Heartless Humans

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be…without natural affection. —2 Timothy 3:1-3

     There are many vivid and incontestable proofs that scream loudly for all to hear, “Perilous times are here! These are the last days!” I call your attention to just one of these sad defining characteristics of the end of days: “men shall be without natural affection.” What Paul is saying is that we will know when the end of the world is knocking at the door because in those days humans will be heartless, hateful, and unloving.
     Oh, my God, how heartbreaking are the days in which we live! For many years now, tragic heart-rending stories about newborn infants being found in dumpsters, some with their umbilical cords still attached, have grabbed headlines all over the world, especially here in the United States. Stories of parents locking away their children for years, chaining them to the walls, neglecting them, sexually abusing them, and torturing them for their own satanic amusement are becoming more and more common. Men, young and old, father children whom they do not even care to see or name, much less love and provide for. Mothers murder their unborn children by the millions every year. In 2017 alone, over 40 million unborn babies were ruthlessly murdered by their selfish mothers; that is roughly 117,000 abortions per day, almost 5000 abortions per hour, about 80 abortions per minute, and  one and a half abortions per second. These are perilous times, especially for harmless, defenseless, unborn children! And as sad as that is, many of the children who are privileged enough to come to full term and see the light of day often have no natural affection themselves. Children today of all ages kill their class mates, neighbors, family, parents, and brothers and sisters for the most absurd reasons, if they have a reason at all. Heartless humans—again, of all ages—rob, rape, and murder other humans every second of every day, all over the earth. Poor homeless people are despised and treated as worthless, unwanted, invisible pieces of society’s landscape. More than once I have seen cars—nice cars that bespeak money in the bank—drive right past a poor homeless person who was holding up a cardboard sign begging for help. These heartless drivers drove right past the poor and needy without so much as parting with a single dollar—a dollar! (Be glad that God is not like that. If he was, every person would go to hell. But God always hears the cries of the needy and never turns them away empty-handed.) Furthermore, thousands, if not millions, of heartless humans refuse to take care of their pets. Multitudes of abusive dog owners neglect their dogs, starving them and forgetting that they even exist. Many of these heartless criminals tie these poor animals up for years, never letting them off the chain. Some of these dogs are tied up for so long that the chains and collars literally embed themselves into the necks of the poor creatures. It is utterly heart-wrenching to see humanity so degraded and so heartless, but no marvel. God said these days would come, and they have.
     Where is the love? Are we monsters or men? Were we created in the image of Satan? Then why are we such devilish mutations? Such selfishness! Such hatred! Such malice! Such pride! From the top to the bottom of society, humans are heartless pieces of sinful flesh. Common courtesy, the smallest form of kindness there is, though not altogether lost to oblivion, has diminished greatly, very greatly. Just go to Walmart on Black Friday, and behold the heartless mob fight like mindless animals over toys, electronics, and blenders. You may get beaten half to death over a tablet or a television, if you are not careful. You may even get shanked, if you grab the last Xbox. For one single day every year, Walmart turns into the UFC octagon, but the contenders are not fighting for the heavyweight championship; they are fighting for a stupid television. Whoever could have dreamed that Kevlar would be appropriate for a trip to Walmart? If someone were to say to me, “How do you know that these are the perilous times that characterize the last days spoken of by Paul?” I would simply say Black Friday. Laugh—but it is so true.
     Adults are so shamelessly hardhearted that they will literally take candy from a baby—I have seen it. The videos are online for the world to see, and the adults don’t even blush about it. Do you know how many times small children in the stands have had professional baseball players toss them game balls only to have those balls snatched out of their tiny little hands by heartless adults? What will heartless humans not do, if left to themselves? We will steal from children and kill for a baseball! Humans torture their own children, kill their own children, starve their own children, and give their own children away. (They will sell a used DVD to a coworker for a few dollars, but they give their children away for free! That’s heartless! What’s more valuable, a used DVD or a living child with an immortal soul?) Humans throw their newborn babies into dumpsters to be taken to the nearest landfill, just so they don’t have to take care of them. Humans abuse their pets, kill their parents, and stab their teachers. Heartless adults will take candy from a baby, abuse the homeless, spit on strangers, fight fellow shoppers for the newest iPhone, and sell drugs to children. Evolution, really? Get real! Humans are more rotten today than ever before. Humans are not evolving into superior life forms; humans have already degenerated into empty heartless vessels of stone, and they just get worse with every tick of the clock.
     Thank God for his free grace! Even now, in this degenerate age of hollow humanity and heartless infidelity, God has a remnant according to the election of grace, and if not for his grace, even that precious remnant would be unfeeling, unloving, and without natural affection. Grace is the sinner’s only hope and only escape from the wrath to come. Only the grace of God can transform heartless rebels into human beings, real human beings that love, feel, and sincerely care for children, family, strangers, and the poor. Only grace can solve the crisis of selfishness and sin within us all. Education can’t do it. Social reform can’t do it. Philanthropy can’t do it. Politics can’t do it. Money can’t do it. Humans need hearts, new hearts, and only God can give them.
     Thankfully, some will receive new hearts by the grace of God, hearts that truly love. These elect individuals will love Jesus Christ. They will fall in love with the truth of God. They will, by the free grace of God, learn to love other humans. The poor and needy will occupy a special places in their new hearts. They will even learn to love God’s lesser creatures, so that even the sight of a suffering animal will break their hearts into a thousand pieces. All the rest of humanity so-called, all the heartless, unloving, malicious monstrosities in this world will be destroyed forever in the fire of God’s wrath, and justly so. They loved not; therefore, they shall learn what it is to be hated of God. They refused to show mercy to suffering canines; therefore, they shall undergo such excruciating torture and pain that the miserable dogs they once refused to relieve shall be envied by them for eternity. There shall be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy,” but the merciless shall die without mercy. This is the judgment of God, and it is good.
     I urge all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth to love, even as Christ himself loved. There was never a man more loving, more compassionate, or more caring than the God-man of Nazareth. He never put himself first, never. He did all that he did for others. He preached for others. He served others. He was born for others. He lived, breathed, and died for others. Behold him and wonder, child of God. Behold the epitome of love hanging on the cursed tree because of his great love for needy sinners. Behold love incarnate ruling upon heaven’s throne as the reward of his great work of love. Children of God, we have no sin because of his love. God forgives all of our misdeeds dark because Christ lovingly bore our sins in his own body on the tree. We are righteous only because of his love. We have a good hope of salvation, not because we loved him, but because he loved us and gave himself for us. Walk in love, children of God, and be done with selfishness and self-esteem, once and for all. We should walk as Christ walked, loving as Christ loved—selflessly, sincerely, sacrificially, humbly, vigorously, and perseveringly. That’s what love is supposed to do.
     Fallen men are more like devils than men, and that makes these times perilous times, indeed. Modern men love pleasures more than God, and they love sin more than their fellow men. This is dangerous—this is deadly! Men love themselves, but they have no love for anyone else. The cult of self is the prevailing religion of the day. Self is deified as the great and glorious I AM, and only the return of the true I AM, the Lord Jesus Christ, can bring this worldwide plague of heartless paganism to an end. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen. —Frank Hall

Knowledge Haters

Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD. —Proverbs 1:28-29

     In Psalm 119 David prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” David desired knowledge. He wanted to see and know. He longed to behold more of God and more of his truth. Sadly, most people do not share David’s desire. Sadly, most people hate knowledge. Such are the people in our text. Wisdom cried, declaring the things that are good and right, “but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Christ called, but they shut their ears. Christ spoke, but they ignored his voice. Christ revealed the truth, but they delighted themselves in lies. Christ spoke loudly and plainly, but “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” The Lord Jesus made known the nature, being, will, doctrine, way, truth, and salvation of God, but these knowledge hating infidels would not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.
     There is a dreadful price to pay for unbelief, because unbelief is the greatest form of rebellion and sin against God. There will come a day, a day of unthinkable judgment and woe, upon all who harden their hearts against the knowledge of Jesus Christ. They may be prostitutes, and they may be preachers. They may be conspirators, and they may be Calvinists. They may be creeps, and they may be professing Christians. They may be atheists, and they may be Bible readers. They may use much profanity, and they may say their prayers every single day. They may be in prisons, and they may be philanthropists. God hating, knowledge despising, truth loathing criminals come in every shape and size. In that day, such distinctions will make no difference at all. All that will matter in that day is whether or not you received the love of the truth. In that day, all who loved the truth on the earth shall be saved, but all who hated knowledge shall be damned forever.
     Listen carefully: if you despise the knowledge of God revealed in the scriptures and preached by his servants, you hate knowledge, and hating the knowledge of God, you will spend eternity paying for your hatred, reaping the consequences of your insanity. You may not call now, but there is coming a day when you will call on him. In the day that you call, he promises in his word that he will not hear you. Why is this? Because you would not hear him when he called. You turned a deaf ear to him, and he will turn a deaf ear to you. It’s called equity; it’s called justice. I urge you, listen to God’s word. Hear him intently, and receive all that he says without doubting. If you do not, how can you rightly expect him to hear you when you call on him?
     Christ says, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” Knowledge haters, how can you escape the damnation of hell?
     I know for a fact that there are many professing Christians and well-respected influential preachers in this world who continually ask God to teach them, but when he speaks by his word to teach them, they refuse to receive the instruction that he gives, calling his testimony deceitful nonsense, damning delusion, and trivial trash. “Teach me,” they say, but when God’s teaching contradicts their foolish notions about things, they discard God’s word and keep their own petty superstitions. How foolish! Don’t ask God to teach you, if you are not willing to receive his teaching. In other words, don’t be a hypocrite. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.
     When God speaks on a matter, any matter, it is of utmost importance that we receive his testimony immediately and without disputation, for his testimony is worthy of an eager welcome and a hearty reception. To argue with God’s word is not only sinful and futile, it is completely insane. God’s testimony concerning creation, prayer, and the believer’s responsibility to obey him in all things is just as consequential, valuable, and significant as his testimony concerning election, redemption, and justification by faith. God speaks just as authoritatively and insistently about giving, self-denial, and personal devotion as he does about predestination, the resurrection, and salvation by free grace. All that God says and reveals is significant, possessing inestimable value. Why then do so many people believe that it is okay to classify some of God’s testimonies as matters of secondary importance or of no importance whatsoever? The answer is simple: they hate knowledge. God never speaks of secondary issues, nor does God talk of nonsense or petty drivel, for he is not a man that he should waste his breath. He only doeth wondrous things, and he only speaketh profound and necessary things.
     If you hate the knowledge that God dispenses concerning his Son, his will, his ways, or his works, you will eat the fruit of your own way and be filled with your own devices. This means that, if you want darkness, he will give you darkness. If you want error, he will give you error. If you want blindness and ignorance, he will leave you to yourself. If you want delusion, he will give you delusion. If you want to defend the gates of hell, he will make sure that you cannot be saved. If you want to side with the devil, he will give you all the lies your sinful heart can handle. When God speaks to correct your errors and preconceived notions about him or anything else, and you snub your nose at his reproof, he will not hold you guiltless. This isn’t Neverland, folks; there are consequences to everything. Believe God, and salvation is yours. Receive his words, and he will receive you. But understand, no one hates knowledge without consequence. Walk in darkness, or walk in the light, but you cannot do both. —Frank Hall

Kiss the Son

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. —Psalm 2:12

     The message of the Old Testament is the same message of the New Testament—fear, reverence, love, trust, and obey the Son of God, and thou shalt be saved. The way of salvation is very narrow, but it really is just this simple: receive the testimony that God has given concerning his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will never die. The word, kiss, used here is representative of reverence, submission, and adoration; all who kiss the Son by faith also worship and believe on him with a godly fear. The entire Psalm that our verse is taken from is a conversation between God the Father and God the Son, which teaches us several things about who the Son is. We first learn that “he is despised and rejected of men” because the natural heart of man hates God and his Anointed. The kings and rulers of the earth conspire together against God and his beloved Son because they love darkness and hate the light. This fact was made unmistakably clear during the Lord’s ministry upon the earth. Everywhere he went he was despised and rejected of men, though he was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. The only people who loved him and received him gladly were those whom he saved by his sovereign grace and power. As it was then, so it is now: mankind vehemently hates the Son of God and would take him off his throne and crucify him afresh, if they could.
     Despite man’s natural hatred of the Son of God, he is not moved, threatened, or intimidated in the least, because he is the blessed and only Potentate. The kings and the rulers of the earth, yea all men, despise the dominion and power of the Lord Jesus Christ and foolishly attempt to overthrow his sovereign rule over them in a fit of rage. Seeing the futile effort of mortal maggots attempting to overthrow the immortal Immanuel, the Lord Jesus Christ sits in the heavens and laughs! The Son of God is no ordinary man, who can be conquered or overthrown; he is the God-man, who has been given “a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
     Jesus Christ is the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS, “whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” The Son has been given all power by his heavenly Father because he successfully accomplished all that the Father sent him into the world to do as the representative of his elect. The Father says to his Son, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” This means that Christ is Lord over all creatures—over kings, princes, rulers, governors, angels, Satan, the devils, you, me, and everyone else who has ever existed. This is a good reason to kiss the Son and worship him with fear and reverence. He is all powerful and he will execute judgement upon the earth shortly. He holds your very existence in the palm of his hand and can do with you whatsoever seemeth him good. Kiss the Son! Do not delay or procrastinate; your next breath may not be given to you.
     The Son of God “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” This is a comforting and reassuring fact to us sinful mortals. This ought to cause us to flee to him wholeheartedly and without a moment’s hesitation. Now is the day of salvation, and now is the day to kiss the Son and believe on him! He is willing to save and abundantly pardon all who will come to him—that is his promise. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
     Do not pretend to love Christ—God forbid! Do not betray him with a kiss—woe unto those who do! Do not pretend to believe him and trust him, if you don’t have genuine faith—he sees your pretense and will destroy you shortly, unless you repent! As wonderful as the Lord Jesus Christ’s goodness and compassion are, his anger and his wrath are just as fearful. The Son of God is on his way back to this earth, and he will not hesitate to declare to his angels, which will reap the earth, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
     Brethren, let us not be found liars and hypocrites on that great and terrible day of the Lord, for it is “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The same Lord who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” also said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” Our verse says to kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled BUT A LITTLE. What must the wrath of the Lamb of God be when a little of his wrath shall cause you to perish from the way of life and be crushed into a devil’s hell for all eternity? Bow to Christ. Confess your sins to Christ. Trust Christ for atonement and righteousness. Kiss him with the kiss of faith, lest you perish out of the way and hear him say to you, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
     Do not despise these words of wisdom—be wise. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. The truly blessed man is he who puts his trust in the Son of God for all things. The man who forsakes his experiences, his religious knowledge, his righteousness, his reputation in the world, his thoughts, his preconceived notions, his false hope, his loved ones, his family, yea, and his own life also to trust the Son of God is truly a blessed man. We know that this act of faith “is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Bless his high and holy name, for he shall make his people willing in the day of his power to do “that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” —Dennis Svistun

Reading the Bible

     The most useless and unprofitable way to read the scriptures is by systematically reading a predetermined, scheduled, set number of specific chapters per day. “Yesterday, I read Joshua, chapters 7 through 12; today I have to read Joshua, chapters 13 through 17, because that is what my daily reading schedule requires.” How unfruitful and unrewarding! Perhaps God would have you read from Isaiah today and Matthew tomorrow, but you cannot know that because you have already predetermined what you are going to read and how much you are going to read every single day. Though it has the appearance of wisdom and prudence, this method is really foolish, but people use it because it is easier to follow a fixed schedule than it is to be always coming to the mercy seat for grace to help in time of need. Furthermore, this method is not only unrewarding and foolish, it savors of real evil because it makes prayer and seeking God’s face unnecessary and pointless. It circumvents the means that God has ordained for our profit—the very means that give him all the glory by pressuring us to come to him alone for help. Using this method discourages prayer and faith; it gives men no reason to seek God’s guidance and counsel as to how they should read the word and what they should read in the word because they have a fixed schedule that guides them. This method of reading substitutes a fleshly man-made schedule for God and his all-wise direction. Instead of encouraging us to look up to God by prayer with eyes of faith, this method requires us to look down to our schedule as a routine of devotion with eyes of flesh. This is nothing more and nothing less than performing religious duties in the power of the flesh, and it cannot profit. The Bible calls this idolatry! Following this ridiculous fleshly system of daily devotion and looking to a schedule for direction is the setting up of a false god to guide us through the scriptures. Guidance is the Father’s right and the Shepherd’s prerogative. This method robs the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—of his glory, and it strips us of any real hope of profiting from the word.
     Another snare that we sometimes fall into, in regard to reading the scriptures, which goes hand in hand with that which is mentioned above, is this notion that, if we are truly devoted to God, genuinely faithful, and really spiritual people, we will read several chapters per day as a set routine of godliness and devotion. What nonsense! Do you not know, and have you not heard? As it is with prayer, repentance, worship, giving, and all other spiritual exercises, so it is with searching the scriptures—quality is exceedingly more important than quantity. I encourage you, read the scriptures more, not less—none of us know our Bibles half as well as we should or could. But understand that it is not the quantity or amount that we read that is most significant, if such a thing is significant at all; it is the quality of our reading that matters most, if not the only thing that matters. We need to be more concerned with how we read than how much we read. The greater or lesser number of chapters we read does not translate into greater or lesser spiritual profit, nor should how much or how little we read be set up as a yardstick by which we measure the reality and sincerity of our devotion to God. It is better to read a single parable with principle, care, thoughtfulness, prayer, diligence, and application than it is to read two, five, ten, or twenty chapters as a fixed rubric, set form, or daily routine.
     To read and study the scriptures profitably, we do not need a calendar, a fixed method, or an inflexible system of rules; however, in my estimation, we very much need a set of firm and fixed principles to guide us along the way. If we desire to profit from the reading of God’s word, let us read it prayerfully, sincerely, humbly, and diligently, recognizing our own inability and ignorance, searching for the Lord Jesus Christ on every page and in every verse, and applying all that we read to ourselves. If we read the scriptures this way, exercising these precious fundamental principles every time we read, we will never cease to profit from God’s word, but we will continually grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The following principles, if faithfully practiced, should help you as you read and study God’s word.

1. As you read God’s word, always search for Christ. He is the message of the entire Book. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

2. Read the scriptures daily. The Bereans “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Search the scriptures every single day; this is true Berean nobility. If we only read the scriptures periodically, a couple times a week, we will be very ignorant, easily duped and misled, full of darkness, undiscerning, clueless about much, ill-established in the truth, ill-equipped to resist the devil and stand against temptation, and very limited in our capacity for usefulness in the kingdom of God. Only good comes from reading the scriptures daily, and evil is the sure result of reading them less.

3. Always read the word of God believingly. Beware of unbelief, because to read God’s word with a heart of unbelief is like reading the scriptures with your eyes closed. Unbelief will render your studies utterly useless. If you would profit from the word, not only must you read the word, you must believe God’s word; however, always remember that faith is much more than merely consenting to the truthfulness of what you read—faith trusts God’s testimony and walks accordingly.

4. Always read the scriptures prayerfully. David prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” David did not pray this prayer, and then refuse to open the Book. God forbid. He prayed this prayer as he read the scriptures. Christ is the one who opened up the scriptures to those two downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus, and he is the only one who can open up the scriptures to us today. All the reading, industry, toil, labor, and study in the world will avail us nothing, if we do not lift our eyes up to Christ continually, asking him to teach us what the word says and means. He alone is able to teach ignorant sinners the truth.

5. Always read the Bible thoughtfully. Do not read the Book casually and thoughtlessly—it is not a novel or a piece of meaningless fiction. This Book contains the instruction of God your Maker. Think about what he says, weighing each verse, examining each phrase, digesting each idea, and meditating on each passage. Ask questions to the text at hand. Note the context—mark the order—and notice the connections between the verses. Always be thinking, and remember, you want to understand what you read and profit from what God says. No one ever profited from thoughtless reading in any field of study.

6. Always read the scriptures sincerely. If you are not reading honestly, truly endeavoring to profit from what you read, you read to no purpose. You are wasting your time, and you may as well go fishing. If you are not honestly seeking to know the Lord’s will—honestly seeking to know your duty—honestly laboring to know what is so and what is not—honestly testing your thoughts, notions, opinions, practices, and actions by the words of God—and honestly willing to have all of your errors, sins, and evil ways exposed to you in order to forsake them, you are reading pretentiously, and you will not profit from the Book.

7. Always read God’s word for personal profit. Do not read and study the scriptures to show others what they need to be doing. How ungodly and foolish! God did not give you his word that you might use it to govern the lives of others—that is how people abuse God’s word. God gave you his word that you might govern your life by it. Read it that you may know, that you may grow, that you may be corrected, that your sins may be exposed, that you may become better, more devoted, and more dutiful. Whatever portion of scripture you read, always read it with this attitude: this is God’s word to me right now.  

8. Always read the scriptures with humility. Never, under any circumstance, come to God’s Book with a spirit of criticism and pride. You are in no position to correct God or to find fault with anything he says. Bible critics are a dime a dozen and less than useless. But a faithful man, who can find? Come to the scriptures as a little child, ready to learn, eager to hear, and willing to submit yourself to every word of God. If you come looking for contradictions, you will not find any, but you will create them. If you come to the Book, seeking to justify your wickedness, you will wrest the scriptures to that end. If you come to the Book, seeking to prove your own opinions and preconceived notions, you will bend the scriptures to your perverse will. As someone wisely observed long ago, “God has left just enough slack in the rope of Holy Scripture that, if a man is determined to hang himself, he has just enough rope to do so.” Do not come to God’s word with proud and evil motives or underhanded intentions; come in humility, ready to engage in that one thing needful. Come in lowliness of mind, take your place beside Mary at the Savior’s feet, and receive all that your Master has to say.  

9. Always read the scriptures reverently. Psalm 138:2 says, “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Never treat the scriptures disrespectfully, dishonestly, disdainfully, or foolishly. This is not man’s word—this is God’s word. Everything depends on what he says. How we treat God’s word is how we treat God himself. His word is to be received, believed, feared, and rejoiced in. “To this man will I look,” God says, “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Read and rejoice, but rejoice with trembling. Do not play games with the word of God. God will kill you for such insanity! “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

10. Always read the word of God with diligence. A lazy student of the word is one who waits for knowledge to magically fall out of the sky into his head, but to read diligently is to read carefully, daily, and earnestly. A diligent reader is one who exerts energy and effort, who labors to learn. To read is easy, but to search and study requires diligence, labor, and effort. To search the scriptures diligently is to mine the scriptures. It is not merely picking up the nuggets that lay on the surface; it is digging down deep and examining the treasures that lay hidden within and beneath the surface.

11. Always read God’s word with patience. Do not fall prey to frustration—it is counterproductive. No one has ever learned all there is to know from the word of God; the Book is inexhaustible and simply far too deep. Apollos did not become mighty in the scriptures overnight. Patiently persist in your studies, and you too will become skilled in the word of righteousness. Yes, some learn faster than others, but we all learn line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Be patient, and wait on your heavenly Teacher. “What man is he that feareth the LORD? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall he choose.” God chooses the manner and speed of your education in the kingdom of God; submit to his methods and timing, and you are sure to make good progress. Remember, there is no such thing as a ninety-day wonder in the kingdom of God. First comes the seed, then comes the full grown corn in the ear. Craw, walk, then run—this is the order of things. Babes do not become men over night. We must all be saplings before we become mighty oaks in the forest of grace.

12. Always read the scriptures joyfully. I know that this is not always possible. Sometimes we are sad and dejected, but as much as in you lies, read the word of God with delight. It is able to make thee wise unto salvation. The gospel, by which we understand the scriptures, is a message of glad tidings. Make the study of the scriptures your joy. “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Esteem the words of God’s mouth more than your necessary food. “It is written,” the Savior says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” David says of God’s statutes, “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward…How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” If reading God’s word becomes a heavy burden, a miserable chore, and an agonizing task, the problem is always your heart. 

13. Always read the scriptures in conjunction with a faithful attendance upon the ministry of the word in the assembly of the saints. This principle is for believers only, because the assembly of the saints is only for the saints. Child of God, if you only read the scriptures at home in private, but neglect the assembly of the saints and the ministry of the word, you greatly impede your progress and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior. You need to be instructed by God’s preachers; this is according to God’s decree and God’s order. The Ethiopian eunuch recognized the value of having one of God’s preachers guide him in his pursuit of knowledge. When Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, he responded with profound wisdom, saying, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” Yes, above all else, you need God to teach you, but God teaches sinners through human instrumentality. You need a man to guide you through the scriptures; therefore, it behooves you to meet with the saints as frequently as you can to have the scriptures opened up to you by God’s servants. Preachers are the ascension gifts of Christ to his church, bestowed upon his people for their maturing and perfecting. To neglect their ministrations is to retard your own maturity and frustrate your own spiritual development. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” —Frank Hall

If I were You

If I were you, I would number my days and apply my heart to wisdom, because the end of all things is at hand. If I were you, I would stop messing around, stop playing games, and stop living for myself, and I would seek the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart while it called today, because the day is coming when he will not be found. If I were you, I would get my priorities straight, stop worrying so much about work, money, and pleasure, and I would read the word of God from cover to cover to learn what God’s will is before it is too late. If I were you, I would not trust myself, because God’s word says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If I were you, I would put all of my eggs into one basket, and that basket would be God’s darling Son. If I were you, I would not let the sun set without having called on Christ for forgiveness, because tomorrow may never come. If I were you, I would come down from that high and lofty place of imaginary dignity and humble myself before the King, because he resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. If I were you, I would stop blindly following men, and I would beg the Lord Jesus to open up my eyes to see the truth about God, the truth about Christ, and the truth about myself. If I were you, I would fall down before the great High Priest of heaven, crying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” If I were you, I would turn the television off, stop following celebrity news, and terminate my Facebook account, and I would commune with my own heart, asking, “Am I lost, without God, without Christ, and blind to the reality that I am a sinner? Have I been honest with myself about my true spiritual condition? What is that I really deserve from God? Do I truly trust the Son of God for all of my salvation? Do I really believe that my pathetic works can save me from the wrath to come?” If I were you, I would stop lying to myself about being a good person, and I would call out to my Maker, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” —Frank Hall

Stranger than Fiction

     In every aspect, the faith of God’s elect truly is stranger than fiction. This should come as no surprise to anyone who actually reads and believes the written word of God. Our God only doeth wondrous things. He “doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.” Every page of divine inspiration overflows with marvels and wonders. There are things, beings, and events revealed by God in the scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, that are simply mind staggering and that defy all ordinary human logic. Fact really is stranger than fiction, and reality really is far more bizarre than fantasy.
     In recent months there are many remarkable things that have come to light from the word of God that fly in the face of the common ordinary teaching that most Christians receive from their pastors and teachers. Many of these remarkable treasures of divine inspiration have been brought to the attention of said Christians and pastors, but because of blind prejudice, arrogance, and unbelief, they were dismissed as fiction and fallacy. The professing Christians of the 21st century just can’t seem to grasp that truth is stranger than fiction and far more interesting. People just can’t believe what the scriptures teach because they are in a state of spiritual coma. They are so indoctrinated into this world’s deceptive philosophy and so thoroughly blinded by popular opinion that the truth of God can find no place in their hearts. I almost said that the truth continually evades them, but the fact of the matter is that they are the ones evading the truth. But sooner or later, the truth always has its day.
     I do find it extremely strange that people who profess to believe and appear to defend the whole counsel of God are so reluctant to actually believe all that God says. There is not creature more inconsistent than a Christian who refuses to believe God, who refuses to believe things that are strange and unusual. After all, the entire Bible consists of a continuous string of strange and unusual miracles, works, beings, people, stories, events, circumstances, promises, and prophecies.
     The church today believes that sin entered into this world because a talking snake tricked a naked woman to eat a piece of forbidden fruit, but the church refuses to believe that the earth is flat. Christians today believe that a disobedient preacher was swallowed by a giant fish, but they refuse to believe that angels copulated with the daughters of men in the days of Noah. They believe that giants once filled the land of Canaan, but they will not believe that those very same giants are the progeny of angels and a human females. (Where do they think Goliath, Og, and Sion came from—Mars?) They believe that a donkey spoke to Balaam, but they refuse to believe that God would bypass them and speak to someone else without speaking to them first. They believe that God turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt for her disobedience, but they refuse to believe that the moon is a light. They believe that fiery serpents with wings bit the children of Israel and killed thousands of them, but they refuse to believe that there is a solid, physical, impassable firmament above the earth. They believe that a virgin had a baby who died on a cross and rose from the dead by his own power to save them from their sins, but they will not even consider the possibility that the UFO phenomena is real and satanic. They believe that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old, but they refuse to acknowledge that “aliens from outer space” are really fallen angels masquerading as visitors from space, who are really trying to create hybrids, as their comrades did in the days of Noah. (As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the coming of the Son of man. That’s what Christ himself says.) They believe that King Nebuchadnezzar really ate grass like a beast for seven years, but they will not believe that the sun actually stood still in the days of Joshua in the valley of Ajalon. They believe that Jesus Christ walked on water, healed the sick, and raised the dead, but they refuse to believe that the man of sin and the false prophet are literal men, who will appear on the world stage at the end of time to deceive the entire human race. I have only one thing to say in the light of such manifest hypocrisy and unbearable inconsistency: if Christians are not going to submit themselves to the entire word of God, they may as well toss their Bibles in the trash can, cast off their profession, and stop playing church because, if all of God’s word is not true, none of it is true.
     What is it that such unbelieving Christians expect from an all-powerful God—ordinary things? An ordinary god may do ordinary things, but the God of Holy Scripture is no ordinary God. Our God is extraordinary, and he only doeth extraordinary things; he traffics and operates only in the realm of the impossible. Our God is supernatural, infinite in power, unthinkably wise, pat finding out, and as high above us as the heavens are to the earth. A being of such enormous eternal magnitude, who literally fills eternity with his majestic presence, only and always dazzles the minds of his creatures with his wonderful works and mind-bending revelations. If God were to be, do, or reveal anything less, we would have solid ground upon which to suspect his divinity. Our God is no lifeless, explainable, man-made idol of gopher wood; he is the infinite eternal Spirit who is all, knows all, sees all, and controls all. He is the true and living God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, and it high time Christians start recognizing that fact.
     I wonder, what will these very same unbelieving religious infidels do when the end comes, and they see the impossible, the bizarre, the unnatural, and the otherworldly literally unfold before their very eyes? Will they believe God then, or will they simply dismiss such bizarre wonders as optical illusions? Will they submit to God’s revelation then, or will they fall down with the world and worship the image of the beast? The Lord Jesus says, in Luke 21, that at the time of the end, “there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Did Christ intend for us to see these things as poetic or symbolic? Are these things metaphors and figures of speech? God forbid. These things are real, and when they unfold they will be so strange, so frightening, and so out of the ordinary that men will do precisely what Christ says they will do in that day; they will pee in their pants, hide in the caves of the earth, and quiver with panic because the great day of God’s wrath is come—all because they refused to believe the word of God. —Frank Hall

The Cult of Self

     “The cult of the self dominates our culture; this cult shares within it the classic traits of psychopaths, superficial charm, grandiosity, and self-importance, a need for constant stimulation, a pension for lying, deception, and manipulation, and the incapacity for remorse or guilt. It is the misguided belief that wealth, fame, personal style, and personal advancement—mistaken for individualism—are the same as democratic equality. It is the celebration of image over substance. Fame and wealth are their own justification, their own morality; how one gets there is irrelevant. And as we sink into an economic and political morass (swamp), as we barrel toward a crisis that will create more misery than the great depression, we are controlled, manipulated, and distracted by a society awash in electronic hallucinations and social media. The consumer culture and the cult of the self are not designed to simply entertain; they are designed to drain us emotionally, confuse us about our identity, make us blame everyone else for our predicament, and condition us to choose the illusions of unachievable happiness, and keep us from fighting back.”
     It does not matter who wrote the preceding paragraph; what matters is that what is written is absolutely true. The cult of self pervades every aspect of life in the 21st century, perhaps more so than in any previous age. This is the age of the selfie, which clearly testifies to the reality that self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-importance have a stranglehold on 21st century society. Human beings, in America and abroad, in religion and out of religion, worship themselves in the most shameless, grotesque, and open displays of petty shallowness and unabashed superficiality.
     Sadder still is that this satanic self-worship is not merely some ridiculous behavior mimicked by people who idolize profane musicians and Hollywood celebrities; it is actually taught by parents and taught in schools. Children are not taught to think, reason, and problem solve; rather, they are taught to love themselves and to practice self-esteem. It is all about making people feel good about themselves, regardless of their lack of virtue or moral decency. We live in the city of confusion, and in the city of confusion the true and living God has been labeled an outlaw, a fugitive of the state. In the city of confusion self—immoral self, decadent self, weird self, abominable self, wicked self, deceitful self, and foolish self—is god. Self is the cause, and self is the result. Self is the teacher, and self is the lesson. Self is the center, and self is the circumference. Open your eyes, and you will see that in Babylon self is the ultimate goal of all carnal existence. Here, in this city of unclean spirits, self is the malicious master that fallen humanity serves.
     The true and living God calls to us, saying, “Come out of her, my people.” Forsake Babylon, and leave the cult of self behind. Stop worshiping yourself, and worship God alone. Stop indoctrinating yourself daily with the philosophy of this God-hating world, and read the word of God like a little child. Stop robbing Jesus Christ of the glory he deserves by putting yourself on a pedestal. You do not need self-esteem—your parents, teachers, friends, and colleagues lied to you. What you really need is esteem for Christ, esteem for your immortal soul, esteem for the gospel, and esteem for the truth.
     Take your earbuds out. Get off of Facebook and Twitter. Turn your smart phone off. Unplug from the Matrix, and stop putting your faith in the talking heads on television whose sole mission is to deceive and distract the masses. This fabricated self-centered dreamworld is a false reality designed by the devil and his minions to imprison your mind and prevent you from seeking Jesus Christ with all your heart. Wake up before it’s too late. I warn you, to remain willingly ignorant of reality, choosing the cult of self over the truth of God, is to plunge yourself headfirst into the bottomless pit of everlasting despair.   
     The cult of self is really the cult of death because death is precisely where self-centeredness always leads. Solomon says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” You think it is right to live for yourself, to please yourself, and to magnify yourself, and regardless of the way you choose to fulfill your carnal lusts, then end of that way is eternal death. To live for yourself is to hate Christ, and to hate Christ is to love death. “Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”
     The Lord Jesus Christ himself says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Do not seek yourself, your praise, your reputation, your success, your name, your comfort, or your wealth first. Seek salvation first. Seek Christ first. Seek forgiveness first. Seek to be right with God first. Seek the truth first. Seek heaven first. Seek God first. You see, your depraved heart wants to be gratified; it yearns for sinful pleasure. I warn you, do not so much as dally with such selfishness. The devil and his angels are working feverishly, around the clock, to keep you in the cult of self, but Jesus Christ calls us to self-denial. Christ calls us to lay aside self-will, self-esteem, and self-confidence because this is the only way of salvation and happiness. We all naturally think that the only way we can be happy is by seeking happiness, but this is a mistake. Seeking happiness is the surest way to be miserable; the only way to be happy is to seek first the kingdom of God.
     I know from what the scriptures teach and from my own personal experience that satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment, and purpose cannot be found in the cult of self. That self-centered path is the way to hell, and it only leads downward into the dark chambers of everlasting death. You will never be complete apart from Jesus Christ—it is not possible. By nature every son and daughter of Adam has a hole in their soul, a huge empty void in their heart that must be filled. All of us, by nature, attempt to fill that hole with something, seeking fulfillment in all sorts of unfulfilling things. Some seek wealth, thinking that money will make them happy, but there is not enough money in the world to satisfy the longings of an immortal soul. Some seek fame, thinking that the praise of men will make them happy, but it is not receiving praise from men that produces true happiness—it is giving praise to God that makes mortals happy.
     Men may attempt to fill that hole within them with money, fame, work, sensual pleasure, scientific learning, religious devotion, family and friends, or worldly amusements, but by divine design nothing in this world can ever truly satisfy one who was created in the image of God. Augustine of Hippo realized this; he said, “Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” An unknown wise man corroborates Augustine’s testimony, saying, “The soul of man will never be truly satisfied until it returns to the hands of him who made it.” And I have found that this is precisely true.
     The lust after wealth and fortune is a powerful agent that leads many souls into ruin. It is true that money can buy a lot of things, but it can never purchase rest for your soul. You see, rest is not something that men purchase or work for; it is a free gift that only Christ can give. Do you desire rest within, rest that cannot be lost or taken away, rest that lasts forever, real rest passes all understanding? If so, listen to the words of God’s Son: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” You labor for comfort, for happiness, for rest, peace, and satisfaction, thinking that, if you do enough, make enough, give enough, and try hard enough, you will achieve it by your own efforts and endeavors, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rest is a gift of God that Jesus Christ freely gives to all who come to him by faith; it is not something you obtain by working and laboring.
     Do you desire to be whole, to be complete? Of course you do—all men do. That is what human beings are seeking in this world—completion. The problem is that people foolishly believe the lie that outward beauty, big muscles, perfect teeth and hair, big houses, fancy cars, lots of friends, a good job, and a stable career are the means by which completion is achieved and attained. This is the wisdom of the world; this is the doctrine that people learn in the cult of self.
     The scriptures teach that only Christ can make a sinner whole. Christ asked an impotent man on one occasion, “Wilt thou be made whole?” What a tremendous question! Christ’s question is remarkable for its obvious insight into what fallen humanity needs. So many well-meaning but foolish people ask the wrong questions to sinners. “Will you accept Jesus? Do you want to go to heaven? Are you a Baptist or a Catholic? Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian?” Christ bypasses all that superficial meaningless junk and goes straight to the issue—wholeness. Fallen sinners are incomplete, impotent, broken, empty, dead, and damaged. They need to be made whole, and only Christ can give them what they need; only Christ can give you what you need, what you long for, what you seek, and what you desire.
     The response that the man gave to the Lord Jesus is equally remarkable, but for a very different reason. Christ’s question is profound for its obvious insight into human nature and fallen humanity’s deep seated need of fulfillment. The impotent man’s response is profound because it reveals that fallen humanity is completely oblivious to the fact that only God can make men whole. Christ asks, “Wilt thou be made whole?” It is a simple yes or no question. Now, mark the poor creature’s response: “The impotent man answered him, Sir, I HAVE NO MAN, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but when I am coming, another steppeth down before me.” Do you see this man’s ignorance? Do you see just how oblivious he is to the solution to his problem? Better yet, do you see your own ignorance and foolishness reflected in his? Christ asks, “Wilt thou be made whole?” He says, “I have no man.” Oh, how blind we are! Like this impotent creature, we cannot help ourselves, much less help others, nor can any man help us. We are helpless to make ourselves whole by anything we do, and all other men are just as helpless as we are. They are impotent and so are we. The only one who can make us whole is God—God in human flesh—Jesus Christ, the Great Physician.
     Jesus Christ fixes broken sinners by filling them with mercy and grace. He takes away their sins, makes them righteous, and heals all their souls’ diseases. He crowns them with loving-kindness, and he makes them complete in him. “In [Christ] dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Paul says, “and ye are complete in him.” This world can never make you complete; it can never fill that void within you. Family and friends cannot complete you. Work and success cannot complete you. Outward beauty, perfect skin, and cosmetic surgery cannot complete you. Designer clothes, hip fashion, and expensive shoes cannot complete you. Riches, fame, power, influence, and worldly knowledge cannot complete you. Only Christ can make you whole.
     Isaiah the prophet asks, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not?” Why do you labor after satisfaction in things that do not and cannot satisfy? You do not go to the super market to buy car parts, to the pet store to buy candy, or to the public library to rent a car. So why do you seek happiness in that which tends to misery? Behold the depravity of man in high definition; he is as foolish as foolish can be.
     The creature cannot find contentment in the creature—it is impossible. The creature can only be made complete in the Creator; God has it rigged just that way. Stop looking for wholeness in all the wrong places. Spiritual completion cannot be found below—it can only be found above, in Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Life and happiness are in him. Riches and pleasure are in him. Satisfaction and contentment are in him.
     What you seek cannot be found in the cult of self, because God put everything in Christ before the foundation of the world. What you seek and what you need is in Christ alone. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the Genesis of all things and the Consummation of all things. According to the apostle Paul, Christ is the very meaning of life. “For to me to live is Christ,” said the apostle to the Philippians. Find him, and you find life; miss him, and you will not only die without nothing, you will spend eternity naked, ignorant, and ashamed, in a state of perpetual and endless death, all because you refused to put Christ first. —Frank Hall

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All That Matters is the Truth of God.

The Bible is a relatively small book. It is not a set of encyclopedias. God could have given us a thousand Bibles, each filled with heavenly truth, but he has seen fit to give us just one. Child of God, your Father handpicked each and every doctrine in your precious Bible. That makes every revealed doctrine precious, valuable, and pertinent. —Frank Hall