Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Clean Drinking Water & Wine in Bible Times

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills.  -Deuteronomy 8:7

 For years I’ve heard the claim by otherwise intelligent people, “You can’t drink the water in Israel.  The water is contaminated.  Therefore, they had to drink alcoholic wine.  They had no choice.”
Or, a variation of this, “They had to have alcoholic wine to kill the germs or pathogens in their water.”

These claims are simply, false.  False for several reasons. 

1.  The expense.  Wine is expensive.  Imagine having to pay for wine for all your drinking and hydration needs.  It gets hot in Israel and they worked hard.  They would have needed a lot of liquid. 
2.  If alcoholic wine is all they had to drink, the men, women, children of Israel would have been drunk 24 hours a day every day.  That just doesn’t make sense. 
3.  If they could not drink the water, what would have happened if their yearly supply of wine ran out, was stolen, or destroyed?  What if they had a crop failure in the vineyard?  And, could they consistently grow that many grapes?  It would take a lot of grapes to provide a family with enough wine for all, not part, of their thirst for an entire year. 
4.  They knew how to make and preserve both alcoholic and nonalcoholic wine.  They called both wine (Isaiah 65:8, etc.).  Much like today, they had a choice of what to drink.  See articles below and the book “AncientWine and the Bible” for more evidence. 
5.  Israelis were masters on the subject of water.  They had to have drinkable water or not survive.  They dug wells, both shallow and deep.  They maintained them for centuries (John 4:5-11; etc.).  They knew about springs and how the water from them was generally safe and good.  They dug cisterns, and used natural cisterns (Genesis 21:25; Leviticus 11:36; Deuteronomy 8:7; 2 Kings 18:31; Nehemiah 9:25; James 3:11; etc.).  Of course they also used rivers and streams.  They valued running water.  They collected rain water.  They even knew the value of dew.  They knew bad water, probably both by training and by experience (Proverbs 25:26).  By the way, modern day Israelis are still exceptional in the areas of water, irrigation, farming, agriculture. 
6.  In Bible times, while they did not know about micro-organisms, they certainly knew clean water from dirty water.  They knew how to find clean water.  Also, to some extent, locals can build a tolerance for some defects in water. 
7.  To sum up, in Bible times they drank water on a regular basis.  Many Scripture passages support this fact  (Genesis 21:19; Genesis 24:17; 1 Samuel 30:11; 2 Samuel 23:15; 1 Kings 17:10; 2 Kings 6:22; Job 22:7; Proverbs 5:15; Proverbs 25:21; Lamentations 5:4; Ezekiel 12:18; Daniel 1:12; Mark 9:41; John 4:7).
8.  Alcoholic wine does not sterilize impure water.  It just doesn’t.  I’ve never seen a modern or ancient scientific authority recommend you take a bottle of wine on your next camping or hunting trip so you can make the water safe to drink.  Alcoholic wine does not disinfect water to make it drinkable. 

The word “water” is used 634 times in the Bible (NKJV).  This does not even include related words such as well, drink, spring, river, cistern… So there are many more biblical references than those listed above. 

In short, the oft repeated claim that they had to drink alcohol because the water was undrinkable is a false claim.  Don’t buy it.  Also, the oft repeated claim that you can make contaminated water safe by adding alcoholic wine is a false claim.  These are some of the weakest arguments by social drinkers.  Arguments that do not hold up to a valid investigation.

Parenthetical Note: That there be no misunderstanding.  while we may disagree on details, I’m on the side of all who wisely choose to abstain from alcoholic beverages. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 6, AD 2016. 

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Steve Gaines: Christians Should Vote

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Gaines is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the Memphis, Tennessee - area Bellevue Baptist Church.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) -- One of my favorite movies is an old classic starring Gary Cooper called "Sergeant York."

The story is about a Tennessee mountain man named Alvin York, a poor farmer who kept running into bad luck. But along the way he became a Christian. When World War I broke out, he designated himself as a conscientious objector because he believed the Bible taught people not to kill.

While he was in basic training, he excelled as a marksman. He came to a crisis during his early days in the military. During a long period of meditation and prayer he read this verse: "Then [Jesus] said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's'" Matthew 22:21, NAU).

In the movie he mulled over Jesus' words and came to the conviction that a follower of Jesus could also be a patriotic citizen of the United States and could fight to defend his country.

My father, Edgar Gaines, was a lot like Alvin York. No, my father did not receive the accolades York did. But when World War II broke out, my father left his farm in Lauderdale County, Tenn., and went to war to fight in the United States Navy. He had never been out of his county, much less America, but he went all over the world on a warship fighting for our freedoms.

One of the freedoms men and women like Alvin York and Edgar Gaines fought for was the freedom to vote. Many brave men and women have died so we can have the privilege to choose our own leaders. They fought and died so we could have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

I believe voting is my patriotic duty as a citizen of the United States. I love my country and I thank God that I live in America. Is it perfect? No. But neither am I, and neither are you. Does America need to repent and turn afresh to Jesus? Yes. And so do I, and so do you.

The greatest issue in our land in my opinion is abortion. Sixty million babies have been slaughtered via abortion in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. That is 10 times as many Jewish people that were killed by Hitler and the Nazis in the Holocaust. I have four children and 10 grandchildren. I cringe when I think that there are people in America who believe it would be alright to take a baby's life when it is only a month, a day or a week away from being born. We have not only lost our morals, we have lost our minds if we think that is right.

I believe that New Testament marriage -- one woman married to one man -- is an issue all Christians must stand for in America. The only marriage that the New Testament supports is heterosexual, monogamous marriage (cf. Matthew 19:5Ephesians 5:31).

I also believe Christians must champion the fact that racism must stop in America. There is only one race -- the human race. Bible-believing Christians believe that we all come from the same biological parents -- Adam and Eve, thus we are all biologically related to one another. All lives matter because God created all people, God loves all people, Jesus died for all people, and anyone can be saved!

Christians should vote and we should carry our Christian convictions into the voting booth with us. Find out what candidates believe and vote for or against them based on your biblical principles.

Christians, do not sit this one out. Do not stay home and avoid voting on Tuesday, November 8. Stand in line five hours if you have to, but make sure you register your vote. People have fought and died to give you the privilege of being salt and light in this sinfully dark world.

Vote and pray on Tuesday. In other words, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
-Pastor Steve Gaines 


-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 7, AD 2016. 


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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

He Maketh No Mistake - A Great Poem of Comfort

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. -Psalm 18:30

He Maketh No Mistake

My Father’s way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.

Tho’ night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break,
I’ll pin my faith, my all, in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim,
But come what may,
I’ll simply trust and leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift,
And plain it all He’ll make,
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
 
- A.M. Overton, AD 1932

This is a poem I’ve used many times in Funeral Services.  It is a poem that has been a real comfort to many.  It is printed in W. A. Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors.  What I did not know until recently is this poem was written by the father of a beloved professor at Southwestern BaptistTheological Seminary.  Dr. Bob Overton grew up in Mississippi and pastored for years in Houston, Texas.  He then began teaching at the Houston Extension of SWBTS.  I had the privilege of having Dr. Overton as one of my professors when I was working on my Master of Divinity degree.  He was an interesting, pastoral, outstanding professor. 

Now, back to Bob Overton’s father, the author of this poem. 

“In 1932, my grandfather, A.M. Overton, was a pastor of a church in Mississippi with a wife and three small children. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child but when it came time for delivery, there were complications and both she and the baby died. During the funeral service, the preacher officiating the service noticed my grandfather writing something on a piece of paper. After the service the minister asked him about it, and he handed him the paper with a poem he had just written which he titled, ‘He Maketh No Mistake’”.  -Rob Overton, grandson. 

Read the entire story: 

A great poem, and a great legacy. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 2, AD 2016. 

PS - This is an update of a previous post.  

Articles: 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

John Calvin Killing Servetus

John Calvin (AD 1509-1564), namesake of the Calvinists of today, is a hero to many.  His books are often recommended and referenced.  He was a leader in the Protestant Reformation.  

But Calvin had a dark side.  Part of that dark side was absolutely denying freedom of speech and religious liberty.  On October 27, 1553, John Calvin had Michael Servetus (c. 1509-1553) mercilessly burned to death.  Why?  Because Servetus disagreed with Calvin’s beliefs. 

Leonard Verduin (AD 1897-1999) speaks authoritatively on this issue.  He was a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary, and the University of Michigan.  Verduin knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, French, Dutch, English.  On the subject of Calvin, it is noteworthy that Verduin is of the Reformed tradition. 
In his highly praised book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,” Leonard Verduin says about John Calvin: 

“The burning of Servetus – let it be said with utmost clarity – was a deed for which Calvin must be held largely responsible.  It was not done in spite of Calvin, as some over-ardent admirers of his are wont to say.  He planned it beforehand and maneuvered it from start to finish.  It occurred because of him and not in spite of him.  After it had taken place Calvin defended it, with every possible and impossible argument.  There is every reason to believe that if it had not been for the fact that public opinion was beginning to run against this kind of thing there would have been many more such burnings.  The event was the direct result of the sacralism to which Calvin remained committed, a sacralism which he never discarded.” 

“Here was a man (Servetus) who posed no threat to civil serenity in Geneva – unless of course it be granted that anyone who deviates from the orthodoxy expoused by the State is ipso facto a threat to that civil serenity.  [Footnote in the book: In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition.]  Servetus started no parades, made no speeches, carried no placards, had no political ambitions.  He did have some erratic ideas touching the doctrine of the Trinity; and he entertained some deviating notions concerning baptism, especially infant baptism.  No doubt there was something of the spiritual iconoclast in him, as there is in all men of genius (Servetus was something of a scientific genius in that he anticipated the idea of the circulatory course of the blood).  But he was not a revolutionary in the political sense.  He was indeed ‘off the beam’ in matters of religious doctrine, but he did not deserve to be arrested or executed – a judgment in which the man of sacralist convictions cannot of course concur.  Only in a sacralist climate would men deal in such a way with such a man.” 

Footnote from book, p. 55:  “In the sentences whereby heretics were sent to the stake it was usually specified that the execution was to be by ‘small fire.’  It seems that in the case of Servetus green wood was used, so that it took three hours before he was pronounced dead.”

“When the news was out that Servetus had died in the fire, a cry of outrage resounded over most of Europe.  It is true that many of the leaders of the Reform applauded the burning (Melanchthon, for example, wrote that ‘the Church owes and always will owe a debt of gratitude to you for having put the heretic to death’); although it is also true that some, even in Geneva itself, refused to put their names to a document supporting the execution.  But there was a chorus of protest that issued at once from those circles that had been deeply influenced by the humanizing tendencies of the times.  Contrary to the legend that is kept alive by over-ardent admirers of Calvin, the spirit of the age was already relegating such inhumanity to the limbo of the past.  The Renaissance had not been without its fruitage of toleration.” 
-Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Eerdmans; 1964.  Reprinted by The Baptist Standard Bearer,Inc., Paris, Arkansas. 

 Verduin goes on to point out how after the burning of Servetus, John Calvin and Beza continued to vigorously defend their brutal, torturous murder of Servetus. 

Thank God for the ideal, largely promoted by Anabaptists and Baptists, of Religious Liberty for all.  Thank God for Religious Liberty in America, although that liberty is being threatened. 

The book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, should be read by anyone interested in Anabaptists, Baptists, the Radical Reformers, and Religious Liberty.  The book is marred in places by Latin and other languages with no English translation.  I’m a big believer in writing in easy to understand language.  It would also be helpful to explain the geographical sites with modern day language and countries, maybe a map or two.  In spite of this, it is well worth reading and studying. 

“It is difficult for me to speak in restrained terms about this most excellent study. Verduin has done a thorough job of research. He writes obviously out of a background rich in historical information and understanding. This book is all the more significant since it comes from the pen of one of the Reformers' family and not from among the offspring of the ‘stepchildren.’”  
- W. R. Estep Jr., SWBTS
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren has also been highly recommended by Paige Patterson. 

Sacralism – Leonard Verduin’s term for the belief and practice that the church and state are one.  The government should have a state religion and enforce those beliefs against any dissenters.  Religious Liberty is rejected.  This also means the church is filled with unsaved people, since everyone is automatically enrolled in the state church.  Anabaptists, Baptists, baptistic Christians, and others obviously dissented. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 27, AD 2016. 

Articles:

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Evangelist T. T. Martin: The Banker and the Preacher

Evangelist T. T. Martin (AD 1862-1939) was a professor, pastor, evangelist.  Born in Mississippi, he was a graduate of Mississippi College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He entered full-time evangelism in 1900 and was known for his effectiveness in bringing conviction and pointing men to the Savior.  He often used large tents for his revival meetings.  He was also known for his opposition to evolution. Thomas Theodore Martin was buried in Gloster, Mississippi and his grave has references to the three texts he viewed as the core of his ministry: John 3:16; Acts 16:31; John 5:24. 

In his 1912 sermon, Rewards – Degrees in Heaven, Evangelist Martin told the story: 

A rich banker in the West a few weeks before Christmas sent a check for three hundred and fifty dollars to his brother in the East, a poor country preacher, telling him to come and bring all of his family and spend Christmas with him.  They had not seen each other since boyhood. 
The preacher and family arrived Christmas eve morning.  That afternoon in carriages the two families drove over the banker’s beautiful farm of a thousand acres of rich land.  Coming in late in the afternoon, they came by the pasture and saw the beautiful herd of blooded cattle.  After a sumptuous supper the banker’s daughters gave them some splendid music and the two families went upstairs to sleep. 
The two white-haired brothers, the banker and the poor country preacher remained downstairs, and for hours talked of boyhood days in the old country home in the East.  At last the conversation, like the fire in the fireplace, had about died out. 
Finally the banker turned and said, “Brother John, may I say something to you and you not get angry?”  Said the preacher, “Why, brother James, you can say anything you wish to me and I will not get angry.” 
Said the banker, “Brother John, you and I were poor boys back in the old country home in the East and we agreed to be partners for life.  One day you came to me and told me that you were called to preach.  I told you then that you were a fool.  What a fool you have been!  Do you remember that rich farm of a thousand acres you saw this afternoon?  Paid for with honest money, John.  This comfortable home for my old age, paid for with honest money, John.  The fifty thousand dollars I have in the bank in the city where I am president of the bank, every dollar of it honest money, John. 
“John, you could have had as much as I have.  What a fool you have been!  Why, I had to send you the three hundred and fifty dollars to bring you and your family that I might see them before I die.  And look at your daughters; they are dressed in such a shabby way that I am ashamed for my neighbors to see my children’s cousins.  And look at you with your old seedy, worn suit and your patched shoes; I am ashamed to take you to town day after tomorrow and introduce you to my business associates. 
What a fool you have been!  Now, John, I am not saying this to wound your feelings; for I love you, John.  But I don’t want you to let any of your boys be such fools as you have been.  You know you have been a fool, John.”   
Then there was silence for some time.  The tears were trickling down the cheeks of the old country preacher. 
At last he broke the silence, “Brother James, may I say something to you and you not get angry?”  “Why, certainly, John, I did not say what I did you make you angry, but to keep you from letting any of your boys be such fools as you have been, for you know you have been a fool, John.” 
“I know,” replied the old preacher, “that it looks like I have been a fool from this end of the line, brother James.  But, brother James, we are both old men and we must soon go.  Don’t be angry with me, brother James, but what have you got up yonder?” 
Again there was silence, which was suddenly broken by the banker sobbing, “Oh, John, I am a pauper at the judgment bar of God.” 
“So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.”  They are dying all over the world, men who are redeemed, going to Heaven, but paupers. 

-Evangelist T. T. Martin, God’s Plan With Men; 1912.  Reprinted by Loizeaux Brothers, New York; c. 1950 (no date given). 

This Loizeaux Brothers book is from my dad’s, Joe E. Brumbelow’s, library.  As a boy, I remember him using this illustration in his preaching.  And, I believe my dad’s life was another example of a preacher of the gospel laying up treasure in Heaven. 

There is nothing wrong with being rich, if you can do so while honoring God.  But, whether rich or poor, have you been laying up treasure in Heaven? 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 14, AD 2016. 

Articles:
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Can A Christian "Save" Others? Yes

Being saved refers to a person placing their faith, their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and being made right with God.  Jesus bled and died for our sins, and rose again, that we might have salvation by believing in Him.  So, Jesus is the One who saves.  He paid the price for our salvation. 

But, can a believer save a soul?  Many vehemently deny this possibility.  Many Calvinists (Reformed) insist salvation is only God’s decision, even to the point that God has to save or regenerate a person first, before he can believe.  Therefore, a human being can do nothing for their salvation.  The Bible, however, is not nearly that strict on salvation. 

We sometimes get too picky with our terminology.  Sometimes we insist others abide by our personal preferences, or we are ready to consign them to perdition, or at least proclaim them ignorant believers. 

Do I believe Jesus saves?  Of course I do.  Do I believe salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone?  Yes (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 4:12; John 14:6). 

When it comes to salvation, Jesus paid it all, but others participate in God’s salvation.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again.  But the individual must repent and believe in Jesus (John 1:12, 3:16, 36; 5:24; Romans 10:9-10, 13).  And those who point others to Jesus also have a part in that salvation. 

Could it be proper to say, “I saved a soul from an eternity without Christ”?  Regardless of what some might say, this is sound theology and it is biblical theology.  It is just looking at salvation from a different angle.  It also brings out the truth of God being in charge, yet God giving man a free will to participate in His salvation. 

Do I have biblical evidence for men and women saving others?  Yes, I do.

If by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.  -Romans 11:14 

Notice the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, referred to his saving some of his countrymen. 

For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?  -1 Corinthians 7:16 

Many a husband has been saved by his wife.  Many a wife has been saved by her husband.  How?  The wife prayed for him, lived a godly life in front of him, witnessed to him, pointed him to Jesus.  Our “saving” others is biblical terminology, plain and simple. 

To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  -1 Corinthians 9:22

Paul was willing to become all things that he might “save some.”  Paul was willing to sacrifice to “save” others. 

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.  -1 Timothy 4:16

In one sense, you can “save” yourself and others by taking heed to God’s Word.

Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  -James 5:20

A soul-winner in in the business of “saving” souls.  When you win someone to the Lord, you are “saving” a soul from death. 

But others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.  -Jude 1:23

We are actually told to “save” people.  To save them with fear, knowing that Hell is a reality. 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  -James 1:21

In another sense, the Word of God is able to “save” your souls. 

Does this mean instead of Jesus, a man can pay for and forgive sins and assure others a place in Heaven?  No, in that sense only Jesus can save (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  But this does mean that the Bible itself refers to Paul, the Word of God, others, and you, saving a soul from death when you have a part in bringing someone to Jesus. 

Salvation is not nearly as one-sided as some would have you believe.  God the Son is the One who bled and died for the salvation of the world.  The Holy Spirit moves and convicts.  But God calls on man, possessed of a free will, to repent and believe.  Further, God even recognizes the saving work of man in pointing others to Jesus. 

So, don’t get too demanding in your personal preferences and shibboleths. 

Jesus saves.  But, according the Bible, man saves as he sows the gospel seed to those lost and in need of a Savior. 

Note: Fancy words and defintions.
Monergism – God brings about salvation regardless of an individual’s cooperation.  The only way a man can believe is for God to first regenerate or save him; only then can he believe in Jesus. 
Synergism – God and the individual cooperate in bringing about salvation.  Jesus made the supreme sacrifice for all, but man must exercise his God-given free-will in receiving salvation.  This is the view that best fits with the biblical evidence. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 6, AD 2016. 

Other Articles:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wealthy Contributors; Neglected Ministries

Every year worthy, and unworthy, organizations receive large gifts from wealthy donors. God bless those donors to the worthy ministries. Many give to great organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, International Mission Board, SBC, and other good ministries.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and found he and I independently were thinking the same thing. He told of a two million gift to a good cause. But then we thought of other good solid causes that were struggling, and did not receive as much publicity.

Have you got a few million to spare? Looking for a worthy ministry? Looking to endow a ministry?  Want to lay up treasure in Heaven?  Let me tell you of some ministries that could do much good with those kinds of gifts.

The Biblical Evangelist
An old fashioned independent Baptist fundamentalist paper that presents the fundamental or basic Christian doctrines in sermons, illustrations, and Bible studies. They are Premillennial, Pre-Tribulational, and evangelistic. Led by Evangelist R. L. Sumner, former Associate Editor with John R. Rice at the Sword of the Lord. While independent, the Biblical Evangelist has no problem working with conservative Southern Baptists and features their sermons as well. They are a good balance among all the influences swirling in our Christian world today. Many leading conservative preachers have subscribed to this paper for years. They also publish a number of books.

American Council on Addiction and Alcohol Problems (ACAP)
The is the former Anti-Saloon League. They continue to educate and speak out against alcohol and other drug abuse. They work to pass laws to reduce drug abuse. ACAP stands for abstinence from beverage alcohol. We desperately need this kind of ministry in a world awash with drugs, abuse, addiction, and a tendency to legalize even more illicit drugs.

Mission Dignity
This ministry is fulfilling a great need in our day. Many Southern Baptist pastors have faithfully served small churches through their careers, and never made a large salary. They are now retired with very limited finances. Mission Dignity supplements the limited income of retired pastors and their widows. Your gifts can increase their ability to assist these retired soldiers of the cross. This is a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources.

Connect 316
A Southern Baptist group speaking in favor of Traditionalism in the midst of a rise of Calvinism in the evangelical world. When I was growing up, this view (Traditionalism) was often called either non-Calvinism or Moderate Calvinism. If you believe Jesus Christ died for all of humanity, rather than died only for the elect, you should check out this organization. Connect316 believes Jesus died for all, therefore, whosoever will may come. They also have some great resources.

So, if you have a few million and need a place to give, consider these ministries. They might even accept your gifts of under a million!

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 17, AD 2016.

Articles:
Ancient Wine and the Bible - the Book; update
Wit And Wisdom Of My Dad
Up Fool Hill, by J. B. Gambrell

Other articles in lower right margin.