Testimonials

This is a new page currently “under construction” as of October 2021.

We include only “positive,” encouraging testimonials from readers and students. Most of the “negative” testimonials are generally of two types: 1. Someone wanting to insert their own rigid dogma, or 2. Someone wanting to argue; arguments create heat not light, and are generally by people who simply want their own way–not really interested in open discussions.

Testimonials:

While praying and searching for truth about troubling long-held beliefs, I thank God for putting me in touch with Bill Boylan and his teachings. First, I read his book about his visit to Heaven, which confirmed my long held false beliefs about hell,  judgement, salvation, etc. Since then, I have been blessed by Bill’s encouragement, and studying the wealth of information through his teachings on his web site. I highly recommend his books and teachings, laid out simply and so beautifully inspiring. May God bless him richly,  and you!! –Nita M, New Zealand 

My Journey to apokatastasis: I grew up in a traditional church with much ritual and liturgy. It was a time when television preachers began to gain air time. I heard fear of war, pestilence, poverty, and the punishment of hell. The theme was Jesus is the answer or else something terrible will happen to you. After the disillusionment of life set in, God began to open my spiritual eyes. God led me to a Spirit-filled church. I began to study the Bible and scholarly works about the Bible. I prayed for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I learned and experienced God’s plan to ultimately restore the earth and all humanity. The doomsday preachers, their books, and the fear they generated are gone from my spirit. Bill Boylan was helpful in my quest for truth. It is wonderful to know increasingly, day by day, that my loved ones, friends, and enemies will be made whole, beyond the grave. –Ron V, South Dakota

Bill,  I have more than enjoyed your teachings.  They have helped me more than you can know. You have been very gracious to answer my questions.  I feel favored and highly blessed by God for the understanding I have gleaned from the things you teach. –Bonnie M, Montana

The Lord’s Prayer…So-Called

The Lord’s Prayer—so-called—is not exclusively Jesus’ prayer; rather it is a means of prayer, a prayer outline that Jesus taught his disciples upon their request.  In fact, it seems that the only time the disciples may have asked Jesus to specifically teach them anything was when they asked Him to teach them how to pray  as He prayed.  (Luke 11: 1) 

The disciples were keenly aware that Jesus prayed much differently than the religious leaders of his day; they were impressed by the way He prayed much differently—and more personally—than anything they had seen or heard previously.  There is no indication that Jesus intended the Lord’s Prayer to be a rote prayer to be prayed.  He was giving the disciples (and us) a model prayer, an outline that could be used to “fill in the blanks” while praying.

Jesus began teaching the disciples by saying, “Pray in this manner…”  (Matthew 6: 9)  In saying that, Jesus was not indicating that this was to be the disciples’ only prayer or that those were to be the only words they were ever to use while praying; it was not meant to be a substitute for their ongoing, personal prayers.  It seems Jesus was saying that He wanted them (and us) to use these words as a pattern prayer.  This teaching includes some of my own thoughts about prayer I’ve learned and used through the years…and some thoughts I’ve gleaned from Oral Roberts, the most prominent “healing evangelist” in the 20th century.

There is another teaching on this website titled Prayer that I invite you to study as a companion teaching to this one.

Here are the words to the Lord’s Prayer as commonly prayed by millions of people in churches throughout the world and when they pray individually at home, at work, at school, etc.  There are minor differences in some of the wording in various churches, people groups, languages, and cultures around the world, but this is the wording in how it is commonly taught and prayed in modern English.  However, it must be noted that a number of churches still use the wording of the King James translation of the Bible in 1611 A.D.:

Our Father Who is in Heaven,

Hallowed be your Name.

Your Kingdom Come,

Your will be done on earth

As it is in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses [sins],

As we forgive those who trespass [sin] against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For yours is the Kingdom

And the power and the glory forever.

Amen.

I hasten to state that I personally have no problem with people using this as a rote prayer—as long as it does not become “vain repetition” Jesus warned against (Matthew 6: 7)   For many years, I have often prayed it as a rote prayer in various setting where it seemed appropriate…but when using it as a rote prayer, I am always aware of the deeper meaning of each of its phrases.

Since it was a model prayer or outline Jesus was teaching his disciples, I will break it down by phrases and teach some of what Jesus was likely teaching his disciples “between the lines.”

Our Father…

The belief that God was a close, personal loving Father was not prominent in the Old Testament life of the Israelites before the time of Jesus; yes, the word Father was used occasionally, but more often other names of God were used when people prayed.  The word Father was first used in a deeply personal way by Jesus when He addressed God as Father.

When Jesus called God Father it signified the closeness the Father and Jesus enjoyed.  It revealed that Jesus and his Father were intimately and personally related as loving Father and well-loved Son.  It was a new dimension—a new reality—that Jesus brought from the Old Testament into the New Testament…and into the NOW, into the present in the lives of people.  God was no longer to be understood or seen as distant and aloof, out of the close reach of people when they prayed to Him.

In a sense, the word Father as Jesus used it seemed to “wrap up” and encompass the various names of God by which people approached Him before Jesus came on the scene and taught them this new way of understanding that God was personal and in the NOW of peoples’ lives.  All of the various attributes of God characterized by his numerous Names in the Old Testament, are summarized by the New Testament Title, Father (“Abba,” “Daddy”).   Three of the more familiar “titles” of God previously used when praying, thinking about, and approaching God were:

Jahweh (JHWH)is God’s covenantal Name—The I Am, The Wholly Self-Existent One (Isaiah 12: 2).

 Adonai is another Name used in place of Jahweh, which was considered by many to be too “holy” and sacred to be spoken aloud.

El; Elohim (plural in Hebrew) (2 Kings 19: 15)  is God’s transcendant Name—He is the One, True and Living God, the  Supreme, Powerful God.  The God who alone creates.   

In addition, here are some of the other most familiar names and attributes of God used throughout the Old Testament.  There are many more; I carry in my own prayer guide a listing disclosing over 100 (!) more names and titles of God found throughout the Old Testament:

Jahweh-Tsidkenu:  God my righteousness (Jeremiah 23: 6)

Jahweh-M’Kadosh:  God who cleanses me (Leviticus 19: 2)

Jahweh-Shalom:  God my peace  (Judges 6: 24)

Jahweh-Shammah:  God is always a Living Presence in my life (Ezekiel 48: 35)

Jahweh-Rapha:  God who heals me  (Exodus 15: 26)

Jahweh-Jireh:  God provides for me  (Genesis 22: 14)

Jahweh-Nissi:  God under whose banner  I serve (Exodus 17: 15)

Jahweh-Ra’ah:  God my Shepherd (Psalm 23)

Jahweh-Saboath:  God, my Commander-In-Chief (1 Samuel 17: 45)

Jahweh-Tsaba:  God of Wealth Disbursement and Distribution (Zechariah 2: 8 and 9)

El Shaddai:  My All-Sufficient One (Psalm 91: 1)

El Olam:  The One who is Self-existent and Eternal (Deuteronomy 33: 27)

El-Elyon:  The Most High God (Genesis 14: 18; Acts 7: 48)

El Roi:  The God Who sees me (Genesis 16: 13) 

Immanuel:  The God who is eternally, fully present in me (Isaiah 7: 14; Matthew 1: 23)

Jehoshaphat:  Jahweh is Judge (Joel 3: 2)

It seems that when Jesus appeared on the scene and began using the title Father in a more intimate manner than had been used previously, He was summarizing and encapsulating all these Old Testament concepts of God all “rolled” into the one word Father, with whom He shared a deep and intimate relationship.  It was that relationship He was teaching his disciples to enter into also when He taught them to pray to “Our Father Who is in Heaven.”

Who IS…

This is an important little phrase in the Lord’s Prayer.  When we pray, we are praying to a God who is—a God who is in the NOW—the present—of our lives.  He’s not a God who was or who will be; He’s the one true and LIVING God!  He’s the God who IS…who never changes.  Yes, God is in the NOW of our lives.  He is ever-present in our lives.  He is the seven-day-a-week—the 24/7–God.  He is with us every moment, every day, everywhere.  GOD IS!  God is never on vacation.  He never sleeps nor slumbers. 

He is always attentive to our every need:  body, soul, and spirit.  The challenge is that often we simply don’t acknowledge his personally present IS-ness; we all too often feel He might be too busy to listen to us.  Not so!  To God who is outside of time and space (but also fully present in time and space) everything is always absolutely simultaneous…and He always has ample time to devote to each one of us, to hear each one of us as we pray, to meet our needs when we present them to Him.  Yes, God IS. He is always fully present and fully attentive to each of us!

In Heaven…

Jesus wasn’t attempting to help us “locate” God.  Human who believe in God instinctively know He is in Heaven.  The challenge is knowing He is also on earth.  When Jesus spoke of God as his Father in Heaven, He was speaking of the eternal resources God “stores up” in Heaven to dispense to us when we pray to Him.  Jesus is reminding his disciples—and us—that when we pray, we must remember that God is in Heaven.  And in God’s Heaven there is no shortage of any good thing.  God’s riches through Jesus are laid end-to-end in Heaven waiting to be given to us when we ask Him to meet our human needs here on earth.

In regard to this particular part of Jesus’ teaching about prayer to his disciples, one day a number of years ago while I was praying using the Lord’s Prayer as an outline, I had the following vision that helped me “see” more deeply what was going on in Heaven when we prayed:

“I had just begun my daily, early morning time of prayer and intercession.  When doing so, I often envision myself and the people I pray for that day striding up to massive, golden, double doors into God’s throne room.  Huge angelic beings often open the doors for us so we can stride boldly through them into the room.  Then, as we humbly bow in front of God, I sweep my arm around me to show Him the people I brought with me for whom I will be interceding.  As I did that this time, Jesus glanced to our left; I followed his glance and noticed he was looking at a door labeled “Supply Room.”  Another angelic being opened that door so I could peer inside.  It was a huge room, appearing much like a Sam’s Club or Costco with rows and rows of shelves reaching higher than I could see and stretching into the distance farther than I could see.  It is an infinite storehouse full of unlimited items.  I knew as I interceded for various people that morning, other angelic beings would emerge from that supply room to give people with me that for which I was praying and interceding.”

Hallowed (Honored) Be Your Name…

Jesus seemed to have deep feelings about the Name of God.  He never used it irreverently, nor in vain, or as an obscenity.  Coming down through 2,000+ years to us, I believe He is saying to us:  “Have the same reverence for the Name of God that I have.”  My own brief prayer in respect to honoring God’s Name often goes something like this:  “Heavenly Father, we pray to clearly comprehend and acknowledge we are your children and readily submit to your loving, nurturing, caring, parental attention in all matters concerning us and our loved ones.  You are Abba, our loving Father, our Daddy.  We pray we will live our lives in such a way so as to consistently honor your Name.” 

Your Kingdom come…

Jesus expressed concern about the nations—the kingdoms—that then existed on the earth.  But He was even more concerned about another Kingdom—a higher Kingdom—God’s Kingdom.  We happen to live in earthly kingdoms (nations, governments, etc.).  These kingdoms are always rising and falling—even the “kingdom” you presently live in will ultimately fall.  They are only so powerful, they are limited.  Jesus knew that such earthly kingdoms would never fully conquer all humanity.  He knew that such kingdoms had their limitations—that they all rise and fall over time. 

Jesus lived in the mighty Roman Empire, a kingdom that had spread over the then known world.  It had conquered many other nations during its rise to power.  But Jesus knew Rome would eventually fall and lose its power and control over multitudes of people.  Jesus was always focused on God’s coming Kingdom that would eventually cover the entire earth—a Kingdom in which people were free with liberty for all under God’s eternal, benevolent rulership.  

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

Every time we pray using this portion of the Lord’s prayer as a springboard for our prayers, we are praying a revolutionary, radical prayer. We are literally praying for a new kind of Kingdom to come into being:  an eternal Kingdom of peace, of  justice, of freedom, of equality.  We are praying that what is in Heaven will come to be…down here on (and in) the earth, and that starts with me…because our bodies are made from the substances that are in the earth.  The will of God begins in Heaven where it is worked out perfectly, but comes to earth where it is not yet perfect.  It must be lived out in this “earthen vessel” as the Bible calls our bodies, our “earth suits” in which we live during this mortal life. (2 Corinthians 4: 7)

For me personally, when I pray using this portion of the Lord’s prayer as an outline, I have a listing of various people, events, and things I pray for—that the will of God will prevail and be accomplished in myself, my loved ones and close friends, my local church, my nation, the world at large, my readers and students, China and Chinese workers, and Belarus—the latter two nations are where I have visited and shared Good News about Jesus.  I pray also for other nations I have visited, but my main focus is on China and Belarus. 

You do know, don’t you, that many people are afraid of the will of God?   They feel if they do God’s will, somehow He will make them do something against their will or that is difficult or distasteful.   They mistakenly feel that doing God’s will might restrict their life, that their lives might become of less worth, but all I can write is that for me—doing God’s will—has given me a life of great joy!

 “God’s will be done” does not mean giving up my personal ability to make choices.  It does mean I let go of thought patterns, attitudes, and ways of living that limit me, so God can lead me in better ways. The will of God flows from his great love for us and for all humanity and is full of the love of God.  It is not difficult to live out the will of God because it is a life where one is right in the center of his will, and He lovingly provides all that is needed to do his will.

Give us today our daily bread…

I’m so glad Jesus didn’t leave this provision out in his model prayer.  In the English vernacular, bread is sometimes considered to be money, our material needs.  We are asking God to provide all our daily needs (not necessarily our wants—although sometimes our wants and needs are the same).  Jesus knows all about what we need to successfully live this life.  I’m so glad Jesus didn’t tell us “”God, sell us this day, our daily bread,” because we could never pay for or buy all God provides each of us—life itself, air, water, food, clothing and shelter, love, joy, peace, friendship, relationships, etc.

I believe Jesus is saying we need to see our loving heavenly Father as our ultimate Source of our total supply.  He’s talking about our loving heavenly Father who knows our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and—in our culture—reliable transportation, a house that becomes a home, decent clothing appropriate to our station in life, loving family relationships, and simply about God meeting all our needs by means of his “riches in glory” provided for us by Jesus through his completed and finished work on our behalf.  (Phillipians 4: 19)

Forgive us our trespasses [sins] as we forgive those who tresspass [sin] against us…

After Jesus concluded giving his disciples this pattern prayer, He then told them this:  “While you are praying, make sure you forgive the sins of others, for if you forgive the sins of other people, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father will withhold forgiveness from you.”  (Matthew 6: 14 and 15)

By telling the disciples this, Jesus was clearly indicating that we all sin!  We do things we shouldn’t do.  We say things we shouldn’t say.  We think things we shouldn’t think.  We are sinners, and God is loving and gracious to forgive us all our sins through the completed work of Jesus on our behalf.  There is one main Forgiver…and that is God.  But we must follow his example, and forgive others as He forgives us—freely with no strings attached.

When we don’t forgive others, our unforgiveness festers and grows inside us until it becomes what the Bible calls a “root of bitterness.”  (Hebrews 12: 15)  That root of bitterness can actually make us ill in both body and mind, and–sometimes—actually kill us. The older I get the better I can  “read” people:  their facial expressions, their body language, their eyes, etc.  I often see in people such extreme unforgiveness and bitterness to the point where it even shows in their faces and in the way they walk.  I have learned through the years this maxim:  For me, if it’s not instant forgiveness, it’s unforgiveness!   I don’t practice that perfectly, but I’m very sensitive to try to forgive others instantly.

A man once said, “I will never forgive so and so.”   The person he told that to replied, “Then pray that you will never sin and need forgiveness yourself!”

In practical terms, how do we live in an ongoing state of forgiveness?  We need to thank God for forgiving us our sins.   We need to instantly forgive others who sin against us—and release them from any unforgiveness we are secretly harboring, so our unforgiveness doesn’t grow into the deadly root of bitterness.  We need to thank God for forgiving those who have sinned against us.  Daily, we need to set our wills to continually forgive those who sin against us.

If we don’t forgive others, we often feel that holding on to our unforgiveness will somehow hurt them or remind them what they’ve done to us, when in fact most often our unforgiveness doesn’t hurt or affect them at all.  But unforgiveness can grow inside of us like a slow acting poison and hurt us rather than hurting the ones we don’t forgive.

If we are going to joyfully live in a daily state of being forgiven by God, we must forgive others!

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…

Elsewhere, the Bible is very clear when it states that God doesn’t tempt anyone:  “When you are tempted, don’t ever say ‘God is tempting me,’ for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and He is never the source of temptation.  Instead, each person’s own inner desires and thoughts drag them into evil and lures them away into the darkness of sin.  Evil desires give birth to evil actions, and when those evil actions fully mature they can kill you.  So my friends don’t be fooled by your own desires.”   (James 1: 13 – 15)

If we are tempted to sin, here’s another biblical reference that helps us deal with such temptation:  “When we experience temptation to sin, God will be faithful to us.  He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every temptation we face, so that we can bear it.  Each temptation is an opportunity to trust God more, for along with every temptation God has provided a way for us to escape the temptation, so that He will bring us out of it as victors!”  (1 Corinthians 10: 13) 

For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever…

When Jesus said these words, Hewas living in a remote outpost of the mighty Roman Empire.  Most (not all) Roman soldiers and rulers were barbaric and cruel, often putting people under cruel servitude and dismal lifelong slavery.  The Roman masters and soldiers behaved as if Rome was going to rule the world forever…that Rome would always be the master kingdom.  But Jesus looked beyond Rome, beyond every other kingdom that would arise until the end of time…and He said:  “Father, Yours is THE Kingdom…and it’s full of all your power and all your glory for all time and eternity!”

Jesus was proclaiming that there is something far greater and more stable than the kingdom of Rome or any other earthly kingdoms…and that greater Kingdom is ruled by the King of kings and Lord of lords.  It’s interesting to note that Jesus will be King over lesser kings and Lord over lesser lords in God’s coming Kingdom.  Who are those lesser kings and lesser lords?  We will be!  (Revelation 1: 6 and 5: 10)

Some of what I pray when using the Lord’s prayer as a pattern prayer is that Jesus will one day sovereignly rule over all the kingdoms and nations of earth…including ruling NOW over my own “internal kingdoms” I have mistakenly established. I also pray to clearly comprehend that there is only one ultimate power in the universe (not two or more warring powers where the outcome is uncertain), that one ultimate power being God’s.  I pray that the only authentic power in my own life will be God’s…and thatI will submit to his inner power daily.  I pray to understand that there is no power in the universe and in my life except the power of Almighty God.

 Finally, I pray that I will continually honor God and humbly give Him all the glory due Him for all the ages of time and in coming Eternal Realms.

Amen!

Amen means so be it…let it be done…it is accomplished…I give everything in my life over to God…God, work out in my life and in the lives of those for whom I’ve prayed your eternal good purposes for them…I believe You will do everything I’ve asked You to do…

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com

First posted September 2021

Science(s) And The Bible

The following is a brief alphabetical listing I have compiled about various fields of studies, endeavors, pursuits, and strategies used in determining the Bible’s origins, authenticity, trustworthiness, reliability, veracity, translations, interpretations, and understanding.  This is not a teaching, per se, as are most of the other 100 + entries on this website. The listing gives information about multiple fields of legitimate studies that contribute in one way or another to the makeup of the Bible we have today.  Tangentially, I have also included various people and events within the historical Church of Jesus (the worldwide Body of Jesus) that touch upon and flow from the Bible; after all, we only know about Jesus’ Church from the Bible.

At a very basic level, I want you to understand at the outset that I believe the Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to all humankind.  I believe it to be error-free in its 3 original languages:  Hebrew, Aramiac, and Greek.  However, I hasten to say that there are minor errors in translation, but most of them have been resolved to the extent that reputable scholars estimate that the Bible is over 99% reliable and trustworthy in modern translations.

The remaining 1% really doesn’t affect the Bible’s overall teachings in any significant way; for the most part, it involves misplaced or omitted punctuation marks and a few sentences or paragraphs that might be misplaced or that might have been added to the original text by a translator.

In providing the following listing, I merely feel that some of my friends and students might be interested in this list, so I’m adding it to this website simply for information.  However, there are three teachings on this website that give a little insight about why God gave humanity the Bible, its history, how it was translated, why it was compiled in its present form, etc.  Those three teachings are:  The B-I-B-L-E, Bible Overview, and Bible Study Principles.

Many of the sciences in this listing are what are termed “soft” sciences (psychology, anthropology, and other “ologies”) as contrasted with “hard” sciences such as engineering, astrophysics, computer science, etc.  Even though they are considered soft sciences, they still use the same vigorous and rigid disciplines and methods of study that are used in the hard sciences.  In a very general sense, the soft sciences are about discovery and conveying results of discoveries in meaningful terms, whereas by contrast the hard sciences are about both discovery and application, the latter in terms of technology and inventions, for example.

The fields of study that contributed to the makeup of the Bible—and that touch upon the Bible tangentially—are not necessarily all “hard” sciences or technical sciences such as astrophysics, quantum physics, etc.;  nevertheless, they are legitimate fields of science of another nature—in other areas of research.  They are various fields of scientific endeavor and other types of studies in areas that connect with the Bible, relate to the Bible, and support the Bible.  However, many of the hard sciences are also used in studying and authenticating the Bible; those that seem most relevant are contained in this listing.

This listing also contains various entries about other areas of research and study that are presently being used by scholars in various fields of Bible study.  It also contains verious terms and definitions that I feel are the most important, relevant, and germaine to a Bible student’s overall knowledge of the Bible.

It must be noted that in a general sense, science attempts to answer “How” questions, whereas Bible scholars attempt to answer “Why” questions.  For example, scientists in many fields seek to answer how the universe and all within in it (including humanity) “works.”  Bible scholars attempt to answer questions such as why do humans existand what is their purpose.

Also, it should be noted that authentic science and the Bible are not at war with one another; they are not mutually exclusive.  Scientific dogma and religious dogma may be at odds with one another, but if one is an open-minded scientist in other fields and another is an open-minded biblical scholar, science and the Bible do agree with one another.  There is no conflict between true science in other fields and Bible scholars who study the Bible scientifically.

All of these areas of study and research—and more—have come into play in determining the origin and history of the Bible, its translation, interpretation, and understanding, its intact transmission through many centuries, and in communicating its timeless message from one person to another for thousands of years.

Beginning with the Old Testament books of Job and then Genesis, God worked with and in various humans over a period of 1,500 years, causing them to write in their own words and languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) what He wanted written.  Later, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, various individuals and groups of people compiled those writings into a volume of 66 smaller “books” we now call the Bible.  Such writers and compilers were not automatons; they were various normal humans from many walks of life who simply wrote and compiled under the inspiration of God guiding and directing their thoughts from “behind the scenes,” so to speak.

It can be stated without legitimate contradiction that the Bible is the most well-researched Book in all of human history!

These final thoughts need noted before you study the following alphabetical listing:  God did not give the Bible to humanity so much to be scientifically analyzed; it was given to grip our inner beings, to inspire us without reason, logic, or emotions; it was given and is designed to touch the human spirit without analysis or explanation. It is God’s written revelation of Himself to all humanity:  his character, his nature, his person, his works throughout all creation, but especially how He lovingly relates to and works among all humanity.

Angelology:  The branch of theology studying about angels, God’s special messengers and servants of humanity

Anthropic Principles:  Study about the universe’s (God’s) strategic designs to accommodate humans

Anthropogenesis:  The study about human origins and development

Anthropography:  The distribution of humans on the planet based on languages, physical characteristics, etc.

Anthropomorphism:  The attributing of human characteristics to a god, animal, or inanimate thing

Apokatastasis:  A Greek word meaning God ultimately will lovingly redeem, restore, and reconcile all creationincluding all humanity—to Himself.

Apologetics:  A branch of Bible study having to do with explaining proofs of the Bible and Christianity

Archaeology:  Scientific study about the past and historical life and culture.  This science began to develop when the Industrial Revolution brought with it the need to move large quantitites of soil for industry, revealing artifacts that were clearly ancient. Not much was known about humanity’s ancient history until that time.

Artifact:  Any object made by humans—especially artifacts produced in the ancient world

Arminianism:  Major doctrines of the western Church based on the teachings of Jacob Arminius (1560 – 1609) that humankind has completely free will as contrasted with the teachings of Calvinism that humanity has limited will  (See Calvinism)

Asceticism:  People who lead austere lives of rigorous self-denial and self-discipline, denying themselves typical comforts and pleasures for religious purposes  

Astrophysics:  Study that deals primarily with the physical properties of the universe

Astronomy:  Study about the universe in general

Bibliolatry:  Making the Bible an idol rather than simply understanding it is God’s written revelation of Himself to humankind.   It generally leads to excessive adherence to a strictly literal understanding of the Bible and extreme dogmatism

Botany:  Study about plant life on earth

Calvinism:  A set of religious practices and beliefs of the western Church based on the teachings of John Calvin (1509 – 1564), often associated with a stern moral code.  It teaches the doctrine that only a relatively small percentage of humanity known as the “elect” will enjoy eternal salvation.  See Arminianism

Christology:  Study about the God-Human life of Jesus of Nazareth

Cognition:  Study about how humans learn and know

Cosmology:  Study about the origin and strructure of the universe

Cosmography (and Cosmogony):  Study about the earth and creation as a whole

Creationism:  Study about creation and origins

Cuneiform tablets:  Hard clay tablets produced in ancient Mesopotamia, with written characters or inscriptions on them.  Today, almost a million of them exist in various museums throughout the world.  The tablets furnish information about all aspects of daily life in the ancient world, including a great deal of information pertaining to the Bible

Dead Sea Scrolls:  Hundreds of scrolls preserved in pottery jars discovered by accident by a Bedouin in 1947 about a mile west of the northwest corner of the Dead Sea.  They date from the last century B.C. to the first century A.D.  100 of the scrolls are biblical manuscripts, one of them containing the entire Old Testament Book of Isaiah

Demonology:  The study of demons or beliefs about them

Dogmatism:  Conveying to others that one’s own views about the Bible are the only correct views; that all other views are incorrect.  Dogmatism is flawed and incomplete simply because all humans are finite beings…and always limited in their knowledge and understanding.  Only God who is infinite in knowledge can be truly dogmatic

Ecclesiology:  Study about the Church, the Living Body of Jesus everywhere and everywhen

Eisegesis:  “Reading something into” a biblical text and explaining the text based on preconceptions.  While studying the Bible, people must not read what they believe, but believe  what they read

Emmanuel:  A Greek Word meaning God is fully present at all times with and within all humanity  (sometimes spelled Immanuel)   (See Immanent)

Epistomology:  Study about sources of the Bible

Eschatology:  Study about telos, the final consummation of all creation

Etymology:  Study about the origins and developments of words

Exegesis:  Explanation of words within the biblical text and explaining them based only on critical analysis.  While studying the Bible, people must believe what they read, not read what they believe

Fear of God:  Recognizing God’s majesty, power, and holiness, resulting in my desire to do good and a repugnance of evil

Figure of speech:  an expression, using words in a nonliteral sense or unusual manner to add emphasis, vividness, beauty, etc. to what is said or written.  Often they expose the inner structures of thought and the way ideas come to have meaning.  The original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, languages of the Bible use approximately 125 figures of speech 

Filioque Controversy:  In 1054 A.D., a great controversy arose within the then worldwide church that resulted in a schism between the Western Church and the Orthodox Church that has never been healed  (See Orthodox Church and Western Church)

Geneaology:  The science or study of family descent

Genotype:  Study of the fundamental constitution of human heredity

Geochronology:  Study about the age of the earth

Geography:  Study about the surface of the earth

 Geomorphology:  Study about the origin and nature of earth’s topographic features

Geophysics:  Study about the physics of the earth such as weather, winds, tides, etc.

Glossolalia:  Studying about speaking in unknown tongues

Grammatical-Historical Method:  The approach to Bible study that seeks to determine the original intended meaning of a biblical text by carefully examining the grammar, syntax, and literary type or genre, interpreting it in the light of its original historical setting.  That means doing a careful examination of the historic setting, as well as the culture and grammar, including contemporary idiom and grammatical structure

Hamartiology: Studying what the Bible teaches about sin and its consequences

Hermeneutics:  Studying how to properly interpret and understand the Bible to ensure intelletual honesty

History:  Knowledge of the past based on physical evidence, oral testimony, and written records

Homiletics:  The art of preparing teachings and sermons about the Bible which are intellectually honest, but “speak” to the spirit-nature of humanity

Hyperbole:  Exaggeration for effect, not to be taken literally.  Example:  “He’s strong as an ox”

Hypostatic Union:  Study about Jesus of Nazareth being fully God and fully human

Ideographic:  In certain languages, each sign represents an idea.  Compare “Phonetic”

Idiom:  The language or dialect of a people, class, or people-group.  Example:  “She heard something straight from the horse’s mouth.”  Idioms often differ from the original meaning

Image of God:  Humans are visible representations of the invisible God

Immanent (not imminent):  God is fully present throughout all creation…including in me  (See Emmanuel)

Infralapsarianism:  The belief by some biblical scholars that God developed his plans of salvation for humankind only after humankind fell and subsequently sinned (See Supralapsariansim)

Judgment, God’s:  To ultimately make all wrong things right

Legalism:  Generally, the belief that people can base their salvation on their own works and merit, rather than upon the finished work of Jesus.

Lexicography:  Studying about how to compile or write a dictionary of a given language

Linguistics:  The study about languages

Metaphor:  A figure of speech containing an implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily used of one thing is applied to another.  Example:  “All the world’s a stage”

Miracles, signs, and wonders:  God-caused events beyond all bounds of logic and reason, defying comprehension, explanation, expectation, and experience—for the purpose of God lovingly drawing all humanity to Himself through Jesus

Ontology: Studying about the nature of being or reality

Orthodox Church:  The Christian Church dominant in Russia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, etc., that split from the Western Church in 1054 A. D.  (See Filioque Controversy and Western Church)

Orthodoxy:  Study about having correct beliefs

Orthopraxis:  Study about right living

Ostracon:  shards of pottery from the ancient world with characters or inscriptions on them

Paleontology:  Study about prehistoric life forms and interactions

Palingenesias:  Study about new beginnings or “beginning again”

Parable:  A simile that has been extended to form a brief, coherent narrative with the purpose of teaching one, and only one, specific moral or spiritual truth. 

Paradox:  A statement that at first seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd, but that may be true.

Perichoresis:  Study about the true and living God being three Persons yet One God:  the Trinity, Father Son, and Spirit

Philology:  Study about written records to determine their authenticity

Phonetic:  In certain languages, each sign represents a sound.  Compare “Ideographic”

Pneumatology:  Study about Holy Spirit

Phonetics:  The study of speech sounds and their representation by certain symbols

Phraseology:  Study about the patterns of words

Planetology:  Study about planets and their moons

Polemics:  The learned and skilled practices of debate, argument, and controversy

Pragmatics:  The branch of linquistics dealing with the speaker’s or writer’s meanings or intentions in sentences

Scribes:  In ancient cultures, people who were trained in and became specialists in reading and writing—and in interpreting God’s laws

Semantics:  The branch of linquistics that deals with the nature, structure, and the development and changes of the meaning of speech forms and contextual meanings

Semiotics:  Studying about the use of signs and symbols in languages

Simile:  A figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another.  Example:  “She had a heart as big as a whale’s.”

Soteriology:  Study about God’s salvation of all humanity

Supralapsarianism:  The belief held by some that before God created humankind, He chose ahead of time only a relatively few humans to be granted LIFE in eternity with Him.  Moreover, He chose the majority of humankind to suffer eternal conscious torment  (See Infralapsarianism)

Teleology:  Study about purpose and destiny in humans

Theodicy:  Studying what the Bible teaches about God’s moral character, i.e., that He is altogether  good and not evil in any sense, thus attempting to justify that He is a God of perfectly good moral character

Theology:  Study about the person, character, and nature of God and how He works throughout all creation, including his good purposes for earth, and especially the way He lovingly works among all humanity  

Theophany:  A manifestation or visitation of God in human form before the time of Jesus of Nazareth

Transcendant:  God exists and operates everywhere and everywhen beyond his creation without limitation

Usus Lequendi:   Study about the usual mode of speaking. When applied to the Bible, it means the general biblical use of words.  To learn the meaning of biblical terms, their general use must be determined by comparing their contexts in the various places of their occurrence.  In other words, let the Bible explain the Bible, let the Bible be its own commentary upon the Bible

Western Church:  In 1054 A.D., the worldwide Church split into two major factions:  the Western Church (Generally Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) and the Orthodox Church of Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, etc.  (See Filioque Controversy and Orthodox Church)

Wisdom:  Comprehensive insight into what God is doing throughout all creation, his ultimate good purposes for earth, and especially his good purposes for all humanity…AND making correct  choices and decisions based on that comprehensive insight

Wrath, God’s:  What is considered God’s wrath is simply when God turns people over to their own sinful, self-destructive ways

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com

First Posted September 2021

Baptism(s)

When most people familiar with the Bible or Christianity hear or read the words “baptize” or “baptism,” they automatically think of being baptized in water as some sort of initiation rite into the Christian faith.  Many people might be surprised to learn that there is more than one type or mode of baptism besides water baptism taught in the New Testament portion of the Bible.

The Old Testament portion of the Bible does not have the word baptize in it.  However, the New Testament portion of the Bible contains the word baptize and its derivatives such as Baptist, baptism, baptisms, baptized, baptizes, baptizing, etc., over 100 times, making it a major theme of the New Testament.

The English word baptize comes from the Greek word baptizo that always means “to fully immerse” or “submerse.”  More about immersion later.   

To begin, there’s a reference in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament that teaches about the “foundations” of the faith for those who are followers of Jesus (Hebrews 5: 9 – 6: 2).  One of those foundations is “baptisms,” and it is clearly plural.  Yes, there is more than one baptism mentioned and taught in the New Testament.  In each instance, it means to be fully immersed or submersed into something.

However, in the Book of Ephesians in the New Testament (Ephesians 4: 5), it states clearly that there is only 1 baptism.  How do we reconcile Hebrews 6: 2 and Ephesians 4: 5?  I’m really not sure that I personally can do that; I simply accept both of them as paradoxical true statements, and am leaving it up to God to make the seeming discrepancy clear to me; and I believe He will do that at some point when I really need to understand more about baptism. At the very least, perhaps the seeming discrepancy or paradox is that there is simply one baptism with several different applications.

Let’s begin by simply listing some of those other baptisms in addition to water baptism, and then we’ll take a deeper look into some of those other baptisms:

First, let’s take a quick look at just one clear water baptism in the New Testament.  (Acts 8: 26 – 38)  A disciple of Jesus named Philip encountered the “secretary of the treasury” from Ethopia who was just returning to his homeland after visiting Israel; the secretary was reading from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah when Philip encountered him; he askedPhilip to explain what he (the secretary) was reading; Philip did so.  Then they came to some water, and the secretary asked Philip to baptize (immerse) him in the water.  The record states, “Both Philip and the treasurer went down into the water, and Philip immersed him.”

I’m not going to deal in this teaching about how water baptism initially meant immersion or submersion, but later devolved into the way some believers in Jesus began to either dip or sprinkle people with water, rather than fully immerse them in water; perhaps I’ll teach more about those historical changes at another time.

Now, here’s that brief listing of other types or modes of baptism in the New Testament:

Matthew 20: 22 and 23:  Jesus spoke of a baptism He will be baptized with, but doesn’t specify what He will be baptized with.  The context seems to indicate it will be a baptism of suffering. The companion reference to this one is Mark 10: 38 and 39

Matthew 21: 25:  Jesus spoke of John the Baptizer baptizing people; the text does not clearly indicate it was baptism in water.  However, this reference and others in context (along with writings throughout church history) clearly indicate John immersed in water.  Also see John 1: 31

Mark 1: 8:   John the Baptizer stated that Jesus will baptize people with Holy Spirit. 

Luke 3: 16:  Same as Mark 1: 8, but John the Baptizer added that Jesus will also baptize in fire.  

Luke 12: 50:  Jesus talkedabou t a baptism He was to be baptized with, a baptism which distressed Him.

Acts 1: 5:  Jesus stated that people will be baptized in/with Holy Spirit.

Acts 19: 4:  Apparently John the Baptizer’s baptism in water indicated that the baptizees were to repent (change their minds) when baptized in the water.

Romans 6: 4:  Being baptized into Jesus means one is baptized into his death.  Also see Galatians 3: 27

1 Corinthians 10: 2:  Baptized into Moses.

1 Corinthians 15: 29:  Baptized for (on behalf of) the dead.

Colossians 2: 12:  Buried with Jesus in baptism.

Now let’s examine each of those in just a bit more detail, but without going into any lengthy theological explanations.

First, the baptism of suffering and deep distress Jesus told his disciples that He must endure.  If we hold to the understanding that baptism means immersion, that means Jesus was to be “totally immersed” in suffering.  Why?  Isaiah 53: 4 – 6 probably teaches most clearly why Jesus was immersed in suffering:  it was on behalf of all humanity that He took upon Himself our sufferings so that ultimately all humanity will no longer have to suffer: 

“Surely Jesus bore our sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses and carried all our sorrows and pain.  God struck Him down and afflicted Him on our behalf, in our place.  He was pierced for our transgressions, He was pulverized for our iniquities; the beatings He endured were for our peace, and by the blows that cut Him we are healed.”

Yes, Jesus was immersed in deep distress and suffering on our behalf:  your behalf, my behalf…so that ultimately we will no longer need to bear such suffering and distress that have befallen all humanity and that ultimately leads to our mortal deaths.

Both John the Baptizer and Jesus spoke about Jesus baptizing people in Holy Spirit.  I will not address that in this teaching because:  1.  There is another teaching on this website titled The Baptism In The Holy Spirit and 2.  I have written a book about Holy Spirit titled Friends Forever available at amazon.com.  I hasten to say I am not attempting to “push” or sell my book to you for personal profit; all proceeds from the sales of my books go directly into our ministry (Life Enrichment Services, Inc) account to minister to people in numerous ways.  

What does it mean that Jesus will baptize people in fire?  Again, I won’t cover that in this teaching simply because I refer you to another of my teachings on this website titled Fire that fully covers the matter of Jesus baptizing people in fire.

What about being baptized into Jesus’ death and being buried with Him in baptism?  The Bible is quite clear in various references that when Jesus died on the cross, in effect and in reality all humanity died with Him; He died on behalf of and in the place of all humanity…and all humanity died with Him.  The Bible teaches that the final result of human sin is death—not eternal conscious torment in hell!—but simply death as all humanity understands the phenomenon called death.  Human death occurs when the human spirit exits the human body and returns to God. We see that most clearly when the Bible states that when Jesus cried out, “It is finished! And bowing his head, He gave up his spirit.”   (John 19: 30)

There are other references in the Bible that teach us when Jesus’ body was buried in a tomb after his death on the cross (when all humanity died with Him) then all humans were buried with Him, too.  But that’s not the end of the matter.  The end of the matter is that the Bible teaches when Jesus arose and strode boldly out of that tomb, we also arose with Him, and some day will stride boldly out of all the places we have been buried (or cremated, or “buried” at sea, or wherever):

“Behold, I’m telling you a mystery; we shall not all sleep [in death], but we shall all be changed—in an atomic moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the last trumpet will sound, and [all] the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed…  Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15: 51 – 54  

Only one place in the entire Bible does it mention that believers in Jesus were being baptized for the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 29).  There is no other biblical reference for such a practice, nor is there any evidence that it was practiced in the early church.  That obscure reference has been argued about for centuries, and I’m certainly not going to resolve the matter in this teaching.  One major, worldwide church has even made being baptized for the dead a major tenet of its teachings; they do all sorts of geneaological research worldwide so that the church’s adherents are baptized for literally billions of dead people whose names they have archived.

Finally, what does it mean to be baptized into Moses?  Like being baptized for the dead, being baptized into Moses is mentioned only once in the New Testament:  “The Israelites in the wilderness were all baptized into Moses and in the cloud and in the sea.”  (1 Corinthians 10: 1 and 2)  The best commentators about this reference state that when the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on dry land, it was—in a sense—being immersed in water as Christians are immersed in waters of baptism.

When John the Baptizer baptized people in water it was a baptism of repentance.  What does repentance mean?  Again, I invite you to read another of my teachings on this website that explains the biblical concept of repentance:  Change Your Mind.

There you have it:  a brief foray through the New Testament examining what it has to say about various immersions besides being immersed in water as an initiatory rite for new believers in Jesus.  Perhaps at the very least, water baptism for believers in Jesus seems to be a “gateway” into other baptisms mentioned in the New Testament.

Here are my own conclusions about the matter of multiple baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, water baptism being the gateway to other baptisms: 

1.  Water baptism symbolizes being united, melded, joined inseparably, etc., with Jesus (Galatians 3: 26 and 27).  2.  It symbolizes by Jesus his complete forgiveness, cancellation, or full payment for the sins of all humanity.  (Acts 2: 38)  3.  Water baptism is about identification with Jesus in his full payment for sin and ultimate resurrection to new, sin-free life for all humanity.  (Romans 6: 3 – 5)  4.  Water baptism ushers a living member of the worldwide, living Body of Jesus, into the church He has been building for over 2,000 years.  (1 Corinthians 12: 13)  5.  Baptism for repentance means that at the moment of baptism, the person being baptized begins a lifetime of changing and renewing their mind so that ultimately they develop a mind like that of Jesus.  (Romans 12: 1 and 2) 

It should be noted that each of these aspects of baptism are received by means of faith (Romans 6:  8 – 11), although water baptism is a real, tangible event that occurs in time and space.    

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com

First posted September 2021

Love

This is my 100th teaching I’m placing on this website.  It may or may not be the last teaching I’ll place on the website.

Let me explain…  A couple of years ago, I had already placed about 60 teachings of my teachings on this website.  At that time, God spoke to me and said something like this (not an exact quote):  “Bill, before I call you Home on your last numbered day, I want you to have placed 100 teachings on your website.”  I understood that to mean that God wanted me to place a minimum of 100 teachings on the website, and that any time after that I might die; I didn’t understand that to mean that immediately after my 100th teaching I would die. 

[Note:  The concept of God apportioning each of us a finite number of days is found in Psalm 90: 12 and Exodus 23: 26 in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.]

When I’ve shared with some people about what God told me a couple of year ago, they have mistakenly understood that God meant that immediately after I place the 100th teaching on my website I would die.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s what God meant.  I don’t know.  I’m ready to continue this mortal life here for many more years until my last numbered day…or I’m ready to die and go Home.  We’ll see what happens!  Maybe as you’re reading this I will have died and gone Home.  Maybe not…  As of this writing, I’m now 83 years young and still going pretty strong for my age.  My wife, Anne, calls me “The Energizer Bunny” from the television commercials about Energizer batteries.

The title says this teaching is about love:  both God’s love and human love.  God’s love is complete and perfect.  Human love—because of human sin—is incomplete and imperfect.  Love is not only a feeling, it is also an action.  Love is not me-centered, it is other-centered.  Love acts.  Love gives.  Love serves.  Love is a verb!

One basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded ahead of time.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature. 

It has been said that when reading the Bible, believe what you read, not read what you believe!

Another principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes or encapsulates whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

For the most part, this teaching will be directly quoting from the Bible the main points it makes about love, and I make a few comments or offer a few explanations about the Bible references I’ll quote.

Let’s begin…  For purposes of this study, there are 3 main words used for “love” in the Bible in the original Greek, one of the 3 languages in which the Bible was written:  1.  Agape.  This is God’s own love.  The Bible states unequivocally that “God is love.”  (1 John 4: 8)   God’s very Person, nature, and character is love.  Everything God does originates with love and flows from his love to the entire creation, including all humanity.  God is only love; there is nothing about God that is not love.  God cannot not love and be loving.  God transfuses,  infuses, and literally pours his own love into humans by the direct action of Holy Spirit.  (Romans 5: 5).  Without God’s agape poured into us, we humans as a species are very unloving most of the time.

The 2nd word for love is phileo.  This is brotherly love, family love, generalized love that we humans experience and share with one another as part of our created nature and personalities.  As an example, the City of Philadelphia means city of brotherly love. We humans do not always display phileo, but I thank God for those who do.  Otherwise, because of the downward pull of human sin, we would be very unloving at times.

For example, I dearly love my wife…and my children…and my grandchildren…and my great-grandchildren…and my brother…and my friends…and my dog and cat…but my love is very flawed and incomplete, and I do not act very loving at times.  I wish that were not the case, but it is what it is…

The 3rd type of love is eros.  This is were we get the term erotic love, romantic love, sexual love.  Again, sometimes we humans do not always display and practice eros properly—as evidenced by fornication, adultery, prostitution, sexual abuse, and so on.

Actually, there are more than those 3 words used for love in the original languages of the Bible, but the 3 I mentioned include and incorporate—in a manner of speaking—the other words used for love.

Now having defined those three types of love, I’m going to focus on some of what the Bible teaches about agape, God’s love, God’s own Self-created love He pours into and shares with us humans as I mentioned above.  We have already seen that the Bible teaches about God’s type of love that He shares with humans.  Some humans use it properly, some use it improperly, some ignore it, some fight against it, but it’s there for us if we choose to exercise and display it in a godly manner.

The first significant use of the word love in the Bible is Deuteronomy 6: 5:  Attention, Israel!  God, our God!  God the one and only!  Love God, your God with all your heart, soul, and strength:  love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got!”  This is an early statement in the Bible that discloses the tri-une nature of humans:  “Heart” = our human spirit, “soul” = equals the human mind, and “strength” = the human body:  body, soul, and spirit:  three yet one, one yet three.

Now let’s examine from various biblical references just some random smatterings of what love is like and what it does.  The following 5 paragraphs are generalized statements from the Bible about what love is and how it acts toward others.

Want peace?  Psalm 119: 165 proclaims “Those who love God’s law (his revealed, written word, the Bible), shall have great peace.”  Want true biblical prosperity?  “Pray for peace for the city of Jerusalem; if you do, you will prosper.”  (Psalm 122: 6)That’s God’s promise to you, not mine!  Want your sins covered over (actually taken away—removed from you totally):  “[God’s] love covers all your offenses and sins.”  (Proverbs 10: 12)  Want genuine, rock-solid love that can’t be diminished?  “Many waters cannot quench love; it is invincible; flood waters can’t drown love, neither can torrents of rain put it out.”  (Song of Solomon 8: 7) 

Want everlasting love?  “God told his people that He would never quit loving them; expect from God love, love, and more love to continually draw you to Himself.”  (Jeremiah 31: 3)  Want God’s leading in your life?  “I lead my people along with unbreakable bands of love.”  (Hosea 11: 2)  Want to really and truly love God…and other people?  ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your spirit, with all your mind, and with all your strength…and love others as well as you love  yourself.”  (Matthew 22: 37)  Note this does not say to love your neighbor instead of yourself, but love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.  How do you genuinely love yourself?  With God’s love infused into you!

Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.  Pray for the happiness of those who curse us.  Do unto others as we want them to do to and for us.  (Matthew 22: 37)  How in the world can we do that?!  Only with God’s agape love Holy Spirit pours into us.  Want to honestly love other people without religious hypocrisy?  “Love each other; that’s the only way ‘outsiders’ are going to know we are Jesus’ followers.”  (John 13: 34 and 35)  Want to remain absolutely bonded solidly to God’s love?  “Can anything in all creation ever separate us from Jesus’ love?  No!”  (Romans 8: 35)

Want to have wonderful qualities in your life that just won’t go away?  “But when Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce wonderful fruit from within us, much the same way that fruit grows in an orchard:  love for God and others, exuberance about life, serenity, patience, unfeigned kindness, goodness that serves others, loyal commitments, no need to force our way through life, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such, there is not law on earth that can bring charges!”  (Galatians 5: 22 and 23)

Want to be fearless and have a healthy mind and think positive thoughts?  “God has not given us spirits of fear, but Holy Spirit power and boldness, and love, and a healthy and positive mind.”  (2 Timothy 1: 7)

As stated earlier, the 5 paragraphs immediately above this one are just a relatively few smatterings about love found throughout the Bible; there are literally hundreds more references about love.

But now I want to take you to the main section of the Bible that summarizes and encapsulates what love is all about:  the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, I will amplify, paraphrase, and personalize what that chapter says in modern, readable English.  Here we go:

“If I could speak with power and eloquence any human or heavenly language, but don’t display and express myself with love, I’m only making meaningless, nonsense noises.  If I’m a power-full, gifted teacher of the Bible, speaking God’s words with his inner power, and revealing all the mysteries and hidden secrets of God—making everything as plain as day, and if I could move mountains with my faith, but I don’t love God and others, I’m nothing. 

If I were to give away to the poor everything I own, and even become a martyr for Jesus, but I don’t love God or others, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So…no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do—even if I boast about all my so-called sacrifices, I live a totally bankrupt life if I don’t love God and others.

[Note:  in the remainder of 1 Corinthians 13, you’ll notice I have written “God/love,”  That’s because God is love, and all other love flows from God’s love; in a sense, “God” and “love” are interchangeable.]

God/love never gives up.  God/love cares more for others than for self.  God/love doesn’t greedily want what others have—and be jealous and envious of what others have.  God/love isn’t proud and arrogant.  God/love isn’t rude and doesn’t force itself on others.  God/love  isn’t always “me first.”  God/love doesn’t fly off the handle.  God/love doesn’t “keep score” about the sins of other people. 

God/love is never happy about human injustice.  God/love rejoices when truth “wins.”  God/love puts up with everything—never gives up.  Love always trusts God and is full of hope in God.  God/love always looks for the best, and never looks longingly back at the past.  God/love never gives up on anybody or anything.

God/love lasts for all time and eternity.  Until God makes right every wrong, we need to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  The best of everything is love.”

Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians is not only about God, Who is perfect love, it’s also about those people in whom God lives and through whom He displays his love for others.

There you have somewhat of a condensed version of what the Bible teaches about love.  Love never fails.  We will continue to experience God’s love outpoured upon all humanity throughout all the remaining ages of time and thereafter in the coming Eternal State. God’s love will never be diminished but will always continue to grow and be poured out to his entire creation.

Early in the 20th century, here’s what one songwriter, Frederick M Lehman, wrote about the love of God:

“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell…

…O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song!”

At about the same time, another writer, Charles H Gabriel, wrote these words about the love of God:

“When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy thro’ the ages
To sing of His love for me.

How marvelous, How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, How wonderful!
Is my Saviors love for me! 

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Success and Prosperity

These days, ask almost anyone to define “success,” and they will answer something like this:  “Success is getting rich, success is achieving a good position in business, success is to gain popularity or fame, success is to be the best you can be in your chosen field, success is to raise my children properly, success is to get good grades in school, success is to live in a big home in a nice part of my community, success is to own and drive a BMW vehicle, success is to belong to the country club…ad infinitum.

Yes, when asked to define success, very seldom will anyone define success in terms of God, religion, church, spirituality, or the Bible.  The same is often true when most people are asked to define “prosperity.”  Most people will answer that question in terms of money.

Although this teaching is about success and prosperity in relation to God and the Bible, frankly, the Bible doesn’t have much to say about what we generally think of as Success and Prosperity by this world’s standards.  Thus, this teaching will be one of the shortest teachings on this website. 

God views both of those concepts much, much differently than we humans do.  In contrast with other subjects in the Bible that may contain hundreds of references about those subjects or topics, the Bible mentions “Success” (and its derivatives, such as successful and successfully) only 7 times.  It mentions “Prosper” (and its derivatives such as prosperity, and prosperous) only 83 times.

In a very real sense, God sort of lumps together his perception of both success and prosperity by the English words Bless and Blessings in the Bible.  We’ll consider those words word later in this teaching.

A basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature. 

Someone has wisely said that when reading the Bible, we must be careful to believe what we read, not read what we believe!

A second principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, The Book of Proverbs encapsulates the Bible’s concept of wisdom, the first chapter of the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament summarizes and encapsulates both Success and Prosperity, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

Let’s take a quick look at what God says in the first chapter of the Book of Joshua about both Success and Prosperity; God was speaking to the young man, Joshua, whom He selected after Moses to lead the people of Israel; these words are found in Joshua 1: 7 – 9:

“[Joshua], be strong and very courageous.  Spend much of your time reading, meditating upon, and obeying my Word, and then you will be successful and prosperous in everything you do.  Study my Word continually.  Think about it day and night and be sure to obey all you read.

Only then will you achieve success and prosperity.  Yes, be strong and courageous, not afraid nor discouraged.  For I am the LORD your God, and I will be with you at all times wherever you  travel on your journey through life so that you don’t get off track!”

That reference in Joshua is the first mention of both success and prosperity in the Bible.  The last mention of prosperity is found in the little book of 3 John near the end of the Bible:

“Well-loved friend, I pray that above everything else you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy whole-person good health, just as your inner being is prospering.”

The Greek word for prosper in this reference is eudoomai, meaning “to be brought along on a smooth and prosperous journey, with God supplying all your needs as you travel.”

Now let me furnish you the English definition/translation of both success and prosperity as taken from the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written:

Success is to always be regularly and consistently traveling toward accomplishing God’s purposes for my life—according to my potential.*  The journey is important, not the destination.”   * Potential consists of 3 attributes: 1. My God-given desires, 2.  My training and education, and 3. My God-given skills, gifts, and abilities.

Prosperity is for God to meet all my needs during my life’s journey.

Notice how success and prosperity are closely linked.  Also, notice that they have nothing to do with what most of humanity generally considers success and prosperity to be.  In a very real sense, authentic success and prosperity have nothing to do with money or the accumulation of material wealth and goods, but money as it relates to both success and prosperity cannot be overlooked.  By definition, money is “a medium of exchange.”

In such references as Philippians 4: 19 in the New Testament we find one (among many) of God’s promises that He “will fully satisfy every need we have according to his abundant riches in glory through Jesus.”  

I wrote earlier that what the Bible terms success can almost be considered as how “money” and “bless” are often linked; to illustrate that, this is Malachi 3: 8 – 11:

“How do I rob and cheat God?  I cheat Him by not giving Him my tithes and offerings.  God says, ‘Test Me; I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out upon you blessings beyond your wildest dreams—such blessings that there won’t be enough room for them.”

Note that “tithe” means “ten percent” of a person’s income.”

Some people may argue that reference is from the Old Testament, and doesn’t apply to people living since then—that we are not told by God to give Him tithes anymore, because the New Testament doesn’t say much about tithing to God.  That thinking is faulty;  Why?  Because most (not all) of the people featured in the New Testament were Jewish or were familiar with Jewish life and practices; they had spent a lifetime understanding that to give a tithe to God was simply expected throughout a person’s normal lifetime.  For example, when Jesus mentioned tithing, it is clear that He understood tithing to be a normal part of Jewish life and practice.

In fact, a number of scholars of the New Testament have written that the people in the New Testament era believed that giving God a tenth of one’s income was normal and expected; moreover, many considered that giving God 10% of one’s income was just the starting point for giving money to God. 

That point is arguable; my own view is that 10% of my income is the least that God desires for me to give Him, but it is certainly not my intention to impose my own view upon any of my readers or students.  Tithing has been a controversial issue for centuries—one about which people have to make up their own minds.

Okay, we’ve looked at the concepts of success and prosperity, and we’ve briefly touched upon the subject of giving money to God.  Now I want to examine the matter of God’s blessings.  A number of different Hebrew and Greek words are used in the Bible for our English words Bless, Blessed, Blessings, and Blessedness. 

Various experts in the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written inform us that those words all mean essentially the same thing:  “To flourish, to be whole, to be delighted, to be satisfied, to be blissful, to be content—because all our natural needs are met by God.  In more detail, those words have even more nuances:   “enriched, joyful, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, abundant, goodness, the capacity to have union and communion with God.”  Finally, those scholars inform us that “to be blessed is the doorway to the Kingdom of God.”  

Note:  We must always be aware of the differences between our needs and our wants; they are often quite different, although in some cases they are one and the same.

We have briefly examined what the Bible teaches about Success and Prosperity, both of them being words and concepts from the Bible that don’t necessarily equate in any way with what multitudes of people mistakenly think they mean.  We have also looked tangentially at Bless and how money can be part of  success and prosperity, but money is not really what they are about.

Success, Prosperity, Bless, and Money are all touchy subjects, but I hope this teaching has given you just a little insight into the use of all four of those words in the Bible. 

I invite you to obtain a copy of one of my books, LIFEgiving, that covers the meanings of  those four words in much more detail. My book is available from amazon.com.  I am not “pushing” my book; I don’t receive royalties from any of my books; all royalties from my books go into our ministry account to purchase more books and literature that we usually give away for free.

I also invite you to read a companion teaching on this website titled Acres of Diamonds.

The great World War II civilian hero from England, Winston Churchill, pretty well summed up the matter of our journeys through this mortal life with this short statement:  

“I make a living by what I get.  I make a life by what I give!”

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Get Wisdom!

About 1,000 years before the time of Jesus, the writer of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs in the Bible wrote:  “Get Wisdom!” (Proverb 4: 5)  In fact, the Book of Proverbs is nicknamed  by many people “The Book of Wisdom.”  The word ”wisdom” and its derivatives (such as wise, wisely, etc.) occurs over 500 times throughout the Bible, making it an important biblical subject.  Of course, we know that it’s also an important attribute for any person to possess, regardless whether or not they believe the Bible.

The writer of most of the Proverbs in the biblical Book of Proverbs was a King of the ancient Israelites named Solomon.  Solomon became known for his proverbs about wisdom.  In fact, the Bible says King Solomon wrote 1500 proverbs, but we have only a relatively few of those 1500 written in the Book of Proverbs.  Near the beginning of Solomon’s reign, God asked Solomon “What shall I give you?”  Solomon’s response was to ask God to give him wisdom and knowledge.  (1 Chronicles 1: 10)  Later, Solomon wrote “Get Wisdom!” as we noted in the first paragraph above.

Sadly, toward the end of his life, Solomon was seduced into forsaking the One True and Living God who had given him wisdom—and began to worship dead idols and non-God gods; in a manner of speaking Solomon “lost” much of the wisdom God had given him and late in life wrote that life had become empty, meaningless, and futile.  You can find those thoughts by Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. That book’s rather curious title means “a teacher writing to his assembled students.”

One basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature.

Someone once quipped that when reading the Bible one should believe what one reads, rather than read what one already believes.

Another principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes or encapsulates whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, The Book of Proverbs encapsulates the Bible’s concept of wisdom, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

Here’s the Bible’s definition of wisdom:  “Comprehensive insight into God’s purposes for the entire creation—including all humanity…AND making correct decisions and choices based on that comprehensive insight.”  The second part of that definition is very important in terms of our daily living and interacting with other peopleOf course, being human and finite, we can never get a complete grasp of all God’s infinite wisdom…and being human, all of our choices and decisions will never be totally correct.

That reference in Proverbs also states, “Get understanding.”  What is “understanding”?  It is similar to “knowledge” that is defined as “to acquire facts, data, and information and put them together into a meaningful whole.”  We all possess knowledge even if it’s limited in some way or even if we don’t put it together so it makes sense.  We begin to accumulate knowledge from the moment of conception, and continue to amass it until our final breath when our spirit leaves our body at the moment of death.  “Understanding” is also similar to wisdom; it means “to comprehend and make sense of one’s knowledge.”

Someone has quipped: “Knowledge is knowing what to do; wisdom is knowing whether or not to do it.  Knowledge is knowing what to say; wisdom is knowing whether or not to say it.”

Okay, we’ve given you basic, working definitions of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Now let’s begin to examine more closely the concept of wisdom, and attempt to learn why God wants us to get wisdom. First, I urge you to understand that wisdom isn’t some ethereal concept that only philosophers and other “Ivory Tower” people need.  Wisdom is needed by virtually everyone so as to make at least partial sense of God’s creation…AND to at least attempt to make correct decisions and choices in one’s daily life based on that knowledge and understanding.

An amplified and paraphrased reading of Ecclesiastes 3: 11 sheds some light on how all our understanding and knowledge is only partial in this life:  “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.  He also has planted the long ages of time in the hearts of all people.  However,  humans can never have more than partial insight and understanding of all that God does because of our finite limitations.”

Here’s an important, often overlooked fact about wisdom:  Wisdom is actually a Person, Jesus, God the Son!  Yes, Jesus is the personal embodiment of wisdom.  That is found in 1 Corinthians 1: 30.  Moreover, wisdom is not simply a philosophical concept; in the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a “she,” not an “it.”  Wisdom is characterized as a communicating person, not as a cold abstraction.  “She” is a caring personality, even though her tone sometimes implies scolding, while at the same time being encouraging. This personalized, communicating concept of wisdom is taught primarily in Proverbs 1: 20 – 33 (and in various other places throughout the Book of Proverbs).

For example, throughout the Book of Proverbs concepts like these in this paragraph and in the following three paragraphs are written about wisdom:  a person who finds wisdom is happy;  wisdom instructs people in right living; wisdom gives brilliant strategies for leadership; wisdom is something to be praised and celebrated; wisdom can be found in the hustle and bustle of daily living; God gives us wisdom as a generous gift from his hidden storehouse; wisdom brings true pleasure to one’s thinking and attitudes; God formed all creation from wisdom’s blueprints; to gain true wisdom is greater than gaining all the wealth of this world.

Continuing on in Proverbs, we find even more about the value of wisdom;  wisdom empowers people to live a good and godly life; wisdom reveals the true meaning of life; wisdom serves to protect us during our lifetimes; wisdom helps us live our mortal lives with integrity; after we receive God’s correction, wisdom snaps us back to reality; wisdom gives us the correct words to speak in various situations…and helps us know when to speak and whether or not to speak.

Yes, throughout Proverbs the writer tells us that wisdom will change our inner being for the good; wisdom is so priceless that it exceeds the value of any jewels; wisdom provides purpose and direction for our lives, giving us a sense of destiny; wisdom leads to true and authentic success; we can feast upon wisdom and build solid lives on a foundation of wisdom; wisdom causes us to be humble and teachable, not proud, arrogant know-it-alls; true wisdom properly applied is soothing and peaceful; wisdom softens our anger.

Words of wisdom spoken are like a fresh, flowing brook—like deep waters that spring from within us, bubbling up and quenching the thirst of others; we can learn to actually love wisdom so that our lives are vital and flourishing; wisdom gives us bright futures with authentic hope; wisdom gives us a more full, satisfying, and intimate relationship with God.           

The four paragraphs immediately above this one are just a smattering of truths about wisdom contained in the Book of Proverbs.  There is much, much more!  As already noted, wisdom is personified throughout the Book of Proverbs.  “Lady Wisdom” is a figure of speech for God the Father.  Wisdom invites us to live abundant lives of purpose, meaning, and destiny.  Also, as noted earlier, Jesus, God the Son, is wisdom personified:  1 Corinthians 1: 30, Colossians 2: 3, and Isaiah 11: 1 and 2.

Thus far, I have taught about how we need to get wisdom, defined wisdom, and written about some of the good things true wisdom can do for us in our daily lives as followers of Jesus.  The questions now arise, “How do we get wisdom?  Where does wisdom come from?  Of course, if you’ve been “reading between the lines,” so to speak, you already know that true wisdom originates with God; God gives true wisdom to people, but the question still remains about how to get wisdom.

In the New Testament portion of the Bible—near the end—there is a short book of only five chapters written by James, the half-brother of Jesus; James is actually his anglicized name; his Hebrew name was Jacob.  James’/Jacob’s book contains some very profound truths about wisdom, just as the Old Testament Book of Proverbs summarized the entire concept of wisdom.

Jacob says in chapter 1, verse 5 that if anyone lacks wisdom, simply ask God for it.  When asked, God will give the wisdom asked for…and He won’t make anyone feel stupid or dumb because they asked God for wisdom.  Have you ever asked another human a question, and they made you feel stupid for asking a “dumb question”?  God will never do such a thing, especially if we ask Him for wisdom.

However that text goes on to say that we must ask for wisdom with faith and confidence that God will answer, without doubting that we will receive wisdom.  If we don’t ask from that position of faith and confidence, Jacob says we will be ambivalent and unstable about the wisdom for which we ask; he says being undecided makes us become like rough seas driven every which way by the winds, causing us to waver about that for which we ask.

“If you feel you have God’s wisdom, understanding the ways He works throughout his creation, advertise it with a beautiful, steady, fruitful life guided by wisdom’s innate gentleness.  Build a good life based on wisdom’s firm foundation. Never brag or boast about what you’ve said or done and you’ll prove thereby that you truly do have God’s wisdom.  However, if you don’t truly have God’s wisdom about a matter, it will cause jealousy and bitter competition in your life, and you’ll try to deny it and compensate for it by boasting and being phony. 

Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom.  Twisting the truth to make yourself sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom.  For that has nothing to do with God’s authentic wisdom, but can best be described as the wisdom of this world, both self-centered and devilishly conniving. So wherever jealousy and self-centeredness are uncovered, you will find many troubles and every kind of meanness. 

God’s wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, is considerate, and teachable…as well as just plain polite.  It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form, and it always bears the beautiful harvest of sincere right living!  Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace, resulting in harvests of goodness.”      (Various texts throughout the Book Of James, amplified and paraphrased)

There is another aspect of God’s wisdom that must not be overlooked.  It’s found in 1 Corinthians 12, a chapter in the New Testament that is largely about supernatural “gifts” that God dispenses to his church, the Body of Jesus—to help build up and “grow” the Body of Jesus and reach out to others who have not yet become followers of Jesus.  It is one of the so-called gifts of Holy Spirit:  the “word of wisdom.” 

A footnote in The Passion Translation of the Bible says this about the word of wisdom mentioned in verse 8 of chapter 12:  “It is a revelation gift of Holy Spirit to impart an understanding of insight and strategy that only God can give in specific situations.  This is more than simply learned wisdom, but the clearly crafted ‘word of wisdom’ from God to unlock the hearts of people and free the corporate Body of Jesus to move forward under God’s direction. 

This gift will express the direct wisdom of Holy Spirit, not that learned by the person exercising the gift. The best examples of this gift were [1] when Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree and knew his true character as a man without guile (John 1), and [2] when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and unlocked her heart with words He could not have known solely by human wisdom.” (John 4)                (I have modified the footnote in a couple of places)

An example of God’s use of the word of wisdom in my own life occured a number of years ago when I was counseling a young married couple; she was in the early stages of a pregnancy, but before this pregnancy, she had a number of miscarriages, and the young couple were worried that they might lose this baby too.  They asked me to pray for a good delivery and a healthy baby.  Just as I started to pray for them, I perceived that God was speaking a “word of wisdom” to me to share with them. 

Here is what God said to me:  “Bill, tell them to return to their ob/gyn physican and ask him to investigate the trophoblastic cells of the placenta.”  I had never before heard of that condition.  They quickly made an appointment with the physician and told him those exact words.  He responded, “Frankly, I had never thought of that possibility.”  The condition was corrected with medication and they had a healthy baby some months later.

Now I need to write a little bit about how God speaks to people, including their requests for wisdom. It goes without saying that a person querying God must believe that God speaks to people; if you don’t believe that, then this entire teaching has been of no value to you.  However, it is clear from the Bible and from thousands of years of human experience that God does speak to people.

On four occasions in the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel in the Bible, Jesus stated that those of us who are his “sheep” (his followers) hear his voice.  God does, indeed, speak to us; He is speaking to us all the time, far more clearly and distinctly than we imagine.  We “hear” his voice within the spirit component of our three-part beings (body, soul, spirit) by means of our inner “faith-sense.”  He generally speaks to us in a quiet, soft whisper within our spirits. 

The question is not, “Does God speak to me?”  Rather, the real question should be, “When is God not speaking to me?”  Do not be surprised at the Good Shepherd’s tender voice constantly whispering into your thoughts . . . from within you where He abides permanently in your spirit.      Keep in mind, however, it’s difficult for us to hear God if we’re doing all the talking!  But God is not limited to communicating with us only in a quiet, soft whisper; He can communicate with us in any manner He chooses. 

 However, He generally speaks to us from within in five distinct and clear ways:  1.  From the Bible, God’s written, LIFEgiving, transforming Word for all humanity.  2.  By inserting and imbedding his thoughts and creative ideas into our thoughts.  3.  By means of visions, images, pictures, our creative imaginations, and dreams He “broadcasts” to the “viewing screen” of our spirits.  4.  By means of strong but gentle, inner impressions, nudging, and urgings.  5.  By means of speaking in tongues with the interpretation.

Again, I don’t want to limit God speaking to us in only those five ways; He cannot be limited to our finite comprehension; we cannot “put Him in a box” and limit Him in any manner, but He does Self-limit his means of communication in order for us mortal humans to understand Him.

A prime biblical example of listening to God is found in the life of Samuel, an Old Testament prophet, when he was a boy.  Samuel was staying with a local priest.  In the night, Samuel heard a voice calling his name.  Thinking it was the priest calling him, Samuel ran to the priest’s bedroom to ask what the priest wanted.  The priest informed Samuel that it was God who had called Samuel’s name.  When Samuel heard the voice next time, he responded:  “Speak, God, for I’m listening.”  That was the beginning of a long lifetime relationship with God in which Samuel heard God speak to him many times.  The simple lesson to be learned from Samuel’s experience is:  God speaks.  Are we listening?

I want to encourage you:  Please do not be afraid to ask God for wisdom—either on-the-spot for specific situations or for general daily living.  God will give you wisdom!

Get wisdom!

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Afraid of God?

May 19, 2021: This teaching has been temporarily removed and is being completely revised; it will be posted back to this website as soon as the revision is complete.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com

Did God forsake Jesus?

Here’s something most of my my readers and students have never known about me until now… 

For many years I harbored a secret fear that if God forsook or abandoned Jesus while He was dying on the cross, would God also abandon me some time…for some reason?  I’ve suffered three episodes of depression during my adult life.  During two of those episodes I mistakenly felt God had, indeed, abandoned me…and I felt that I had lost all hope!  It was a horrible feeling that God had abandoned me forever.  I couldn’t even begin to imagine what Jesus must have felt when He believed that God had abandoned Him during his hour of greatest need.

When Jesus was dying a torturous, agonizing death by crucifixion on a cruel Roman cross, just moments before He deliberately ended his mortal life by releasing his spirit back to God, He cried out, My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  In Matthew 27: 46 and Mark 15: 34, that’s how in reads in English.

Let me give a little background to what was happening that fateful day of Jesus’ crucifixion. 

In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, there are some Psalms known as the Messianic Psalms.  A Messianic Psalm is a Psalm written about Jesus—the anticipated Jewish Messiah—hundreds of years before He was born as a human being.  Such Psalms are considered by followers of Jesus as “prophetic;”  that is, they were fulfilled by the birth, life, and death of Jesus hundreds of years after they were written—some of them even having been quoted by Jesus as specifically applying to his life and death. 

Psalm 22 is one of those Messianic Psalms, quoted in part by Jesus as noted above in Matthew 27 and Mark 15.  Most Jewish people today feel such Psalms are still waiting future fulfillment because their Messiah has not yet come—not believing that Jesus was their Messiah, whereas followers of Jesus believe such Psalms were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah who was to come.

During the life and times of Jesus (and still today in many Jewish circles), Jewish boys memorized large portions of the Old Testament Scriptures.  During his life, it was apparent by his speech and behavior that Jesus had memorized large portions of the Old Testament, applying many of them to his personal life and mission to redeem, restore, and reconcile all humanity to Himself.

When Jesus cried out asking God why God had forsaken Him, Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22, which He had doubtless memorized as a boy.  He knew that Messianic Psalm was about Him, the Jewish Messiah who was to come (even though the Jewish people of his day did not believe He was the promised Messiah).  In fact, one of the reasons the Jewish leaders of his day constantly sought to have Jesus put to death was because He boldly claimed to be the Messiah, often quoting the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures to prove that He was.

 Okay, that’s the background of why Jesus cried out to God that fateful day when He was dying an excruciating death on a Roman cross; He was quoting from Messianic Psalm 22: 1 which reads this way in English in many standard Bibles:  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?” 

If one reads the New Testament carefully, one will clearly see that sometimes Jesus and some of the writers of the New Testament did not always quote the Old Testament word-for-word; sometimes they would add to, detract, paraphrase, or otherwise slightly change the wording of the Old Testament reference they were quoting.  This was the case with Psalm 22 which Jesus quoted as referring to Himself as the Jewish Messiah.

One modern Bible translation of Psalm 22: 1 reads this way:  God, God…my God!  Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?”  (The Message Bible).  Another modern translation reads this way:  “My God, my God!  Why have you forsaken me?  Why do you remain so distant?”   (The New Living Translation)  Finally, another modern translation states it in these words:  “God, my God!  Why would You abandon me now?  Why do You remain distant, refusing to answer my tearful cries…”  (The Passion Translation).  

I am emphasizing the words “in English” because it’s very possible those words in both the Old and New Testaments do not have the same meaning in the original language in which they were written:  Aramaic.  In fact, the words were first translated from Aramaic into Greek, and then from Greek into English—rather than having been translated directly from Aramaic into English.  There is some reliable and reputable scholarship indicating that the words Jesus cried out in the Aramaic language did not mean what they say in English.

The Aramaic language is not spoken today except by a very few, small isolated groups of people in the Middle East.  Aramaic was an ancient Semitic language that was the lingua franca (the common language used between various groups of people) spoken throughout the Middle East from approximately 350 B.C. to 650 A.D. Eventually, it replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews.  Aramaic was the dialect spoken by Jesus.

Now let’s take a brief look at some mistaken, human-contrived “theology” about those words Jesus cried out to God.

There’s a very prevalent, mistaken “theological” view that God did, in fact, forsake, abandon, or turn away from Jesus on the cross because God could not bear to look upon the awful, weighty burden of the sins of all humanity which Jesus was carrying and for which He was dying; such theology teaches that God had no choice but to turn his “face” away from Jesus because He could not view those sins carried by Jesus:  human sin was just too repugnant for God to view; He was compelled to forsake Jesus and look the other way because our sins were so repulsive to Him. 

Along with that view is the contention that God had no choice but to forsake Jesus; otherwise He would in effect be helping Jesus carry our sins, when it was necessary that Jesus bear them alone, all by Himself as God the Son; it is mistakenly said that Jesus was not only bearing humanity’s judgment of death as a result of sin, but also the judgment of humanity’s separation from God. 

One thing that makes such theological views questionable is the teaching that it is possible for humanity to be separated from God.  Can that be true?  If God really is God—all-knowing, all-powerful, all-where, all-when…then nothing in the entire creation—including humans—can ever really be separated from God.  If God is really God, then He is everywhere, everywhen, and in everything down to the smallest, infinitesimal particle of creation.  As God, He cannot be anywhere that separates Him from anything and anyone in all creation. 

An 11th century writer, Hilbert of Lavardin, wrote these words:

“God, You are within all things, but not enclosed.
Outside all things, but not excluded.
You are above all things, sustaining them.
Wholly beneath, the firm Foundation of all.
You are wholly outside, embracing all things.
|Wholly within, filling all things.”

That somehow humans have separated themselves from God by their sin is a myth—or that our sin caused God to separate Himself from us. Yes, it is true that there are a few biblical references stating that (Isaiah 59: 2, for example), but in the light of the Bible’s overall teachings, it is clearly understood that nothing can separate us humans from God, even our worst sin.

During roughly the past 100 years or so to our present day there have been a few notable biblical language scholars who have challenged what Jesus really said in the Aramaic language translated into English when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

One of those notable biblical language scholars was Kenneth Wuest (1893-1962).  He felt those references in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 should have been translated something like this in English:  “My God, my God, why have You left me helpless, failing me at this time of need?”

Another notable scholar was George Lamsa (1892 – 1975), who grew up in present-day rural Turkey speaking Aramaic very similar to that which Jesus and his disciples spoke 2,000 years previously. Lamsa translated those references directly from Aramaic into English:  “My God, my God, for this I was spared.”

Dr Brian Simmons, still living, published his translation (The Passion Translation) of the New Testament portion of the Bible (along with a few of the books of the Old Testament) in 2018.  Simmons translates Matthew 27: 46 and Mark 15: 32 this way:  “My God, my God, for this purpose You have spared me.”

Like Simmons, another scholar of biblical languages, Jonathan Mitchell, is still living, and published his translation of the New Testament in 2013.  He translates Jesus’ cry to God with  multiple possibilities.  Most consistent with Wuest, Lamsa, and Simmons is this suggested translation by Mitchell:  “My God, my God, this was my destiny.”

Obviously, the translations of these four scholars are vastly different from the typical, generally accepted English language translations of the two references we are examining.  These four scholars indicate that in some way Jesus understood that God had spared Him from premature death until the specific, destined time and moment in salvific history when Jesus was dying on the cross.  

When had God previously spared Jesus from death?  One example was when Jesus was preaching in his hometown of Nazareth, and the people there sought to kill Him by pushing him off a nearby cliff (Luke 4: 28 – 30); that attempt to kill Jesus was premature:  it wasn’t yet the specific time God pre-planned for Jesus to die.

Another attempt on Jesus’ life was when Satan told Jesus if Jesus would jump off a high parapet angels would catch Him (Luke 4: 9 – 12); Satan—being the consummate liar and the “father of lies”—was lying and knew full well that Jesus would die if He had jumped at Satan’s challenge.

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus’ death, it was clear that Jesus could have died (or been killed) that night…but it was not the time God had pre-planned for Jesus to die (Matthew 26: 38 and elsewhere).

Those are merely three instances when it would not have been part of God’s plan for Jesus to die prematurely.  Doubtless there may have been other instances not recorded in the New Testament (John 21: 25).  Jesus was hated by many of the “religionists” of his day who constantly sought ways to take his life, but it was never God’s pre-planned time for Jesus to die until that fateful, pre-planned day when He died by crucifixion on a Roman cross.

There are a number of other biblical references that relate to this matter.  Here is a small sampling of some of those pertinent references.

First, Colossians 2: 9 and 10 need to be considered.  “Just as the fullness of God dwells permanently in Jesus, in the same manner God dwells fully in us.”   If God’s fullness dwelled in Jesus, could God’s fullness decrease or somehow be emptied out of Jesus?

Then consider Psalm 139: 7 and 8:  “Where could I go that your Spirit is not present?  Where is there a place I can run to get away from You, God?  If I go up to heaven, You are there!  If I go down to the realm of the dead, You’re there too!  If I were able to fly to any place on earth, You are there also.”  Doesn’t that reference sound like God’s presence is always everywhere and everywhen?

Consider Hebrews 13: 5 where God is speaking about Jesus’ followers:   I will never leave you alone, never, never, never!  And I will never loosen my grip on your life.”  If God promised that to us who are Jesus’ followers, could He have ever left Jesus alone?

“My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me.  I give to them the gift of my own eternal LIFE and they will never be lost and no one has the power to snatch them out of my hands.  My Father who has given them to me as his gift, is the mightiest of all, and no one has the power to snatch them from my Father’s care.  The Father and I are one.”  (John 10: 27 – 30)  If Jesus and his Father God were one in every aspect and in every respect, could they ever be separated?

Those are just four references out of many others in the Bible that teach God is fully present at all times with Jesus’ followers. 

Think about some logical assumptions that can be made based upon just those four references alone.  First, there is no place where God is not fully present at all times.  Second, there can be no “anywhere else” besides everywhere.  Third, there is no place where—even for an atomic second—God cannot be.  Fourth, if God is fully present at all times in Jesus’ followers, how could He not be fully present at all times in Jesus?  Fifth, it is inconceivable that Jesus and his Father’s “oneness” could be “split apart” in any manner.

 Having written all of the above, now let me attempt to offer an amplified, paraphrased English language version of Jesus’ cry to God from the cross:  “My God, My God, you have spared me from premature death until now.  This is my time of destiny, but why are You remaining distant, leaving me feeling helpless, and failing to help Me at this time of my greatest need?”

I realize what I have briefly written in this teaching is controversial and perhaps raises many questions and issues about exactly what Jesus cried out to God while He was dying on the cross.  For me, I do not believe it was possible for God—being God—to forsake or abandon Jesus—to be ever separated from full, equal union with Jesus in any manner; that view is called the hypostatic union—Jesus was fully God and fully human equally.  Jesus and God had always been one, were one when Jesus was dying on the cross, and will always be one. 

The alternative views presented here have put to rest long-standing fears and questions I have had; these views seem more logical and rational to my mind (and also resonate deep within my spirit) because I believe that God cannot forsake, abandon or be separated from anything or anyone in creation—especially from his own Beloved Son!

I invite you to study a companion teaching on this website, 72 Hours of History, that gives a timeline of the so-called “Holy Week” in which Jesus died.  It may be of interest to you to know that some reliable biblical scholars believe Jesus died on Wednesday, not on “Good Friday,” and was raised from the dead by God on Saturday of Holy Week, not on Sunday, the first day of the following week.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated May 2021

The Wilderness

Wilderness:  n.  A dry, hot place;   a wild, isolated, barren, place;  an obscure or unknown place; a deserted, desolate place.

The word, “wilderness,” appears over 300 times in the Bible, making it an important subject therein simply by sheer volume of references.  Bible scholars and students have often focused on the “Wilderness experience” of Jesus (Luke 4: 1 – 13), and have often neglected teaching about the similar wilderness experiences of Jesus’ followers.  This study will be mostly about our wilderness experiences as followers of Jesus, but we will first look at Jesus’ wilderness experience to sort of set the stage for the remainder of our teaching. 

When studying any subject or topic in the Bible, the honest Bible student will first look at all the references in the Bible about that subject before arriving at a conclusion.  In addition, all subjects or topics found in the Bible will always have one reference, chapter, book, etc., that serves as a summary of the Bible’s teachings on that particular subject.  For example, the chapter that summarizes the subject of “resurrection” is 1 Corinthians 15; the chapter that summarizes the subject of “love” is 1 Corinthians 13. 

Jesus’ Wilderness Experience—Our Pattern

                I have examined all 300+ references in the Bible about “wilderness” before arriving at the conclusions I will set forth in this study.  The main biblical reference summarizing the subject is Luke 4: 1 – 13, Jesus’ wilderness experience.   I won’t go into any depth about his experience, but I want to touch upon a few points before moving on to the subject of our wilderness experiences.

First, I want to point out what should be rather obvious:  Jesus didn’t end up in the wilderness by accident, or because He was “outside” the will of God for his life, because he had sinned and was being punished, because he had mistakenly wandered into the wrong place.  NO!  Jesus was in the wilderness because God the Holy Spirit led him there.  

I’m not certain if I can “prove” the point, but it seems to me from the biblical record that we are also led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness experiences of our mortal lives.  Yes, we may end up in the wilderness because of sin or wrongdoing, or by prideful rebellion, or by turning our back on God, or for some similar reason.  But it seems that we are actually in our wildernesses because God the Holy Spirit leads us there.  Oh, He may be orchestrating our wilderness experiences from behind the scenes, so to speak—not leading us directly—but leading us there, nonetheless.   

Second, we must understand that—just as Jesus did—we will always encounter Satan in our own wilderness experiences.  But, please remember that Satan is merely a limited tool, an instrument, in the overall plans and purposes of God for his children.  Satan does not appear by accident in our wilderness experiences; He shows up only because God has “sent” him there so he can be used as an instrument by God to test and try us just as he did Jesus. 

And, we must deal with Satan in exactly the same way Jesus did.  We combat Satan’s conniving, scheming strategies by quoting to Him ALOUD the Scriptures, the Living, Written Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit!  (For a full, detailed expose about Satan and his strategies in our lives, I urge you to read two other teachings:  Satan:  From Beginning to End and Soldiers Training Manual).

                Third, our wilderness experiences are so that we will be tempted, tested, and tried at the weak points in our character and nature so we can emerge on the other side of the wilderness stronger at those weak points.  In His sovereign, overarching plans and purposes for our lives God always allows us to tested, and then broken, at our weakest points—so that afterwards we are strong at the broken places! 

Although there’s much more that we can learn from Jesus’ wilderness experience in Luke 4: 1 – 13, those 3 points are all I want us to look at for now.

Obviously in this brief study, we are not going to examine every one of those 300+ references to “wilderness” in the Bible.  Instead, we will examine only a few that seem germaine to this study or those encapsulating or summarizing the Bible’s teachings about our experiences in the wilderness.

The very first significant wilderness experience in the Bible was that of the Hebrews (Israelites) in the Sinai Desert after having been led out of Egypt by Moses, God’s servant.  

 Let’s examine the wilderness experiences of the 12 tribes of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years.  What were those 40 years all about?  God summarizes their experience in Deuteronomy 8: 2:  God Himself led them into that wilderness to humble them and to test them.  They weren’t there because they had sinned, or by accident, or because they couldn’t reach their destination by some other route (they could have!, but that’s another story–);  no, they spent 40 years in the wilderness because God led them there and kept them there until they were humbled and until they had “passed” their test.

     “Remember all the ways God led you during 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would obey Him or not.”                                                                                                       –Deuteronomy 8: 2

                            There’s a fundamental truth about wildernesses:  On the other side of the wildernesses of our lives is the Promised Land!

In the very next chapter, Deuteronomy 9: 3, God says of Himself that He is a consuming fire!  Wow, I could write a lot about that aspect of God’s nature in his dealing with his people, but—wait a minute—I’ve already written about that in another teaching on this web site, where I invite you to read all about the subject of fire in the Bible; that teaching is entitled Fire!  If you read that teaching, you’ll gain some more insight about how God tests us with fire in the wildernesses of our lives.   

How does the Bible define “humble”?  In its basic essence, it means to “bow one’s knee voluntarily.”  God leads us into and through our wilderness experiences so we will voluntarily “bow our knees” to his absolute sovereignty in our lives.  So that we willingly proclaim in our proud, stubborn hearts that He is in all, through all, and at the end of all.  So that we will acknowledge that He is in absolute control of our lives.  No, “Yes, buts….”   He is Lord of all my life, or He is Lord of none of my life!  And it often takes a wilderness experience for us to honestly humble ourselves before his absolute sovereignty.

To “test” us means that God puts us through the fires of cleansing and purifying so that the “gold, silver, and precious stones” He is working into our characters—into the very essence of our newly created beings—rises to the surface, and the “wood, hay, and stubble” of our old, pre-Jesus natures is burned up completely.  You may read about that process in 1 Corinthians 3.  I could teach much more about that process of cleansing and purifying, but my teaching about fire covers that in much more detail. 

The ancient Patriarch, Job’s, exclamation in Job 23: 10 – 12 furnishes more insight into God’s testing us by fire.  Isaiah 48:  10 speaks to the matter of testing by fire, also.

Four Major Areas of Testing

So…God leads us into our own wilderness experiences to humble us and to test us.  My own observations and my own experiences based on the biblical record lead me to believe that the major areas of our lives where God seeks to humble us and test us are areas of disobedience, pride, rebellion, and where we have “hardened our hearts” over some issue in our lives.  I’m sure there are other areas of our lives that God deals with in our wildernesses, but those are the 4 major areas I’ve seen over and over in my own life and in the lives of others.  God will always “custom tailor” our humbling and testing experiences to areas of our own lives (often ones we attempt to keep hidden from others) needing such humbling and testing.  He sees all and knows all; nothing in our lives is ever hidden from God!

Okay, now I want us to take a look at the actual processes in which God leads us into the wilderness, takes us through it, and then takes us out of the wilderness.

     “Pay attention!  I will do a new thing in you…  I will make a road through the wilderness and rivers in the wastelands…  I provide waters in the wilderness and rivers in the wastelands, to quench your thirst so you may proclaim my praise.  I will allure you into the wilderness, and there I will speak tenderly to your heart.  There I will cause you to bear new fruit.  The Valley of Achor—the valley of trouble and testing—will turn out to be a Door of Hope for you.  [When your testing has been completed] you will sing and rejoice!” 

                                                                                                        Isaiah 43:  19 – 21, and Hosea 2: 14 & 15, paraphrased and personalized

One of the first reasons God leads us into the wilderness experiences of our lives is so that He can get us aside from the distracting routines and busyness of our lives and speak to us.  Of course, God is always speaking to us through the Bible and by means of the Holy Spirit Who lives inside us in our spirits, but He often leads us into the wilderness so He can speak more “loudly” to us, in a sense, during a time when we are more apt to be listening more intently.

You’ve heard the old expression (or something similar) :  “He had to hit him with a 2 x 4 to get his attention!”  Well, the wilderness experiences of our lives are often “2 x 4” experiences when God needs to really get our attention so we will focus our listening to what He’s attempting to say to us.  So, that’s one of the first things that happens when He leads us into the wilderness:  He speaks to us.   

                Next,  generally (but not always) God leads us into the wilderness so He can do a new thing in our lives.  A new thing that will spring forth in the wilderness itself, often a new thing in our lives that we don’t even consciously know we need to have happen, a hidden area of our lives that needs exposed and brought out to the light so that God’s “laser light” can “burn” it out of us, to be replaced by a new thing. Something new and amazing often stands at the other side of our wilderness experiences . . .

Let me mention a recent experience I was involved in that might illustrate this point.  I was counseling a young man who was an habitual liar, but he either didn’t know that was the case, or he might have felt he was hiding that part of his character.  When I prayed in person for him, the Holy Spirit exposed his propensity to lie hidden deep in his character. 

The young man confessed it, let it come out into The Light of God, and that LIGHT burned it out of his character just as the rising sun burns off the morning mist!  That young man instantly became a “new creation” in that area of his life; that occurred a number of months ago and he is still “lie-free”!   That was his own wilderness experience to humble him in that regard and burn out that aspect of his character.

Custom-Tailored For You

Each wilderness experience God leads us into is custom-tailored by God for us so we can humble ourselves, learn from the experience, be tested, purged, cleansed, and “broken,” so the Potter can re-form, re-mold, re-shape, and re-store us more and more into the image of Jesus, so, in turn, He becomes more “fully formed” in our new natures.

Isaiah 43: 19 goes on to say (in some versions of the Bible) that God not only leads us into the wilderness, but He also leads us through the experience.  God-led wilderness experiences are always transitional experiences in our lives to take us from and old level of our relationship with God to a new, higher/deeper level of relationship.  If…we allow Him to take us through the wilderness. 

At any point in time, we can choose to run away from any wilderness experience and leave incomplete the changes God wants to work out in our character and nature.  God will not force us to stay in the wilderness experience until it is complete on his terms; at any point, to our own harm and detriment, we can stubbornly and pridefully interrupt the testing, humbling, purifying, cleansing process. 

Next in Isaiah 43: 19 note that the end result of our wilderness experience is not only that God does a new thing in us, but He also gives us rivers in the wilderness.  The rivers God creates in our wilderness experiences are those rivers Jesus spoke of in John 7: 37 – 39.  As you emerge from any wilderness experience, look for a new “Pentecostal” experience (however you define that experience based upon your own current state of awareness and level of understanding) with the Holy Spirit to come out of your experience—where rivers of Living Water will begin to flow anew from your innermost being to quench your own thirst and the thirst of others in new, creative, and power-full ways.  

The reference in Hosea promises us that even though there will be a Valley of Achor in the wildernesses we find ourselves in, beyond the Valley of Achor there will always be a Door of Hope.  In the Bible, “hope” is defined as “confident expectation of upcoming good based upon the sure and certain promises of God.”  Dear readers, that’s the type of hope we can find in our wilderness experiences.  You might want to look up Jeremiah 29: 11 in that regard.  For the Jesus-believer there is always hope—culminating in what the Bible calls The Blessed Hope we have that Jesus will return and begin to set all things right!

Now I want you to turn to Song of Solomon 8: 5.  I want to make this important point:  The only way up and out of  your wilderness experience is by leaning on your Beloved!  Of course, Jesus is not only God’s Beloved, but He is also the one Beloved by all Jesus-believers!

I want to encourage you:  you will get through and up and out of your wilderness experience by trusting God’s absolute sovereignty of leading you into your wilderness, by “bending your knee” to God, by letting his fires test you, purify you, and cleanse you, and by leaning on your Beloved to come up and out of your wilderness!

Comfort Beyond Human Comfort

Another thing God will do in our lives while we are in the wilderness is that He will comfort us.  If I understand anything at all about such references as John 14: 6, 16, and 27, the Holy Spirit is The Comforter in a unique manner.  Most of our wilderness experiences will lead us into a new, more vital and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, The Comforter.  One important characteristic of The Comforter is that He not only comforts us with a comfort He alone can give us (2 Corinthians 1: 3 and 4), but He also empowers us for work and service to God just as He did for Jesus after He emerged from his wilderness experience. 

When you emerge from your wilderness experience, you will not only have been comforted in a special way by God, but you will be newly empowered with “Pentecostal Power” (Acts 1: 8) for work, service, witness, and ministry . . . and to comfort others with the same comfort with which you have been comforted.

Don’t miss out on all God has in store for you in your wilderness experience by stubbornly and pridefully resisting what God wants to do in you, through you, and as you.

God will bring you out of your wilderness experience in his perfect timing.  God is never late.  He is never early.  He is on time every time!  Hosea 2: 14 claims that God allures or entices or draws us into our wilderness experiences.  One feeling that most people often have while they are in the wilderness is hopelessness.  God always provides a “door of hope” while we are in our wildernesses. 

“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By His boundless mercy we have been born from above to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!”  (1 Peter 1: 3)  While you are in your wilderness, I want to encourage you:  please do not despair, do not feel isolated, do not feel deserted by God, do not lose hope! 

God Disciplines Those Whom He Loves

Since our relationship with God is by our inner faith-sense rather than with our “outer” five senses and objective reality, do you ever have those occasional moments when you honestly question whether you truly are a child of God?  I do!  Here I am, one mere mortal among 7 billion other mere mortals living on a tiny planet near the edge of an obscure galaxy in this vast, boundless universe and I have the audacity to believe I am a child of the Great God of the Universe.

Well, one of the reasons (among many other reasons) I know I am a child of God is because God tests, purifies, and disciplines those mortal humans who are his children!  (Hebrews 12).  If I—a mere mortal human—am often led by God to the wilderness in order for Him to humble, test, purify, and discipline me, that means I am a well-loved child of God.  He wouldn’t discipline me if He didn’t regard me as his well-loved son.  That’s one way I “know in my knower” that I am child of the Living, Almighty God!  I know that’s a strange way of knowing I am his child, but He wouldn’t bother disciplining me if I weren’t his well-loved child.  Think about it–

Our hope is as eternal as God is, and comes to us because we follow a risen, Living Savior Who leads us into, takes us through, and brings us out of our wilderness experiences.  Lean hard on your Living, Loving, Returning Savior during your wilderness experiences!

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand!”             

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated May 2021