Not So Far From Home

A blue haze of diesel exhaust hung in the triple-digit heat, turning the air over Bombay into a ubiquitous blanket of discomfort. With hours before my flight home I was getting a look at this city of 18,000,000, and before my visit was over I felt like I had been bumped into by every one of them, twice.

The traffic consisted of a river of jostling, jolting, jitneys, jolting. and jockeying for the next inch of progress. Interspersed with lapping waves of pedestrians ebbing in and out among the halting traffic.

The corners of the streets alternatingly occupied by disfigured beggars, offended children, and abandoned wives with children. With a sprinkling of snake charmers, bulls, cows, and elephants.

Hoping to find a cool breeze I stopping to explore a bit of the waterfront, and venturing onto one the docks I was able to look out into the harbor. The view was, in contrast, tranquil and there among the several ships at anchor was a U.S.N. Destroyer with the Stars and Stripes atop her masts.

The effect that sighting had on me was at once to make me glad and sad. Though well aware of missing my wife and family; I was not expecting the emotions stirred by that little piece of America, which like me was so far from home.

I have had a similar sensation at times in Church; when by the eye of faith I get a glimpse of heaven. There, in the fellowship of saints worshiping God in Spirit and Truth, we are for a moment, as it were a little outpost from heaven.

I am in a sense awaiting my flight home. It only remains to see if it is by death or rapture.

We do not know the day of our departure but it is certainly nearer than it ever was before. And each day away from heaven is one day nearer.


Why Was Our Child Born Blind?


Why Was Our Child Born Blind?
Dear Reader, Please read John chapter 9

Our weekly studies, for the Quiche’ pastors, has been in the book of John. This year we have, so far, been in chapter 9. It records another providential meeting. Jesus has, in chapter 8, made one of His “I AM” statements. And the Jews took up stones to stone Him but He escapes through the crowd. And as He does He sees the man born blind.

Though this meeting appears to be accidental, it is obvious that it was planned by God.

The disciples know enough Scripture to know that sin and suffering are linked. Therefore they raise the 2 part question of verse 2. Who sinned the parents or the child?

(That is, are the parents being punished as David and Bathsheba were in the death of their first son? [2 Sam. 12:18]) Or more interestingly: “Had the Baby committed some prenatal sin?” This part of the question reflects on their understanding of the “personhood” of the baby in the womb. (Exodus 21:22-23) (Causing the death of the unborn is murder.) If causing the death of an unborn child is murder then the unborn must be a person.

One can imagine the parents speculated along similar lines as they raised a special needs child. They may have been hurt and hurt each other by these speculations.

But Jesus gives what must have been a surprising answer: Jn 9:3 Neither his sin nor his parents’ sin was responsible for his condition. Jesus is not saying they had no sin but that his sightlessness was not a direct result of their particular sin. Nor is He saying that sin can-not cause such birth “defects”.

The difficulties associated with special needs children will raise many questions and either draw families closer together or deepen divisions. “WhyQuestions” almost always needs a Theological answer. And our Theology we determine how we respond to the challenges of providence.

How eager are well meaning Christians to protect God from being “blamed” for special needs children. God however, is not shy to take responsibility.

[Exodus 4:11] And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? [Isaiah 45:7 ] I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.
Jesus makes God’s purposes very plain in His answer, (Jn. 9:3b) “… that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

God had trusted these parents with the responsibility to raise this child to adulthood for this very day. And in His providence planned when and where that the man born blind would meet the Light of the World and be given his sight. “God Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Eph 1:11) Is this not a primer on God’s sovereignty over all things? If He arranges for physical eyes to see the sun does He not also arrange to open spiritual eyes to see His Son?

The man born blind had no more to do with his healing than he did with his birth. It took an encounter with Christ to open his sightless eyes. The man born blind had no say over his blindness nor his healing these were totally under the control of God.

The blind man could not decide when, where, or how he would be healed. And if God had not chosen him to meet Christ and for Christ to heal him he would have continued in darkness and died having never seen.

God prepared the man to be born blind, for this very moment. God must have planned the meeting with Christ and the healing by Christ. And it was all planned by God before the man was born.

Are not we all born spiritually blind? And can we heal our own sightless eyes? Can we say, “I see” and thereby see?

Paul’s spiritual eyes were opened on the Damascus road when he too met the “Light of the World”.
Paul was not traveling that road seeking Christ but to destroy the Church.
Who then decided if, when, and where Paul would meet Christ? Was it not our Sovereign God and was it not so the works of God could be manifest in Paul? God said of Paul “I have chosen him.” And God made these choices in eternity to be played out in time.

The chapter closes with Christ pronouncing a judgement on the arrogance of the Pharisees. Their religion was a symptom of their spiritual blindness and Jesus seems to be saying; “You’re going to stay blind because your religious arrogance will not let you humble yourselves and acknowledge your need of salvation.

So why was this child born blind? That God’s Sovereign power may be manifest in him. As it is in every person whom He regenerates giving them new life and opening thier blind eyes. And as an illustration of the condition of the once born.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “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.”

The blind man changed so much after Jesus opened his eyes that even his neighbors were not sure it was the same man. This is the testimony of a Christian. (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

In culture that not only hangs its dirty laundry in public but posts a video of the soiling of it, the events of John 8:1-13 seem pretty tame.

However the motivations for the case even existing is instructive. The whole thing was a “set up” a contrivance to entrap Jesus.

The enemies of Jesus were many and powerful. The, Jews were at this time, generally divided into three sects. Pharisees, who believed in the doctrine of resurrection, and the Sadducees, who did not. The Scribes were the teachers of law and came from both the aforementioned parties.

These groups made up the leadership of the nation of Jews and were to maintain law and order for the Romans who were the ultimate civil authority at the time.

This is important because it meant that the Jews could not use the death penalty independently. All capital cases had to pass through Roman authority and then those found guilty were executed by Roman forms. The Romans apparently learned of crucifixion from the Persians. It was a method so brutal that Rome did not use it on its own citizens.

Psalm 22 which may have been written as much as 700 years before crucifixion was invented, describes in great detail and accuracy what crucifixion does to its victims. And more precisely what agonies Christ bore as He became God’s provided substitute for His chosen. (cf Eph. 1:4)

The Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus between the Law of Moses and the law of the Roman occupation.
For the trap they used a woman and I speculate that the woman was ignorant of the scheme in which she was a pawn.

Reading the passage will cause ones imagination to produce several scenarios. It seems that the perpetrators must have foreknowledge of when, where, and who. So they must have organized the event and its timing in a way best suited to their purpose and in a way that left male offender unidentified.

That being done the woman alone is subjected to public humiliation. Much like Islam which has executed a woman who was a victim of rape, the Pharisees dispense selective and partial judgement.

Like actors on a stage, they remind the bystanders of the Law of Moses as though speaking only to Jesus. This would perhaps cause them to remember Deuteronomy 22:22 which requires the stoning to death of both guilty parties.

Jesus acts as though He did not hear the Pharisees. And stooping down He writes something on the ground. I suppose it was something pertinent to the trial but we are not told what it was.

So they asked Him again to pass judgement. Feeling sure they had Him, for if He says “stone her” He will be in violation of the Roman law of occupation. And if He says. “ Let her go.” He will be in violation of the Law of Moses.

His response is, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The results are astounding, from the oldest to the youngest in order of their ages the accusers simply melt away. One by one convicted in his own conscience of his own sin.

Jesus had already taught: Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Jesus’ challenge to the prosecution seems to be, Which of you is not guilty of the same sin? Let that person cast the first stone. Jesus is acknowledging that she does indeed, under the law, deserve to be put to death but so did every one of her accusers.

The accusers convicted but unrepentant melt away into the crowded streets of Jerusalem.

The woman is left alone with the only One present who can throw that first stone but He sends her away with the admonition; “Go and sin no more.”

I conclude she was regenerated at some point in this humiliating circumstance. And is an illustration of (Romans 8:33-34)
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

Gleanings July – August 2016 Academy

Expanding The Training Program

A link is available to a PDF copy of this issue including photos, through our website

The Pastor’s Academy
We, that is Barbara, Jeff, and grandson Caleb, spent May, 22 to August 22 in Guatemala.
Among the goals of this trip was to lay the frame work for a Pastor’s School that God might use for His own glory to edify the Church in Guatemala. Our particular concern being the Quiche’ pastors with whom we have worked for a number of years.
Meetings were held in Panajachel and Xela to present the concepts and set up a working board.

Responsibilities were assigned including writing their own job descriptions. These will be reviewed and adjusted to fill any gaps that need oversight.

The Academy will hold its first class in late August 2016. We plan to deliver content by live lecture, pre-recorded audio and video recordings, with radio and TV. We have access to one cable channel that serves Xela. Plans for its use include children’s programs as well as the broadcast of Academy content.

The Lord provided a 15 year contract to ITB San Juan (our church in Guatemala) at no cost. Please pray we use it in a way that Glorifies God and Edifies the Body of Christ.

There is an opportunity here to help with the purchase of equipment and to under-right some of the operational expenses. And to contribute to scholarships for the pastors who will attend.

There are also plans for a team from ITB to hold a VBS among the Quiche’ churches on the coast later this year.

Death of a Sister
Carmen sought us out recently to tell us that our mutual friend Linda had died a few days before. It was a shock to hear that our young friend had died. We reminded Carmen of the day this photo was taken.
The occasion of the photo was actually an argument between Carmen, a Roman Catholic and Linda a confessing Christian.
Elena, Linda’s sister, came to get Barbara to help Linda explain the Bible way of salvation to Carmen.

The situation ended amicably for the friends and Elena and Linda had a better understanding of what God had done for them through Christ’s finished work on the cross. And Carmen heard the gospel.

So we see God’s providence played out in the lives of these young people so very far away culturally and so close to us spiritually.. All of us in need of God’s grace moment by moment.

Constitution Of The United States has Limits on Who It Can Govern

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious (Christian)* people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
“[I]t is religion (Christianity)* and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” (John Adams)

History has revealed that John Adams was exactly right on this point. As the United States has rejected the light of Bible truth offered to it for its survival as a nation. The moral and philosophical replacements are of course only the opinions of man and as such are always replaceable. They change with the culture. Each generation has tried to redefine “good” and “evil” to reflect the perverted fad of their generation.

And of course John Adams and the founders did not write the constitution in a vacuum they had a God given Bible upon which to base their principles of Government. Knowing that right and wrong exist and that: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
23 Which justify the wicked for reward,and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (Isaiah 5:20-23 20 )

But as the Sodomites of Lot’s day insisted on participation in their sin, and would have gained had not God intervened. So the moral perverters of our day are insisting that we not only tolerate their perversions but celebrate and participate in them.

This was demonstrated recently at the Rio Olympics when a woman was deemed to be dressed too modestly for Beach volleyball. That such modesty was demeaning to women and ought not to be allowed. And the mayor of a city in France outlawed women’s swim suits that don’t show enough skin.

There was no Bible in Sodom, but what is our excuse?

What is our excuse for humanizing God and deifying man from our pulpits?
What is our excuse for being ignorant of God’s truth?
What is our excuse for compromising on Bible absolutes?
What is our excuse for not believing the Bible?
What is our excuse for contradicting Christ’s clear words on who He is and what He did?

We like Peter have said “Not so Lord.” (Acts 10:14) and “I know not the man…” (Matthew 26:72)

Has our whole Christian testimony has been reduced to these oxymorons?

There are no laws or chains strong enough to make a godless heart behave morally. And nothing to save them or us from the consequences but the Grace of God.

Gleanings (Stateside) Jan-Feb 2016

02.14.2016 Gleanings Jan-Feb 2016 Missions In Guatemala
Acts 2:8 KJV And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Jeff and Barbara Clark, PO Box 147, Scottsville, VA. 24590 .
Cell Phone: 434 466-7481 (works when the wind is right )

Global Outreach Missions, Box 2010 NY 14231-2010 USA
(716) 688-5048

Thank You For Your Prayers

The Weekly Bible study classes via Internet have been a success in every way. We have missed only one week’s class and that seemed to be due to a server problem at our end not the Guatemala end. Jorge shares a wi-if connection with a near neighbor. Jorge pays the neighbor, the equivalent of, $13.00 per month.

Our hosts graciously allow us to use their service at no charge. It is an amazing application of technology to missions. We hold class from Kents Store, Virginia  in Spanish, with a translator in La Estancia, Guatemala who translates the lesson from Spanish to Quiche’ and reteaches them to some 50 Quiche’ speaking pastors and a dozen Spanish speaking pastors in various parts of Guatemala. These lessons are also aired on 10 or more radio stations in Guatemala. We serve a great God!

Pastor’s School
We are formulating our plans for the “Pastor’s Academy of Guatemala”.
We will, Lord willing, visit with the several groups of pastors that are now involved. These brothers will help us refine our plans for the school.
This project will require a little money and a lot of work. We will need to write: A Mission Statement, A Philosophy of Christian Education, A Student Manual, A Teacher’s / Staff Manuel, A curriculum scope and sequence, Standards of Instruction, Standards for certification of completion, School Calendar, Tuition schedule, and school calendar.
Develop as required, organization and administration, including the integration of radio a means of delivering content to students in various locations throughout the country.

We are still praying for a clear frequency for a new station. We are looking into the implications of the new constitution as it relates to the use of the airways by the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

Training Faithful Men
The pastor’s classes have been “Foundations of Faith” centered in the Book of Genesis. In as much as every doctrine of the Bible appears in embryonic form in the book, it seems a good way to introduce the students to them. The narrative is interesting and informative supplying answers to basic questions of life in an easy to understand format.

I have grown to love the Book of Genesis, and that is due in no small part to the fact that this is my third time teaching through it. I love discovering things I missed on previous studies. It is like an old family snapshot with a visiting family member who  points out details in the photo that I had overlooked. There seems to be a “wow” or two in every chapter.

We were this past week in Chapter 41. This is in the climactic section where Joseph is testing his brothers to see what sort of men they are and if there is hope for the longed for (by Joseph) reconciliation.

As you know the account continues through the revelation that the rejected brother is the viceroy of Egypt. That the one they scoffed at because of his prophetic dreams, the one they once mocked is now the one to whom they must bow. And though Joseph does forgive , his brothers have not been convinced. Their unbelief caused them guilt and discomfort for years.

The book of Hebrews reminds us that there is a rest for the people of God. However, many miss it because of unbelief. Christians are so eager to make Grace merit based that we keep looking for things to “do” that will make us “be”. There is no rest of faith in that.
The Bible everywhere teaches that acceptable “being” is the work of God in us and acceptable “doing” is God working through us.

Joseph is at peace with God because he has come to know that it was God who orchestrated it all. Joseph did not see himself as a victim of his brothers envy but as chosen vessel of the sovereign God. That God is working out His plan and that the hardships and confusion that brought him to Egypt were part of that plan.

God had decreed that Abraham’s family would spend 400 years in Egypt and God is providentially moving people around the Middle East to prepare the way.

Before we are out of chapter 3 of Genesis [Genesis 3:15] we are promised a savior and In this section of Genesis [ Genesis 41-50] we have Joseph, the most nearly complete type of Christ given us in the Bible.

As the favored son of his father, he is sent to seek his brothers. He is rejected by his brothers. He is cast into a pit, type of death, then taken out, type of resurrection. He is sold for the price of a slave. And takes the form of a servant. He is tempted and does not sin. Falsely accused and condemned. Taken from judgment and exalted to a throne. And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess…

Joseph is the Forerunner going to prepare a place for his brothers. In the fulness of time God’s decrees come to pass.

Joseph’s brothers fear his retribution for their sins against him. Joseph reminds them though they met it for evil God met it for good. This seems an appropriate summary description of the crucifixion of Christ. Or – even that evil thing done to you, though the perpetrators met it for evil God meant it for good.

Surely the greatest act of moral evil in the history of the world was the crucifixion of Christ. But it was orchestrated by God, who sovereignty used the willful evil of the devil and man to bring glory to Himself and good to His own. There is not a tick of the clock of time that is not serving God’s purposes.
Other News & Reviews
We joined Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Louisa Virginia. A church family of about 30 members, our pastor, Dr. Jeff Riddle, is an excellent Bible expositor.

We were invited by the pastor, to give a missions presentation here recently and it was well received.
They contributed $80.00 which we put in the Fund for Jorge’s Motorcycle, that brings the total to $1080 of the estimated $5000 needed for this project. When it becomes a reality, this will save Jorge many hours in transportation and will be the vehicle he needs to get to the more remote teaching locations.

The feedback from the last Gleanings Nov- Dec 2015 has been all positive.
We do want to thank you all for standing with us in one of most confusing episodes in our 40 years of ministry. But God received the glory as we thought on Him, His perfections, and attributes.

We received permission several years ago to translate Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s broadcasts “Through The Bible Radio”. This was a great help because the transcripts we’re available in Spanish. Jorge is the Quiche’ voice of Dr. McGee in Guatemala. There are over 1300 (many still to be translated) programs in the 5-year series.

The Quiche’ New Testament
Translating the Word of God is a fearful responsibility. We work with a great respect for God  and work with a goal to be faithful to be faithful to Word. Part of his training was to was produce a Quiche’ New Testament. This was done for its training value and to discover the parts that are particularly troublesome in Quiche’. These Quiche’ New Testament work books were distributed to a group of pastors who’s dialect is different from the dialect spoken in the Xela regions. The feedback from these students will help refine all our translation projects.

Information Update

Donations can be sent, designated for us, via Global Outreach Missions, at their website or check mailed to Box 2010 NY 14231-2010 USA. They can provide a tax deductible receipt. Or by mail to Jeff & Barbara Clark PO Box 147, Scottsville, VA 24590

Precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints.
We have been notified that a dear sister in Christ, Aileen Gatz, has been moved to hospice care and is expected to depart for glory soon. It was in her home (some 40 years ago) that the ladies met for Bible Study and prayer. It was Barbara with these sisters who prayed for me to be saved. And later when God had answered those prayers and Victory Baptist Church was started. Mrs Gatz faithfully played the piano and organ for us and was always ready to serve with a willing heart and a lovely smile. When Victory Christian School came into being Aileen left her job as a public school teacher and became the supervisor of the elementary learning center. She was always “joyful in Jesus” and was a great example and inspiration to all of us that knew her. We are happy she is ready to go home but have some regrets that we did not remind her of how dear her life was to ours in the work of the Lord. Both her adult sons and some their family are with her as are some of the old Victory Baptist Church Family. The rest of us are keeping up to date by digital means.
Aileen always ended her letters with the words “MARANATHA” (The Lord is coming!)

Gleanings Nov – Dec 2015

Contact Information
Jeff and Barbara Clark currently stateside.
Mission Board
Global Outreach Missions Box PO Box 2010
Buffalo NY 14231-2010
Jeff and Barbara Clark
PO Box 147
Scottsville, VA 24590
Cell Phone: 434 466-7481

Thank you for praying:
We are able to continue classes via internet. We hold a video class with Jorge Rodriguez each Wednesday. He in turn has, in person classes, with some 40-50 indigenous pastors each month at four locations.
As three of these locations are some distance away and in the jungle, we would like to get him a motorcycle for these trips. We are trying to raise the $5000 required for a well equipped and newer Honda 250. When it comes to mind pray for Jorge and his travel.

Barbara’s heath continues to be manageable and my health is relatively good. We will be getting the eyes checked and glasses updated and cataracts checked to see if they have grown significantly.

I will be jumping through the DMV hoops to get my expired driver’s license renewed.

Our family has been supportive in every way at great expense to themselves. We pray God will be glorified and He will continue assure us and guide us as we seek stay in His will on a range of matters.

Thank you for praying for Pastor Morris and CBC Scottsville.

Thank you for your support and we will continue teaching the pastors in Guatemala through internet classes and notes. And by God’s Grace we hope to make at least one trip to Guatemala to visit the training sites. With the in tent to build up the body of Christ in Guatemala.

We also will start taking stateside meetings again in 2016.

Some “House Keeping “

Barbara and I have resigned from CBC Scottsville. As it is a matter of some concern to supporters I will include a copy of our original letter which the pastor refused to accept. Following that I supplied an addendum to address the issues about which he said he was specifically concerned. That addendum is also included. Please read them both completely. If you have questions please send them by email to the address above.
Letter of Resignation
November 3, 2015
Calvary Baptist Church
PO Box 239
Scottsville, Va 24590

To Pastor Morris and the assembly of believers at CBC:

In view of our advanced age and the precariousness of our health we believe it would be better for us to resign as your missionaries. And as we are providentially hindered from attending and supporting the church we resign our membership also.

Our mission in Guatemala will continue as long as we are able to do it, but I do not think we should continue to be a burden on the finances of the Calvary Baptist Church.

It is coming time for pastor and church to plan the budget for 2016 so now seems an appropriate time to make this decision.

We are thankful to God for your sacrificial support over the 17 years in pastoral ministry at CBC and 13 years as your missionaries.

We will now have the privilege of trusting God to supply our needs in other ways as we continue our walk of faith.

It has been grand and glorious up to now and it is to the praise of His Glory we seek to finish in God honoring faith.

Your Imperfect Servants,

Jeff and Barbara Clark
John 1:12-13

PS: Gleanings (our by monthly news letter) will continue to be available by email only.
Profound thanks to Barbara Wood, for her faithful ministry in this area these many years.
PPS: To whom it may concern, we have reread the “CBC Statement of Faith” as posted on the web and find nothing in them with which we disagree.
Addendum To My Letter of Resignation
Dear Brother Morris,
I have answered you but I guess it was not clear.

In regard to changes in my doctrinal beliefs: The changes that have come have brought me into an informed conformance to CBC’s statement of faith; not away from conformance.

That is why the reasons are not doctrinal.

I thought you would understand when in my last email, I said; You asked how my beliefs had changed since I left the pastorate.
The answer is comprehended in this; “I now know I had absolutely nothing to do with my salvation.”

I thought you would understand that I was making reference to the doctrines of God, Man, and Salvation.

I will give you the context and examples.

The context:

I have in the last five years or so been privileged to help produce a New Testament in the Quiche’ language. That work necessitated an intense study of scripture and careful exegesis of words and doctrines.

I discovered that I had not understood what the Bible taught on important areas of doctrine.

When we had our infamous phone conversation (about three years ago) I was in a period of sorting through my understandings. It was a period of deconstruction. Things (doctrinal understandings) had been blown heavenward, so to speak, and had not settled down yet.

Then when you told me that the Spurgeon quote I had put in my news letter was unacceptable it confused me because I thought the quote was in no way contrary what the Bible teaches. I found that I had my mental pins kicked out from under me again. And you did pummel me with, what seemed to be blizzard of questions. The answers to each, would require careful thought and comparing scripture with scripture to answer. Each question followed one upon another. The best I could do in that context was “I don’t know.”
The tone of your call was that of a prosecuting attorney. I had the feeling you had a flip chart on your desk. One those diagnostic charts, if “yes” if “no” you follow the line to the next step or question.

But I am grateful because it provoked me to study more, which over all has been a great blessing.

The Examples: CBC’s doctrinal statement on the doctrine of man and salvation.

Example 1: This article states Calvary Baptist Church’s position on what the Bible teaches about man.

“We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God; and that man is totally depraved, and, of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition (Genesis 1:26-27); (Romans 3:22-23)” (CBC’s Doctrinal Statement as posted on its web site)

I’ve read that article at various times without question. And believed it at my level of understanding at the time.

But in the course of the helping the translator in preparation of the New Testament in Quiche’ I discovered that in fact I had not understood the Bible doctrine of man very well.

So all those years ago when I gave ascent to CBC’s Doctrinal Statement I was saying yes to something I did not really understand as fully as I understand it now. Here I cast myself on the mercy of God and the reader.
As Paul said;
“Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:13-14 KJV)

I learned that the Bible does indeed teach that man’s condition after the fall is “totally depraved”.

That does not mean that every man is as wicked as they can be but it does mean that sin has penetrated into every part of every man’s being; his mind, his body, soul, and his will. The results of which are as the article states “of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition.”

I realize that in practice I did not understand the article as written. My practical doctrine was some vagaries about, that somewhere in man there was something that could respond to God; laying as it were dormant, just waiting to be fanned into life by the presentation of the gospel. But alas the damage is far greater than that unscriptural model suggests.

Scripture makes it clear that the second birth is like the natural birth in that it is outside the control of the one being born. “13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13 KJV) I’ve come to understand the new birth metaphor is purposely chosen to reveal some striking parallels between a physical birth and the spiritual birth.

That unregenerate mankind is so hopelessly lost that we are likened to “dead” men. The Bible supplies an illustration in John 11, with Lazarus. Lazarus is completely helpless, he is dead there is nothing that can be done for him by any but One. Jesus called “Lazarus come forth” (John 11:43), a command that could not be obeyed until he had life. By the power of His word He gave Lazarus what he needed to obey. There is no merit in Lazarus, this is not about Lazarus this is about God. Lazarus could not participate in any way until he was given life. Lazarus was dead, insensible even of his need.
But God had chosen him not as the exception but as an illustration of man’s condition, God’s Sovereignty, and the creative power of God’s Word. God chose the man, and place, and the time. There may have been other men named Lazarus buried near by but only one came forth. The one who heard his Shepherd’s voice. And no one but a “sheep” that had been given to Jesus by His Father could even hear the call. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (John 10:26-27 KJV)

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:65 KJV)
Jesus said: I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:6-9 KJV)

So the article “Man” in CBC’s statement of faith is correct and my understanding was and maybe still is inadequate. But I do hope to continue to grow in Grace until God takes me home.

Example 2: The Way of Salvation (from CBC’s Statement of Faith)
“We believe that the clear message of salvation is “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). We believe that salvation is “by grace” plus nothing minus nothing. We believe that men are justified by faith alone and are accounted righteous before God only through the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Here again I was confronted with the reality that I had given assent to the article without understanding the implications of it. I found that everything I read came through some ingrained presuppositions. Presuppositions that acted like bad lenses to distort what I read. A simultaneous translation of words to definitions that suited what I thought I knew. This was not malicious but natural to the fallen nature. It is the “grave clothes” of our pre-salvation mind.” We are born with a “Pelagian” bent. I have found this to be an ever present danger when training pastors on the field. The implications of the truth we confess are often not understood. And we are unconsciously concluding that there is something we do to be saved.
Religion loves to “do something”. But Christians rest in what Christ has done.

So if man has nothing in himself to remedy his lost condition and Salvation is by Grace alone then the Grace required by God for salvation must come from outside of man. It must come from outside the recipient and be administered by someone that has access and control over this requirement. That unregenerate man is so profoundly and completely damaged that the work required for salvation can only be done by God. He supplies the “gift of repentance” and “the faith” that believes unto Salvation.

And because there is nothing meritorious in any mere human to make him/her worthy of salvation; it must come by Grace (unmerited favor) alone. There is Giver and a receiver. A receiver who does not get what he deserves “hell” but what he does not deserve “heaven”.

There is strikingly clear case with Noah. 1) The Corruption of all man kind, 2) The pending catastrophic judgement, and the 3) Ark of Grace. Everyone on earth deserved death and hell, as we do this day.

Noah was told to put a specified number of animals on the ark. And God brought the animals to Noah. (Gen. 6:20) God tells Noah to get on the Ark with his family. Noah enters on the basis by faith, Standing in imputed righteousness (Gen. 7:1), Obeying by faith.(Gen. 7:5) Noah becomes the “heir of righteousness that is by faith” (Heb. 11:7).

Judgement came as it must and all those outside the Ark surely died and populated hell. And only those God had put inside were spared. Could God have saved all? Does He have the power?

I think we have answer yes to these rhetorical questions. Then we ought to shrink back in holy reverence and fear. And bow in worship to God, for by His Grace alone we have been spared the judgement we deserve. Because we know that we were left to ourselves would not have gotten into the ark. Nor left to ourselves, can we get in the greater Ark that God has provided in Christ.

On what basis did God show grace to Noah? Was there not one other man on the planet as meritorious as Noah? Yes, they all were as meritorious as Noah but God had not chosen to show His grace to anyone but Noah (and family). Has God the right to exercise His Grace Sovereignly?

God does not do what He does by the counsel of man or for man’s approval. He does what He does for His own Glory.

As CBC’s Doctrinal statement says:”by grace” plus nothing minus nothing. And with a little thought we can see why it must be by grace alone.

God is able to be “just” and “Justifier” on the basis of God the Son’s finished work. It comes through Christ Alone. And where are these truths revealed? In the Scriptures alone. That God imputes by grace alone through faith alone. God provides all that He requires Sovereignly for His Glory Alone.

We are too often like Peter, we hear the Lord’s Word and we say, “Not so Lord.”

We are commanded: “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.” (Romans 12:2 KJV)

Does not the verse imply there will be changes, that there must be changes in our thinking as we grow up into Christ?

This is what was meant when I said:
“I now know I had absolutely nothing to do with my salvation.”
(Eph 1-2:22 KJV)

Jeff and Barbara Clark

PS You were right to call my attention to my non-technical use of the term tithe. We had been “tithing” to our fellowship in San Juan Ostuncalco. The gifts given to CBC would be 3 to 5 times our tithe.
We are attending Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Luoisa VA; which is only 10-12 minutes away. You can visit their web site online
We hope you have a wonder filled holiday as we pause to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation.
By His Love and Grace
Jeff and Barbara Clark
Still Missionaries to Guatemala

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning

Sunday was a day the Alan family kept in a particular way.
Hank had learned that Sunday, the first day of the week, had been set aside by Christians as a day of worship, and to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

Hank had instructed his children of this fact early and often. And none of them had any other expectation. Going to church Sunday morning was as natural as getting up.

Phyllis was up, dressed, and practicing her piano offertory. Her (mostly correct) rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” filled the house.

The morning was bright, clear, and Virginia’s east room was bathed in morning sunlight. She stretched luxuriantly in her bed, feeling the warmth of the sun. She was aware that she was changing; she hoped for a new improved version, as she was not satisfied with her own striking features.

Virginia was not a Christian and her Christian parents prayed for their children. And both parents lived as consistently as human beings can, so they would be a proper example to them.

Virginia did not particularly like church nor did she dislike it. But today she was happy to be going because she was sure to see Bill for a few minutes.

On that thought she leaped out of her bed.

Linda was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Hank and Artie entered the kitchen through the shed door, their morning chores finished. She greeted them, “Good morning men, breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes.”

Artie responded, “It sure smells good in here.” Hank gave Linda a peck on the lips and said, in his best WC Fields impersonation, “Ok my dear, we’ll be back in a flash.”

Hank kissed Phyllis on the neck on his way by the piano. Phyllis, momentarily startled, responded with a discordant clash of keys and big grin. Hank and Art continued upstairs to wash up and dress for church. They met Virginia on her way down. Hank gave her a kiss on the cheek. Virginia flinched away saying, “Dad, you’ll get me all barn smelly. I don’t want to smell like the barn in church.”

Art countered with, “No danger, with that gallon of perfume you have on.” “Oh Dad!”, she exclaimed, “Do I have too much on?”

To which Hank replied, “Don’t worry. Most of it will be blown away by the 40 mile an hour ride in the back of the truck.” Virginia pleaded, “Can’t I ride inside with you? I don’t want to get all wind blown before church.”

Art was sure that Virginia was concerned with the opinion of one particular member of the church, and that was Bill Richards. Art pondered the mystery and said nothing.

Hank assured her by saying, “We’ll work it out.”
Hank and Art continued to their clean up and shortly the family was gather at the table for breakfast. Grace was said and they chatted pleasantly. Hank asked questions in anticipation of the Sunday sermon – preparing the children for church. Questions like, “I wonder what I will learn about God today?” This was a cue to the children that they should listen with care. The topic would come up in family devotions.

When they had finished breakfast Hank led them in a prayer asking God’s blessing on the pastor and church family. At the conclusion of the prayer Linda excused herself to go change. The children cleared the table and washed up the dishes.

Linda joined the rest of her family on the front porch where they had gathered to wait for her.

Hank commented how nice all the ladies looked and assigned seating in the truck with a simple command, “The two youngest in the back.”

The old truck rattled through the tranquil Maine countryside on that perfect August morning. Each passenger was lost in their own prayers and contemplations. Phyllis was apprehensive about playing for the offertory. Linda was praying for her daughters. Virginia was occupied with her thoughts of seeing Bill. Art was just looking forward to hearing the Bible preached while he soaked up the ambiance of the ride through the natural beauty. Hank’s prayers ranged from family, to Pastor, to his service buddies and their families, to Ab, and lastly to his mom and dad.

They pulled up in front of the old church building. The original building was built back when God used George Whitefield in the 1740’s and 50’s to preach His word up and down the East coast. Many heard the Gospel massage in those days and many believed.

Many understood that God sent what was then called the “Great Awakening”, with which was God preparing citizens for the new country.

Hank parked the truck and then went to the back to lift Phyllis down from the truck.

The greetings from church members passed back and forth as they filed into the newer building which was over a hundred years old. It was a New England style white clapboard wood framed building with stained glass windows. Inside, the bell rope hangs at the right as you enter the vestibule. Straight ahead is the sanctuary with seating for something over a hundred people.

There are worn oak pews fixed to equally worn pine plank floors. Center and side aisles allow access to seating before a raised platform with a centered pulpit. There was a real pipe organ around which the church was built. The organ and pipe racks were made of solid English walnut. The organist is a frail looking woman named Ruby Oaks.

Ruby would actually die playing that organ on a Sunday morning. So peacefully did she pass into eternity that her passing was not noticed until it was time for her to play the recessional. God had played her recessional and she exited this temporal life from an earthly sanctuary to the heavenly. The reaction of the church family was amazing in its tranquility. There were a few life long friends upon whose cheeks could be seen a tear; but mostly it was a joyful resignation that Ruby had gone to be with her Lord.

But all this about Ruby passing during church is yet years in the future.

This Sunday morning she played and the congregation sang. Phyllis’s offertory was played well and finished before she had time to worry any more over it, and then the preacher preached.

Over the years, Art learned to be uncertain of himself but confident in his Bible convictions. Neither the storms of life, the infirmities of the flesh, or the winds of doctrine could move him from his confidence in God.

He would learn to temper his expectations of others and himself. He would bring those expectations into accord with what the Bible reveals about the condition of man, as it was summed up for him by Miss Netta, (a little Scots woman who was also a nurse), “We are no good and never will be – isn’t that wonderful?”