Monday, October 23, 2017

A few words to my Roman Catholic friends:

Every sin is a mortal sin!

Wait, …please read on as I explain.

As you well know, the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church includes that of mortal and venial sins.  Clearly this teaching suggests that there is a “scale” on which some sins rise to a more serious level than others. What is probably somewhat less clear is exactly where the dividing line between venial and mortal sin lies. This issue is so important, that if this Roman Catholic doctrine be true, then which side of this razor’s edge the sinner lands on will determine their final destination as either heaven or eternal damnation.  No small matter to be sure!
With that in mind I would like to pose a question for your consideration.  Do you think it is possible that breaking that which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called the “greatest commandment” would rise to the level of a mortal sin?  

Mark 12:28 And there came one of the scribes that had heard them reasoning together, and seeing that he had answered them well, asked him which was the first commandment of all. 29 And Jesus answered him: "The first commandment of all is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God. 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

It would seem to me, if there is a hierarchy of God’s laws then breaking that which is the greatest of them would bring the greatest punishment.  Can failing to uphold a lessor commandment deserve a more severe punishment? That there is such a hierarchy is plain by the words of Christ, for if there be a greatest and a second then it follows that there is a descending order from there on down to the least.  In fact, Jesus’ teaching from the sermon on the mount clearly supports that view:

Matthew 5:18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

“Right there it is,” you might say, “the teaching of venial sin. It is the breaking of the least of the commandments.”  But wait just one moment. God also inspired these words as penned by St. James: 

James 2:8 If then you fulfil the royal law, according to the scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; you do well. 9 But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, being reproved by the law as transgressors. 10 And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. Now if thou do not commit adultery, but shalt kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

Where then is the venial sin?  Can God’s perfect justice allow you into heaven when you have offended in one point and thus are guilty of the whole law? What’s more, if you acknowledge that the breaking of what Jesus calls the greatest commandment is a mortal sin, I would also suggest that it would be impossible to commit a venial sin without at the same time breaking that greatest commandment.  Can it be argued that one who is loving the Lord their God with their whole heart, and with their whole soul, and with their whole mind, and with their whole strength, could at the same time commit a venial sin? The very act of committing a venial sin bears witness that one is NOT fulfilling the greatest commandment. I ask you, which of us has ever gone an hour, let alone a full day, loving God with ALL our strength? Again, I must submit to you that all sin is mortal sin.

Now, even if all of the foregoing fails to convince you of the “mortal” seriousness of EVERY sin committed against a thrice Holy God, I would still urge you to consider the “Blessed Man” spoken of by David in Psalm 32, as quoted by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh. 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice. 4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God. 6 As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: 7 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

Just who is this blessed man?  Who, exactly, does not have their sins imputed (or counted against) them?  Certainly, every unbeliever has their sins counted against them, and in much the same way, mortal sins are counted against the believer.  But consider this; even venial sins are imputed to the believer, …so who is this blessed man?  It would seem that, if Roman Catholic doctrine be correct in this area, then the blessed man spoken of first by David and later Paul, must be a mythical creature.

There is an answer as to the identity of this blessed man.  The blessed man is the one, who like Abraham, believes God and it is reputed (deemed) to him as justice (righteousness).  The blessed man is the one who, as Paul tells the Ephesians, has by grace been saved through faith. And this is not his own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For he is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that he should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10) The blessed man is the one who, as Paul wrote to the Galatians, does not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21) The blessed man or woman is the one who believes that Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth and lived his life in perfect obedience to the Father.  That he died a cruel death on the cross in payment of their sins (every one of them; past, present and future), so that they will be seen by God to have the righteousness of Christ.  The blessed man or woman is the one who understands that all this is by faith alone.

Please, my friends, I beg you to consider these things for they are of the utmost importance.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The More Things Change

The more things change ....

Krazy Karl in the tire smoke of my Knuckle dragbike, 2017

The more they stay the same.

Krazy Karl in the tire smoke of my Knuckle dragbike, approximately 1992

I hope God has blessed all of you with good friends like Krazy Karl and his better half, Connie.  Way back when we were seriously drag racing, Karl and Connie were there supporting our efforts.  A quarter of a century or so later, they still show up for races and Karl still subjects his lungs to the tire smoke which is so much a part of the show that we call drag racing.  In between, Karl and Connie have not only been good  great friends, they have gone the extra mile to help me out, like when they brought their heavy equipment from the far side of the metro area to move my heavy equipment (mill, lathe, etc.) to our new shop.  Thank you Karl and Connie for the support, for the help, and most of all for the friendship!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Making it Personal

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is YaHWeH of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, YaHWeH of hosts.  Isaiah 6:1-5

This is one of my personal favorite texts of scripture.  It is one of those passages that truly magnifies the glory of God.  But to get the full effect of this text, it is important to remember what the New Testament reveals about it.  As John says in the 12th chapter of his Gospel when speaking of Jesus: “These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (John 12:41) The surrounding verses in John 12 make it perfectly clear that this passage in Isaiah 6 is where the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus. In other words, when Isaiah says he saw YaHWeH on the throne, John clarifies that though Isaiah recognized him as YaHWeH, we would recognize him as Jesus. It is very interesting to note that in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament which was in use during the apostle John's day) there is a textual variant found at Isaiah 6:1 that says "his glory filled the temple" rather than "his train filled the temple." 

That John would equate Jesus with YaHWeH should not surprise us since in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, he points out that, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

John of course goes on in the same chapter to clarify that the Word who was in the beginning both God and with God, and who made everything, is in fact Jesus Christ. Armed with that knowledge, when we read the passage in Isaiah we can only marvel at the power of Jesus as he sits on that throne.  If the voice of the Seraphim, who are merely creatures created by Jesus, is mighty enough to literally shake the door posts of the temple, then how much more powerful might we expect the voice of the one who created them to be?

My point here is that, as I read another text of scripture that magnifies the glory of God, the name YaHWeH refers to Father, Son, and Spirit; the trinity; not just to the Father.  

Psalm 97:1-6  YaHWeH reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. 
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. 
A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. 
His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. 
The hills melted like wax at the presence of YaHWeH, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. 

I don’t know about you, but this does not sound like the description of one who should be trifled with.  Not someone to be ignored.  If, as the Psalm tells us, a fire goes before him and burns up his enemies, then I really don’t want to be counted as his enemy!

Just how powerful and glorious is this Jesus?  In Hebrews 1:1-3 we learn that it was through Jesus that the Father created the world and, what’s more, that it is through the word of his power that the universe is held together!  That is the power and glory of Jesus!

So, let’s just consider a few of the things that modern-day science and astronomy reveals about the power and glory of Jesus.

There are about 7 billion people on our planet today.  Each of them, like everything else in the physical universe is made up of atoms too small for us to see.  If I understand that passage from the book of Hebrews properly (and I’m not entirely sure that I do), should Jesus remove the “word of his power” which upholds the universe, then all of those atoms of which we consist would either disintegrate into nothing, or maybe just separate into a cloud of disorganized meaningless particles. But Jesus holds it all together.  That is the power and glory of Jesus!

Now seven billion people is a number that I can’t even begin to comprehend, but if we can’t comprehend that number then just try to consider the size of all things that Jesus created.  If all 7 billion of those people on this planet were put into the state of Texas, there is room for 1000 square feet per person. That’s how big just the state of Texas is.  But that doesn’t even begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by the size of his creation.

Texas is tiny compare to the size of the whole earth, and yet our sun is so large that 1 million planets the size of earth would fit in it. But again, that doesn’t even begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by his creation. 

Our sun is just one among an uncounted number of stars and it is far from the largest.  Jesus created them all and they are held together by his power!  There is a star named Betelgeuse (love that name as it sounds much like beetle-juice) that is only the second to the largest star that we are aware of; it is as wide as 1,180 of our suns, in fact our sun would look like a speck next to it.  But even that doesn’t begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by the sheer size of his creation. 

How about this?  If our sun was the size of a period on the page of my Bible, then the Milky Way galaxy, which our sun is a part of, would be the width of the United States in comparison.  Jesus created it all and holds it together by the word of his power!  But that’s just the beginning; the Milky Way galaxy is only one of a countless number of galaxies, and by countless I mean millions of other galaxies with billions of stars. The vastness of God’s creation through Jesus Christ is truly beyond our comprehension.
Genesis 1 verse 16 says: “God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” In Jehovah God’s great display of power and glory, it is almost as if these billions upon billions of stars that are so large and numerous that we cannot begin to comprehend the size or number of them, were created as an afterthought.  How can we do anything but cry out along with David as he did in Psalm 139: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 

Switching gears now so that we don’t come away with a view of Jesus that he is so high and glorious that we think of him as being impersonal and unreachable, consider this; Yes, he is incomprehensibly powerful, and yet he not far away as we might imagine such a being might be.

I have a John Bunyan quote from about 300 years ago which I think does a wonderful job of focusing on what Jesus has done for us, but before I get to the actual quote, I’d like to give a few of the scripture texts which I believe Bunyan had in mind when he wrote the words.  As you read them, try to consider how these words from the Bible apply to you personally.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 The apostle Paul says this:  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 

Jesus tells us this in John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

In Jude 24-25 we read this written about Jesus: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. 

Hebrews 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Philippians 3:9  And be found in him [that is, in Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he [speaking of Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

There are other scripture passages as well, but let’s get to the words of John Bunyan, writing in his treatise titled “Doctrine of the Law and Grace.”  If this quote were to have a title I would call it “Making Salvation Personal.”

Quote: “…. This glorious doctrine of the new covenant, and the Mediator thereof, will serve for the comforting, and the maintaining of the comfort, of the children of the new covenant this way also; that is, that he did not only die and rise again, but that he did ascend in his own person into heaven to take possession thereof for me, to prepare a place there for me,  standeth there in the second part of his suretyship to bring me safe in my coming thither, and to present me in a glorious manner, “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing;” that he is there exercising of his priestly office for me, pleading the perfection of his own righteousness for me, and the virtue of his blood for me: that he is there ready to answer the accusations of the law, devil, and sin for me.”  End quote.

Jesus Christ is high and glorious and powerful beyond our comprehension, and yet as the apostle Paul tells us, he.... showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  And that is as personal as it gets.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Meltdown Coming!

The view of "The Knuckledragger" that other bikes running the Meltdown Drags next weekend will become familiar with

In the time honored tradition of a little trash-talking prior to a race,  I submit the picture with caption above.  Truth is, I expect some memorable racing.  Word has it that Steve McGregor will be there with his double engine Triumph, as well Glen Kerr with his history making Dubble Trubble twin engine Triumph.  Right now it is a bit unclear whether Glen will be running Dubble Trubble or the new double engine Triumph he has been working on.

Dubble Trubble at Eddyville

McGregor's double Triumph at Eddyville

Glen Kerr's new ride in process

 Back in 2012, we made the trip to the vintage meet in Eddyville, Iowa. Despite my engine barely running well enough to engage the clutch due to an embarrassing bit of stupidity on my part, the highlight of the meet for me was going to be making a pass with The Knuckledragger alongside Dubble Trubble.  As it turned out, I had to wave Glen on to make a single pass when the Knuck engine stalled before even making it to the starting line.  Later that day I did manage to slip the clutch enough to get underway with Steve on his double in the other lane, but since his bike wouldn't shift and mine was running so poorly, it was hardly a satisfying match.  Hopefully all that will change next weekend at the 8th Annual Meltdown Drags at Byron Dragway, Byron Illinois.

Resting Comfortably

Meanwhile, The Knuckldragger is getting in a last bit of rest before the big event.  I pulled the cam cover and  pre-1940 oil pump this past week just to be sure all was well there.  A careful once over of the frame, checking the tightness of all fasteners, as well as chain, clutch and pushrod adjustment pretty well sum it up.  None of that seemed to disturb its sleep, but I fully expect The Knuckledragger to be fully awake come next Friday!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bunyan on Old Testament Sacrifices

The following is a small section of  a dissertation by John Bunyan (1628-1688) on “Doctrine of Law and Grace” from volume 1 of the four-volume set: “The Complete Works of John Bunyan.”  I personally transcribed it from very old copy in my library because I find it quite helpful in understanding why some of the details of the Old Testament sacrifices were commanded to be as they were, so that they properly foreshadowed the cross of Christ.  I suppose it is hoping for much to think many younger will take the time to read it, given the ever decreasing attention span ushered in by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, but despite longer sentences and paragraphs than we are accustomed to, it is definitely worth the read.

Now though those sacrifices were offered, yet they were not offered to the end they should make the comers to or offerors thereof perfect; but the things were to represent to the world that God had in after ages for to do; which was even in the salvation of his creatures, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, of which these were a shadow and a type for the accomplishing of the second covenant.  For Christ was by covenant to offer a sacrifice, and that an effectual one too, if he intended the salvation of sinners: “A body has thou prepared me; I am come to do thy will.” (Hebrews 10)   I shall therefore show you, First, what was expected of God in the sacrifice in the type, and then show you how it was answered in the antitype.  Second, I shall show you the manner of the offering of the type; and so answerable thereto to show you the fitness of the sacrifice of the body of Christ, by way of answering some questions.

First.  For the first of these, 1. God did expect that sacrifice which he himself had appointed, and not another, to signify that none would serve his turn but the body and soul of his appointed Christ, the mediator of the new covenant. (John 1:29) 2. This sacrifice must not be lame or deformed; it must have no scar, spot, or blemish to signify that Jesus Christ was to be a complete sacrifice by covenant. (1 Peter 1:19)   3. This sacrifice was to be taken out of the flock or herd: to signify that Jesus Christ was to come out of the race of mankind, according to the covenant. (Hebrews 10:5)
Second.  As to the manner of it: 1. The sacrifice, before it was offered, was to have the sins of the children of Israel confessed over it: to signify that Jesus Christ must (Isaiah 53:4-7. 1 Peter2:24) bear the sins of all his children by covenant, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant” in his own body on the tree. (Zechariah 9:10-11)   2. It must be had to the place appointed, namely, without the camp of Israel; to signify that Jesus Christ must be led to Mount Calvary. (Luke 23:33)   3. The sacrifice was to be killed there; to signify that Jesus Christ must and did suffer without the city of Jerusalem for our salvation. 4. The sacrifice must not only have its life taken away, but also some of its flesh burned upon the alter; to signify that Jesus Christ was not only to die a natural death, but also that he should undergo the pains and torment of the damned in hell.   5. Sometimes there must be a living offering and a dead offering, as the goat that was killed and the scapegoat, the dead bird and the living bird, (Leviticus 14:4-6) to signify that Jesus Christ must die and come to life again.   6. The goat that was to die was to be the sin offering: that is, to be offered as the rest of the sin-offerings, to make an atonement as a type; and the other goat was to have all the sins of the children of Israel confessed over him, (Leviticus 16:7-22) and then to be let go into the wilderness, never to be catched again; so signify that Christ’s death was to make satisfaction for sin, and his coming to life again was to bring in everlasting (Romans 4:25) justification from the power, curse and destroying nature of sin.   7. The scapegoat was to be carried by fit man into the wilderness; to signify that Jesus Christ should be both fit and able to carry our sins quite away from us, so as they should never be laid to our charge again.  Here is grace.   8. The sacrifices under the law, commonly part of them must be eaten, (Exodus 12:5-11) to signify that they that are saved should spiritually feed on the body and blood of Jesus Christ, or else they have no life by him. (John 6:51-53)   9. This sacrifice must be eaten with unleavened bread; to signify that they which love their sins, that devilish leaven of wickedness, they do not feed upon Jesus Christ.

Now of what hath been spoken this is the sum, that there is a sacrifice under the new covenant as there were sacrifices under the old; and that this sacrifice did every way answer that or those; indeed they did but suffer for sin in a show, but he in reality; they as the shadow, but he as the substance. Oh, when Jesus Christ did come to make himself a sacrifice, or to offer himself for sin, you may understand that our sins were indeed charged to purpose upon him!  Oh, how they scarred his soul, how they brake his body, insomuch that they made the blood run down the blessed face and from his precious side!  Therefore, thou must understand these following things: 1. That Jesus Christ by covenant did die for sin.  2. That his death was not a mere natural death, but a “cursed death;” even such a one as men do undergo from God for their sins, though he himself had none; even such a death as to endure the very pains and torments of hell.  Oh, sad pains and inexpressible torments that this our sacrifice for sin went under!  The pains of his body were not all; no, but the pains of his soul; for his soul was made an offering as well as his body; yet all but one sacrifice. (Isaiah 53)   To signify that the suffering of Christ was not only a bodily suffering but a soul-suffering; not only to suffer what man could inflict upon him, but also to suffer soul-torments that none but God can inflict, or suffer to be inflicted upon him.  Oh, the torments of his soul!  They were torments indeed; his soul was that that felt the wrath of God: “My soul,” saith he, “is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” (Matthew 26:38) “My soul is troubled, and what shall I say?” (John12:27) The rock was not so rent as was his precious soul; there was not such a terrible darkness on the face of the earth then, as there was on his precious soul.  Oh, the torments of hell, and the eclipsing of the divine smiles of God, were both upon him at once; the devils assailing of him, and God forsaking of him and all at once!  “My God, my God,” said he, “why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Now in my greatest extremity; now sin is laid upon me, the curse takes hold of me, the pains of hell are clasped about me, and thou hast forsaken me.  Oh, sad!  Sinners, this was not done in pretense, but in reality; not in show, but in very deed; otherwise Christ had dissembled, and had not spoken the truth; but the truth of it his bloody sweat declares, his mighty cries declare, the things which and for what he suffered declare.  Nay, I must say thus much, that all the damned souls in hell, with their damnations, did never yet feel that torment and pain that did this blessed Jesus in a little time.  Sinner, canst thou read that Jesus Christ was made an offering for sin, and yet go on in sin?  Canst thou hear that the load of thy sins did break the very heart of Christ, and spill his precious blood?  And canst thou find in thy heart to labour to lay more sins on his back?  Canst thou hear that he suffered the pains, the fiery flames of hell, and canst thou find in thy heart to add to his groans, by slighting of his sufferings?  Oh, hard hearted wretch!   How canst thou deal so unkindly with such a sweet Lord Jesus?