Is it OK for Christians to Vape or Smoke?

Pastor Robert Hammond

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This short article discusses biblical principles that apply to the use of nicotine, together with practical help for people who desire to stop using nicotine.

Many have concluded that it’s ok for Christians to smoke or vape because the Bible doesn’t directly address this topic. However, the Bible does teach a variety of principles that should inform our decision.

First, we are called to yield control to the Holy Spirit rather than to allow ourselves to be controlled by a chemical substance. This is precisely the point of Ephesisan 5:18, where the Lord commands, “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The point of that verse is that God desires us to yield control of our lives to him alone. When we yield control to alcohol or nicotine, we necessarily cease yielding ourselves to God — especially in the case of addiction to alcohol or nicotine (or any other substance).

Second, we are called to demonstrate love to other Christians. In 1 John 4:7, the Lord commands us to “…love one another: for love is of God…” Smoking or vaping around others is unloving for several reasons: (1) It may be an annoyance to others; (2) it may encourage others to smoke or vape and (3) exposure to second-hand smoke has been shown to be dangerous to others.

Third, Christians do well to consider that the Lord has provided our bodies for his purposes. (Revelation 4:11). We should work to remain healthy so that we may continue to serve God. Further, Christians should consider that our bodies our indwelt by the Holy Spirit. in 1 Corinthians 6:19, the Lord asks, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Last, it is also worth noting that the cost of vaping or smoking can impede our desire to be good stewards of our finances.

In conclusion, Christians should refrain from smoking or vaping in order to (1) demonstrate love to others, (2) to avoid addiction — which necessarily involves yielding control to something other than God and (3) to be good stewards of our finances and our physical bodies so that we may serve God as long as he desires.

If you are already addicted to nicotine or any other substance, consider these suggestions:

  1. Pray and confess the sin;

  2. Ask God for grace to stop using the substance. And ask him to help you seek comfort from him;

  3. Get support from your pastor or someone else in your church. In addition, ask your doctor about programs to help manage the physical aspect of the addiction. In the case of smoking or vaping, this may include using a nicotine patch for a short time to help wean your body off nicotine.

Praise God for his grace and comfort!

If your’re not certain that you know Christ as your Savior, please learn more here.

Dealing with Bitterness Biblically

Pastor Robert Hammond, Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT

Nick Vujicic is a Christian evangelist who was born without arms and legs.

Nick Vujicic is a Christian evangelist who was born without arms and legs.

See these resources for overcoming bitterness:

Related Bible Verses:

Free articles: (click titles to read)

  • Dealing With Bitterness Biblically by Pastor Robert Hammond of Long Hill Baptist Church. This outline addresses topics including:

    • The definition and sinful nature of bitterness;

    • The causes and consequences of bitterness;

    • The Biblical way to overcome bitterness;

  • How to Deal with Bitterness by Dr. Terry Coomer of Hope Biblical Counseling and Training Center, a ministry of Hope Baptist Church, North Little Rock-Sherwood, Arkansas.      

 Related Books:

What Can I Do When I'm Feeling Hurt?

Pastor Robert Hammond, Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT

We’ve all dealt with situations that caused us to feel hurt. Thankfully, the Bible prescribes a way to overcome our hurt feelings. Download this Bible study to learn how to implement biblical answer to feeling emotionally hurt.

Source:   This study is adapted from How to Deal with Hurt by Dr. Terry Coomer (with permission of the author).  For more information, please visit Dr. Coomer’s website at HopeBiblicalCounselingCenter.com

keywords: I feel hurt, I’m hurting, my feelings are hurt

What is biblical fellowship?   

(It’s more than enjoying a meal together!)    
 
Pastor Robert Hammond | Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT

In Acts 2:42, the Jerusalem church is described as having “…continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. To say that they “continued stedfastly” means that they pursued those things with earnest. They persevered. They were constantly diligent in things including “fellowship.”

What exactly is fellowship?  The word underlying “fellowship” literally refers to joining together or partnering with others -- especially for a beneficial purpose.  It implies serving one another (e.g. Ec. 4:9-10), and/or serving others (e.g. 2 Cor. 8:1-4) and/or partnering to reach others with the gospel (e.g. Phil 1:3-5).

The biblical definition of fellowship appears to be closely related to the literal definition of “church.”   Recall that “church” literally refers to an assembly of people who are called out - typically for a specific purpose.  Church members (those who are called out from the world) are called to assemble together in order to partner in fulfilling God’s purposes, i.e. to fellowship! In short, we are both called-out from the world and called together to partner in fulfilling specific biblical purposes.   

Consider the following related observations from Scripture

  1. We are called to fellowship both with the Lord and with other believers -- and we are called to refrain from attempting to fellowship with unbelievers:

    A. (1 John 1:3) “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

    B. (Ephesians 5:11) “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

    C. (2 Corinthians 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

    Biblical fellowship occurs among believers (1) within a church assembly or (2) between like-minded churches.  It specifically cannot exist between believers and unbelievers.  

Three biblical purposes of fellowship:

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:9 illustrates the principle of fellowship for the purpose of mutual benefit (serving one another):
    Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Here, we find a practical benefit of maintaining close daily fellowship with other believers, i.e. we can help each other “up” when we “fall.”

  2. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, Paul illustrates the principle of fellowship as joining together / partnering for the purpose of serving others.

    There,  Paul writes that the Macedonian churches asked him to take their financial gift to Jerusalem.  Paul referred to their desire to partner with him to deliver the gift as  “fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

    (2 Corinthians 8:1) “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

    Romans 15:26 evidently refers to the same episode as 2 Cor 8.  There, the word that is sometimes translated “fellowship” is translated “contribution” -- underscoring the idea that fellowship involves partnership for a beneficial purpose:   “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

  3. Other passages  illustrate the idea of fellowship as joining together / partnering for the purpose of reaching others (sharing the gospel)

    In Galatians 2:9, Paul explains that came into a partnership with James, Cephas (Peter) and John to share the gospel:   (Gal 2:9)  “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

    In Philippains 1:3-5, Paul testified that he prayed for the church there, thanking God for their “fellowship in the gospel,” i.e. their supportive partnership with Paul in his evangelist effort:

    (Phil 1:3-5)  “3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;”   (They had evidently supported him financially).

Where Did the Bible Come From?

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Eight Reasons to Believe that the Bible Came From God.

1.     The Bible writers Professed that their words came from God.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah testified that he wrote words given to him by God:  “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)

In Mark 12:36, Mark records Jesus’s assertion that Psalm 110 was inspired by God:  “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

In the New Testament, Paul writes, “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God …” (2 Timothy 3:16). And Peter writes, “For the prophecy came not in old time (the Old Testament period) by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)

2.     The Personal experience of Christians testifies that the Bible is supernatural;

The experience of converts in the New Testament.  For example, the apostle Paul was converted to biblical Christianity while traveling for the purpose of persecuting Christians.  Having been converted to Christianity, he became perhaps the most fervent preacher of the Bible recorded in the New Testament – despite the severe persecution that he suffered throughout his evangelistic efforts.  

The personal experience of Christians today.  Countless individuals around the world today report that their lives have been transformed by the Bible. This is consistent with the biblical claim that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The experience of Christians is also consistent with the biblical assertion that “…the word of God is quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

3. The Preservation of the Bible despite concerted attempts to eliminate it throughout history.  The preservation of God’s word is consistent with the biblical promise that God would preserve his words:

In Psalm 12:6-7, we read, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus states, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” And in Matthew 24:35, Jesus adds, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” 

4.     The Perfect internal consistency of the Bible testifies to its supernatural origin. 

Despite the fact that 40 different men wrote over 1,600 years – some of whom had no access to each other’s writing – the Bible is perfectly consistent with regard to doctrine, themes, places and dates

5. The fulfillment of Bible Prophesy testifies to the supernatural original of the Bible. The Bible contain more than 1,800 detailed prophesies.  All of those prophesies have either already been fulfilled or relate to future events.

For example, the Old Testament prophet Daniel prophesied the major world powers, including the Medo-Persian Empire (539-331 BC), the Greek empire (331-146 BC) and the Roman empire (146 BC – AD 410).  Daniel wrote during the Babylonian Empire (605-539 BC), i.e. roughly 200 years prior to the Greek Empire and 400 years before the Roman Empire.

Also note that the Bible accurately predicted both the parentage of Christ (Gen. 3:15; Isa 7:14; Isa 11:1) and his place of his birth (Micah 5:2 vs. Matt 2:1).  And Daniel predicted the timing of the crucifixion of Christ.

Further, in Luke 9:22, Jesus prophesied both his death and resurrection: “…The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”

6.     The archeological evidence for Bible People testifies to the truth of the Bible.

At least 53 people who are named in the Old Testament have been found referenced in archeological discoveries – including kings of Israel & Judah, Moab, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia.

The Hittites. At one time, skeptics used the Bible’s 25 references to an unknown Hittite people as proof that the Bible was a myth. However, beginning in the late 19th century, archeologists began uncovering evidence of a Hittite people. 

7.     The archeological evidence for Bible Places testifies to the truth of the Bible.

In addition to Jericho, biblical places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been discovered and excavated.

In 2015, archeologists discovered ruins of a place in modern Jordan that fits the description of the city of Sodom.  They found ruins a city that was known for its acceptance of homosexuality. They found evidence of a prosperous city that grew large and then suddenly ceased to be inhabited (for more than 700 years).  They discovered a layer of ash together with markings that are consistent with burning. In addition, pottery shards display signs of exposure to extremely high temperatures.  (Source: Archaeologist Believes to Have Discovered Location of Biblical Sodom, But One Thing Remains a Mystery (2015), https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/51870/sodom-found-archaeological-evidence-proof-biblical-account-health-and-science/, accessed October 7, 2018)

8.     The universal tradition of Bible Passages testifies to the supernatural original of the Bible.

For example, many cultures around the world have a tradition of a global flood that appears to reflect the Genesis flood account. Archeologists have discovered evidence that the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all had a tradition of a catastrophic flood. Further, there is evidence that early Chinese people also had knowledge of specific details of the biblical flood account. The evidence includes the fact that the traditional Chinese symbol for boat consists of three elements: (1) the symbol for a vessel, (2) the symbol for the number eight and (3) the symbol for people. This is consistent with the Genesis account of eight people being saved from a flood in an ark — a vessel with eight people!

Mind Your T’s & Y’s: Understanding King James Pronouns

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Pastor Hammond

Living according to “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4) requires that we make an effort to learn to understand every word of scripture.  Yet, any honest pastor will admit that the Elizabethan-era English of our King James Bible can be challenging. One of the first challenges that we face is the so-called Elizabethan pronouns, i.e. thou, thee, thy, thine, ye, and you.

It is fair to ask if these “old fashioned” pronouns really matter – especially given that most modern Bible versions have replaced them with simpler, more familiar words.  For example, modern translations typically replace “ye” with “you.”  While that change may seem reasonable, readers must understand that dropping the use of the Elizabethan pronouns necessarily obscures the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words that underlie our English translation.  In fact, when translators change “ye” to “you,” they are necessarily changing God’s words!

Let’s take a closer look at the issue.   Recall that the New Testament is translated from Greek.  Biblical Greek differentiates between singular pronouns that refer to one person (thou, thee, thine) and plural pronouns that refer to multiple people (you, ye). Biblical Greek also differentiates between pronouns that serve as subjects and objects in a sentence.  Unfortunately, modern English no longer maintains a system of pronouns that bear the same level of precision.  Fortunately, however, the Elizabethan English of our King James Bible utilizes a system of pronouns that perfectly reflects the precision of the original Greek. 

You may be wondering if this level of grammatical precision is actually important.  Consider the King James translation of John 3:7.  There, Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee (singular, object form), ye (plural, subject form) must be born again."  The use of these precise pronouns in our  King James translation makes it clear that, while Jesus was speaking to one man (Nicodemus), his message was that all people must be born again.  However, the New International Version (NIV) obscures the fact that all must be born again; It translates  John 3:7 as “You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again.”  Because the NIV says "You must be born again," a modern reader would not likely understand that Jesus was actually telling Nicodemus that all people must be born again. 

Similar distinctions are made in the Biblical Hebrew underlying our King James Old Testament. Consider Exodus 4:15:  "And thou (2nd person singular, subject form) shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy (2nd-person singular,  possessive form) mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you (plural, object form) what ye (plural, subject form) shall do" (KJV).

One commentator notes that, in the above verse, we see the pronouns "thou," "thy," "you," and "ye," all fulfilling a specific grammatical function.  Modern translations are more likely to read:  "You shall speak to him ...and I will be with your mouth,... and will teach you what you shall do."  In choosing to simplify the translation, they obscure the precision and clarity of the underlying Hebrew words.  However, our King James Bible makes it clear that the LORD told Moses that he (Moses) was to speak to Aaron, and that He (the LORD) would then teach both of them (not just Moses) what they were to do.

Ok, so how can I remember the meaning of each pronoun?

Here’s a simple rule:  In our King James bible, pronouns that begin with “T” are always singular (i.e. they refer to one person); Pronouns that begin with “Y” are always plural (i.e. they refer to multiple people).   Someone observed that a helpful way to remember this rule is that “t” resembles one "stick" whereas “y” pictures two (or more) sticks stacked together.  

Going a step further:  Biblical Greek also uses different forms of pronouns to identify subjects and objects in a sentence.  Recall that, in a sentence, a subject is the person who is performing an action.  The object is a person or thing that is receiving action.  Consider this sentence:   “Mary is feeding the baby.”   “Mary” is the subject, i.e. the one performing the action.   “Baby” is the object, i.e. the one upon whom the action is being performed.  

Praise God for our Authorized King James Bible – an accurate translation of God’s preserved words.

A Helpful Chart of King James Bible Pronouns: 

  1. “T” pronouns are singular (and always 2nd person)

    1. Thou = subject form

    2. Thee = object form

    3. “Thy” & “Thine” show possession

  2. Y” pronouns are plural (and always 2nd-person)

    1. Ye = Subject form (performs action)

    2. You = object form (received action) Remember: If someone offers you an I-O-U, you expect to receive something. (IOU ~ YOU)

    3. Your(s)” shows possession

Remember:  "T" pronouns are always singular. "Y" pronouns are always plural.

Want to learn more?  

 

"Why do I need Jesus since I already believe in God?"

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Pastor Robert Hammond

"Why do I need to believe in Jesus since I already believe in God?" That is an excellent question, indeed!

The simplest answer I can offer is that Jesus taught that we cannot have a relationship with God the Father unless we have a relationship with God the Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Earlier, Jesus also said, "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." I'm sure you'll agree that this raises an important question: Why did the Father send Jesus?

The Bible teaches that we've all sinned against God. The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). The Bible also teaches that our sin separates us from God and makes it impossible for us to have a relationship with Him. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Therefore, we have a problem that needs a resolution.

We understand from Scripture that God has always required a blood sacrifice to cover our sins. Hence the bloody animal sacrifices carried out by the Jewish people throughout the Bible in the Tabernacle and the Temple. We see that God's plan was for the Jewish animal sacrifices to forshadow the coming of Christ, the Son of God -- the ultimate sacrifice. In fact, the Bible teaches that God had worked out this plan even before he created the world. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Consider how the Biblical Jewish Temple and Tabernacle picture Christ. They both had one door leading into the outer court (symbolizing the idea that there is just one way to God). Also, they both had an alter (where bloody animal sacrifices were performed) between the door and the place of God's special presence -- picturing the idea that God can only be approached as the result of a blood sacrifice. We understand that this design was God's way of preparing hearts for the idea that Christ would come as the "one way" and the final, perfected blood sacrifice through which we may have access to God the Father-- and a real relationship with Him.

The good news of the New Testament is that Christ did come to die on the cross as the final payment for all our sins -- fulfilling all the prophecies of the Messiah in the Jewish scriptures. Jesus Christ came as the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God’s demand for justice against our sins. Because Jesus came as God in the flesh and allowed his blood to be shed for us, eternal life is offered to us as a free gift. God paid the price for our sin Himself! And Christ rose again from the dead, too!

Our responsibility in all of this is to choose to place our faith in Christ for forgiveness of our sins. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). The word "believe" in John 3:16 means to place your trust in Christ. God promises eternal life to anyone who places their trust in Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus taught that "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." In calling us to repent, he calls us to make a conscious decision to leave behind our old sinful ways and to turn to him. Importantly, the Bible teaches that there's nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness of our sins. Christ has already done all the work. We simply need to receive him. The Bible says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesian 2:8-9).

When you're ready to repent, you may receive Christ as your personal savior by praying a simple prayer like this:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge I have sinned against a Holy God and that my sins have separated me from you. I believe that you, Jesus, are the Son of God, and I believe you shed your blood and died to pay for my sins on the cross.  And I believe that you rose from the dead. Today, I repent and place my full dependence and trust in You for my eternal salvation.  Please help me to live for you because you have loved me so very much.

Also see Identify the True Messiah by His Parents, Place & Point in Time

Have questions?  Please send e-mail to pastor Bob Hammond at Hammond.Robert@gmail.com, or call / text to 203-543-7456.
 

Why we still use the King James Bible at Long Hill Baptist Church.

Pastor Robert Hammond

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At Long Hill Baptist Church, we praise God for equipping us with His words! We're aware that the debate around Bible versions has, at times, been less than gracious.  Our desire is to graciously communicate the rationale for a our decision to make exclusive use of the King James Bible.   We recognize at least four key reasons for using the King James Bible:

The Kings James Bible is an accurate translation of the correct version of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament.

It uses the Hebrew and Greek texts that have been received by God’s people throughout history.  These underlying texts are commonly known as the Textus Receptus – which simply means “received text.” All of the other modern Bible translations used a different underlying Greek New Testament.    They made this decision because, during the 19th century, additional Greek manuscripts were discovered. 

The problem with those newly discovered manuscripts is that they were not consistent with each other!  Despite the inconsistencies, those newly-discovered manuscripts were judged to be “older and therefore better” than the words of God that have been traditionally received by God’s people.  Consequently, the newly-discovered manuscripts were used by academicians to produce a new version of the Greek New Testament (the so-called Critical Text). 

This is the Greek that underlies all modern translations, including the New Internal Version (NIV), New American Standard Version (NASB), New Living Translation (NLT), The Message, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).

At Long Hill Baptist Church, we reject the notion that God could have hid his true words from his people until the 19th Century.

To do so would have made it impossible for God’s people to live according to His words – as required by Matthew 4:4.  In Matthew 4:4, Jesus taught that we are responsible to live according to his words:

“…It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

Furthermore, the clear Biblical teaching that God promised to preserve His words obliges us to reject the idea that His true words would need to be restored by man through an academic process.  In Matthew 24:35, Jesus said that his words would never pass away.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) 

In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms teaches:

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  7Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)

We recognize that some of the modern Bible versions used an undesirable approach to Bible translation.

The so-called dynamic equivalence (or paraphrase) technique was used to produce many of the modern Bible translations, including the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT).  This approach to translation attempts to preserve the basic ideas of each scriptural passage – without attempting to make a word-for-word translation.  While this approach produces translations that are generally easy to understand, it necessarily denies readers access to “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4).   Thankfully, our King James Bible uses a more rigorous technique – formal equivalence.  This approach attempts to preserve the meaning of each individual word and phrase – and therefore results in a translation that is closer to the original Greek and Hebrew.

The King James Bible reflects a level of grammatical precision that can’t easily be achieved with contemporary English.

In John 3:7, Jesus told a man named Nicodemus, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”  The pronoun “ye” is the second-person plural form of “you.”  Jesus used the plural form to make it clear that all men must be “born again” by repenting and placing their faith in him alone.  He desired for people to understand that it wasn’t just Nicodemus that needed to be born again.  However, most modern translations read, “You must be born again.”  By choosing to use more contemporary English, modern translations cloud the true meaning of the words that Christ spoke.

keywords: preservation, preserved, what Bible, what Bible version do you use?, Bible translation, what bible translation do you use?, King James

Why I Chose to Stop Celebrating Halloween

Pastor Robert Hammond

Autumn brings with it the annual debate among Christians about involvement in Halloween. Some hold that Halloween is a harmless time of fun for young people. Others see significant spiritual concerns.

Years ago, when my son was young, we made the decision to stop participating in Halloween.  Our decision was rooted neither in fear of the occult nor in so-called religious legalism.  Rather, it was a decision  made in response to our growing understanding of what pleases God.

Our decision was also rooted in our understanding that Christians are involved in a real spiritual battle -- a battle against what the Bible calls "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).  And our decision was rooted in an understanding that Halloween celebrates and exalts those very same enemies.

Many have attempted to trivialize the association of Halloween with the occult.  However,  the association of Halloween with exaltation of death, the occult and pagan practices cannot be denied. I readily acknowledge that the precise origin of Halloween is open to a degree of debate. That said, it is well-established that the holiday has a strong historical link to the pagan religious practices of both the Celts and the  Druids.  The World Book Encyclopedia  states that Halloween can be traced to Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), an ancient pagan festival celebrated over 2,000 years ago by Celtic people.   The Celts believed that, on that day,  the dead could walk among the living. 

The modern celebration of Halloween is rooted in historical efforts to "Christianize" the pagan Samhain festival by redefining it as "All Hallows Eve."  This syncretism -- the practice of integrating false religious practices into Christianity -- is clearly unbiblical.  We aren't commanded to incorporate false practices into Biblical Christianity.  Instead, in 2 Corinthians 6:17, we are specifically commanded to "..come out from among them, and be ye separate."  

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the LORD commanded His people to avoid involvement in the occult practices of their Pagan neighbors:

"When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD..." (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)

In the New Testament, the LORD reiterates His commands for believers to have no involvement in practices that are associated with evil.  In Romans 12:9, Paul writes,  "Abhor (hate extremely) that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." And in Ephesians 5:11, the Bible commands us to "...have no fellowship (association or companionship) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  To reprove is to blame or charge with fault.  In these two verses alone, we are commanded to (1) cultivate an extreme hated of evil things, (2) refrain from associating with evil practices and (3) to actively charge evil practices with fault against God.   Clearly, the celebration of Halloween has no place in the life of a genuine Christian. 

This autumn, let's be faithful to God's command to be separate from practices that are associated with evil.  Let's refrain from participating in activities that exalt darkness.  And having done that, let us develop a singular focus on exalting our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Listen to the testimony of a former witch who has now received Jesus Christ as her Savior.  Learn why she refuses to celebrate Halloween. 

Should Christians Practice Taekwondo?

Pastor Robert Hammond

In this brief article, I address a question that was posed to me regarding the religious aspects of Taekwondo and the suitability of Taekwondo for Christians. 

Taekwondo_girl.jpg

In a 2012 article, Taekwondo teacher Ørjan Nilsen argued that practicing Taekwondo should not be viewed as a problem for Christians[1].  Essentially, he claimed that Taekwondo has no religious origin. 

However, in the same article, Nilsen acknowledged that Taekwondo has been “influenced” and “shaped” by both Buddhism and Taoism.  And he admitted that practicing Taekwondo requires knowledge of certain aspects of both Buddhism and Taoism.  Some quotes from his article include:

  •  “... The founders and early pioneers said Taekwondo did not contain any religious foundation, but that it was influenced by ...Buddhism. Taoism also played a part in shaping the culture of the founders of Taekwondo ... it too has influenced the way we practise Taekwondo…”

  • “…Besides the students oath we do have one "big" remnant from Taoism included in our studies through our practise of the Taegeuk pattern set. These patterns are in theory based on the philosophical foundation of Taoism ….”

  •  “…  Taekwondo does have influences ... that might stem from religion, and (requires) a very basic knowledge of Taoism and on a higher lever a very basic knowledge of Budhism …”

Similarly, a May 2013 article in Blackbelt magazine argues that practicing Taekwondo isn't necessarily inconsistent with Christianity.  However, the same article states, "In the martial arts, religion has an ... important role. It was crucial in the historical development of many arts, and it continues to dictate the ways in which many students think and act during practice sessions."

The above quotes document that experts in the martial arts admit: (1) Taekwondo has been influenced by both Buddhism and Taoism; (2) Practicing Taekwondo requires basic knowledge of certain aspects of both Buddhism and Taoism; (3) Students are typically influenced by the religious aspects of Taekwondo; and (4) Certain religious aspects of Taekwondo may be incompatible with Christianity.   

Why is the religious aspect of Taekwondo a problem for Christians? Buddhism is a false religion that teaches people to take refuge in Buddha, a man who is wrongly revered as a God-like being.  Similarly, Taoism is a false religion that teaches people to worship false Gods.  Taoism teaches the false doctrine of pantheism -- the idea that the universe is God.  As such, both Buddhism and Taoism are entirely incompatible with Christianity – which teaches that (1) the LORD is the one true God (1 Corinthians 8:6) and (2) faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only true way of salvation (John 14:6).  

What about those who would argue, "my class is safe because religion is never discussed?"  Consider this response from GotQuestions.org:   "the false religious overtones of Buddhism are there whether they are expressed verbally or not."  And consider this statement from the Blackbelt magazine article referenced above:  "More than a few Western students have converted to an Eastern religion simply because their martial art grew from that spiritual tradition."

Importantly, the Bible commands that we separate ourselves from false religious practices and from people who engage in those practices:

  • In the Old Testament, the Lord commanded his people to nether worship false gods nor "do after their works." (Ex. 23:24);
     
  • In the New Testament, the Lord requires church-age believers to separate from false religious practices.  In 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, God commands, “… come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Conclusion:  Christians should refrain from participating in Taekwondo as well as all of the various other forms of the martial arts.   

1] Source:  http://jungdokwan-taekwondo.blogspot.com/2012/01/religion-and-taekwondo.html

 

 

 

The Greatest Gift of All

Pastor Robert Hammond

Over the years, I have read innumerable Christmastime articles that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  Predictably,  they contend that Christmas is less about receiving gifts and more about time for family, reflection, and, of course, for giving gifts. 

That all sounds good.  But, I really like to receive gifts.  

One Christmas season, I was invited to share the story of the best gift that I ever received.  A friend invited me to share my story with a woman in his family who has been fighting a terminal illness.   I quickly accepted the invitation to visit her at a local nursing home.

When I entered her room, I introduced myself and prayed with her. Then, I began telling her the story of the most wonderful gift that I had ever received.

I told her how, when I was a boy, a man took a book and told me the story of a Father who understood the importance of giving like no one else.  The man described a Father who was so concerned for others that he was willing to send his only son to die for them. 

I told her how that Father’s gift was motivated by unfathomable love.  And I told her that his son shared that love so perfectly that he was willing to shed his blood and to die for me. 

Puzzled, the women in the hospital bed turned away.  And then she turned back toward me. 

I explained that the book that was read to me was the Bible. And I explained that Father who was described to me is God the Father.   I continued that the son who was offered by his own Father is the long-prophesied Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I explained that God the Father sent his son both to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and to die on the cross at Calvary – exactly as had been prophesied in the Scriptures.  And I told her why he did that:  According the Bible, I am a sinner.  Because of that, I deserve death – eternal separation from God.  But, according to the Bible, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I told her that I had received that gift and I explained how she might receive it, too.  I explained that the Bible teaches that our good works aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness.

I told her how Jesus said, “ye must be born again.”   And I told her that Peter, the Apostle, said, “Repent (turn away from sin) … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” I explained that Salvation is a free gift that must simply be received by turning away from sin and by placing one’s faith in Christ. 

That night, she too decided to receive the greatest gift that I have ever received – the gift of eternal salvation.  She prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Because of her decision to receive Christ, she may know with certainty that, whenever her battle with illness ends, she will be in Heaven with her Savior.  That’s a great Christmas gift indeed.

Have you received the greatest gift of all – the Lord Jesus Christ?    

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

We Care About People Who Identify as LGBTQ

Pastor Robert Hammond

Long Hill Baptist Church cares about people who identify as members of the LGBTQ community.  We love you.  And God love you, too. (John 3:16)

First, we want you to understand that a person isn’t “gay,” “homosexual” or “lesbian” simply because they lack a natural attraction to people of the opposite biological gender. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that some people are born without this natural attraction to people of the opposite biological gender. See for yourself:

Matthew 19:12 says, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb…”

What does that mean? In the Bible, a eunuch was typically a man who was casterated so that he would not be distracted by physical attraction to women. And so, in Matthew 19:12, the Bible is revealing that some people are born without a natural attraction to the people of the opposite biological gender.

Many people assume that if they lack an attraction to the opposite gender, they must fit somewhere in the LGBTQ community. However, according to the Bible, that assumption is simply incorrect. Why? God specifically prohibits homosexual behavior. In Leviticus 18:22, God commands, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” And so the Bible makes it very clear that God views practicing homosexuality as a sin. This matters because, according to the Bible, any sin will condemn us to punishment in a very real and eternal hell (Romans 6:23) — unless we find God’s forgiveness.

The good news is that Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of sin when we turn from sin and turn to to him in faith.

In Romans 3:23, the Bible says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  God's perfect holiness and justice requires that a penalty be paid for sin.  In fact, in Romans 6:23, the Bibles teaches that "the wages of sin is death."  The good news is that the son of God -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- paid that penalty for us by shedding His blood and dying upon the cross in our place.  It is only through repentance (turning to Christ from sin) and placing one's faith in Christ that our sins are forgiven.  Romans 6:23 says, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  If you will repent and receive Christ as your savior, you can know for certain that you have been forgiven and that you have eternal life.

Thankfully, when we come to Christ with a humble, repentant faith, we find both forgiveness of all sin and strength to put off old sinful habits.

Click to learn more about knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.

 

 

keywords: homosexual, gay, lesbian, queer, trans, transgender, bisexual, homosexuality

 

A Spiritual Battle Plan

Pastor Hammond 

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting an endless battle?  The Bible is clear that Christians are, in fact,  in a spiritual battle!   In Ephesians 6:12, Paul wrote, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  The Devil knows that he's already lost us to Christ; he lost that battle.  His only remaining opportunity is to engage us in a spiritual battle in order to harm our walk with the LORD.   How can a believer be prepared for this battle?

Tactic #1:  Choose to Resist the Devil 

Praise God that Christians may know that the LORD has perfect authority over the Satan and his demons.   So, it comes as no surprise that His words offer the key to winning spiritual battles:   In James 4:7, the Bible says, " Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  We’re promised that, when we  submit ourselves to the Lord and resist the devil, the devil feels from us!  

Tactic #2:  Choose to Find Strength for the Battle in the LORD 

Praise God, that we don't have to fight the battle our own strength.  In Ephesians 6, Pauls tells us that we may find strength for the battle in the Lord, i.e.  we can know His strength, His power and His might to overcome the devil.  See these verses:

Ephesians 6:10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might

Tactic #3:  Choose to Put on the “Whole Armour of God”

The LORD gives us His strength for the battle -- and he equips with the armor that protect us for the battle.  In Ephesians 6,  Paul implores us to put on the "whole armour of God" for this battle:

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

Our armour includes the truth of God's word (v. 14),  righteousness that we have found in Christ (v. 14), the gospel (v. 15), faith (v. 16),  salvation (v. 17), and the Holy Spirit (v. 17).  Also note the critical importance of the "word of God" (v. 17) and "praying always" (v. 18).  When the enemy attacks, we need to get even more serious about being in the Bible and prayer.  The enemy know that these are powerful weapons.  So, he wants us to be discouraged from reading the Bible and from spending time in prayer.  Don't allow him to discourage you!  Pray and ask the LORD to help you remain faithful to Bible reading and prayer. 

Tactic # 4:  Choose to Separate from the Ungodly Influences of the World

The devil is a crafty adversary who conscripts the world and the people of the world to aid him in battle.   That’s a practical reason why it’s so important for Christians to separate from the influence of worldly friends and other negative influences.  And let's be reminded that the LORD has commanded us to do just that!

2 Corinthians 6:14-18  14 ¶ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers... 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Consider your entertainments and your involvements.  And consider your social circle.  Ask the LORD to show you if you need to make changes.  And draw upon His strength to make changes that will be pleasing to Him. 

Tactic #5:  Praise God that we’ve been made “new creatures” who don’t have to be ashamed of past sins

Perhaps none of the devil’s tactics is so effective as encouraging us to focus on memories of past sin.  However, believers may also know that all  of those past sins are 100% forgiven.  You've been made a "new creature in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 5:17).  "... old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  The Bible says that when we are obedient to the LORD, we do not need to be ashamed.  In Psalm 119:6, the psalmist wrote,  "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments."  It's those unsaved people who are still living wicked lives who should be ashamed.  And Psalm 31:17 says, "Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed..."  

The Bible also says that you can have a "good conscience" when you're prepared to give the gospel to those "evildoers" around you."

1 Peter 3:14-17  14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye:: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;  15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.  17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 

So, pray and ask the LORD to use an encounter with someone from the past as an opportunity to share the gospel with that person!  But also be sure to ask the LORD to protect you from any negative influence as you encounter people from the past.

Tactic #6 - Understand that the battle will end!

The prophet Zechariah reminds us that a day is coming when "all the saints" will come with the LORD (Zech. 14:5) to enjoy a time when the "the LORD shall be king over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9).  And shortly thereafter, the Devil will be bound (Rev. 20:2).  Praise God that we may look forward to  such a wonderful future with Christ!

Conclusion

Praise God that he has given us all that we need to prevail in the Spiritual battle that He has permitted for this time.  Let’s re-commit to availing ourselves of all that the LORD has provided!  Let’s recommit to spending time in His word.  And let’s get serious about being people of prayer.  Lastly, let’s ask the LORD for strength to separate from the ungodly influences of this world – and instead, influence those lost people through the Gospel of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

First published February 15, 2011.

The Greatest Gift of All

Pastor Robert Hammond

Over the years, I have read innumerable Christmastime articles that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  Predictably,  they contend that Christmas is less about receiving gifts and more about time for family, reflection, and, of course, for giving gifts. 

That all sounds good.  But, I really like to receive gifts.  

One Christmas season, I was invited to share the story of the best gift that I ever received.  A friend invited me to share my story with a woman in his family who has been fighting a terminal illness.   I quickly accepted the invitation to visit her at a local nursing home.

When I entered her room, I introduced myself and prayed with her. Then, I began telling her the story of the most wonderful gift that I had ever received.

I told her how, when I was a boy, a man took a book and told me the story of a Father who understood the importance of giving like no one else.  The man described a Father who was so concerned for others that he was willing to send his only son to die for them. 

I told her how that Father’s gift was motivated by unfathomable love.  And I told her that his son shared that love so perfectly that he was willing to shed his blood and to die for me. 

Puzzled, the women in the hospital bed turned away.  And then she turned back toward me. 

I explained that the book that was read to me was the Bible. And I explained that Father who was described to me is God the Father.   I continued that the son who was offered by his own Father is the long-prophesied Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I explained that God the Father sent his son both to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and to die on the cross at Calvary – exactly as had been prophesied in the Scriptures.  And I told her why he did that:  According the Bible, I am a sinner.  Because of that, I deserve death – eternal separation from God.  But, according to the Bible, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I told her that I had received that gift and I explained how she might receive it, too.  I explained that the Bible teaches that our good works aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness.

I told her how Jesus said, “ye must be born again.”   And I told her that Peter, the Apostle, said, “Repent (turn away from sin) … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” I explained that Salvation is a free gift that must simply be received by turning away from sin and by placing one’s faith in Christ. 

That night, she too decided to receive the greatest gift that I have ever received – the gift of eternal salvation.  She prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Because of her decision to receive Christ, she may know with certainty that, whenever her battle with illness ends, she will be in Heaven with her Savior.  That’s a great Christmas gift indeed.

Have you received the greatest gift of all – the Lord Jesus Christ?    Learn more

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Find Real Hope

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, TRUE HOPE IS POSSIBLE IN CHRIST ALONE.

The Bible offers the certainty of forgiveness and eternal life.   However, you may be surprised to learn that the Bible clearly states that we cannot earn eternal life through our own good works.

In Ephesians chapter 2, the apostle Paul writes, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, least any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

No good works - including Baptism - are good enough to get us into Heaven.  Why is that?  In Romans 3:23, the Bible says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  God's perfect holiness and justice requires that a penalty be paid for sin.  In fact, in Romans 6:23, the Bibles teaches that "the wages of sin is death."  The good news is that the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid that penalty for us by shedding His blood and dying upon the cross in our place. It is only through repentance and faith in Christ that our sins are forgiven.  Romans 6:23 says, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  If you will repent and receive Christ as your savior, the Bible says that you can know for certain that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

How may I know that my sins are fogiven?

1.  Understand that Christ died on the cross and paid for all our sins. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God’s demand for justice against our sins. Because Jesus did that for us, eternal life is offered to us as a free gift. God paid the price for our sin Himself!

2.  Turn away from sin and receive Christ as your savior. The Bible teaches that, in order to receive forgiveness of sins, we must repent and place our faith in Christ.  To repent is simply to make a conscious decision to turn away from sin and to turn toward Christ.   Repentence involves achange of mind that produces a change in action.   Repentence normally involves sorrow over our past sins - especially when we realize that Christ died on the cross in our place.   The Bible say, "...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."  (Luke 15:10)

The Bible says that "...Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). The word believe inJohn 3:16 means to place your trust in Christ. If you will place your trust in Jesus Christ as the one who paid for your sins on the cross of Calvary, and in nothing else, God promises you both forgiveness of sin and eternal life. 

Learn more this week at Long Hill Baptist Church.  Service information

Learn to Read the King James Bible: How & Why

Pastor Bob Hammond

At Long Hill Baptist Church, we use the King James Bible (Authorized Version) for all teaching and preaching.   While some modern versions can be easier to read, we observe that the King James Bible is the only version that provides an accurate translation of all of God's words.  

A variety of excellent tools are available to help believers learn to read and understand our King James Bible.  One such tool is a booklet titled, "Understanding the King James Bible: Why Use the King James Bible and How to Understand it" by Dave Olson. (52 pages, including a 10-page dictionary of unfamiliar words).  

  • Shows why the King James Bible should be used instead of modern versions;
  • Provides some common reasons for not understanding what you read in the Bible;
  • Gives some tips on how to understand the English used in the King James Bible. 

 The cost is $3.00 per copy.   Order from Help4U Publications at:  http://www.help4upublications.com/product/understanding-the-king-james-bible/

Also see these free online articles: