Monday, November 26, 2007


This is an interesting topic that has often been impressed on the mind of this writer for many years. Certain portions of Holy Scripture seem to always bring to mind the absolute power that accompanies our “choices”

One such passage is in Genesis chapter two where God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. There were two trees in this garden and God told them that the fruit of one of them was not to be eaten. Why were there two trees? This indicates the need for a choice, and God made it clear to them which tree they were not to choose. There were no restrictions against their eating from the tree of life, only from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had a reason for giving them this restriction, He wanted them to completely depend on Him for their source of knowledge and not to be independent from Him, and be able to choose for themselves what they thought was right or wrong. This is the first recorded opportunity for the first created human beings to exercise their God given ability to make a choice. There had to be two trees in order for them to make that choice.

God could have only placed the tree of life there and then there would not have been a choice to be made. The tree of life, of course as we find out later in God’s Word, represented Jesus. What a different outcome to the history of the world would this have made if there had never been that chance for a choice. God didn’t want a race of created beings that only obeyed Him, like robots that couldn't do anything else, but would by the exercise of their own free will, choose to obey Him. This was always His “Divine Intention” from the beginning, that man would love and obey Him, not by force but by choice.

This has been a source of controversy in the church for years. The sovereignty of God verses the free will of man. There are scriptures that seem to support both sides of the argument. A man named John Calvin championed the Sovereignty of God, and this teaching became known as “Calvinism”. The other side of the debate became known as “Arminianism” named after Jacob Arminus. This debate still rages in some circles and whole denominations have taken a stand on one side or the other of this issue. Each side have their “proof texts” which they loudly proclaim as the truth and this doctrine has split churches and separated family members from each other.

Paul Billheimer has written a book called “Love Covers”, in which he addresses this issue. He points out that this is one of those things that have no right or wrong side to it. Both sides represent a scriptural truth. Yes God is sovereign, and yes He created man with the ability to make a choice. He suggests that problems such as this one can only be solved by the application of more of God’s love. In the Greek language the word for this kind of love is “agape”. In scripture we find it used to describe God’s love, which is only available to humans when we come to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and thereby become part of His family.

Someone has explained Calvinism in the form of an acrostic, using the letters T.U.L.I.P.

The T stands for total depravity----U stands for unconditional security----L stands for limited atonement----I stands for irresistible grace----P stands for perseverance of the saints. You can see where the other camp that believed in the free will of man would disagree completely with this doctrine. Most mainline Protestant churches are either Arminian or Calvinist, or a combination of both, in their doctrine. As we stated above brother Billhiemer is undoubtedly correct when he says that the only solution to this problem is the application of more Agape type love.

As we said earlier Adam was given the choice between the fruit of two trees in the garden. He chose the wrong one, even though God had warned him that if he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die. We know the tragic results of that one wrong choice. God gave Adam at creation, tremendous knowledge. We see the result of this when He allowed Adam to name all the animals. Have you ever considered what an awesome task that would have been? Imagine deciding what to call a giraffe or a hippopotamus! There is no indication that God helped him make these decisions so we can safely assume that Adam must have had the ability, given to him at creation.

When God formed the body of Adam from the dust and breathed the breath of life into him he became a living soul, we are told in Genesis. We are not told what kind of life this was. The writer always understood that this was the divine life of God, similar to that which we receive when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at the moment of salvation. Recently a new thought came while reading a book about creation. The life that was imparted to Adam was “Natural” life and not “Spiritual” life like we receive when we are born again by the Spirit of God. It was pointed out that there is a big difference between the two. This writer has known for some time that there is a difference between our soul and our spirit but never considered that the life breathed into Adam by God might be natural, or soul life and not spiritual life.

The study of the tripartite nature of man is very interesting and very scriptural. We were created in the image and likeness of God, who reveals Himself as a Trinity, or a three part being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a truth that most of us accept by faith as a scriptural principle, but we can’t really understand it with our finite minds. One way to understand this profound truth is to compare it to common ordinary water, or H 2 O. We know that water can be a liquid, a solid like ice, or a gas like vapor or fog. Each of these is composed of the same basic elements of H 2 O. but each is uniquely different from the others. So it is with the members of the Trinity. They are all basically God and yet each one has their own unique function in the Godhead.

So our main choice as human beings is to make the proper choice between settling for only having the "natural life" we were born with, or receiving the "spiritual life", that is available to us through the "new birth".(John 3:3) Have you exercised your "power of choice" in this matter? Your eternal destiny depends on your right choice!

Sincerely Submitted.


Monday, November 19, 2007


These words are found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:7) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. In the Greek this word that is translated as “sound mind” is a combination of two words, one means “safe”, and the other “mind”, hence “safe thinking”. According to Strong’s Concordance it denotes good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions. It also includes the qualities of “self-control” and “self-discipline”. As Christians we should give close attention to this verse!

The first thing we see is that fear is a “spirit”, and it is not given by God! Therefore we know that fear must come from the enemy, and we should resist it in Jesus’ name whenever it tries to enter our life. How many Christians do you know that are plagued with all kinds of fears, except the “fear of God”, which is the only positive kind of fear? God has given us (past tense) “power”, “love” and a “sound mind”. These are all part of the package we receive when we repent of our sin and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit comes into our life to give us the assurance of salvation. We need to remind ourselves of this fact quite often,

Self control” and “self discipline” are two things that should be evident in every believer’s life. Self control is listed as one of the “fruit of the Spirit” in (Gal 5:22-23), and Peter mentions it as one of the signs of spiritual growth in (2 Peter 1:5-8). In verse 8 he states “for if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". Paul goes on in 2 Timothy to talk about not being ashamed of the gospel. In (2 Tim 1:9) he states the power of God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” This is a powerful statement about the “gospel of the Kingdom” that Paul preached, as well as Jesus, John the Baptist, and the other disciples. The “so-called gospel” that is generally preached today is something quite different. It is “man centered”, and might be called a “gospel of convenience”. It lacks the power to change lives, and give people the assurance Paul talked about in verse 12 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day”. This should be our testimony if we really know Jesus as our Savior, and are baptized in, and filled with His Holy Spirit.

Sincerely submitted.


Sunday, November 11, 2007


Recently we wrote an article on the fruit of the Spirit from (Gal 5:22-23), and contrasted this fruit with the gifts of the Spirit. It might be interesting to compare the fruit of the Spirit, with the fruit, or the "works of the flesh", as Paul describes it in verses 19-21 of this same chapter of Galatians. Most all of the sins listed by Paul are opposite to the fruit of the spirit, which we said represents the nature and character of Jesus. They can be thought of as forces that oppose the fruit of the spirit in an individuals life. We will show them as complete opposites by comparing them in this way.

Fruit of the Spirit Fruit of the Flesh

Love--------------------------------Hatred, Selfishness, Jealousy, Resentment

Joy----------------------------------Sadness, Grief, Depression, Self-pity

Peace-------------------------------Worry, Fear, Strife, Conflict, Tension

Patience----------------------------Impatient, Hasty, Short-tempered

Kindness---------------------------Cruel, Harsh, Rude, Pushy, Heavy-handed

Goodness---------------------------Evil, Wicked, Immoral, Stingy, Greedy

Faithfulness------------------------Careless, Unreliable, Dishonest, Disloyal

Meekness--------------------------Proud, Dogmatic, Unteachable, Judgmental

Self-control------------------------Unruly, Undisciplined, Messy, Weak-willed

We can think of the “flesh” as taking the place of the “old nature” that we inherited from Adam, and is completely opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. (Gal 5:16-18) When we are “born again” by the Spirit of God, we receive a “new nature” that is the nature of Christ. At no point does a person ever have more than one nature, an old nature before we are saved, and a new nature after we are born again! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). In (Rom 6:4) we read “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life”. Many other scriptures contrast walking in the Spirit with walking in the flesh. It is possible to do either one as a believer in Jesus because we still have our free will. It seems that Father God desires His family to walk with Him in obedience, even when it would be easier to walk in the flesh. (Gal 5:16-18). We see the division between a “natural” man and a “spiritual” man. (1 Cor 2:14-16) Even after we receive Christ as Savior we can still walk after the flesh and be what Paul calls a “carnal” Christian, (1 Cor 3:1-3). But this is clearly not God’s ideal for us as Spirit filled believers. He wants us to “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16)

Sincerely submitted


Monday, November 5, 2007


The God given power to make choices is an awesome responsibility! The scary part for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, is that our choices can be either good or bad, right or wrong. We were not created as some sort of robot that can only perform certain predetermined functions, but were given a free will. Along with this free will, our Creator gave us the intelligence to make right choices based on our "conscience", which might be called our God given "common sense" that is meant to help us make right choices. When we look at the world around us today, and see the type of choices people are making, we can rightly ask what has happened to common sense? It would appear that they must suffer from some sort of "temporary insanity", or a complete loss of this God given common sense. That is the only way I can explain the stupid choices that some people make, and the mess they get themselves into because of wrong choices! The ability to make choices rests within that part of us known as our "soul", which is made up of mind, emotions, and will. This is the part of us with which we communicate with each other, as compared to our "spirit" with which we communicate with God. Both our spirit and our soul are housed in our body, thus making us a "tripartite being" created in the image and likeness of God. Notice that when God created Adam, He started by forming a body out of the dust of the earth, then breathed the breath of life into him, and Adam then became a living soul. (Gen 2:7). In the NT we see references to these three parts in (1 Thess 5:23), and in (Heb 4:12) we read that only the Word of God can divide between soul and spirit. This is a very important truth for us to get an understanding of, because often people confuse these two. Our spirit and soul are not the same, although they are both invisible and easily distinguished from our body which is visible. Our "will" that we use to make choices can be likened to a common item we use often when we take a shower. It is called a "diverter valve", and is the little device that directs the flow of water either directly into the tub, or up to the shower head. This is the function of our will, and it can be either controlled by our "flesh" or our "spirit". It will respond to instructions from either source, and the results will either be the "works of the flesh", or the "fruit of the Spirit", as described by Paul in (Gal 5:19-23). So if our life is to please our Creator God we "must" live by Paul's exhortation found in (Rom 8:12-14). A proper order is that our body should be taking orders from our soul, our soul should be taking it's orders from our spirit, which should be filled and directed by the Holy Spirit of God! This is the the proper way for our lives to operate in order to please the Lord!

Sincerely submitted.