This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: worldview (Page 1 of 3)

David’s Digest: Don’t Be a CHRINO

I believe Scripture defines two kingdoms on earth: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, influenced by Satan:

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

Eph 2:2 – “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience

I also believe the following implies that time is a factor of servitude. For example, when one spends time pursuing either mammon or God, they are serving one or the other:

Matt 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Besides mammon, I believe generally the activities of our lives that we can engage in fall into being a part of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world; and, like mammon, if it is part of one, it cannot be part of the other. If we were to list all the activities in our lives throughout the week and categorize them honestly as being part of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world, in what kingdom would they end up?

How much of our lives is spent participating in, and thus serving, the kingdom of the world; and therefore, how much of our lives is spent not in the service of Christ and following Him? And then are we actually servants of Christ?

To use the political vernacular of the day, are we just CHRINOs — Christians in name only?

It is possible to say we are Christians and not be:

Matt 7:21-23 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

James 2:19-20 – “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

1 John 4:20 – “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Judas was a Christ-follower, but externally only and not in his heart truly. (You can listen to an excellent sermon on Judas being a Christian in name only here.)

 

Christianity isn’t something we do — it’s who we are. We shouldn’t fit Christianity into the rest of the things in our lives — the rest of the things in our lives should fit into our Christianity, directed by the Word of God, the Bible.

 

How is our Lord’s Day keeping? Is the day — the whole day — kept holy, set apart for the worship of Christ and religious exercises? Here is what Puritan Thomas Watson said in part regarding the 4th Commandment, which you can listen to here, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or all the commandments in their entirety:

Use one. See here the Christian’s duty, “to keep the Sabbath-day holy.”

(1) The whole Sabbath is to be dedicated to God. It is not said, Keep a part of the Sabbath holy but the whole day must be piously observed. If God has given us six days, and taken but one to himself, shall we grudge him any part of that day? This would be sacrilege. … Let those who say, that to keep a whole Sabbath is too Judaical, show where God has made any abatement of the time of worship; where he has said, you shall keep but a part of the Sabbath; and if they cannot show that, it robs God of his due. That a whole day be designed and set apart for his special worship, is a perpetual statute, while the church remains upon the earth, …

(2) As the whole Sabbath is to be dedicated to God, so it must be kept holy. …

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable: and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.” Isaiah 58:13. Here is a description of rightly sanctifying a Sabbath.

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath.” This may be understood either literally or spiritually. Literally, that is, if you withdraw your foot from taking long walks or journeys on the Sabbath-day. So the Jewish doctors expound it. Or, spiritually, if you turn away your affections (the feet of your soul) from inclining to any worldly business.

“From doing your pleasure on my holy day.” That is, you must not do that which may please the carnal part, as in sports and recreations. This is to do the devil’s work on God’s day.

“And call the Sabbath a delight.” Call it a delight, that is, esteem it so. Though the Sabbath is not a day for carnal pleasure, yet holy pleasure is not forbidden. The soul must take pleasure in the duties of a Sabbath…

“Not doing your own ways.” That is, you shall not defile the day by doing any servile work.

“Nor finding your own pleasure.” That is, not gratifying the fleshly part by walks, visits, or recreations.

“Nor speaking your own words.” That is, words unsuitable for a Sabbath; vain, impertinent words; discourses of worldly affairs.

 

Now, how about the rest of our lives? How do our lives compare to the following?

From AW Pink’s “A Fourfold Salvation”, part 3 on “Salvation from the Power of Sin“:

But not only must the new nature be fed, it is equally necessary for our spiritual well-being that the old nature should be starved. This is what the apostle had in mind when he said, “Make not provision for the flesh, unto the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14). To starve the old nature, to make not provision for the flesh, means that we abstain from everything that would stimulate our carnality; that we avoid, as we would a plague, all that is calculated to prove injurious to our spiritual welfare.

Not only must we deny ourselves the pleasures of sin, shun such things as the saloon, theatre, dance, card-table, etc., but we must separate ourselves from the worldly companions, cease to read worldly literature, abstain from everything upon which we cannot ask God’s blessing.

Our affections are to be set upon things above, and not upon things upon the earth (Col. 3:2).

Does this seem a high standard, and sound impracticable? Holiness in all things is that at which we are to aim, and failure to do so explains the leanness of so many Christians. Let the young believer realize that whatever does not help his spiritual life hinders it.

 

Or this, from J.C. Ryle’s Holiness book (Chapter 19, which you can listen to here, Part 1, Part 2, or in its entirety):

I must honestly declare my conviction that, since the days of the Reformation, there never has been so much profession of religion without practice, so much talking about God without walking with Him, so much hearing God’s words without doing them, as there is in England at this present date. Never were there so many empty tubs and tinkling cymbals! Never was there so much formality and so little reality. The whole tone of men’s minds on what constitutes practical Christianity seems lowered. The old golden standard of the behaviour which becomes a Christian man or woman appears debased and degenerated.

You may see scores of religious people (so-called) continually doing things which in days gone by would have been thought utterly inconsistent with vital religion. They see no harm in such things as card-playing, theatre-going, dancing, incessant novel-reading, and Sunday-travelling, and they cannot in the least understand what you mean by objecting to them! The ancient tenderness of conscience about such things seems dying away and becoming extinct, like the dodo. When you venture to remonstrate with young communicants who indulge in them, they only stare at you as an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person and say, “Where is the harm?” In short, laxity of ideas among young men, and “fastness” and levity among young women, are only too common characteristics of the rising generation of Christian professors.

Now in saying all this I would not be mistaken. I disclaim the slightest wish to recommend an ascetic religion. Monasteries, nunneries, complete retirement from the world, and refusal to do our duty in it, all these I hold to be unscriptural and mischievous nostrums. Nor can I ever see my way clear to urging on men an ideal standard of perfection for which I find no warrant in God’s Word, a standard which is unattainable in this life, and hands over the management of the affairs of society to the devil and the wicked. No; I always wish to promote a genial, cheerful, manly religion, such as men may carry everywhere and yet glorify Christ.

 

Or this, from Puritan Thomas Manton:

John 17:16 – “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

2. Observe again, an excellent means to digest the world’s neglect is to consider the example of Christ. It is our duty, it will be for our comfort, and it turneth to our profit.

1. It is our duty. In his example we have a taste of his Spirit: ‘I am not of the world,’ said Christ; and we should ‘ imitate Christ as dear children,’ Eph. v. 1. They that love to live in delight and pleasures are but christians in name. If we had no other reason to contemn the vanity of the world than the life of Christ, this were enough. Who was wisest, Christ or you ? Who can make the better choice, Christ or you? Who is in error, Christ or you? Christ chose a poor life, and you affect [work to acquire] greatness.

 

Claiming to be a Christian and not living as one can also be taking the Lord’s name in vain. If we say we are Christians, we take the name of Christ as ours (like when a new wife takes her husband’s surname).

For example, besides potentially swearing falsely, Puritan commentator Matthew Henry suggests the following is one of the ways of taking God’s name in vain:

Prov 30:7-9 – “7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Lest I should steal, and take the name of my God in vain, that is, discredit my profession of religion by practices disagreeable to it.

 

And here is Thomas Watson on the 3rd Commandment (which you can listen to in its entirety here) giving his explanations of some of the ways we can take the Lord’s name in vain:

Exo 20:7 – “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

[2] We take God’s name in vain, when we profess God’s name but do not live answerably to it, we take it in vain. They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, Titus 1:16. When men’s tongues and lives are contrary to one another, when, under a mask of profession, they lie and deceive, and are unclean, they make use of God’s name to abuse him, and take it in vain. “Pretended holiness is merely double wickedness.” “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”, Rom 2:24. When the heathen saw the Jews, who professed to be God’s people, to be scandalous, it made them speak evil of God, and hate the true religion for their sakes.

[4] We take God’s name in vain, when we worship him with our lips but not with our hearts. God calls for the heart, “My son, give me your heart.”, Prov 23:26. The heart is the chief thing in religion; it draws the will and affections after it, as the Primum Mobile [the outermost moving sphere that carried the others with it in the geocentric view of the universe] draw the other orbs along with it. The heart is the incense which perfumes our holy things. The heart is the altar which sanctifies the offering. When we seem to worship God but withdraw our heart from him, we take his name in vain. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain.”, Matthew 15:8-9

Hypocrites take God’s name in vain: their religion is a lie; they seem to honor God but they do not love him; their hearts go after their lusts [generally, any corrupt desires of the heart]. “They set their heart on their iniquity.”, Hos 4:8. Their eyes are lifted up to heaven but their hearts are rooted in the earth, Ezek 33:31. These are devils in Samuel’s mantle.

Superstitious people take God’s name in vain. They bring him a few ceremonies which he never appointed, bow at Christ’s name and cringe to the altar but hate and persecute God’s image.

 

Further, do we have oil in our lamps, or are we just holding empty ones?

Is our true purpose in life God and His glory alone?

Is our eye single toward Christ? Are our treasures, and thus our hearts, on things of this world, or Christ Himself and heavenly things?

And finally, are we ravished with the beauty of Christ? Do we wish to be in His presence more each day, in prayer now and in person in heaven one day? Is he our all?

The Song of Solomon is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. If you’ve never read through it with that in mind, I would encourage you to do so. And here are other excellent sermons, focusing on some of this relationship, and the Church’s desire, and those individuals that make up the bride of Christ, for Christ, the excellency it (the Church) and they (the individuals) see in Him, and its and their desire for communion with Him:

I believe the kingdom of Christ is real, here, and now, and is not yoked with the kingdom of the world; and those that take the name of Christ I believe should strive to live life in and focused on Christ and His kingdom, participating much in heavenly things, purposing all things for God’s glory, separated as much as possible from the world’s kingdom and its accoutrements.

May God grant us a desire for the things of the world to die to us, and may He grant that they indeed do!

Your main and principal motive as a Christian should always be to live for Christ. To live for glory? Yes, but for his glory. To live for comfort? Yes, but be all your consolation in him. To live for pleasure? Yes, but when you are merry, sing psalms, and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. To live for wealth? Yes, but to be rich in faith. You may lay up treasure, but lay it up in heaven.

– Charles Spurgeon

1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Rom 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Psa 73:25-26 – “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Phil 4:8 – “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.

— David

Our Sojourn: The Next Chapter

Sunset or sunrise?

Sunset or Sunrise

Both actually, as a chapter is here ending, and the next chapter is starting…

It was “decided” this past week that our fellowship would stop trying to function as a local church group. The reasons are too involved to discuss in this blog post, but I wanted to mention it for a few reasons:

  • First, I still believe in the main reason why Sue & I moved here: to separate more from the world and its influence, to live more directly on God’s providential hand by growing and raising our own food, and then doing all these things and living out our Christianity in every aspect of our life (Christianity being our lives instead of just a part of our lives) amongst, with, and in support of like-minded believers, to learn to serve and love them. For me personally, over the years the Lord has granted to some degree what I believe are good effects from all these things, in Him granting things in my heart required to actually do these things — more trust in Him, more charity (godly love) to others with some less emphasis on myself, etc., and I am very thankful, and pray He continues as I desperately need and desire more of those things, and more of Him.
  • Secondly, practically speaking from the group’s standpoint, the main change will be that we won’t be gathering together on Lord’s day for Bible study, singing and holy reading, as we shift to looking for other established local fellowships with whom to fellowship. And so, we won’t be streaming meetings from our Lord’s day times on our YouTube page, which we’ve been doing for quite some time. I’ve been personally reading from Christian writings that I have found beneficial, making them available in an audio format, and maybe Sue and I will come up with other things to do on our YouTube page in that medium. We plan to continue this blog too.

    The folks here do hope to maintain the close relationships we all have with each other, and continue some of the Christian-focused things we have done in the past, like gathering to do projects for each other on a “community” — now probably more “neighborhood” — work day, etc. And continuing to focus on opportunities to help others in local towns, as we have been doing recently.

  • Lastly, I believe some good has been done here over all the years, and again, I’ve certainly seen spiritual blessings in my own life. However, I believe some harm to others has been done here for, again, reasons too involved to discuss here. All Sue and I ever wanted to do was help people — that’s why we bought a large parcel of land, much larger than she and I would ever want to use for ourselves. But, sadly things aren’t always right or done the right way, I would presume mostly from sin in ourselves and our carnal man, and to those who have been hurt by the things that were not right, I wanted to apologize sincerely for my part in those things that hurt you, and hope that someday you will be able to forgive me.

From here on, we don’t know where the Lord will lead, but it continues to be our prayer God would glorify Himself through us in whatever way He might, and with His help that we seek Him diligently as we continue our “sojourn” of life.

Heb. 11:8-10 – “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

— David

David’s Digest: It’s Not Salvific!

I’ve heard this before, in the context of how one lives their life. For example, “Oh, you don’t have to live such and such way…it’s not salvific!”

I agree it does not merit anything for salvation. However, salvation is a process. It starts with God’s sovereign act of changing the dead heart to a living one, a passive act on man’s part, and it continues throughout the life of the person, ending in glory. That time in the middle is the sanctification process, something the Holy Spirit does in the life of the individual by making them more holy, or Christ-like, which is by giving the person Christ’s graces, the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal 5:22-23 – “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Faith and love are the main drivers of the Christian, and with those comes obedience to God in His direction in the Bible, and the Bible would have Christians not love the world and not be conformed to it:

1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Rom 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Using the example of how one dresses, the Bible would have Christians dress modestly. And in that modesty, given the world in its view on life and how to live it is one of a Christian’s main enemies (along with Satan and a person’s own carnal man), why would a Christian want to be as close to the way the world dresses, without supposedly stepping over the line, and not be as far away from the way the world does things, like Lot and his family escaping Sodom, not looking back desiring to be closer to it…like Lot’s wife?

So, Christianity requires OBEDIENCE to these commands, which (obedience) stems from love for Christ, which is a fruit of the Spirit, which brings sanctification, in the process of SALVATION!

Further, as I mentioned, a Christian’s enemy is his carnal man, which I believe is a person’s greatest enemy:

1 Pet 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts [desires], which war against the soul;

Our carnal man is at war with the soul. Part of our duty in our Christian walk is to war against our spiritual enemies.

As graces grow, the carnal man is brought lower and lower in the mortification (death-bringing) process of that carnal man. The means of denying the carnal man we have been talking about can help in that process. Again with dress, dressing modestly can help curb pride and vanity, things contrary to God, His nature and holiness. Mortification is a duty of ourselves, and as with graces, it is a work of the Spirit in the sanctification process, for which He uses means. And then, why wouldn’t a Christian want to dress in a way that brings the most mortification of pride and vanity, coming against sin in the strongest way possible?

Why would a Christian feed its enemy? A Christian should not, and ignoring this can be eternally dangerous:

Gal 6:8 – “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

And so, while nothing we do in our lives merits salvation, there are means of sanctification in the salvation process, and it is important for a professing Christian to consider how he/she live their life in light of the Bible’s directions and how Christ lived His.

— David

David’s Digest: God OR Mammon

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines the word “serve” as follows:

SERVE, v.t. serv. [L. servio. This verb is supposed to be from the noun servus, a servant or slave, and this from servo, to keep.]

1. To work for; to bestow the labor of body and mind in the employment of another.

Jacob loved Rachel and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy youngest daughter. Gen. 29.

No man can serve two masters. Matt. 6.

2. To act as the minister of; to perform official duties to; as, a minister serves his prince.

Had I served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my gray hairs. Cardinal Woolsey.

3. To attend at command; to wait on.

A goddess among gods, ador’d and serv’d

By angels numberless, thy daily train. Milton.

4. To obey servilely or meanly. be not to wealth a servant.

5. To supply with food; as, to be served in plate.

6. To be subservient or subordinate to.

Bodies bright and greater should not serve

The less not bright. Milton.

7. To perform the duties required in; as, the curate served two churches.

8. To obey; to perform duties in the employment of; as, to serve the king or the country in the army or navy.

9. To be sufficient, or to promote; as, to serve one’s turn, end or purpose.

10. To help by good offices; as, to serve one’s country.

11. To comply with; to submit to.

They think herein we serve the time, because thereby we either hold or seek preferment. Hooker.

12. To be sufficient for; to satisfy; to content.

One half pint bottle serves them both to dine,

And is at once their vinegar and wine. Pope.

13. To be in the place of any thing to one. A sofa serves the Turks for a seat and a couch.

14. To treat; to requite; as, he served me ungratefully; he served me very ill; We say also, he served me a trick, that is he deceived me, or practiced an artifice on me.

15. In Scripture and theology, to obey and worship; to act in conformity to the law of a superior, and treat him with due reverence.

Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and truth. As for me and my house, we will serve the lord. Josh. 24.

16. In a bad sense, to obey; to yield compliance or act according to.

For the most part, each of the above definitions is related, in that 1) each involves how time is spent of the servant, regardless of what or who is being served, and 2) there is a commitment and submission of the servant to that which is being served.

Matt 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mammon as the following:

MAM’MON, n. Riches; wealth; or the god or riches.

or a mammonist as:

MAM’MONIST, n. A person devoted to the acquisition of wealth; one whose affections are placed supremely on riches; a worldling.

As I stated, and as is demonstrated in the dictionary definitions above, servanthood by nature involves spending time doing the serving. I would say further that this implies the reverse to be true: what you spend your time doing, you serve.

Now, the context of the Bible verse above is the Lord Christ discussing the spiritual condition of one’s heart, as evidenced by where his “treasure” is, and that the treasures of the world should not be sought, because if the Lord is lord of your life, you should not be concerned about the temporal necessities of life:

Matt 6:19-34 – “19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 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: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 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. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

So, spending one’s time seeking riches, even under the guise of them being for the necessities of life, is, according to these verses, not godly living, because if you are spending your time doing that, you are thus serving those riches.

This is further evidenced by dependence. Why do people spend so much time in the service of obtaining money? It’s because they NEED the money to survive — they are dependent on it. Don’t believe me? What would happen to people’s ability to eat and drink if they lost their jobs and couldn’t find other ones, or if money became worthless? Unless they are growing their own food and have their own source of water, they would die. Dependency requires servitude.

Sound familiar? Does not a person spending all day at a corporate job, in a career, earning a paycheck so he can buy food and water, fit these descriptions?

Now, once again, verse 24 says one “cannot serve God and mammon,” which means the service of these are mutually exclusive: if you are serving one, you cannot be serving the other. So, if one’s time is spent in pursuit of money, that makes that person a servant of money; and if that person depends on that money for survival, that person is further a servant of money. And therefore, in that, that person cannot be serving God.

What is it you’re spending most of your day doing, and on what do you depend for your life necessities; and thus, what do you serve? And so then, Whom are you not serving?

— David

David’s Digest: Living in the Darkness

At the fall, all men — Adam and his progeny — were brought into darkness — complete spiritual darkness due to a loss of the spiritual Light of God, which results in complete blindness to spiritual things:

John 1:5 – “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Men are blind to the light of nature that points to God (it does nothing salvific in their lives); and they are blind to Christ, the Light of the world (for some, this is blindness to who He truly is and what He truly did, even if they have a claimed knowledge of Him!). A soul that is not born-again cannot see the kingdom of God:

John 3:3 – “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

which is here now:

Matt 3:1-2 – “1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

and

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

The noted Puritan commentator, Dr. John Gill, says this about the kingdom of God in these verses:

for the kingdom of heaven is at hand: by which is meant not the kingdom of glory to be expected in another world; or the kingdom of grace, that is internal grace, which only believers are partakers of in this; but the kingdom of the Messiah, which was “at hand”, just ready to appear, when he would be made manifest in Israel and enter upon his work and office: it is the Gospel dispensation which was about to take place, and is so called; because of the wise and orderly management of it under Christ, the king and head of his church by the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances; whereby, as means, spiritual and internal grace would be communicated to many, in whose hearts it would reign and make them meet for the kingdom of glory; and because the whole economy of the Gospel, the doctrines and ordinances of it are from heaven. This phrase, “the kingdom of heaven” is often to be met with in Jewish writings; and sometimes it stands opposed to the “kingdom of the earth”; by it is often meant the worship, service, fear, and love of God, and faith in him: thus in one of their books having mentioned those words, “serve the Lord with fear”: it is asked, what means this phrase, “with fear?” It is answered, the same as it is written, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”; and this is “the kingdom of heaven”.

Here is what he says about seeing the kingdom of God:

And by this phrase our Lord signifies, that no man, either as a man, or as a son of Abraham, or as a proselyte to the Jewish religion, can have any true knowledge of, or right unto, the enjoyment of the kingdom of God, unless he is born again; or regenerated, and quickened by the Spirit of God; renewed in the spirit of his mind; has Christ formed in his heart; becomes a partaker of the divine nature; and in all respects a new creature; and an other in heart, in principle, in practice, and conversation; or unless he be “born from above”, as the word is rendered in John 3:31; that is, by a supernatural power, having the heavenly image stamped on him; and being called with an heavenly calling, even with the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: if this is not the case, a man can have no true knowledge of the kingdom of the Messiah, which is not a temporal and carnal one; it is not of this world, nor does it come with observation; nor can he have any right to the ordinances of it, which are of a spiritual nature; and much less can he be thought to have any true notions, or to be possessed of the kingdom of grace, which lies in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; or to have either a meetness for, or a right unto the kingdom of glory

Besides God’s kingdom, as Dr. Gill noted, there is the kingdom of this world, over which Satan has rule as prince:

Eph 2:2 – “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience

Again, Dr. Gill:

according to the prince of the power of the air: which is not to be understood of any supposed power the devil has over the air, by divine permission, to raise winds, but of a posse, or body of devils, who have their residence in the air; for it was not only the notion of the Jews, that there are noxious and accusing spirits, who fly about “in the air” and that there is no space between the earth and the firmament free, and that the whole is full of a multitude of them; but also it was the opinion of the Chaldeans, and of Pythagoras, and Plato, that the air is full of demons: now there is a prince who is at the head of these, called Beelzebub, the prince of devils, or the lord of a fly, for the devils under him are as so many flies in the air, Mt 12:24 and by the Jews called “the prince of spirits”; and is here styled, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; by which spirit is meant, not the lesser devils that are under the prince, nor the spirit of the world which comes from him, and is not of God; but Satan himself, who is a spirit, and an evil, and an unclean one; and who operates powerfully in unbelievers, for they are meant by children of disobedience, or unbelief; just as “children of faith” in the Jewish dialect, designs believers; and over these Satan has great influence, especially the reprobate part of them; whose minds he blinds, and whose hearts he fills, and puts it into them to do the worst of crimes; and indeed, he has great power over the elect themselves, while in unbelief, and leads them captive at his will; and these may be said in their unregeneracy to walk after him, when they imitate him, and do his lusts, and comply with what he suggests, dictates to them, or tempts them to.

With the world full of darkness, ruled by Satan, and given that the darkness cannot comprehend the light, it stands to reason that, if you live as part of the world, by its rudiments (Col 2:8 — its economic, political, social, religious systems and principles, etc.), you have surrounded yourself with a barrier of spiritual darkness that hedges AGAINST the Light of the Gospel. You live in a situation where everything around and that has influence on your life RESISTS spiritual Light.

Is that the best for a person who claims the name of Christ? Or perhaps, if you see no problem living as part of a world that is darkness, surrounded and affected by that darkness, then perhaps you are part of that darkness.

Of course, every person is in darkness until God, by His own sovereign will, shines His Light and pushes out the darkness of one’s heart, as the sun does to the darkness of the night every morning; but if the Light is shining, does that mean you plant your garden in a box with no windows?

And so, where can a clearer, less obstructed view of the Light be found? Christ is the Light…

John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

…the Church is the body of Christ…

1 Cor 10:16-17 – “16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

and

Rom 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

…thus the Bible says that the Church is the light of the world, which is as the moon that reflects the light of the sun onto the earth:

Phil 2:15 – “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

I submit to you that the proper way a Christian should live is:

  1. separated from the world and its darkness with the world being your provider
  2. separated to living life with the body of Christ, in daily fellowship, under the direct provision of God to supply your needs (Him providing rain, Him providing the increase of plant and animal food, etc.)

This isn’t something you do once or twice a week: it requires the entirety of your life. You need to be AWAY from the DARKNESS and WITH the LIGHT.

I have found this to be true. By living separated from the world in Christian community, I have come to a greater knowledge and understanding of the darkness in my life and heart — my sin and lack of love toward God and the brethren, what it means to love and trust God and to love the brethren (Matt 22:36-40), who Christ is and what it means to be a part of His body, my lack of meekness and humility, and many other areas of spiritual Light. I submit to you that unless you do that, the best you’ll have in your Christian walk is living an unfruitful life; the worst you’ll have is that you never realize that you are actually lost (2 Cor 13:5).

The darkness DOES NOT comprehend the light. And so, by the way you live, how is your comprehension of the Light?

— David

David’s Digest: Quick Quiz

Quick quiz:

Who invented Agrarianism?

Answer: God

Before the fall: Gen 2:15 – “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

After the fall: Gen 3:19,23 – “19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Who invented Industrialism?

Answer: Man

Jer 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Prov 4:23 – “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Prov 14:12 – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Agrarianism or Industrialism: it’s God’s way or the highway.

— David

Our First Fellowship Betrothal

Well, it has been a few years since several of us started living here on the land. When we first got here, all of the children were just that — children. But, after five years, as you would imagine, that’s not exactly the case for all of them any more. In fact, one of our young misses just recently became betrothed — our first betrothal on the land!

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “betroth” as the following:

BETROTH’, v.t. [be and troth, truth, faith. See Truth, and Troth.]

1. To contract to any one, in order to a future marriage; to promise or pledge one to be the future spouse of another; to affiance; used of either sex. “The father betroths his daughter.’

2. To contract with one for a future spouse; to espouse; as, a man betroths a lady.

“Betrothed?” you might ask? Yes, betrothed. The ideas of “romantic love” and engagement, or even “courting,” are foreign to the Bible; not that there can’t be romance, but it is not the main driver or motivator behind relationships; and in fact, betrothal is what is prescribed in the Bible. Why might it be important to have betrothals instead of typical engagements? First, the Bible prescribes it as the only pre-marriage methodology; and second, it was set up as a picture or “type” of the relationship between Christ and His bride-to-be. In this current reality of time, Christ’s chosen bride, the elect from the foundation of the world, is not married to Christ yet — that happens at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-9). His chosen is betrothed, or espoused, as expressed in 2 Cor 11:2 – “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” God instituted the “type” of betrothal to show the unbreakable bond of His chosen bride to Himself based on His volitional, self-sacrificing, and unconditional agápe love.

Betrothal of Mark Contra and Tracy Bunker

With Mr. Bunker, Miss Bunker’s father, making the original offer to Mr. Contra, and with Mr. Contra accepting, Mr. Bunker and Mr. Mark Contra formed the contract for Mr. Contra to marry Miss Bunker, with various other agreements between Mr. Bunker and Mr. Contra. Although not absolutely necessary, since an older and hopefully wiser parent, with God’s help, should be able to determine which man would be good for a daughter to marry, Mr. Bunker did first allow for Miss Bunker’s approval of the gentleman in question; and she did approve. 🙂

And so without further ado, here are some moments from Mr. Contra’s and Miss Bunker’s betrothal party:

Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Mr. Contra and Miss Bunker:

Mark and Tracy at Their Betrothal Party

Supper time:

Supper Time at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

And don’t forget the desserts!

Desserts at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Here are a few more pictures of the fellowship time, starting with the new couple:

Mark and Tracy Around the Supper Table at Their Betrothal Party
Fellowship Around Supper Table at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party
More Fellowship Around Supper Table at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Here are some sights and sounds:


And some more, including Mr. Bunker’s discussion about the betrothal ceremony and some important parts of the ceremony itself (please forgive the quality of the video as our camera doesn’t film well at night):


We are thankful here on the land to be able to be a part of a couple joining in the way the Bible prescribes. We pray for many more, as the Lord wills, and that He continue to grant us understanding of His revealed will as described in the Bible.

— David

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