Searching for Faith – Mark 9

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

With unbelievers, I love this truth from Scripture because of just how man is in light of God. This father whose child was demon possessed was at a loss on what to do. This demon it is said was “deaf and dumb”, and nothing the disciples of Jesus did or said could cast it out. The child got even more violent.

The father was desperate, but was at his breaking point as well when Jesus arrived. He asked Jesus to show compassion and help him. Jesus responded with “if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”. The father immediately understood what Jesus was saying, that he must first examine himself for faith.

Now the interesting part comes in his response. His first reaction was a lie, “Lord I believe” but knowing who he was speaking to, God in the flesh, he stopped and then said “help my unbelief” which was the truth. He didn’t believe in other words, and admitted this to Jesus. He tried to believe, but didn’t have faith that God could help him. Probably after seeing the disciples fail miserably to help him.

Jesus then cast the demon out, leaving the disciples wondering why they couldn’t do this since Jesus employed this power unto them. And Jesus in a very short admonition responded with “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29

What was the prayer Jesus was talking about? “Lord help my unbelief” Something the disciples skipped was this prayer. The fasting is mentioned, because fasting leads to repentance. The teaching was both to the father and to the disciples. So by this, Jesus was indicating that they were not going to be able to just willy nilly cast out demons, prayer and fasting must accompany this, which was also a call for DISCERNMENT. They were to discern the asking, was it one who if this sign was performed would just go on unbelieving?

The point here is the sheer honesty of the father, he admitted his unbelief to God and asked for help! Some go a lifetime thinking all the while by pride shouting “I believe” but internally they have NO faith, and usually this comes out in a dire circumstance. It is easy to say “I believe” when great and wonderful things occur in your life, but when your child is dying or some terrible thing occurs, will you be able to say this? If not, say that prayer “Lord help my unbelief”, be honest and watch how God works!

It should cut to the heart at the external believers who get angry and vitriolic if their faith is questioned. Make no mistake, Jesus questioned the father’s faith and instead of getting angry, he lied,and then quickly repented and told the the truth.

The children’s story of the “The Little Train that Could” is a mirror to this. It wasn’t until that train in the fictional story internally believed he could, that he reached the top. Before this, he just said the words “I think I can”. God changes that “I think I can” to “I know I can”.

When Faith Becomes a Work

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Many world religions make faith into a work by either eliminating grace or perverting grace to mean some type of cooperation needed by man in order for the grace to work. It turns God into the debtor by this, and faith becomes a work. Let me explain how.

The question I have posed to many who think it was their effort which saved them, is did Jesus pay for the sin of unbelief on the Cross? If so, then how can a sinner claim it was that inherent effort which saved them instead of grace. If you made the choice, then you have something to boast about. If God made the choice, then no one can boast.

The question cuts to the heart of contradictory preachers of unlimited atonement. This is where they say that Jesus died for every last living soul, paid their sin debt, propitiated the wrath of God, EXCEPT for the sin of unbelief because otherwise they’d be teaching universalism. So to attempt to get around this, they’ll then in effect say “the application of the atonement is applied when one believes”.

Do you see the contradictory messaging? Because if there is this supposed application in a present tense, then in actuality, the sin of unbelief remains UNPAID in full by Christ’s atonement UNTIL one believes. It goes to the problem of understanding WHEN Jesus made the atonement, WHEN He actually saved a sinner. It was WHEN He made the atonement, not WHEN a sinner realized they had been (past tense) saved.

So if for example you ascribe to the falsehood of the sin of unbelief being paid for by faith, then being saved by Jesus is in a present tense, meaning then He didn’t make the atonement as Scripture teaches. It remains unfinished. So by this, you have made FAITH A WORK. You have made God the debtor who owed you salvation by your faith. This would also mean Romans 5:8 got it wrong, because Christ would not have been able to die for you while you were still a sinner. Jesus would have had to WAIT for each sinner to come to faith, and only THEN the atonement could take place.

I have debated this topic for many hours with those who just cannot bring themselves to believe and/or understand that the atonement was specific and effectual for every sinner Jesus died for. He KNEW each sinner and each sin He paid for WHEN He died on the Cross, when He rose again.

So as Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches us, salvation is by grace THROUGH faith, not faith through grace. Grace, meaning what Jesus had done, your faith granted you is the realization what He did on your behalf! Being fallen in nature, God gives a sinner a rebirth at which time they FULLY realize Jesus SAVED them (past tense) on the Cross. God chose, you didn’t, so you could never boast or be even perceived as boasting, because it wasn’t you who girded up faith, it was God who opened your eyes to what Jesus did at which time you BELIEVED.

Faith becomes a work when it is USED as the prompter, not as the result of what Jesus DID, past tense!

“Read John 1:12 & 13. It says that those who believe on Jesus have been “born, not of the will of man, but of God.” As your will is not responsible for your coming into this world, it is not responsible for the new birth. It is your Creator who must be thanked for your life, and if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (II Cor. 5:17). Who ever chose to be created? When Lazarus rose from the dead, he chose to answer the call of Christ, but he did not choose to come to life. So Paul said in Ephesians 2:4 & 5, “When we were dead in sins God has quickened us with Christ (by grace you are saved).” Faith is the first act of a will made new by the Holy Spirit. Receiving Christ is an act of man just as breathing is, but God must first give life.” Walter Chantry

Why I Believe in God’s Choice

One of the most controversial arguments I run across comes from a soteriology standpoint is what I call “Decisionism”. The idea that it is all up to mankind whether they would like to be saved or not, and salvation depends on your DECISION, not on Jesus Christ’s. So this might be a rather long post, but I have listed several reasons why I personally do not believe in Decisionism which is a predominant theory among American professing Christians. Some will BITTERLY disagree with me, but so be it. I will be called a “Calvinist” of which I never studied or trusted as an ultimate authority for truth, I will be called all sorts of things, but with God as my witness I write this with Scripture being that ultimate source!

Boasting is Excluded

Those in the decisionism camp might disagree, but if salvation depends on a decision, one can boast in that decision. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:27, Romans 4:2, Ephesians 2:8-9 that boasting excluded. The reason being in my view is that if WE add ourselves in the salvation equation, we could boast in the decision we made. Salvation is by grace, not of works. And a work would include anything we bring to the table.

Salvation is by Grace

Those in the decisionism camp might say they agree with this statement, but do they? The idea being they will say their decision was prompted by God’s grace, but if you study this logically, they are nullifying grace by attaching a condition of which is that the grace must be used in order for the grace to work. Which then logically presumes again, grace is dependent on man, not on God, the giver of the grace. Paul teaches in Romans 11:6 that if by grace then salvation is no longer of works. Grace must stand on its own without a condition of a work in order to remain “grace”.

God is Not a Debtor

If salvation depends on our decision, it logically makes God the debtor. By this decision, He owes the one who made the decision, making God the debtor and the sinner the payee. Romans 5:8 teaches us that Jesus did not wait for our decision before He died on the Cross to paid the debt owed.

The Debt was Paid

By Christ’s death on the Cross, the full debt of sin of the sinner Jesus saved was PAID in full! It was paid THEN, not in the present. A sinner saved by Jesus did not get to decide whether He could die for them or not, He didn’t wait on that, by grace He paid the debt. God is not waiting on decisions, because the choice of whom Jesus died for and saved was already made.

Decisionism Makes the Sinner Sovereign

As explained above, if Jesus paid the debt, and God is not a debtor, then decisionism claims salvation depends on the decision of the sinner it makes that sinner sovereign and God the submitter. God then cannot be sovereign over His own salvation, Jesus could not have chosen whom to save, it is all in the sinner’s hands by which God is still waiting on decisions.

Decisionism Voids God’s Omniscience

If salvation depends on a sinner’s decision, it then says God can cannot be all knowing, omniscient. It is saying no matter how much one attempts to twist it, that God at some point LEARNED or gained knowledge on a free will decision. Logically, it would need to say that decision was not part of God’s knowledge before the decision was made. It would also preclude that decision in order to be truly free, would be solely of the sinner’s knowledge.

Decisionism Voids God’s Omnipotence

If decisionism is true, then God’s freedom and choice is voided making His omnipotence void, let me explain why. If it was God’s desire to save a specific sinner for example, Jesus’ choice was to die for this sinner and pay their debt, the sinner could NULLIFY God’s power to save them by a rejection. So for example, the sinner’s will would be then more powerful than God’s will to save them, voiding God’s omnipotence.

Decisionism Voids God’s Purpose and Will

In order for decisionism to be true, then the will of salvation is placed on man, not God. The time of decision would then be solely in the hands of man, the preacher, or whomever. God then accepts the decision at that time, again making Him the debtor or submitter to the decision. He could not have a will for example that a sinner be reborn on a time of His choosing for His purpose, because He would have to wait on that decision.

Decisionism Makes Faith a Work

Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches us salvation is by grace through faith, not of works so that no one can boast. However, logically if decisionism was true, it would be “by faith through grace and of of works”, which makes ZERO sense. Why is it a work at that point? Because the decision turns faith into a precursor work which fuels salvation. Whereas Scripture teaches no one can see the Kingdom BEFORE they are born-again (John 3:3). So faith logically is the result of salvation/new creation, not a work.

Decisionism Voids Depravity

Decisionism voids the biblical truth of man’s fallen nature. It says that man is fully capable to make a decision to be saved, that man is inherently good natured. It ignores the fact that man is by nature a rejector of the Gospel, 1 Cor 2:14, Romans 3:10-19 and that salvation is not by the will of man (John 1:13). Again, by this, it would be a cause for BOASTING because if ALL are capable to make the right “decision” and some don’t, those who made the correct decision have something to boast over those who don’t. “I was just more moral”, “I was less sinful I guess”, “I was more religious”, “I was more intellectual” than those who rejected the Gospel.

Decisionism Makes God Weak and Feckless

It is saying that the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation is dependent on the Gospel sharer, not on the truth. And it then makes God weak because He somehow cannot convince those who just go on all their life rejecting the Gospel. It turns God into a used car salesman, a bad one at that. He anxiously awaits a sinner to sign on the dotted line and is totally subject to whether a preacher shares His Gospel in truth, who thwarts Him more so than not based on His weak kneed submissive state as decisionism places Him in. In decisionism, God is the weak dependent, man is powerful and in control.

Decisionism Plants Tares

The decisionist preacher says “decide to make Jesus your Savior, invite Him in your heart”. And more times than not, they are successful based on emotionalism to convince a sinner that this is a good idea in the moment. That sinner still being dead in their sins, no transformation, no regeneration, then falls away after a short while. Read the Parable of the Sower. And I ask those preachers, are you taking responsibility for the tares you are planting?

Scripture is Clear!

Before the foundation of the world, God made a choice whom He would saved (Eph 1:4). This choice was made by God for His purpose and will alone regardless of the sinner and despite the sinner’s will to reject Him from birth. Who are we to question God in this and Romans 9:19-20 declares. Humanistic fairness doctrines are always a stumbling block to decisionists. God will mercy whom He mercies! He saved just 8 from the Great Flood, just 8! God’s justice is perfect and we are owed only justice, NEVER mercy. If God chose to save just 1 sinner by Christ’s death, who could say that was unfair?

Decisionism is Man Centered

The gospel of decisionism places man at the center of the Gospel, where as the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation the Gospel is solely centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ. Each sinner Jesus saved cannot get the glory, Jesus DOES! The glory being God’s exhaustive mercy and grace and love. But decisionism attempts to place man as the apple, the fuel to the glory, and how WRONG that ideology is! The only thing a sinner contributes is the SIN that sent Jesus to the Cross to die a gruesome death in their place. If you don’t believe that, you are following a man centered Gospel, whereby salvation somehow doing God the favor by your decision to accept it.

Anecdotal Evidence

I know some may reject anecdotal evidence of my personal testimony, but there is also biblical proof. My personal decision was to remain where I was at, a lost Roman Catholic, in my sins and trespasses. By God’s choice alone and His intervention and His decision alone I was saved. Saul (named later Paul) was on his way to Damascus to kill Christians, his decision was to kick against the goads as Jesus said. God intervened and saved Paul. So you see, our actual decision is always to reject God and His promises because we are fallen. If it is God’s will, His decision would be the only one which could save a sinner.

Decisionism Could Void Cross

The decisionists will vehemently argue against this point, but allow me to explain. If you believe it is your decision which saved you, then WHY couldn’t you have decided to remain perfectly sinless and thus void the Cross? It goes back to my point of saying man is not truly fallen in nature since ALL are capable to make the correct decision. So why couldn’t you just decide to be perfectly sinless, and believe it or not, some do think this way by their religion, albeit subjective perfection which is imperfection such as Roman Catholics preach.

Decisionism is Pride Induced

If one is honest, the main reason WHY one would reject the Biblical truth of God being sovereign over salvation, is pride. We naturally would like to take SOME credit for believing, for our salvation, thus “I decided”. I get that, and I too felt that once I was saved, but all it took for me personally was to read the Book of Job to snap me out of that pride. The parts where God hammered Job with “where were you when I created”, and then proceeded to explain who He is and who we are. Our self loathing produces self love, self pride. We want naturally desire something in return if we do something. But the “something” when it comes salvation is NOTHING of which we did, Jesus did it ALL.

Do you think faith produced the Cross, or did the Cross produce faith? If the latter, you are on the right track!

God is Sovereign!

Lastly, if you have just ONE presupposition when reading Scripture, it is that God is sovereign! Any other presupposition such as your humanistic fair doctrines will lead you to either pervert or ignore vast portions of Scripture. God is 100 percent powerful, you are ZERO percent is the idea. His ways are NOT your ways. If you protest His justice, His Holiness, His sovereign choice and will, you are just like every lost sinner doing so and will continue to do so until Judgment Day when all things are laid bare.

The Love Test

“He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” (ref John 21:16a)

In John 21, after Peter had denied Jesus three times, he was given the love test from Jesus. This is much more powerful than what you might think at first. Imagine if God, the eternal Creator, asked you that question “do you love Me?”. He already knows the answer, so any answer contrary to it would be a lie. So imagine what was going through Peter’s mind when Jesus asked him this. Peter actually said in V17 ““Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

But what Jesus was asking is if Peter really loved Him, not in just vain words such as we see on Valentines Cards or what people say flippiantly to each other, but to really think about the question of love and what that word really means. Peter had just denied Jesus 3 times, by this, Jesus was pointing out “Peter, you need to think more before you say ‘I love You'”, because love comes in the form of action, and denial is not one of them.

I am not picking on Peter, because many of us have been in Peter’s shoes. We may have said without thinking that we love God, but then have denied Him by sin, by our actions, by our words. Jesus wasn’t playing a game with Peter, He merely was asking Peter to examine that “love” Peter claimed to have, because it was less than perfect. In other words, it was humbling him before Peter was restored by Jesus. And I would think the other Apostles got the lesson as well as “Don’t just say you love Me, prove it by your actions, examine that love you profess”.

Think of those you truly love, what is the key ingredient with every one of them? They are someone who if removed from your life would leave an empty and giant hole. In your core, the love being “I really can’t see my life without this person”. If Jesus was removed from your life for example, how would that affect your life? If you honestly could not say “it would be an instantaneous devastation”, you probably don’t love Him like you may have thought you did.

Yes, there is a lot of sinners who profess to love Jesus, but put to the test Peter was given, would most likely fail in an instant. They can see their lives without Jesus in it, which demonstrates the words of “love” were in vain. They sounded good on the surface, but internally the love for Him was missing.

When Jesus said to become like children, He was speaking about this type of love. Children demonstrate inwardly and outwardly the love for their parents. They cannot see life without them being in it, they could not deny them. So when a child tells their parent “I love you”, it is not just a nice 3 word sentence, it is a truth they are professing.

Ask yourself, do you really love God? And with this, examine this love, be able to profess WHY you love Him, not as a cliche or as your church robotically declares, but as a God who you have a relationship with.

Don’t Have the Funeral Yet

Today I write to those faced with health crisis’s and or another worrisome crisis in your life or someone in your life. The temptation is naturally to give up hope. As long as you or your loved one in your life is alive and breathing, there is HOPE. And where there is HOPE, there is God! Nothing is impossible for Him.

I have said that line to many now, “don’t have the funeral yet”, of which I should make a t-shirt of, because I myself went through it. In November 2019, my beloved dog Leo was diagnosed with a terminal disease. My first reaction was to have that funeral in my mind, it didn’t help anything, all it did was give up on hope, and it certainly didn’t help Leo and his demeanor. I snapped out of it when a friend sent me a hand made drawing of Leo and with a message to hope for best! It was at that point, is when hope was restored the funeral in my mind went away. I turned to God alone for this hope! And a couple of months later, Leo was in full remission, because I didn’t give up on this hope.

Imagine those for thousands of years WAITED on the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. They never gave up hope, when the world and Satan constantly told them “just give up on this nonsense”.

So never give up hope, because if you do, you are also giving up on God. Don’t have a funeral for someone who is still alive, breathing, and with you. Each day is a new blessing from God, so don’t take them for granted. Turn to God in full HOPE and then be patient and willing to accept whatever comes your way. Never discount those little blessings as we see them, because when realized, they are actually LARGE blessings from God who alone got you from point A to point B.

The Good News in ONE Verse

John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

If I had just one verse to share from the Bible in order to witness to another, instead of John 3:16 as is the favorite of many, I’d choose John 5:24. In just one verse Jesus sums up the Gospel. He says that who believes in Him already HAS everlasting life. Not sometime in the future, now. That this salvation Jesus spoke of is SO GREAT, that the sinner will NOT come into God’s judgment.

So let’s break it down further. When Jesus said “everlasting life”, it means eternal, never-ending. This would refute all those “you can lose your salvation” religions who are guided by Satan, because in order to believe that, you must also believe Jesus lied. Jesus then goes onto say, so there was NO confusion on what He just said, that this sinner would NOT come into judgment, of which He is alluding to the final judgment at the end of time.

Yet, it doesn’t prevent some from ARGUING with Jesus on this, because their world religion such as Catholicism teaches something VASTLY different. They do not teach one is granted eternal life here and now, that comes at the final judgment by which God will weigh their good works, their faith, their sacrament participation, their commandment keeping and then give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

But do you notice the CLEAR PROBLEM with looking forward to a final judgment? You WILL then be judged by a comparison to God’s holiness. This is why Jesus said a saved believer will NOT come into that judgment, they have already been granted eternal life, their sin debt was paid in full by nothing other than faith alone in Him.

So if you are in a church or religion which has you grasping at straws, making you uncertain of what your eternal future holds, they are preaching AGAINST John 5:24, what Jesus clearly promised. They are telling you that you WILL come into judgment, “so try to be good enough”. And I am here to tell you that NO ONE will be good enough outside the person and work of Jesus Christ, NO ONE.

Consider this promise God made several times “He will not forsake you nor destroy you“, again it doesn’t prevent some religions as Catholicism and other others to say “not so, He will forsake you and destroy you, so be good”.

Romans 8:1 teaches “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  Yet I have witnessed to some in these religions who argue day and night that this is not true. Notice what Paul said? He included the word “NOW”, meaning salvation is not sometime in the future at a final judgment, it is a present tense.

Once again Paul taught in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christthrough whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Again, I have witnessed this passage to those in worldly religions who argue day and night, that there is NO peace with God until a final judgment. When by simple reading comprehension, Paul said “have peace”, which is again a PRESENT tense.

I ask the reader to read and study every word of John 5:24. Are you arguing with what Jesus said, or agreeing with. Are you skeptical of non-trusting of what Jesus promised? If so, you do not have faith in Him, most likely your world religion has indoctrinated you NOT to believe in Him, but to distrust His clear promises.

Records of Sin

On Judgment Day, many are going to be surprised when God displays their record of sin throughout their life. The depiction above are just some filing cabinets filled with your sin record to give you some semblance of what actually transpired. The cabinets would fill a warehouse for just one sinner. The white cabinets can denote what we see are small sins, simple disobedience, white lies, etc. The black cabinets can denote more serious sins we have committed.

The devil on the other hand makes a sinner think there is merely a shoe box with some posted notes on your sins, no harm no foul. Compared to God’s holiness, there are sins you are not even aware such as absolute perfection to the commandments, not just some of the time, but each and every moment. So when the sheer multitude is displayed, as I said, some will be quite surprised at just how many laws which were broken. Each file God has will have clear facts and evidence, the time the offense was committed to the second. There are sins such in our thoughts and lusts and selfishness of which we merely passed off, but God didn’t forget.

Some will foolishly argue with God and say “that’s not a sin”, as IF they can tell the Almighty what broke His laws. Some will also foolishly attempt to pass the blame, “it wasn’t my fault”. Some will be angered that God kept their record of sin, or try to sheepishly say “sorry God, I really didn’t mean to do that”. But WHAT NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO DO is tell God to “look in the mirror at your sins”, because He has no such record.

This grand multitude of sin caused a debt to God. His justice on just one sin is His eternal wrath, and He doesn’t even need to open up more than one page in one filing cabinet. But I suspect that won’t prevent some to try and continue to argue each case of a sin.

Catholics will attempt to call on Mary, she’ll be nowhere to be found. I suspect some will try to blame their priests and popes, but that argument fails when God shows them their warehouse full of cabinets of their own sin records. Some will plead with God, “but Lord Lord, what about my church attendance, and all those good works I did in your name, and the sacraments I religiously participated in?” And sadly they will hear what Jesus already warned them about “I NEVER KNEW YOU, be gone you workers of lawlessness” (referencing Matt 7:21-23).

Without understanding the sheer DEPTH of your sin record against God, you will never fully realize just how NECESSARY a Savior is needed. You will shirk that call of the Mediator for your sins, His name is Jesus Christ, and try to argue your way into heaven instead which ends in failure! Your sin record does not get paid outside of the blood of Jesus!

Those saved also have the same amount of cabinets filled with sin, however in their case each file is stamped “PAID IN FULL”. Yes, the Good News is that Jesus already PAID the debt owed on your behalf IF you place your total faith alone in Him. There is NO OTHER WAY this record will be pardoned. If saved, God won’t even open up these cabinets because His word says  “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) There is no need to because each file says in this depiction “PAID IN FULL by the blood of Jesus Christ”.

So it is up to you, there are just two paths on Judgment Day. The wide path by which many will try and argue their way out of this record of sin, or the narrow gate where you surrender to the fact that Jesus is the ONLY way this record of sin can be paid.

Understanding the Holy Standard

I has been quite evident, especially in today’s culture there is a vast difference between what human beings expect as a standard to go to heaven, and what the actual standard is.

I will attempt to demonstrate the Holy Standard by an analogy. Let’s say a parent of a child invoked a perfection standard on his or her children, such as if they failed in any way to meet this standard, the rule is the child would be kicked out of the house no matter how young they were or what their intelligence level was. It is simply, if they break one rule of a long list of rules, the child could no longer reside in the house. The child might have kept 100 of the rules, but one day broke just a minor rule, and that parent said “off you go, you are hereby evicted”.

Unbelievers and scoffers of God or those who don’t quite understand God’s holiness will instantly see it as unjust. Children are imperfect, so you would see that parent as being cruel, instead of the child’s rule breaking. There might be second, third, fourth chances we give to our children, but God doesn’t do this, His ways are not our ways. And it doesn’t make Him cruel, or non-understanding, it makes Him holy. Sin is His enemy, He cannot dwell in it, or Satan would also be seen as holy in this respect as well.

So the Holy Standard is ABSOLUTE perfection. You could say this is impossible to achieve, and you would be correct. And one misstep, one sin, and you are kicked out of His Kingdom not temporarily, but eternally! Ask Adam and Eve if you don’t believe me. Their simple disobedience caused them to be booted from the Garden, no second chance, no chance to make amends or restitution, God’s justice is perfect and holy, and there was no appeal.

If you don’t believe the Holy Standard from God, you then will scoff and mock at the remedy He provided. While knowing no human being could meet this impossible standard, God sent a Savior, His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus MET that Holy Standard on behalf of those who could not! Those who place their faith alone in Him, who entrust their soul to Him, instantly meet the standard thus satisfying God’s justice. They are now looked as meeting God’s Holy Standard!! This in a nutshell is called the Gospel, the Good News. Jesus died for you so that you now meet God’s sinless standard. You cannot be kicked out the Kingdom now, because of the absolute perfection Jesus graced you with! He not only pardoned you of all your sins, but He gave you His name as your Mediator which means that perfection standard has been met.

Does it mean when one sins after they had been saved, do they still meet the Holy Standard? Yes! Because justice has been satisfied, the sinner STILL meets God’s Holy Standard. It doesn’t mean one has a license to sin however, the saved sinner realizes what Jesus did on their behalf and naturally repents of sin, nor do they seek sin or desire sin. By His death, He paid the debt of each and every sin you committed, are committing, and will commit in this lifetime. NO BETTER NEWS than this! He placed you on the Holy Standard by His person and His work alone!

Trials are Actually Trails

James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Etymology is the study of the origins of words, so if you look carefully at the word “Trial”, if you switch the i and a, you come up with “Trail”. And if you study this further trials are actually trails.

It dawned on me today as I took my dog for a walk on a trail, that trials are trails. The premise is getting from point A to point B on a trail as well as a trial in your life. I have ignored this trail for a couple of weeks, because of the snow we had. Once we got on the trail, it was easier than I thought it would be. And we do this with various trials in our life as well, the same premise from getting from point A to point B. Some trials/trails are going to be easy, some will be VERY difficult.

Which leads me to the next word “try” which comes from the word “trial”. A criminal is tried in court, where prosecutor describes a trail, point A to point B of which the criminal committed. Or when faced with a trial in our life and we gave up, the response might be “well, I tried”. The trying is our action in the trial/trail.

And my personal opinion is that when faced with difficult trials/trails in our life, women have a much better “try” than men. Men think of a trial as a competition, women think of it as a completion. I think of a woman I know who had her third operation now for breast cancer. Her trail is a mud ridden swamp in the analogy, quicksand. On the other side of that swamp are her children who she will never give up trying to get to. I think of my Mom, faced with a terrible car accident and financial difficulty, never giving up on that extremely difficult trail which is like climbing a hill in 20 feet of snow. I think of the women with Jesus, faced with immediate persecution did not give up trying and were there with Him at the Cross as He died, while every Apostle except for John were cowering in their homes, and probably regretted this for as long as they lived.

Sometimes on a trial/trail in your life, where that be a relationship, financially, a death, a crisis, a serious health issue, you will look behind or look back and see that you had no trail behind you, no footsteps, and that is when God literally CARRIED you on that trail. Sometimes during a trial, the enemy whispers “just give up, you’ll never make it”, and sometimes he wins.

One thing about trials/trails is they don’t vanish. You can’t ignore them thinking “just go away”, they remain and we are tasked to go on them. The key is to completing ANY trial, whether it be easy or difficult is that you turn to God to help you through it. Sometimes He’ll give us a trail as that mud ridden swamp or 20 foot of snow to trudge through so that we have NO PLACE OTHER TO TURN, than to Him.

As James mentioned, “count it all joy” because the trial/trail produced something, your faith and patience. I am the type of person who at times when given a trial, I get so obsessed in the completion of it, that sometimes I miss that part about patience. And if you aren’t patient, frustration will come on the trail.

Some trails like a trail my dog and I go on will be difficult every day. There is one which gets snow blown in every day and we have to trudge through it making it new again. The same can be said for our many trials. We might have thought the trial was over, only to realize it wasn’t over and we must do it all over again. “Count in all joy”, and learn that you already completed the trail, so you can do it again.

Thanks be to God for the trials/trails we complete! If not for Him, we’d still be stuck at point A instead of ever even attempting to get to to point B, the completion.

Lastly, I think of Jesus Christ’s trial/trail. Born in a lonely manger, His trail was leading to His ultimate death on the Cross. And even He faced much difficulty, as He asked that this trial be removed in my estimation NOT because He feared death, but because He would be seperated from the Father and Holy Spirit while He took on our sins so that we could be forgiven. So yes, God understands your difficult trials, He can empathize with every tear and heartache and anxiety you are feeling. Turn to Him, and turn to Him alone and He will help you through the end of the trail!

Are You Ready to be Enlightened

When I was reborn, Scripture suddenly was understood. The words were literally jumping off the page. There was a newness as I kept asking myself “HOW DID I MISS THIS?”

The only way this occurred was that my mind was opened by God. His enlightenment was awesome. Before this time, I really didn’t understand His word outside of importing my own presuppositions mainly from what I was taught by the Roman Catholic Church. A presupposition is our personal conditions placed on a teaching, preconceived notions as to what that teaching in Scripture is supposed to say. And if that presupposition is WRONG, you can find yourself in a juggernaut. Many parts of Scripture will not make sense, and it is disjointed.

I recall the person witnessing to me as she said “maybe we shouldn’t read Romans, it is a very hard book, very convicting”, as if I was not ready to be enlightened. Little did she know, that was all that was needed for me to say “no, let’s READ IT NOW”. And she was correct in one respect, it was very convicting for me personally because of what I had been taught and believed before this enlightenment. Each time I was tempted to import my personal presupposition, I stopped myself, only by the grace of God.

The only correct presupposition to have while reading or studying Scripture is that this is God’s holy word, His revelation, His inspiration, and that He is God, all knowing, omniscient, sovereign, omnipotent. Without that correct presupposition, again Scripture will turn into a gobbly gook of misunderstood doctrines.

I have viewed many testimonies of the saved, and they all mirror my own. There was a point in time when Scripture started to make total sense!

Are you ready to be enlightened? Only you and God would know the answer to this question. But I can say if you aren’t ready, you will continue to be closed minded on your invented presuppositions. When that day comes for you, and I pray it did, or will come, you will be totally AMAZED, totally FLOORED, at just how BEAUTIFUL Scripture actually is and you will then see a systematic tie from Genesis all the way to the end of Revelation of ONE person, His name is Jesus Christ. If you aren’t seeing that tie, you are still importing false presuppositions.