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The Party’s That-away!!!

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“Truth & Dare” is retiring, but the party’s not over. Hooray !!!  We’ve made our last new post here. It will still serve for an archive site. But, we invite you now to head on over to our new site for great posts of information, illumination, and inspiration. If you haven’t already joined us there, from now on we’ll be on WordPress at: newjosephblog.wordpress.com.

Or, you can join us on Facebook at:   https://www.facebook.com/TheNameMostHigh/

Also, on our group page:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/HighPraiseWordCenter/

You can even submit a post yourself for publishing on our group page, and join in the mutual encouragement and edification. Everything at these sites is for the growth and advance of Christ’s children and His kingdom. So, what are you waiting for??  Head on over!!!

We’ll meet you there.

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not…; or, Am I a ‘Son’ ???

Phonto 2

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

 

Life can be very scary and uncertain sometimes. It can be very puzzling, especially in terms of our interplay with the LORD God our Father. All the drama, the intrigue, and the suspense of life can be summed up in the fact that we have a very sovereign God, who controls all things, and who seems to like to deal with and work through us creatures who are weak, frail, and finite. Sometimes we find that we are not even in control of the one thing we are always supposed to be in control of – our own behavior. Sometimes, we find ourselves in need of praying that prayer King David taught us, when he was fingered by the prophet Nathan for adultery and murder,

 

Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me… 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:5,11

 

So, the question is, at what point can a Christian know that his soul is secure and that he/she is bound for heaven in the end, no matter what? How do we escape that uneasy, unwelcome, and troubling feeling of eternal UNCERTAINTY, considering all our stumbling, misdeeds, shortfalls, and let’s be plain, all our sinfulness? By virtue of our own rotten human nature, no matter how hard we try, at times we just get tangled, twisted, and tossed about by sin. This was certainly Paul’s experience (Romans 7:7-25).  So, let’s look very briefly at this issue from the two distinct points of view – God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.

 

First, realize that God is sovereign in the affairs of salvation, as we dealt with in the previous article, “Pen Me In in the End…” http://wp.me/p4eK9Z-Bs.  And, God is faithful. There is a doctrine floating around in the Christian camp called “Eternal Security,” which attempts to offer Christians escape from the pressures of uncertainty by reducing God’s part down to this simplistic formula, “Once Saved, Always Saved.” That statement falls short of the volume of the teachings of scripture however, simply because it does not start at the right point in the process. (So, the apostle Paul said, “Work out your own salvation with FEAR AND TREMBLING” Philippians 2:12.  Therefore, that sense of uneasiness is not a dirty thing. It’s essential to the process. Scripture says, “The FEAR of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” Psalm 19:9). The scripture places the point of certainty much earlier in the process.

 

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS PURPOSE. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 28-30

 

So, the actual links in the process of salvation are:

 

GOD’S PURPOSE (1) → God’s foreknowledge (2) → God’s predestination (3) → God’s call (i.e., the preaching of the gospel) (4) → God’s justification (what we refer to as, getting “saved”) (5) → and, God’s glorification, which is the end result of the process (6).

 

The problem with “Eternal Security” as it is commonly presented, is that it presents the “salvation” of man, step five (5), as the root and foundation of the process and of our assurance, when there are four (4) earlier steps that are most decisive to the outcome. And, all those steps lie totally out of the scope of human knowledge or temporal confirmation. They fall wholly within the domain of God’s sovereignty and control, which we shall sum up under the heading of God’s “election.” And, that is why Peter said,

 

And beside this, giving ALL DILIGENCE, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge… But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to MAKE YOUR [OWN] CALLING AND ELECTION SURE: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1:5-11 brackets mine)

 

So now secondly, we must realize that we are forever responsible to be DILIGENT as far as our soul’s ultimate salvation is concerned. At no point can we escape the drama of it all, by just taking our eternity for granted. God alone sees the end from the beginning, and knows what souls shall make it from the start of our salvation unto the end. Ultimately, in the realm of time to which we are confined, our assurance is a rooted in the hope and faith of the believing heart. Of that root system, Hebrews says,

 

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil [of eternity]” (Hebrews 6:19, brackets mine).  Furthermore, Paul explains,

 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  Romans 5:1-5

 

Ultimately then, assurance of salvation is negotiated between the individual human heart and the Spirit of God. It is a function of the enduring hope and faith of the heart, sustained and grown throughout time. That faith is maintained through grace by God’s eternal love, the bestowal and receipt of which is the very “PURPOSE” (Romans 8:28) for which we were created. That ‘purpose,’ as you recall, was step one (#1) of our salvation process. You may be sure that if you can CONNECT AT THE HEART LEVEL WITH THE LOVE OF GOD, and maintain that connection throughout all the many ups and downs of life, then YOU WILL most definitely BE SAVED.

 

The love of God will never, ever let you down. As 1Corinthians 13:8 assures us, “Love never fails.” Like King David, even in the most desperate of times, when we are utterly guilty and stained before God, that love connection in our hearts will make us come out with the most gracious prayers and supplications. Those, God will always recognize as being consistent with his own eternal grace and purpose. God will respond with downloads of the abundance of his steadfast love, and your heart will grow yet to another level of capacity to always believe in His faithfulness. May you be filled with grace, peace, and assurance as you grow and produce fruit in our heavenly Father’s love. Selah. Maranatha. Amen.

 

KNOCK ON WOOD; or, “Am I a Numbskull, or What???”

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The testimony of our Lord is that we don’t always understand things as well as we like to THINK that we do. As a young minister, I use to expend a whole lot of time and energy desperately trying to understand even the most basic concepts of our faith. “I must be the stupidest Christian in the world!” I sometimes thought to myself, because the doctrine of the gospel did not come easy to me. As a matter of fact, it seemed quite hard, almost impenetrable. I was blind, and I knew it. So, progress in understanding things was very slow – at snail’s pace. I give my testimony of this in the article, “THE GOOD NEWS FOR DUMMIES, LIKE ME !!! http://wp.me/p4eK9Z-6o

Then, eventually as I grew and became acquainted with the messed-up condition of the church, I concluded, “Hey, they don’t really understand either! If they did, they would be in much better condition than they are.” So, all the scholars, degrees, and Ph.D.’s in the kingdom, didn’t really seem to avail much in the way of knowledge. But, that was little comfort to me, since my own blindness weighed heavily on me, and kept me from seeing the glory of my God clearly. Then, I began to find scripture after scripture that seemed to indicate that this blindness was just the common condition of mankind. For example, it says,

The Lord said, “MY PEOPLE are foolish. They don’t know me. They are stupid children. They don’t understand. They are skillful at doing evil, but they don’t know how to do good.” Jeremiah 4:22 ERV

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 1Corinthians 8:2

Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1Timothy 1:7

In other words, they don’t understand what the heck they are talking about. They don’t have a clue really. If you want to make real progress in understanding the word, you have to take a precept approach. That means that you have to take the time to rightly define all the terms you use to talk about your faith, so that you build a house of correct understanding. The word itself says that this is the right and necessary approach.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little… 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. Isaiah 28:10, 13

So, the word solemnly warns that failure to take a precept approach will eventually lead to a bad backslidden condition. Precepts are basic building blocks of right knowledge. They are the A.B.C.’s — 1,2,3’s — doe-ray-me’s of the faith. They provide essential definitions of elemental concepts. So, today, I give you just three precepts that will help you get started. There are some good precept ministries out there, but I feel personally led of the Spirit to share a few of my findings here with you. Meditate on these. Plug them into your understanding and Bible study, and see if they don’t help your understanding. Selah. Amen.

FAITH – heart-level connectedness between God and man

POWER — the ability to force changes and rearrangements, at will

IMAGINATIONS — the thoughts of the heart projected onto the mind’s visions and cognitions

 

Burn Baby Burn!!!; or, The Divine Design of Man

Screenshot_2017-04-09-01-48-19-1Image Copyright © 1998 by Joseph Diop

 

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

 

Man was designed to be a glorious, God-like being made up of five incorporeal parts — spirit, heart, will, mind, and soul — housed in a very sophisticated physical body.  This model displays the separate elements of man’s makeup in order of their strength and priority within the human system. Starting in the center with man’s spirit, the strongest and primary element, we proceed then outward to man’s soul, the weakest part. In redeemed persons, the Holy Spirit resides within and throughout as both the eternal core and crown of the individual.

 

The human spirit is the very identity entity of the person. It is the ontological/ motivational facet of man’s being, responsible for his knowing and rejoicing functions. Its purpose is worship. The heart is his audio/ verbal facet, responsible for hearing and believing functions. Its purpose is work. The will is the moral/ intentional facet, responsible for acknowledging and submitting. Its purpose is to wait. The mind is the perceptual/ logical nature. Its responsibility is comprehending and proving. Its purpose is war. The soul is the emotional/ expressional nature. Its function is feeling and magnifying. Its purpose is to witness. And then, there is the body. It serves as the physical/ visible facet. It is responsible for possessing and displaying. Its purpose is to wrap the glory of God.

 

 

Finally, the seventh and last element to make man complete is the Holy Spirit. It is the eternal/ Christological nature, which makes a man what God originally created him to be. His function is to cause man to experience the life and the love of the heavenly Father. He purposes to make man a living window of the glory of God.

 

This then, is that “burning bush” of Moses, which ultimately, he himself became in the hand of God. When the Holy Spirit enters any man, it immediately makes him a new creature – a member of the unified Godhood – which is called the body of Christ. Then He, the Holy Spirit, makes him a vehicle and vessel of the Most High, powering him towards his eternal destiny in Christ Jesus. Therefore, Paul prayed,

 

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:23).  Amen.

 

The Word of Wisdom

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The “Word of wisdom” (1Corinthians 12:8) is the special unction to receive “downloads” of God’s strategic advice and divine counsel. This gift is designed to keep God’s people thriving and surviving in very trying, difficult, and challenging times. It generally occurs as a word of divinely inspired direction from God. But, the gift not only operates through God’s anointed people by declaration with regards to specific concerns of our life, but it also operates upon God’s people by divine manifestation, with respect to much broader concerns of life.  Meaning…

The all-time most spectacular display of this gift was when Christ allowed himself to be crucified for us. For, the word declares,

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1Corinthians 2:7-8)…

14 …that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

I Pity the Fool!!!; or, “Yes, No, Maybe So”

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By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

 

The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.   Psalm 14:1; 53:1

 

Is that right? I mean, is that verse correct? You say, brother Joseph, surely you know that all of God’s word is right. And I say, all of GOD’S word is right. But the foregoing verse, has slipped in under the radar some of man’s word. There is such a thing called editorial license. And sometimes, meaning to be helpful, our translators add just a bit, thinking they are making the meaning clearer and more comprehensible. But, with integrity, they do leave behind tracks to let you know that they have done so. And, in the case of the King James translators, those tracks are marked with the words being printed in italics. In the foregoing verse, the words in italics are “There is.” So, leaving out the words in italics that the translators added, the actual correct translation is this,  “The fool has said in his heart, ‘No,’ God.”

 

Can you imagine the outrageous audacity, the unmitigated gall, the idiotic, delusional, unthinking lunacy of someone who would look in the face of the Eternal, Almighty, Omnipotent Creator of the universe, and tell Him a flat-out “No.”  Well, don’t get too smug on your high horse yet, because, essentially we ALL do it all times. And, there is a formal name for that. The Bible calls it simply, “sin.”

 

But you say, who could look God in His face and say, “No.” That’s just it. We can do it all the time, because there seemingly are so many things to hide behind. There are crowds of people. Like teenagers, we tell God, “But everybody’s doing it.” There are loads of activity, and we simply hide behind our busyness. There are vital relationships. And, we get ourselves lost and distracted attending to those. And, most conveniently, there seems to be plenty of darkness in our own hearts, so we cover our faces in that, thinking to avoid eye contact with God. Yes, there are plenty of effectual opportunities in life for anyone looking to duck and dodge their responsibility to their Maker. But someday, the bill will come due. And then, quite literally, there will be hell to pay. The Lord made that point abundantly clear in the parable of the AWOL servants.

 

16 Then [JESUS] said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”  Luke 14:16-24

 

 

Beloved, don’t be like those men who were full of excuses. Don’t tell God, “No.” We may surmise from our texts, Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1, that the very definition of a ‘fool’ is someone who says “No” to God. And, in that case, we are ALL quite foolish. As Psalms 14 and 53 go on to say, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (vs 3). In Romans 3, Paul picks up from there and quotes a whole bunch of other things that the Word reports negatively about us.

 

10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;  14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 

Ahh!! What a bad report on humanity! But beloved, this includes us, the Church today.

 

Oh, I know that we don’t like to hear such a gloomy and negative message, but the only way to clear our eyes and get us to the place where we are much more mindful and attentive to amend our ways is to report the hard, cold, harsh reality of truth. The only way to get us to a state where we are truly repentant is to hold up the mirror of the God’s Word of truth to our faces and to say, “Take a good hard look. Do you like what you see?” The very basic meaning of  ‘repent’  is “to change the mind.” Sin has left us with a default response to God of “No.” When we exercised our original and foundational repentance, we changed our minds and said to God “Yes,” instead. But, the tide of sin in the world around us, and the weakness of our own souls, have left us with a world of excuses. We have backslidden in our hearts, and said “No” again, in many areas. And thus, is the testimony of God’s word against us:

 

16 For [my people] slideth back as a backsliding heifer…   Hosea 4:6

22 “For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”   Jeremiah 4:22 NRSV

15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Therefore, they shall fall among them that fall. At the time that I visit them they shall be cast down… 16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said,  [No!]  We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, [No!]  We will not hearken.   Jeremiah 6:15-17, italics mine

7 I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people since they return not from their ways.   Jeremiah 15:7

 

Beloved, this is us, God’s people. We, the Church, the family of faith made up of Jews, and Gentiles, and all nations of people who have faith in Christ Jesus, have left God reporting such a sad and mournful testimony. This is what the Spirit of God is saying to whoever has ears to hear. Will you take the message to heart, and repent? Or, will you remain foolish, and go on with a thousand excuses saying “No” to God?   Think about it. Selah. Maranatha. Amen.

 

 

 

“Come Along Little Jesus,” or, Lifestyle Repentance

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By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

There is a verse in the Bible that calls us back to our roots, as far as our faith is concerned. It says, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith that was ‘once [i.e., originally]’ delivered to the saints”  (Jude 1:3, brackets mine).

 

We live in a very Antichristian culture. That means that there is a replete, perverse, and counterfeit version of Christianity that has been popularized and normalized into the whole mainstream society. And what’s worse, it is completely normalized into the Church too. And, the consequences for buying into that counterfeit may end up being eternal for you. Apostle Peter warns, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness”  (2Peter 3:17).

 

So, for a moment, I want to look back at exactly what was “the faith that was originally delivered to the saints.” As a matter of fact, let’s get clarity on what were the very first words of our Lord Jesus with reference to the gospel message.

 

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying,The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and believe the gospel.   Matthew 1:14-15

 

The Lord Jesus Christ, in these opening words of his ministry, said “REPENT.” As a matter of fact, we preachers often gloss over that and go straight to “believe.” Jesus however, announced repentance as a mandatory and necessary precursor to faith. And, a little ways down the road, in case there was a doubt in anyone’s mind, he spelled out the terms of the repentance he required, so that we could not miss it.,

 

And Jesus said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”    Luke 9:23

 

The word ‘repent’ comes from a Greek word meaning to “change the mind.” But in Luke 9:23, Jesus added some meat to the bare bones of that definition. He broke down that definition, and reissued it in bullet-point form, in a breakdown of three statements.

 

  1. Deny yourself – Here ‘deny’ carries the force and connotation of: to say “No” to one’s SELF. This is not a mere call to put down any one or several vices that we may be aware of. No! Jesus is calling us to deal with the root of the whole tree of sin, which is the “SELF.” We are called to renounce all supposed right to try to rule our own lives. We are to totally disavow all claim to self-service as a lifestyle, or to live by any code of self-preservation. This is a complete rejection of all former belief that our life is our own. We turn around and say, “God, I am turning myself in to you. I now acknowledge that you own me.” We say ‘No’ to self, but “Yes,” always ‘yes’ to the Lord.
  2. Take up your cross daily – There is a song sung at Easter time that capsulizes the meaning of the cross. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of SUFFERING and SHAME.” Taking up YOUR cross daily bespeaks, having on a readiness to endure suffering and shame for the will of God, even as our Lord Jesus did. This is not a buck that you can pass on to Jesus alone, or to anyone else for that matter. Taking up your cross daily is like a policeman putting on his badge every day. Affixing your cross in your heart daily says, “I am an official representative of God’s will — for better or for worse — when the world likes it, and when they don’t.”
  3. Follow Christ – I distinctly remember, when I was a young teenager in the faith, someone came up to me and suggested that I set goals for my life that included getting college degrees, and a good job with good benefits. Then, according to them, I could take the Lord Jesus along with me and ask him to bless me. But, the Holy Spirit immediately rejected that philosophy, and I could not stomach their advice. The Holy Spirit said to me, “Is Jesus your pet, that he should follow you around like a dog on a leash? ‘No,’ He said. You follow Jesus, and submit to his will and all that he directs you to do.” This is the third point Jesus explained, and this is the only way to serve Christ acceptably. The other way, is trying to serve God, yet remain in control of your own life.

 

No beloved, Jesus is not a pet. He is the sovereign Master of our lives. And, he requires of us full and complete repentance as a fundamental precondition to our faith in him. As a matter of fact, it is absolutely necessary that we reaffirm our repentance and recommitment to his lordship every single day. Every day of life can be very trying. Every single day we face temptations to compromise and go back to doing things our own way. So, every day we must personally, sincerely, and earnestly recommit ourselves to the position and to the rigors of our original repentance. I certainly do. Every single morning, before the sun comes up, I am on my face praying and making supplication to God for my own weak, frail, finite, and wayward heart. And, in the words our Savior taught us, I pray, “Father, NOT my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  I also pray, “Have your way, Lord. Let it not be my way, but your way.” Then, I follow those prayers up with a life throughout the day that is dedicated to immediate and spontaneous obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I call this Lifestyle Repentance.  I recommend it to you, if you want to make sure that you don’t get caught up with this popular, Babylon Version of Christianity that is in the world today. Think about it.  Selah. Maranatha. Amen.