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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Author: Dan Cartwright

SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret) is the Chairman of the CMF Board of Directors. He has been active in CMF ministry for decades.


Sharing Jesus Part 4

The Solution to the Sin Problem

Armed with a biblical understanding of ’spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ’dead men walking’, and knowing  that our friend ’Pat’ realizes that the issue if sin is the root cause of evil in the world, we can offer Pat the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Since the conversation is reaching ’critical mass’ there are a few important things to remember.

First of all, pray that God would open Pat’s heart to receive this all important part of the message of the gospel.  Secondly, remember that God alone saves and you are just the messenger.  It’s not your job to get a decision or otherwise ’close the deal’ – the Holy Spirit does a fine job of applying the solution to a God opened heart! As one evangelist expressed it:

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch.  He is the soul-winner.  People are not won by us for Him.  They are won through us by Him.  He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say.  But He has chosen to work through us and with us.”  Leith Samuel

Spend a few moments going over a few things with Pat.  You might want to briefly summarize where the conversation has gone up to this point:

· The world is full of ’bad stuff’ (evil).
· The Bible calls the bad stuff ’sin’.
· Sin is a human problem that began when Adam blew it and disobeyed God.

Once you and Pat are on the same page it’s time to address the solution. You might want to ask Pat what he/she thinks is the answer to the problem. The answers you receive might be good answers even if they are just about temporal things like passing more laws, doing a better job of raising our children, raising the quality of our schools, easier access to higher education, and/or government programs to get rid of poverty.  If so, talk about them, acknowledge that they might solve problems, but that they are only external answers and cannot really address the inner problem of sin that we all have.

This is a good place to introduce, in simple terms and directly from the Bible, (not a 25 lb. Schofield reference Bible, but the small one you tend to carry around with you), God’s plan for dealing with sin.  Be gentle!  This is a conversation, not a used car lot!

Here are some suggested passages of scripture that were all written by the Apostle Paul.  You can even introduce some or all the following scriptures by telling Pat that this guy named ’Paul’ who absolutely loved to kick Christians around all over town wrote them!  Make sure to tell Pat how each passage relates what you have already discussed.

 The problem:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Rom 3:23

The natural consequences of the problem:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord..” – Rom 6:23

God’s plan to punish his own Son in our place:

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

The applications of God’s plan – believe and call on the name off the Lord:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Rom 10:9

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Rom 10:13

The result of believing and calling on the name of the Lord:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 5:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1

The above passages are by no means a set mThe ethod that must be followed.  You might want to use other passages of scripture that also talk about the problem of man’s sin and God’s solution.  John 3:16 is a good example and a passage we probably all know by heart.  It also expresses God’s solution to our problem.

Always anticipate questions, and be ready with an answer or willing to find an answer.  Be able to talk about the Biblical context of passages you use in the conversation.  This communicates that you didn’t just memorize a few passages, but you know and are convinced of the truth of scripture.  That’s huge!

In the next article we’ll talk about the response to God’s offer of salvation through Christ.

Sharing Jesus Part 3

The Sin Problem – How Bad Is It?

Having realized that the issue of sin is at the center of what’s wrong with the world and that it’s a very human problem, we need to ask “How bad is it?”  If we know the answer, we can offer the best solution.

It’s like having a computer problem.  Do I just have to many ‘toolbars’ trying to all load at the same time, or is there a problem so deep that I need to call the Geek Squad to fix things?

If we have a heart for sharing Jesus with others, what we understand about the inner problem of sin defines ‘how’ we share Jesus with others.  If sin is a problem deep inside of us, where did it come from and again, how bad is it?

Most of us would agree that the problem of sin began when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  We would also agree that what followed their disobedience was physical death in this life and a separation from God.  What we might not agree on is the nature of the ‘separation’ from God. Assuming that Adam’s sin affected all of mankind, does that mean that all human beings are born basically good with some flaws but are able to help themselves out of a pickle?  Or does it mean that we are so messed up that we are totally unable to dig ourselves out of the ditch?  What does the Bible say?

The Bible tells us that those with carnal minds (the only kind possible for an unbeliever) are actually in active rebellion against God and can do nothing to please God (Rom 8:7).  The Bible also tells us that a person without the Spirit of God (all unbelievers) cannot understand the things of God and thinks they are a bunch of foolishness (1 Cor 2:14).  And the Bible tells us that the ‘natural’ man is completely unable to approach God on his own (John 6:44 & 65).

If just having ‘capability’ issues isn’t bad enough, the Bible tells us that we aren’t just wounded, we are totally and completely ‘dead’ in our trespasses and sin, not that we are basically good and just ‘do’ bad stuff now and again (Eph 2:1 & 5, Col 2:13).

It’s not that we are as bad or evil as we could be, but that we are as bad off as we could possibly be when we live apart from Christ.  After all, how ‘dead’ is dead?  What can a ‘dead’ man do? (If those aren’t rhetorical questions, we have a problem.)

We probably don’t need Ralph Venning’s Sinfulness of Sin, or be able to explain the difference between a ‘trespass’ and a ‘sin’ at this point, but what’s really important is understanding and being able to talk about the depth of the problem of sin.  That understanding will affect ‘how’ we share Christ with those who desperately need him.

So , armed with a biblically understanding of ‘spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ‘dead men walking’, we can now move on to the next part of our short series, providing the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Sharing Jesus Part 2

This is the second of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’.  In Part 1 of this short series of posts, we talked about starting a conversation that can lead to sharing Jesus and the message of salvation with a family member, friend, co-worker, or anyone for that matter.  The goal of the conversation was to arrive at the conclusion that the reason people do bad things is because they have an inner problem that the Bible calls ‘sin’.

The Sin Problem

Before we start talking about ‘sin’ let’s give our conversation partner a name.  We’ll call him/her ‘Pat’ (a good gender neutral name). The next step in the conversation we are having with ‘Pat’  is to define the extent of this ‘sin’ problem.  And just like we asked a lot of questions when we started the conversation (the Colombo technique), we’ll continue our discussion with another question:

“So ‘Pat’, what do you think sin is?”

The first answer you will get will most likely have to do with bad things we do and/or mistakes we make, which is the most immediate and natural response.  You might get the same answer from the vast majority of believers, but that’s for another article.

You might also hear that sin means NOT doing things we ought to do.  We do have a natural sense of what the ‘right’ thing to do would be at certain times, but we fail to do it.

And since we left off the first part of our conversation agreeing that we all have an ‘inner problem’, you might even hear an answer that talks about our natural selfishness and/or inner tendencies.  And that, my friends, is where we want to go now – the sinful human nature, or tendency to sin.  Once you’re there, you can ask the big WHY question:

“So Pat, since you have rightly recognized that we have an inner problem, a natural tendency to do bad stuff, and sometimes to NOT do what we know would be right, WHY do you think we have a natural tendency to sin?”

It’s the natural and logical next question.  Regardless of the response, this is the opportunity to discuss what the Bible has to say about the WHY. We did the same thing earlier in the conversation when we said that the Bible calls man’s inner problem ‘sin’.  And remember that you are sharing the ‘Christian worldview’ and not trying to convince Pat of your personal opinion. Just share what the Bible has to say and let God do the convincing.  It would be good if you have a Bible handy to share straight from scripture.

In sharing what the Bible says about our sin problem, you can take it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of creation and the fall of man.  After all, that’s where our sin problem started – when the first couple disobeyed God.  The point is that God created everything good, and it went sour because of man’s disobedience.  Adam’s sin impacted the ‘nature’ of every human being born since then.

Regardless of what we think about the fairness of Adam’s sin affecting the rest of the human race, it did.  We are told several things about the ‘natural’ man that describe him in rather ‘dark’ terms.

The entrance of sin into the world rendered the human heart deceitful beyond all things i and desperately sick, the human mind blind to spiritual things, ii hostile to God, iii and unable to please God. iv

It’s really important for us who share Jesus with others and for those listening to our message to grasp just how bad the sin issue is.  It’s in knowing just HOW bad the bad news is that we can most fully understand and appreciate the good news of what God has done in sending his Son to die for OUR sins.  The main point about sin is that it’s more than what we do or don’t do, it’s part of our very nature as sons of Adam.

Sadly, much of today’s ‘evangelism’, both in churches and person to person, minimizes the real issue of our sin problem and in some cases, omits it entirely.  We would rather attract sinners to Jesus with our ‘changed lives’ rather than speak the truth about our bondage to sin, while trusting God to open stone cold hearts and effectually draw men to the cross.  Are our lives irreversibly changed when we have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and in his death on our behalf?  Of course they are, but as a result of the cross, not as the reason for believing in Jesus.

And once the reality of sin has, with the help of the Holy Spirit, sunk into Pat’s heart, the conversation can move on to the consequences of, and a solution to the problem.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

i. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “Jer 17:9

ii. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor 4:4

iii. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” Rom 8:7

iv. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:8

 

Sharing Jesus Part 1

This is the first of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. As believers, many of us want to share Jesus with others, but hesitate out of nervousness and even fear. On the other hand, some of us aren’t nervous or fearful, so we charge right in using a particular method we found somewhere or were taught by someone. My friends, it doesn’t have to be so hard. How hard is it for us to talk about other exciting things in our lives? Sharing Jesus can and should be as natural as talking about a new house, car, smartphone, or even having just been married to the man/woman of your dreams. Having said all that, let’s begin.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Here’s the scenario.

God has placed in your heart a desire to share Jesus and the message of the gospel with a relative, friend, co-worker, or even someone you just met (it happens). You know it’s a real because 1) God has given you a burden to reach the lost around you and 2) you asked God to point you in the right direction. And although you’ve studied various ‘methods’ of personal evangelism, you don’t know which one to use, or how to start. You are afraid of using the wrong method. How do you proceed with this important task?

Well, like the title of this blog post suggests, start a conversation, after having asked God to open a heart to hear a hard message!

Now what that conversation might sound has a lot of possibilities, depending on the specific situation, your relationship with this person, and what you know about his/her level of spiritually. Never mind all that for now, just start the conversation with a few things in mind as you press toward the final goal of the discussion – the point at which it’s time for your conversation partner to consider responding to the message of the gospel you are about to share.

First of all, you need to identify and understand the root problem before you offer a solution. Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on a cross for ‘your best life now’, or any variation of that theme. He came to die for the sins of God’s people (See Matthew 1:21).  Our ultimate goal is to share the Christ who died for our sins, I don’t know anyone who wants to hear they have a sin problem.

Does that sound tough, or what? Yes it does, but remember that you have already prayed that God open a heart to hear.  The problem of sin IS the main issue the message of the gospel addresses. We have all sinned, Christ died for those sins, and that ultimately deserves a response. Never fear, you don’t have to quote Romans 3:23 at the start of the conversation, but you do need to somehow take the topic of the conversation to the main issue..  

Actually, you don’t even need to use the dreaded “S” word, not yet anyway. You can start this most important conversation just like you might start any other conversation. Just choose a hot topic from the news. If you don’t listen to, watch, or read the news it’s time to start. Think of something ‘bad’ that was reported. There’s plenty out there. It could be local crime, dirty politics, another mass shooting or terrorist attack anywhere in the world. Pick one.

You might ask, “Did you hear about what happened at/in ________________?” “Why do you think that guy did that?” Just ask about something specific everyone probably knows about and ask a “Why do you think…..” question. You’re sending the message that you are interested in a thoughtful response, the other person’s opinion.

The answer most likely will be on the lines of “He was nuts…….just plain mean……he hates, etc., a specific possible reason. Take the reason given and ask another “why do you think” question. “Why do you think he’s nuts, mean, hateful, etc. That’s a different level question that goes to the motive for the ‘act’. You might get an answer or you might not.

What you would like to hear is something like “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe there’s something inside that caused him to …….” If you get that response, you can take the conversation to a still deeper level by asking another question along the lines of “What do you think that ‘inner’ problem might be?” Or, if you didn’t hear something about an inherent human problem, suggest the possibility of an ‘inner’ issue. The entire goal of the conversation is to agree that there’s an ‘inner’ problem with all of us humans.

At this point it’s time to identify and name the problem. People attribute bad acts to psychological problems, growing up in a bad home, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and even genetics.  The Bible calls our problem ‘sin. This is a the moment in the conversation to bring that up. The conversation has officially begun!

The discussion might continue, or be left for thoughtful consideration. The problem has been identified; the next part of the conversation will be to understand the problem. We’ll address that in the next article.

Do you see where this is going? Some have called this the “Colombo” technique (Think Peter Falk and all his question asking). All you are doing is having a friendly conversation with the goal of taking the conversation to the main problem we all have - sin. You don’t really have to open a Bible until you get to the part where you suggest that “The Bible calls our problem sin.” That’s the time to read directly from its pages (Romans 3:23 for example). Reading text from the pages of scripture leaves little or no room for receiving a “that’s your opinion” response.

So that’s how you start a conversation with an unbeliever. It might only take a single conversation to get to the main issue, or it might take longer.  You asked God to open a heart before you began the conversation and you continued to pray during the conversation. Now pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, would water the seeds you planted.

At the right time, you might hear “Remember what you were telling me about. . .” (The door has just been blown wide open.), or you can ask about the last BIG conversation. Just move at a perfectly natural pace. Remember that the goal of personal evangelism is, as Alistair Begg defines it:

“…to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.”

May God add his blessing to your sharing Jesus with a lost world!

P.S.  It’s quite possible that you might be sharing Jesus with one person, and someone else will stop you one day and share that he/she  overheard you talking and met the Savior because of it. It happens. I know this one. J 

What is Spiritual death?

What is Spiritual death?

What is Spiritual Death?


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

Death is separation.  A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.  Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will “surely die.”  Adam does fall, but his physical death does not occur immediately; God must have had another type of death in mind—spiritual death.  This separation from God is exactly what we see in Genesis 3:8. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they hid themselves from God’s presence.  The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead.

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf.  Even though He is God, He still had to suffer to agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of world He was carrying on the cross.  After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34b).

“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:33-34 NIV)

This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself.  That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God and God had to turn away from His own Son at that time.

A man without Christ is spiritually dead. Paul describes it as being alienated or separated from the life of God.  (To be separated from life is the same as being dead.)

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Ephesians 4:18 NIV)

The natural man, like Adam hiding in the garden, is isolated from God. When we are born again, the spiritual death is reversed.  Before salvation, we are dead (spiritually), but Jesus gives us life.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” (Colossians 2:13 NIV)

To illustrate, think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  The physically dead Lazarus could do nothing for himself.  He was unresponsive to all stimuli, oblivious to all life around him, beyond all help or hope—except for the help of Christ who is “the Resurrection and the Life.”

“Jesus said to her (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

At Christ’s call, Lazarus was filled with life, and he responded accordingly.  In the same way, we were spiritually dead, unable to save ourselves, powerless to perceive the life of God—until Jesus called us to Himself.  He “quickened” us; “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

The book of Revelation speaks of a “second death,” which is a final (and eternal) separation from God.  Only those who have never experienced new life in Christ will partake of the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Why is there a CMF?

Why is there a CMF?

Why CMF? — by Dan Cartwright, Chariman, CMF Board of Directors


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

More than a few years have passed since I enlisted in the ranks of Christian Military Fellowship. I joined CMF after hearing a presentation by a CMF staff member to a small group of soldiers gathered for a Bible study in a chapel at Ft. Devens, MA. This “prodigal son” had returned home not long before, and I was excited about my rediscovered faith and hungry for both the Word and Christian fellowship. As a result of that hunger, I had joined the small group that met once a week over lunch at Independence Chapel. What I heard about CMF that day really caught my attention!

I heard about a fellowship of believers who wore the uniforms of our Armed Forces. They were ordinary people, like this young NCO, with an extraordinary vision! They felt called of God to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their comrades-in-arms, and further, to help each other grow while serving in our country's military. I learned that the purpose of CMF’s small staff, in Denver, Colorado, was to help us “ordinary folks” accomplish the mission defined in the CMF motto— “To Win…To Disciple…To Equip…To Win.” In other words, CMF wasn't about an organization’s ministry TO the military, but about encouraging and supporting ministry IN the military. The “minister” IN the military was supposed to be the “man in the mirror"!

Through the years, the mission and goals of CMF haven't changed. If you read the CMF Orientation Brief today (available on the CMF website “Resource” page), you will find the following statement: "We are a PEER ministry TO military people BY military people WITHIN the military society."

You might be asking "Why?", and that's certainly a valid question. I found a large part of the answer to that question, already in practice, in a book called "Revolution in World Missions," written by K.P. Yohanan and first published in 1986.

K.P. is the founder and President of Gospel for Asia, an organization dedicated to sending support to native pastors in Asia. "Revolution in World Missions" discusses the shift from “colonial" missionary efforts sponsored by Western nations (foreigners), due in large part to countries in Asia gaining their independence from the rule of colonial governments (foreigners) and the tossing out of colonial missionaries (foreigners) along with their governments. The leadership of remaining Christian missionary efforts fell to the native believers, Christians born and raised in the now free countries and remote areas of much of Asia. The spreading of the Gospel became primarily an “inside job,” accomplished by indigenous believers. Was there still a role for the West? Absolutely!

K.P. Yohanan aptly remarks in his book:, "God still sovereignly calls Western missionaries to do unique and special tasks in Asia. But we must understand that the primary role for Westerners now should be to support efforts of indigenous mission works through finances and intercessory prayer."

What may have begun out of necessity (foreigners tossed out) has actually resulted in evangelization and missionary work in much of Asia that is far more effective than the efforts under the leadership of the westerners (foreigners). There are several reasons for the increased effectiveness of native missionaries, attested to by the many organizations that, like Gospel for Asia, are solely dedicated to supporting native pastors and indigenous mission boards:

“They already know the culture, the customs, the laws, the language. So they encounter fewer barriers in witnessing for Christ. They can go where no “foreigner” ever could.” - World-Wide Missions

“… the most effective work done in many foreign countries was that carried forward by the nationals themselves. There were many arguments in favor of such missionary endeavors. They were already on the field. They knew the language and the customs.…I later discovered there is another sound argument for national programs—the fact that the work cannot be closed down where there is any type of religious freedom at all.” Dr. Basil Miller. Founder, World-Wide Missions

Indigenous means, “native to the land.” A palm tree from Puerto Rico transplanted in Pennsylvania will not survive because it is not indigenous. But fertilizer from Pennsylvania applied to a palm tree in Puerto Rico will make it grow better in its native soil. Indigenous Christianity is not an imported denomination or other foreign organization. A Christian group started by foreigners hardly ever becomes truly indigenous. But an indigenous group can be inspired by visiting speakers from other countries (foreigners) and strengthened by financial help from believers overseas (foreigners), provided it is not used to buy control.” - Christian Aid U.S.A.

Let's summarize. Indigenous ministry would be ministry carried out by those who are:

  • Native to the land,
  • Already in the field,
  • Knowledge of the culture, language, customs, and laws,
  • Cannot be expelled,
  • More effective, and
  • Can go where no foreigner could

“Culture” is emphasized above because there is a distinct culture in the military. If the military can be viewed as a culture, the different branches can be called sub-cultures. Taken one step further, there are even sub-sub-cultures in each of the branches of service. I spent my entire career, aside from training and certain schools, in the Special Forces culture. If you are a current or past member of one of the branches of service, you know exactly what I mean. I need explain it no further. Suffice it to say that every culture or sub-culture has its own language, customs, and laws. Outsiders to the culture are viewed as foreigners in the same sense as the colonialists mentioned earlier in this article.

That last characteristic is strongly emphasized because, years ago, an Army Chaplain invited two young soldiers to a Saturday morning men's breakfast fellowship at a local church of his endorsing denomination. At one point the Chaplain told the assembled group: "These two men go places where I will never be able to set foot."

That Chaplain’s few words said it all then, and they still ring true today. They apply to every man and woman in uniform who, unashamed of the Gospel, live out their faith where no Chaplain will ever set foot.

And that's what CMF is about!

What is God Like?

What is God Like?

What is God Like?


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret
) Chairman, Board of Directors
“And this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)

This is an introduction to, and the first in a series of articles offering answers from Scripture to the above question.  To say that this is an important question, that deserves serious consideration, is a huge understatement!

I first learned something about God’s glorious attributes years ago from two main sources: Lutheran Catechism and reading the Bible for an “Advanced” English course as a senior in high school. Catechism provided sound doctrine (and large words) to describe characteristics of God found in the Bible.  In reading the Bible for itself, I found out that what it said about God matched the big words I learned in Catechism.  (As odd as it might sound in today’s scholastic environment, in those days it was permissible to write a paper about The Bible as Literature, my chosen subject.)

In addition to Scripture itself, a source of information for these posts is J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God.   Scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the NIV and linked to their context in an online Bible.  Please read them, read the context around them, and let Scripture speak to you.  There are of course other, more exhaustive treatments of the Attributes of God; one of the most notable is Arthur W. Pink’s work, (http://www.eternallifeministries.org/awp_attrib.htm).

This article can provide only a brief glimpse into the awesome character of God and hopefully will whet your appetite to learn even more about the Creator of the universe and the One who sent His own Son to die so that you might live.  The reason for these posts is two-fold.  First, there seems to exist today, in American Christianity, a deplorable lack of knowledge concerning what God has revealed about Himself in Scripture.  Most of what we hear from pulpits across the country speaks only of God’s love, and even that, for the most part, is described according to our concept/definition of love, not His.

The second reason is from Scripture itself.  John 17:3 tells us that “eternal life is knowing God.”  That can be a bit difficult to get our heads wrapped around, but it speaks of how our eternal life has a “right here, right now” aspect.  How can that be explained in more practical, understandable terms? What effect does knowing God have on a person?  J. I. Packer suggests four great effects:

  1. Those who know God have great energy for God.
  2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
  3. Those who know God have great boldness for God.
  4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

We must ask ourselves, do we desire such knowledge of God?   When you ask yourself this question, remember that it’s not a matter of knowing God so we can “become” great for God, it’s simply that really “knowing” leads to “having.”

And lest I forget, when God sees knowledge of Himself in His children, it gives Him pleasure.

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 KJV)

When you think about it, generally, the most we can know about other people is what they reveal to us.  The extent and quality of our knowledge of them depends more on them than it does on us. Knowing God is no different.  Only what God has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known, and that which God has chosen to reveal to us can be found in Holy Scripture.

Our quest to know God begins by understanding that God is our Creator and that we are a part of His creation (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 24:1).  God said that man is created in His image.  Man is above the rest of creation and was given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28).  Creation is marred by the “fall” (Genesis 3:17-18) but still offers a glimpse of His works (Romans1:19-20).  This glimpse of God that we do have is available to all men─we are all born with the knowledge that God IS. By considering creation’s vastness, complexity, beauty, and order, we can have a sense of the awesomeness of God.  However, considering how lightly and how often we use the term “awesome” in today’s culture, I don’t think it’s a nearly “big enough” word to begin describing God.

I remember when I was just a wee lad and we would visit my grandparents’ farm in Wisconsin.  There weren’t any street lights, and I remember looking up at the night sky and all the stars with a feeling of “WOW, God made that!” filling my little heart with wonder at how BIG God is.  That was awesome.

I also remember a church, nestled in tall pine trees across the road from Grandma’s house.  I found an old photo of that church, dated back to around 1955.  As if it were yesterday, I can still hear the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” resounding through the pines as we walked to church.  That was awesome.

I can’t describe just how “BIG” God was to this 5-year-old, from just looking at the night sky and hearing a hymn.  As we grow older and begin to read Scripture, our sense of God’s greatness looms even larger, or at least it should.

Face it: we don’t much care for hearing God when He speaks to us about our sin, our guilt, our helplessness, our weakness, our blindness, and our spiritual “deadness.”  We would rather hear just the “good stuff” He might say about us.  Nevertheless, knowing God involves listening to His Word and receiving it, as the Holy Spirit interprets and applies it to us and to the character of God.  When we see our “true selves” in the blinding light of Scripture, we can “know” God more fully, and might even have something to boast about.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24

God is the Great I AM - Eternal and Unchangeable

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’”

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.’” - (Exodus 3:13,14).

God is eternal, meaning He had no beginning and that His existence will never end.  He is immortal, infinite (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). God is immutable, meaning He is unchangeable; this means that God is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26,27).

God’s life does not change.

Created things have a beginning and an end, however their Creator is from everlasting to everlasting.

“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.  Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”   (Psalm 102:25-27)

A small child will often ask, “Who made God?”  Our answer is simple. He was always there. Children accept that answer more easily than adults, with the childlike faith that Jesus reminded His followers we all need.  When Mom told this little 5-year-old that God was always there, that settled it─Moms don’t lie!

God’s character does not change.

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament.  Listening to sermons in many of today’s churches, one might come away with the idea that the God who destroyed His enemies, the enemies of His Chosen people, and those among people who would dishonor His Name, has somehow changed into a kindly grandfather who waits for us to jump into His lap for a hug and a bit of candy.  While God is certainly the giver of all good things to His children, His moral character is changeless, as James reminded dispersed followers undergoing trials and temptations (James 1:12-17 NKJV).

God’s truth does not change.

How many times have we had to eat our words because something that was said was not what was really meant, or something that we thought was truth turned out to be not true.  God’s Word, however, spoken but once, stands as truth for all eternity (Isaiah 40:6-8).

God’s ways do not change.

The wages of sin is death, so Romans 6:23 tells us.  It will always be so. This verse also tells us that God offers eternal life through His Son.  It will always be so.  God discriminates between sinners, causing some to hear the gospel message, while others hear the words but not the message (Acts 16:13-15).  To some he grants the gift of repentance and faith, while others He leaves in their sin, demonstrating that he owes mercy to no one and that it is entirely an act of His grace that any are saved (Romans 9:15).

God’s purposes do not change.

“One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of foresight to execute them. But as God is both omnipotent and omnipresent, there is never any need for Him to reverse His decrees.” (A.W. Pink)

The plans of God stand firm forever... (Psalm 33:11). Whatever God does in time, He planned from eternity; and whatever He planned in eternity WILL be carried out in time.

God’s Son does not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus is able to, and will save all who come to Him─all that the Father gives Him (John 6:37-40).

This fact is the strong consolation and assurance for all God’s people.

Truth, Lies and Horseback Riding

Truth, Lies and Horseback Riding

Truth, Lies and Horseback Riding


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

You are probably thinking that’s a rather silly title for an article.  Maybe, maybe not.  If it stimulated your curiosity to the point you are actually reading this, it accomplished the desired goal of the author!  Therefore, it makes at least a little bit of sense. Agreed?  Now on to the point.

Months ago, maybe even years ago in some cases, while studying various aspects of Christianity in light of Scripture (a favorite pastime of mine), I began to see beliefs in Christendom that had little or no Scriptural support, and that some of those questionable beliefs had achieved the status of “doctrine.”  To disagree with them was labeled minimally as growth-hindering misunderstanding of Scripture, and, at the other end of the “error spectrum,” blasphemy deserving of Hell.  I had then, and still have now, a soul-deep conviction that God wrote the Book and therefore what was taught as truth, but didn’t agree with the context of Scripture, was wrong or false in some measure and in some cases, was an outright lie.

The unavoidable question brought to this inquiring mind was, “How did these falsehoods and lies end up so widely believed by professing Christians?”  The answer I arrived at after a considerable amount of Scripture study, researching a range of historical resources, and comparing them both to widely held beliefs of professing believers was and IS, precisely this: The “accepted” lie always rides in on the back of truth.  Without an element of Scriptural truth upon which to hitch a ride, the lie never survives.

A prime example from the early church would be the Pelagian heresy; it denied any adverse effect of Adam’s sin on the rest of mankind that was birthed after the Fall.  That lie didn’t get very far and was condemned as heresy.  The “Semi-Pelagianism” that followed acknowledged that Adam’s sin affected all of us, but said that man is still able in and of himself to cooperate with God in the salvation of his soul.  That was also condemned as heresy (at the Council of Orange), but is in fact alive and well in both major camps of Christianity. No segment of Christianity has ever admitted to being Semi-Pelagian, although a synergistic Gospel is by nature, exactly that.

There you have one man’s explanation of the connection between truth, lies, and horseback riding.  The initial lie, without an element of truth, failed.  The second lie, while admitting “some” truth, made a modified version of the first lie perfectly acceptable, and even pleasing to human sensibilities.

There have been other examples of lies riding in on the back of truth, some with a longer history of acceptance than others.  The two most damaging to both the cause of Christ and the souls of men are 1) that Christ established a single religious organization as the only true church with an “infallible” human as head of that church and 2) that God “accepts” us unconditionally, WITH our sin. (Don’t panic — please read on!)

Both have a segment of truth. Christ did declare he would establish His Church on earth.  God does LOVE unconditionally – it’s His nature and one of His divine attributes.

The Church that Christ established is made up of those persons for whom He died, from every tongue, tribe and nation – those whom He purchased with His own blood. We weren’t put on layaway!

If God could “accept” us into His Kingdom WITH our sin, His Son died in vain. The first point of the Gospel is that Christ DIED for our sin!

The Heart of the Gospel

The Heart of the Gospel

The Heart of the Gospel:  Sin And Repentance


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

Te Apostle Paul had some harsh words to the church in Galatia for those who would turn away from the Gospel of grace and return to trusting in human works for salvation:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)

Paul clearly defined the message of the gospel to the church in Corinth with these words:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV)

Long before Paul was converted and began to preach the gospel and establish churches, John the Baptist laid the groundwork for the coming of Christ:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2 ESV)

Jesus began his earthly ministry with these words:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17 ESV)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15 ESV)

When Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, he commissioned them with these words:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47 ESV)

Well, so what?

Here's “what”:

Who am I, who are we, who name the Name of Christ, to change the message, or omit what Scripture tells us is the core and heart of the gospel message? How dare we presume that a “changed life” is the Gospel?

How dare we presume that making Jesus “attractive,” as the one who merely solves all of life's little problems, is spreading the gospel that saves a person from Hell?

How dare we presume that love, love, love, without including the issue of sin and repentance, IS even love at all?

Who am I if I presume any of the above?  Who am I if I don't hold as paramount, and address as of “first importance,” that Jesus died for our SIN, and if I don't speak of the need to REPENT from SIN?

I'll tell you who I am — I am a spiritual coward, a disgrace to evangelism, and a traitor to the One who saved me!

And at the end of the day, I am still a sinner — a sinner saved by the amazing grace of a sovereign God!

The Great Privilege

The Great Privilege

The Great Privilege


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

Idon't know about you, but I get tired of always hearing about “process” where I work as a government contractor.  “Process” seems to have taken over everything! It's not like when I was running a communications shop in the Army, or even when I was the Operations Sergeant Major in the Battalion Headquarters.  At least then ”process” was about more effectively getting the job done. Sometimes that meant figuring out how to do more with the same or fewer people.  Sometimes it was learning to accomplish the mission with the resources that were available.  If the “process” worked, it ended up as part of somebody’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).  These days it seems the “process” is the mission! I sit next to a “process engineer” and sometimes, when I overhear his side of phone conversations, I feel his pain!

Well, guess what? God is into “process”! Check this out:

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How are they to call on one they have not believed in?  And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.’  But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’  Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” Romans 10:14-17 (NET)

That looks like a “process” to me! Just in case you missed it, let’s identify the process steps.

  • Call on the Name of the Lord and you will be saved. (The end state.)
  • Before you can call on the Name of the Lord you have to believe.
  • Before you can believe you have to hear.
  • Before you can hear, there needs to be a preacher.
  • Before there's a preacher, there is a “sending.”

If it didn't before, does it look like a process now?

Where I work, my Process Engineer (PE) buddy keeps track of all the written processes we use and helps develop new processes when they are needed.  He also ensures people are actually following the established processes.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the letter to the Romans, is reminding Christians in Rome of the process, like my buddy at work does.  You might also see Paul as one of the “sent preachers,” since after his conversion he dedicated his life to preaching the gospel, at times while working a regular job (tent making).  Now the process “developer” ─ that’s another story. In fact, you've probably already figured out that God is the originator of the process, the Grand Architect.

The only part of the process not specifically mentioned in the above passage from Romans is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the person who has NOT yet called on the name of the Lord for salvation.  In order for any person to call on the Lord, that person needs to have come to the point of realizing his/her condition of being lost and helpless, without a hope in the world of being saved through human effort.  Some would say that this is the “drawing” by the Father to the Son that Jesus spoke of in John 6:44 and the enabling spoken of in John 6:65.

When that drawing happens in the heart of the one who is needy and the gospel is preached, there is a supernatural combining of the realization of one’s lost condition and the hearing of the Word that results in calling out to the Lord and the saving of a soul for eternity!

This amazing process that brings such sweet relief on the day of our salvation even honors the human will by turning the human heart, which is totally dead and unable to choose anything but sin (Romans 3: 10-18), toward God, so that our decision for Christ is out of our own freed will.  We choose Christ because we desire Him.  We desire Him because God has given us mercy and placed the necessary desire with us.

You could say God “owns” the process (using the terms of the workplace).  All three Persons of the Trinity act in unity to miraculously create the new birth in Christ!  The Father is the Master Architect, the Son suffered, died and was resurrected to make it possible, and the Holy Spirit operates at both ends; preparing the heart of that one lost in sin and prompting someone to share the gospel (“sends the preacher”).

So what does all this process “stuff” have to do with the “The Great Privilege”? Let me answer that with a couple of other questions:

Did God have to develop a process to save anyone?  No!  Isn’t He God?  Yes!  After all, didn’t he confront Paul on the road to Damascus without human intervention?  Yes! God can save ANY ONE, ANY TIME, ANY WAY He wants!  At stake are the eternal souls of men and women, and God decides to use a method to save them that involves using regular, ordinary people as “process agents.”

Consider the original twelve disciples. Among those Jesus chose were some fisherman, an IRS agent and at least one political activist.  None of them had any sort of higher education.  There wasn’t a learned religious leader, popular speaker, or finely dressed rich guy among the lot.  Peter denied him, they argued about who was the greatest, and when he went to the Cross, all but one (John) disappeared from the scene.  Why these guys?

About all I can say to that is that He is GOD and it's HIS choice.  The Apostle Paul, speaking to Christians at Corinth provides a better answer:

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

There are probably other reasons why He chooses to use bumbling believers as process agents, but for the moment, it’s enough that He chose the method ─ “designed the process.”

That’s where “Privilege” enters the picture. God doesn’t need people to save anyone—you, me or anyone else.  It’s our Great Privilege to take the Good News to the world around us.  If He prompts me to share that news and I refuse, He’ll send another.  If that one refuses, He’ll send another.  The mission WILL be accomplished, with or without me.  God WILL send a man or woman obedient to the call, and souls WILL be saved according to HIS plan! As one pair of evangelical writers said so well:

“The Spirit of God uses the Word of God through men and women of God to make the message about the Son of God available to all who want to know the truth.  There is no limit to the creative ways God can use to bring about this process.”— from “I’m Glad You Asked” - Ken Boa and Larry Moody

Reader, listen closely.  Do you remember when you first embraced your Savior?  Did not something happen inside you to cause you to desire God? Did you not somehow “hear” the good news of salvation in Christ and then call out to Him for that precious gift?  Are you saved, to your eternal benefit and His everlasting glory?

If so, the One who saved you now “sends” you into the world to share the greatest news mankind will ever know!  (That's not my opinion─hear some of the last words of Jesus as He prayed earnestly to the Father on behalf of his closest disciples, those twelve ordinary men, shortly before He went to the cross of Calvary.

“But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world.  Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” John 17:13-18 (NET)

Do you desire to be called? Are you prepared to go when called? Will you share in the Great Privilege?

I leave you with the question, and pray that the answer is a resounding YES!  That like the prophet of old, you will hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And you will say, “Here am I. Send me!”

NOTE: The only reason CMF exists is to support, train and equip believers serving in all branches of military service as they grow in Christ and as the “sent ones” wherever they live and serve God and our country.  


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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