Posted in ben franklin, good, grace, morality

Can we be good without God?

It is an age-old question. If you ask someone, “Do you think you will go to heaven when you die?” Most often they will reply, “I think so. I’ve been a good person.”

The question arising after that is “What is good?” Even then, most people will answer with a list of attributes that include do’s and don’ts. They’ll say that they would be qualified for heaven because they don’t steal, they don’t murder, they don’t cheat. They’ll say that they are nice, kind, charitable, loving, and so on.

But let’s back up to a moment even just before the person’s answer about being good. Why is there a universal acknowledgement in the first place that one must be good to get to heaven? Why can’t we just go there after we die? Why is that even in the mix at all?

Because God put in us the desire to be good. Most people acknowledge that we need to be ‘good.’ But where false religions come in is their acknowledgement of their definitions of good, and from whence the qualifying benchmarks come. Christians know that the external source of all Good is God, (Matthew 19:17) and the benchmark for attaining heaven is written in the bible. Yet non-Christians still feel the pull of conscience, conviction of sin, and therefore they intrinsically understand there is a bad, or evil. They express the intuitive understanding that we cannot go to heaven as we are. We must be ‘good.’

For ages, people have tried to go their own way with being good, attaining a morality of their own making that would be pleasing (to whomever, to their own self, to society, or to a made-up false god, etc. Let’s take a case-study of this attitude in a famous American: Benjamin Franklin.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. (Romans 2:15)

Franklin is a good one to study because he was obsessed with self-improvement, he acknowledged a deity, he proclaimed a need for a moral code, and he was a prolific writer.

It should be said at the outset, that Benjamin Franklin was not saved. He was not a Christian. As a matter of fact, from the beginning of his life to the end, though he acknowledged the likelihood of the existence of ‘a deity’, he repudiated the personal need for one.

In fact, Franklin wrote in 1757 of his pity for-

“weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual…”

So we need that though Franklin knew that man needed to be good, he denied needing any help in attaining it. He would do it himself. To wit, exhibit A.

In his autobiography, a young Franklin wrote,

It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other.

Pride is at the root of all sins, it is the first sin, it is the universal sin. Here we see the result of Franklin’s unsancitifed mind: he would conquer all his faults and become perfect.

Then he wrote,

But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.

I’m shocked. Shocked.

While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the following method.

Franklin was surprised by how often different “faults,” as he put them, popped up in his daily life. What he needed was to be organized. Then he’d be on his way to moral perfection.

What Franklin did was create a little booklet containing lines and columns, like a ledger. He’d mark one spot for his failures for each day of the week and one line for each of his virtues he was trying to perfect. Though there hundreds of virtues a person can display, selected 12 in particular Franklin thought he needed improvement on. He added the 13th, ‘Humility” because a Quaker friend said that Franklin was well-known to be difficult to converse with because of his tendency to dominate the conversation and telling everyone they were wrong. After the Quaker friend gave Franklin some examples, Franklin decided to add the 13th and work on humility.

Though in the list below, the Christian can see the roots of these virtues in certain portions of scripture, Franklin did not ascribe their source to the bible. How or why he self-selected these thirteen and not another thirteen, is also part of man’s delusion that he can become good. One needs perfection in ALL in order to be considered good on the same level that Jesus is Good. Franklin decided that he would ‘fix’ one at a time, turning an opposing vice into the stated virtue. Incredibly, he estimated that it would take one week to fix each one, and that he could conclude his project in 13 weeks.

Franklin’s list of virtues he planned to pursue to perfection,

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e., waste nothing.

Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

Rarely use venery (sexual intercourse) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the
 injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Did you ever read anything more proud? Anyway, for example, he chose to work on “Cleanliness” but did not include patience. Perhaps he thought he or his floor, could be better scrubbed, but had already achieved moral perfection in displaying patience? Or maybe there as a bit of the old craftiness in his selection, because cleanliness is a quantifiable virtue, an external virtue that others can see, and one that is easier to attain than, say, tranquility (especially when his wife would do most of the cleaning).

In his pride, Franklin surmised that all it would take would be thirteen weeks dedication to the project and then moral perfection would be attained. He did write in the future he planned to write a book on how to attain moral perfection using his method, and all people would be able to benefit from it. To that end, he purposely avoided mention of any one religion saying,

I had purposely avoided them [religious sects]; for, being fully persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it might be serviceable to people in all religions…” [emphasis mine]

It wasn’t long before Franklin understood that the project of attaining moral perfection would take longer than 13 weeks. As a matter of fact, he kept his book, with few intermissions, for 50 years. Of all the virtues, he found humility the hardest to overcome. After a while Franklin simply used less dogmatic and inflammatory language. He’d say, “I perceive” instead of “Undoubtedly,” and “I apprehend” instead of “Certainly.” The most he could do was fake humility. Side note: if all you’re doing is faking humility, doesn’t that also destroy ‘Sincerity’?

At the end of his life, Franklin wryly wrote that despite his best efforts to disguise his pride with cloaking language that he thought would be less dogmatical,

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

Preacher Charles Spurgeon said in sermon #2591, “Pride the Destroyer”

This sin of pride is often forgotten and many persons do not even think it is a sin at all. Here is a man who says that he is absolutely perfect. Does he know what the sin of pride really is? What prouder being can there be than one who talks like that? “Oh, but,” he says, “I am humble.” Is there any soul living that is so proud as he is who says he is humble? Is not that the acme and climax of pride?

The older Franklin got, the more he acknowledged that perhaps the Deity was indeed involved in the affairs of men, and perhaps Jesus of Nazareth was a good man delivering the best “system of morals” the world ever saw, but refused to believe in Jesus’ divinity. Sorrowfully, at the end of his life, Franklin wrote,

“I have … some doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.”

Franklin couldn’t be troubled to discover his eternal destiny? It was Franklin’s eternal mistake.

As for our Lord, isn’t a relief we do not have to spend 50 years trying to perfect humility only to fail every time? Isn’t is a wonderful thing that we don’t have to look at an eternity of pride blotting our heart to the detriment of all our relationships? Because we cannot attain moral perfection. We can’t even go a day and not fail to display some grievous display of moral corruption.

Only Jesus is Good, and that (Luke 18:19). This is why only He could be the sacrificial Lamb, slain so He could shed His blood to cover our sins.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8)

We cannot be good without God. But by grace, we have God.

Posted in galatians, good, spurgeon

Do not grow weary in the doing good

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

These days are getting more and more evil. A Christian in an area like ours, the Southern United states, is so far spared the persecution many are experiencing abroad, praise the Lord. However, attitudes toward Christians from secular people are shifting rapidly even here in the so-called ‘bible belt.’ Though we are not persecuted from the outside, many local churches are dying from the inside.

Just as Britain is grappling with the reality that they are a post-Christian nation, a clear look at the US will show that we are too.

Apostasy is rising, which means that people who have called themselves Christians are behaving less and less like our Master and more and more like the world.

I used to think that discernment ministries, such as the ministry the Spirit gave me to perform online and in the real world, was the hardest. I was wrong to think so. Plus, I was in error. It is hard for everybody. I’m nobody special.

The tendency is to excuse themselves because at some time or other they have been victimized.~Charles Spurgeon
For example, I was talking with a sister in the faith who serves in a helps ministry. She has been given a strong desire to serve. Even when people who call themselves Christian ask for help from churches where a sweet women like my sister serves, the seekers of help often display the worst of human attitudes; entitlement, greed, laziness, ingratitude, and anger.

Paul warned Timothy to:

“understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“Having the appearance of godliness”…Christians who look like they are Christians aren’t really, but will at some point be found to never have known the Lord. (Matthew 7:21-23). This is one of the saddest verses in the entire bible, to me.

Weary traveler by eharsee. reuse allowed

Discernment ministries arise within a church and online when a person has been spiritually gifted with a supernatural ability to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, between holiness and evil. It comes from 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Because it is getting toward the end of the end of the age (we have been in the end of the age since Jesus ascended (1 John 2:18), there are a good many people who succumb to tickled ears, heaping up teachers for themselves, and won’t endure sound doctrine. As I read on Challies’ website, not that they don’t know what sound teaching is, but that they WON’T ENDURE it.

People still refuse to accept such and such is a false teacher, or that a particular doctrine is aberrant, or an activity founded on a scripture is actually a twisted use of that scripture…. Discernment is seen as something unnecessary to a vibrant Christian life. So many people display an attitude of “let’s just agree Jesus is the only thing we need to agree on and leave the rest to God. But that’s not all there is, and still the gift of discernment isn’t adhered to much.

Back to the Galatians verse, Charles Spurgeon said in his exhortation about not being weary in the doing good, as related to teaching Sunday School

“It is true, my Brothers and Sisters, that you are not to save yourselves by doing good. Your motive is not selfish, but because you are saved already, you desire to manifest the power of gratitude and to prove to all the world that those who receive a free salvation are the very men who most cheerfully labor to please God and to bring glory to His name. O you who are debtors to infinite mercy, “Be not weary in doing good.” …

Now, secondly, it appears from the text that in your service YOU WILL MEET WITH EVILS common to Christian workers of all descriptions. You will especially be liable to weariness and faintness. Take the first word as it stands in our version—you will be tempted to grow weary.  …

Do you not think that, at times, our getting lax in Christian work arises from our being very low in Grace? As a rule, you cannot get out of a man that which is not in him. You cannot go forth, yourself, to your class and do your work vigorously if you have lost inward vigor. You cannot minister before the Lord with the unction of the Holy One if that unction is not upon you. If you are not living near to God and in the power of God, then the power of God will not go forth through you to the children in y our care! Therefore I think we should judge, when we become discontented and down-hearted, that we are out of sorts spiritually. Let us say to ourselves, “Come, my Soul! What ails you? This faint heart is a sign that you are out of health. Go to the Great Physician and obtain from Him a tonic which shall brace you! Come, play the man! Have none of these whims! Away with your idleness! The reaping time will come, therefore thrust in the plow.”  

By Benson Kua from Toronto, Canada. Wiki commons

“Sometimes, too—I am ashamed to mention it—I have heard of teachers becoming weary from lack of being appreciated. Their work has not been sufficiently noticed by the pastor and praised by the superintendent. Sufficient notice has not been taken of them and their class by their fellow teachers. I will not say much about this cause of faintness because it is so small an affair that it is quite below a Christian. Appreciation! Do we expect it in this world? The Jewish nation despised and rejected their King and even if we were as holy as the Lord Jesus we might still fail to be rightly judged and properly esteemed. What does it matter? If God accepts us, we need not be dismayed though all should pass us by. 

Perhaps, however, the work itself may suggest to us a little more excuse for being weary. It is hard work to sow on the highway and amidst the thorns—hard work to be casting good seed upon the rock, year after year. Well, if I had done so for many years and was enabled by the Holy Spirit, I would say to myself, “I shall not give up my work because I have not yet received a recompense in it. I perceive that in the Lord’s parable three sowings did not succeed and yet the one piece of good ground paid for all! Perhaps I have gone through my three unsuccessful sowings and now is my time to enjoy my fourth, in which the seed will fall upon good ground.”

Spurgeon always has a good word. In addition, the Good Book says to

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:14-15)

Spurgeon again,

“If there are a hundred reasons for giving up your work of faith, there are 50,000 for going on with it! Though there are many arguments for fainting, there are far more arguments for persevering. Though we might be weary and do sometimes feel so, let us wait upon the Lord and renew our strength and we shall mount up with wings as eagles, forget our weariness and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!” 


Methodist Church Organist has been playing every Sunday for 73 years

Posted in evil, God, good, tragedy

Why does God allow evil?

God doesn’t cause tragedy. But God allows it. Why?

Todd Friel of Wretched TV answered this in a very good and biblical way. It is 7 minutes long and I recommend listening. The video is below. Here is a short, written summary of what Mr Friel said-

The bible makes sense to help us understand what appears to be senseless. We need to be proclaiming the reasons for evil the bible gives generally so that individuals can apply them specifically. We can’t point fingers and say that ‘this is the reason that happened to YOU,’ but if we share the general principles of why God allows evil it may help someone understand and apply it to their own situation. God is always doing something for everyone involved in a tragedy. God uses sin sinlessly. He is always at work to the Good.

1. The Gospel
If there was not sin in the world we would not need Jesus as Savior and not know how amazingly kind God is to send Him to us. Without sin there is no Gospel.

2. Magnify His Goodness
When God’s kindness is portrayed against the backdrop of evil His goodness is even brighter.

3. Repent
In Luke 13:1-5, in a sermon on the need for individual repentance for sin, Jesus talks about to 18 who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them. They were innocent victims of a calamity which was due to no fault of those killed. Are we less sinful than those who were killed? No. We don’t know the day or hour of our appointment with death, therefore the need to repent NOW is even greater.

4. Jesus loves children
He loves them. Maybe He wanted them with Him today. Let that comfort you.

5. Make us long for Him
The churches were packed after the tragedy and the candlelight vigils were frequent. We long for Him and rush to Him when under such duress and heavy weight.

6. Draws us to Himself
See above

7. Equips us to comfort
We can comfort someone else.

8. Prepare us for service
He uses sin sinlessly by increasing our gratitude today for service tomorrow. He uses something really hard to do some and to equip us for something in the future to empathize with others going through a similar thing, or for us to be able to endure something in the future.

9. Remind us of the battle
He uses sin to remind us of the battle in the spiritual realms for the souls of men, and to refocus our priorities.

10. Genuine decisions can be evil
He allows us to make decisions and sometimes those decisions can be downright evil

11. Reaping and sowing
Is it possible a nation is reaping what it has been sowing?

12. Deuteronomy 29:29
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Some things are too high for us to know, or too burdensome. Would you tell your five year old the adult things we know of? They would either not understand or be able to handle it. Sometimes God reveals things to us later, or in heaven, when we can handle it.