Hung Between Two Thieves

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” ~Luke 23:39-Luke 23:43 NKJV 

hung between two theives

While memorizing scripture verses, this being the greatest promise to a fellow crucified man on a cross was what came to my mind. Mostly imagined that which possibly transpired between the thieves that were soon to be crucified and the Christ. I could just imagine Jesus speaking to them through the walls  for the short time he was in the prison are with the other two awaiting the finality of their judgements.

I imagine Jesus speaking to the two thieves of the kingdom of God. This is what comes to my mind as the one thief must have had a change of heart; especially since he spoke to the other thief in such a manner to rebuke him, while on the cross:

 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” ~Luke 23:40-41 NKJV

Even in His final moments, despite the pain and agony, Jesus spoke to others in order to enlarge the kingdom of God. The blaspheming criminal whose heart was still hardened was, in fact, mocking our (& his own) savior! What audacity! What fool-heartiness! We are much like this even today with God, aren’t we? Instead of fixing our hearts through wisdom and knowledge, we prefer and ask of God to fix us through the wave of a hand, or a spoken word…that would make it all better and so much easier on us, too!

Our sins tend to separate us from God, according to the prophet Isaiah:

But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear. ~Isaiah 59:2 NKJV

However, this was under the old covenant, that being said and with Jesus being the final sacrifice for all mankind – no other sacrifice should be required in order to get God’s attention. I believe the Apostle Paul explained it best in Hebrews 10, especially with the words:

“Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. ~Hebrews 10:9-10, 14 NKJV

And also consider the ramifications of these words from the Apostle Paul:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.~Hebrews 10:26-27 NKJV

While I am a firm believer in the passage of rite through the physical baptism as is written in the Book of Romans:

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. ~Romans 6:3-4 NKJV

But at the same time, I believe it is at God’s discretion as to the true change of ones heart. Otherwise we would tend to limit God’s almighty power and sovereignty. To believe he was shining on this saved sinner is, in fact, to discredit the character of the Christ! I see it as obeying a mandate from God, while at the same time God can

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:9 NKJV

He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. ~Romans 9:18 NKJV

We all have this tendency to place God, our All Powerful, All Encompassing, and Ever Present Creator into a much smaller box that He, in all reality, does not belong or fit in. God being who He is can change the rules on any given day in which He chooses to do so! After all, He is the author of the rules…and all authors do make some extraordinary changes, at times.

Consider the possibility that the baptism in which we participate makes us aware that we are burying ourselves with Christ and being resurrected anew into an new live in Christ. That we may emulate Jesus in our wanderings throughout this mortal coil, called earth!

God guides us and speaks to us throughout our day, through those we have conversations with, and that which we read in His Word! Open it up and read it, a dusty bible is no better than a paperweight made of paper!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

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An Addendum…

If you read my May 9th, 2016 blog posting Have you ever… you will better understand this posting. Most of us all get attached to our pets as part of the family, many much like one of our children. We train them, we rear them, we raise them, we nurse them, we worry when they are ill because they cannot tell us what the problem is. Those of you with pets, most of you I assume, get the picture.

Jonah, after he left in a huff, went to sit in a spot where he could see the Ninevites. Most assuredly, he thought they would show their true colors again. And fail at their repentance of their evils and the salvation that God provided them. In fact, I believe he was truly hoping that they would backslide into their previous sins because Jonah truly wanted God’s judgement to be quick and wrathful upon them! <Personal Opinion>

Just as we mere humans become attached to our pets; so did Jonah become attached to his “vine,” “leafy plant,” or whatever other descriptions have been used throughout the numerous variations of the bible. This plant provided Jonah with shade in the midst of the hot desert sun in northern modern day Iraq.

Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant.     ~Jonah 4:6 NIV

Nineveh

Then God provided a worm to destroy the plant which provided the much needed shade. And Jonah wanted to die because of the loss of this plant. He had no love for the Ninevites, there was no one else around for him to love, the only thing Jonah could become attached to was that vine! Jonah, though he fulfilled his task of God, he failed in his true mission which was to take the message of God to these who were fellow creations of God, and learn to love them.

We are called by Jesus to love our neighbors, but God too called us to love our neighbors;

“…love your neighbor as yourself…” Leviticus 19:18 NIV

also, this was not the norm for spreading the message of God by going out on missions. It was the norm of others coming to the Israelite’s to learn of the one true God.

Furthermore, we are not called to go into the mission field already in possession of a love for those we are to give the good news to, we are summoned, or called, to go and spread the word of God. As I understand it, from interviews, we will learn to love those we evangelize in the mission field. It is only normal as we will become more understanding of them, their culture, their ways, understand them personally, etc. We are called to evangelize to the people which God loves and desires them to change & repent. Thus afording them the gift of salvation that God makes available to all His creation!

What are you becoming attached to? What is holding you back?

We are all doing something that veers us from the path we should be following, but we can return to the path by re-centering our lives. God wants us to be centered on Him and to spread His word to those who have souls that need to be saved! A dog, a cat, or a vine do not have souls that are being sentenced to hell, but our fellow man is being sentenced based upon his choices in his life. Remember: Nothing is as important as your fellow man, because the great commission is to:

GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…[emphasis mine] ~Matt 28:19-Matt 28:20 NIV

A great man once said, something to the effect, ‘act as though you love your neighbor, love him to death and then the Holy Spirit will open to you a love that you have never known before.’ Go and love your neighbor by spreading to him the word, speak to him of the impending judgement, do not take it personal if he should refuse this offered gift of salvation. That is the greatest gift God has given us…the FREEDOM to Choose…FREEWILL!

Learn Apologetics, learn to evangelize, learn to speak to others about your faith, learn to expand your faith by study & reading & educating yourselves! Don’t be afraid of the reaction of others. What is the worst that can happen? You make a new friend? You guide someone, or just plant the seed, to salvation? It is all the work of the Holy Spirit and God so do not look at it as a failure on your part! Learn to love your neighbors!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

The Basis for Truth

 

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As the meme states: “Truth by definition excludes.” Meaning, when the “Truth” come out, when it is told…it excludes all other possibilities!

  1. 1+1=2 (this is a mathematical truth with no other possibilities, 1+1 cannot equal anything else but 2!)
  2. The Principle of Non-Contradiction is a metaphysical belief which is presupposed in science and other fields of study. (It states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive.)
  3. We could go on and on with this but I will not, for sake of time & space.

According to Aristotle, first philosophy, or metaphysics, deals with ontology and first principles, of which the principle (or law) of non-contradiction is the firmest. Aristotle says that without the principle of non-contradiction we could not know anything that we do know.

Truth is the subject at hand and when truths are presented, the exclude any and all other possibilities as options to rely upon. Over the course of decades, truth has been dwindled down to a relativistic and meaningless term. Meaning that now, in this day and age, that truth no longer means what it once did. Truth is determined by individual and no longer by the biblical text. Consider the Ten Commandments:

ten-commandments

Even though we have based our laws, in the beginning of this country’s founding, on these specific laws of our Creator. Now, these laws of God cannot be placed upon governmental grounds because they infer the “…respecting an establishment of religion…” as per the U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1. But looking closely, the Commandments are great ideas which we should live according to.

I sense my wry sense of humor getting the best of me right now; so, here we go:

  • First Commandment needed to go, because that would take from the economy of each and every nation…money, things, etc. Also, the politicians and government as a whole cannot handle the competition!
  • Second Commandment needed to go, because without all those graven images we could not remind ourselves of all those goals we need to achieve. And let us not forget the innumerable other idols we worship: the dollar, the U.S. Flag, the eagle, the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the White House, the Confederate Flag, etc.
  • Third Commandment has to go because the misusing of God’s name, His Son’s name, etc. is all part of our common daily language…and if we couldn’t speak our mind without some of that colorful language – we would not be able to really live, now would we??
  • Fourth Commandment had to go because if we honor the Sabbath and think about God and reflect on all that moral stuff…boy! That sure would take away from all the fun I could really be having without thinking on all of that stuff…too heavy of a burden!
  • Fifth Commandment needed to go, because if that was practiced we wouldn’t have all of those prisons, all of those juvenile detention facilities, all of those judges, lawyers,childs mind and parole & probation officers that would be out of work. Instead of having normal kids who survived their childhood and becoming productive citizens, we need to have children who survived a mini-Gulag industrial system to make them compliant. One of the saddest of all, truth be told. Also, let us not forget that the state and/or federal government really wants all children to be taught by them. Do, this is the ultimate reason to get rid of this commandment because the family as we know it is being attacked and destroyed! (i.e., Gay marriage, gay rights, transgendered rights, abolishing of the bible & God from schools, etc.)
  • Sixth Commandment is a good idea; however, today, I believe it just depends on who kills whom as to whether it shouldn’t be done…just watch the news, they will invariably tell you what they want you to know, not necessarily what you should know…you need to be on the look out for that, if it isn’t too much of a hassle.
  • Seventh Commandment is also a good and moral guidance, but this, too, would take away from all the fun and excitement people could be having while debauching the rest of the country! One marriage or another is ending in divorce because someone wanted to try something with someone else, hmmmmmmmmmm..?
  • Eighth Commandment is another good one, but then the government couldn’t pick your pocket  to give it to someone else so they can watch those all important MacGyver re-runs, or build another bridge to nowhere. Of course, every once in a while the U.S. government brings someone to court trial and sends them to jail when they seem to do a better job than the U.S. government, itself. (Enron & Kenneth Lay, and many others)
  • Ninth Commandment is great, BUT how can you get what you want if you don’t lie about someone else? And we learn this early on in our lives cause we cannot take the blame for something we did…blame it on the baby in the crib, he won’t tell on us! (Yes, that actually happened! my older siblings broke a lamp with the Frisbee they weren’t supposed to be tossing in the house. And YES, that was me in the crib who got blamed for it! ha-ha-ha!)
  • Tenth Commandment is also a great idea to prevent theft and other things. But since our imagination is evil from our youth (Genesis 8:21) we will have a tough time with this one also. And for that matter the IRS will have a tough time not coveting YOUR FARE SHARE of the tax burden in this country, which seems to be getting more and more of your paycheck! And what about raising your taxes even more, eh?

While this diatribe is not a direct reflection of Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ series entitled, “The Basis For Truth,” I am certain his is far more interesting and intriguing than this. I am very fond of his quips of humor wrapped around the biblical truths  that he teaches. I hope and pray you will listen to his series on this topic, you will find it fascinating, intellectually stimulating, and funny.  The Basis For Truth, Part 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD