Saturday, January 30, 2010

Myth Buster Series - The After Life!


So far this month we have proven that just because something has been reported on television, recorded in print, or repeated by credible witnesses, does not make it true. The things which we see on TV, read in print, and hear repeated by sincere people may not always be accurate.

Without regard to what is said and despite what we believe:

Nothing works quite as good as the truth.

For example, we have proven that:

1. Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola ingested together will not cause a person to explode.
2. One cannot make a camping lantern out of Mountain Dew, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
3. Cell phones do not generate enough microwaves to pop popcorn.
4. And that – Pennies are not a waste of time.

Furthermore, and much more importantly, we studied God’s Word together and found the truth that:

1. People do not go to heaven because they are good, but because they are born again. “You must be born again!”

2. Water Baptism, in and of itself, will not save a sinner. Water Baptism is for the Believer after they have repented and come to know Christ. Water Baptism becomes a grave for the old man and stops the pursuits of the enemies of your past. It is the point of identification with God as seen in the Water Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River. The heavens were opened and God said, “This is My Beloved Son …”

3. The Holy Spirit is not dead! And, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a valid and powerful promise from God for Believers in every generation. Far too many people have made the Baptism of the Holy Spirit all about speaking in tongues when the Bible clearly declares that “You shall receive power to be a witness” when the Holy Spirit comes on you. A person does not have to speak in tongues to be saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit and go to heaven … they don’t have to – they get to if they: 1) obey God, and 2) ask God to give them the Holy Spirit.

4. Money is not the root of all evil but rather, The Love of money is the root of all evil. God wants His children to have things but, He does not want things to have them. God demands to be first place in our lives, He will not be second. Greediness, selfishness, or our unwillingness to freely share what we have with others puts us in opposition to God’s plans for our life. God is a lover and a giver … He loves to give and, since we are His children, we should be like Him. God loves a happy giver!

Each week thus far we have attempted to prove, or disprove, a commonly held practical myth before tackling our spiritual myth for the day. So, our:

Practical Myth for Today:
You can hide underwater breathing only through a reed.

Watch this video clip … (1932 movie: “I’m a Fugitive From a Chain Gang”)

We have all seen this in movies and perhaps some of you have attempted it in a swimming pool. It seems reasonable, especially since so many people have snorkeled on vacation with the family at some point. So … what’s to lose by attempting to duplicate this myth right here today? All we are risking is Matthew, whom many of you don’t even know anyway. We have the baptismal tank all filled so without further ado, follow me!

(I will leave the platform, be handed the reed like PVC, and ascend the stairs to the baptistery where I will interact with Matt who will take the reed, and I will help him to lay on the bottom of the baptistery, approximately 3 ½ feet under water, by holding downward pressure on the reed. We will see how long he can breathe – not hold his breath, but breathe. Our goal is the approximate 1 minute plus shown on the video clip. After Matt’s attempt to breathe, suck in and breathe out, for at least 45 seconds to one minute, if possible, he will surface and give us his report.)

So, what do you think audience? Busted! Or not?

The laws of physics and anatomical capacity simply supersede the laws of Hollywood. Even if a person’s lungs were strong enough to draw air down that far under water, which they are not, the drawing in and blowing out of air would only make the same air travel up and down the reed like mercury in a thermometer. Reed capacity and lung capacity equaled, you would die!

There is not enough air in a person’s lungs to force the bad air out of the reed that long and allow the good air to be drawn back in. After a couple of attempts the buildup of carbon dioxide would trigger a panic in the person who is literally suffocating. And flailing, even in only 3 feet of water, is very noticeable to a dog and prison guard looking for an escapee.

A person may escape a lot of things but one thing a person can never escape is the truth … especially the eternal truth!

Just like a person cannot live in this world without air, a person cannot live in the next world without God.

Today we are talking about the afterlife. This brings us to our:

Spiritual Myth For Today:
The Doctrine of “Conditional Immortality”

Also known as the doctrine of “Soul Sleep”, which refers to the belief that upon death, the soul of a person enters into a deep sleep and knows nothing, but lies silent in the grave awaiting the final judgment until the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead.

Many who believe in soul sleep also hold to the teaching of “Annihilation.” This is the belief that the souls of those who are not welcomed into heaven at the final judgment simply cease to exist, are snuffed out, or annihilated, if you will. (Eternal death instead of eternal torment – no eternal existence)

Present-day defenders of soul sleep include the Seventh Day Adventist church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christadelphians to name a few.

It is interesting to note here that the early church fathers wrote in support of the immortality of the soul, whether saint or sinner, all who are born, are born to live forever either in eternal bliss or eternal torment.

Supporters of the doctrine of conditional immortality, or soul sleep, use various scriptures throughout the Bible to defend their claims. However, we must remember our platform for accurate interpretation of the scriptures.

1. No scripture tells its own story.
2. Scripture must be interpreted by scripture.
3. Every verse is meant to be understood in light of its contribution to the one story God is telling.

With this in mind let us see what the Bible has to say concerning life after death.

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Without going too deep into what Jesus told one of the thieves who was crucified beside Him on Mount Calvary, suffice it to say that Jesus dispelled any notion that death holds a person’s soul like an inanimate object sleeping in the grave.

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Furthermore, Stephen held the hope that upon his death, he would be received into heaven to be with God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son. He certainly had no thoughts of entering into thousands of years of soul sleep.
Also, in Luke 16, Jesus told His disciples a story about a rich man and a poor beggar who both died and went immediately to their after life experiences. I believe, as many other scholars do, that this story is a true account, not a parable, but an actual historical account of what had already happened. No matter the case, the point is well made by Jesus that there is simply no time for soul sleep nor is there any consideration of the future annihilation of the sinner’s soul. Let’s read:

Luke 16 NKJV
19 ¶ "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
20 "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
21 "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 "Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’

The story continues with many revelations concerning life during the time after death and before the final judgment. The fact that the rich man had eyes and was able to see, feel, consider his loved ones on earth and their futures … as well as, the reality of Lazarus in comfort, with recognizable features, with fingers capable of being dipped in the available water … these things all point to a measurable and cognizant existence for people after death who all await judgment day and the final disposition of their souls for eternity.

This, my friend is not soul sleep. The myth of conditional immortality and soul sleep is busted by simply believing the one story God is telling us all. This story can be summed up in only one sentence:

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Are you ready for your after life experience? You will have one – each day we all take one step closer to death, one step closer to the grave, one step closer to heaven or hell. Where will you spend eternity?

Make Jesus your Lord and go to heaven when you die!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Myth Buster Series-The Root of All Evil


Some time back I felt it important that we revisit the basic tenants of our Christian faith and practice. It was decided to target the 5 Sundays during the month of January 2010 to accomplish that goal. In preparation, hoping to make the foundational truths of God’s Word both interesting and understandable, the church staff and I put our heads and hearts together in prayer and counsel and came up with a plan.

Thus far, in this the first month of the New Year, we have studied the doctrines of salvation, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These three sermons were entitled:

Dead Men Walking
Buried Alive

We took each subject and ‘busted a myth’, as it were, concerning Christianity and the Church.

In Dead Men Walking we tackled the myth that “All good men go to heaven.” We dispelled that myth through simple study of the scriptures surrounding salvation. Jesus spoke plainly to a good man named Nicodemus and related that despite personal goodness or your high profile religious position in life, “you must be born again”.

The second Sunday the sermon Buried Alive exposed us to the truth and power of water baptism. We concluded that day realizing that while salvation works for sinners, water baptism releases its power to the Believer. From Genesis to Revelation we saw that every person who benefited from water baptism already had a relationship with God prior to that baptism experience. We studied God’s Word and the ‘One Story’ He is telling, and we clearly understood that: Believers are not water baptized so that they can be saved but rather are baptized because they have been saved.

Last Sunday’s message entitled “Possessed” centered on the spiritual experience commonly called the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. The myth we busted last Sunday was the common belief that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which happened to Believers on the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago as recorded in Acts chapter 2, is not a valid experience for Believers today. After last Sunday’s study of the scriptures, I don’t see how anyone could reasonably believe that the Holy Spirit or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit somehow passed away or is not for Believers in this day and time.

In fact, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is needed more today than ever. Each Believer is endued with power to be a witness when they obey God and ask Him for the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:32 & Luke 11:13)

Today we are continuing our review of the basics of Christianity and our Myth Buster series by first tackling a practical myth.

Our Myth for Today:
Pennies are a waste of time.

This myth is drawn from the conclusions based upon several reported facts. One report says that the United States, not wanting to be bothered with the laborious tasks of dealing with pennies, which are correctly named, “cents”, won’t even consider exportation of the coins to foreign concerns.

Another point in support of this myth is something I deal with on a continual basis. Foreign currency exchanges around the world will not accept U.S. pennies in trade nor will they give in exchange. I have always simply considered that it was just not worth their time.

As well, duty free shops in major airports outside of the U.S. won’t accept pennies for payment nor give them in change even when the customer is paying in U.S. dollars. Rather, they simply round up the owed amount and keep the difference.

As if this was not enough, we all watch people walk right past pennies lying on the ground without the slightest hesitation, not once considering that it takes less than 2 seconds to bend down and pick up that free money. Why, it is because pennies are a waste of time and effort. I have felt the temptation when cleaning out the car to throw a few pennies in the trash along with the other worthless gum wrappers and discarded trash from the ashtray.

All of these things go to say that “Pennies are a waste of time.”

So, for this morning’s practical exercise aimed at proving or disproving this myth, I am going to need my assistant for the day, some pennies, a stopwatch, a calculator, and two young, seemingly intelligent and reasonably agile volunteers.

Here I have a container of pennies. My assistant holds the stopwatch. These two volunteers are going to demonstrate how many pennies can be picked up in only 60 seconds. One volunteer is going to use the ‘bend over and pick up one penny at a time’ method, while the other is going to illustrate the ‘dropped my penny jar and am on the floor picking them up one at a time while keeping a count in my head’ method.

My assistant will start the stop watch at the precise time the volunteers, whom we will call ‘penny-pinchers’, reach for their first penny. At the end of sixty seconds she will stop the watch and yell ‘Time’, at which second the penny-pinchers will cease to pinch further pennies.

When we shall have concluded this experiment we will calculate the amount of pennies each penny-pincher has accumulated, add those together then divide that sum by two. We will accept this number as the average pennies which would normally be picked up by a penny-pincher in only one minute.

In doing this we will see if the myth claiming that “pennies are a waste of time” is truth or fable.

Penny-Pinchers … are you ready? Audience, are you ready? Assistant, are you ready? On your mark, get set, go!

(After the initial one minute, count the results, calculate the average and make the report. Take the average multiply it by 60 to get the average hourly wage of a true ‘penny-pincher’ and therefore the related value of time spent picking up a penny. Use this amount per hour to see if pennies are a waste of time.)

$____ per hour is not bad pay for just bending over or getting down on the ground to pick up a penny. The job might not last long, but the extra, part time, pay is actually pretty good for the skill required.

Some people think pennies are not worth their time when actually they are worth a whole lot more than you may think. Pennies are in fact worth almost twice what you pay for them and 25 pennies are worth just over 4 times more than a solid quarter.

Each year the U.S. Mint puts millions of new pennies into circulation, (7,401,200,000 pennies were minted in 2007 for instance). In 2005, the cost to the United States Mint to produce a penny was 0.97 cents, which was just a smidge under a cent. (“Cost” covers four components: metal, fabrication (pre-production metal processing), labor, overhead and transportation.)

Because the price of metals fluctuates, so too does the cost of producing pennies. For example, had pennies been manufactured using the component metals bought on 28 April 2006, one could fairly say that those coins cost 1.4 cents to mint. However, if you averaged out the cost over the whole of 2006, you could say that that year’s pennies each cost about 1.23 cents to manufacture. Rises in metal prices, particularly of zinc, pushed the per-unit cost up to 1.7 cents in 2007. (Each penny is made up of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper and has been since 1982.) The 2007 costs to produce and ship a nickel was 9.5 cents.

Pennies are not worthless and not a waste of time. Then why don’t foreign exchanges, foreign governments and duty free shops around the globe use pennies? Well, it’s not because they don’t want to bother with them, it is because they just can’t get them. Why, because they are worth too much on the open market and the U.S. government has placed restrictions on exporting them outside the United States. And to top that, since the penny is worth more than its face value, the government has made it illegal to melt them down for the zinc and copper and anyone found doing so faces a potential 5 years in prison.

So, are pennies a waste of time? BUSTED! In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth! They might be a hassle, but they are certainly not worthless. In fact they may be one of the more valuable investments in today’s money market, especially the pre 1982 pennies which were made of 95% copper.

Here is a statement right off EBay’s website:

Most Lincoln pennies minted before 1982 were made of 95% copper. Each penny weighing in at 3.11 grams yields 2.95 grams of pure copper. It takes approximately 151 pennies (pre 1982) to yield 1 pound of pure copper. With copper prices averaging $3.95/lb. today, most scrap yards will pay about $3.00/lb for scrap copper. You could actually get 100% more money by selling your pre-1982 pennies for scrap metal rather than cashing them in at a bank! (Posted 12/09)

With all that money laying around on the ground, free for the collecting, how could a person imagine that pennies are a waste of time?

This brings us to …

Our Christian Myth for Today:
Money is the root of all evil.

Have you ever heard the quote: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is taken from a statement made by Lord Acton, who is famous for many other quotes as well. Isn’t it amazing how people pick up a saying and modify it to their own assessments and repeat it as truth.

Of course, this statement is not true for if it were, God would be absolutely corrupt. In fact, this is not even exactly what Lord Acton said … but, we will leave that discussion for another day.

About 10 days to 2 weeks before Jesus was crucified He was walking with His disciples along the Jordan River Valley road leading from the Galilee to Jericho where they encountered a very wealthy young man. This man wanted to follow Jesus as Messiah but sadly in the end did not. Why? The Bible says that this young man decided not to follow Jesus because he was very wealthy and had great possessions.

Mark 10: 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"

In an earlier time and another place Jesus told His disciples in:

Matthew 6: 24 "No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Jesus had much to say about money. In fact, it is reported that Jesus said more in the scriptures about money than He did about heaven and hell combined.

Money is a prominent subject in the Bible and is dealt with in a very practical manner throughout the scriptures. There are more than 1600 verses in the Bible which deal with money and over 500 scriptures that include the words money, riches, or wealth. As Believers our attitude towards money often reveals who we are and what we believe about God.

Remember, the Bible only tells one story and no one scripture tells the whole story. If we read only a scripture here and there throughout the Bible we could very easily get the wrong picture concerning money. We could believe either extreme – either the extreme which says that money is evil and Christians have no business trying to make it or get more of it, or the other extreme which says that God wants everyone to be a millionaire. Neither extreme is the picture God tells in the story of the Bible.

It is necessary to read and interpret each scripture in light of all of the other scriptures concerning that subject. When Jesus said that money wants to be your master he did not leave it there with verse 24 of Matthew 6. When Jesus said that it was hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, He did not leave it there with verse 23 of Mark 10.

Jesus went on to explain:

Mark 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

God does not mind you having money, in fact, God wants you to have money … He just does not want money to have you.

Psalms 49
6 ¶ Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches,
7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him—

For those who say that money is the root of all evil, they need to re-read the Bible. The Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil. However, that statement is taken from a scripture in:

1 Timothy 6
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The love of money, greed, selfishness, and unwillingness to share what God has given you, a misplaced trust in uncertain riches … these things are the root of all kinds of evil upon the face of the earth.

Remember that it is God who gives you the power to get wealth so that He may establish a partnership with you while you walk upon the earth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Power & Tongues


Far too many people have made the Baptism of the Holy Spirit all about speaking in tongues. I believe that this is a huge mistake. Not to negate the fact that the New Testament has much to say on the subject of tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.

The Apostle Paul said that he spoke in tongues more than anyone else he knew however, he continued by saying that when he was ministering to others he had rather speak ten words which they could understand and benefit from than ten thousand words which the hearers could not understand.

1 Corinthians 14:19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Scriptures clearly tell us not to forbid people to speak in tongues and at the same time the bible establishes guidelines as to when tongues, and other valid ministries, are beneficial and when they are disruptive and counter-productive.

1 Corinthians 14:39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

And yet clearly the scripture says not every believer speaks in tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

And one day, when this church age shall have passed from the earth, there will be no gifts in operation at all … however, that day is not here yet!

1 Corinthians 13:8 ¶ Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Through the years I have been ask several recurring questions about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. I have attempted to re-focus those questions onto the one story God is telling in the scriptures instead of allowing doctrinal differences divide God’s people based on an inaccurate interpretation of only one scripture or set of scriptures, aimed at proving the point of the interpreter.

People have asked me:

Do I have to speak in tongues? To this I say, “No, but you get to!”

For those who say, “Well, I don’t believe in tongues …” or miracles, or healing or salvation for that matter, I reply: “Don’t worry, it won’t ever bother you” because, Mark 16 says that these signs shall follow all who believe. If you don’t believe it, you won’t receive it! Simple as that!

Nonetheless, despite those who have misinterpreted and/or misused the scriptures concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, along with those who are just simply afraid of the subject or ignorant of the scriptural importance of the Baptism, we must still face the fact that the both the Old and the New Testaments have much to say on this matter.

Beginning long before the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, God had a plan live and move and have His being in and through His children. The very life that Adam awakened to was breathed into him by the Spirit of God. Let’s look now at some of the foundational scriptures concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and see if they answer our questions for tonight.

Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

1. What do we get when we receive the Holy Spirit?

Acts 2
16 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’

2. What are some experiences people have after they receive the power of the Holy Spirit?


Others calling upon the Name of the Lord to be saved. Fruit which remains!
3. How does the Holy Spirit manifest Himself through people?

1 Corinthians 12
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Word of Wisdom

Word of Knowledge


Gifts of Healings

Working of Miracles


Discerning of Spirits


Interpretation of Tongues

4. How Do I receive the Holy Spirit?

Luke 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Acts 5:32 "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Are you willing to obey? Have you made Jesus your Lord?

Will you ask? Ask your Heavenly Father to give you the Holy Spirit, and He will.

What can you expect? Power to be a witness, along with the evident manifestation of the Holy Spirit through you as you yield your life to Him.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Myth Buster Series - Possessed


Are you ready to challenge our myths for today?

So far in our myth buster series we have dispelled two practical myths and two spiritual myths concerning Christianity and the Church. The first practical myth we busted dealt with pop rocks and coca-cola. We all saw it live on stage … despite the claims … I did not blow up!

That Sunday our Christian myth dealt with the issue of “dead men walking”. We found that all good people do not go to heaven just because they are good. Rather, the statement Jesus made to that good man named Nicodemus in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 7, “You must be born again!”, proved to be the truth from God’s Word.

The second Sunday was entitled, “Buried Alive”. Our practical myth centered on a claim that Mountain Dew, mixed with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide could become a flashlight. We saw the video, heard the testimony and read what we considered to be a confirming report from a credible news source. However, in the end it just did not work! We decided that without regard to what we are told or even what we believe for that matter … “Nothing works quite as good as the truth!”

Moving on to our Christian myth for that Sunday we turned our attention to the subject of water baptism. The question of the day was, “Does a person have to be water baptized to be saved?” Once the scriptures were interpreted correctly in agreement with the ‘one story’ God is telling, it was plain to see that:

We do not get water baptized to become saved, rather we get water baptized because we have been saved. Basically, water baptism only works on those who have already repented and already have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

Today we are going to use the Word of God to uncover another myth which many Christians believe to be true. But, before we go there, let’s take a look at our practical …

Myth For Today!

Cell phones generate enough microwaves to pop popcorn?

Let’s watch this video: (play video …)

Not only have I watched several of the videos showing cell phones popping popcorn during my research into this claim this past week, along with those showing cell phones cooking eggs and boiling water, but I have also read numerous reports verifying these occurences as a representation of fact.
On top of all of this I was able to get a personal report from a credible source that they had actually attempted to duplicate this video and failed in a first attempt, due to using microwave popcorn instead of the real old fashion popcorn. They reported that their second attempt, using the real stuff, was successful and the popcorn promptly popped!

So, without further ado … My assistant please …

Here we have four cell phones, much like you saw in the video. And based upon the testimony of a person who claims to have actually seen this done, I have here in the middle of these phones a few kernels of microwavable popcorn and a few of the original stove top in the pan of oil variety.

Now here is where I need your participation. Some of you have your cell phones with you, I know because I will hear a couple of them go off later, especially when it gets to noon whereupon I will be reminded by your alarm that it is time for me to quit preaching. However, now I need four volunteers with cell phones to make a call for me and activate these phones into their radioactive states.

(Have floor assistant choose four people and give them a slip of paper with one of the numbers on the paper)

Ok now, ready to call? Call! Once the phones all start to ring, it is reported that, due to the concentrated microwaves, this will only take less than three seconds before we see the popping begin. Anyone have a stopwatch…

(Conclude: What’s the verdict? Answer from the audience … on screen!)

(I am purposefully leaving out the conclusion because I am not sure myself what will happen … this is the problem with claims in which you have people, credible people, on both sides of the claim. Unless we have specific knowledge about the real basis of a claim, in this case physics or radiology, or microwave technology … and I don’t, then it is difficult not to be a skeptic, stand in the middle, and just not know. However, I sure hope it is not true! But, if it is, I now have an answer for why some of my staff are the way they are.)

So, do 4 standard cell phones generate enough microwaves to pop popcorn?

Now for our Christian myth for today - Remember we are talking about being possessed. Have you ever been possessed? Don’t worry we do have exorcists standing by. This may be a poor attempt at an old joke but … Do you know what happens when you don’t pay your exorcist? You get repossessed! Ok, Ok, Ok – let’s get to the Word.

Christian Myth For Today

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which happened to Believers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, is not a valid experience for the Christian today.

Let’s turn in our Bibles to the book of Acts.

Acts 2
1 ¶ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This was the fulfillment of a promise made by Jesus in:

Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Recorded again by Luke when he penned the introduction to the book of Acts in:

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Power to be a witness … the ability to fulfill the Great Commission and go into all the world to proclaim the Gospel.

Some theologians who attempt to prove their personal or denominational doctrines, have explained away the Baptism of power by claiming that God only gave the Holy Spirit and the gifts to birth the church. This, they say, accounts for some other scriptural accounts in Acts which detail similar experiences like that of Acts 2. Well let’s look at these claims and see if they are valid according to the whole story of the Bible.

Remember, no one scripture can be allowed to tell its own story. All scripture must come together to support the one story God is telling. Taking Bible verses or Bible stories out of context is dangerous and leads to doctrinal error.

Ok, so under the premise that God only gave the Holy Ghost to birth the church in Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world,

Acts 2:1-4 would represent the church being birthed in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:1-4 Jerusalem

Acts 8:14-17 Judea-Samaria

14 ¶ Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2 Jerusalem
Acts 8 Judea-Samaria
Acts 10:44-48 Uttermost Parts of the World

44 ¶ While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

If God only gave the Holy Spirit to initiate the birthing of the Church in Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world, this should have been the end of people experiencing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Mission accomplished!

However, there is at least one problem with this conclusion …

Acts 19
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.

And … what about Paul? Where did he receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? He was not in the upper room; he was not at the revival in Samaria; he was not in Caesarea with Peter and Cornelius …

Then, there is the business of the whole church at Corinth, a whole new generation of Believers in Greece. Paul spent several chapters in his letter to that church detailing how to properly benefit from the ministry of those who were being baptized by the Holy Ghost and demonstrating gifts, signs, wonders and miracles.

Believe me, it did not stop there! The Holy Ghost has not passed away and neither has the office and ministry of the prophet and the apostle.

For a final word on this subject this morning let’s turn to:

Acts 2
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

You were once far off but now have been called by the Lord. Peter was talking about you! The promise of receiving the Holy Spirit is unto you!

So, in answer to the claim made by our Christian Myth for Today:

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which happened to Believers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, is not a valid experience for the Christian today.

Not true! Busted! The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is more needed today than ever before. Why?

Sinners are still being born every day

God has no grandchildren, only children

The church must be birthed in every generation.

It still takes the power of the Holy Spirit to birth the church.

You have heard it said that possession is 9/10’s of the law … well that’s not exactly true … Possession, Christ in me that is, fulfills 10/10’s of the law.

I am no longer under the law of sin and death but because that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, my mortal body has been made alive, I have been buried with Christ, and I am now filled with the power of God to be a witness to the whole world in my generation.

It’s Christ in me, and Christ in you, the hope of glory!

Be possessed today!

How can you experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Acts 5: 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

It is like everything else a person wants from God:

1. Pray and
2. Obey

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Myth Buster Series - Buried Alive!


As I study the sermons in this particular series each week, I am amazed at some of the things people believe. There is the superstitious group for example. These are people who live by a whole different set of rules than the rest of us.

The truly superstitious would not dare walk under a ladder, open an umbrella indoors, repeat anything good news without knocking on wood, be first to cross the path of a black cat, or play a ball game without their lucky shirt or socks, hat or handshake, or whatever other ritual or good luck charm they may attribute to their successes.

Then there are those who grew up hearing fables repeated as fact. These are the people you don’t want to cross. Without any proof or further consideration, they believe what mama or grandma told them, and for them … that’s just the way it is. Prove them wrong and all you have is an angry skeptic who refuses to accept what they have believed and practiced all their life as untrue.

On the other hand, apart and away from the people who have a vested interest in the myths they believe, is the rest of mankind - People who are basically sensible, reasonable, logical to some extent and trusting. Why then do we believe some things which turn out to be false? Generally it is because of one of the following three simple reasons … either/or:

1. We were told or taught the untruth by some credible source who, although they were sincere, they were sincerely wrong.

2. We were fooled by some incredible source into believing something they knew was a lie, but told it for truth anyway.

3. We think we heard or understood what was said and, even though what was said is true, what we heard or understood is not.

At any rate, most of us believe some incredible things. Many of these things are true but some, even when truly believe them, turn out to be false.

During a person’s life they hear so many things from so many sources, including some very credible sources. However, despite what you hear, or what you believe for that matter …

Nothing works quite as good as the truth.

Myths are the result of urban legends, false claims and wild stories which seemingly grow and take on a life of their own as they are passed from person to person. You might be surprised when you realize just how many people are willing to believe almost anything if it is seen on television, reported in print or just repeated often enough … Especially if the person who is presenting the claim is doing so with sincerity or has some level of personal credibility.

Such is the case even with some of the more common myths concerning Christianity and the Church.

However, let’s now focus attention on our:

Myth for Today:

Mountain Dew Can Be Used As A Flashlight

Today I want to do a practical experiment to see if this particular report, believed and repeated by many, even some very credible sources, is actually fact or fiction.

We are going to dim the lights for just a moment so we can see this better on the big screen … (Lights dimmed - Video showing how to make a flashlight using a bottle of Mountain Dew, a pinch of baking soda, and a small quantity of hydrogen peroxide.)

Looks interesting huh? Perhaps you have heard of this phenomenon, especially if you are an outdoorsman.

In fact on May 29th, 2009, Field and Stream, who now claim to be “The World’s Leading Outdoor Website” had this posted on their message board under the heading, ‘Camping Gear’, things to keep handy while enjoying the outdoors.

Emergency Camping Lantern

1. Poor out the mountain Dew and leave about 1/4” of dew in the bottle.
2. Add a tiny bit of baking soda.
3. Then add 3 caps of peroxide.
4. Shake well and now you have instant light.

Well, let’s see. We have heard it from what seems to be a credible source, seen it on the big screen, now let’s see if it really works.

Bring me the Dew! (and a small table with a towel, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide)

“Children, don’t try this, or any other myth busting attempts at home!”

... especially anything involving hydrogen peroxide, it can bleach out and leave white spots in the fabric of clothes and carpets and change hair color … or can it?????? Hmmmmm … Well, don’t try it anyway …

In a moment we will be dimming the lights to near blackout so that we can get the full affect. Please don’t be alarmed … if they don’t come back on soon, we will be distributing a bottle of Mountain Dew to each of you.

(The experiment … Lights off … shake the bottle … wait, wait, wait … “Can anyone see where the lights are …” )

(Lights come back on with the sound of a buzzer and the words “BUSTED!” on the big screen)

And I was really hoping that one was true …

We hear so many things from so many sources. However, despite what you hear, or what you believe for that matter remember …

Nothing works quite as good as the truth.

Remember, today we are talking about being buried alive … what in the world could I be referring to? This brings us to our:

Christian Myth For Today
Water Baptism Saves Us

Remember the three reasons I detailed earlier as to why we sensible, reasonable and intelligent people believe things which are just not true? It’s because:

1. We were told or taught the untruth by some credible source who even though they were sincere, they were sincerely wrong.

2. We were fooled by some incredible source into believing something they knew was a lie, but told it for truth anyway.

3. We think we heard or understood what was said and, even though what was said is true, what we heard or understood is not.

Such is the case with many of the things people hear or read in the Bible. They think they hear and understand what was said, and even though what was said is true, what they think and understand is not.

This is the major reason why Believers from varying denominations are divided over what the Bible says. Even amongst those who believe that the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, inerrant and unchangeable, there are still divisions concerning interpretation.

Such is the case with some of the scriptures surrounding salvation and water baptism. Let’s look at a couple of those today remembering that:

1. No scripture is of any private interpretation.
2. We must interpret scripture with scripture.
3. The Bible tells but one story, one truth.
4. Each scripture must be interpreted in light of the one story.

Does water baptism save us?

One of the scriptures we will look at today is a very familiar scripture reference for those who watch major league sports on TV. We see banners and signs with this scripture reference displayed by fans at almost every televised sports event. The scripture verse I am referring to is: Acts 2:38

But do many of us know what that scripture says, or better yet, what it means? Those who hold the banners believe they do, and many of them believe that water baptism is a pre-requisite to salvation. Let’s read the scripture and see if we can understand it for ourselves.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

(Production Note: Leave this verse up on screen and I will come back to it)
Now remember:
· The Bible tells one story
· It is inerrant and unchangeable
· Scripture must interpret scripture
· Each verse is meant to be understood in support of the one story God is telling
· No scripture, rightly interpreted, tells its own story

Acts 2:38 has been a point of doctrinal division among denominations for generations. Some people believe one extreme that a person must be water baptized before they saved, other extremist use this verse to say people must be filled with the Holy Ghost and even speak in tongues in order to go to heaven, while yet others don’t even water baptize at all.

Remember last week we talked about “Dead Men Walking” - How that a person must die in order to be born again. Well, what do you do to a dead man? You bury him! More about that later … back to Acts 2:38 and its correct interpretation in light of the one story the Bible tells.

Acts 2:38 basically says “repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”.

Here is the sticky part – the word “for”. If this scripture were allowed to stand alone and tell its own story one could draw the conclusion that water baptism must occur before a person is saved or could receive the Holy Spirit. However, no scripture can be allowed to tell its own story.

If we believed this what would we do when we read a few chapters further and get to Acts 10:44-48 for example? Cornelius and his whole household believed, were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues before they had been water baptized. Peter could not therefore forbid them water in which to be baptized.

When Peter was brought before the Apostles in Jerusalem to answer for allowing Gentiles to be saved and baptized he simply replied:

Acts 11
17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

You see the statement in Acts 2:38 which says, “for the remission of sins” throws many people. Are we baptized to have our sins forgiven or are we baptized because our sins have been forgiven? Which one is the truth?

Consider this statement: Jimmy went to jail for robbery. Now, did he go to jail to commit robbery or did he go to jail because he had committed robbery? “For to do”, or, “Because he did”? Theoretically either could be true … but, if you read Jimmy’s life story, his one story would help you to know which one was true in this case.

When we read the life story of Jesus, the one story God is telling, a story based on grace and works, we can easily see the story line developed and maintained throughout the Bible.

1. Righteous Noah was saved from suffering with the wicked through a water experience. The waters, which killed the wicked, lifted him high above the trouble in this world. (1 Peter 3:20&21) And, in that sense, he was saved by water.

2. Moses and the Children of Israel passed through the Red Sea which closed upon their enemies, drowning them. (bear in mind that the Egyptians were not saved by that water baptism experience) Nonetheless the Children of Israel were delivered from the troubles of this world in a sense through a type of water baptism. (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)

3. Jesus, though He was the Son of God, in a sense, was baptized with power and anointing by the Holy Spirit, at the point of His water baptism in the Jordan by John. (Matthew 3:15-17) This was the point of public identification with God as God announced, “This is My Beloved Son”.

4. The Apostle Paul was converted to become a Believer while on the road to Damascus, after three days in the city he received new sight, arose and was baptized.

In each case water baptism came after the relationship was in place, not before. We are baptized not to be saved, but because we have been saved.

Does water baptism save us? No, not in the sense that:
· A person who is baptized, but does not believe, goes to heaven.
· A person who is baptized as a baby is guaranteed to go to heaven.
· A person who is converted by the grace of God through their faith, but is never water baptized, goes to hell.

However, water baptism does save us in the sense that:
· It publically identifies us with Christ
· It cleanses our conscious towards God
· It delivers us from the enemies of our past who want to lay claim to our lives and hold us captive in this world

Who do we bury? Dead people … however, we are buried with Christ in baptism after we believe, repent, and are born again! Go figure … we are but dead men walking because we have been buried alive!

Have you been water baptized since you believed? If not, why not? Sign up at the information desk in the foyer today and come Sunday morning, January 31st, prepared to be buried alive!

You can be set free from the enemies of your past, cleanse your conscious towards God, and ride high above the troubles of this world. In these things, water baptism doth save us!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Basic Training


There is no road so long that you cannot walk it.

Hebrews 5
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
I am very grateful for the Basic Training I received immediately after enlisting in the US Armed Forces. It was there I learned the value of several basic elements of success. They taught me discipline, respect for authority and how to work as a member of a team with a goal which was more important than my personal safety, comfort, and ambition.

I thrived knowing what to do each day.

Get up on time
Prepare for the day
Eat on time
Engage the duties of the day
Evaluate the accomplishments and failures of the day
Prepare for a better tomorrow
Go to bed on time

The experience I had in Basic Training was nothing less than a discipleship experience. It was my opportunity to learn how to live and succeed in the military, much like the disciples underwent with Jesus as He taught them how to live and succeed in the Kingdom of God.

Some people I went through Basic Training with just didn’t make it for various reasons. Most failures occurred when an individual refused to get with the program. You see, many people feel that life is all about them. These types of people range from the selfish to the immature.

Immaturity is thinking that everything which affects you is all about you.

Selfishness however, is a product of human nature and has to be dealt with at the cross. The flesh must be crucified daily. There is no human cure for selfishness. People do what they do because they want to.

Galatians 5:24 Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

1 Corinthians 15:31 I affirm … I die daily.

At times some people just refuse to get with the program and discipline themselves. They want to be but don’t want to do what it takes to be.

There are other people however, who were once with the program, once were disciples of Christ, once walked a steady, productive walk with the Lord and somehow got detoured along the way. Many of these people to whom I am referring did not go out and start living in sin, rather they just sort of gradually withdrew from the front lines of Christian life and service.
These are those whose relationship with the Lord was not maintained properly and they grew cold to the spiritual regimens of life. They still love God and know so much about Him; they have testimonies as to what the Lord has done in their life; they can still sing the songs and say the blessing at the dinner table but … they have lost the fire, the passion, the vital connection which comes with a daily walk with the Lord. They, “used to be!” (There are ‘wanna bees’, and ‘used to bees’.)

Perhaps the ‘used to bees’ are not fully backslidden but they are nonetheless living in the faded glory of a better, happier, more blessed day gone by. Jesus spoke to the Apostle John who wrote an admonition to these people in:

Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

What does this mean? Simply put:

Bad things left to themselves don’t get better, they get worse.

There is a principle that says: What you did to get the fire, what you did to get the passion, what you did to get that close relationship with the Lord, is what you have to do to keep it. Basically … Dance with the one that brung ya!

Either way: if you have never been a disciplined Believer and gotten with God’s program for Kingdom living, died to self and matured in Christ – or – if perhaps you once were closer to Him than you are today but now have fallen back some, withdrew, grown cold or become less disciplined to walk in the ways of the Lord … no matter which, the road to God for wanna bees and used to bees is the same – it is basic – it is a road of first works.

How can you begin to mature in Christ … how can you return to the road you once knew? Begin with prayer … a prayer of repentance … a prayer of turning. Then, you must develop a daily discipline of spiritual life.

Get up on time
Prepare for the day
Eat on time
Engage the duties of the day
Evaluate the accomplishments and failures of the day
Prepare for a better tomorrow
Go to bed on time

Decide that you are going to:
Respect authority
Serve on a team without consideration of personal ambition
Crucify your flesh daily

Learn how to live and be a success in the Kingdom of God

The instructions are in the manual! B I B L E: Basic …

Hosea 6:3 Then you will know, if you follow on to know the Lord …

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Myth Busters Series - Dead Men Walking


Have you ever heard that Coca-Cola and Aspirin mixed together make an intoxicating combination?

This claim is said to stem from a letter written in the 1930’s by a doctor from Illinois. He wrote to the Journal of the American Medical Association, to warn that teenagers were dissolving aspirin in Coca-Cola to create an “intoxicating beverage” with addictive properties that were as bad as “narcotic habituation.”

For many the 1978 movie, Grease, added validity to this claim as viewers saw the bizarre results firsthand on the big screen.

Suffice it to say the belief that Coca-Cola and aspirin is addictive or that the combination produces an “intoxicating beverage” is completely false. I considered demonstrating its falsity to you this morning however it would take a longer observation time than we can afford today.

But, in the interest of myth busting, there is another commonly held belief involving Coca-Cola that is said to produce immediate results. I am talking about the report that Ingesting Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola will cause a person’s stomach to explode.

The story is, that the star of a Life Cereal commercial, Mikey, who would eat anything, swallowed pop rocks and then drank a Coca-Cola. What happened? Within seconds, his stomach exploded and it killed him. The saying was, “Mikey got a bang out of life!” It is believed by many that this is the reason why pop rocks were taken off of the market in 1983.

So effective was this erroneous report that General Foods, the maker of pop rocks, battled the exploding kid story for years. They took out full page adds in 45 major newspapers and sent out 50,000 letters to school principles around the country, as well as sending the inventor of the candy on the road to explain that the amounts of gas generated by pop rocks was insufficient to cause such explosions. (Equal to about 6 ounces of Coke)

Nonetheless, many parents and teens of that era still have concerns about mixing pop rocks with Coca-Cola in fear that their stomachs will explode. Well, let’s see!!!!!!

Bring me the pop rocks and the Coca-Cola!!!

“Children, don’t try this, or any other myth busting attempts at home!”

Do we have the fire extinguishers standing by? Ok, here we go …

Swallow – gulp – gulp … (Perhaps a big explosion sound from our media dept !!!!) … so, you see, if I’m still alive … the myth is definitely busted!

Myths are the result of urban legends, false claims and wild stories which seemingly grow and take on a life of their own as they are passed from person to person. You might be surprised when you realize just how many people are gullible enough to believe almost anything if it is seen on television, reported in print, or just repeated often enough … Especially if the person who is passing the claim around is doing so with sincerity or has any level of personal credibility.

Such is the case even with some of the more common myths concerning Christianity and the Church.

Hence we now focus our attention on our:
Christian Myth for Today:

All good people go to heaven.

This is a widely held view which is based on several considerations, some of which are:
· God is a good God
· God loves and rewards people who do good deeds
· No loving God would want good people to spend eternity in hell
· God will make a way for all good people to go to heaven

Now, all of these considerations are true representations of God. However, it is very easy and often done, that people take certain elements of truth and use them to draw or support false conclusions.

The fact that General Foods stopped marketing pop rocks around 1983 is true. And, to add to the scenario, General Foods stopped featuring little Mikey on its Life Cereal commercials. However, to draw the conclusion that little Mikey was killed by pop rocks is false. How do we know? Because little Mikey is now all grown up and works as a marketing director for a radio station in New York. He simply got too old to be little Mikey.

Why then did General Foods stop marketing pop rocks, you may ask with some assertion and an eyebrow raised? Because they sold the rights to the product to Kraft who re-marketed the same product for a few years under “Action Candy” before changing it back to its original name, pop rocks.

It is the same with our Christian myth for today. Just because one person is right in claiming to know a truth about God, does not mean that they are free to draw conclusions from that truth to support their own inclinations.

This morning we are going to take a simple look at the Bible and allow God’s Word to settle this myth. Do all good people go to heaven?

Well, turn with me to John 3

John 3
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Nicodemus was evidently a good person. He was a very wealthy and very well known Jew belonging to the religious order of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were known for their religious piety. They were good, moral, holy, and devout Jews. This man Nicodemus was a ruler of that order.

However, whereupon Nicodemus was no doubt a good man who did good deeds, nonetheless Jesus made it clear that goodness, education, religious affiliation, or an elevated position, do not qualify a person to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus plainly dispels the myth that all good people go to heaven by telling Nicodemus that he must be born again.

Born again? Whatever did Jesus mean? Even Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, well studied and serving in the leadership of the highest order of scholars of his day did not readily understand this term. It perplexed him. He asked, how can a man be born again?

You see, before a person can be born again, born a second time, they must die first. If there is life after death, then there must of necessity be death before that life.

The scriptures say:

John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

We must die to the old life in order to be born to the new.

At times we must fully let go of one thing to fully get hold of another.

Every person is born into a sinful world with a sinful nature as a member of the sinful human race. Even if an individual is a good person, they are still just good sinners, good members of the sinful human race.

Without regard as to how wonderful your dog may be, it is still just a dog … a good dog, but a dog nonetheless. In order for a dog to become a human, if that was possible and it is not, they would have to be born again. However, before they could be born again, they would first have to die.

Even though it is not possible for a dog to become a human, it is possible for a human to become a child of God. How can this be, Nicodemus asked? God made a way through Messiah. But, before you can be born again, you must first die … you must die to your old life … die to the flesh in order to be born of the Spirit. How does a person die and yet live? Paul explained:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Not only does God promise death to the old through a relationship with Christ Jesus, but God also promises resurrection from the dead and a new life in Christ Jesus! When we are born again Jesus’ death becomes our death, and His resurrection becomes our resurrection. Our life is hidden in Christ and we live in Him as He lives in us.

Colossians 3
1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

That’s what we are talking about today: Dead men walking!

Is God a good God? Yes, definitely!

Does God love and reward people who do good deeds? Sure He does.

Does God want good people to go to hell? No, no way! (Hell, no!)

Will God make a way for all good people to go to heaven? He already did!

Will all good people go to heaven? I pray they do, but …

That is a choice each person has to make for themselves. Just like Nicodemus, every person must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God has no grandchildren, only children.

The way to heaven is through Jesus the Messiah. Only through a personal relationship with Him can a person be free from the damnation of sin.

When God told His children under the Law of Moses to provide an acceptable sacrifice for their sins, each person had to have a relationship with their sacrifice in order for their sins to be forgiven. Just because a neighbor offered a lamb for their sins did not mean it covered you. It had to be your lamb sacrificed to pay for your sins.

Without a personal relationship with, a personal connection to, the sacrifice, your sins will not be forgiven.

Do you have a personal relationship with the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?

Believe on Jesus. Accept Him as Messiah today.

You see: To go to heaven, you must be born again.

Without Jesus you are dead because you live.

With Jesus you live because you are dead.

Either way, every person is a dead man walking.

Die today, live forever!