All posts by Jacob

Racism is Only Natural

Humans are selfish beings. From the moment of our conception our world revolves around ourselves.

In order for us to care about others we need to be taught either that others are worth caring about, or that it is in our best interests to pretend to care about them, or both. A lesson most of us learn rather quickly to one degree or another.

It extends logically then, that we will like those things, and people, that are like ourselves. As a result we can come to first mistrust, the fear, then avoid, next disdain, and ultimately hate those that, in our perception, are not like ourselves. It’s only natural.

So if racism is natural, is it good too?

To answer that, we must go back in history thousands of years to when humans first dispersed through the world. Those people had common ancestors who they had actually met. They looked alike. What differences they had were largely superficial.

Most importantly they had heard first- or second-hand accounts of people who had spoken to God conversationally. They even had heard perhaps third-hand accounts of the origin of Mankind and even of the first birth of a human.

Each of them had a common ancestor who they themselves or their grandparents had known personally.

Each man and woman propagated to the next generation someone who looked much like them, who looked much like that common ancestor. Each of them knew that their children were born in the image of their first-father and that he in turn was made in the image of God Himself.

It is this point that I have finally come to that brings us back to the question of whether racism is good. If each person is born in the image of our first-father then how can we hate those who bear that image?

As if that were not clear enough, God then spoke to us to remove all doubt. He not only commanded us, but declared it to be his second most important commandment.

עַמֶּךָ וְאָֽהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמֹוךָ

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Hating another person, for any reason, it abhorrent to God. It is an abomination, which is an old way of saying that it smells bad.

So much of what is natural is not good. Selfishness, hatred, greed, rage, these are natural. But we are called to sacrifice, love, generosity, and self-control.

Racism is only natural. We must rise above nature and cry out to our Creator to beg for the power to live according to His ways.

Study of John 1

This is the first in a series of posts wherein I will share with you my study on a section of scripture. Unlike most of my posts, this page is likely to change while I am studying the passage.

I am using KJV as the base here for copyright reasons, with some edits to help me record what I am learning

  • In beginning was the Word,
  • and the Word was with the God,
  • and God was the Word.
  • This {the Word} was in beginning with the God.
  • 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him]. 19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John [speak], and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Reference Links:

  • https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/jhn/1/1/s_998001
  • http://www.biblestudytools.com/interlinear-bible/passage/?q=john+1&t=kjv

Where is the Gospel?

I had an interesting dream the other night. Now I am no prophet and I don’t say that there is anything more about my dream than a dream; still, I found it interesting and decided to share it with you.

I was in a small town of some kind, I would guess maybe a few thousand people judging by the map, but I will get to that a bit later. In my dream there was a plague or disease of some kind that was threatening to kill everyone.

The government reached out to the Christians, not for food or for medicine, or housing, for counselling or even wisdom. No, it was too late for that. The government was turning to the Christians because everyone was expected to die, and most were headed to Hell.

In a few hours we gathered together some 50 or 60 people ready and willing to go to all the people to bring them the Gospel. We looked at a map of the city and quickly marked every school, government building, and religious building in town. We were dismayed that most of the buildings marked were gathering places for cults or false preachers leading people to comfort in their damnation.

Finally we had a plan and were about to leave to do the work of the gospel. Just for kicks I turned to the person next to me and asked her to explain the Gospel. I found that not only could she not explain it but then most of the people in the room couldn’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, if a firefighter in uniform doesn’t know how to put out a fire, then they are under an obligation to learn. It is the job description for a firefighter to put out fires and it is no excuse if they don’t know how. In the same way, as a Christian is is our basic job description to proclaim the Law and the Gospel that some will turn to Christ for salvation. If we don’t know how then we are under a profound obligation to find out how.

Please hear me. Don’t  dismiss this like just another blog post. If you are born again then you need to learn how to do your job as an ambassador of reconciliation. Please visit CCN’s free online training to learn and then share with me here your thoughts.

If you are NOT born again, then you need to be. Jesus says in John chapter 3 that “unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Please visit, NeedGod.com and you will learn what you need to know, both about God and about yourself. Then come back here and tell me what you think as well.

The Dress

There is a big debate going on these days about #TheDress, have you heard about that? If you haven’t heard about it, there is this dress design made in an unusual color so that some people see it as white and gold while others see it as blue and black. A lot of people are talking about it and magazines are writing articles and scientists are trying to explain why it looks different to different people. People are forming and breaking groups based on how they see this dress. I am sure it hasn’t hurt sales much either.

It reminds me of my years in politics. People will argue about some of this silliest things. Even many of the apparent big issues in politics keep people arguing to no end. Issues like marriage, immigration, the national debt, and real or imagined sexual escapades split this country neatly in two and keep people talking for years. There is nothing better than a good debate to keep people busy, to keep eyes and minds closed.

On average, 265,000 people will die today, most believing that they are good people and on their way to reward in the afterlife. Will I be one of them? Will you? The most important question you will face today is not whether the dress is blue, it is what will happen when your time comes.

Are you a good person? Lets find out…

  • How many times in your life have you lied?
  • How many times have you stolen? The value doesn’t matter, only the intention.
  • How many times in just the last week have you looked at someone with lust?

Jesus said that if you look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. You entertained evil thoughts about someone whether or not you acted further on those thoughts.

I am not here to say that I am better than you. I too am guilty of this and so much more. I am hear to plead with you. Please listen to what God has to say. Do you stand guilty, as I do?

If God gives you justice for these things would He send you to heaven or to hell? God declares in the bible that all liars have their place in the lake that burns with fire, that no thief or adulterer shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

Some people will hear this and they will throw up their hands to say that what happens happens and that if God will judge them then that is just how it will be. God will judge, but there is a reason that He has told us ahead of time what the standard will be. There is wrath to come, but He warns you to flee from it and has provided a means of escape.

Two thousand years ago God became a man named Jesus who lived about 30 years without breaking any of God’s laws. Then, though He was innocent, He faced God’s wrath as He voluntarily received your just punishment and mine as He died on a Roman cross. Then He rose from the grave to defeat death. He declared that all who put their trust in Him would receive the reward of His innocence just as He received the reward for our crimes.

So I plead with you, and God commands you to repent and trust Him. That is a fancy word that means to stop looking to yourself and start looking at Him, it is a turning of yourself to Him. If you do that He says that He will give you a new heart and a new mind so that you will love what He loves and hate what He hates, a change that the bible calls being born again.

Time is short and the bible says that today is your day of salvation if you will trust Christ, if you will turn to Him in humility. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. You and I could meet our judge today, then it will be too late? Will you place your trust in your own goodness, such as it is, or in the God who was so kind as to save you from an eternity in the pit of fire? Only you can decide, I pray that He will give you the grace to make the right choice.

The 95 Theses

On October 31 in the year of our Lord 1517 a Roman Catholic Priest named Martin Luther nailed a document to the front door of All Saints Church in what was then part of the “Holy” Roman Empire. That event would later be considered one of the pivotal turning points in the protestant reformation. As a result, in some circles October 31 is today referred to as “Reformation Day.” The document itself became known as the 95 Theses after its 95 complaints about the Roman Catholic Church.

In preparation for the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day I have decided to do a series of articles on each of the points of the 95 theses. My hope is to post one every 2-3 weeks, culminating in the 500th anniversary in 2017.

Please Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of Luther’s points, but I will go into that as I discuss them individually.

Text of the 95 Theses (translated, of course):


Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


 

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
  11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
  12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
  17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
  18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
  19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
  20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
  22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
  23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
  24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
  26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
  27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
  28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
  30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
  31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
  32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
  34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
  35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
  36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
  37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
  38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
  40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them — at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
  41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
  44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
  46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
  49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
  52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
  53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
  55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
  61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
  68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
  71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
  72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
  73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
  74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
  75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
  76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
  77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
  79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
  82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?” The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
  83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
  84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, beca use of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”
  85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”
  86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
  87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”
  88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”
  89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”
  90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).