Category Archives: Scripture

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

One of my neighbors recently posted her advice for everyone to live without religion.

Here is what she posted:

“Religions are myths. Love yourself and be kind. My inspiring thought for today is that we only can judge ourselves. There were no brutal blood sacrifices needed to make you whole. You’re a whole person just as you are. Live in that freeing truth. You are not the chief of sinners, but youve (sic) made mistakes, easily corrected. Live lawfully, kindly, and lovingly. You don’t need a book to tell you right from wrong. You are good. You are worthy. Live in the light of secular peace.”

Let’s find some common ground.

Her statement must be understood in Christian terms.

Kindness is encouraged by the Christian Scriptures and the Christian God (the One that was brutalized and sacrificed his blood).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another a)Colossians 3:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. b)Galatians 5:22-23

Judging yourself is a Christian principle.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup… But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  c)1 Corinthians 11:28,31

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. d)Romans 2:1

Ineffectual blood sacrifices are rejected by God.

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats. e)Isaiah 1:11

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. f)Jeremiah 6:20

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; g)Amos 5:22

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. h)Psalm 51:16,17

Truth as a source of freedom is a beloved citation from the words of Jesus.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” i)John 8:31-32

Living lawfully is a Christian principle.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  j)1 Peter 4:15,16

The Bible clearly states that we all have made mistakes.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  k)Romans 3:23

God does tell us to live in the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” l)John 8:12

…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. m)Acts 26:17-18

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. n)Philippians 2:14-16

At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. o)1st John 2:8-11

Finally, Scripture teaches that religion is myth.

“THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” p)Matthew 15:8-9

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. q)1 Timothy 6:20-21

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.  r)2 Corinthians 11:13-15

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. s)John 10:8-10

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” t)John 14:6

Only Jesus saves.

No religion can save us. Church membership cannot save us. Only the person Jesus can save us. So let’s not focus on making up more human rules and philosophies and imposing them on others.

Words must have meanings.

Without the words of Jesus and the Scriptures, I would have no reference point from which to understand the all-religion-is-myth (ARM) statement.  She uses Christian language such as “chief of sinners” and other phrases.

In an atheism-based universe, everything is amoral matter. Loving and hating would be morally equal values to a bunch of molecules.

The ARM statement absolutely endorses everyone doing what they feel is right. The definitions of good, kind, and lawful are all subject to human judgment or conscience and societal norms.

Imagine a society where everyone has always done whatever each independent person feels is right. History has recorded some of the atrocities performed when self-guided atheistic leaders were in authority. Even Christianity has a tarnished record because of what happens when the Church follows human will.

Imagine the history of the world if Judeo-Christian cultures never existed and pagan or atheistic cultures had prevailed and if societal norms had not been shaped by any of the followers of Jesus. Thank God for Christian stuff like rule of law, education, medicine, liberty and human rights.

Can I be a Christian without Christ?

The ARM statement wants all the fundamental behaviors of Christianity (love, peace, kindness, lawfulness, justice, selflessness, et cetera) without Christ. This is a backwards compliment to Christians, a nod that we are following the right way when we follow the principles of Scripture. It’s like saying, “We want to be like you, but we don’t want your bloody Jesus.”

The ARM statement unfortunately overlooks the facts, stuff like history and geography. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth are all real places that still exist for examination. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well-documented by eye-witnesses in an abundance of manuscripts in existence today. Anyone can say that Jesus was a mythological character, but they do so against the facts and evidence. They call him a myth as an act of faith and emotion, not as a result of unbiased investigation.

It’s a trap!

It’s a trap!

The author of the original ARM statement was shocked by the reaction of Christians. They didn’t like what she wrote. They let her know that they didn’t like it.

One of the Christians went too far and threatened to pray for her, so our atheist writer responded, I don’t understand why I’m being persecuted for my lack of faith this way. 1st Amendment!(Because, as we all know, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America u)FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. is the one that protects your right to express disapproval toward religion and prevents rebuttal from the target of your criticism. )

The writer intentionally posted on the hot topic of religion in order for religious readers to respond. She knew before she posted that people would disagree with her with strong emotions.

The writer intentionally used words that oppose the Christian God, “Brutal blood sacrifices” is a verbal assault against the Gospel and the Atonement.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. v)Romans 5:8

The writer placed the bait for Christians. She hoped they would be unkind so that she could justify her attack on their God. What religion tolerates this type of hateful defamation of their God? Well, Christianity does, because our God said, “Love your enemies.” So she was safe from house-burning or tar-and-feathering because she singled out the precious blood of Jesus.

My conclusion is that Christians should respond as Jesus said to respond.

Don’t take the bait and get caught in the trap. Any rebuttal, even an offer to love and pray for someone, will be interpreted as unkind, actually as un-Christlike.

You can’t win this argument with an argument. I don’t know anyone that was angrily squabbled into the Kingdom of God. The best witness is always kind, patient, peaceful, gentle, faithful, selfless, and loving.

I remember that God loves me. And if God can be gracious toward me, He also loves this angry atheist. We need to behave toward this person as she is a person loved by God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” w)Matthew 5:43-45

References   [ + ]

a. Colossians 3:12
b. Galatians 5:22-23
c. 1 Corinthians 11:28,31
d. Romans 2:1
e. Isaiah 1:11
f. Jeremiah 6:20
g. Amos 5:22
h. Psalm 51:16,17
i. John 8:31-32
j. 1 Peter 4:15,16
k. Romans 3:23
l. John 8:12
m. Acts 26:17-18
n. Philippians 2:14-16
o. 1st John 2:8-11
p. Matthew 15:8-9
q. 1 Timothy 6:20-21
r. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
s. John 10:8-10
t. John 14:6
u. FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
v. Romans 5:8
w. Matthew 5:43-45

How to Construct a Worldview

While reading Matthew 5:15 it occurred to me that in the same way that a lamp beneath is obscured that living under a basket would produce an obstructive filtering of external light. a)While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration. Only bits and pieces of the outside environment would pass through a woven basket. If you were inside the basket, you may glimpse a bit of blue sky through one hole and a bit of green leaves through another. However, beneath your basket, your view of the world outside would be incomplete.

I have been thinking about opposing worldviews.

Gather a number of individuals. Have them observe the exact same event. Ask each of them the meaning of what they observed. I predict that you will get as many different views as there are individuals in the group. Some will agree in part. There will be variations. I think that you will see that observers arrive at an event with preconceptions that will shape their observations. I think that some observers arrive hoping to achieve personal agendas.

Our preconceptions and agendas are the basket through which we filter the light. They are essential parts of our worldview.

I propose that it is better to weave your own custom-designed basket rather than passively acquiring a basket that may obscure reality.

An individual may drift into a worldview that is shaped by the culture, environment and influences around him. On the other hand, an individual may examine their culture and influences, decisions and behaviors, preconceptions and intentions and deliberately shape their own worldview in order to provide more coherent and reasonable explanations about life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.b)Romans 12:2 – ESV

God provides Scripture so that you will allow Him to shape your mind.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.c)Philippians 4:8

Rather than forming a worldview (or allowing a worldview to form) then filtering Scripture through that basket, we should investigate God’s revelation of Himself and use that information and influence to weave our worldview.

The Scriptures will provide coherence, unity, truth, purpose, and fulfillment.

References   [ + ]

a. While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration.
b. Romans 12:2 – ESV
c. Philippians 4:8

Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Was the Leviticus meme written by someone completely ignorant about the Bible? …or was this anti-Christian meme written by someone who deliberately wanted to change the real meaning of the Scripture?

Here is an example of the Leviticus meme:

Image result for leviticus meme handicapped

  1. Leviticus 21 contains no reference to God’s hatred of anyone.
  2. Leviticus 21 does not refer to the Church.
    Image result for leviticus meme handicapped
  3. Leviticus 21 does not forbid persons with handicaps from attending or ministering in Church.
  4. Leviticus 21 does not apply to everyone. It applies only to a few specific members of the family of Levi. The name of Levi is in our name for the book: Leviticus.
  5. Leviticus 21 applies only to priests with specific duties connected to the holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle or Temple.
  6. Leviticus 21 does not forbid Levitical priests from serving the Lord in every other way. It only limits the function of those who would serve the holy Temple.
  7. Leviticus 21 does not place any moral or spiritual judgment upon those Levitical priests with blemishes or handicaps.  This was a case of ritual or ceremonial imperfection. It does not indicate that physical blemishes or handicaps are sinful.
  8. This meme deliberately uses an archaic English translation of Leviticus 21 so that the language seems offensive to modern readers.
  9. God never intended that the requirements of Leviticus would be applied to the Church. Those who expect Christians to obey the requirements of the Law are not living in God’s grace.
    1. “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.,, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:15,16,21
    2. “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
  10. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Levitical priesthood to minister in the true heavenly Temple. He became the Great High Priest.
    1. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
    2. “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” Hebrews 7:11,12
  11. The perfection of Jesus Christ makes every believer a priest, eliminating the need for the Levitical priesthood altogether. This priesthood of believers places value upon everyone regardless of physical blemish or handicap.
    1. “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” Luke 14:12-14
    2. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
    3. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Stop listening to false narratives about God’s Word. Seek the Truth.

How to Cope With Cessationism

Yesterday I received a book as a Christmas gift. It was Volume Four of a four-volume systematic theology. One of the topics supported in the theology book is cessationism. The word cessation is the noun related to the verb “cease.” Therefore, I wold have thought that the word means that something has ceased. However, the author defines cessationism as “the view that some of the (spiritual) gifts exist today.” What a wonderful way to spin it!

The author’s deliberation goes this way:

  • Since an Apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, and since only persons living in the early first century could be eyewitnesses, therefore the New Testament gift of Apostleship stopped.
  • And, since the gift of Apostleship ceased, and since some gifts were unique as sign gifts of Apostleship (healing, raising the dead, laying on hands for others to receive the gift of tongues), therefore tongues ceased as an Apostolic sign gift.
  • And, since the gift of tongues was received exclusively through the laying on of hands by an Apostle, therefore any person speaking in tongues who has never met one of the Apostles is practicing a form of pagan religious gibberish.

While I do agree that some modern tongue-talking is not legit, I don’t agree that the Bible teaches the cessation of speaking in tongues …or loss of the Apostolic gift.

In Second Corinthians 12:12, Paul defended his apostleship by saying, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” He did not say that the signs of an apostle were signs and wonders. He only wanted his apostleship to be seen as analogous to the hyperlian Apostles with their signs and wonders. This is not a statement of an Apostolic requisite.

Hebrews 2:3,4 says, “(This message) was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This passage is cited as textual proof that outward signs were only needed for the establishment of the Church and then were intended to cease entirely. However, the passage doesn’t contain any indication of such a presumptive premise, the cessation of any spiritual gifts. Other passages of the New Testament indicate that the Church could expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue until the return of Christ.

Acts 14:4,14 say Barnabas was an apostle. “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles… But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd…”

2 Corinthians 8:23 says there are other apostles. “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.”

Philippians 2:25 says Epaphroditus is an apostle. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need…”

I can’t find any New Testament passage that binds apostleship to the gift of tongues. An apostle is someone sent supernaturally by the Holy Spirit through the Church. This is exactly what the modern church does by ordaining and sending missionaries. Paul’s apostolic travels are called his “missionary” journeys.

Unfortunately, there is an ugly modern view that apostles are loud-voiced people who have a special anointing giving them the right to dominate over others in the church. (Maybe they don’t get 1 Peter 5:1-6.) If these modern super-apostles are truly apostles, then I am a cessationist. This needs to stop.

Not all kinds of tongues are languages known to men. 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that there are various kinds of tongues. On the Day of Pentecost, tongues was languages naturally known to the hearers but unlearned by the speakers. 1 Corinthians 14 says that there someone may speak in tongues of men and of angels. I doubt if any human can naturally diagnose, interpret, or understand the language of angels. In both cases, it is clear that the person speaking in supernatural tongues would not naturally understand either one, tongues of men or of angels.

False tongues does not rule out genuine tongues. It has been pointed out that some pagan religions exercise speaking in tongues. The poor logic says, “…surely God is not giving a miraculous confirmation of paganism.” I say that counterfeits only exist because of the genuine nature of the original.

The promise was not only to Apostles. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter understood that the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was evidenced and accompanied by speaking in an unlearned language was premised upon the prophecy of Joel. Joel did not make the promise exclusively to the Apostles. He made it to sons, daughters, young, old, male and female servants.

The author states that Acts 2:7 is proof that only the Apostles spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. “And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'” Since the Apostles were the “men of Galilee”, and since other members of the 120 in the Upper Room were not from Jerusalem and Judea and not from Galilee, wouldn’t this prove that only the Apostles spoke in tongues? It would not, since the Galilean statement is a quotation of the Jews that were staying in Jerusalem for the feast. The biblical record attests that, true or false, the astonished Jews actually said it, not to the veracity of the statement. It could have easily been an overly generalized assumption about all the Christians since they were in the company of Galileans. In no way would an uninformed statement by anyone limit the scope of the promise of the Holy Spirit to specific recipients or exclude those that were not Galilean.

It has been assumed that the only way to speak in tongues is through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Acts 8:18, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money…” However, this passage is a statement of what Simon the Magician observed without any application upon the rest of the Church. There is no reason to extrapolate such a rule of limitation from this verse… unless you want need to perfect your eisegesis (the art of forcing a text to mean what you want it to mean).

Finally, the Bible says, “as for tongues, they will cease.” The theology book pulls these six words out of context and applies them to the end of the Apostolic age. Take a look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It is clearly a passage about eternity, about heaven. When we get to heaven, there will be no need to speak in tongues. They will cease.

How to Find Errors in the Bible

A lot of us don’t understand the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy means no mistakes. This would be possible only if the Bible is a supernatural library of books.

Inerrancy applies to the original text given to the original authors of Scripture. Inerrancy does not apply to the human authors, but only to the specific words of the text. When John, Paul, James, and Peter weren’t writing divinely inspired Scripture, they were ordinary imperfect men. That is what makes the Bible miraculous.

Inerrancy does not exempt a copyist from making a mistake when writing a new manuscript from an old manuscript. Remember, before the printing press, copies were made by hand. The more copies of these hand-written New Testament manuscripts that we find, the more likely we are to find these variations. There are an enormous amount of variations in copied texts because we have an enormous amount of existing manuscripts. In 2016, there were 5,856 Greek manuscripts of New Testament books with an average of 450 pages. (By comparison, the average classical Greek author has less than 15 copies of his work in existence today.) The scholars that compare these 5,856 manuscripts can determine that the New Testament is 99.99% accurate to the originals, and the remaining potential inaccuracies do not affect any important Christian doctrine.

Inerrancy does not extend to translations of the Bible into various languages… including the Authorized King James Version.

Inerrancy does not extend to preachers, evangelists, or modern-day super-apostles. When someone says, “Thus saith the Lord,” it means, listen up and measure each and every word that is spoken against the infallible inspired written Word of God… even if they make up fancy words like revelation-knowledge or other bunk to manipulate you.

Inerrancy does not extend to genuine prophetic utterances, messages in tongues, private or public glossolalia, interpretation of tongues, or other gifts of the Spirit. All these must be subjected to scrutiny by the Scriptures.

If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it contains no errors. If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it is an authoritative word over our lives. If the Bible originally contained mistakes, it isn’t likely that it came from God, and therefore would not have much authority.

The Bible is a supernatural book in that it is a God-breathed,  collection of genuine prophetic writings, carrying divine authority as the Word of God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

(Did you know that when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16,17, the New Testament was still in the process of being written by himself and the other authors. He wrote this about the Hebrew Scriptures that later came to be called the Old Testament by Christians?)

Peace at Any Cost?

 

God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.

Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

Luke 6:27-31.  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?

The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.

Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.

The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.

Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:

2nd John 9-11.   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:

Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:

1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.

Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…

Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.

How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

God’s Blessing for You

“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26
 (God’s servant is the Christ. 5,000 Jews believed on Jesus after Peter’s message when God had healed a crippled man. The rulers in Jerusalem, the ones who killed Jesus, did not like this, so they detained Peter in hopes of stopping him from teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter answered clearly.)
 
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11,12
 There are two categories of people:
1. Those who reject Jesus the Christ.
2. Those who belong to Jesus.
 
Which person receives God’s blessing?
What kind of person are you?
 
Be blessed by turning away from sin and turning to God.

Jesus is Jehovah

I recently took a look at Romans 14:11.

For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

I saw an argument that since Paul was quoting the Old Testament, and since Isaiah used the word LORD|YHWH, therefore only Jehovah should be worshipped and not Jesus. So I decided to look into that claim.

Paul is citing a passage from Isaiah 45. It is valuable to know that many passages in the New Testament affirm what Isaiah said. Here is a comparison of some New Testament statements alongside Isaiah 45:18-23:

New Testament

Isaiah 45:18-23

Jesus Christ created us:
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," Colossians 3:10

Jesus Christ created the worlds:
"...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Hebrews 1:2

All things are through Jesus:
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

The World was made through Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." John 1:1-3,10

Jesus was named GOD the Savior:
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the same passage, Jesus was also "God with us":
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'” Matthew 1:22,23

Mary affirmed Jesus as God and Savior:
"And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46,47

Jesus is exclusively the Savior
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches that He is God and Savior:
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10

Paul, who was commissioned by the resurrected person of Jesus Christ, describes Jesus as God and Savior:
"but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:3
"...showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared..." Titus 3:4

Peter affirmed Jesus is God and Savior:
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1
For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.

In conclusion…

Paul gives an authoritative statement about the LORD (YHWH or Jehovah) of Isaiah 45:23. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

That settles it for me. Jesus is Jehovah.


Don't get pedantic on pronunciation and mispronunciations of Yehoshuah/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus or YHWH/GOD/LORD/Jehovah. I have made it clear about whom I have written.

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

by A. W. Tozer
God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.