Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thorntown Holy Week- As Message of Salvation

It was the late 1920’s when a woman and her new husband moved into the man’s old family home. It was a clapboard house with a hall down the middle. It wasn’t much of a home, but it was all they had. Ten years later, however, the two had managed to save just enough money to tear down the old house and build another next to it which was to be their home for the rest of their lives. To cut back on the expense of the new place the husband, without informing his wife, decided to reuse many of the materials from the old house in the construction. He used old facings and doors, and many other pieces of the finishing lumber. When it was completed, the woman was finally permitted to inspect her "new home." As her husband walked her through the house tears streamed down her cheeks. Unfortunately they were not tears of joy, however, but sadness. For as she looked around she saw the same old doors that wouldn’t shut properly; the same crown molding that was split and riddled with nail holes, the same unfinished window trimming. There wasn’t much in fact that was really very "new" about it. So on what should have been one of the better days of her life; she eventually sat down and had herself a good cry. Her husband was confused at her response. "But I’ve built you a new home," he objected. "No, you didn’t," his wife responded. "You just rearranged the old one." 

 We have come together to celebrate the week that brought finality to the plan of Salvation.  We celebrate the power of Jesus Christ to destroy the works of the devil.  Jesus did not come to break the stronghold that the devil had on the human race, but to destroy the works of the devil. Something broken can be put back together; however, when something is destroyed it can never be put back together. Jesus came to set us free from the power of the enemy, the devil. John 8:32 (KJV) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:36 (KJV)   If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  He laid down His Life, shedding His blood to destroy the power of sin in our lives. Hebrews 9:22 (KJV) And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. . John 8:36 (KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  John 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 In Jesus we are made new, and we are made on purpose for a purpose - to be ones through whom God's message of love and reconciliation is delivered. People look through our lives to see if they can see Jesus Christ.

 The whole process of salvation is ascribed in the New Testament to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It is upon the moment of death that the foundation of salvation is totally focused. The work of salvation was completed when Jesus cried, “It is finished!” Nothing more needed to be done. 

 The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was a substitutional sacrifice and atonement for sin. Christ died in our place. Christ suffered for us. Christ endured the divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as a result of sin. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not God because He has justified the believing sinner for the reason that Christ died in his place and suffered his punishment. 

 The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ redeems or delivers the believer from the curse of sin. Jesus paid the ransom price with His own blood. The blood of Jesus has redeemed us and that redemption procures justification. “In whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses”. 

 The death of Jesus Christ makes reconciliation between the guilty sinner and a holy God. He restores us to a right relationship with God.  The cross of Christ is the means of reconciliation. God has forgiven the sinner who believes on Christ; therefore his relationship with God is restored. Because of the death of Jesus Christ it is possible for the believing sinner to have an intimate love relationship with God the Father. 

 The blood of Jesus Christ is the basis of God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is based on the shed blood of Jesus.  The believer’s guilt is removed by the perfect sin offering of Jesus Christ. The believing sinner has a right relationship before God. He is acquitted or justified. We have been brought into a right standing before God by the death of Jesus.  The blood of Jesus cleanses the sinner.  The death of Jesus Christ provided for us the means of becoming a new creation.  

 It seems to me like a lot of people in our churches today have approached the Christian life in much the same way as the man in our story approached the construction of his "new" home. Rather than allow God to completely remake us in His image, we have asked only that He remodel us so that we are nothing more than a little better version of what we were before. God is not interested in reforming our fallen, sinful nature. He is in the business of making us new creations.  2 Corinthians 5:17 & Romans 6:4 that are the visible representation of Jesus Christ in this world. This process by which the lives of men and women are conformed to the very likeness of Christ is called sanctification. The word means "to make something holy." In the Bible it refers to the ongoing work of God and man that makes us increasingly free of sin and like Christ.

 There is a concern for the spiritual health of America among some Christians who have been praying for revival.  The problem is most Christians today have never experienced a revival and think evangelism and revival are the same.  This could not be further from the truth.  The prophet Hosea gives us an indication of what revival is all about. Hosea 10:12 says: “Sow to yourself in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord till He come and reign righteousness upon you.”  The Psalmist speaks about revival when he says,  “Would Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee.” Psalm 85:6  

 When we speak about revival we think of spring and fall revivals.  Revivals are planned by the church board, a date is established, an evangelist and song evangelist are called and advertising is designed to bring in the "lost".   Revival has become purely mechanical and "willed" by man and not by God.  Revival cannot be organized, subsidized and advertised.  If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God’s sorrow over sin. We have to get a vision of how, day by day, we offend God.  As a nation we daily offend the LORD and as a church we offend the LORD with our weakened message of salvation.

 If America is to have a change of heart it must start in the pulpit.  Joel 1:13, “Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl ye ministers of the altar, come lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God.”2:12, 17 “Turn ye now even to Me with all your heart and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments.”, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach.” 

 Some will say not to worry about the condition of the church and country that "this too shall pass".  The problem is we have fooled ourselves about the evil that exist in our country and the church; the evil today is such that we have never seen before.  The only thing that will change this condition is the purifying and cleansing fire of the LORD.  Many talk about revival but are not willing to have the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit refine and purify them.  Jesus came to bring a fire on the earth that is a consuming fire baptizing us with the Holy Ghost. 

 The need for revival is definite; the church is in such turmoil that there is very little difference between those in the world and those who call themselves Christians in the church.   Ministers have changed the message from the pulpit.  Preachers have heeded the cry from the pew of a feel good message.  Scriptural doctrine has been forsaken and the message of Christ's plan of salvation has been ignored and many are ignorant of true repentance.  If there is to be a revival in American churches, there must be a change in the message of salvation and true biblical salvation preached.

 The problem we have in American churches is we have a large number of people who are associated with the Christian faith without accepting biblical salvation.  They came into the Christian faith under false pretense by making an intellectual decision to become a Christian without first being convinced they were sinners. We have forgotten the process of salvation or we have made the choice to ignore it.  There must be first conviction of sin which is done only by the Holy Spirit.  He will convince the sinner they are in need of a Savior. When the sinner is convinced they will confess their sin and Jesus will forgive them of their sin.  When confession is made the act of repentance will take place-there will be an about face made and a new direction will be taken.  True repentance is "I will never do this again."  In too many cases we have reduced the new birth to the simple affirmation of propositions.  We have many cultural Christians who are religious simply because that is the way they were raised. 

 The last part of salvation is restitution. God said, ". . . And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done."  If there were more preaching on restitution there would be less repeating of the act. 

It was during the early 1800's that the church shifted the message of repentance.  We no longer preach about conviction, confession, repentance and restitution.  The message of true repentance is a negative message and does not appeal to a carnal nature.  There are many in the church today professing to be Christians while living defeated lives and living with a false sense of spiritual security.  They have come to an intellectual decision to become a Christian without being drawn by the Holy Spirit.  The process of salvation starts with conviction of sin.  The sinner must first be convinced he is a sinner.  This convincing is done by the Holy Spirit. Once convinced he must confess he is a sinner.  We must acknowledge that we are sinners-   All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.   Confession is followed by repentance and restitution for a life of sin. The elements of conviction, confession, repentance and restitution are necessary for true biblical salvation.

Today, men are not experiencing the conviction for sins; they are becoming "followers" of Christ without having their conscience roused or a sorrow for their separation from God.  Men today are more concerned about their relationship with one another than a relationship with God.

The bottom line is none can come to Christ as their Savior until they are thoroughly convinced they are in need of a Savior.  No one can come to Jesus as a Savior, till he realizes that he is a lost sinner and convinced he is doom without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for his sins.

 Today the world has very little concept of sin.  Most individuals are morally dyslexic and cannot tell the difference between right and wrong.  We have come to accept within the church the concept that sin is more on the order of error than a disregard for the commandments of God.  We have taken away the shame of sin.  As long as we are ignorant of the power of sin in our lives we will think of it as a disorder or syndrome and never find deliverance from sin.  

 Paul did not want the Galatians ignorant of what the fruits of sin were, Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Many experience embarrassment when they are caught in the act.  A guilty conscience is not conviction or remorse over sin.  The philosophy of the day is to commit the act and ask forgiveness when caught-- after all Christians are required to forgive one another.  This is not conviction this is "I'm sorry I got caught."  True repentance is what Paul explain to the Corinthians,  2 Corinthians 7:9-10 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  When the Holy Spirit convicts us there is a deep sense of guilt, remorse, uncleanness, and ungodliness within our spirit.   This feeling of guilt of sin cannot be manufactured.  

 What I am about to say will no doubt be considered by many Evangelicals and Fundamentalist as heresy.  The evangelist approach to revival has contributed to the weakening of the message of Salvation by focusing on numbers rather than true conversions.   Most Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Holiness Churches have an invitation system to bring men, women and children to Christ.  The congregation will sing a hymn while the preacher calls men and women to come to the front to make a public confession to "accept Christ".  Salvation is offered with the decision to allow Jesus into their hearts.  This custom has no foundation in biblical practice and circumvents the work of the Holy Spirit.  We have a lot of confessing in the church with very little repentance.

 The "old fashion altar call" was unheard of until Charles Finney used it around 1830.  Finney developed the modern evangelistic methods of forcing a decision to get results.  The process was later used by Dwight L. Moody, Peter Cartwright, Sam Jones, R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, Bob Jones, Gipsy Smith, Mordacai Ham, John R. Rice, Billy Graham and many evangelists today all used the method with impressive success. The invitation system had come to stay.

 Today the "old fashion altar call" has replaced the Holy Spirit as the first step to salvation to a forced decision.  Jesus told his discipiles, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" John 16:7   We are not called to save people or force them to make a decision, but rather to be a witness of what Jesus Christ has done in our life.  Our pleading, begging and singing sinners to kneel at an altar may not bring salvation to the lost sinner but it will bring weakness to the church.  They must first be convinced by the HOLY SPIRIT they are sinners, not by the fear of hell, the imminent return of Jesus Christ, or the emotional appeal of Almost Persuaded sung for one half hour but by a godly sorrow for their actions against a holy God.  Before you tune me out completely I do believe there are those who have found true salvation from the invitation to accept Jesus Christ at the end of a sermon or invitation song, only because the Holy Spirit had been speaking to them prior to the message or song.

 It is conviction that causes one to realize that he or she is separated from being in a right relationship with God. Unless a sinner repents, he will stand condemned before God and lost forever. Luke 13:5 "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  Before there can be true repentance, a sinner must have an understanding and acknowledgement that he is guilty of sin accompanied by a godly sorrow.  Conviction of sin brings a man to an awareness of this hopeless, helpless condition. The guilt of sin was laid upon the sinner by the Holy Spirit-conviction, to the point he sought forgiveness of his sins so that he could find peace within his soul.

 ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ -Lev. 10.3

 America is perishing and the Church is languishing for want of the knowledge of God. This generation of American souls is largely ignorant of the God of the Scriptures, and we have been too preoccupied and distracted by this world to come into that knowledge ourselves. We have preached a hollow message that bears little resemblance to the revelation of God set forth by the apostles and prophets, and the condition of our nation testifies to it.

 We have made light of sin, made the faith into a mere subculture, and the cities of America remain mostly unconvinced of the reality of God. We have not demonstrated His love and purity, for we have been functioning along the lines of the world, catering to self and living under the intoxicating influences of an immoral society.

 If America is to have a revival with true repentance and turning from our wicked ways the message from the pulpits must be a message of biblical salvation.  The message must speak to the lost condition of man and his separation from God.  The sinner must be convinced and convicted of his lost and sinful condition by the call of the Holy Spirit and the church must be convicted of her wickedness and repent and turn again to the LORD.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Government Mind Control?

Several years ago I became fascinated with the working of the brain and enrolled in some classes that dealt with brain-based learning, understanding the learning process of the brain, and the connection of the brain and the heart.  This interest developed into a desire to know more about the technology being developed to modify and "re-wire" the brain.  So I have followed the research and the changing methods of dealing with brain technology.  I am by no means an expert in this field but do have cursor knowledge of the subject.

 Detailed study of the brain started around 1796 by Franz Joseph Gall who developed what became termed as "phrenology".   One of basic concepts of phrenology that survived was that of "brain mapping". However, the "scientific research" proved wrong.  The lesson from this should be scientists make mistakes. Mistakes continued into the area of psychosurgery, with the intention of suppressing abnormal behavior.  Enter the prefrontal lobotomy.  The end result was many died and suffered from this "research".  Again, the lesson from this should be scientists make mistakes.  With the past mistakes brain scientist made, society should not feel comfortable with the direction today's researchers are going.  We have gone from surgery to mind modification psychiatric drugs with the same results—scientists make mistakes.  But, the world is changing and modern technology has created a new world without borders.  We have probed the depths of the universe as well as the mind of man. 

 With modern computer technology, satellites, GPS, hybrid bionic systems, people can now be tracked within a few feet anywhere in the world and talk to someone in the desert of Africa.  Technology has advanced to the point we are facing the day of synthetic telepathy, with brain-computer-interface and communication technology based on thoughts, not speech.  Already cybernetic technology can be used to read out minds and to control our sensory perception by mimicking sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  How far will this technology go before we are no more than human robots doing the will of those controlling the technology?  Has man entered into an area he should not have ventured into?  Are we become the gods that Satan promised Eve in the Garden?

 The Church has always had a reservation about identification technology.  This is the result of taking the Mark of the Beast or being identified with 666.  You can forget about bar codes, or identification chips, or even the RFID's the technology today has far exceed the science fiction of Star Trek.  We have entered into an era of total human control.  There is no privacy in the modern world.  Our movements can be tracked by satellites, street cameras, banks, schools parking lots and even home surveillance cameras.  But what is far more evasive to our freedom and liberty is the control of our minds.   

 One of the faults within the church is its lack of being proactive against ethical, legal, social, political and philosophical issues that are changing our culture and society by the potential applications of hybrid bionic systems research.  There have been great strides in the research of the brain.  With the development of new nano, micro, optical and electrical technologies, researchers have been able to probe the structure and function of the brain.  With this knowledge researchers have developed amazing devices implanted into the brain to aid those who have lost limbs or are paralyzed due to disease or a traumatic injury.  But what will be the down side?

 Millions of dollars has gone into researching these cutting edge technologies that will enable implanted microchips into our brains that will enhance our lives.  Most people will only see the tremendous benefits of these implants.  People will actually beg to have these devices implanted into their brains.  Just imagine when you are able to "download" an entire life of knowledge into your memory in just a matter of hours.  Just think of the endless possibilities for this kind of technology.  It all sounds like some Star Trek science fiction until you start looking at the daily headlines. had this article, Digital pill with chip inside gets FDA green light

This headline should be cause for concern, Pentagon's DARPA researchers learn to control rat's brain over Internet.  This article states, "Government mind control may not be as farfetched as it sounds: after 15 years of research, scientists have found a way to transmit information from one brain to another, thereby controlling the thoughts of its test subject.Scientists have successfully captured the thoughts of a rat in Brazil and electronically transmitted them through the Internet to the brain of a rat in the US. The Brazilian rat had been energetically running around in a lab. When the American rat received the brain waves of its South American counterpart, it immediately began to mimic the behavior – despite the thousands of miles between them, Reuters reports."

The danger of this new technology with implants could allow a total control of those implanted, not only regarding what they do but what they are thinking.  Nothing will be hidden from the person operating the equipment controlling the implant.  Your brain can be taken over. The "big brother is watching you" will be big brother is controlling you. The movie Johnny Mnemonic may not be so farfetched.  This science fiction action film was about a man with a cybernetic brain and may soon be a reality.   

The church has failed to stay on top of the ethical and moral direction our technology is leading us. Who is asking the questions like:  What kind of privacy safeguards are needed if a machine can read your thoughts? Will invasive research on humans involve inhuman or degrading actions? Will this invasive research on humans lead to new torture or inhumane punishment techniques? "What will happen to free will"?

 Some are wondering how neuroscience technology will change the battlefield. The staggering possibilities are further along than many think. There is already development on automated drones that are programmed to make their own decisions about who to kill within the rules of war. Other ideas fast becoming a military reality: Tanks controlled from half a world away, memory erasures that could prevent PTSD, and “brain fingerprinting” that could be used to extract secrets from enemies.

 It should be noted that there are no laws that protect humans from illegal mind reading technologies.  With the present technology it is possible to clone select parts of the brain function with the use of a remote computer and implant interface.  Again, let me ask the question what happens to free will and morality?

 The question of using drones continues to be a discussion in Congress and should be of interest because of the moral implications of this technology. The Globe and Mail reported that the British military has a new unmanned attack aircraft designed to use artificial intelligence to fly itself halfway around the world and select enemy targets on its own. The Taranis, is a stealthy jet-powered autonomous flying robot weapon system. Taranis could be programmed to fly itself between continents to reach enemy territory.  It could then carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activity.  

 The United States is projected to soon have 30,000 drone flying American skies.  The Huffington Post reported on February 15, 2013, FAA Drone Request: Administration Moves to Expand Unmanned Aircraft for Domestic, Civil Use "The Federal Aviation Administration made the request Thursday, kicking off what is anticipated to be an intense competition between states hoping to win one of the sites."  The article goes on to say, "The military has come to rely heavily on drones overseas. Now there is tremendous demand to use drones in the U.S. for all kinds of tasks that are too dirty, dull or dangerous for manned aircraft. Drones, which range from the size of a hummingbird to the high-flying Global Hawks that weigh about 15,000 pounds without fuel, also are often cheaper than manned aircraft.  Drones are not the only machines that are automated.  The automation of weapons systems is a growing military trend, with the U.S. Army aiming to automate 30 per cent of its ground vehicles by 2015. 

 What type of autonomy will be given to a machine?  There are individuals within our government who are without morals or ethical behavior who will use the advances in neuroscience for military control of the masses.  The present administration is a prime example of the use of technology to rain death and destruction on the innocent with their drones.

 What happens when our government has perfected the technology of wireless mind control?  We already see how they use the technology of drones-- what will stop them from using synthetic telepathy, with brain-computer-interface and communication technology based on thoughts, not speech?  

 My concern is that as a Christian, why are we ignoring the ethical and moral implications of the research that is taking place right now to control the minds of individuals?  What are the theological implications of those who have had their free will circumvented by technology?  Will this technology give power to a world dictator to not only control what you buy and sell but how you think and act?

 Americans have been eager to exchange their liberty for the safety and security of an invasive government.  The public has been exposed to the benefits of the new technology without understanding the implications of the evil it can bring upon mankind.  Just as the early brain researchers felt it was OK to influence peoples thoughts on how thing in human society ought to be, researchers today have become the engineers and architects of how society should act. 

 It is sad ministers have ignored what is happening around them allowing their people to be deceived by the greatness of man's technology not seeing the dangers they hide.  Jeremiah tried to warn Jerusalem but was ignored, "The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, they have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. [Lamentations 4:12-14]  Notice those the LORD held for responsible for the downfall of Jerusalem—the prophets and priest.  Who will the LORD hold responsible for the downfall of America?