What about Wicca?

Pastor Hammond

Wicca is a religion that involves a variety of ancient practices.  While there's considerable variation in how wicca is practiced,  we should understand a few common themes:

(1) Wicca teaches the veneration of nature. This is based on a profoundly unbiblical PANTHEISM, i.e. the idea that a (typically feminine) "divine" is present in all things. This is much more than teaching respect for nature; it's teaching that nature is God. This is entirely contrary to the Bible;

(2) Wicca's so-called "Charge of the Goddess" teaches a POLYTHEISTIC worship of various goddesses. Again, this is profoundly contrary to the Bible, e.g. Exodus 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me);

(3) The so-called Wiccan Rede teaches people to do whatever they like (so long as it hurts no one) - representing a rejection of the full cannon of Scripture - and it's numerous imperatives;

(4) Not uncommonly, Wiccans teach the use of magick -- a practice that is wholly reliant upon a very real demonic realm for it's very real results. I have known people who have been converted to Christianity after having spent considerable time practicing Wicca. They generally conclude that Wicca is ultimately about Satan - even if that is not taught overtly.  Importantly, I have personal experience with people who testify that THE VENERATION OF SATAN IS SOMETIMES TAUGHT OVERTLY (albeit not to new adherents!).

The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross at calvary for all sinners - including the practicing wiccan.  A person who is caught-up in wicca may repent of their sin just like any other sinner.  

How may a wiccan know that his or her sins are forgiven?

1.  Understand and acknowledge that we are all sinners.  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."

2.  Acknowledge that Jesus Christ - the son of God - died on the cross and paid for all our sins.  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.  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! 

3.  Understand that simply choosing to be a better person will not save you.
 The bible states, " 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," (Ephesians 2:8-9).  No one can be saved through their own good works!

3.  Understand that repentance and faith are required for salvation.  According to the Bible, 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).

To repent is simply to make a conscious decision to turn away from sin and to turn toward Christ.   Repentence involves a change of mind that produces a change in action.   Repentance 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)

4. Understand that 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 in John 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. 

In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  "All unrighteousness" includes the sin of practicing wicca!

In 1 John 5:13, John writes, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..."  If you will repent - confessing your sinfulnes - and trust in Christ alone for forgiveness, you can KNOW that you have eternal life!

Learn more.  If you'd like to know about the forgiveness of sin that is possible in Jesus Christ, please contact Pastor Robert Hammond at Long Hill Baptist Church, 100 Middlebrooks Ave., Trumbull, CT (203) 268-5104.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

December 15, 2012


Please join me in much prayer for the families and friends of the many students and adults who lost their lives.

Many will be searching for answers regarding this tragedy.  Let us all be reminded of the truth of Scripture:  "Evil men... shall wax worse and worse..." (2 Timothy 3:13).  
The world is indeed waxing worse and worse.  But, our LORD is still in control.  And His good purposes will be accomplished.  Importantly, I trust that each of us will allow this event to remind us of the critical need to urgently reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Christ's Love,

Pastor 

(203) 208-3450

Helps for Spiritual Battle

Notes from a September 2012 conference regarding spiritual battle

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Truths About Spiritual Battle – (conference speaker:  Marvin Smith)

  • Understand that Satan has already been defeated; We need not give him any control in our lives!
    • Satan was defeated  in Heaven
    • Satan was defeated by Christ in the wilderness
    • Satan  was defeated by Christ  in hell
  • Understand that one of Satan's goal is to wear us out (Dan 7:25).
    • Satan is not trying to defeat God; he knows his future.  Satan isn't  targeting a lost men – he already has them. Rather, Satan is targeting saved people! (that he might distract us from living for Christ & serving our Savior)
      • Rev 13:7 -- Satan makes war with the saints
      • Rev 12:12- Satan has wrath - knowing that he cannot win 
  • Understand that Satan tells us LIES about God, others, self:
    • Lies Satan tells us about God:  God doesn't really LOVE  you, ACCEPT you or CARE ABOUT you. God isn't fair/ God ripped you off, GOD CANNOT USE ME;  cannot forgive me; God cannot  be trusted;
    • Lies Satan tells us about others: nobody cares; nobody loves me; the preacher is against me; the church does not accept me; no one understands me; everyone is a hypocrite; my parents do/don't love me; my spouse doesn't love me / care about me;
    •  Lies Satan tells me about myself:I'll never amount to anything; I'm stupid; I'm ugly (that's an offense to God!); I can't get victory; I'm worthless (we aren't worthy or worthless); I'm too filthy to be used of God; I am not accepted; I will never be loved; I cannot do anthing for God / my work isn't important.
  • Understand that we should combat Satan's lies with the truth of God’s word! 
    • Some great Biblical truths: 
      • We have been crucified with Christ (gal 2:20);  buried with him (to 6:4-5); raised up with him (Eph 2:6; ro 6:5); I am seated with Christ (Eph 2:6);  
      • The Spirit of God desires to renew us each day!
      • Truths about our Salvation:
        • Past:  We have been justified / positional sanctification
        • Present: We are growing in practical sanctification
        • Future: we will be glorified
      • Great truths about the results of my salvation in Christ: 
        • … I am accepted by the Father (Eph 1:6) 
        • … I am God's child (John 1:12)
        • … I am justified - ro 6:1
        • … I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
        • … I have direct access to God
        • … I have been forgiven - Col 1:14
        • … I am complete in Christ
        • ….I have been appointed to bare fruit - John 15:1
        • … I am a personal witness of Christ
        • … I  am a new creation in Christ
        • … I am God's workmanship
        • … I can do all things in Christ
        • … I am more than a conqueror in Christ

James 4:7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

What Are You Trusting in to Get Into Heaven?

Most people are trusting in their good works.  However, you may be suprised to learn that the Bible clearly states that we cannot earn Heaven through any good works - including the work of baptism.

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 bood 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 a change 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 in John 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. 

Here’s a sample prayer you can pray: 

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge I have sinned against a Holy God and my sins have separated me from Him. I believe that you Jesus, are the Son of God, and I believe you died and paid for my sins on the cross some 2000 years ago, and that you rose from the dead.  Today, I'm choosing to turn away from a life a sin and to turn toward you, Lord.  I trust you alone, Lord Jesus, for my eternal salvation. 

God bless you my friend! If you have made this decision, please contact us and let us know. And please be baptized by immersion in a Bible-believing church such as ours. Get involved, and learn what it is to live the Christian life.

Recognizing the 55th Anniversary of Our First Service

In April 2012, Long Hill Baptist Church is celebrating the 55th anniversary of our first worship service.  We praise God for the following notes of encouragement received from pastors, friends, and missionaries serving throughout the United States and around the world.

To the saints and faithful brethren at Long Hill Baptist Church: We give thanks to God for your work of faith and labor of love in our Lord Jesus Christ. That your assembly still contends for the faith once delivered unto the saints, after fifty-five years, is a testimony to the grace and mercy of God. New England is littered with churches that have softened, weakened, and died spiritually. May the living God enrich you in every good work and enable Long Hill Baptist to continue as one of the Lord's candlesticks, faithful until He comes.  - Pastor Ken Brooks and the saints in Christ Jesus at Calvary Independent Baptist Church, West Redding, Connecticut

 Dear Pastor Hammond & Long Hill Baptist Church, We appreciate your long heritage, your pastor, and the flock.  Continue to stand for the LORD, His word, and be used of the LORD as one of His Local Churches. - Your friends at Galilean Baptist Church, Stafford Springs, CT.  

Dear Pastor Hammond, Congratulations on 55 years of serving Christ and faithfully preaching the gospel in Trumbull, CT. I can't imagine how many lives have been gloriously transformed by Christ through your ministry...won't Heaven be spectacular when all of that is revealed. We rejoice with you and pray the Lord will continue to bless you with more fruit for His glory.  Rejoicing With You, Shawn, Leslie, and Anna Beliveau, Your missionaries in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 Dear Friends at Long Hill Baptist, Congratulations on your 55th anniversary. Through the years of ups and downs, you have had an impact on your community. Our prayer is that many of your best days are ahead.  Our prayers are with you and Pastor Bob as you continue to reach people for Christ and bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.  We miss you often, thank God for you and our good years there, and continue to remember you as you serve the Lord in Trumbull.  God bless you all! - Pastor Mark Aheron

Congratulations upon reaching 55 years of serving our Lord through your local church. We feel very privileged to have you as one of our supporting churches. I led two ladies to the Lord this week. This would not be possible if your church and others like you had no interest in missions. I pray your church will have a very long life. Love one another, love your pastor but above all continue a faithful love for our Lord and Savior as He is the reason we serve and survive…  The Shaw family in Mexico

 Pastor Hammond and the congregation of Long Hill Baptist Church, Congratulations on your 55th Anniversary as a church in Connecticut.  We hope that you are able to spend time today celebrating all the wonderful things that God has accomplished through your church over those 55 years. It is quite an accomplishment. As you count what God has done, please remember to include your missionary efforts over the years.  Since you started to support us ten years ago, we have been able to see five churches started here in Kenya …. all in Muslim areas.  Literally thousands of people have come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior because you enabled us to come here through your mission’s offerings.   May God bless you today and bring much joy into your hearts. We pray that He gives you many more years to serve Him.  Bobby Bechtel, Serving in Kenya.

Dear Long Hill Baptist Church, Congratulations on your 55th anniversary! It is so great to hear of congregations who have been faithfully serving the Lord for such a period of time. In these last days, we know that it is not easy to continue standing, and so many have fallen…. Connecticut needs your light, New England needs your light, and the world needs the light of churches like you. Thank you so much for your continued support of our family... It is our desire that the Lord will bless you richly in this new year of service, and also on this your anniversary celebration.  - Your servants for the sake of our Saviour, Matthew, Carrie, Ransom, Jacob and Melody Patenaude


Is Your New Years Resolve Disolving Yet?

Pastor Hammond | February 2012
  
How are you doing with those New Years resolution?  According to a recent poll, 2/3 of American don't make any New Years resolutions at all!  Many of us have discovered that, in our own strength, most resolutions are just too hard to keep.   We generally fail in our resolutions when we come to end of our own resolve.  So, we often decide not to resolve to make any necessary changes!

There's a better way.  This year, why not ask the LORD to strengthen you with His might (Eph 3:16) to grow in obedience to Him.  Here's seven critical areas where Christians should resolve, in the Lord's strength, to grow -- starting right now:
  • Ask the LORD to help you grow in your walk with Christ this year.  Ask Him to show you specific sins that should be forsaken this year;

  • Ask the LORD to help you read through the King James Bible in 2012.  The entire Bible may be read in one year by reading as few as 85 verses daily (or just 40-50 verses twice a day).  How many pages is that?  Divide the number of pages in your Bible by 366 to determine how many pages need to be read daily in order to read through your Bible this year.

  • Ask the LORD to help you spend significant time in prayer at least twice each day.  On average,  Americans spend several hours daily on leisure activities - including more than 2 hours of daily television watching.  We have time for prayer!  Please consider praying for church members and lost friends and family members every day this year.

  • Ask the LORD to help you commit to attending all of our church services every week - including the Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening meetings.  What's more important than worship? "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching," (Hebrews 10:25).

  • Ask the LORD to show you how He would like you to serve Him through your church this year. And ask Him to help you be faithful to that area;

  • Ask the LORD to help you be faithful to give a true tithe to your church this year.  Also pray about your giving to both our Deacons and missionary funds.  Learn more about tithing;

  • Ask the LORD to help you be faithful to regularly share the gospel.  Make it a priority to learn to share the gospel.  "...and be ready always to give ananswer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear," (1 Peter 3:15).

Why not take a moment to pray through the above list right now?  Remember:  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!" (Phil. 4:13).

The Bible Has the Answer for Chronic Anxiety

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

Do you realize that the Bible teaches believers to fear just one thing?  That one thing is the LORD himself!  In Proverbs 9:10, the LORD inspired Solomon to write, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”   The simple truth is that a believer who has developed a Biblical fear of the LORD has nothing else to fear. 

More than 50 times throughout His Word, God has told his people to “fear not.” Why?  Our sin nature tends lead us to worry – to suffer anxiety.  In Timothy 1:6-7, Paul reminds us that   “… God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  Praise God that the Bible gives us God’s own plan for overcoming fear and anxiety.

So, what can we do to overcome anxiety?

1. Be sure that you genuinely know Christ as your Savior.  In Matthew 6, Jesus promised to meet the needs of those who have first sought his righteousness, i.e. people who know Christ as their Savior.     The Bible teaches that, in order to receive forgiveness of sins, we must repent and receive Christ as our Savior.  To repent is simply to make a conscious decision to turn away from sin and to turn toward Christ.  The Bible say, "...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,"  (Luke 15:10).  The Bible promises 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 Bible also teaches that, when we are genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit testifies in our spirit that we are saved.  In 1 John 4:13, the Bible says, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”

2. Understand that anxiety is often like a dashboard warning light - alerting us to a problem that needs to be addressed.

In Psalm 32, David described a bout with emotional turmoil.  He attributed his experience to his failure to confess sin.  David reports that his gladness and joy were restored only when he confessed his sin to God!

In the Bible, we that Asaph experience emotional turmoil due to a sinful focus on self instead of God. In Psalm 77, Asaph described his emotional state using language that sounds strikingly similar to our modern notionof anxiety and depression.  Asaph’s turmoil resolved only when he shifted his focus from himself to the LORD. If your emotional health is suffering due to a prideful focus on yourself, ask the LORD forgive this sin.  Receive his forgiveness, instruction and joy.  Psalm 32:11 commands, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

3. Ask the LORD to help you “fear not” -- because you belong to Him!  In Isaiah 43:1, the Bible says,  “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

4. Ask the LORD help you give all your worries to Him daily in prayer.  In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the Bible says,  “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

5. Ask the LORD to help you focus your mind on Godly things.  In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes,  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
 

6. Ask the LORD to help you focus on His promises to meet the needs of believers rather than focusing on worries about your needs.  In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus said,  “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin… 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

7. Ask the LORD to help you see Him as a refuge from difficulties that might bring fear.  In Psalm 46:1-2, the psalmist writes,  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”

8. Ask the LORD to give you peace in your heart.  In John 16:33 (Jesus said,  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

9.  Ask the LORD to help you “let not your heart be troubled.”  Ask Christ to grow your faith in his promises to meet your needs.  In John 14:1, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

10. Ask the LORD to help you focus on the fact that He is in perfect control of all things.  In Job 42:2, Job says,   “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”  In Psalm 33:11, the psalmist writes,  “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” And in Psalm 145:13, the Bible says,  “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations…”  Understand that God even controls the weather.  In Jonah 1:4, we observe that  “the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.”

11.  Understand that our God is a God of great comfort.  In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul writes, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;" (2 Cor 1:3). And in John 14:18, Jesus says,  "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

If you would like to further discuss Biblical answers to personal struggles, contact Pastor Hammond at Long Hill Baptist Church, 203-268-5104 or hammond.robert@gmail.com.

The Greatest Gift of All

by Pastor Hammond

(On December 22, 2011, the Trumbull Times ran this article exactly as it appears below).


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.  
 
Earlier this 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?  Click to learn more about knowing Christ.

How important is it to join and remain faithful to a good local church?

Pastor Hammond  (Revised October 15, 2016)

country-church.jpg

In 2011, Harold Camping and his Family Radio network prophesied that “judgment day” would occur on May 21, 2011. Needless to say, Camping was wrong.  His unfulfilled prophesies proved that he spoke “the thing which the LORD hath not spoken,” (Deut. 18:22).    

Mr. Camping’s departure from the truth is explained, in part, by his decision to resign his church membership in 1988.  How does this explain his error?  According the Bible,  local churches are the “pillar and ground of the truth," (1 Timothy 3:15 ).  Without the benefit of correction from fellow church members, Mr. Camping strayed progressively further away from Biblical truth. His understanding became so clouded that he began proclaiming false prophesies.   Perhaps more egregious, however, is his teaching that other believers "should not be part of a local church.”   He’s perpetuating his error by calling others away from the very place where they might be corrected!  

In 2011, the Family Radio web site stated"… we are now compelled to teach the Biblical truth that God has shifted the final task of world evangelism to individual Christians who are outside of a local congregation. In obedience to these Biblical teachings, Family Radio, which is completely outside of any church institution, and which is supported and administered by individual believers, does teach that today, as we are heading for the end of this world’s existence, we should not be a part of a local church,"   (Accessed May 18, 2011).   

Camping wrongly taught believers to depart from the very institution that God has ordained for our instruction and correction!  In the New Testament, all ministries are carried-out in and through local church.  For example, Paul was sent out by a local church (Acts 13) to plant local churches.  Wherever people were saved, Paul both baptized and discipled those believers.  Paul also taught that men should be ordained to fill the two offices of local churches:  elder/bishop/pastor (Titus 1:5) and deacons (1 Timothy 3).

The conversion of the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, Crispus, demonstrates that membership in a local church is God's plan for New Testament believers.   In Acts 13, Luke records that Paul preached the gospel to Crispus and others at Corinth (18:1-7). As a result of Paul's preaching, Crispus and others believed. (18:8).   Paul then baptized Crispus and the other believers (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14) into the “one body” at Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:13).  After baptizing the new believers, Paul remained at Corinth to disciple the new church members for “a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them,"(18:11). Later, Paul also wrote two inspired epistles "...unto the church of God which is at Corinth..." In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul taught the baptized church members to observe the Lord's supper, i.e. he taught the ordidances of the local church.   In all of these facts, it may be observed that Paul had a deep commitment to the Lord’s plan to establish local churches and to edify believers in those churches.

For Harold Camping to have called believers out of local churches was to call them out of God’s plan for His people. Camping called believers away from the place where we “…fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:   In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,”  (Ephesians 2:21-22).  And Camping called believers out of the only institution through which God desires to be served. 

Today, let’s recommit ourselves to serving in and through a local church. If you're not already in a good church, please visit Long Hill Baptist Church in Trumbull this Sunday.

Learn more about our church.

Are Believers Allowed to Ignore Civil Authorities?

Pastor Hammond

Recently, I crossed paths with a car that was speeding down Main Street in Trumbull.  “Doesn’t that guy care about speed limits?,” I thought.   “How can he drive with so little regard for the safety of others?” Of course, I too am guilty of less than ideal driving at times.   What does the Bible say about obedience to laws?  

In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, God calls Christians to exercise both lawfulness and love.   In Romans chapter 13, Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.”  All believers are called to submit to our civil authorities – and to the laws that they institute. Of course, that includes speed limits.   Obeying the speed limit has a practical value.  But Paul also offers spiritual reasons for submitting to the law.  He write, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  The authorities who write our laws are appointed by God; they are part of His plan.   Consequently, when we choose to break the law, we necessarily choose to disobey God.  “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God,” writes Paul. 

Interestingly, the Bible says that each of our local leaders is a “minister of God,” (Romans 13:4).  God uses them for His purposes. And Christians who willingly submit to their authority are blessed with a clear conscience (Ro. 13:5).

Paul continues by encouraging believers to be obedient in several specific areas of civil life, including paying our taxes and rendering “honour” to our leaders.  “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing,” writes Paul.  “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” 

In Romans 13, Paul also reminds us that we're  called to exercise love toward our neighbors.  "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the (Old Testament) law," (13:10).   When I choose to drive lawfully, I'm also choosing to exercise love toward my neighbors!

Given all of the above, I must ask myself if I would ever break the law.  The pray that the only law that I would willfully  break is a law that would be overtly contray to the Bible.  I would break a law that prevented me from carrying out any part of the great commission:  sharing the gospel, baptizing believers and teaching them to obey the entire Bible.

Today, let’s pray that the LORD will help us set a good example by obeying our local, state and federal laws – let’s live lawfully for Christ and for our neighbors.

_______________

On Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM we're studying through Paul's epistle to the Romans.  

Are you choosing to grow in Christ?

Pastor Hammond.  

Believers understand that although all our past, present and future sins are forgiven when we receive Christ as our savior, we continue to sin!  That's because we still possess a sin nature that draws us into sin (James 1:13-14).  Yet, the Bible calls us to grow in holiness.  Praise God that we are eqipped with both the Holy Spirit and the Bible to aid that growth.  It's because we have the Bible that we can know that the LORD calls us to do "our part" in this process by choosing to live an increasingly holy life. Consider the specific instructions that we receive in Paul's letter to the Ephesians:

(Ephesians 4:17-24)  "17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  20 But ye have not so learned Christ;  21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." 

Here, Paul instructs us to "walk not ... in vanity... " (17), put off... the old man" (22), "be renewed" (23) and "put on the new man."   We understand that all of this is possible because of the cross and the regeneration that occurs when we place our faith in Christ.  With that said, you can't help but see that, in this passage, the LORD is instructing us to be very intentional about choosing not to sin.  We should, of course, pray that the LORD will help us not to sin.  But, importantly, we need to do "our part" by choosing to "put off... the old man" (22), "be renewed" (23) and "put on the new man." 

We are responsible to choose to receive Christ (to be sanctified positionally before God).  And we are equally responsible to choose to live a holy life (to be sanctified practically before God).  Both are possible because of the Holy Spirit.  But we are still responsible to choose.   

Let's choose to follow the Lord's instructions of Ephesian 4:17-24; Let's choose to grow in Christ!

Should New Testament Believers Tithe?

March 1, 2011 (updated March 2012)
Pastor Hammond

A Biblical tithe is one that’s given by church members regularly (1 Cor. 16:2), joyfully (2 Cor. 9:7), sacrificially (Luke 21:1-4) and proportionally. The word “tithe” literally means tenth.  In the Bible, tithing may be observed (1) before the Old Testament law was given, (2) under the law and (3) after the law. 

Before the law was given, Jacob vowed to tithe, crying to the LORD, "Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely  give the tenth unto thee (Gen 28:22). And Abraham demonstrated tithing by giving a tenth to Melchizedek, a king who was perhaps the clearest Old Testament type of Christ (Gen 14:20).   

Later, while God’s people were living under the Old Testament Law, the prophet Malachi proclaimed that because the people failed to give both tithes and offerings, they were guilty of “robbing” God (Malachi 3:8).  (Offerings involve giving above a tenth).

The New Testament does not reiterate a formal obligation to tithe. However, we may observe that Christ commended tithing in the New Testament.  First, in the course of chastising the Pharisees, the Lord commended their tithing! (Luke 11:42).  Second, in Mark 12, Christ commended the widow who "of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."  In the Lord’s commendation of these New Testament tithes and offerings,  we may observe that this practice is consistent with God’s model for this age.

Clearly, throughout history,  the LORD has intended for His people to support His work through tithes and offerings.   Today, church members must understand the practical implications of giving  tithes and offerings. From a practical perspective we must understand that our church requires financial support in order to carry out the purposes that God has given it.  Equally important is the spiritual importance of giving Biblically.  We must understand that our failure to give Biblically is disobedience to our LORD. 

Tithing involves giving at least 10% of our gross income as a basic guideline for giving.  You may be wondering how you can begin (or continue) tithing in such a difficult economy.   The answer may be found in the LORD’s promise to meet our needs:

(Matthew 6:31-33)  “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Tithing is a matter of faith.  Lord, increase our faith!  

Is Punishment in Hell Eternal?

January 4, 2011
Pastor Hammond 

Recently, I was asked to comment on a verse in the Gospel of Matthew, where the Bible says, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).  The question regarded the phrase, "...able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Some understand that phrase as a reference to so-called annihilationism - or the idea that, in hell,  the LORD will end the conscious existence of the unrepentant rather punish them eternally.  

I approached my response to this question like any other Bible question: (1) I compare scripture with scripture and (2) I look at the meaning of the underlying words.

When we compare Mathew 10:28 with other relevant passages, we see clearly that both hell and punishment in hell are "everlasting."  

  • Matthew 25:46  "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"
     
  •  2 Thessalonians 1:8-9  8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  

Given the clarity of the above verses, we must conclude that annihilationism is inconsistent with scripture.  

Further, when we examine the Greek word that's translated "destroy" (
apollymi)  in Mathew 10:28, we make observations that lend further support to our conclusion.  Apollymi appears at least 91 times in the Greek text that underlies our King James Bible.  In 31 times of those instances, apollymi is translated "lose," "be lost," or "lost." Vine's dictionary notes that the idea of apollymi "is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being."   This is key to understanding Mathew 10:28, i.e. to "destroy both soul and body in hell" doesn't refer to a literal end of one's conscious existence.  Rather, it refers to a conscious state of loss (of the presence of God and reward in heaven). 

Given all of the above observations, we must conclude that both hell and punishment in hell are eternal. But, praise God that hell will be avoided by everyone who has repented of sin and placed their faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 John 5:13).  The reality of both heaven and hell should be strong motivators for believers to share the Gospel message - including a warning of the reality of eternal punishment for those who reject Christ.


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

Pastor Hammond 

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In Luke 2:16, the Bible says that the shepherds “came with haste” to see Christ at Bethlehem.  They must have been hastened by their knowledge that the message of the angel who visited them was perfectly consistent with all the Messianic prophesies of the Hebrew scriptures (our Old Testament).    It was possible for them to know that Christ was the prophesied Messiah – and it’s just as possible for us to know today!

1.  The True Messiah has to have the RIGHT PARENTS

A.  First, he had to be born of a woman

Prophesy:  Genesis 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt  bruise his heel.

Fulfillment:  Matthew 1:18   18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

B.  He had to be a descendant of King David

Prophesy:  Isaiah 11:1 records that the Messiah would be descended from Jesse -- the father of King David.   "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots."

Fulfillment:  The Bible records the lineage of both Mary and Joseph -- tracing both directly to David! Luke 3 records the lineage of Mary; Matthew 1 records the lineage of Joseph.

Also see Revelation 22:16   I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in thechurches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

C.  The messiah’s birth had to be a miraculous, virgin birth!

Prophesy:  Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Fulfillment: Luke 1:34  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  

2.  The true Messiah has to have the right PLACE of birth (Bethlehem)

Prophesy:  Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be  little among the thousands ofJudah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Fulfillment: Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came  wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

3.  The True Messiah had to born at the right POINT in time

In Daniel 9:25-27, the prophet predicted that 483 years would transpire between the call to rebuild Jerusalem (after the Babylonian captivity) and the cutting off (or crucifixion) of the Messiah.    That prophesy yields a date of approximately AD 33 – which is consistent with the crucifixion of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

At the manager in Jerusalem, we see a Messiah who had the right parents, in the right place at the right time ... exactly as the Hebrew prophets had predicted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

But… what about the PURPOSE?  Why did he come?

  • Romans 3:23  "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
  • Romans 6:23  "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
  • Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
  • Romans 10:9-11  "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
  • Romans 10:13  "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

The wise men came to Christ “with haste.”  Isaiah – the same Hebrew prophet who predicted the virgin birth of Christ also wrote,   "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near"  (Isa. 55:6).  Do you know Christ as your personal savior?  If not, seek him with haste! Today is the right place and time to receive the One who came at prophesied place and time!  Fall upon your knees and turn from your sins and place your faith in Christ alone for forgiveness.   

"... unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."    Praise God that believers may look forward to the time that Christ will rule from Jerusalem.  "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." (Isaiah 9:6-7) 

Please see this short article:  Why do I need Jesus since I already believe in God?

 

Our Strength for Every Season

Pastor Hammond

Who couldn't use a bit more strength to help get us through life's challenges?   Notice how, in Isaiah 12:2 and 24:4, the prophet uses the name "LORD JEHOVAH"  in association with finding strength in the LORD:  "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2); "Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4) .

In both of these verses, the "LORD" preceding JEHOVAH is Jah in Hebrew, i.e. a shortened form of "JEHOVAH." So, the Hebrew reads "Jah Jehovah."  Jehovah is God's personal name.  This name is generally understood to mean "the existing one" or "the self-existing one."  The name emphasize that God was not created; rather He is the self-existing Creator.  He exists simply because He is; we exist because He created us. 

In Biblical Hebrew, a word may be strengthened or emphasized by using similar forms of the same word in close proximity.  For example, in Genesis 2:17,  we read, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."    In the Hebrew, "surely die" is literally "dying thou shalt die" (muth tamuth).   The LORD used two forms of the verb "to die" in order to emphasize and strengthen the idea that Adam and Eve would experience a spiritual death as the result of their sin.   Similarly,  in Isaiah, we may observe that God uses two forms of His name,  Jah Jehovah,  in order to strongly emphasizes the idea that He is the self-existing one.  

It's interesting to note that the only verses in Scripture that use Jah Jehovah (Isaiah 12:2; 24:4) deal with our ability to trust the LORD because He is our source of strength.  Jah Jehovah seems to be used there to emphasize that because the LORD is the only "self-existing one" (emphasized twice), he is the only true source of our strength.   We may trust in the LORD and find strength in Him because He is  the only one who is the source of His own existence.  

Of course, we see the LORD as the source of our strength in other parts of the Old Testament, too.  In Psalm 43:2,  the psalmist states, "For thou art the God of my strength..."  He then applies that truth by asking, "... why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" We may rejoice in the strengthening of the LORD!

We also find the promise of strengthening in the Lord in the New Testament.  In Phillippians 4:13, Paul writes, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  

Our Lord is the only true source of our strength.   Let's call upon the LORD for the strength we need each day!

It is Biblical for Christians to Undergo Hypnosis?

Pastor Hammond

On November 10, 2010, the Connecticut Post published an article by Steve Slon, titled “Hypnosis:  Myths and truths.”  In this article, Slon argues that popular misconceptions of hypnosis in the media have clouded the potential value of hypnosis in the treatment of various medical problems including:  obesity, nicotine addiction, uncontrolled pain and ADHD. 

Slon explains that hypnosis involves placing a person into a “hypnotic trance” where “the mind drifts freely.”  He referenced the teaching of Milton Erickson, the so-called father of modern hypnosis. According to Slon, Erickson held that “our subconscious minds are most open to learning when in a trace state.” Erickson held that trance states are “the best condition for making positive changes in behavior.”

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis defines hypnosis as “a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention ..."  They argue that "because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control," (asch.net, accessed November 10, 2010). 

Why Shouldn't Christians Undergo Hypnosis?

1.  Believers are called to be mentally alert and on guard against potentially improper influences.  Brother David Cloud notes that “the Bible exhorts the believer to be sober (1 Peter 5:8). To be sober means to be in control of one’s mind, to be spiritually and mentally alert. It means to be on guard against danger. It is the opposite of allowing oneself to be put into a trance. The Bible warns that demons transform themselves into angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Unless the believer remains sober and vigilant, he is in danger of being deceived. Thus, even a “mild” level of hypnotism can be spiritually dangerous,”  (WayofLife.org, accessed November 10, 2010).   Christians must understand that Biblical forms of meditation and prayer never involve relinquishing control of one’s mind to anyone or anything other than the LORD!     

2.  Believers are called to be yielded to the Holy Spirit rather than to self.  In Ephesians 5:18, Paul wrote, "...be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Paul was urging the believers at Ephesus to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  In this verse, we see clearly that to be yielded to the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit.  

3.  Believers are called to recognize that the Lord is the one who produces positive change in our lives.    Hypnotist Frayda Kafka argues that, in hypnosis, “the change always comes from the individual.”    However, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul teaches that “if any man bein Christ, he isanew creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  It is Christ who produces positive change in our lives, not our own efforts.  When we place our faith in Christ, we become “…partakers of thedivine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…” (2 Peter 1:4) and we are “conformed to the image of his Son,” (Romans 8:29).  The Bible is clear that none of this is accomplished through our own strength - or through trance states!

 4.  Hypnotic trances can produce occult phenomena.  In his 2008 article on this topic, David Cloud noted that “the danger of hypnotism is evident from the fact that it can produce a wide variety of occult phenomena, including past life experiences, multiple personalities, speaking in unknown languages, automatic writing, clairvoyance, telepathy, seizures, spirit possession, astral projection, and psychic diagnosis,” (Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs).   Christians are called to refrain from any association with the occult.

5.The end doesn’t justify the means. The observation that hypnosis sometimes appears to be effective does not justify willful disobedience to the LORD.   “Many support hypnotic therapy because ‘it works,’ but just because something works does not mean it is right,” observes brother David Cloud.  “There are innate powers within man that can be manipulated and there are satanic powers. The magicians in Egypt were able to perform amazing feats and could even duplicate some of the divine miracles,” (Exodus 7:10-12, 19-22; 8:5-7). 

Summary

Christians should refrain from involvement in the hypnosis and other forms of contemplative mysticism.  Instead, we should (1) recognize that we have been made new creatures in Christ; (2) yield to the Holy Spirit to produce positive change in our lives; and (3) pray for the Lord’s strength to overcome unhealthy habits.

For more information:

  • David Cloud articles regarding Contemplative Mysticism.  view

Does the Bible Permit the Theory of Evolution?

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Pastor Robert Hammond    (Revised July 6, 2018)

The Theory of Evolution proposes that that over millions of years, relatively complex life forms (including man) evolved from simpler forms of life. While this is an intriguing scientific theory, the Bible does not permit this possibility.  Rather, the Bible teaches that the LORD created all forms of life as distinct, fully-developed life-forms during a literal six-day creation week.  

The very first verse of the Bible identifies God as the creator of all things.  Genesis1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The balance of that chapter details the order in which God created all things. 

The language of Genesis chapter one speaks of six literal days of creation.  Six times, the Bible describes the days of the creation week as being composed of an “evening and morning.” This is how Jewish people defined a single day.  The LORD used this very literal language in order to rule out the possibility that he was referring to longer periods of time (i.e. millions or billions of years).  This truth is plainly stated in Exodus 20:11, where we read, "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is ..."

In Genesis chapter 1, the Bible says that all forms of life were created  “after his kind.”  In Genesis chapter 1, the Bible asserts eight times that God made each distinct form of life "after his kind."   This phrase refutes the possibility of evolution because it refutes the possibility that one life form evolved into “another kind” of life.  Rather, the Bible clearly states that each form of life was created distinctly “after his kind.” 

It is worth noting that those who argue for the theory of evolution cannot point to single "change in kind," i.e. an example of one kind of  animal evolving into a different kind of animal.  Rather, they can only point to examples of a certain kind of animal adaptating to its environment through so-called natural selection.   That's not evolution.  Rather, it's the process by which specific genetic traits are amplified within a population because they help an animal to survive.  For example, in snowy climates, young harp seals have snowy white coats.  This genetic trait has been amplified over other colors because it helps the young seals to hide from preditors.  Because more white seals survive, the genes that convey a white coat become amplified in the seal population.  Note that the resulting seals are still seals!  The process of natural selection has not changed the seal into another kind of animal.  So, natural selection is not evolution.  

In Genesis 1:26-28, the Bible teaches that the LORD created man separately from animals.  We have an origin that is distinct and separate from the origin of plants, sea life and animals.   Man was created at a distinct point in time (Gen. 1:26-27).  And man was created separately from animals (Gen. 1:24-25) and separately from sea life and birds (fifth day of creation).  And the Bible is clear that only man was created “in the image of God.” (1:26).   The literal language of Genesis 1 excludes the possibility that man evolved from other forms of life.

The Bible is clear that death entered the world as a result of sin (Rom. 5:12).  Therefore, if the theory of evolution is true, nothing could have died for millions (or billions) of years, i.e. nothing could have died until man evolved “far enough to sin.”  This isn’t possible because the earth isn’t large enough to accommodate all of the animals that would have been produced over the millions or billions of years that evolutionist claim were required for man to evolve (i.e. to evolve to point at which he would have the capactity to form the volition to sin against God).

The Bible timeline only permits the earth to be 5,000 – 6,000 years-old.   Even if we interpret the Bible timeline rather loosely, the Earth cannot be more than 10,000-years-old.    Because millions of years would be required for man to evolve from simpler forms of life, scientists who endorse the theory of evolution argue that the earth must be millions (or billions) of years old. The Bible timeline simply does not permit this possibility.  (And the so-called “Gap theory” is refuted by Rom. 5:12).   Also note that global flood descrived in Genesis 6 - 8 explains geological observations that argue for a very old Earth.  A catastrophic global flood could easily cause the earth to appear to be much older than its actual age. 

keywords:  creation, creationism, intelligent design

How Can I Understand the Bible?

Pastor Hammond 

Christians frequently report difficulty understanding the word of God.  To be fair, the Bible is sometimes difficult to understand.  Even Peter observed that Paul's writings are sometimes "hard to be understood."  (2 Peter 3:16).  So, how can we grow our understanding?  

Consider these points:

First, be certain that you genuinely know the author!  Unless you have repented and placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation, you cannot progress in your understanding of God's words.  In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul wrote,  "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."  The Bible plainly states that is possible to know if you have eternal life.  In 1 John 5:13, John wrote, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."  If you're uncertain about your salvation, learn more here.

Second, recognize that believers don't have to lean on their own faculties alone to understand God's words.  Recall that in John 14:26, Jesus said, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."  If you know Christ as your savior, you've been indwelt by the Holy Spirit -- the same Spirit who inspired the words that we seek to understand!   He is the one who aids our understanding.    Pray and ask the LORD to guide your understanding of His words.

Third, understand that the Lord does not intend for us to read Scripture as we read other materials.    Rather, He intends for us to wrestle with His words and to meditate upon them.  In Psalm 119:148, the psalmist wrote, "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word." We're called to give time to the words of God.   

Fourth, recognize the importance of your local church in building your understanding of God's words.  The LORD calls Christians to be baptized into a local church where we can be taught by those who have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach.  What a privilege it is to be under the teaching of one who is gifted by the LORD to aide our understanding of His words.  Never forget that Bible teaches that your local church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).  If you want to understand God's words, you'll need to spend time in God's place of study.

Fifth, recognize the critical importance of a proper approach to personal Bible study.  Believers should rely on careful, Spirit-led study of God’s words to guide their understanding.  Commentaries, study Bibles and other tools are often helpful.  However, the bulk of our study time should be spent with the actual Bible text.  Personal study will be greatly aided by an understanding of several basic principals.  We rely on the so-called Grammatical-Historical Method to interpreting Scripture.  Essentially, this method seeks guide us to an accurate understanding of what scripture actually says – rather than interpretations that aren’t directly supported by the grammar and historical context of the text.  We seek to uncover the original intent of the inspired Biblical writers.  Take time to learn some basic principals of Bible interpretation (hermeneutics).

Please read this short article that provides an overview of several principals for interpreting God's words.  Read now

And don't forget:  If you want to understand the words of God, you must spend time in the words of God!

 

Why the trials?

Expanded July 3, 2018

Pastor Bob Hammond

Many times, people ask why the LORD allows us to experience serious illnesses and other trials.  

Often, we see that that the LORD allows great trials into our lives  in order to get our attention. In Psalm 119:67, the psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”  How true it is that the LORD can use serious afflictions to bring us to Him! 

Other times, the LORD simply wants us to experience His comfort so that we can be better-equipped to comfort others. Consider this verse that Paul wrote to the church members at Corinth: 

(2 Corinthians 1:3-5)   Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort  them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Of course, in the case of Job, we also see that, sometimes, the trial has nothing at all to do with us!  But the LORD can still use our response to the trial as a testimony to others -- as He did when Paul, Silas and Timothy were imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16).

Thankfully, we can know that the Lord's grace is sufficent to enable believers to endure trials.  In 2 Corinthains 12:9, Paul writes of Christ's response to his prayer for deliverance from a physical trial.  There, Christ asserts, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." And so Paul responded, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

It is also wise to bear in mind that both Peter and James express the Lord's desire that we rejoice in trials -- knowing that He is working in trials to accomplish our growth. In James 1:2, the Lord commands, "... count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."

And in 1 Peter 4:12, the Bible say, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."

Praise God for the knowledge that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).