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Re: Check the plugs!

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know, yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you; unless indeed you are ones failing the test?" (2Co13:5)

"Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be revealed; for the Day will declare it, because it will be disclosed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is." (1Co3:12-13)

Object lesson time again...

You that have been around here awhile by now know that I'm somewhat of a shade-tree, back-yard, "saturday" mechanic. Years ago I got this after-market carburetor-manifold conversion kit for the motorcycle. Instead of 4 carbs, there is just one. A lot fewer screws to fiddle with; no 'synchronization' issues. But the company (fellow) who put together the kit was a bit sloppy on some specifics, and not knowing much about carburetion, I didn't really know -quite- how to correct some jetting problems. It was 'supposed' to be a "bolt on and use it" kit. But for years there were throttle response issues. Then a couple years ago a subscriber, who has a mechanic background, talked me (e-mail) through some 'theory'... and now it runs beautifully.

Recently one of my customers at the sign shop happened to be a person who custom builds racing engines. As he was in to pick up his order, I asked after the kind of business he does, and in the course of conversation, my motorcycle sitting right there out front, he was also interested in this manifold/carburetor kit. And when I mentioned the jetting issues I had been tweaking with... his immediate response was: "Have you checked the plugs?"

Well, no...I've been tweaking based on response and performance. What things "feel" like.

Why did he speak of "checking" the spark plugs? Because the plugs will tell a mechanic most every necessary thing one needs to know about the engine's combustion of the fuel. And fuel combustion essentially -defines- how an engine runs. If you have ever watched racing, the commentators will speak of fuel "jetting" depending on weather and other conditions. If they want to strategize pouring on the power, they will increase the jet size...if they want to strategize fuel conservation to save on refueling pit stops, they will use a leaner mixture. To the professionals it's a fine science.

Checking the spark plugs to know how an engine is running, is similar to the forensic 'evidence' they depict on these shows like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). I don't typically watch the TV crime and cop shows; but once in awhile might watch one of the CSI shows. What is the whole point of CSI? To look at the 'evidence'. The cold, hard -facts-. Not the impressions of "feelings", like seems to happen so much these days, "Trial by media". They dramatize, of course, the person picking up the tiny piece of hair with the tweezers, and squinting at it, up by the light. The blood spatters on the wall...'how' is it spattered? From what direction did it come? More than one direction? Little nicks in the wall where the victim fell. The 'shape' of the puncture wound. You that have seen the shows, you know what we're saying here.

Why? To get to the facts. To know the truth. In CSI, to solve the crime; to put the bad guy away and exonerate the falsely accused or suspected good guy. With spark plugs, to have a well-running engine, that also gets good fuel mileage.

In the Christian life, do we "check the plugs"? A mechanic who knows what he's looking for looks for colors: white, black, gray, brown, yellow; and other things like wet, dry, plugged up, clear, etc. Everything means something.

We are told to "examine" ourselves and "test" ourselves regarding our faith. Furthermore, if we don't test ourselves, our works will be tested by God's testing 'fires' of "that Day".

A lot of people are, about their lives, like I was about the plugs. I already knew the 'concept' of testing plugs, but hadn't been doing it. I was going on "feelings"... how does this throttle response 'feel' now? Over the past couple years, while messing with the carburetion, there's also been other issues (the bike is getting on in years); a leaking head gasket that got replaced. But then that aftermarket (cheap) gasket also started leaking, and had to be replaced -again-. So, when I was seeing the plugs in those contexts, there were issues dealing with antifreeze, and whatnot. So, I was becoming kinda like the person who refuses to go to the doctor for a check-up: because the doctor always says there's something 'wrong'; we need to operate, you need this medicine, we need to poke some more needles into you. So, he figures: If I don't go to the doctor, he won't tell me anything is wrong; and then things will be OK. Out of sight, out of mind. What I don't know isn't hurting me.

Back during the age when today's apostasy took the real nose-dive, during the hippy-commune days of the 60s and 70s, and those conducting Bible 'studies' were teaching what a good Christian was....everything back in those days was "love, love, love, love". One of the popular songs of the day said, "All you need is love...love is all you need", and christians were proclaiming that a "Christian" could be discerned by "love". As they analyzed from the Bible, they even came up with...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is [-LOVE-], joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (Ga5:22-23) That was the -big- passage back in those days.

They basically concentrated on the first three items, and abandoned the rest: "love, joy, peace". You know: "Peace brother" Some of the things like "goodness" and "self-control" were ignored. But it was Love: love everybody, and even indulge in free sex. Joy: praise the Lord... Hallelujah...jump up and down and dance. And like we said, Peace: holding up the two fingers of the peace sign. It was all emotions and feelings; one reason charismania took off like wildfire during that era.

Spark plugs, when they are 'clean' and of certain colorations, tell that the engine is running well. But there are also things that indicate things not right.

You see, the same generation, while boasting in the "fruit of the spirit", for some reason neglected the preceeding two verses. They didn't like it when fundamentalists would dig deeper into what does the Bible -say-? Or to bring the discussion back around to complete the Scriptural context. So, this passage "means to you" thus and so; but WHAT DOES IT SAY? "Oh, you're so judgmental, man!" The reason they thought Scripture was so judgmental was because, in addition to giving the 'positive' things that a Christian -is-, it also is just as specific about what a Christian -is- NOT; the characteristics of the world, which we are -NOT- to be like.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, sexual perversion, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Ga5:19-21)

See how the list starts right off, Bang! with today's #1 sin. And next, today's #2 perversion; gay/lesbian. Licentiousness today is called "graaaeeesss". They "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Ju1:4) Idolatry has so many forms: how many Christians, when they hear of the pagan roots of the cross, throw theirs away? Or do they have "outbursts of wrath" against those who proclaim the truth? Not to mention Christians dabbling in Yoga, TM, and all sorts of things. Charismania is the same as sorcery; and is based on shamanistic principles and spirits. Do we need to continue down this list? You see why 'they' always quote, "But the fruit of the Spirit is..." (Ga5:22-23) Let me roll my eyeballs back into my head, raise my hands and be "spirit-filled"...but don't upset me with the "negativity" of vs19-21 that preceeds my favorite passage. That is sooo judgmental! If I were to look at those verses, the doctor would be immediately wheeling me into emergency surgery to cut out the cancer.

Doctor, just stay away from me!!! Leave those plugs in the engine; don't take them out. How does this thing 'feel' when I drive it? If it feels good, do it.

But those things are the "lusts of the flesh" (Ga5:16) And we are to "put off, concerning [our] former CONDUCT" (Eph4:22) We are to be "obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts in your ignorance;" (1Pet1:14) It's like the children's object lesson: if the pitcher is full of rocks, how can it be 'filled' with water? The rocks must come out first, and -then- the water can be poured in. How can a person claiming to belong to Christ, be characterized by the "fruits of the Spirit", if the "works of the flesh" haven't been first cleaned out? It's impossible. The two 'lists' are in opposition to each other.

Some will object: We are "saved by grace"..."not of works" (Eph2:8-9) Indeed! But of what sort is the Christian -after- they are saved? How do you know they are, in fact, saved? If a duck quacks, and a dog barks; how do we tell a Christian when we see one? Works. Deeds. "..I will show you my faith from my works" as... "faith without works is dead" (Ja2:18,17,26) We don't -just- 'believe'; like that fundamentalist song, which emotionally 'feels' good to sing, and gets people walking the aisle, but is false doctrine for invitations like it was typically used: "only believe". If the works aren't there, it indicates death; the person is not -really- a [C]hristian

There -is- coming a judgment, even for Believers. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things DONE in the body, according to what he has DONE, whether good or bad." (2Co5:10) "DONE" == "deeds/works"

Now Paul, when he wrote to the churches, could use himself as a good example of how a Christian should live. "...you know of what sort we were among you.." (1Th1:5) And in considering the end of the world, and God's judgments, we are to consider "of what sort [we] ought to be in holy behavior and Godliness" (2Pet3:11)

Of WHAT SORT are we?

How do we know? By feelings? Emotions? I "feel" saved. I "feel good" about my life. If Jesus were to come right now, I "feel" that the meeting would go well.

But what do the "plugs" show? Is there the black soot of sin? Are there yellow deposits of worldly pollutions and compromise? Or are we white and clean, like out of the box, when God gave us the new life in Christ; with a little bit of light gray and brown, indicating we've been doing some work effectively? Sure, a Christian can sit around doing nothing, and the plug remains totally white. When a person rolls up their sleeves and gets to work, they get a little dirty from that work. Are we working for the Lord? Even Jesus' feet got dirty walking the paths of Israel, doing the "works of God" (Jn9:3)

The church at Corinth was pretty much like today's church. They had a lot of carnality and worldliness. That top item from Ga5:19? Adultery? They had it. (1Co5) They had so much sin that God was taking some of them in premature death. (1Co11:30) And Paul exhorts them in that context:

"For if we would discern ourselves, we would not be judged." (vs31)

A parent leaves, telling the child to clean up their room: When I get back I want to see the room spotless. So what does the child do? Sluff off, playing? Not cleaning their room? If they do that, "Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt25:30)

Supposing they make a half-hearted effort to clean their room: they throw a few toys into the toy box, maybe pull the covers up over their bed; and then go outside to play... But there's clothes still strewn about, and the place needs a good dusting?

Or do they pick up the toys, tuck in the sheets, pull the covers up and stretch them out, hang up their clothes, maybe take a broom to the floor...and as the parents are heard driving up the driveway, they are making those last-minute checks for dust with the dust rag, peering here and there; wiping down the windows and mirror, looking from this angle and that, to catch the light on things, to get every last spec of dust, dirt, finger print and smudge they can find...?

What is the parent's judgment? Is there weeping and gnashing of teeth, or high praise, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mt25:23) ?

But to ascertain good health, the doctor needs to poke and prod. The spark plug needs to be taken out. And....

We need to read those 'negative' portions of Scripture that tell us what NOT to be. There's other passages, too: Ex20:3-17 Is it any wonder the world carts the public displays of the 10 Commandments into back rooms! They are so 'negative', and tell us what is 'bad' about ourselves! They do not help promote self-esteem! And also: Ezk18:5-9, Eph4:14-19, Col3:5-9, Rev21:8 to list just a few.

And when we have read them, do we make application to our own lives...

To be "...doers of the Word, and not hearers only..." ??

Today there's a lot of hearers in the "church", but not very many doers.

Don't be deceived! (Ja1:22)


Follow-up topic: Radiator Cap