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His Master's Voice
Copyright © 2008 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

Friday, October 17, 2008

Itís Time to Vote!!!!!

This election-eve, I could vent about the ridiculously lopsided biased reporting that overwhelmingly favors Obama (my wife and I actually sit and laugh out loud at the "news" media these days). Or I could lament how poorly McCain is getting out his message (John, fire your campaign manager already!).

Instead, I will appeal to all Christians to vote their morality above any other consideration. For three reasons in particular:

  1. The next president will likely appoint one, two, or three Supreme Court judges. In recent years the Supreme Court has ruled that private land owners can be stripped of their land if the local government decides it can obtain better tax revenue from another private owner (churches who "own" their land and pay no property taxes--watch out!). With so many of our civil rights hanging in their balance, we need to ensure that the Court is populated with individuals who appreciate liberty and the constitution.
  2. The Democratic-controlled Congress has led us into this present economic crisis, all the while blaming the president. Did it ever catch the mediaís attention that the president does not make economic laws, he only vetoes them? I do not want the two most financially liberal Democrats to ever vote in the Congress (Obama and Biden) to sign new tax laws into existence.
  3. During the Bill Clinton years, America earned the wrath of the Arab world by doing such deplorable things as bombing Mid-East aspirin factories without provocation. His bungling of foreign policy led to a vast hatred of America in that region of the world to the point that for years they planned terrorist actions against us. Immediately after taking office, a Republican president had to deal with the actual acts of terror (planned for 2 years before being launched on the twin towers) which Clinton had inspired with his poor foreign relations policies. We do not need more inexperienced presidents learning on-the-job how to do foreign diplomacy while also learning how to run the executive branch. Consider that of the four candidates, only Sarah Palin has actual executive branch experience.

Does this mean that true Christians will only vote for Republicans? Not at all. But I would expect Christians to put the good of the church ahead of personal considerations in their choices for president, vice president, and congressional representatives.

Whatever your personal choice, Go Vote!

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Personal Note added October 28, 2009: For a long time most Christians understood that the majority of the news media approached reporting world events from a liberal perspective. When the most liberal administration this country has likely ever seen, the Obama administration, attacked Fox News as "their opponents" they gave voice to the truth of what Christians had been saying for years. The news organizations are rampantly liberal in their biases, except for Fox, and that is intolerable for the liberal who demands lockstep adherence to their ideas and agendas. The chilling message they sent to Fox: if you are not liberal we will try to silence you because only liberal media should be on the air. Chilling indeed.

 

 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do You Have to Grant Forgiveness Before Being Asked?

This question of when to grant forgiveness has been gnawing at me for a long time. It seems God is frequently reminding the believer to have a forgiving attitude. Yet, God condemns to Hell those who do not ask for forgiveness. And what about telling an unrepentant convicted murderer, "I forgive you"?

As all this rolled around in my mind, I began studying the Scriptures on the matter. What finally came to light surprised me. This surprising finding I have come to label, "false forgiveness." To read my short study on the matter, please access the article here: What is Biblical Forgiveness, and Who Should be Forgiven? (http://thefaithfulword.org/forgiveness.html )

Please feel free to leave comments, concerns, criticisms, questions, and corrections here on the blog. Several friends have already caused significant changes to the article by providing feedback. Thank you.

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After the original posting, someone brought to my attention a story of a pastor whose father was murdered.  His inspiring story of addressing the accused assailant is both poignant and relevant.  Read it here:  http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/slayer.htm .

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[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online October 23, 2008. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the October 23, 2008 post entitled: Do You Have to Grant Forgiveness Before Being Asked?

Begin Comment 1 from Commenter:

After reading your article on forgiveness I have a couple of questions.  1--According to your view,  if someone murders a family member of mine and they go to trial and in the course of the trial ask my forgiveness--if I grant it  am I expected to help them not go to prison for their crime?  2--Where does Jesus asking the Father to forgive those who put him on the cross fit in with your view?

Posted 10/25/2008 3:18 PM

End of Comment 1

C. W. Boothís Response to Commenter One:

Question One is an excellent question, Denise!!!!  Here is how I would address it in theory.  I say "in theory" because often the specifics of a real world situation complicate matters by adding additional considerations and the need for additional biblical actions.  If a murderer (whether a Christian or not) kills a family member of mine (whether a Christian or not), but then apologizes, and if I believed the apology was sincere, I would probably respond by stating, "I accept that you are sincerely sorrowful, and I want you to know that I am no longer angry at you, however, the restitution you owe must be paid in the interest of justice, so I will not plead with the court for leniency in your case.  However, I want to extend to you God's love by helping you become one of His children, if you are interested."  This is not granting the criminal forgiveness from his punishment or from restitution, however, it is extending to him love.  After he has served his punishment, it would be quite correct to say to him, "I forgive you" because you intend for him no further punishment, not even in the form of a grudge.

Question Two is a very interesting question, indeed.  I answer that question with questions.  Did the Father eternally forgive the Jews and the Romans who unlawfully and sinfully executed Jesus?  Did those individuals who committed that most heinous of crimes go to Hell? 

The answer to your question is probably not "cut and dried."  I believe that just as Jesus restrained the thousands of angels who could have set Him free, and just as He restrained the disciples from armed battle in His defense during the garden arrest, I believe that Jesus' prayer was a request for God not to exact immediate punishment on those who killed His Son.  This "restraint" or postponement of punishment allowed some to become saved (remember the sermon on the day of Pentecost?).  Therefore, the answer is either: 1) God did not grant Jesus' prayer and all those who killed Him went to Hell anyway, 2) God did not fully grant Jesus' prayer and some of those who killed Him went to Hell anyway, 3) the prayer was really limited in intent to forgive the executioners of the temporal (earthly) punishment they earned by executing an innocent "man" and God fully granted this prayer of Jesus and allowed them to live out their earthly lives unpunished.  Personally, I favor option 3. 

I am curious.  How would you answer your own insight-filled questions?

Posted 10/25/2008 4:45 PM

End of C. W. Booth's Response

Commenter One Comments Again:

Here is my problem--I do not totally agree with all you have to say in your article on forgiveness.  I also do not want to dialog about it here.  I had these questions come to mind as I read your view of forgiveness, and was curious what you would say to them.  The option you favored concerning Jesus is the one that I would choose as well.

Posted 10/26/2008 7:44 PM

End of Commenterís Response

 

C. W. Boothís Response to Commenterís Second Comment:

Thanks for the response.  Please do not think of it as a problem that we might disagree, but please do tell me what the specific disagreements are via email.  I find it very helpful to be challenged to reconsider the interpretations of the texts of Scripture and to rethink my own assumptions.  I look forward to getting your email explaining the areas where see things differently.   As I thought through the implications of your original questions further, I took note that neither Jesus nor Stephen forgave the crowds themselves, but as their victims, petitioned God to forgive the crowds.  I believe this bolsters the option 3 interpretation and gives additional support to the idea that extending formal forgiveness follows confession, not vice versa.  If forgiveness (for major crimes like murder) ought to precede the confession, then I might have expected Jesus and Stephen to tell the crowds directly, "I have forgiven you even though you have not repented."   Blessings.  I look forward to your email.

Posted 10/26/2008 9:46 PM

End of C. W. Boothís Reply

 

 

 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When Is Grace Insufficient to Save?

Two Testimonies

In the Christian life it is fairly commonplace to hear a 30-something give the following testimony:

"When I was a young child my parents taught me about sin and Christís sacrifice. In my childish naivety I placed my faith, as best I could, in Jesus and got baptized. I am so grateful to my parents for giving me the gospel at such an early age. But, by the time I got to college, I realized how little I actually understood the gospel of grace and had to rededicate myself to Christ."

Recently, I was made aware of one 30-something womanís testimony. Since I do not wish to single the person out in any traceable manner, I have withheld a name and reworded her testimony. It went something like this:

"When I was a young child my parents taught me about sin and Christís sacrifice. In my childish naivety I thought I placed my faith, as best I could, in Jesus and got baptized. I am resentful toward my parents for giving me the gospel at such an early age because I came to fear God and progressively felt guilty for my sin (of course I never told them or anyone else how I felt). As I grew up, I was very judgmental of the littleness of the faith of others, including my parents. Even as I judged the faith of others, I felt there was nothing I could do to please God myself. In college I was introduced to the concept of receiving salvation through the emotion of joy, which is the gift of grace, and I learned that I do not have to please God at all, it is His purpose to please and satisfy me. I really got saved that night, and I have been freed of all guilt because I realize grace erases any need to please God. My soul and my life has been flooded by grace. I have come to see my parents as Pharisees because all they believe in is salvation as the free gift of Christís sacrifice but they lack salvation through the emotion of joy. Worse, they still believe it is necessary to be pleasing to God, not to earn salvation, of course, but as a duty and consequence of being saved. That is not grace. That is duty. I wish I had gotten saved earlier."

 

One Gospel

Without going into the doctrine too deeply, salvation is given to us freely by God through faith in Christ and in His efficacious death which was a sacrifice for mankindís sins; it is confirmed by His subsequent resurrection. Salvation is sealed to the sinner who believes in Christ in his heart and confesses Him with his mouth; it is sealed when the Holy Spirit regenerates the man and comes to live inside him. Nothing a man or a woman can do will earn him that salvation or so please God that God feels it is time to bestow salvation on that sinner. Salvation is solely on the basis of Godís undeserved favor, given as a free gift to those whom He calls to believe on Him. After we have been regenerated and sealed by the Holy Spirit unto eternal salvation, we voluntarily work to please God as a way of honoring Him as our God, Father, Master, Brother, and Savior; this service is our voluntary and logical worship (Romans 12:1), an expression of our gratitude (Hebrews 12:28, Colossians 2:7), which only a believer may give as one who has been freely given an eternal inheritance.

Very little of that above doctrine can be, or will be, understood by little children. Yet, the thing that little children bring, if not deep understanding, is unwavering faith in God. "But Jesus said, ĎLet the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.í" (Matthew 19:14, also, Luke 18:16, Mark 10:14) Little children were and are saved when they come to have faith in Jesus, for they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

This simplistic faith (and very simple gospel of salvation) becomes utterly confused when something is added by man or by woman. For the woman in the second testimony above, she refused all her life to accept that salvation was totally free. In her childish understanding, she assumed she had to do something to be worthy of salvation, and thereby assuage her feelings of guilt. So she added something to grace; she added a work, something she could do for herself. The work she added was to feel as if her "salvation was through joy." Other people add different works, but sadly, this is all unnecessary.

 

Imperfect Knowledge

No one has perfect doctrinal knowledge when they are saved. That is the nature of being finite corporeal creations of flesh. There is always something we do not fully grasp. Truth is, we will go to our graves with imperfect knowledge. Only God is omniscient (all knowing).

Paul professed to have imperfect knowledge, even as an apostle of Christ.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. " (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)

Yet, even with imperfect knowledge, there is faith. That is the key. Not perfect knowledge of the doctrine of faith, but simple faith.

 

Simple Faith

How did Abraham become righteous? Not from perfect knowledge, for he knew nothing of God, the Law, or the grace of Jesus.

"BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (Romans 4:8-17)

Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU." So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9)

All Abraham had was a very incomplete revelation of the Lord. His doctrinal knowledge was likely a virtual void when he first encountered God. But what little knowledge he did have of God, he believed in faith, and that little faith was credited to him as righteousness. Every small child who is given even the most limited portion of the gospel of Christ and believes is exercising that tiny faith and becomes a child of Abraham and a child of Christ because it is credited to him as righteousness.

 

The Test of Faith

Salvation is never described in the Bible as being a genuinely measurable quantity. God gives undefined degrees (allotments) of faith, as He pleases, to individuals (Romans 12:3). The question is neither, "How much faith does it take to be saved?," nor is it, "How perfect does my knowledge have to be to be saved?"

The only question that really matters is, "What did you do with the faith and the knowledge you did receive as your allotment?" Did you believe in Christ? Even faith so tiny that one would liken it to a tiny mustard seed is considered to be enormously efficacious from Godís perspective (Matthew 17:20).

Two tests of salvation are given in the Bible. Test One:

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test." (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

Virtually the whole test is this: do you recognize that Jesus Christ is in you by faith? Or, put another way, do you not have any faith in you that the Spirit of Christ dwells in you? There is no degree of certitude here, only a recognition of faith. It is not the quantity of faith or some unattainable level of certainty that evidences salvation, only that faith be present in any quantity, however imperfectly it might be understood.

Test Two:

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:14-15)

Again, there is no quantity of love that determines whether one is saved, only that one evidence some love for the brethren. How does one evidence love for the brethren? We know that love is not feelings or words of affection but actions of selfless service (1 John 3:18, 1 Corinthians 13). Such a love is very evident in the ability of one person to readily forgive another (Matthew 18:21-22), and to not bear a grudge or resentment when wronged (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

 

Grace to You

Salvation is a free, undeserved, and unearned gift of gospel grace that is applied via faith. No specific quantity of faith or knowledge is demanded by Scripture to become saved, only that one believe whatever amount of the gospel has been delivered with whatever amount of faith has been allotted. Faith applied in this manner is credited as righteousness by God.

Salvation is evidenced by recognizing in faith that Christ dwells in us and that we love the brethren in selfless deed. Not perfectly, not fully, not completely, simply that such things be evident.

For the poor woman from the second testimony (at the beginning of this article), one may say this: Repent of adding conditions and works (and emotional requirements) onto the gospel of grace, and examine yourself closely as to why you have such resentment against your parents. While your faith is self-professed and therefore evident, your inability to forgive is troubling. Repent of your unforgiving spirit and recognize that the Spirit of Christ dwells within you. And do know this: those who have been saved by grace through faith will always seek to please God in their actions from a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

When is grace insufficient to save? Only when faith is utterly absent.

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[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online October 30, 2008. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the October 30, 2008 post entitled: When is Grace Insufficient to Save?

Begin Comment from C. W. Booth:

A commenter said, "God makes [the gospel] so simple and we just want to complicate it." 

Amen!!! This evening we handed out tracts with our candy. All the tract really invited the children to do was to pray to Jesus, "Jesus, I believe in You," and then to read about Him in the Bible. My teenage son said, "Thereís not enough of the gospel there to get saved, is there?" Based on what I have been reading in the book of Romans, I responded to him about the same way as I wrote about in the blog, all God wants from us is to believe whatever amount of the gospel to which we have presently been exposed. If that little bit of knowledge or faith is not enough "for salvation," God will see to it that even that small amount of faith is credited as righteousness and will lead that person to redemption.

When I was very young (4 or 5 years old), I heard bits of the gospel even though we did not attend a Bible believing church. I did not understand it, but what I did grasp, I generally believed. At age 14 I heard a gospel presentation and made a decision to give my life to Christ. I did not know or understand such major doctrines as "Jesus is God," but I did believe what I had understood, which was that Jesus was Godís Son. Some months later, a friend to whom I was witnessing about Christ said, "It sounds like this Jesus is God or something." I said, "You know, youíre right!" I went home that day and researched it, finding John 1:1. I marveled at how I could have been saved without knowing such an important thing!

Isnít Godís way so generous! Salvation is always on His terms, not ours. He Who starts this good work of faith in us will surely finish it. For those who might be interested, here is the link to the children's Halloween Bible tract (Word document format) we gave out this Halloween.  It can be printed on your home PC's printer.  

http://thefaithfulword.org/HappyHalloweenTract.doc   

   The last page (page 3) has the printing instructions.

Posted 10/31/2008 10:14 PM

End of C. W. Boothís Comment

 

 

 


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