Caricatures!

One of the criticisms of Charles Dickens works by other authors was that the characters he created were just caricatures and not full orbed or rounded people.

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All the notable traits of his characters were accentuated and distorted for comedy and dramatic effect removing some of the true to life aspects of their portrayal.uriah heep.jpeg

I fear that many of us as Christians are little more than caricatures of Christianity rather than true examples of Christianity in living practice.

We may have some of the trappings of Christianity but are lacking in the most necessary attributes such as selflessness and genuine meekness.

Worse still we may have the “holier than thou” attitude savouring more of the Pharisee than the follower of Christ.

Others may have a Christianity which is all head and little heart, while others have only a sentimental or Sunday worship Christianity.

Still others are all good works but have little understanding of the truths of the Word and therefore miss the end in all Christ’s service.

How important it is therefore to have a sound understanding and wholehearted seeking for Christ , by His Spirit to graft Himself into our lives and daily lives and make us true imitators of our Saviour .

This is not to say that all Christians are to be alike or that they will no longer have their individuality and idiosyncrasies but rather that they will grow and grow proportionately to the full stature of Christ.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13 E.S.V.

Standing for the truth!

I read in a book, (I think A.G. Dickens on the English Reformation), the story of a mentally handicapped man who was refused Church membership because He was not thought capable of understanding Christianity. On his way out of the church he was heard reciting, “Three in one, One in three, One in the middle, He died for me.”

This man, despite his deficiencies made the effort and understood something of the gospel message and believed it.

Many of us, despite much greater mental acuity content ourselves with little knowledge and even less understanding of the things of Christ and the truths of Scripture.

So it happens when our faith is assailed by false doctrine and heresy we “Drop sail” and yield.

There are those who make “discernment” a matter of knowing where demons are present and active. Rather the discerning Christian is the one who recognizes plausible counterfeits of Christianity and rejects them for the falsehoods they are.

The “Christian” leader will inevitably face criticism. Rather be criticized for being faithful, unflinching and honest in the bold proclamation of the “whole counsel of God”, than for watering down, glossing over or ignoring scriptural teaching.

Some church pastors and teachers may be highly successful in drawing great attendances, have lively and exciting worship and a great list of social programs etc. but if they are not proclaiming Scriptural Christianity and the Biblical way of Salvation then all they do will be only splendid sins.

Many say we should not judge lest we be judged.

I say “Preach the Word of God” be faithful to its teaching and do not yield to the fear or favour of men and modify your preaching to mollify them. Then we will have no cause for criticism and know that God is with you in truth.

Stopping Death in its tracks!

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17 (ESV)

This portion of scripture is precious in that it is a foreshadowing of Christ’s ultimate conquest over death by His Resurrection.

Perhaps only someone who has recently lost someone dear can enter into the emotion and tragedy of this scene.

Death is seen at its worst. A young man, his mother’s only stay and support is cruelly  taken  away in the prime of life.

Yet even as the pall bearers are taking the lifeless body away they are stopped in their course by the one who is the Lord over death and the giver of eternal life.

The sorrowful tears of the bereft mother were exchanged for tears of joy when at the word of Christ; the dead son was restored to her alive.

It was no wonder that fear and worship gripped the amazed crowd of mourners.  God had indeed visited His people. If only they had realized the day of His visitation!

While we may not see the dead visibly raised, the day will come when we will.

In a Spiritual sense we know that through the power of Christ in the gospel, men and women, boys and girls, are being raised from the death of sin and delivered from the second death and brought to the only “life” worthy of the name.

We all have loved ones and neighbours who are as dead in sin as this young man was dead in body.

Let us all pray that like this young man, they will be stopped in their tracks on the way to a hope-less eternity and brought to salvation and life in Christ.

And to Him alone be the glory!

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Gordon Harker : ( 1885- 1967) was one of the unlikely “lads” who starred and supported in over sixty British films of the thirties, forties and fifties.

If anything he was an “anti-hero” who ended up on top more by good luck than good management.

He invariably played the “lugubrious, shifty cockney”.

imagesharker3(from “The Phantom light”1935)

He was noted for playing “Inspector Hornley” in a trilogy of films and was ably supported by Alistair Sim.inspector-hornleigh-on-holiday-1939-dvd-gordon-harker-alastair-sim-744-p

I confess I originally found him hard to take to and a bit unlikeable but he has a tendency to grow on you and after a while you come to admire him and his worldly wise ways.

In the Christian life we meet all sorts. Many of them are not quite our “cup of tea” and have little appeal for us.

It may be only upon closer examination that we see the truth of their Christianity and the Christ-like characteristics in their daily living. We owe some people a second look and the benefit of the doubt before we write them off.

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Caricatures!

The Way We were!

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:19-23 (ESV)

 

Paul does not mince words here. In very clear language he describes the sinful state we are all found in, apart from Christ.

First of all he says that we were alienated from God.  The consequence of the fall and our partaking of Adam’s sin is that we are no longer able to come into God’s holy presence without a mediator.

While God made us in the first place, because of our sin we are no longer in a filial relationship with Him out of Christ.

In our sinful state the lines of communication and fellowship are closed and no power of ours can re-open them.

Second the apostle says that we were hostile in mind.

It is not only a fact that we were without God but that by nature we hated Him and wanted nothing to do with Him.

Our sinful hostility towards God meant that we fell in with the plans of Satan and did works of darkness and evil deeds.

Such is the state of mankind in sin, without God and without hope.

Therefore the great need of sinful men was for sin to be dealt with and reconciliation with a just and holy God made possible.

Christ has done this by his death on the cross.  Even more, through this all availing sacrifice we can now approach God .blameless and holy, clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

It is through our abiding in the faith and remaining steadfast in holding to the gospel that we remain in fellowship and union with Christ thus answering God’s purpose in reconciling all things to Himself.

Those who seek to trim and diminish the gospel by ignoring the need for repentance on our part and reconciliation by the blood of Christ are greatly to be blamed for the low views many have on the sinfulness of sin and the supreme importance of Christ’s atoning and sacrificial death on our behalf.index be reconciled

 Those who choose a quiet life over the truth.

There are Christians in the churches who know that there is something wrong with their particular church’s proclamation of the gospel and deficient and populist  idea of worship and for the sake of a quiet life, say nothing and do nothing.

There are those, who because of large attendances and active programs, acquiesce in the preaching of suspect and false doctrines.

There are those who because of the close friendships and fellowship   they have in their particular churches turn a blind eye to the prevalent errors , ignorance of scriptural doctrine and lack of Christian Holiness, they see around them.

There are  Ministers, who know the true Gospel yet skimp and water down its preaching for the sole reason that they do not wish to offend and alienate the un-churched.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally. (George Duffield jr. 1818-1888)

 

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James Robertson Justice (15 June 1907 – 2 July 1975) : was one of the most ubiquitous character actors in the British films of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Thanks to his large frame , booming voice and bushy beard he was always an imposing and commanding presence in his various film roles ,(they are as long as your arm).

His early life was full of adventure and variety and later it was touched by tragedy.

His overwhelming passion was love for Scotland, although he was not born there.  His father came from Aberdeen.

“On his return from the war he reinvented himself with stronger Scottish roots. Feeling strongly about his Scottish ancestry, he claimed to have been born in 1905 under a distillery on the Isle of Skye; he also claimed on separate occasions to have been born in Wigtown, Wigtownshire, now in Dumfries and Galloway.

With the earnings he made from the film Doctor in the House, Justice bought a cottage in the Scottish Highlands village of Spinningdale.” (From Wiki)

In a great part due to the “Highland clearances “and other reasons, many people of Scottish descent migrated all over the world.

Yet even to those who were not born there and have never been there, it is still a romantic and enchanting place which speaks of home.

For my part I have always had a love for Scotland re-enforced by the writings and sermons of Christian men like Samuel Rutherford, David Dickson, John Willison, Thomas Boston and Robert Murray Mcheyne to name a few.

For the Christian, heaven is such a home. It is there that all that is dear to us dwells. It is where, in Christ, we will find true rest and eternal joy.

So when we set are tempted to set our hearts on the things of this world let us remember that “Our hearts are in another place, our hearts are not here.”

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The Way We were!

Emoh Rou.

An Old gentleman I know runs a plant nursery of this name not. I assumed it was a name of Maori (New Zealand) origin but always forgot to look up its meaning.

Last time I was there I asked him what it meant but before he could answer I saw that it was “Our Home” spelt backwards.

In the same way most Christians have a tendency to read the works and dealings of God around the wrong way.

They take as their starting place their own desires and aspirations and expect God to meet them in a timely and bountiful way.

It is sinful human nature to place ourselves at the centre of the universe and it is surely one of the last failings to be subdued by the Christian.

We think that as God in Christ has through His mercy saved us, He is now committed to make our lives and our happiness a priority.

Even in the matter of salvation we make our own efforts the prime mover and reduce God to the level of an eager but powerless to act Saviour.

It when we look at these things from the God centered and Biblical perspective that we see that God and His own glory are the ultimate end of all His works.

That God truly loves mankind and His elect is a great truth but God would be exactly who He is even had he left man to the just consequences of his sin.

That He has through our Lord Jesus Christ acted for the salvation of man, is to resound to His glory by the redeemed for all eternity.

It is when we turn things around and look at them from God’s point of view that we understand something of His purposes and methods in the world. It is when we take ourselves out of the center of everything and place God there that we begin to live as we were originally created to.

Squeezing you into its mould!

It is a phenomenon of this modern hectic lifestyle that for many Christians the only contact with other church members and fellow believers is the time spent at their local church service and that maybe only one service a week.

The work life of many believers is made up with long distance commuting or long work hours. What spare time they have is devoted to their family and recreational activities.

In the past a church member would most likely attend a prayer meeting, Bible study, Christian Endeavour or other organization of the church.

It does seem that if Satan cannot de-rail the Christian by the direct means of sin, he piles them down with work and obligations which vie for his attention.

While I cannot say I have the remedy for this situation, I would remind those of my readers in this predicament that they can serve God in all their circumstances and among whoever job and responsibilities throw them into the midst of.

Yet all of us need to be conscious of the fact that God calls us to seek Him and His kingdom before everything else with the assurance that all else will follow.

We should probably ask ourselves whether all we have taken upon ourselves and all that is placed upon us by economic and family circumstances are really necessary for us to bear to the neglect of the service of God in His church and the needful help to our faith of meaningful Christian fellowship.

Even the non believer who toils and moils in the modern world supposedly to live in the best style he can and to provide for his families future comes to the  point of wondering whether it was all absolutely necessary.

How much of even family life is missed by work commitments and focusing on career when the worthwhile things of life are missed out on or curtailed.

During my fractured working career I have met many people who had highly responsible and time consuming jobs with a high rate of pay change course and accept a lower paid and less time consuming job for the sake of peace of mind and family reasons.

The least the Christian can do is look at the life they are leading and ask themselves how much of their journey into worldly pursuits is really necessary and helpful and what can they do to enrich the lives of their fellow believers and themselves ultimately by closer fellowship and service with the Body of Christ.

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Emoh Rou.

The Weapons of our Warfare!

The “Smith” gun.

During the early days of World War two and the imminent of threat of invasion of Britain the greatest need of the defenders was for effective anti-tank weapons, especially for the Home Guard.

So desperate were they for an answer to the seemingly unstoppable German tanks, that someone suggested they place upside down dinner plates on the local roads to arouse the curiosity of the German tank crews to provoke them to leave their vehicles and investigate ,hoping to dispose of them in the process.

One weapon developed was the Smith Gun.220px-The_Smith_Three_Inch_Mobile_Gun_H18832

“The Smith Gun was an ad hoc anti-tank artillery piece used by the British Army and Home Guard during the Second World War. With a German invasion of Great Britain seeming likely after the defeat in the Battle of France, most available weaponry was diverted to the regular British Army, leaving the Home Guard short on supplies, particularly anti-tank weaponry. The Smith Gun was designed by a retired Army Major named William H. Smith as a makeshift anti-tank weapon, and was put into production in 1941 following a demonstration to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill”. (Quoted from wiki)

Unfortunately by the time the”Smith Gun” arrived the threat of invasion had largely subsided.

To operate this weapon it had to be turned on its side, which was not always easy to do as it was heavy and awkward to handle especially on uneven ground.

It required a high firing trajectory and with the shortage of ammunition, target practice was not always possible.4088263_orig

It had a mixed operational history and was quickly withdrawn from service at the end of the war.

It is understandable in those desperate days that for all its faults this weapon was jumped upon.

There are many in the churches today who feel that we can no longer rely on the Bible as our primary weapon in the fight against sin and our endeavour to save people from its clutches.

They regard its claim to inerrancy and  faith in the utility Scriptures for God’s saving purposes in the world ,as being “Old hat” and not worthy of credence for twenty first century man.

These often well meaning people, seek to supplement and sometimes replace the preaching of the Word with worldly methods and devices that can only be regarded as gimmicks.

I fear that for many so called ministers of the Word that the last thing they want to do is preach it. Very often they will substitute anything else for the actual exposition and proclamation of the Scriptures.

God does not need us to “second guess” Him. He has warned us against using carnal weapons and must look to the Captain of our Salvation for our supply and ammunition.

Christ has not left His army without the weapons they need to fight their spiritual enemies. The Bible as the in-scripturated Word of God is an “arsenal of freedom” that we despise at our peril.

Supported by fervent prayer and trusting faith we are well equipped for whatever the world, Satan and ungodly men can throw against us.

Empowered by the Spirit, we have all the means we need to overcome the enemy’s seemingly impregnable defenses.

Through Christ and His grace, the Church and individual Christian is more than capable of withstanding any attack and assault if only we will avail ourselves of them.

It will endure and prevail when all our man made designs and devices will end on the scrap heap.

Strangers and Sojourners.

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“9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-11 E.S.V.

The Christian in his or her original state is no different from the non-Christian. We were to without God and without hope.

The Apostle Peter places the originating cause of our difference from the people of godless world at large solely in the reality of God’s choice of the believer.

It is only through His undeserved and indeed ill-deserved mercy that those who were once “not a people” became the people of God.

It is because of this high calling that Christians are to live differently and on a more exalted and heavenly plane than those around them.

This world is not our final dwelling place and because of this, our attitude towards it must be that of strangers and sojourners, with the expectancy of departing from it at any time.

Instead of involving ourselves with the  inordinate pursuit of world’s passions and desires we must place our ultimate desire in seeking to glorify our Lord and Saviour by living holy and God glorifying lives in serving our fellow men and women.

We are to show forth the Excellencies and saving mercies of the one who has saved us and has a wondrous eternal reward in store for His chosen, blood bought and redeemed people . This merciful God , continues to call others to Himself by the proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ.

To Him alone be the Glory of our Salvation.

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Editorial Note:

The only feedback I get regarding this blog is from “followers ” and ” likes”.

The only comments I recieve are spam or treated as spam by WordPress.

Since most of my readers appear to be in the United States, I can only wonder what they make of most of my references to my favourite genres in films and history.

I can only hope that despite these seemingly obscure sources, the lessons and conclusions I have tried to draw and illustrate from them, will not be lost in translation.

 

 

The Weapons of our Warfare!

Balaam: If the Price is Right!

The story of Balaam is one you would rarely hear mentioned in a modern sermon.

Ironically there are many treading the same road and if they do not repent they will meet the same end.

This “prophet “or more probably what they used to call a “soothsayer” is somewhat of an enigma. He was a prophet for hire and such was his prophetic gift that Balak the king of Moab sought him to curse the children of Israel. This petty potentate felt threatened by the encroaching Israelites but need not have worried because they were commanded of God not to take any territory from either Moab or Edom. Yet such was the hostility this king had for them that he sought Israel’s destruction by magical rather than military means.

The passage infers that Balaam had delivered messages from God at previous times and a casual reading would suggest that the prophet was well acquainted with the Lord God. Yet even from the first Balaam seems to have been dazzled by the rich prize Balak dangled before him.

Balaam provided hospitality to the king’s emissaries while he sought the Lord.

The Lord clearly forbade him to either go with them or curse God’s chosen people. So the ambassadors departed.

King Balak was not so easily deterred and sent a larger entourage of more important people and this time offered the prophet not only riches but preferment and honour.

While in his speech he stood firm, he sought again to the Lord perhaps hoping God would change His mind and thus be able to oblige Balak and maybe gain the reward.

God allowed the prophet to accompany the men if they asked him to but with the proviso that he only spoke what God commanded him to. The following passage is unclear inasmuch as it seems that God changed his mind and was angry at Balaam for going with the emissaries of the king.

Rather it would seem that in his eagerness for the promised reward he preempted the emissary’s invitation and took off with two of his servants to meet them.

God expects our obedience to His commands to be obeyed to the letter. Balaam could see only the riches and honour Balak promised and this blinded him to anything else.

How many professing Christians today have their eyes on the wrong prize by seeking to serve and worship God yet are covetous for wealth and ease?

The story of Balaam and the donkey may cause some to stumble, yet God is well able to give voice to the dumb creation when he has something to say.indexbalaam

Light heartedly we can discover for ourselves who was the real donkey out of these two. The donkey could clearly see the danger ahead of them when this great “prophet” could not.

We have here the compassion of God illustrated in stopping Balaam in a sinful course.

The lesson and warning this incident taught Balaam about obedience to God’s commands brought him to a shallow repentance because although he obeyed God in prophesying the blessed future of God’s people and even the coming of the Messiah, it did not change the fundamental sinful bent of his desires.

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!” Numbers 22:15-19

Balak, king of Moab’s persistence beggar’s belief, by every means conceivable he sought Balaam to curse the people yet time and again Balaam was prompted by God to bless the children of Israel and forth tell their future blessings. It made no difference where they stood or how many altars he built God’s will in the blessing of his people will always stand even in the face of their enemies.static1.squarespace.com

The purposes of God cannot be thwarted by man.

And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“From Aram Balak has brought me,
    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
    and come, denounce Israel!’
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
    How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him,
    from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
    and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
    or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
    and let my end be like his!” Numbers 22: 7-10

This passage from scripture also is a salutary warning for us all inasmuch as it shows us that a person can be gifted and used of God and yet not truly one of His own and also how easily it is to be tempted from obedience and faith by the deceitful riches a, honours and pleasures of this world.

Later we see Balaam advising Balak to use the women of Moab to entice the men of Israel to sin and idolatry, thus bringing dire judgment upon the people. He chose to ignore God’s warnings and set himself against the will of God thus hastening headlong on the path of destruction.

Balaam did not live long to enjoy the rewards of wickedness because he was later killed by the children of Israel during their war with the kings of Midian.

We must all choose whose side we are on.

Balaam knew the true God and indeed served Him to some degree yet he did so with a divided and covetous heart and paid the price of disobedience and impenitence.

Let us be warned by his sorry end to be wholehearted in our faith and obedience to God.

Also may we see the bright future of God’s chosen people. Although they may now be “under a Cloud” and not much to look at ,in God’s sight they are chosen and precious among the people of the world. They are His possession and will be so for all eternity.

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Standing on the Word of God.

During the nineteenth century there was a strenuous effort on the part of many Evangelical leaders to reconcile Christianity with the new “Theory of Evolution” and the scientific discoveries of the age.

They found the idea of a six day creation and a “young “ earth did not jibe with modern thought and tried to explain them away as the product of primitive and unscientific thought. They also made the Bible stories to be something other than historical fact but still moral and objective lessons.

Others finding the doctrine of substitutional Atonement was found to be irreconcilable with the new thought permeating the intellectual circles and attempts were made to make it less than what scripture showed it to be.

While many of these people were no doubt well meaning the opening up of the scriptures and Christian Doctrine to this sort of adaptation and modification only served to weaken the power of the Christian Gospel.

While it is true that the Genesis creation story is not a scientific document it still demands for itself credence as to the fact of God’s immediate creation of man and indeed the whole creation as well as the subsequent fall of man into sin.

To the thoughtful observer the Fall is the only true and plausible explanation of the historic and continuing state of man in sin and rebellion against God.

As I continually point out in these scribblings any attempt to adapt and diminish the teaching of the scriptures in the hope of appealing to ungodly populace can only undermine the inherent , Spirit  imbued Power of the Word of God in the tearing down of sins strongholds and Satan’ kingdom.

While we invite scrutiny of the Word of God, we must let it stand as it is.

As has been found in the past and will be discovered in the future the Holy Scriptures needs no apology from us.

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Balaam: If the Price is Right!