The cutting edge of Christian affairs

Copyright © 2015 by Joe Diop

I’m just your average Joe, a man of no remarkable intelligence. For the past 39 years, I have been a “Good News” professional, ordained and trained to represent God. But, only after what He taught me in the last two years, did I really fully start to “get it.” And, that revolutionized my whole understanding. Today, I want to share that with you.

Because it took me so long to begin to fully understand what I had so zealously tried to make others see, I think of myself as a big dummy. After all, I did get my college degree in my field, go on to pursue my readiness at the graduate level, and served in various pastoral capacities and ministry positions over the course of my career, thus far. Still at times, I felt like “the blind leading the blind.” There was always something about the very faith that I preached and expounded on all my adult life that eluded me. Now, I would call a person with a track record like mine a “dummy.” Wouldn’t you?

Once. Twice. Three times a Fool.

The word “dummy” does not appear in the Bible. But, its companion term, “fool,” certainly does. The word ‘fool’ appears 66 times in the King James Version of the Bible. I was born in Foolsville, USA. I am the crowned Prince of Fools — a Knucklehead of knuckleheads. My wife likes to say, “There is not a nut too hard for God to crack.” You can either be cracked into submission, or you’ll be crushed to smithereens (Matt 31:44; Luke 21:18). Listen. This is important. I am letting you ride along with me for a little ways on my “epic journey of enlightenment.” So, buckle in and take notes.

The Bible outlines three classes or degrees of fools. A fool is anyone who is slow to grasp truth. There’s the “simple fool.” He is a sincere, down-to-earth, and uncomplicated person. But, he is not very aware or observant, and doesn’t learn very quickly. He stumbles every day over information and revelation in his environment, without ever taking notice. He’s got the mentality of the average child. Broadly, that’s the way God sees the average adult human being. So, every last one of us — the whole lot of humanity — would immediately fall into this category. I often ask myself the fateful question, “What kind of fool am I?” And, I like to think of myself as this kind of fool.

This is the first order, but the third class of fool. One of my mother’s favorite verses is the one that says, in paraphrase, “The way is so plain that even a fool shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8). Isn’t it good to know that God is so merciful and kind as to graciously craft His “Good News” so that even us fools could have hope?

The next class of fool is the “silly fool.” He may happen to get ahold of some truth every now and then, but his tendency is to not appreciate the value of it. He makes light of it. To him, the sinful, the secular, and the sacred alike are all material for a stand-up comic routine. So, real enlightening, substantive, life-changing truth does him little good. He lumps it all right there together with the old mass of background chatter, glib expressions, and useless clichés that he’s used to. He’s like a bucket that can’t hold water for very long, because it’s got a hole in the bottom of it. This category would cover most lukewarm, double-minded, or lackadaisical Christians — the ones Jesus described as “sown among thorns” (Mark 4:18,19). This is the second order and second class of fools.

Now, the last kind of fool is the most dreaded. That’s the stubborn, the scornful, the stupid, self-destructive, set-in-his-ways, sho’-nuff sho’-nuff fool. He’s highly reactionary against all truth, and wants no part of it. All he wants to do is have his own way, and get all the credit for every single thought, word, or deed that proceeds from his life. To him, God is nothing but a spoiler. He and he alone must chart his own course, regardless of any disastrous consequences. His motto is: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!!”

Jesus was describing this class when he talked about those “sown on stony ground” and those “by the wayside” (Mark 4:4,5). The character Nabal in the book of 1Samuel, who angered King David, is a perfect example of this kind of fool (1 Samuel 25:2-38). His is the third order of fools. But anyone in this order is rightfully called a “First Class Fool.” All fools beware of him. For him, there is little hope.

Now, in relating my revelation, to soften the blow, I have herein substituted the term “dummy” for “fool.” You would be surprised just how often the New Testament describes the whole lot of us as fools. Jesus even addressed his own dear disciples as fools. For example, in Luke 24:25 it says, “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Later, to all those having difficulty grasping the concept and reality of the resurrection of the body, Paul the apostle said, “Thou fool, that which you sow is not quickened (i.e., brought to life), except it die” (1 Corinthians 15:36). So now, join the club — the fool’s club; or rather, let’s call it the “Big Dummy Club.”

Enlighten Me, Please

When you’re dealing with dummies, you have to break everything down to their most simple components. Otherwise, we dummies easily get lost along the way. That’s why God introduced the “Precept Method” of learning and teaching. “Precepts” are rudimentary elements of information. They are atoms in the universe of knowledge. They constitute the building blocks of truth. Precepts are to truth what phonics is to reading. If you don’t know phonics, then you can’t sound out words. And, if you can’t sound out words, you have absolutely no chance of reading any line of sentence. That’s why God said to take the phonics approach to studying His word. He declares,

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.   Isaiah 28:10

This is “back to basics,” where God’s word is concerned. You have to take the time to make sure that you clearly understand the individual meanings of the terms used (precepts), and you can begin with the most fundamental concepts first, in order to build your understanding. You have to take first things first. The precept method goes: first, term definitions (precepts), then expanded concepts (lines), then whole divisions of doctrine. This way, eventually, sheds light upon “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 ASV). What you end up with then is the “rightly divided word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15). You even have to clearly define the most elementary terms involved, if you want to understand “first principles.” And for a dummy, like me, this is no easy task. It is a slow, plodding, grinding, exacting, meticulous process. You can’t rush it. Don’t be impatient if it takes a while for you to “get” the word of truth. Be encouraged. After all, it took decades for the Lord to get it through my thick skull. If you do try to hurry and gloss over some things, then you face big penalties later on. For, the word also says,

And as the HASTY fruit… the crown of pride, the drunkards… shall be trodden under feet… But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and FALL BACKWARD, and be BROKEN, and SNARED, and TAKEN [that is, caught up in judgment].  (Isaiah 28:4,3,13; brackets mine)

So, an individual who does not patiently study the word according to God’s precept method, is apt to meet with personal spiritual disaster on down the road. Where the word is concerned, slow and easy is the way. I think the words of a Christian poet captured it best, in a poem based on Proverbs 25:2, called Enlightenment.

It is the glory of our Maker

To conceal many things,

But the honor of the sainthood

Is to search them out as kings.

Precept upon precept

Line upon line

Precept upon precept

Gives light to the mind.

The only thing you’ll ever need

Is the first thing you received.

And the last thing you will understand

Is the first thing you believed.

So, precept upon precept

Line upon line

Precept upon precept

Brings sight to the blind.

As the author of this poem points out, in the Christian faith it really is true: It’s not what you know, but WHO you know. “The only thing you’ll ever need is the first thing you received,” he says. And, Jesus IS the first thing you receive in this faith. All else you really need to know is self-evident to everyone who is a warm-blooded individual with a fleshly head on their shoulders. And, that is: “I am a sinner, and therefore I need a savior.”

Car and Driver

Fortunately, for all of us dummies, you don’t need to understand the more complex matters of the Christian faith. You don’t need a seminary degree. You don’t need to know how to read the Bible in its original languages. You don’t need years of training in hermeneutics or homiletics. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to read at all; because, faith comes by hearing, NOT by reading (Romans 10:17).

In this way, the Christian faith is like driving an expensive foreign car; say, a Maserati, a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini. These cars require specially trained mechanics to maintain them and work on them. But, if you own one, you don’t need to know the first thing about auto mechanics before you can drive it. You don’t need to know anything about a carburetor, or a drive train, or a gas combustion engine, or a differential, or even simply where the oil goes in under the hood. All you need is to get a driver’s license, turn the car on, and then it will take you wherever you want to go. So is the Christian faith. God himself makes it work. All you have to do is invite Christ into your life, and you’re on your way. It’s as simple and easy as that.

Turn on the Light

Now, out of my 39 years of service to God (and 59 being in the world), I did not learn what I needed to know in order to make it all come together, until just the last two years. What I learned these last two years was all about human nature and human nothingness. These two concepts (which I expound on in my previous blogs, “The Man in the Mirror: Spiritual Anthropology for Dummies,” and “Best and Worst: The Whole World in His Hands)” formed the linchpin that brought everything else together. When I understood these two concepts, then all the other doctrine started cascading into place. Bible mysteries started unfolding before me, dovetailing one another and dropping into place like falling dominoes. You see, mankind’s biggest, most persistent, and truly insurmountable problem is really our very human nature. Human nature accounts for all our sin and depravity, across the board. I hadn’t realized that when the New Testament talked about ambiguous and mystical concepts like “the flesh” and “the old man,” all it was referring to was “human nature,” fallen human nature to be exact. But, is there any other kind? And in my 59 years, I have had a chance to become most thoroughly familiar with human nature — yours, mine, and everybody’s.

So, my “Eureka!” moment came when I realized that Christ dealt with our human nature through the agency of the cross. The cross ‘excised’ (a medical term, meaning “to cut out”) our human nature when Jesus died on the cross. The Bible, using that old familiar term, “circumcised,” says Christ “circumcised us from the sinful flesh” (that is, from our human nature; Col 2:11). The translation that comes closest to this understanding is the New International Version, when it says, “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ.”

You see, there is a spiritual reality and a dimension of truth out there, far beyond what the natural senses can discern. This is the spiritual reality of what God has done unto us in Christ. And, whether we can comprehend it or not, this is still the reigning order of things with God. This is the real real. And, I began to see how these two things (our old, fallen human nature and our new, divine nature) could co-exist in the temporal realm, yet be totally separate and distinct in the spiritual and eternal realm before God. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that there are some things that you cannot possibly understand, until you are “born again” (John 3:1-12).

That’s why the word says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (2Cor 5:17). That doesn’t mean that it is impossible for us to commit a sin, but it does mean that for as long as God deems our faith true and genuine, and keeps our soul embedded in Christ Jesus, then the misdeeds of our human nature do not factor into the equation of our relationship with Him. All the rest — the hypocrisy of so-called Christians, the apparent inconsistencies of their lifestyles, the seeming contradictions of the Bible and its many versions — is just fat, and fluff, shadows and phantasms, and smoke-and-mirrors. Forever after that, no matter how the world sees us, God sees us as “holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col 1.22 NKJV).

All the other drama from the sins, wrongdoing, and missteps that occur in our lives are just a part of the mysterious storyline that God has written for us. It’s just a chapter in the narrative and script prepared by “The Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).” You see, the souls of God’s “elect” (those He has chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4); the predestined souls) are eternally secure. But, don’t get smug and cocky about that. For, the million dollar question is, “Are you indeed ‘elect’ or not?” Was your name “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27) before the world began? Were you included in that fortunate number before Genesis 1:1, when God first spoke the world into existence? This is something that I go into more detail about in my previous blog, “Best and Worst: The Whole World in His Hands.” So when you sin capriciously, you are only playing Russian roulette with your soul!! That’s why Jesus said “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter there and WILL NOT BE ABLE” (Luke 13:24 ). Or, do you want to get all the way to the gate of judgment, and unexpectedly hear those shocking and tragic words from Jesus’ mouth, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you evildoer?” (Matt 7:23). So, this is something that no man or woman cannot afford to take for granted.

Nevertheless, all of the sin in an elect, born-again Christian’s life is completely trivial, moot, irrelevant, and inconsequential, where his soul’s destiny is concerned. It’s all like “water under the bridge.” He is bound for heaven, though his disobedience may land him there ahead of schedule. The scripture does say, “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:9). So, when we foolishly sin (as dummies often do; you see, knuckleheads will be knuckleheads) and still make it into heaven, that indeed is a tale that glorifies the mercy, goodness, and sovereign grace of God. But, if you think you can use this information in advance in order to run a game on the Most High God, you are badly mistaken. Think again. We will address this scenario further before we conclude.

We don’t have to die before we can know God someday. We can and do enjoy the presence of our Heavenly Father right here and right now. The cross nails our human nature and all its evil by-products squarely to the crossbeams of time, so that Christ’s resurrection can establish us in a vital, ongoing, intimate, and personal relationship with the Father of eternity, even now in the present. The scripture says, Christ was “delivered [to the cross] for our offenses, and raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25, brackets mine). “Justification,” rightly understood, is precisely “the fact of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” right now.

So you see, the cross and the resurrection together are the two sides of the same coin of salvation. Through the cross, God rids us of our biggest problem — sinful human nature. And through the resurrection, He avails and imparts to us the Spirit of the living God and Christ, right now. That’s God’s mighty and miraculous fix for what ails us. That’s God’s mercy. That’s God’s grace. That’s God’s forgiveness. That’s God’s life. That’s God’s righteousness. That’s something that no other religion can provide for you.  And, that is God’s TRUTH.

Now there, you have in a nutshell and a quick moment, that which constitutes, for the most part, the most complex and hard to understand aspects of the Christian faith. That’s what took me 59 years of living and study of God’s word to be able to articulate with understanding. That’s what I’m handing over to you now, in only the time that it takes to read this article.

Get Out the Switch

But wait. The plot thickens. Comprehending that is not really your biggest obstacle to enjoying a relationship with God. No!! Your greatest disconnect comes from the fact that the vast majority of you don’t really want to know Him, in the first place. That’s the real problem. And, all your efforts spiritually are just part of a slick game you are playing with God. This reminds me of a game I tried to run on my mom, when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

I’d be sitting in front of the TV, watching whatever. And, at times my mother would call me, presumably to do something or other. She’d call and call, but I wouldn’t flinch. I kept right on watching whatever I was watching. I didn’t want to be disturbed, you see. One day, my mother had had enough. Not knowing whether or not I really had problems with my hearing, she marched me right down to the audiologist (that is, the “ear doctor”) for an examination. When the ear doctor took me back to the test booth to conduct the hearing test, he said, “If you hear the beep of a tone, raise your hand. Even if you THINK you hear a tone, but are not sure, raise your hand anyway. Well, that exam was a piece of cake. It was like a game to me. So, being but a youth, and being truly clueless to the ramifications, at the sound of every beep, I raised my hand. I raised my hand, and raised my hand, and raised my hand like a fool, until the test was over. Then came the verdict.  And the condemnation was pronounced. The ear doctor came out and said, “Mom, get out the switch! That boy can hear a pin drop in the middle of the ocean!!”  Well then, the jig was up. My cover was blown to smithereens. From then on, I either had to acknowledge my mother’s voice, or suffer the consequences.

All Pooped Out

Let me give you another example of game playing from the chronicles of my personal experience. Our family has an aged female cat, named Shaar (pronounced ‘Share’). We’ve had her since she was a scruffy ball of fur and gristle, straight from her mother’s womb. Somewhere along the way, she got the idea that it was alright to use the litter box and leave her poop uncovered. We have had other cats. So, we realize that God gave domestic cats a marvelous instinct for decorum and house protocol. They know instinctively the purpose of a litter box, and know to cover up their poop when they’re done. But, Shaar has always left hers right there on the surface of the litter, stinking to high heaven, as if to say, “Now see.  I left it in plain view, so you can remove it right away. And, be quick about it!!”

If she had covered it up, according to the common cat practice, then we might have taken our sweet time scooping it out. Miss Shaar is too prissy to allow her delicate and immaculate paws to trample a second time over areas already soiled. Needless to say, that is a despised habit of hers. And, as if that were not transgression enough, she went even further.

Later on in life, she developed a much worse and more harmful habit — urinating on the rugs, carpets, and even the hardwood floors. I personally cleaned up behind that cat so much, that I literally developed arthritis in my elbows. The constant smell of cat urine can actually make a person very sick. And, at times it did, as I had to take my wife to the emergency room a number of times for having a reaction to that odor of ammonia that the build-up of cat pee was producing. That did it for me. If not for my wife interceding for a little more patience and understanding on my part, Shaar would have been a goner.

Then, late one night came the “tell.” I happened to be standing right in the hallway in plain view of the litter boxes, when Shaar went in to take a poop. I watched carefully as she did her business and came back out, as usual leaving her poop right on the surface. Then, something remarkable happened. When Shaar came out, she looked right up at me staring at her. Then, she turn around, went halfway back inside the litter box, and with her front paws, shoveled dirt (cat litter) backwards on top of her poop, covering it completely up. Then she backed out and looked right up into my eyes, as if to say, “There now; satisfied?” Then, she turned and pranced on down the stairs. It was then, I knew. “Shaar’s got all the sense in the world. She knows it’s wrong to leave her poop uncovered. She’s been playing a game with us, playing us for a fool this whole time!!” And, she felt she was getting away with it. But, where ultimately does that kind of troublesome, filthy behavior get her. Where would it get her with you? — but a one-way trip to animal control.

Too Cool to Fool

So does the average man play games with God. But, you cannot fool Him. He sees all your heart. He knows where you live. And, before you know it, you’ll be flat “busted out.”  The scripture says, “Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For, a person will reap what he sows.”  Galatians 6:7, New English Translation.   And,

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  Hebrews 4:12-13

Folks, for all our dummyhood, we all know what is right. God shows and repeatedly tells us what we ought to do. But, like I did as a child, and like Shaar also did, we play dumb. But, know assuredly, there will come a day of reckoning. Even before that, our games will have disastrous consequences to our state of being. The scripture tells us,

“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:21-23

The Beast Within

So, as a consequence of these things, modern man has steadily devolved into a beastly species of being. The modern brand of idolatry was described ever so perfectly by the antagonist and villain Han (pronounced Hahn) in the 1973 action movie by the great martial artist Bruce Lee, called, “Enter the Dragon.” Han said, “Gentlemen… we are unique in that we create ourselves. We forge our[selves] in the crucible of our [own] will.”

Paul, the apostle and prophet of the New Testament, described the progression and appearance of idolatry in these final, apocalyptic times in his own inimitable way, with these words.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”   2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV

That is the status of modern idolatry. It has progressed, or rather devolved, to the state where we actually act and think of ourselves as being our own supreme being. We see ourselves as the wholly self-made, self-determining, self-affirming, self-sufficient, self-congratulatory, and finally the self-rewarding creators of ourselves. Thereby, we develop beastly character. As the scripture says, “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20).

In passing, let me make one point of Biblical interpretation very clear. The term “man of sin” does not refer to a single individual, as is so often erroneous portrayed in popular prophecy teaching. The term actually refers to man generically, and describes the status of typical human nature in the time of the end. We have grown and outgrown the old images, and statues, and animals, and totem poles. Now, we only think of our own selves as worthy of worship and adoration. Witness, the great proliferation of the phenomenon called “selfies” in the social media of our day. And, as a friend of mine likes to say, “Nuff said.”

Hands Down

I like to think of trying to fool God, as sitting down with Him to a game of high-stakes poker. It’s a fool’s game, my friend. Any and everyone who attempts this, is truly a dummy of the highest order. It’s a dangerous game. It’s a losing proposition. Think about it. The deck is stacked against you. God is really holding all the cards. He sees every card in your hand, even before they are dealt. You cannot bluff Him. He has, so to speak, peeped your “hole card,” and all your other cards, for that matter.

It’s time to put all your cards on the table and “play it straight.” Playing it straight really means that you fold, repent, and beg for forgiveness. Admit to God that you are “flat busted.” You don’t have what it takes. You’ve got a lot more to lose here than your shirt. You stand to lose your very soul forever. This scenario is particularly catastrophic to those who appear to be presently living a lovely, Christian life, but you are not elect. Your wonderful salvation will prove to be nothing more than “fool’s gold” in the end. You especially should be careful to obey this word, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). And, like the apostle Peter exhorted, you should certainly “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2Pet 1:10).

Furthermore, you could never raise the stakes to match God’s resources. He owns the world and everything in it. And, He owns you, to boot. In the end, all your lies and excuses will come tumbling down like a proverbial “house of cards.” And, when God calls your bluff (and eventually He will), He will call your soul out of this world. And, if you’re betting that won’t happen, then I ask you. How many players ever made it out of this world alive? At that time, the entire world all together will find out that you “ain’t holdin’ nothin.’” God will then look you straight in the eyes and ask you, “Why then, did you not obey the gospel?” And then, in the immortal words of my wife’s sainted grandmother, Ethel, “It will be hell to tell the captain!!!”

That’s a fool’s game, my friend. Here’s hoping you don’t even have the guts to try it. “Knock on wood.” (Get it?? A dummy’s head is wood. Ahhh!! Anyway…)  So, let’s hope and pray that you are only a dummy of the first order, like me.

Now, think about that.

Aren’t you tired of playing games with God? You do hear His voice, you know. When God speaks, nothing in this world can drown Him out. He speaks straight to the heart, and He speaks clearly. The scripture says, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb 4:7).  And it says, ”He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).  I urge you now to acknowledge God’s voice, focusing on the “reward” of eternal life that He promises.  And, if you are ready and willing to respond, please pray the following suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

7.10.24.15  1850hrs CT

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