You hear it throughout the entire biblical witness: “Who am I?”
If the words aren’t used they’re implied. Sometimes the events recorded speak for themselves and if the words aren’t in the text we ourselves ask the question, “Who are they?”
Abraham with a worn out body and a wife who can’t conceive—how could they father/mother a nation and then a multitude of nations? An Abraham who twice puts his wife in harm’s way to save his own skin—how could he be worthy? A cheating Jacob who can’t trust God’s promises and twice cons his brother—how could he be worthy to become the father of a nation that under God blesses the human family? An impish Joseph who babbles on about his dreams and coming exaltation until even his doting father has had enough of it; Joseph, who ends up in prison—how could he become God’s instrument of blessing to the nations? Moses, a fugitive from Egyptian justice, sulking and refusing to give his firstborn to God [see Exodus 4:22-26, he had called his son "stranger" or "alien" and had refused to circumcise him and so acknowledge him as God's son in covenant]; Moses who doesn’t want the job of deliverer—how could he be the one to deliver an enslaved nation and bring it to the promised land? The fearful Joshua who worries about how he can fill the role of “the legend” Moses or Gideon [Judges 6] who in light of the current and ongoing tragedy resents old stories about God’s past deeds in the Exodus and admits he is the least of the least [and then there’s David]—how could these unworthy and unfitted people be the ones through whom deliverance is brought to the enslaved and blind and weak and embittered. How could they bring hope and freedom? In light of the harsh and stubborn facts and in light of the unfitness of the people called by God how could deliverance come? 
   In their own way they all say what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, when he is stunned by the truth that he is a carrier of the gospel that triggers life and death for all who hear and he mutters: “Who is sufficient for these things?” His answer in 3:5, “Our sufficiency is not of ourselves—it’s of God!”

     The recurring phrase in the OT texts alluded to above is this: "I am with you.”
   In Exodus 3:10 Moses’ question, “Who am I?” is answered in 3:11 by God’s, “I am with you.” Moses gets the message and in Exodus 33:12-17 he pursues God for assurance that in one form or another he will be with him and the nation. “How will it be known that we are like no other nation unless you are with us?” Moses asks and God gives assurance: "I will be with you!". See the text.

     It’s never about our worthiness, fitness or ability—the difference is about who is with us! It's never about our inability or our unfitness; it's always about His being with us!

     Our unworthiness and unfitness is an undoubted reality. It takes God—that God—to work it all out and bring his overarching purpose to a glorious conclusion in fulfillment! [“It is finished!”] Whatever the case is with us, God is always worthy and able! See Revelation 4:10-11; 5:2, 5, 9, 12-13.
 Deliverance isn’t about our well-heeled academics, our preachers or shepherds or worship leaders or educational directors or programs; assurance is not to be found in the very large assemblies we glory in [Gideon's 300 has a message] nor are we to whine about the power and menace of our opponents compared to our tiny flocks and their weakness [Deuteronomy 7:17 and Luke 12:32 have a message for those of us in such situations]. It’s all about who is with us! The engine that drives God’s redeeming purpose that has climaxed in Jesus is not his gifts but himself! Abraham came to know that and that’s why he lifted the knife to kill the boy—the gift from God and the one on whom Abraham’s future seemed to hang. He came to know that his future lay solely in the hands of the God who watched him take that three-day ride into hell [Von Rad].

     That constant question, "Who am I" or "Who are we?" and God's constant answer to such a question comes to its glorious climax in the Incarnation and we hear Jesus called "Immanuel". God is with us! And that is not an event that took place 2,000 years ago and to be left as ancient history. Before he went away saying he would be back [see Acts 1:9-11] he said this:
     “Go disciple the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…and lo I am with you always even until the world (age) ends.” Matthew 28:19-20.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

The Reality of Eternal Hell by Kyle Butt, M.A.


The Reality of Eternal Hell

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Hell has been depicted as a lake of fire, eternal torment, and everlasting punishment. Because of the heinous nature of hell, many have decided that it is impossible for a loving God to conceive such a place, much less send His wayward creatures there. For this reason, they have rejected the idea of an eternal hell. And this trend to reject the concept of hell does not reside solely in the camp of the skeptic and unbeliever. Many Bible “believers” have fallen prey to this idea. In a March 1991 U.S. News & World Report article titled “Revisiting the Abyss,” this quotation appears: “In many churches, one finds little talk these days about a literal, punitive hell as a real possibility after death. ‘My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell,’ says the Rev. [sic] Mary Kraus, pastor of the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Her parishioners, she says, are ‘upper-middle-class, well-educated critical thinkers’ who view God as ‘compassionate and loving, not someone who's going to push them into eternal damnation’ ” (1991, 110[11]:60).
According to Miss Kraus, the idea of a literal place of torment reserved for the wicked does not sit well with her “upper-middle-class, well-educated critical thinkers.” The basic argument against hell can be stated like this: It is unjust to punish someone eternally for sins they committed in their few years on Earth; the biblical concept of hell entails such punishment; therefore the biblical concept of hell is unjust (which would mean, of course, that the God of the Bible is unjust as well).


Although the argument against the biblical concept of hell is erroneous in several of its points, it is accurate when it states that the Bible depicts an eternal hell. On numerous occasions Jesus underlined the fact that hell is eternal. In Matthew 18:8, for example, He described an “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41,46 renders the same idea, but adds “everlasting punishment”). In our modern day and age, it is popular to posit the idea that hell will last only a short time, and then the souls of the wicked will be annihilated. Clark H. Pinnock, theology professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, was quoted in the January 31, 2000 issue of U.S. News & World Report, as saying: “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness” as to inflict “everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been?” (as quoted in Sheler, 2000, 128[4]:44). Pinnock went on to argue that a God Who would do such a thing is “more nearly like Satan than like God.”
However, for Pinnock and his ever-increasing pack of “annihilationists,” their house is built on shifting sand—both biblically and philosophically. Biblically, our Lord repeatedly stressed the idea that the souls of the wicked will have to endure “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). To contend that the wicked soul is annihilated would be to negate the words of Christ, since “everlasting punishment” cannot be inflicted upon an annihilated being.
Philosophically, the view is equally flawed, because it fails to take into account what every person understands about justice: the punishment always lasts longer than the actual crime. When a man walks into a bank, shoots two tellers, robs the bank, and is apprehended, tried, and found guilty, his punishment always is of a much longer duration than his crime. The actual shooting and looting might have taken only 3 minutes to accomplish, but he most likely will pay for those three minutes with the remainder of his life in prison. Those who contend that hell will not be eternal say that forever is “too long.” But once a person concedes that punishment can (and generally does) last longer than the crime, his argument against an eternal hell becomes self-defeating.
Furthermore, the idea that eternity is “too long” only appeals to the human emotions when dealing with punishment, never with reward. Who would argue that heaven cannot be eternal because God would be unjust to reward us for “so long.” On the contrary, the eternality of heaven and hell stand and fall together. And both find their place in the justice and mercy of God. When Christ spoke to the people of His day about the ultimate fate of humanity in eternity, He stated that the wicked would “go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionios) life” (Matthew 25:46). The Greek word aionios, rendered “eternal” in the English, is the same Greek word (aionios) rendered earlier as “everlasting,” Precisely the same word is applied to the punishment of the wicked as to the reward of the righteous. Those who are willing to accept Christ’s teaching on heaven should have no trouble accepting His teaching on hell.


“Revisiting the Abyss,” (1991), U.S. News & World Report, 110[11]:60, March 25.
Sheler, Jeffery L. (2000), “Hell Hath No Fury,” U.S. News & World Report, 128[4]:44, January 31.

From Mark Copeland... Do Not Be Conformed To This World (Romans 12:1-2)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

               Do Not Be Conformed To This World (12:1-2)


1. In our text, we note the command:   "And do not be conformed to this

2. What does the word "conformed" mean to you...?
   a. Is it just a word that we quickly glance over?
   b. How does it relate to your daily living?

3. We need to be very familiar with the concept of "conformity"...
   a. Not just to understand what Paul is saying
   b. But because this word plays a very important role in our lives,
      whether young or old

[That we might properly apply the exhortation of the apostle Paul, let's
examine the concept of conformity...]


      1. To conform to another's pattern (RWP)
      2. E.g., the desire to be like someone else
         a. Do what they do
         b. Say what they say
         c. Wear what they wear
      3. To accept the ideas, the fashions, way of walking and talking,
         etc., that is popular
      4. A conformist, therefore, is someone who:
         a. Is afraid to be different
         b. Feels a need to be like everyone else

      1. There is tremendous pressure to conform to the standards of the
         a. Even adults feel a need to conform
         b. Also many young people (in their clothes, cars, etc.)
      2. The pressure to conform is often strongest during adolescence
         a. The young often have low-esteem
         b. They want desperately to be accepted and esteemed by others
      3. Advertisers often complicate the problem
         a. Trying to market and sell their products
         b. Trying to get people to conform to use their products (an
            old ad campaign:  "Wethead is dead!")

      1. It can easily lead you to do things you know are wrong
         a. E.g., boys in a car for a joyride, and one begins popping
         b. E.g., men at a business luncheon, where drinks are served
      2. When others follow suit, the pressure to conform is great
         a. Ridicule to conform is often applied
         b. Once you give in, the next time conformity is easier
      3. Conformity to the things of this world can separate us from
         God! - cf. 1Jn 2:15-17
         a. By giving in to the lust of the flesh (immorality)
         b. By succumbing to the lust of the eyes (materialism)
         c. By yielding to the pride of life (arrogance)

[We now understand why Paul commands us "do not be conformed to this
world"!  There are grave dangers in conforming to another's pattern.
How shall we deal with the pressures of conformity...?]


      1. A conformist (as used here) is one who...
         a. Undergoes a superficial, shallow change
         b. Becomes a cheap imitation, letting others do their thinking
            for them
      2. A transformist is one who...
         a. Undergoes a real change (like a caterpillar becoming a
         b. Experiences a true "renewal"
            1) That begins with conversion - Tit 3:5
            2) That involves a renewal of the mind - Ro 12:2
            3) That continues as we go through life - 2Co 4:16
      3. Becoming a transformist...
         a. Addresses the reasons why many conform
            1) A feeling of insecurity (yet we learn that God loves us,
               we are special! - 1Jn 3:1)
            2) A desire to follow the crowd (yet we learn the ultimate
               end of following the world - 1Jn 2:15-17)
         b. Marks the difference between...
            1) Christians who are truly converted
            2) Those who are shallow imitators of true disciples

      1. A transformist is a leader
         a. Who "proves" to others what is good, acceptable and perfect
            - Ro 12:2
            1) Presents their bodies as living and holy sacrifices - Ro 12:1
            2) Has the courage to say "no" to things that are wrong
         b. Whose example helps others fight off the pressures to
            1) Giving others the strength to say "no"
            2) Encouraging others to do what is right - e.g., Joshua,
               Josh 24:14-15; Judg 2:7
      2. A conformist is but a simple follower
         a. Letting others do their thinking for them
         b. Letting others lead them into harm's way


1. Everyone experiences the pressure to conform to the standards and
   practices of the world...
   a. Especially the young who are so impressionable
   b. But even those who older are persuaded by those in positions of
      power and influence

2. We have a choice...
   a. Either to buckle under and be led by those destroying their own
      bodies, minds, and souls
   b. Or look to Jesus, the true nonconformist, and allow ourselves to
      be transformed by the renewing of our minds

3. If we are to conform, let us conform to the image of Jesus - cf. Ro 8:29
   a. For that will require a true transformation of the inner man
   b. And we can demonstrate what is the good, acceptable, and perfect
      will of God!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading August 23

Bible Reading  

August 23

The World English Bible

Aug. 23
Job 27-29

Job 27:1 Job again took up his parable, and said,
Job 27:2 "As God lives, who has taken away my right, the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter.
Job 27:3 (For the length of my life is still in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils);
Job 27:4 surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness, neither shall my tongue utter deceit.
Job 27:5 Far be it from me that I should justify you. Until I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
Job 27:6 I hold fast to my righteousness, and will not let it go. My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Job 27:7 "Let my enemy be as the wicked. Let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous.
Job 27:8 For what is the hope of the godless, when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?
Job 27:9 Will God hear his cry when trouble comes on him?
Job 27:10 Will he delight himself in the Almighty, and call on God at all times?
Job 27:11 I will teach you about the hand of God. That which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.
Job 27:12 Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves; why then have you become altogether vain?
Job 27:13 "This is the portion of a wicked man with God, the heritage of oppressors, which they receive from the Almighty.
Job 27:14 If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword. His offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.
Job 27:15 Those who remain of him shall be buried in death. His widows shall make no lamentation.
Job 27:16 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare clothing as the clay;
Job 27:17 he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.
Job 27:18 He builds his house as the moth, as a booth which the watchman makes.
Job 27:19 He lies down rich, but he shall not do so again. He opens his eyes, and he is not.
Job 27:20 Terrors overtake him like waters. A storm steals him away in the night.
Job 27:21 The east wind carries him away, and he departs. It sweeps him out of his place.
Job 27:22 For it hurls at him, and does not spare, as he flees away from his hand.
Job 27:23 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.
Job 28:1 "Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold which they refine.
Job 28:2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted out of the ore.
Job 28:3 Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out, to the furthest bound, the stones of obscurity and of thick darkness.
Job 28:4 He breaks open a shaft away from where people live. They are forgotten by the foot. They hang far from men, they swing back and forth.
Job 28:5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread; Underneath it is turned up as it were by fire.
Job 28:6 Sapphires come from its rocks. It has dust of gold.
Job 28:7 That path no bird of prey knows, neither has the falcon's eye seen it.
Job 28:8 The proud animals have not trodden it, nor has the fierce lion passed by there.
Job 28:9 He puts forth his hand on the flinty rock, and he overturns the mountains by the roots.
Job 28:10 He cuts out channels among the rocks. His eye sees every precious thing.
Job 28:11 He binds the streams that they don't trickle. The thing that is hidden he brings forth to light.
Job 28:12 "But where shall wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?
Job 28:13 Man doesn't know its price; Neither is it found in the land of the living.
Job 28:14 The deep says, 'It isn't in me.' The sea says, 'It isn't with me.'
Job 28:15 It can't be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for its price.
Job 28:16 It can't be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
Job 28:17 Gold and glass can't equal it, neither shall it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
Job 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal. Yes, the price of wisdom is above rubies.
Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
Job 28:20 Whence then comes wisdom? Where is the place of understanding?
Job 28:21 Seeing it is hidden from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the birds of the sky.
Job 28:22 Destruction and Death say, 'We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.'
Job 28:23 "God understands its way, and he knows its place.
Job 28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole sky.
Job 28:25 He establishes the force of the wind. Yes, he measures out the waters by measure.
Job 28:26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder;
Job 28:27 then he saw it, and declared it. He established it, yes, and searched it out.
Job 28:28 To man he said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. To depart from evil is understanding.' "
Job 29:1 Job again took up his parable, and said,
Job 29:2 "Oh that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me;
Job 29:3 when his lamp shone on my head, and by his light I walked through darkness,
Job 29:4 as I was in the ripeness of my days, when the friendship of God was in my tent,
Job 29:5 when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me,
Job 29:6 when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out streams of oil for me,
Job 29:7 when I went forth to the city gate, when I prepared my seat in the street.
Job 29:8 The young men saw me and hid themselves. The aged rose up and stood.
Job 29:9 The princes refrained from talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
Job 29:10 The voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
Job 29:11 For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it commended me:
Job 29:12 Because I delivered the poor who cried, and the fatherless also, who had none to help him,
Job 29:13 the blessing of him who was ready to perish came on me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
Job 29:14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me. My justice was as a robe and a diadem.
Job 29:15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.
Job 29:16 I was a father to the needy. The cause of him who I didn't know, I searched out.
Job 29:17 I broke the jaws of the unrighteous, and plucked the prey out of his teeth.
Job 29:18 Then I said, 'I shall die in my own house, I shall number my days as the sand.
Job 29:19 My root is spread out to the waters. The dew lies all night on my branch.
Job 29:20 My glory is fresh in me. My bow is renewed in my hand.'
Job 29:21 "Men listened to me, waited, and kept silence for my counsel.
Job 29:22 After my words they didn't speak again. My speech fell on them.
Job 29:23 They waited for me as for the rain. Their mouths drank as with the spring rain.
Job 29:24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence. They didn't reject the light of my face.
Job 29:25 I chose out their way, and sat as chief. I lived as a king in the army, as one who comforts the mourners.

Aug. 23
Romans 4

Rom 4:1 What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh?
Rom 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God.
Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Rom 4:4 Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as debt.
Rom 4:5 But to him who doesn't work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
Rom 4:6 Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works,
Rom 4:7 "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin.
Rom 4:9 Is this blessing then pronounced on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.
Rom 4:10 How then was it counted? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Rom 4:11 He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might also be accounted to them.
Rom 4:12 The father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had in uncircumcision.
Rom 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and to his seed that he should be heir of the world wasn't through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Rom 4:14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of no effect.
Rom 4:15 For the law works wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience.
Rom 4:16 For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace, to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
Rom 4:17 As it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations." This is in the presence of him whom he believed: God, who gives life to the dead, and calls the things that are not, as though they were.
Rom 4:18 Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So will your seed be."
Rom 4:19 Without being weakened in faith, he didn't consider his own body, already having been worn out, (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.
Rom 4:20 Yet, looking to the promise of God, he didn't waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God,
Rom 4:21 and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Rom 4:22 Therefore it also was "reckoned to him for righteousness."
Rom 4:23 Now it was not written that it was accounted to him for his sake alone,
Rom 4:24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be accounted, who believe in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead,
Rom 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

From Gary... Phony Baloney

Yesterday, we saw the movie "Transcendence". Interesting flick, which posed many questions. For instance: Is is ethical to make a truly self-aware Artificial Intelligence? or Should human beings become networked with computers? or perhaps even... Should the essence of a human being be uploaded into a computer in order that one might live forever? And these were just a FEW of the questions.  As we progress technologically there will be many more. My understanding of such things is guided by what God has said about our purpose in this life and how HE has designed us.  Now, with a little thought I think it is safe to say that the answer to the three questions I posed are all NO- because they redefine life according to human understanding and not heavenly design!!! Further, the questions are all wrong because man is trying to become his own GOD and only winds up creating a god!!!  The same thing happens when human beings decide they should define what absolute truth is.  Instead of accepting the TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL, they invent something else (such as the false god ALLAH) that pleases them.  The apostle Paul has very harsh words for people who distort the truth - so much so that he repeats himself for emphasis!!!!

Galatians 1:1-12 NASB
(1)  Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
(2)  and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
(3)  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
(4)  who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
(5)  to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
(6)  I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
(7)  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
(8)  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
(9)  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

(10)  For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
(11)  For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
(12)  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

God's truth is THE TRUTH!!!  In America at least, we can believe what we wish (at least for now), but if I was in the middle east, this post would get me beheaded. And those who would follow a god who would encourage such a thing have already cursed themselves. Now, by this time you are probably asking yourself what the picture has to do with the post.  The answer to that is that just because something may look like the truth, does not mean it IS THE TRUTH!!! That dog can sniff all day long and is only going to smell chalk!!! Read your Bible, know God's pure truth, and follow it!!! Have courage- call something that is wrong, WRONG!!!