Today’s Blog

Friday, 11/16/18 – Tough Question

“What is the difference between soul and spirit?”

This is a particularly difficult question to answer because in the scriptures both the words “soul” and “spirit” have multiple meanings depending on their various contexts. The question is further complicated by the fact that two languages are being used: Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament.

We encounter this in English too. The word “run” is s classic example:

I’m going to run (to the office.), I’m going to run (for office.) My brother won’t run. My clock won’t run. My car is running. My nose is running. The river is running. …a running total. …a running commentary. …a run in with the law. …a run in with the in-laws. I ran into Fred at the mall. I ran into Fred (as I backed the car up) at the mall.

Well, I’ve run on with these examples long enough! Clearly, what the word “run” means depends greatly upon context.

So it is with the words “soul” and “spirit.”

Depending on context the word “soul” may mean an individual personthe soul who sins will surely die” (Ezek. 18:20), biological life “…those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” (Mt. 2:20), intellect and emotionAnd now my life ebbs away” (Job 30:16), and of course it is that eternal entity which Christ Jesus came to save “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt. 10:28).

Depending on its context the word “spirit” may mean breath or wind “…striving after the wind (Eccl. 1:14,17, a non-material beingGod is spirit…” (John 4:24), angels are spirit beings “Are not all angels ministering spirits…” (Heb. 1:14), a person himselfBeloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). It can also be used to describe one’s attitudespirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7), “meek and submissive spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4), “spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). Most confusing of all is that in some contexts “spirit” refers the inner person “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16) — in other words as a synonym for “soul.”

Humankind was created in the image of God, so it should be no surprise to find that just as God is a triune being (Father, Son, Spirit), so are we (spirit, soul, body). Paul mentions these three aspects of our being in his letter to the Thessalonians,

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:23).

What is important for us to understand is not so much the lexicons and idioms of Hebrew and Greek, but the fact that we are eternal and God will bring us safely to Himself as we turn our souls toward Him. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb.4:12). One day we shall be like Christ, transformed by God: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45).

We do not need to master the inner structures of the dichotomy of mankind. We need only collapse before Him, and acknowledge Him as our Lord and God. When we do, He will see our souls safely home to Himself.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 11/15/18 – Discipleship: Round and Round…

The purpose of these Thursday blogs on Discipleship is to visit, then re-visit nine basics of growing in Christ. These basics are Assurance, Freedom, Priorities, the Bible, Prayer, Fellowship, Evangelism, God’s Will, and the Soon Return of Christ. My plan is to just keep going round and round over these fundamentals.

So far this week we’ve thought a lot about remembering — about our need to keep the fundamentals of our faith in the forefront of our focus. Christian leaders are especially charged to keep these things fresh in the minds and hearts of their brothers and sisters in Christ… as Peter expresses…

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

…Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (2 Peter 1:12,13; 3:3)

Going round and round… internalizing truth, practicing daily surrender, going over and over…

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Read, re-read, memorize, pray, pray again, then pray some more, be thankful, be confident, talk about your faith, about what Christ did in you today, listen to the Holy Spirit within you, look to the open or closed doors before you, listen to your own heart, weigh the insights of others, be with God’s people regularly, guard your mind, fight sin, embrace purity, fear God, love God expressively, help the needy, give them your time, encouragement, and practical things as you are able.

Look toward eternity. Today is “in your face” but eternity is forever. Remember God’s love, sacrifice, plan and purpose for you. Keep short accounts with Him, acknowledge and deal instantly with sin when you find it within you…. Again, and Again — and again… round and round…

I echo with Peter,

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside…” (2 Peter 1:12)

So, next Thursday we’ll start again with further thoughts on “Assurance.” You’ll need the reminder. I’ll need the reminder. As Red Green says, “We’re all in this together!”

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ?
Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started

Wednesday, 11/14/18 – Pressing on…

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The thief, dying beside Jesus on an adjacent cross, believed and cried out to Him “Remember me!” (Luke 23:42). Instantly Jesus assured him, saying “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Twice the author of Hebrews states the divine promise to those who repent (turn from sin and follow Christ Jesus) “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12; 10:17)

Our Creator’s heart is to remember the sinner and to forget the sin! This is amazing! In fact, special words are necessary to describe it: Agapé: the love that motivated it, Grace: the un-earned kindness extended to us, and Mercy: the undeserved pardon only He could grant.

This willful remembering and forgetting on God’s part has all to do with His overriding desire for fellowship with us — His free-will creatures who can decide or not to love Him in return.

What can be our response to such an initiative?

This past Sunday at Lincoln Baptist Church Pastor Andrew directed our focus to the response of David in Psalm 103…

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my souland forget not all his benefits

  • who forgives all your sins
  • and heals all your diseases,
  • who redeems your life from the pit
  • and crowns you with love and compassion,
  • who satisfies your desires with good things
  • so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Ps. 103:1-5)

Stuff you learned in kindergarten really, but stuff sin led you to forget: say thank you, remember how blessed you are. Paul encouraged Timothy to remind his charge of these basics as “a good minister of Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 4:6). “Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead,” he urges (2 Tim. 2:8). What a pitiful lot we are that we can so easily forget!

David ends his psalm as he began it, instructing his soul “Praise the Lord, my soul.” (v.22)

What things must you remember?
What things must you forget?
Which way is your soul going?

To every man there openeth a way and ways and a way.
The high soul treads the high way and the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats the rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth a high way and a low —
And every man decideth the way his soul will go. – John Oxenham

Christian: Remember!
Lost one: Repent!

Press on…

Tuesday, 11/13/18 – Pressing on…

“You don’t have a soul,” wrote one highly respected Christian apologist – and I quite agree with him.

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We’ve all read books or watched films where some desperate individual makes a deal with a devil and agrees to swap their soul at a future date in exchange for some power or fortune in the present. These folk, overcome by their immediate avarice, mistakenly think the soul a barterable commodity.

But one’s soul really is no currency for trade at all. Not one of us has a soul that we can give. OK, OK, before you make ready to burn me a heretic at some stake I will explain. The full quote I began above is this: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”- C.S. Lewis.

You see “you” are soul. “You” are that “breath of life” bestowed by God… breathed into the first man Adam (Gen. 2:7). What had been mere clay became life by the entrance of that breath, “and man became s living soul.” “You” dwell here living in that decaying form until It cannot function longer. At that instant it will surrender “you” while itself returns to the dust from which it came (Gen. 3:19). But “you,” however can not die! “You” are an eternal thing … an eternal soul.

Where will you then go next? You cannot roam the earth like the devil and his demons. Ghosts are but his lie, a ruse to cloud your mind from the real alternatives.

Jesus came to tell us plainly our options. He said to His faithful, “I go to prepare a place for you….” (John 14:1-4).

He wants us to forever live with Him. That is why He came… to save souls, “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Not bodies, not religions, not kingdoms, not planets, but souls. His children. His Church.

Where then shall the souls go who turn away from Him? Where those who hear of His love and know of His Way but refuse Him?

There is no other place but the one prepared not for them but “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

Every one of us is an eternal soul. After our bodies die, we will continue on… forever… It is the business of this life to determine just where that will be.

C.S. Lewis again,

“You have never talked to a mere mortal….  it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” – C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (italics mine).

Would you like to settle this matter? Call out to this Saviour! Need help? Use the Contact page and we’ll point you to Him.

More tomorrow…

Monday, 11/12/18 – Pressing on…

20181107_124514As it was Remembrance Day this past Sunday I decided to search the scriptures for a quick skim through what they had to say about remembering. There were hundreds of appearances of the word in scripture but even a quick skim revealed a number of recurring contexts.

God it seemed was always remembering his Covenant and remembering His people. His people however were often remembering how good it was back in sin and forgetting the very things God has told them to remember. Often God even had to remind His people to remember Him and all the wonderful things He had done for them!

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Oh sure enough when this or that person got into a real bind because of this forgetfulness they plead with the Lord to remember them and their need and to intervene on their behalf. They sometimes reminded God of his very attributes and Nature — though it was not He but they that forgot. They begged God to demonstrate His goodness and mercy in their situation even though their own sinfulness or waywardness had caused it.

When we turn to the New Testament we don’t see much better!

Jesus had to remind his disciples that they had just witnessed the feeding of thousands. Peter remembered too late that the Lord had foretold his triple denials. And it seems that after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial everyone had forgotten that He had said he would rise again!

Jesus knew His Church would need some helps moving forward with all this remembering business. The night before he was betrayed He instituted a supper using the most staple of items present at every meal to remind His disciples that He indeed was their nourishment and life. He told his disciples to wait until they receive the Holy Spirit Who would come alongside them and empower them and remind them of everything He had taught.

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

opened bible on wooden surfaca
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And He left us Himself in printed text as well, the Word of God to which we can turn when we forget, or better yet which we can hide in our hearts so we do not.

Because we are a forgetful lot we are told to always to remind each other of the truths and expectations of God.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb. 10:24,25

This was forgetful Peter’s ambition…

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” – 2 Pet. 1:12-15

And it must be ours as well.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 11/9/18 – Tough Question

“Is the devil everywhere like God?”

The big theological word for the idea of something that is present everywhere is “omnipresent.” The prefix “omni” means “all,” so together “omni+present” means all-present – existing in all places at all times.

Omnipresence is certainly an attribute of God.

“’Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Ps. 139:7-10)

He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17)

God is also omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), immutable (un-changing), holy and eternal to name a few.

The devil, or Satan, however is none of these. The devil is limited in every area of power and presence, the exact opposite of holiness, and destined to eternal torment in hell “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

In regards to his presence in space he and his demons are limited. Consider these insights from the Word of God…

When the devil appeared before God to discuss godly Job he did a lot of coming and going…

“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’…Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord… and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’…Satan went out from the presence of the Lord…” – Job 17,12; 2:1,2,7

When Jesus was tempted by the devil scripture is clear that his presence was not continual… “The tempter came to him… Then the devil left him…” – Matt. 4:3,11

lightning during nighttime

Later, during His ministry, Jesus testified “…I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” – Luke 10:18

We are also promised that when we persist to resist temptations the devil will eventually flee away from us. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 1:7).

Thankfully, in our trials, we have the Lord Christ by us and within us at all times. Indeed, He is “an ever-present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 11/8/18 – Discipleship: The Soon Return of Christ

A cartoon character wore a sandwich board which read “The End is Near!” Across from him was another sandwich board wearer whose sign read “The End is Far!” They glared at each other and shared a single accusing word bubble that read “Whacko!”

The subject of end times abounds with opinion. Some discount the notion altogether believing science will eventually propel humankind to godhood. Some believe aliens will rescue us from global destruction, or be the agents of it. Others believe in the return of Christ but say it has already happened… or spiritualize the idea. Some even claim that they are He!

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All this chaos is no surprise to Christ, and should be no surprise to His children either. Every bit of it was foretold long ago: from the deterioration of moral conscience to the multiplicity of false Christs and the scoffing at His true return…

There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

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Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (see Matthew 24).

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:3-4)

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In Matthew 24:8 scripture speaks of these things coming upon this earth as ‘labor pains.’ Labor pains have all the elements of birth and grow in frequency and in intensity as the birth nears. The nervous husband sees all the signs, even races her to the hospital and discovers multiple false alarms. But the bags are ready, there is gas in the car, for they know one of these times will be the true birth indeed. That outcome is assured.

This is the believer’s only job as well, to be ready at all times…

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him… understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:35-40)

Are you ready?

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ?
Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.