her eyes and says, “You must be a Republican!”

“I am,” replies the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answers the balloonist, “everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’re not much help to me.” The man smiles and responds, “You must be a Democrat.” “I am, replies the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it’s my fault.” – Anonymous

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Book review

How to Teach Holiness: The Case for Holy Living

by David Huston

318 pages;8 ½” X 11”; 24.95

Brother David Huston has done it again! His first volume titled How to Teach Holiness was chocked full of valuable lessons on how to teach the separated Apostolic lifestyle, yet he has added another book of equal size on the subject that is just as helpful. He makes the case for the principle of a holy heart before he launches into the application of the details. He unabashedly makes the case for a holy face (makeup), a holy wardrobe (modesty in dress), holy hair (to cut or not to cut), holy conversations—even the case for the holy tithe!

Going beyond the normal issues that are usually dealt with in teaching on holiness, Brother Huston deals with boundaries, children, dating, and touching. This pastor has walked confidently where angels fear to tread. He has opened his heart to share with his readers the secrets of a committed Christian life without apology. He leads us through the steps we can take to be proactive in teaching this vital topic. He adds a human touch in the chapter on “Teachable Moments.”

I guarantee that the reader of these this volume will find many helpful pointers and ideas, both biblical and practical, on how to teach others to maintain our Apostolic identity. An index is included, and the author has even added a section of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin and terms relating to the subject. Nice touch.

You can order this new volume directly from the author’s website: RoshPinnah.com. Do it!

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Books you may need

Searching the Scriptures: Merging Truth, Texts and Translations

What can be trusted to be the real Bible? How did our English Bibles evolve? Did the translators of the Bible in 1611 have all the biblical manuscripts? Or did they assume that the work of the Catholic monk, Erasmus, was acceptable, along with previous English Bibles, which they mostly copied? Do the contemporary versions purposely “omit” certain words or phrases to water down the Scriptures? What is the real truth about the “omissions”? Dont be afraid of the truth—it will make you free! You can trust the Bible, but not always those who make false claims about particular versions. This book will help you arrive at the truth about the Bible translation issue. By J. R. Ensey; 449 pages; 19.95

Order from advanceministries.org/store. Or call 936-537-0250.

IHML Bible Studies

IHMLCoverAvailable in English, Spanish, German & Italian
No other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never fully duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. Those who are seeking for Availabletruth will see that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. Over 2 million copies sold.

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Guide For Living 
IHML_GFL_RevisedA follow-up study for the new convert. This little booklet can be given to the new convert to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It covers the new birth—what has happened to them in conversion and goes through what their spiritual responsibilities are now.

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IHML Promotional Tracts 
pampletsAvailable in English & Spanish
Hand out these tracts to help you promote the Bible study in your community. Available in English and Spanish. It’s easy to get Bible study opportunities with these tracts.  $9.95 per 100

Order from Advance Ministries or call 936-537-0250.

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Whence truth?

And the global warming fairy said:

Famous last words: “Martha, I think a storm is brewing!”

Porky: “You guys can go to market if you want to…I’m outta here!”

Jobs that had to be done NOW:

Just for vegans…

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The Last Word

Years ago the famous poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, wrote:

“One ship drives East and another drives west

With the self-same winds that blow;

Tis the set of the sails and not the gales,

That tells us the way to go.”

Our nations leadership has set the sails of the ship of state and is driving in a new direction. We were being sucked into a whirlpool of fiscal and cultural ruin that would have ended in the loss of our national identity. Attempts to turn things around are in place, but that wont be easy, so they need the help and prayers of Gods people. Lets provide those and see if God will add HIs blessings to those efforts. PS: Prayer doesn’t mean one approves of any politician’s misdeeds and peccadilloes.

JREnsey

 

Published in: on September 1, 2018 at 12:02 AM  Leave a Comment  

JREnsey blog for August 2018

Here’s the JREnsey blog for August, 2018. Welcome to all the new readers who have signed up to receive announcements of the postings. Thanks for visiting.

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The Word for Today

John 3:36 (NLT): “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

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Quotables

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thusly handicapped. – Elbert Hubbard

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. – Laurence J. Peter

I’ll be more enthusiastic about thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it. – Terry Pratchett

I don’t make jokes. I watch the government and report the facts. – Will Rogers

Sometime we look so longingly at the door that just closed that we miss what is behind the door that just opened. – Unknown

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Our weird and wacky world

The manager of the Academy store in Tallahasee, FL was fired because he stopped a thief who had stolen a handgun. Dean Crouch, the store manager, saw the thief running for the door. He tackled him, and with help from another man, held him until police came. The thief was searched and his backpack showed he had a lot of ammunition in it. He had stolen two weapons from a pawn shop earlier in the day and they were in his backpack. Evidently he anticipated a shootout with someone.

Crouch was rewarded for his heroism, right? He might have saved a lot of lives by detaining the thief. So what did Academy do?

They fired him—“for putting his hands on the man.” Let’s see now. Should managers wag their finger at dangerous thieves running through the store and say: “Tsk, tsk. Now, now…one shouldn’t be stealing guns from us”? Should store employees stash nets near the doors so they can toss them over a running thief? That’s safe, huh…and a surefire way of handling armed robbers who might be looking to put a lot of folks away for good.

Could our country get any wackier? Maybe. See the next item.

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Is our country founded by geniuses but run by idiots?

Someone (understandably anonymous) posted the following:

  • If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy alcohol, or check out a library book, but not to vote for who runs the government—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If your government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to some crazy new leaders in the Middle East—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with food stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

More “geniuses” ahead…read on.

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Better pay attention when crossing borders!

(Probably by the same anonymous author of the item above.)

Think before you vote in all upcoming elections. Most of the idiots running this country say one thing and do the opposite knowing that the people who voted them in do not pay attention.

Let’s see if I got this right…

If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.

If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.

If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you will likely get shot.

If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.

If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.

If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.

If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.

If you cross the U.S. border illegally you can get…
…a job, a drivers license, social security card, welfare, food stamps, subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house, free education, free health care, a lobbyist in Washington, billions of dollars worth of public documents printed in your language, the right to carry your country’s flag while you burn the U.S. flag, protest that you don’t get enough respect, and, in some instances, you can vote.

I just wanted to make sure I had a firm grasp on the situation!

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What Is Meant By “Older and More Reliable Manuscripts”?

Quite often we hear statements by biblical scholars and textual analysts that include a reference to “older and more reliable manuscripts.” They are referencing those manuscripts that are dated closer to the autographs—the original apostolic writings—as being more likely to reflect the Scriptures as they were written in the first century.

Sometimes those who insist on a single, early 17th century English version as being the only legitimate Bible, suggest that those who use other versions are using “fake Bibles” that are corrupt and worthless. Many of the accusers are not aware that the version of which they speak was based on a few very late (none earlier than the 12th century), expanded Greek manuscripts (MSS) hurriedly brought together by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516 in Basel, Switzerland to create a new Greek text. Neither Erasmus nor the later translators in 1611 had hands-on access to the “oldest and most reliable manuscripts“ of the New Testament. This fact is verified by the vast majority of conservative textual scholars and paleographers. However, publishers of anti-contemporary translations give the impression that the Erasmus’ manuscripts were “pure” and “perfect,” as though just passed from an apostle’s hand. They insist that earlier manuscripts are corrupt and worthless if they don’t read exactly like Erasmus’ seven at every word. That is patently false.

In our search for the truth, let’s define the terms. What do the terms “older and more reliable” mean when referring to biblical manuscripts? And what does the word “corrupt” mean when applied to manuscripts?

Let’s begin with the last one first—“corruption of manuscripts.” A dictionary supplies the definition of corruption: “the process by which a document or manuscript is altered, changed, or corrected.” Any manuscript that contains variants in word order, corrections, additions or deletions, or any changes that alter the meaning of a term(s), would by that definition be considered corrupt. In other words, all Greek manuscripts before the printing press came along are corrupt since no two hand-copied MSS are exactly alike. That is why textual analysis—critical comparison—is essential.

My readers are given credit for knowing what “older” means—copies dated closer to the autographs (original writings) of the NT. Extremists include “older” in their denunciations of early manuscripts (MSS) because those on which the KJV was based are dated much later—suggesting more generations of copies—than those on which contemporary versions are based. “Older” would potentially mean that fewer generations of copies would have been made from those nearest the originals, therefore having fewer additions and corruptions.1

What is meant when textual analysts refer to “more reliable” manuscripts? Those who study ancient writings and manuscripts recognize that some scribes were more apt to amend the text. Some were very diligent; others were not. Some copied whole sentences after looking at the exemplar once; others would copy only one word or one letter at a time, enhancing accuracy. Some were neat; others not so much. For example, P75 is an early manuscript said to be written by a very careful scribe who preferred accuracy above neatness.

Some worked from a faithful exemplar, one that had fewer obvious errors or glosses;2 others copied an exemplar that had been poorly done with orthographic errors and emendations. For example, Codex Bezae (D, the oldest codex available to the 1611 translators but used very little) had readings from unknown sources that are found nowhere else. To use it to copy from would be inserting grave corruptions. Some scribes worked from one exemplar; others may have had access to two or three copies with different readings at places and therefore had to choose between them. Sometimes they just combined the readings, as in Luke 24:53 where some earlier MSS had “praising God” and others had “blessing God.” A later scribe included both to be sure.

A few scribes were sloppy orthographically, meaning they were not always careful with grammar and spelling. At times those elements play into the meaning of a word or verse. Textual critics and paleographers study the habits of certain scribes. They can usually tell if one person worked on a manuscript or if several hands were involved. The shape of the letters and the word order can often distinguish when another scribe takes over the copying.

Some copyists tended to pull material from the margins of exemplars while others were more skeptical of certain readings that might be sourced from liturgical use. Such additions have caused critics to label a certain manuscript as “unreliable.” That does not necessarily mean that it is totally unreliable in all places, but tends to have glitches here and there or yields to tradition more than faithfully following the exemplar.

For example, the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 has been a part of the Textus Receptus—Erasmus’ Greek text on which the KJV was based—since Erasmus’ first edition in 1516, although it is considered to be an “expansion” rather than part of the original Scriptures.3 The doxology appears in neither Matthew nor Luke in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Only one Greek manuscript before AD 700 has it—Codex Washingtonianus (dated to c. 350-500). The verse ends “from the evil [one]” in a B D Z 0170 f1 205 547, in Latin translations, and numerous Early Church Fathers.4 The later manuscripts that do contain the Lord’s Prayer doxology offer seven different variations of the prayer, usually a sure sign of a scribal emendation or gloss.5

Tracing an insertion, such as the doxology, through the manuscripts is not difficult for those trained in that work. As textual critic Bruce Metzger explains: “The ascription at the close of the Lord’s prayer occurs in several forms. In K L W D Q P f13 al it is the familiar triple strophic form [whereas others lack one part of it]…the old Latin manuscript k reads simply ‘for thine is the power for ever and ever.’ Some Greek manuscripts expand ‘for ever’ into for ever and ever,’ and most of them add ‘Amen.’ [Three] late minuscules (157 225 418—MSS from 12th to 14th centuries) append it further with a Trinitarian ascription, ‘for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost forever. Amen.’ The same expansion occurs also at the close of the Lord’s prayer in the liturgy that is traditionally ascribed to John Chrysostom (347-407).”6 It seemed right and pious to the scribe who first added the ascription to the doxology for it to end like Matthew 28:19.

Metzger further elucidates: “The absence of any ascription in early and important representatives of the Alexandrian (a B), the Western (D and most of the Old Latin), and the pre-Caesarean (f1) types of text, as well as early patristic commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer ascription, usually in a threefold form, was composed (perhaps on the basis of I Chronicles 29:11-13) in order to adapt the Prayer for liturgical use in the early church.”7 Fortunately, later scribes and textual analysts could see that the Trinitarian tag was a conjectural emendation. They should have also noted that the addition of the entire doxology was a conflation, assimilated likely from early versions. The currently most widespread English-language version of the Lord’s Prayer became popular in the reign of Elizabeth I of England (who fervently embraced it) around AD 1580. Some suggest that she wanted it in the Bible because it would set the Protestant Bibles apart from the Catholic versions, none of which ever included the doxology.8

The slightly different readings in the KJV compared to modern versions arise mostly from additions to the Greek text in the process of copying. The scribes (mostly from the Greek Orthodox branch of Catholicism after AD 850-900) tended to add to the text rather than delete from it. They became accustomed to public readings of Scripture from lectionaries and prayer books, resulting in glosses coming into the text. Learning from earlier manuscripts that some words and even verses have been added to the text, major Bibles usually footnote those places to express the fact that “the earliest and more reliable manuscripts do not have these words.” Those places do not deny or change any apostolic doctrine.9 It is interesting that Erasmus himself referred to one of the MSS he used for his second edition of the TR as “unreliable.”10 Even Jerome (AD 347-420), the creator of the Latin Vulgate, also mentioned that a particular phrase was “not found in the old and reliable manuscripts” he worked with.11 This should remind us that “the older and more reliable manuscripts” is not a cliché that was coined by modern scholars.

We want our Bibles to be as free from conjectural emendations and scribal blunders as possible. As I’ve stated before, if words, phrases or verses were added to the Scriptures, they should be removed so as to maintain the purity of the Word of God. Textual analysis and the “older and more reliable manuscripts” have enabled us to trace much of the text of Scripture back to within 125-325 years from the dates of the autographs. Their work encourages us to have confidence that the Bible we hold in our hands is indeed the Word of God.

Notes:

1 Textual critics acknowledge that older MSS, produced closer to the originals, are usually better and more reliable, although not in every case. Here is the testimony of one of the leading textual critics of the twentieth century:  “It may therefore be stated as a general rule that the earlier a manuscript is, the better is its text likely to be. The rule is only a general one, and is liable to exceptions; for instance, a manuscript written in the year 1200, if copied direct from a manuscript of the year A.D. 350, will probably be more correct than a manuscript written in the year 1000, which was copied from one written in A.D. 850 or 900. Each manuscript must therefore be searched, to see if it shows signs of containing an early form of the test; but the general rule that the earliest manuscripts are the best will still usually hold good.” – Frederic G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1903), p. 8.
2 An “exemplar” is a previously written manuscript that is being copied by a scribe. A “gloss” is material pulled into the text usually from the marginal notes/commentary, or from liturgical use that the scribe feels should be a part of the text itself.
3 Erasmus noted in his Annotations in the first edition of the TR that none of the Latin manuscripts had the doxology, adding that they might have initially been inserted into the Greek MSS in accordance with liturgical custom. (Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1986), p. 135) He included them because he leaned toward placing more authority on the Greek MSS than the Latin. He just did not have a sufficient number of ancient Greek MSS to work from. Generations of traditional use of the doxology, plus kingly/queenly authority added pressure to include it.
4 James White, The King James Only Controversy (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995), p. 252.
5 For example, the inclination to say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” follows the KJV, which borrowed the wording from Miles Coverdale’s 1535 translation. But if you instinctively say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who [or ‘them that’] trespass against us,” you are following William Tyndale’s English translation from the 1520s. When Tyndale’s rendering was modified by Thomas Cranmer for the 1549 Anglican Book of Common Prayer, “trespasses” came into common use as well. We hear both versions recited or sung today.
6 Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), pp. 16,17. If they were inserting the Trinitarian formula in liturgical readings here in the fourth century, it is not difficult to accept that they could have added the Trinitarian ascription to Matthew 28:19, for which there is no known Greek witness before the fourth century. Many scholars and reference works come down on the side of the three-fold titles of Matthew 28:19 as having been added in the post-Nicene era. I am not saying it is an absolute fact that the long ending of Matthew was not in the earliest MSS of Matthew; we just don’t have a manuscript of Matthew containing that section of his Gospel. Were it now to be removed by contemporary scholars because of its non-existence in the earliest MSS, there would be an outcry: “But we have become accustomed to it. We like it. We are comfortable with it.” It would likely be the same response given to Jerome after he made the Latin Vulgate. Folks were uncomfortable with the changes in wording from the earlier Latin MSS. Truth, not tradition, should establish the parameters of our comfort zone.
7 Ibid., p. 17. It is also interesting to note this in Wikipedia.org/Lord’s Prayer: “In Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches, a similar doxology is sung within the context of the Divine Liturgy. Following the last line of the prayer, the priest sings “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.” It is not difficult to see how liturgical practices could influence textual copyists. The first mention of the “three person” Godhead addition to the Lord’s Prayer doxology was in Manuscript 157 dated to c. 1122.
8 http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/DOXOLOG.HTM, et al.
9 The corrections actually strengthen Apostolic doctrine. (Examples: I John 5:7b,8a, Titus 2:13, II Peter 1:1, et al.). The largest changes involve the Pericope Adulterae (the woman taken in adultery), and the long ending of Mark. These passages usually appear in the text but are footnoted. Beyond that it is mostly words or phrases that are copied from other verses to harmonize the Scriptures. Acts 8:37 is not found in the earliest manuscripts, probably inserted from liturgical usage. Acts 9:5,6 have words no Greek MS has here (evidently copied from Chapters 22 and 26). The issue is not sufficiently serious to demand the kind of dissension that is currently in progress. Again, I have to supply the disclaimer that I am NOT trying to denigrate the KJV or trying to diminish anyone’s confidence in it. I am just trying to provide truth and understanding. If misrepresentation and deception were not utilized by the KJVO movement, and UPCI people were not condemned for using any other version than the KJV, it would not be an issue. All essential doctrines and lifestyle mandates can be harvested from the KJV and from the major translations of today. I urge all those who are interested in the truth about this topic to do their own objective research. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the Greek manuscripts have been digitized. They can be viewed in that format on the Internet, and in many cases can be viewed in libraries and museums around the world. Take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
10 Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1986), p. 39.
11 Ibid., p. 120.

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Books and Bible studies

Check out these Apostolic commentaries to assist you in sermon and lesson-building.

Better Than The AngelsBetterThanAngels

by E. L. Holley

Here are the late E. L. Holley’s own teaching notes on the Book of Hebrews. His unique insight will provide a perspective that will shed new light on difficult passages. The material is clear, candid, and convincing. It has been winnowed so that the reader receives only the whole kernel, the heart of the matter and the real meaning that the author wanted to convey. The power of brevity is at work in these lines.
E. L. Holley was respected for his communication skills, his grasp of the Scriptures, and his insight into human nature that few have possessed. You will enjoy sitting at his feet and learning as he opens up the mysteries of Hebrews.  AM price $6.95

Presence-of-His-Glory-copyIn The Presence of His Glorydocument

by E. L. Holley

The inimitable E. L. Holley presents a verse-by-verse commentary on the General Epistles as he taught them in the classrooms at Texas Bible College.  AM Price $9.95

Letters From A Roman Jail

by J. R. EnseyLetters-From-A-Roman-Jail

Some of the most beautiful and truly meaningful words that flowed from the pen of Paul are found in his letters written while incarcerated in Rome. They graphically display the triumph of the pen over the sword. Nero’s sword took Paul’s head, but Paul’s pen took Nero’s empire! Topical format permits not just word study and exposition, but teaching ideas and application. This is a good book for new converts who enjoy studying the Word. Also good for Bible classes in Christian schools. AM price $12.95

Pastoral Epistles

Pastoral-Epistlesby J. R. Ensey

The apostle Paul wrote three letters to two younger ministers whom he affectionately called his “sons.” The epistles became part of the canon of Scripture and have served since then as the best instruction available for those in ministry and church leadership. Doctrine, practical church discipline, lifestyle and much more is all here. The verse-by-verse commentary is accompanied by a complete outline for ease of study and teaching. AM price $13.95

IHML makes it easy to win souls


Into His Marvelous Light
IHMLCoverAvailable in English, Spanish, German & Italian
No other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never fully duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. Those who are seeking for Availabletruth will see that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. Over 2 million copies sold.

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Guide For Living 
IHML_GFL_RevisedA follow-up Study for the new convert. This little booklet can be given to the new convert to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It covers the new birth —what has happened to them and goes through what their responsibilities are now.

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Promotional Tracts 
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Hand out these tracts to help you promote the Bible study in your community. Available in English and Spanish. It’s easy to get Bible study opportunities with these tracts.  $9.95 per 100

Order all materials shown above from Advanceministries.org/store or call 936-537-0250.

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Do you want to write a book?

Many do, but it may be wise to think of it as a creative joy, not a money tree. However, it could hit the big time and you could make a few coins. Keep in mind that there are more than twice as many self-published books printed each year than traditionally published books (700,000 to 300,000). The chances of your book being stocked by a bookstore is about 1% (as of 2013). Forget profit; do it for reasons other than money. Do it to get your message out, to inspire other people, to meet a need you see that others may not be meeting.

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O what fun it is to choose a Supreme Court justice

Pray for our President and his nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court. Whether you are for or opposed to either of them, they need the prayers of God’s people that our nation is not further divided by this decision, which will impact America for generations.

 

 

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The Last Word

A wise man never knows all; only fools know everything. – African proverb

Enjoy the remaining dog days of summer!

JREnsey

Published in: on August 1, 2018 at 12:25 AM  Leave a Comment  

JREnsey blog for July 2018

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for July, 2018. Thanks for visiting.

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The Word for Today

Colossians 1:9-11 ESV: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”

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How to better understand the Trinity (a little TIC)

I received an email recently from a publishing company hyping an online course called The Triune God. In the blurb, the course objective is describes as helping one “more deeply understand the character and nature of God.”

A nice colorful chart (below) adorned the blurb, ostensibly to show how the course would reveal the Trinity—the true nature of God. The chart is self-explanatory.

Now that you have seen the magnificent and factual chart, you really won’t have to take the long, boring course. You now see how clearly the Trinity is revealed in the Scriptures. Right?

The 11-Point course states in Point 2: “The revelation of the Trinity accompanies salvation.” I guess that means if you didn’t get that revelation, all of you Bible-thumping Apostolics are not saved! The late Billy Graham was definitely lost by that standard. He couldn’t explain the Trinity, saying you just have to “accept it by faith.” Too bad, Billy.

Point 5: “The Revelation of the Trinity came when the Son and the Spirit came in person.” Let’s see now, the first Person sent the second Person and the third Person? And they are co-equal deities? Something’s missing here. Perhaps the next point will explain it.

Point 7: “This revelation of the Trinity happened mainly in history but were (sic; Where is Grammarly when you need it?) accompanied by words that have an inner unity with history.” Got that? If not, point 8 will doubtless make it plain.

Point 8: “The revelation of the Trinity is the extending of a conversation already happening.” Ah, yes, that clears everything up.

Point 10: “The revelation of the Trinity in Scripture is perfect.” Hmmm. With many, perhaps most, Trinitarians claiming that the Trinity is “incomprehensible” by the human mind, where in the Bible is that “perfect revelation” and who had/has it?

I suppose we will have to sign up for the course (only $199) in order to discover the deep mysteries of the Trinity.

You first.

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Want to know more about your Bible?

If you are a student of the Word, you know there are challenges in the English texts of God’s Word. But those challenges do not have to affect your faith in the Bible when you tackle them head on.

Why are there slight differences in wording in various Bibles?

Which Greek text is the closest to the autographs—the original writings?

If all the Greek manuscripts have variants (and they all do), how can we be sure of what the Bible originally said?

Do the variants make a difference in Bible doctrines?

Has there been a conspiracy to “water down” the Bible?

These are legitimate questions every student of God’s Word should ask. Good news: answers are available!

A FREE course on textual analysis is now available from Dallas Theological Seminary, taught by one of the foremost Evangelical Greek scholars and teachers alive today, Dr. Daniel Wallace. He believes in the inerrant and inspired Word of God. He is an engaging teacher you will come to sincerely appreciate. This is a series of video lectures on key elements of the New Testament text. I took it and highly recommend it. Your faith will be rewarded. Every preacher will benefit from Dr. Wallace’s lessons on the biblical text. And you can’t beat FREE. Sign up today!

Go to https://www.biblicaltraining.org/textual-criticism/daniel-wallace

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Oops!

A while back, Saint John’s Abbey and University, Collegeville, MN presented the Library of Congress with a gift of the Apostles Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, a work of art on vellum with more than 1,130 pages in seven volumes, including 160 illuminations that reflect life in the modern era. It measures 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide when open. It is the first handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery since the invention of the printing press, more than 500 years ago. The Bible joined the Library of Congress’ collection of rare spiritual texts.

The gift was made in the presence of Pope Francis, following his address to a joint meeting of Congress, in “acknowledgement of the Pope’s devotion to Scripture; his concern for the poor, sick and marginalized and for the dignity of all people; his care for creation; and his commitment to justice for all.” [No mention was made about young altar boys.]

The Saint John’s Bible is an unprecedented combination of ancient methods and materials, with themes, images and technology of the 21st century. Saint John’s Abbey and University partnered with world-renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty the Queen’s Crown Office at the House of Lords in London, England, to create this masterpiece. Under the direction of expert calligrapher Jackson, who served as senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords, teams of illuminators created The Saint John’s Bible entirely by hand using quills, illuminating it with precious metals and paints manually ground from precious minerals. Taking fifteen years to produce, the cost was estimated by some to be in the $millions. The text was that of the NRSV.

With all this investment, professionalism, and modern technology, one would expect virtual perfection. But as with all handwritten MSS of the Bible, there was an “oops” moment. When all was done, it was discovered that a verse had inadvertently been left out. According to Dr. Daniel Wallace, it was decided to just add it in the margin. With all the modern lighting and professional skill of the calligrapher, it still was not perfect. Do I hear some giggles coming from medieval monastery graveyards?

Moral: God doesn’t make mistakes; all men do.

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Book Review

IT IS TIME TO DARE

CALVINISM: None Dare Call It Heresy

By Bob Kirkland

Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2018; 123 pages

Turning the spotlight on a major Protestant Reformation doctrine 500 years after its introduction is an admission of too little, too late. That is true, but it was past time that someone had the intestinal fortitude to call Calvinism what it really is—heresy.

Kirkland takes dead aim on one of the biggest names and doctrines in Christian history and hits
the target. Starting with John Calvin himself, we are informed of the source of his theology—Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430). Augustine, the most prolific writer of his time, responded to the fall of Rome with a book—The City of God—destined to help rebuild Rome into a religious system on the ashes of the political empire. Augustine believed that religion should be forced upon the populace and those refusing to conform ought to be punished. This position earned the uber-Catholic the title of Father of the Inquisition.

As Calvin joined Luther, Zwingli and Melanchthon in the Protestant Reformation, he became the power and authority of Geneva, Switzerland. Calvin initially expressed the need to reform the Catholic church’s positions on communion and church government. When he found himself pressed to create a “government,” he adopted the Augustinian/RCC model of forced compliance. Applying the principles he had learned from Augustine, non-conformists were forced into Calvin’s belief system on pain of imprisonment and torture. Those who would not recant faced burning at the stake. In retrospect we can see how small were the steps those reformers made in their retreat from the Roman Catholic Church, which had perfected torture and death as the alternative to submission.

Kirkland briefly chronicles Calvin’s enforcement of his brand of Christianity. He was involved in at least 36 executions (some say the number is as high as 58) of non-conformists. The Catholic inquisition hardly exceeded the fierceness of Calvin’s sentences of torture and death. We are all acutely aware of Calvin’s burning of Michael Servetus because of his denial of the doctrine of the Trinity.

This “Protestant Pope” and Genevese dictator, murderer of heretics, on the rebound developed and published one of the most heretical doctrines in history after leaving Catholicism. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion was authored only two years after his departure from the RCC. In this multi-volume tome, he outlined his fundamental doctrine of predestination and election. His five-point formulation of the heresy became popularized by the letters T-U-L-I-P, representing:

  • Total depravity – the concept that man is unable to believe and exercise faith until he is “regenerated” unilaterally by God.
  • Unconditional election – God determined from the beginning which individuals He would save and who He would send to Hell.
  • Limited atonement – Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary was not for everyone, but was only for those whom He had foreordained to be part of the “elect.”
  • Irresistible grace – Saving grace is irresistibly bestowed on the elect, who can neither believe without it nor resist its influence and benefits.
  • Preservation of the saints – This gives adherents the assurance of eternal security, but the focus is on the believer’s faithfulness rather than God’s keeping power.

This forms the real core of Reformed Theology (RT), although some will confess that they are “three-pointers” or “four-pointers,” meaning they only embrace some or most of Calvin’s theological formula for salvation. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Calvinism holds that spiritually dead people (unbelieving sinners) are incapable of exercising faith that leads to salvation. The author shows that this flies in the face of evangelistic successes of the Apostolic church recorded in the Book of Acts and beyond. God forces no one to believe and obey, but His arms are open to “whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17).

Calvinism reinterprets the creation account in Genesis to fit its errors, and twists Paul’s epistles to find conformity to the reformer’s theories. Foreknowledge is confused with predestination. Primary scriptures are called on to reveal the errors of this doctrine. Kirkland spares no ink in condemning this heresy that has conflicted the minds of many theologians and in turn their listeners and readers. A personal acquaintance of mine collapsed his Apostolic ministry and joined the ranks of those embracing reformed theology, assuming heartless positions that feed confusion and doubt.

The author correctly states, “The only way Calvinists can support their theory from the Bible is to alter the meaning of Bible words or take them out of context. When a Calvinist teaches “whosoever will,” he means whosoever “God wills.” By contrast, Calvinist author A. W. Pink (1886-1952), who sparked a renewed interest in Calvinism, wrote, “The fact is, the love of God is a truth for the saints only… the ‘world,’ in John 3:16, in the final analysis, refers to the world of God’s people.”

Kirkland twists the knife into RT: “According to Calvinism, it might be your mother, your little boy, your daughter, your wife, and all the children in the church nursery whom God will delight in sending to Hell. It might even be you! After all, praying ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner’ is not going to get you to Heaven if God has determined you are going to Hell.” Rather than Calvin’s heresy, I prefer God’s Word: “Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right’…This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth…The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life” (Acts 10:34,35; I Timothy 2:4,5; Revelation 22:17 NLT).

You may have friends or family who have been swept up in the recent revival of interest in Calvinism. Or you may have wondered just what this renaissance reformer believed and taught that formed the doctrinal basis of whole denominations and Christian movements that are still active today. If so, you will find this easy-to-read book very helpful. It is well worth its modest cost.

I liked his closing statement: “To those Calvinist supporters who may be upset concerning any of my statements in this book, you should not be upset, because if Calvinism is right, I was foreordained by God to write it.”

Order from: www.lighthousetrails.com or call 866-876-3910. Price: 11.95

For further study: http://www.buzzardhut.net/ReformedTheology.pdf

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The world according to Maxine

Health issues

The main point of a cruise is to eat until you weigh the same as the boat.

I’d like to work some cardio into my daily routine, but all the eatio and sleepio doesn’t leave much time.

I was planning on going to the gym, but I got a better offer from my fridge.

I get a good workout just carrying grudges.

On aging

At my age, a “balanced lifestyle” means 50% aches and 50% pains.

I still have a biological clock. It’s on display in the Smithsonian.

At my age, half the stuff in my shopping cart has a longer expiration date than I do.

At my age, I’ve learned to look for love in all the right places…the refrigerator, the microwave, the oven…

When I was young, I used to wake up beautiful. Now I just hope I wake up.

I just thought of a good way to spice up my funeral—I’m going to hire a ventriloquist.

On friends

Some friendships are so strong they can last right up until one of you needs help moving.

People who say, “I’m my own worst critic,” don’t have teenagers.

I don’t understand why people pay shrinks. I’ll tell them what’s wrong with them for free.

Money matters

Throwing money at your problems won’t work…unless I’m one of them.

The price of gas is like a pair of cheap underwear. Every time you turn around, it seems to creep up just a little.

Is it just me, or does the ATM giggle a little every time I make a withdrawal?

There’s nothing wrong with my paycheck that a couple more zeros wouldn’t cure.

If I stretched a dollar any farther, Washington would look like he’s had a facelift.

On social media

I’m a social media pioneer. I’ve been unfriending people since back in the ’50s.

We used to have village idiots, but with the Internet, they’ve gone global.

Is there a phone app that stops people from showing you their phone apps?

I fed the pigeons in the park once. Does that count as a ’Twitter feed?

My status update? Is “alive” good enough for ya?

I miss the days when you could slam down your phone without it costing you $300.

On life in general

My doctor asked me if I’ve ever had a stress test. Sure, it’s called LIFE!

My doctor said to eat better. I told him with what he charges, I’m lucky to eat at all.

I had a part-time job as a store greeter, but apparently “You again?” wasn’t the greeting they had in mind.

The day I mowed my first lawn was the day I understood why my mother wanted kids.

As I look at life around me, I can’t help but think the world’s getting crazier than a roomful of uncles.

– Selections from Today’s World According to Maxine

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BooksBooksBooksBooksBooksBooks

Books by Apostolic authors

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Getting Your Voice to Shake

by Kelly Nix, a book on intercultural communication

Have you ever wondered why some people just can’t seem to be on time? Or maybe you’re  the one who is always being teased for being late, and you’ve wondered what is the big deal about time, anyway?

It may not be that your clock is messed up…in fact, there’s a good chance the source of conflict can be traced to culture, not a timepiece. Our culture affects much of who we are, influencing our relationships with other people, our perception of time, and even the way we perceive authority.

If you’ve ever tried to communicate with someone from another culture and have been frustrated by the lack of connection (even if you are both fluent in the same language!), Getting Your Voice to Shake will be an eye-opening resource that will introduce you to ways to bridge – and, more importantly, to understand – the culture gap and become a much more effective communicator for today’s global society.

Here’s what some readers had to say:  “I literally couldn’t put this book down. Dr. Nix’s research, insight, life experience, and upbeat presentation make the book an indispensable read for those of us who work interculturally.” – Shane M.

“I read this in one sitting and was left wanting more. This was an eye-opener for me. I bought several to give to others. Hoping he writes more on this subject!” – Peter Connell

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Your-Voice-Shake-Intercultural/dp/1541002660

On the Sanctity of Human Life

by Peter Connell

Here’s a new book for pastors, Christian healthcare workers, and just about everybodyconnell_front_300dpi else in our churches. On the Sanctity of Human Life is a straightforward book detailing a biblical perspective of the sanctity of human life; but more than that, it delves into how we as Christians need to view life when we are faced with decisions such as having a family, dealing with sickness and death, and maintaining a proper perspective of the uniqueness and value of every human life from the moment of conception. Each of us will face the issues of life and death at some point on our earthly journey.

Pastors should read these pages with interest and use this book as a stepping stone to become vitally informed about the issues that face every family. In doing so, it will better equip them to wisely counsel families and individuals in their congregations—and teach them these principles before their times of need.

Letters To Pastors and Other Saints

Peter Connell

This book by Pastor Connell is a mixture of a detailed commentary on the letters to the seven churches of Asia contained in Revelation, chapters two and three, and a devotional application of those letters to our own lives.

From the Introduction:  “Nowhere in the Scripture do we have a more concise, penetrating look at the aspects of what our Christian character should be as pastors and other saints as in the letters to the angels of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Here Jesus Himself penetrates the hearts and motives of those to whom the letters were directed, and examines what He sees with stunning, and sometimes painful clarity.”  “Certainly before Jesus calls us to be pastors, evangelists, teachers or anything else—He calls us to be saints…Letters to Pastors and Other Saints is an appeal to live up to our first calling. It is a high calling!” 

Yirat Shamayim: A Call for a Revival of the Doctrine of the Fear of the LORD

By Peter Connell

Yirat Shamayim is more than a call for a revival of the doctrine of the fear of the LORD; it is also a call for us to re-examine our understanding of what the fear of the LORD is. If you have the general concept that the “fear of the LORD” is merely a reverent respect for God and His Word, that it is simply that in your service to God, or “reverence must find a place” (as one author said), then this book is for you.

Order Brother Connell’s books from:  http://www.cornerstonepentecostal.org/online_store.php?

IHML makes it easy to win souls

Into His Marvelous Light
IHMLCoverAvailable in English, Spanish, German & Italian
No other evangelistic Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never fully duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. Those who are seeking for Availabletruth will see that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. Over 2 million copies sold.

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Guide For Living 
IHML_GFL_RevisedA follow-up Study for the new convert. This little booklet can be given to the new convert to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It covers what has happened to them through the new birth and ably presents what their responsibilities are now as a Christian.

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Promotional Tracts 
pampletsAvailable in English & Spanish
Hand out these tracts to help you promote the Bible study in your community. Available in English and Spanish. It’s easy to get Bible study opportunities with these tracts.  $9.95 per 100

Order Bible studies from advanceministries.org or call 936-537-0250.

See more books at advanceministries.org/store

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Does God create evil?

The Hebrew language is not the simplest of tongues to master. The 1611 KJV’s marginal notes aided comprehension by explaining the translators’ choice of readings or admitting that they had no idea what the Hebrew word meant. It is regrettable that later versions of the KJV have excluded those notes. They could have been used to elucidate Isaiah 45:7 where the Lord is quoted as saying, “I create evil.” Many laymen (and some ministers) struggle to determine just what God was saying in this phrase. “Evil” was probably not the best rendering of the Hebrew term ra’, at least it is doubtful than any translator today would employ that rendering. Judgmental “calamity” or “distress” such as God was contemplating against Babylon by Cyrus might have provided better understanding.

Perhaps another place that closer scrutiny or a better grasp of Hebrew would have served the translators well is in I Samuel 27:10—“Whither have ye made a road today?” This is a verse some use to suggest that missionaries should be willing to build a road to isolated villages to reach them with the gospel. Others use the phrase to suggest that we should hew a spiritual path for those coming behind. Good ideas, but the verse has nothing to do with building a road or exampling a direction for our descendants. Contemporary Bibles make it clear that the question being asked is, “Where have you made a raid today” (italics mine]? The Hebrew Tanakh: “Where did you raid today?” This rendering is also verified by Jay P. Green in his Interlinear Bible, in the Key Word Study Bible, Strong’s 6584, etc. At the time, David was into raiding, not roadbuilding.

I recently heard a KJVO apologist chide the New King James Version for replacing the word “file” in I Samuel 13:21 with “pim”—a less common term in place of a well-known tool. Such a change would not be justified except that pim is an accurate translation of the Hebrew word, but was incorrectly rendered as “file” in the KJV. A pim was the amount of money charged for the sharpening of the Israelites’ tools, not a tool used to do the sharpening. The Tanakh also uses the word “pim,” but footnotes explain that it is “two-thirds of a shekel.” Should those words have been inserted into the NKJV (as did the NIV, NASB, NET, HCSB), and if so, would the average English reader know exactly how much was being charged in today’s money? Probably not. Regardless of the amount a pim represented, it was money and not a tool.

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Laugh a little…

 

…and cry a little.

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The Last Word

Fly your flag on July 4 and let everyone around you know that you love and appreciate America—wanting it to remain a nation of laws and borders, and populated by people who will still give the last full measure of devotion to see it survive the challenges of secularists, elitists, and socialists.

Have a blessed 4th of July holiday and beyond!

JREnsey

Published in: on July 1, 2018 at 1:19 AM  Comments (2)