The Real Enemy

“Spiritual Wickedness in High Places”

© C. O. Bishop 2010

Ephesians 6:12, Proverbs 15:8, 9, 26

In the past, we have read in Ephesians 6:12 that the forces we wrestle against are those of “Spiritual Wickedness in High Places”, specifically not the human adversaries that seem to be the enemy (“…we wrestle not against flesh and blood”). What is “wickedness” from God’s point of view? Is it always a crime, for instance? Do some of the things that are perfectly legal in man’s sight, still qualify as wickedness in God’s sight? What is wickedness, anyway?

Evidently it covers a wide range of ideas, from the primary “My way is better than God’s way” to the outright blatant evil that permeates society in general. Probably Cain’s offering of the fruit of the cursed ground, in Genesis 4, as opposed to the blood of a substitutionary sacrifice for sin would be the first clear demonstration of human wickedness, with its parallel action being the murder of Abel. (I’m not sure that I would count Adam’s sin in the same way, as he started off innocent, not with a sin nature, and still chose to sin.) But God clearly stated in Ephesians that it is not human wickedness that is the source of the problem. Step back from Genesis 4, and the murder of Abel, to Genesis 3:1-7, and what effectively was the murder of the whole human race.

Satan’s attack was based upon

  1. Misusing, misquoting, or not believing God’s Word
  2. Doubting or casting aspersions upon the character of God
  3. The lure of usurping the attributes of Deity.

The final lure was the desire to be wise in one’s own self—to be self-sufficient, apart from the wisdom and rule of God. This is the root of sin, wickedness, and false religion. Cain was not doing anything wrong, specifically, by raising vegetables, nor was there anything intrinsically good about keeping flocks, as his brother Abel chose to do. The whole of creation had been placed under a curse, so there was nothing to offer God that had not been touched by the curse. Why then, was the offering of Cain not acceptable?

In Genesis 3:15 God had promised a coming deliverer, the “Seed of Woman”, who would undo the damage done by the evil one. Adam and Eve believed that promise. In verse 21, He established the blood covering for sin, by clothing Adam and Eve in the skins of slain animals. Abel understood the concept, as apparently did Cain. (Notice that God reasoned with Cain, that he should do right; He did not offer new instruction as to what constituted that “right” action.) Cain was angry and shed Abel’s blood, not that of a sacrificial animal. In Hebrews 11:4, we see that the sacrifice Abel brought was what was better…not Abel’s life in general, nor his attitude, or anything else.

The willingness to set one’s own standards, in opposition to those of God is the source of wickedness. It results in a life that is opposed to God, even if set in trappings of religiosity.

False religion is frequently associated with wickedness. The scene in Zechariah 5:5-11, where the angelic instructor shows a vision of a sealed vessel with a woman inside, and a leaden top, transported by women with stork’s wings, stated that “this is wickedness”, and then the thing was flown off to Shinar (the place of the Tower of Babel) as being “her own base.” The false religion of Babylon may be what was in view here…it seems to tie in with religious “Babylon” in the Revelation.

Jezebel, the decidedly wicked queen (wife of Ahab, 1st Kings 18, 19) was closely associated with false religion, as well—the prophets of Baal and Asherah who were executed at Mt. Carmel were all her associates, and it was for their deaths that she was determined to be avenged on Elijah. Prior to this time, the false religionists had killed all the prophets of God upon whom they could lay hands, and had sought the life of Elijah for the past 3-1/2 years. There have been brief respites in history, when evil was driven out, and righteousness flourished. But they have been brief, as a rule.

Nebuchadnezzar, in his self-aggrandizing religious sin, had established the rule that all must worship his idol or die. This is the norm for false religion. It begins peaceably, but culminates in absolutism.

Judaism, though founded by God, had become a mockery of the truth, by the time Jesus walked in Jerusalem. The high priesthood was a political post, the priesthood in general a political force, the scribes the paid propagandists of that political faction, and the Pharisees its strongest adherents. When confronted with the truth of God, the way of God, and the sacrifice of God, in the person of Christ, they rejected Him and sought to kill him, in order to silence his voice.

Christianity, first so-called in Antioch, began as a pure relationship between God and believers. The church was comprised only of believers, and the unity was unmatched in history. Before the end of the apostolic age; indeed, before the end of the book of the Acts, error had begun to be sown by unbelievers. By the end of the life of the Apostle John, there was a false prophetess introducing false doctrine and practice (Revelation 2:20-23), and who was condemned by Christ. She was not the only source—there was also a movement referred to as “the Nicolaitans” which possibly was the source of the modern division between “clergy and laity” (which is NOT recognized by God). There was also the “doctrine of Balaam”, evidently referring to the corruption of good morals, and weakening of God’s people by temptations. (Revelation 2:14, 15)

Historically, we can see that in the end of the third century, “Christianity” became the state religion. Once it made that turn, it instantly became a false religion, only usurping the name of the real faith. All the pagans of the Roman Empire instantly took on the name “Christian”, and it became nearly impossible to tell the real believers from the counterfeits. From that day forward, the false church has persecuted the true believers (among others) and has not ceased to this day. Regardless of name, false religion will always war against God and the people of God.

Today we see examples of that, with cults that usurp some biblical name of the true church, as if the Scripture referred to them by name, and then demand that all worship through them, saying they alone possess the only approach to God.

Currently, the great example is Islam, with a false prophet that walked this earth 1500 years ago, and advocated the worship of a new God who looked suspiciously like the old Moon God of that locale…shared the same holy places, etc. It began rather small, but evangelism by the sword, predicated upon promises that feed the sin nature, makes for rapid growth. (Funny that the Bible makes no promises of sexual gratification in Heaven…quite the opposite—it seems it will be a passé desire). Islam is the greatest visible threat to believers today, but the real threat is still our old Enemy, Satan.

Biblically, in the future, the culmination of human wickedness can be seen in the person of the Antichrist. His actions will harm all others, but are motivated by his indifference and animosity toward God. He attacks Israel, Jews wherever they are found, and the gentiles who place their trust in the God of Israel. He caps his crimes by entering the Holy of Holies and demanding that he be worshipped as God. (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 9; Revelation 13:3, 4, 11-16) This act is called the “abomination of desolation”, or the “abomination that makes desolate”.

It seems that the source of wickedness is the “I will”. Satan made his five “I will” statements in defiance of God. (Isaiah 14:12-14) Ultimately, it says, “I will be like the most High”…not in a sense of imitation and admiration, but a counterfeit, with a desire to usurp His authority, to counterfeit His attributes, and, most specifically, to supplant Him as master. We want to be our own boss. Satan began the motion, and it culminates in the Antichrist, but it has existed in every human in history, with the exception of Christ. It exists in me. It exists in you.

The writer of the Book of Proverbs makes three interesting statements in Proverbs 15:8, 9, 26. He says that

  1. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God,”
  2. “The way of the wicked is an abomination to God”, and
  3. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to God”.

There are other passages, of course, that spell out other aspects of God’s complaint against the wicked. If I use the above verses as an outline, I can see, then, that the primary problem God has with those He calls “the wicked”, is their religious stance. We have seen from Biblical history as well as world history, that false religion evicts the Deity, and installs either a counterfeit deity, or self, in His place. That seems to be the underlying principle, and unfortunately, no human is immune to its lure. We all have the desire for self-determination. When we relegate God to the position of lifeguard, paid observer and benefactor, we have elevated ourselves to Deity, and excluded the Grace of God and His Wisdom from our lives.

The second thing is the result of the first. God says the “way of the wicked” is an abomination. Their way of life, the choices they make, and even their routine actions that are seen as completely inoffensive, are all tainted by the underlying stance of rebellion against God. In another passage, Proverbs 21:4, God states that “the plowing of the wicked is sin”. (Plowing?? What could be wrong with plowing?) The action is not the issue—the fact is that their every action is tainted by their stance toward God, so even the daily, normal activities are seen as sin. When I only had one nature, my old Sin nature, I could do no righteousness, since my only motivator was corrupt by definition. If I behaved religiously, my “sacrifice” was an abomination to God. If behaved morally, my action was corrupted by my self-view that revealed my motive: pride. If I simply existed, doing nothing especially good or bad, it still reeked of contamination by my sin nature.

So, some might argue it at least requires that I do something, for me to be in sin. No; God concludes (Proverbs 15:26) that my thoughts, while still in the grip of self-will, are sin as well…and, of course, thoughts give rise to actions. But the point is that they are sin, even before the action. That is what Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:27, 28, saying “if a man looks upon a woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. So then someone might argue that the “looking” was the sin. The heart was the problem, my friends—and always will be.

How can we escape the death-grip of our fallen nature? Ultimately, we only escape through death. We are caught in a human body that is irremediably attached to our sin nature. When this body dies or I am given a new body, I will no longer have my old nature.

But in the meanwhile, the only escape is to be born again…to receive a new nature, the true offspring of God. As a child of God, I have two natures, and, while I can still manifest my old nature (and frequently do), I do have a new nature that is free from corruption and sin. I can confess my sin, and approach God in confidence, as a member of the Body of Christ, and be confident that He receives me. My worship need no longer be tainted. My way need no longer be corrupt. My thoughts need no longer be contaminated with sin.

In Psalm 119:9, 11 David states that we can “cleanse our way” by taking heed thereto according to God’s Word. He goes on to say, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee.”

Perhaps a good place to begin is 1st Corinthians 6:19, 20—“…you were bought with a price…you are not your own”. We tend to shy away from this concept, because it smells of human slavery. Please bear in mind that the person claiming the authority to rule is NOT a human, but God. The creator became a human in order to redeem us to Himself, but He did not lose his authority, nor was he tainted with our sin, our wrong motives, etc. When one human claims the right to rule another, it is usually for the gain of the ruler, not the ruled. God has nothing to gain from us, or by our service. We are the ones to gain. He is the true master—without him we are as crippled as puppets that have severed their own strings in hopes of breaking “free” to self-determination.

Self-determination does NOT produce freedom. It produces slavery to sin, and ultimately, to Satan. That is why Satan is referred to as the “prince of this world” by Jesus (John 14:30) and the “god of this world” by Paul (1st Corinthians 4:4). Once a man separates himself from the true master, the false, counterfeit master is free to take control. The world is truly under the mastery of the evil one, whether they know it or not. We are given the task of reconciling the people of the world to God. But we can do nothing if we ourselves have given in to Satan’s lure, just as they have. Jesus said that we were to bear fruit, but he also said we could do nothing apart from Him. He used the vine as an object lesson: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches…apart from me ye can do nothing.”(John 15:5) Jesus didn’t say, “apart from me, you’ll be less effective”. Nor did he say, “apart from me, your fruit will be stunted”. He said “…apart from me ye can do NOTHING.”

I have a need, daily, to draw close to God, and to deliberately confess my sins, and allow him to fill me with His presence. By His Holy Spirit, He can then direct my path, and make me fruitful.

We tend to only think of wickedness as being something “bad guys” do. What we see from the scriptures is that it is something in the heart of every human, and that can find itself manifested in any human life—even that of a believer.

What God has cautioned us about is the force of spiritual wickedness in “high places”. While the specific warning is regarding the unseen world (specifically not flesh and blood), the Enemy is not stupid: he wants high-level human politicians who are willing to stand against God. And, increasingly, they do. We live in a fallen world, and the arrogance of human leaders seems to know no bounds.

We are given the entire Word of God by which to know right from wrong. We are given the spiritual armament in Ephesians chapter six to guard against evil and pray for God’s intervention. Be sure to use that armor in your daily stand against evil.

We are also given, in this country, a vote. One vote. Be sure you use it, and that you use it in a manner consistent with God’s Word.

God help us to stand for Him, not against Him.



The Armor of God; Part One

The Seven-fold Armor of God—Part One

© C. O. Bishop 7/8/14 (THCF 7/20/14)

Ephesians 6: 10-18 (read it.)


In recent days we studied Ephesians 6:10-13. We saw that we were to find our strength in the Person of Christ, his indwelling Holy Spirit, and the simple fact that we have been assigned by Him to live in this World as lights in a dark place. We are to stand before the enemies of our souls, not dismayed by the evil in the world. And we are to announce the judgment and salvation of God, as His Ambassadors.

As we move on, and learn the Armor of God, we see immediately that seven pieces of armor are listed. We have also seen in the scripture that the number seven is frequently associated with “completeness” or completion. The Judgments in the Revelation come in three waves of seven, for instance, nested within one another. When we talk about the “Last Trumpet” that ends the reign of Man on Earth, it is the seventh trumpet of Judgment on the Earth, during the great Tribulation. There are many examples of such things, Old and New Testament, and I don’t want to make too big a point about it, because, as they say, “sometimes seven just means one more than six.”

However, in this particular case we are being given something from God, and it is a perfect gift, as mentioned in James 1:17 “Every Good gift and every perfect Gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” So, while I do not overemphasize the number seven, in this case, it seems to bear out what Paul says about the armor—it is the “whole” armor of God…complete in every way.

Five Defensive Weapons:

First things first: “Having your loins girt about with truth”

Even a small child, learning to dress himself, learns very quickly that there is an order in which we put on our various garments: you can’t put your shoes on before your socks, for example. Well, the first thing God says, is that we are to “stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” Consider the Truth of God’s Word as a belt: If you have ever watched a framing crew, or a carpenter’s crew gearing up for work, one of the final things they put on is their tool belt. It holds all their hand tools, and frequently several pounds of nails, screws, or other fasteners. But it goes on last.

The Truth of God’s Word is similar, in that it upholds everything else…without God’s Word being true, nothing else in the Christian Life is valid or helpful. Because of that, unlike the tool-belt, this belt—the “girding up of the loins” with the truth of God’s written Word, is foundational to all the rest of the armor, and is the first to be applied.

All of our existence as believers depends on this one thing: God’s Word is true! It either is, or it isn’t. We are not looking at a smorgasbord, from which we are to choose what to believe. There are certainly many parts we understand poorly, and probably some we don’t understand at all. (Daniel complained about this, in Daniel chapter 12, and was told that that portion was not for him, but that it would be understood by the people of the end times.) But it is all “God-breathed”— inspired by God. Bear in mind that the door to the truth is the will, not the intellect. Very seldom is one “argued” into believing. Ultimately, we recognize that there is a choice to be made, and we make a choice to either receive the voice of God, or reject it.

Once I chose to believe God’s Word, I was depending on Him to give me more information to confirm that choice. What I discovered was that, once a person begins looking for the “fingerprints of God” in one’s life, believing that His hand is at work, that believer begins to see His hand everywhere. God has big hands and He leaves big fingerprints. But if you decide to deny him, there will always be a plausible doubt—a reason not to believe. It is just that, ultimately, it requires more faith to disbelieve God’s Word than to believe it. I have to then believe in my own wisdom, for which I have nearly 60 years’ evidence that it is not worthy of faith. Or, I have to believe other humans: “wise men” who continually give me reason (via news stories, and governmental decisions, and scientific community shenanigans) to know that their wisdom is no better than mine…maybe worse. So, the choice is clear: I either believe the Word of one whose track-record is perfect, though sometimes mysterious, or that of people who are continually making bad decisions.

If God’s Word is where my confidence is, then the rest of the Armor is at my disposal. If not, then I have nothing. In similar fashion, much of the Ancient Roman armor was attached to, and suspended from the belt. That’s why the belt was secured first. If the belt failed, the breastplate fell away, and the sword sheath was gone. Choose to put your daily, living Faith in the truth of God’s Word. He is worthy of your faith.

How to Protect the Heart: The Breastplate of Righteousness

The Breastplate, of course, is just what it sounds like—a plate, or shell, to cover the chest and abdomen from a frontal attack. The Roman soldier was primarily a foot-soldier, and facing other such soldiers, his vital organs needed protection from swords, spears, etc. …and primarily from the front. He wasn’t supposed to retreat. God says that the Breastplate in the Christian’s armor is Righteousness…but not the righteousness of the believer, primarily—the believer is too fallible for that to hold up for long. Where can we get a righteousness that will hold up under the attack of Satan? And how will it protect the heart of the believer?

Turn in your Bible to 2 Corinthians 5:21 –“For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who (Christ) knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him.” That is the only righteousness on which we can depend…the Righteousness of God, imputed to us through the Blood of Jesus. Genesis 15:6 states that “Abraham believed God and He (God) counted it to him (Abraham) as righteousness.” That has always been our only source of Righteousness.

When our conscience accuses us, and Satan chimes in, condemning us for the sins of the flesh and of the mind, we can rest on the righteousness of Christ. Yes I am a sinner! That is why Jesus went to the Cross! His blood paid the price—the full price—for my sin. I have become the Righteousness of God in Him. Do I consciously “feel” that way? Nope. My “feelings” are bound up in my experience, and what my experience tells me daily is that I am a sinner. The fact, however, is that I am in Christ, not in the flesh, and His righteousness has become mine. God no longer sees me in my old sin nature. This is a vitally important thing to grasp, because without it you will constantly be under attack from the enemies of your soul telling you that you are not good enough to be a child of God, much less His ambassador.

Our defense against this sort of attack, whether from our flesh-influenced conscience, or the world, or Satan himself is to freely confess that on our own we have NO righteousness, but that in Christ we are completely Holy and righteous, just as He is. Is that Hard to imagine? It is for me! Fortunately, I do not have to imagine it: turn to Ephesians 4:24. “…and that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true Holiness.” Notice that it says that this New Man is “created”. That means that it is not the Holy Spirit, but the new nature of the believer in focus, here. The Holy Spirit is God…He is not a created being. But the person who has been born again is a new Creation in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17). And that new Man, the new nature of the Born-again believer, is created in Righteousness (whose? Christ’s!) and true Holiness. Wow! What a powerful statement about our position in Christ. That is why we can say with confidence that we are secure in Him forever! And that is why we can use the Breastplate of Righteousness—Christ’s Righteousness, to protect our fragile hearts from the attack of the Evil One.

What about Shoes?

Any soldier can only fight so long as he has firm footing. Our feet are to be shod with the “preparation of the Gospel of peace” The Roman soldier, we are told, was issued hobnail sandals that he strapped on before battle, or whenever on duty as a guard, or anything else. They were sturdy, and solid, not necessarily made for maximum comfort, but rather maximum durability, strength and secure footing. Soldiers today are issued similar footgear: durable, with good all-terrain traction, and (in jungle climates) breathable fabric, to avoid excess moisture and possible fungus infections.

We are to be constantly preparing for service by reading and reviewing the scriptures, and specifically the Gospel of Peace. How does that differ from the Gospel of Grace? Effectively they are one and the same. Nearly every Epistle in the New Testament begins with the phrase, “Grace be unto you, and Peace…” or something very similar, within the first verse or two. And it always comes in that order: Grace, resulting in Peace.

When we believed the Gospel of Grace, we were made new creatures in Christ, and, whether we were aware of it or not, were permanently at Peace with God…He is no longer at odds with us, as He no longer sees us in our sins.

Having the peace of God is another matter. We have the peace of God when we are walking in the Spirit, and casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us. Philippians 4:6, 7 says that we are to be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to Him, so that the Peace of God can be our daily experience. Romans 5:1 states that if we have been justified (declared righteous) by faith we have peace with God. We don’t have to seek it. We confess our sins and cast our cares on Him to have the peace of God. Peace with God is eternally ours.

The firm footing from which we offer eternal life to the lost, and upon which we stand against the enemy is the fact that we are permanently at peace with God. We are no longer his enemies, and never will be so again.

And the Shield?

We are told that, above all, we are to take the Shield of Faith, with which we shall be able to quench all the flaming darts of the wicked. Every single one of us who are Born Again have experienced saving faith. We are saved by Grace, through Faith. There is no other way offered, though many try to propose alternate routes. But the living faith, mentioned here is that daily dependence on God for wisdom, protection, guidance, and strength. This concept has been taught from earliest times, in both the Old and the New Testament. Gideon was told, “Go, in this thy strength: have I not sent thee?” Solomon taught, (Proverbs 3:5, 6) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.”

Doubts can be thrown at us from any of our enemies. The World constantly heaps doubt on the Christian, either flatly denying the truth of God’s Word, or calling into question the character of God and His followers.. Our own flesh, the most devious of our enemies, does the same thing, saying, “well, that doesn’t feel right…I’m not comfortable with that…” As we stated earlier, our feelings are not a reliable indicator of truth. God’s Word is! Our comfort or discomfort is also not reliable as an indicator of truth. Our old sin nature will never be comfortable with God’s Word—it cannot be, according to Romans 8:7. So why should I even consider its claims? Satan will use any means to cast doubt on God’s people. Remember how he used the serpent against Eve: “Yea, hath God surely said…?” and “Ye shall not surely die…” Satan begins by casting doubt on the Word, and then calls God’s character into question. He first suggests that perhaps the Word is not reliable, and then flatly calls God a liar.

All of these sources of doubt stem from the Evil One. Our defense against all of them is Faith. It does not matter how I feel about something—what matters is what God says. It does not matter what the World says about God—they have already rejected Christ and his Word, therefore they are an incredibly unreliable measure of truth. And, ultimately, if the truth of God’s Word is our confidence, then we need not fear Satan’s “flaming Darts of doubt”, however he delivers them, because we will meet them with the Shield of Faith.

The Helmet—Protecting the Mind

Are you beginning to see how all the pieces of armor are tied together by a common theme? The truth of God’s Word, and the secure position of the believer in Christ are the reason they all work. So what can we do to protect our minds? The heaviest Doubt, especially for a young believer, is the fear that somehow we can lose our salvation…that somehow we have not done enough, and that God will abandon us.

Little children, toddlers especially, frequently fear separation from their mothers. Even older children sometimes fear abandonment, especially if they come from a broken home, or have gone through foster homes and adoption at a later age. The Christian is under attack from Satan in that same vein. “Oooops! Well, that was too much for God! You have sinned your way outta Grace, now, sister!” We are even taught this idea in some churches, sadly enough. How can I possibly put on the Helmet of Salvation if I am not sure I am saved, and/or I am not sure that I cannot lose that salvation? How can my mind be free to serve Christ, if I am constantly working to keep something I cannot lose?

Two things to bear in mind here:

  1. God says you can have eternal life today, and not wait ‘til you die to find out if you have it. (John 5:24)
  2. God wants you to know that you have it.  (1st John 5:11-13)

If you can rest in the promise of God, regarding your salvation, then you will no longer be subject to Satan’s attacks on your mind.

Next time we will talk about the offensive weapons in the Christian’s armor.

In the meantime, meditate on the five defenses God has given you  against your enemies, and be at peace. If you want to read ahead, consider how the Word of God and Prayer can be used as offensive weapons.

May the Lord bless you as you walk with Him and stand firmly against your enemies.


Spiritual Warfare

The Spiritual Enemies in our Spiritual War

© C. O. Bishop 2014 (THCF 7/6/14)

Ephesians 6:10-13; Judges 6:12-14


I recently watched a video of a “town hall”-type panel-discussion regarding last year’s attack on the US embassy in Syria. An Islamic American woman in the audience raised the question, “Why are you not answering ideological questions with ideology, and discussion, instead of proposing war?”

A forceful woman on the panel addressed the question, stating that she was glad the question had been raised, and noting that throughout the entire forum this was the first time anyone either from the audience or the panel had even mentioned Islam. All had focused entirely on the specific violent attack that had occurred, carefully ignoring the reason behind the attack.

She then went on to point out that there are around 1.2 billion Islamic people in the world, and, as the woman in the audience had inferred, 75% of them were completely peaceful. But she went on to point out that only the peaceful ones were willing to discuss matters, and that the remaining 25%  then, comprise perhaps 300 million people (equal to the population of the United States) who are not willing, and not peaceful, and who are absolutely implacably committed to the destruction of Western Civilization.

Even then, she pointed out, most are not actively involved…but that it had only taken nineteen jihadists to destroy the trade towers and kill nearly 3000 people. She further pointed out that, during WW2, most Germans had wanted peace…but the Nazis ruled because the peaceful people would not resist them…and 60 million people died as a long range result. She recounted example after example of historical precedents where the peaceful majority proved to be irrelevant…it was always the violent minority who made the difference. It is always those who are willing to fight who become relevant in history, as sad as that may seem.

Now: though we know that the Quran demands that adherents to Islam wage violent “holy war” against all infidels, there is no passage in the Bible where Christians are encouraged to adopt violent means by which to achieve peaceful goals. (Yes, Israel was commanded to fight, and, many times they did…and still must do so today…but the Church is not Israel.)

But the New Testament addresses Christians, and a different sort of war is in view. There is also no passage that suggests we are not already soldiers in a spiritual war, with deadly spiritual enemies, absolutely committed to our destruction. If we want our lives to have eternal relevance, (and not fall prey to those enemies) we must embrace the fact of spiritual warfare.

The Source of Our Strength

Paul has just finished telling believers how to walk with the Lord, in Ephesians 4:1-6:9. He makes a complete change of subject (though closely related) in verse 10, saying how they should stand.

We tend to think of “Christian warfare” as a lot of “guerilla-tactics”, sneaking around, looking for a chance to “slip in a good word edgewise”. Sorry. That is not what it is about. It is not to be a battle of wits: quite frankly, compared to the enemies Paul describes here, we are pretty witless. And the people against whom we deliver our “spiritual zingers” are not our enemies, as we shall see. They are in league with them, to be sure, but, ultimately, they are the victims, as we ourselves have been.

Paul begins, then, with the command to “be strong”. Note that he addresses that command to “my brethren”—born again believers—children together of their real Father in heaven. Jesus said that the inhabitants of the world are not by nature the children of God, but of Satan. (John 8:44) Harsh, but completely factual…and Paul agrees, saying that we all began in that state.

But as Christians, we are commanded to “be strong”. Notice, too, that that is not the end of the command. If he only said “Be Strong” we could all order Charles Atlas training courses, or join gymnasiums or go get illegal steroid injections or something, trying to obey the command of God…and we would all be wrong. He says “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His Might.” This has nothing to do with physical strength.

Turn with me back to Judges Chapter 6, the story of Gideon. Judges 6:12-14 tells a very odd story: Israel was a nation under siege, and constantly terrorized by roving bands of Midianite raiders. Gideon, of the tribe of Manasseh, was trying to surreptitiously thresh out a little wheat, and get that little harvest in without the Midianites seeing him. (The raiders had a pattern of letting someone else do the work and then swooping in to take the harvest.)

The Angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon. Now, in our previous studies, we have seen that the Angel of the LORD always turns out to be the LORD, Jehovah, himself, and this is no exception—verses 14, 16, ff, all have the LORD doing the talking. But what He says is what is so significant: He called to Gideon, saying “the LORD is with thee, thou Mighty Man of Valor”. Gideon looked around and said “You’ve got the wrong guy!” I am the least in my father’s house, and our house is poor in our tribe. I’m no ‘mighty man’ of anything!”

But the LORD commanded him, saying “Go in this thy might…have I not sent thee?”

God knew who he was dealing with—a scared young farmer, just trying to stay alive and feed his family: but he called him a “Mighty Man of Valor”…and then revealed what made him to be strong. In the first place, he said, “The LORD is with thee!” and, in the second place, he said “go, in THIS thy strength: Have I not sent thee?”

The twin facts that as a called individual,

  1. God was with him, and
  2. that God was sending him on a mission

were what guaranteed the strength to do the assigned task. Well! Wouldn’t it be nice if we had those two things? Of course, you already know the answer to that; we do!

How do I know God is with us? Because Jesus guaranteed it, over and over. He said that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever (John 14:16) (remember—the Holy Spirit is God), that He himself would not abandon us (John 14:18), that He and the Father would take up their abode with us (John 14:23), and, particularly, in the context of the Great Commission, he gave his promise “I am with thee always, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) So: can there be any doubt that God is with us? No! The only question remains: are we with Him?

God went to a great deal of trouble to get Gideon to walk with him. We like to remember Gideon “laying out the fleece”, but forget that this was specifically an act of doubt. God had just appeared to him in person, and given him a command. Gideon responded with “How do I know you really are who you say you are, or that you are sending me at all?” The two incidents with the fleece, and the subsequent night-prowl to the enemy camp were meant to allay his fears. God really wanted him to do the job, and it seems He really went a long way to get him on his team.

So what does it take to get you on His team? He already died for you. (Of course, he died for Gideon, too, but poor old Gideon didn’t know that.) He gave you the indwelling Holy Spirit; (Gideon didn’t have that particular blessing either.) He gave you the whole Bible. (Gideon may have seen the Torah, but probably from a distance. We don’t even know if he was literate: this was during a very dark period in Israel’s history.) The fact remains that we have been given more evidence and more blessing than any other group of people in History.

You may think, “Ah, but Israel had the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Manna in the desert, not to mention the miraculous gushing river of water from the Rock.” Yes, and they soon forgot them. You have the record of those miracles, and your own copy of the entire Bible…do you read it? Do you believe Him? God wants you on His team, and He has already promised to be with you, and He has called you and has already sent you.

Where has he sent us? Matthew 28:19, 20 “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We treat the Great Commission as if it were the marching orders for eleven or twelve men, but not for us. But read the rest of it: “…teaching them (that’s us) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. Yes, the Great Commission is to all Christians, in all ages and all places in all the World.

Gideon was told, in effect, the same thing that we are told, except that his marching orders were different. “Go, in this thy might: have I not sent thee?” He was to wage war against the Midianite raiders destroying Israel. We are to join battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in this world…not against flesh and blood.

We are to be strong in the Lord and in the Power of His might…not our own.

Our Defense Against Evil

So what is to be our defense against the evil in the world, and, more importantly, against the invisible, active agents of evil around us? (Whoa! What’s this “invisible” stuff? Where did I get that?) In the next few verses we will find out that ALL our real enemies are invisible. So, how will we defend against an invisible enemy?

We are commanded to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the “wiles of the devil” (devil means “adversary”, or “enemy”, but in this case we are to see that ALL of our enemies are under the headship of that one Enemy, the Devil, who “walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom He may devour.”)

So, any humanistic defenses will be useless; only the armor of God will suffice. For some reason The World is regularly feeding the public video games and movies with the idea that humans can fight demons…shooting at them, etc. Come on! In the first place they are invisible. In the second place, they are completely immune to anything humans can do, let alone bullets, blades and other such nonsense. God gives the only weapons that have any effect, in the next few verses. We will not get that far today, but you can read ahead and see that we are given a handful of defensive weapons and two offensive weapons. And none of them are connected in any way to human ability.

Think of Gideon again: If you recall, the way the battle was ordered by God was that God first took away all but 300 of his troops. The next thing was that God saw to it that both hands of each of those soldiers were full, so they could not use any weapon in the battle. They were to:

  1. Stand
  2. Shine a light (remember the jugs and the torches?) and
  3. Blow a trumpet and Shout (evidently alternating between the two; sound an alarm.)

Isn’t that what we are also to do?

  1. Stand fast
  2. Shine the light of a holy life
  3. Sound the alarm of the Gospel—the good news and the bad news.

But our armor is a little different, as we shall find out next time.

So…who are our enemies?

The Enemies

God’s Word says we have three major enemies, all under the leadership of one Enemy; Satan. He also has henchmen that we call demons, but the main way the enemies are listed is:

  1. The World
  2. The Flesh
  3. The Devil

(So, how could I have said that they were all invisible? I see the world around me every day, don’t I?) No, as a matter of fact, I see the people of the world: people for whom Jesus died. 1st John 2:2 states unequivocally that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; the full satisfaction of the righteousness of God on their behalf. So, if you think you are looking at one of your enemies, remember that he or she is definitely someone for whom Jesus shed His precious blood. And we are commanded to reach out to them with the Love of God.

The World” that is our Enemy is the world system of thinking, values, and motivation that controls all the nations, politicians, and unbelievers of every kind. The people themselves are sinners for whom Jesus died. The system is and always shall be an enemy to your soul.

The Flesh” refers to our old sin nature, irremediably given over to self-will. God can’t repair it or redeem it, so it will be done away through physical death. In the believer’s case (who has a new nature) this will provide eternal freedom from sin, because when the body is resurrected, the only nature left will be the new nature. For the unbeliever, it means eternal loss, as the only resurrection they face is the resurrection of the damned; eternal separation from God in the lake of Fire.

The Devil”.—Satan himself—is the leader of all his armies, which not only include the invisible evil hosts named here (“principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world” are all in reference to angelic beings) and the spiritual wickedness in high places, but also of the world and the flesh according to Ephesians 2:2, 3.

The Goal: To Stand

And, against all these enemies we are to do what? Just stand! But as we stand, we are to shine as lights in a dark place (Philippians 2:15), and to sound the alarm of the Gospel, so that we serve as ambassadors of God, offering His terms of salvation to all who are willing. (2nd Corinthians 5:19, 20) We cannot re-write history. God will carry out His judgment in His own time.We are to let God handle the execution of His enemies. We are only to reach out to them in Love.

(Next time: The Armor)

Father God, help us to see your presence and your command as the full and sole source of our strength, and to take that command as our own personal marching orders, in Jesus’ Name, and for His sake.

What about the Resurrection?

“Is The Resurrection True?”

(c) Rev. Pat James

Recently Christians around the world celebrated what we call Easter. We say that Jesus was dead, that on the third day He rose, that He walked this earth in His resurrected immortal body and then He ascended to Heaven, both physically and visibly where He remains at the right hand of God the Father. This belief is the very foundation of the Christian Faith!

But is the resurrection of Jesus Christ a well documented historical fact or is it a product of wishful thinking? Is it a myth, or a fable … a bit of old folklore that has come down through the ages? Is it a story that will stand up to serious and objective investigation?

You see, the resurrection of our Lord is either one of the most wicked, vicious, and heartless hoaxes ever to be imposed on the minds of humanity or … it is by far the most important fact of human history! There really is no in-between. It is a vicious lie or a glorious truth, one or the other! And not only that, but the gospel writers who report the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus are either viciously deceptive, hopelessly deceived or boldly honest!

Lets begin our investigation by reading the words of the apostle Paul in 1st. Corinthians 15:3-8,“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one untimely born.

This book was written about 28 years after Jesus’ resurrection and in effect this was an invitation to any who doubted his statements to just check it out! Since most of the 500 witnesses were still available to be questioned, it would have been very easy to discredit his statements if they had not been true.

The writers of the accounts of the resurrection gain even greater credibility when we consider their honesty in telling us of the disciple’s failure to understand the significance of the resurrection or even to believe in Jesus following the resurrection!

For example if we study the gospel accounts of the resurrection events we find that the women, on their way to the tomb, give no hint of expecting that Jesus had been bodily resurrected. In fact, they were surprised to find that His body was gone! This indicates that they must have misunderstood our Lord’s predictions that He would rise again on the third day. If the story had been fabricated it’s very unlikely that the women’s confusion would have been included.

The disciples didn’t expect our Lord’s resurrection either! In Luke 24:11we read,  “And these words (of the women) appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.”

The Bible accounts of the resurrection indicate very clearly that Thomas was not the only one who doubted. After Cleopas and another disciple met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they returned to the other disciples to tell them what they had seen. And speaking of this Mark 16:13 says, “And they went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.”

Matthew 28:16-17 says, “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful.”

The honesty of the gospel writers in reporting the doubts and disbelief of the disciples is a strong testimony to the truth of what they wrote. If the resurrection of Jesus had been fabricated by the early Christian writers they certainly would not have made the disciples look so lacking in faith and understanding.

Matthew records that the only response from the Jewish leadership to the preaching of the resurrection was the accusation that the disciples had stolen the body. Which actually acknowledges the fact that the tomb was indeed empty and even the Jewish Religious leaders knew it!

It would have been impossible to preach the resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb had still contained Jesus’ body. How could they say that He was resurrected if His body lay there in a tomb?

Also, if the disciples had invented the resurrection story we would think that they would have been out on the street the very next day proclaiming the risen Lord. But what we actually find is a 7 week delay during which, they seemed generally confused and ignorant of their mission! It was only after the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that these peasants, shepherds and fishermen were suddenly changed into a confident witnesses for Christ. They were absolutely convinced of salvation in Christ, their doubts had been completely removed! Do you think they would have rallied to that degree because of some made-up story?

We might also consider the fact that nearly every one of the disciples of Christ were killed for their faith! Does it seem likely that these men would have died for their belief if they hadn’t been absolutely positive of the truth of that belief?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ IS true and it is Scripture’s most encouraging message!

The empty tomb validated, confirmed, established and settled once and for all the truth that Jesus spoke. That He is the Son of God, the Messiah; the Savior of all mankind!

The empty tomb is the single most hope-filled fact of history and it is absolutely essential to the Christian faith.

Pat James is Pastor Emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church, at

2506 18th Ave., Forest Grove, OR 97116

Ph. 503-357-8534 ~ Email:


What about the Holy Spirit?

Have You Experienced The Holy Spirit?

Pastor Pat James

The book of Acts tells of how the Holy Spirit came upon the believers who were gathered in the upper room. There was a sound like a strong wind, there were what appeared to be flames of fire over their heads and they were changed in a dramatic way. Most believers have never experienced anything like that, however many of us consider it to be an example of what it means to experience the Holy Spirit in our life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus paid a rather clandestine visit to Jesus one night, (the first case of “Nic at night”), and Jesus spoke to him of the mystery of the Holy Spirit. He said, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; …” (John 3:8)

The Holy Spirit is like the wind, we will not be able to tell where He came from or where He is going, but we will be aware of His presence. But how? How will I be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life? To answer that, we must be aware of what the Holy Spirit does.

Jesus said , “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;” (John 16:8).

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin. Has He done that in your life? Though we may call it different things most everyone is aware of the wrong things they have done in their life.  Yet those who believe and have the Holy Spirit within them, are not driven to deny or hide from their sins; they do not feel the need to blame others or attempt to escape their guilt through intoxicants and such. The believer somehow finds the strength to face the fact that he has sinned, without allowing that fact to overwhelm him. If you have experienced that strength then you have experienced the Holy Spirit in your life!

Jesus tells us the Spirit would also convict the world concerning righteousness. Many have tried to find righteousness by keeping rules and regulations. No matter how hard we tried we always felt that we haven’t tried hard enough, that we just haven’t been good enough. Then we came to understand that righteousness is not gained through self-efforts, instead it is a gift that we receive by faith. It is through our faith in Christ that we are forgiven and His righteousness is credited to our account. That realization causes us to respond in love because we have been set free from a life of struggling to earn the favor of God. And that realization is a touch of the Holy Spirit!

Jesus also said the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment. Most all of us know what it is to be judged. Many of us have felt the pain of being miss-judged by others. But there comes a time when we realize the judgments of others are not what is important. The Holy Spirit causes us to realize that our worth is based not upon the judgments of other people, but on God’s judgment. We are forgiven of our wrongs, we are loved and we are free to enjoy the possibilities of each day before God. And that wonderful, liberating realization is a touch from the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is truly active in the life of every believer, but we must learn to recognize His work.


Pastor Pat James is pastor emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church, at

2516 18th. Ave, Forest Grove, OR Telephone 503-357-8534

What about Religious Liberty?

Religious Liberty

Rev. Pat James

While celebrating Independence Day I began thinking about the First Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees Religious Liberty in this great country. That Amendment reads in part;  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”

In modern times, that Amendment is being used as the basis for all sorts of rulings and laws and many of those rulings are completely contrary to the intentions of our Founding Fathers who wrote the Amendment. For example, the First Amendment has been used to silence prayer in public schools and at school functions.It is being used as the basis for insisting that all symbols of Christianity be removed from any publicly owned building. It is being used in an attempt to prevent Christian groups from meeting on publicly owned property.

The First Amendment has been called “The wall of separation between church and state”, but the intent of that law was to prevent the government from ever establishing a State Sanctioned Church. It was to prohibit the government from passing laws that would favor and support one denomination or religious belief over all others. It was also intended to prevent the government from interfering in the expression of a persons faith regardless of what that faith is.

Most everyone has heard that in the beginning, one of the main reasons why people came to settle in this country was to escape religious persecution. What many folks don’t realize is that for the most part, that “persecution” was from the official government established churches of the various countries. For example in England, the established church was the Church of England.  Therefore no other church or denomination was recognized as legitimate. Those who held beliefs that differed from theirs were persecuted in various ways because they were considered to be “heretics.” In Scotland the Presbyterian Church was the State Church and they too persecuted anyone who didn’t agree with their doctrinal beliefs.

In Germany the State Church was the Lutheran Church. In Spain, Italy, and France, the State Church was Catholic.  Most every country had a State sanctioned church and in every case those who didn’t belong to the State Church were persecuted in one way or another.

Of course there were people who lived in those various countries who’s beliefs differed from the State Church. For example, even though the Church of England was the official church in England, there were still Lutherans and Presbyterians and Catholics who lived there.

In most countries there were also those who’s beliefs differed from those of the popular denominations. These people were called by many different names but the oldest and most common name was “Ana-Baptist”.

They were originally called that because most of them didn’t accept the doctrine of infant baptism, so if someone wanted to join their church they had to be baptized even if they had already been baptized as a baby.  That was called “Another Baptism” and that’s what “Ana-Baptist” means … “another baptism.”

Over time however, nearly any church or group that didn’t align with one of the State sanctioned denominations were usually called “Ana-Baptist” regardless of their beliefs about baptism.

In the early days of immigration to this country, the Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and the Church of England groups established separate colonies. There they immediately passed laws establishing their particular church as the only legal church in their colony, to the absolute exclusion of all others.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony, which had the Congregational Church as their State Church passed a law that read; “It is ordered and agreed that if any person within this jurisdiction, shall condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants or go about secretly to seduce others from the use thereof or purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinance, such person shall be sentenced to banishment.”

Banishmentwas serious business in those days, it usually meant that a person would have to go and live with the Indians in order to survive. Of course there were many other kinds of persecution which included confiscation of property, public whippings, imprisonment, etc.

In 1638 a group of people who had been banished from other colonies, and were led by Roger Williams, and an Ana-Baptist Preacher named John Clark, decided that even though they didn’t have legal authority from England, they would organize a colony of their own. They found a little section of land that had not yet been claimed and settled there forming what came to be known as the Rhode Island Colony.

In 1663, after finally receiving permission from England, the Rhode Island Colony wrote a legal charter that attracted world wide attention because it was the very first legal declaration of Religious Liberty in the whole world!

When Congress began discussing the question of whether the United States should have an established church, there were three primary contenders; the Church of England, the Congregationalist Church and the Presbyterian Church. However, the so-called Ana-Baptists who were supported by James Madison, and many others, argued for complete and total religious liberty.

Patrick Henry proposed a bill that would establish four churches (or denominations) as the official churches of this country and his bill would allow the tax payers to indicate which church received their tax money.

It’s interesting that one of the major obstacles to religious liberty in America (and probably all over the world at that time), was the idea that the church could not possibly exist without governmental support. The idea that a church could survive just on the voluntary offerings of their congregations was considered an impossibility!

And the churches that were already established as State Churches used that as the basis for their arguments against religious liberty. Their conviction was that if the government didn’t support the church then this country would soon become a nation of “non-religious heathen” and our society would crumble.

But thanks to the Providence of God it was finally decided that; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”

For centuries, that law is what has set this nation apart from all others. That law, (when observed in the way it was intended), is what prevents the government from establishing a State Church, and from interfering with the church through taxation or zoning laws or anything else.

I thank God for that law and I hope you do too.

Rev. Pat James, Pastor Emeritus, True Hope Christian Fellowship

2506 18th. Ave.

Forest Grove, OR  97116



What about Sunday?


Pastor Pat James

What do you normally do on Sunday? When our Lord gathers His church together on Sunday morning are you there or are you enjoying your favorite hobby, doing chores or just relaxing with the Sunday paper? What is it that is so important that it prevents you from taking part in public worship?


Matthew 12:8 teaches that Jesus is “the Lord of the Sabbath”. Do you claim Him as your Savior and Lord while refusing to honor the day of His resurrection?


Jesus has promised to be with us when we assemble for public worship. It is sad that so many are not faithful to meet Him there! True saving faith in Christ is evidenced when we place our relationship with Him above all things, when He occupies the place of highest priority in our lives. That would certainly include assembling together with other believers for worship and instruction. That would also include taking an active and supportive role in our church.


Idolatry means loving something or someone more than God. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are repeatedly warned against that. Yet each Sunday morning many professing Christians clearly demonstrate that their love for recreation, comfort and entertainment is greater than their love for God!


In the Living Bible Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”

This Sunday when the Lord gathers His family together for worship, will you be there?



Pastor Pat James is the pastor emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church

2516 18th. Ave, Forest Grove, OR Telephone 503-357-8534



What about Hell?

“What About Hell?”

Anyone who has spent much time sharing the gospel has heard the argument that goes something like this; “How can you believe in a God who sends people to hell?” or, “How can a loving God sentence someone to hell for eternity?”

Over the past 100 years there have been a lot of changes in what the majority of professing Christians believe, especially in areas such as:




Many professing Christians no longer hold to those concepts, but it’s certainly not because the Bible doesn’t teach them, because it does!

In 2nd Thessalonians 1:9, the Apostle Paul is speaking of those who don’t know the Lord and do not obey the Gospel, “They will be punished with everlasting destruction …”

In Revelation 14:11 the Apostle John wrote, “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.”

We should also note that the greatest preacher who ever lived was also the most descriptive teacher on Hell, and that was Jesus Christ!

Jesus said things like: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,” (Mark 9:47)

He also said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

And in Matthew 13:41-42 Jesus said, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Our Lord was meek, mild, and gentle, but he taught about Hell. He taught it clearly and he taught it often!

It’s interesting that most people will agree that not everyone is going to go to Heaven, but at the same time they deny the existence of a real and literal Hell! Since the Bible teaches both then I must believe in both!

One objection to the concept of hell goes something like this; “Justice demands that punishment fit the crime, and what crime is so bad, as to demand an eternity of torment in hell?” The question then isn’t, “Is it right for God to condemn to hell?” The question is, “Does the punishment fit the crime?” The “crime” that sends people to hell is the rejection of God and His offer of eternal life. Is that worthy of eternal damnation?

The problem is, we cannot understand the severity of the crime of rejection until we have some understanding of God. We must have some appreciation for God’s awesome goodness, His love for us, His patience with us and all that He has done for us, in order to understand what a tremendous crime it is to reject Him.

The punishment does fit the crime because God is infinitely good and perfect and loving and because of that, He deserves infinite adoration!


In 1st. Timothy 6:16 Paul said, (God), “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!”

God has been infinitely benevolent to us. He has given us a wonderful world in which to live and the senses of smell, taste, touch, and vision that allow us to enjoy it.

God has been infinitely patient with us.

Romans 1:21 says,“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

In spite of our rebellion and willful ignorance God has lavished on us the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience. He has giving us every opportunity imaginable to come to Him.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind, and all your strength. How many of us have really done that?

Yet what has been God’s response to our rejection?

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Paul said, (Acts 4:12) “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

2nd. Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God gives us infinite opportunities to recognize His mercy and He reveals Himself infinitely.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3)

The invisible God has been made known through the visible universe!

The Apostle Paul said it well, in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

And not only that, but we can look at mankind and see the image of God. We can see that humans have a moral instinct, a personality and a free will. In our own sense of anger when we are wronged we see there is such a thing as right and wrong and we sense in our own hearts that evil must be judged!

God has given us infinite opportunities to see who He is – We can see him in creation.   We can see Him in His word. We can see Him in His Ultimate revelation – His Son. Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

In light of the infinite revelation of God, the infinite opportunity that I have been given to respond to the infinite Grace, the infinite Goodness, and the infinite Glory of God, if I reject God, then my sin is infinitely evil and I am infinitely accountable!

God is so Glorious, so Good, so Gracious, and His revelation is so complete that if we reject Him, that is the ultimate rejection and it can only result in an ultimate penalty some day!

Simple annihilation is not enough to condemn our sins against God. There are only two things that can pay the penalty for that, either the Lake of Fire, or the Cross of Calvary! It has to be one or the other! But because of God’s love, you get to choose which it will be for you.

God will get rid of His enemies! He will either have them in the Lake of Fire or He will adopt them as children, but God will get rid of His enemies!

The question we must all answer is, “Do I want God’s Justice? Or do I want God’s Grace?”

To me that’s a “no-brainer”!

Pat James is Pastor Emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship, in Forest Grove, OR



Rev. Pat James

As we begin another year some folks look to the future with fear and worry, others are excited and optimistic, but one thing we all have in common is we all hope for happiness.

Every one wants to be happy: that’s a universal desire. If we cut through all the rhetoric, we find that everyone’s real goal is happiness.

Blaise Pascal, who was a 17th century philosopher said this: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. This is the motive of every man, even of those who hang themselves!”

When writing the Declaration of Independence our founding fathers thought of happiness as a very precious aspect of life. They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Happiness is the underlying theme of most advertising. The message is; “You want to be happy? Buy this product, go to this movie, use our credit card.” But for all of our focus on how to be happy, it seems there are very few people who are truly happy.

A valid question might be to ask ourselves is, “What makes me happy?” I suspect there are some common responses to that question. Many would say happiness is greater financial stability as well as spendability! Someone has said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but I wouldn’t mind trying.”

Most people relate happiness to having more money, that is why millions of people are trying to become happy by winning the lottery. However, the chances of winning are something like 80 million to one! Not good odds if you’re trying to find happiness that way!
According to reports I have read even those who have won the lottery usually don’t end up all that happy! It is very doubtful that many people are going to find happiness in the lottery!

I read recently that, when asked what happiness was, a lady replied, “Happiness is seeing your husband’s old girlfriend … and seeing that she is fatter than you!” It seems that we all have an opinion of what will make us happy, and for most people it involves the circumstances of their life.

We can learn very important truths about happiness by studying the writings of the great Apostle Paul in the Bible. In the book of Acts we are told that he had been arrested and was being brought before King Agrippa. We wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot of happiness in that situation, but read what Paul said in Acts 26:2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews…”

If happiness is a product of our circumstances then Paul had no business being happy! He ought to be miserable and filled with fear because of his circumstances (on trial and in chains) but Paul understood that his happiness was not dictated by his circumstances!

Paul was happy because he knew that he was in God’s will, that he was in close fellowship with God and that he was doing what God wanted him to do. You see, Paul’s source of happiness was God and ONLY God!

The truth is, if our happiness comes only through maintaining a sufficient flow of favorable circumstances, then we will see very little happiness in life! Even if we could determine our happiness by circumstances we wouldn’t be happy for long because we have little or no control over our circumstances! Happiness pursued through circumstances will always lead to disappointment!

If we look for happiness in what this temporary world has to offer then life will be a profound disappointment! True happiness will never be found in pursuing the things of this world! So the question naturally follows: “What will make us happy?”

One day a big dog saw a little puppy chasing its tail … and he asked, “Why are you chasing your tail so?” The puppy said, “I have mastered philosophy; I have solved the problems of the universe which no dog before me has rightly solved; I have learned that the best thing for a dog is happiness, and that happiness is my tail. Therefore I am chasing it; and when I catch it, I will have happiness.”

The old dog said, “My son, I, too, have paid attention to the problems of the universe, and I have formed some opinions. I too, have judged that happiness is a fine thing for a dog, and I too have found that happiness is in my tail. But I have noticed that when I chase after it, it keeps running away from me, but when I just go about my business, it comes after me.”

“Happiness is not found by chasing after it; true happiness is a by-product of pursuing God.” True happiness is something that comes when we truly commit ourselves to living our life in obedience to God, seeking only to do His will. That is the only way to real and lasting happiness!

In Psalm 16:11 the Psalmist wrote, “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.”

I believe most folks would agree that God has all wisdom; we would also agree that the Bible contains God’s wise instructions for living fulfilled and happy lives here on earth. Now, with that in mind, please read the following selected verses of Scripture;

Psalms 144:15 “ … How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!”

Proverbs 16:20, “He who gives attention to the word shall find good, And blessed (or happy) is he who trusts in the LORD.”

Proverbs 29:18 “ …. happy is he who keeps the law.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

John 15:11 (Jesus), “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Happiness is found in the pursuit of God; and when do that we will discover that God is pursuing us with His love!

Do you want to be happy? Sure you do! Pursue God and watch happiness come after you!


Rev. Pat James is the pastor emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church at 2506 18th. Ave. Forest Grove, OR 97116 ~ Phone: 503-357-8534 ~ email

Is the Bible True?

Is The Bible True?

Pastor Pat James
(Originally published in the Oregonian)

I understand there are many Christians who simply decided to believe the gospel message; that Jesus is the Son of God, He paid the debt of our sin and we can have salvation and eternal life simply by believing that.

I must admit that I cannot believe something simply by deciding to believe. I must first become convinced that a thing is in fact true. So for me the question was, how do I go about verifying the truth of the claims of Christianity?

Since the claims of Christianity are based on the Bible, then our basic question involves the veracity of this great book. Is the Bible really the inerrant inspired word of God?

If the Bible truly is the Word of God, then we would expect to find some very unusual and significant facts surrounding this book. If the Bible is what it claims to be then one would certainly expect to find unique information within its contents. We would also expect to find unusual circumstances related to the development, preservation and transmission of such an exceptional document.

Even a cursory study reveals that the Bible truly is unique, not only in the message that it brings to mankind, but also in many other ways. For example, the Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 different authors who were inspired by God. These authors represented nearly every social and economic level. They included kings and paupers, as well as the educated and uneducated. They were separated by location, time and culture; they wrote on every conceivable topic relating to human existence, many of them controversial, yet their writings merge into one cohesive whole. It is doubtful that we could name even three secular authors who agreed completely on all things. The only reasonable explanation is that of a supernatural influence.

The Bible is also unique in its survival. Powerful dictators have determined to wipe the Bible from the face of the earth. Those men have gone, but the Bible remains.

The Bible has withstood every form of criticism known to man. However historical investigation, archeological discoveries and scientific examination have repeatedly proven the Bible to be entirely accurate and reliable. Not to mention the literally hundreds of prophecies which have been perfectly fulfilled to the smallest detail.

It is only reasonable to conclude that the Bible truly is the inspired word of God and since that is true, what could possibly be more important than to learn what it says and do what it says?

Pastor Pat James is the pastor emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church
2516 18th. Ave, Forest Grove, OR Telephone 503-357-8534