Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are You Ready to be a Bride of Jesus?

Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. When we accept Jesus’ proposal as our Lord and Savior we are agreeing to honor, love, and obey. So, in a manner of speaking, God will become our Father-in-Law. Along those same lines, those that never join the family will remain outlaws. It’s your choice - you will either be in or out - by law.
Now, once you try to join the family, you can’t get a divorce. Honor, love, and obey and you will have an eternal marriage - eternal life. If you don’t honor, love and obey, you must die - no divorce allowed.
          God, in His mercy, extends this offer of an intimate relationship to all that will honor, love, and obey. All who reject it will die. Do you think you are above the angels? Even angels that fail to honor, love, and obey God will die - think of Satan and his minions. God is merciful; but, He is also just and righteous. In His mercy, when you accept Jesus’ proposal, He will allow Jesus to present you as a virgin bride - spotless and without sin - ready for marriage. It is then up to you to stay that way until the marriage.
Jesus has not yet returned for His bride - the marriage is pending. Never forget that Jesus’ marriage analogy is based on the Jewish view of marriage at that time. Once you accept the proposal - become engaged in modern terms - you are obligated to remain pure. Fail in that obligation and the marriage is off - you will die as an outlaw.
          Jesus paid a very dear price to clean you up; but, this cleaning is not an ongoing process - you can’t keep nailing Him to the cross every day. He cleaned you up - now you have to stay that way. Neither Jesus nor God wants anyone of us to fail to be ready for the marriage. Jesus knew this wouldn’t be easy so He asked God to send us help - the Holy Spirit.
          Even with the help of the Holy Spirit Jesus knew we might still slip up a little. For that reason, Jesus also told us of a way for us to try to clean what few stains we may have. It is called forgiveness. He taught us that if we forgive those who trespass against us, then our trespasses will be forgiven against us too - we will still be clean and ready for marriage. If you don’t forgive others you can’t stay clean and you will die as an outlaw.
          Love, honor, and obey God; trust in the sacrifice of Jesus; and forgive others.
 So, are you ready to be a bride of Jesus?
In Brotherly Love,

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Biblical Principle of Two Witnesses

The Biblical Principle of Two Witnesses
(and how Paul fails the test)

           The principle of requiring two witnesses to establish a truth is a basic concept throughout the Bible. Two witnesses are so important to God that He even complied with the concept Himself in both the Old and New Testament. First, in the Old Testament, we find we are told:
Deuteronomy 17:6 - At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deuteronomy 19:15 - One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinned: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
          Second, in the Old Testament, we find that what we commonly refer to as the “ark of the covenant” was originally the “ark of the testimony” (look it up - even in the KJV - i.e. Exodus 25:22, 26:33, etc. - over a dozen times). It was the ark of the testimony because it held the “testimony” of God - the Ten Commandments as written by God Himself (Exodus 31:18). These two tables (we call them tablets today) were called the “two tables of testimony” (i.e. Exodus 32:15, 34:29). Note that in the Old Testament the word “‛êdûth” is translated as testimony as well as witness. Strong defines it so as well: testimony, witness.
          In the New Testament we find that Jesus showed He was very familiar with this principle:
                    John 8:17 - It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
          Jesus showed that He knew that even He required a “second” witness:
John 8:18 - I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.
          We see God doing this for Jesus in several passages - Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22). Note that even in the New Testament God continues to comply with the “two witnesses” concept He created.          
          Jesus even arranged for another witness for Himself - The Holy Spirit:
John 15:26 - But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:
          Again, as in the Old Testament, we see that the New Testament word “martureō” - translated here as “testify” - also means witness (and is usually translated as such). Strong’s definition: to be a witness. Thayer’s definition: to be a witness, to bear witness.
          Jesus continued to show this principle is still applicable for us when He commanded:
Matthew 18:16 - But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
          We even find that this principle will still be in effect in the “end times”:
Revelation 11:3 - And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
          Oddly enough, even Paul showed that he understood this principle was valid and still in effect:
2 Corinthians 13:1 - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
           Now we reach the crux of the matter - Paul’s conflicting stories regarding his alleged Apostleship. We have no record of any witnesses ever being named or ever coming forward.
          Further, of those who Paul claimed where present on the road to Damascus with him, there are conflicting stories. In one account, the others (who are never identified) hear but don’t see:
Acts 9:7 - And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
          In another account, the others (still never identified) see but don’t hear:
Acts 22:9 - And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spoke to me.
          Not only are we left without a second witness to vouch for Paul, we have conflicting stories about what any possible witnesses may have witnessed!
          Some have tried to claim Ananias is Paul’s witness (Acts 9:17). That is absurd for many reasons. First, it is saying Ananias having a vision of Paul experiencing something is the same as Ananias witnessing it himself. Second, it would beg the question of a second witness to vouch for Ananias. Furthermore, if one is determined to give credence to Ananias, note that Ananias (in Acts 9:17) calls Paul a brother and says the vision was so that Paul would become a Christian (receive the Holy Ghost). Nowhere is it implied that Paul was given any special message. He never refers to Paul as an apostle - a messenger. Even in yet another account (Acts 22:13/15), Ananias calls Paul a brother and says Paul is to be a witness. We are all to be witnesses! Ananias never called Paul an apostle or implied that Paul was to be such. Ananias cannot be considered a witness for Paul’s Apostleship.
          The incident is mentioned three separate times and never does anyone, even Paul himself, refer to anyone as a witness to Paul’s claims. Paul tried, at various times, to claim he spoke the truth by claiming God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and even his own conscience, were witnesses for proof (i.e. Romans 1:9 and 9:1)! When Jesus said God was a witness for Him God spoke where others could hear it. Paul fails in every way possible for establishing credentials as an apostle with a little “a”, much less to be considered an Apostle with a big “A”.

In Brotherly Love,


PS - More conflicting stories concerning Paul:
          In Acts 9:6 and Acts 22:10, Paul says he is told to go into the city and then he will be told what to do; yet, in Acts 26:16/18, Paul claims he was given his instruction then and there.
          Paul contradicts the Gospels on who and when Jesus appeared to when He was resurrected; and, adds that Jesus appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
          In Acts 26:19/20 and 9:20, Paul begins preaching immediately. In Galatians 1:16/18 he waited three years.
          In Galatians 1:12, Paul claims that he learned the Gospel by revelation from Jesus. The problem here is Jesus was very clear that after He ascended we would be taught not by Him but by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, and 16:7).
          Paul claimed he would not spare those that sinned - 2 Corinthians 13:2. He was upset because they doubted he was legit - 2 Corinthians 13:3. He tried to tell them they were the living proof he was legit. If they were good it was because of him getting them approved by Christ; and, if they weren’t good it was because they weren’t approved of by Christ.
          The list could go on quite a ways; but, that’s another issue.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Is God Close to You?

You may think you are close to God. But, is God close to you? There are innumerable studies that have been, and are being done, concerning the Bible and Jesus. Regretfully, much of what these studies focus on is irrelevant to having a meaningful relationship with God and being a follower of Jesus as the Christ and as your Lord. You can know all there is to know about biblical history, biblical archaeology, linguistics, etc and it won’t save you. You can know every word in every version of every Bible and it won’t save you. You could even talk to God and Jesus face to face and it would not save you. Some folks are probably shocked by this; and, they are wondering “who is this guy to say such things”? We know from the Bible that Satan knows all the above very well and has actually talked to both God and Jesus. Is Satan to be saved? No, he is not.

So, what is my point in saying all this? Quite simply, Satan fails because he will not worship his creator - God. He also fails to be saved because He will not follow Jesus. Will you worship your creator - God? Will you too fail to be saved because you will not follow Jesus? Does God tell us we must learn everything about Him so we can understand Him? He says we must worship Him - and only Him. He also tells us how to worship Him - through love and obedience to Him. We know how to love and obey Him because He tells us what he wants and expects from us. We also know what He wants and expects from us because He sent us a perfect example to follow - Jesus.

What we need to know is how to build a meaningful relationship based on the worship of God. When it comes to learning how to build something people vary in the manner in which they learn best. Some learn best by reading the general guidelines, some by reading step by step instructions, some by having a pattern or blueprint to follow, others by seeing someone else building the desired object. God has covered every one of these bases for teaching us.

We have the Old Testament for a general guideline. God also gave us the Ten Commandments as a basic set of beginner’s step by step instructions. Jesus put these instructions into practice. The way He led His life is a pattern or blueprint for us to follow; and, as with any good blueprint, Jesus came with additional detailed instructions and explanations. We can see someone else building this relationship by, hopefully, looking at those who truly are trying to be followers of Christ.

An example is from Exodus 20:8: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (See Note1). This is a basic step from the step by step instructions we call the Ten Commandments. This step tells us what to do but doesn’t provide a lot of details. What should we do to follow this instruction? We can get a little more information by doing more reading in the general guidelines. We learn that we should remember to get all our grocery shopping done before the Sabbath; and, that we should prep our meals for the Sabbath day beforehand. Why? Because the Sabbath is a holy day; and, we should “remember it” by getting ready for it. Before you go on a trip somewhere you should usually try to get some things done beforehand - i.e. pack what you need, get the transportation sorted out, etc. The Sabbath is a “trip” we take with God every week and should be planned for too. It is a day for us to rest and share with God. That means “remembering it” by planning for it. 

Our analogy of a trip shows the important aspect of having a pattern or blueprint. Not everybody takes a trip in the same way. Jesus showed us that the Pharisees had erred by trying to force everyone to do it their way. Jesus showed us, and told us, that the most important part of the trip was its purpose. It shouldn’t be like a dreaded business trip where you are in a lockstep itinerary laid out by a boss. It should be as a long awaited outing with a loved one; and, so important that you would regret not being able to do it. A trip so cherished you don’t want to waste time with the ordinary chores of daily life. The Sabbath, if remembered in this way, is indeed kept holy - without being a “burden”.

This is what God appears, to me, to want - obedience from love. Anyone who has been in a close loving relationship knows that a special getaway trip can be nice, but, what makes the trip so special is merely having the intimate time together away from the normal cares and worries of the world. For a road trip that means making sure the car is road worthy and ready to go. It doesn’t mean you can’t change a flat tire if you have one; and, it doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and help somebody else if they have a flat tire.

Most of us, especially as either a child or as a parent, have had an event in our lives that we really wanted to share with a loved one - a school play, a ballgame, a graduation, an anniversary. Most of us have also, to our regret, missed one of these events. Do you remember the heartbreak of that - when you, or that special someone, missed that special event. Now imagine how God feels every time you miss the special event He created and planned to share with you - the Sabbath.

In Brotherly Love,



Note1 - The Sabbath is still the seventh day - Saturday. Sunday, which many believe is the Lord’s Day is not, nor ever has been, the Sabbath. Sunday worship is great. It would be great if we did that every day; but, it does not change what God established. God’s feelings on this are clear:

Isaiah 29:13 - “The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

Are you taking the trip on the day God planned, or are you telling God he has to fit your schedule?






Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are You a True Follower of Jesus? Part III

          Paul claimed that Jesus came back to Earth just to talk to him (and that Jesus blinded him when he was known as Saul on the road to Damascus). Paul claimed this happened and that only he heard it. First, this violates every Biblical principle on requiring two witnesses – do a Bible search for “two witnesses”. Second, Jesus healed the blind – He did not blind the seeing. At one point Paul claims he is an Apostle just because he saw Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1). Many people saw Jesus – even the risen Jesus – so that is no claim to Apostleship. Is Paul asserting seeing Jesus in person when no one else did? Not the real Jesus – nor on Earth – not according to Jesus Himself. Paul should have listened to the warning Jesus gave us in Mark 13:5/6 and Luke 21:8. Jesus said flat out not to believe it. Jesus told us when He comes again that everyone will know it - Matthew 24:23/27 and Luke 21:27. Furthermore, consider that during the time Paul claims Jesus talked to him, Jesus communicated to His Apostles via the Holy Spirit – not in person (Acts 1:2).

Jesus warned that the false prophets would do many signs and wonders. Paul bragged about his signs and wonders – i.e. Romans 15:19. He went so far as to claim to be an Apostle, not just any apostle though, but, at times, to be equal or better than the highest Apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5) and again, specifying the signs and wonders he did, in 2 Corinthians 12:11/12. Paul was never an Apostle! There were only twelve Apostles. Judas was replaced because of his betrayal; but, never was another Apostle appointed – as they died they were not replaced! Being an Apostle was not a self-appointed position – Jesus personally chose them from among his many disciples:

Luke 6:1 - And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

Peter, a true Apostle chosen by Jesus, did say, in a letter, that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ; but, Paul constantly pushed to assert his apostleship. He constantly changed how he came to be an apostle – he was either called or appointed, either by the will of God or by the commandment of God, & etc.

Jesus, again, spoke specifically about false apostles in Revelation 2:2. In John’s vision, Jesus dictated letters for the churches of Asia. Jesus complimented the church of the Ephesians for rejecting those who were saying they were apostles but were not – they were liars. Paul is the only person in the Bible to have called himself an apostle that was not a member of the Twelve Apostles! Paul specifically wrote to the Ephesians saying he was an apostle – Ephesians 1:1. Paul, according to his own words, was specifically rejected by the Ephesians - and by all of Asia (2 Timothy 2:15). Peter, who also said he was an apostle to Asia (1 Peter 1:1), was never rejected as an Apostle.

Jesus said of Himself that only God was good – Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, and Luke 18:19. What did Jesus stress over and over again – love and obedience? Jesus often used parables; but, He told us to be as children. There is nothing complicated about understanding what He said if you leave out your own preconceptions. He said to love and obey God; and, love and forgive others. You may find it hard to do; but, it is not hard to understand. Jesus’ focus was to tell us to trust Him and follow His example. His Way is easy to understand for those that will listen. He told us that He and His way are the bread and water of life. That He and His Way are love, obedience, and forgiveness. These are not beliefs. They are actions. Belief is in the faith that those who follow Him will have eternal life as the children of God. Have faith in Him in that what He said is true. That if you love and obey God; and, you love others; and, you use judgment and mercy in forgiving others; you can have faith in God granting you eternal life.

Paul said of himself that he was blameless – Philippians 3:6. What did Paul stress – grace and liberty? Paul’s focus was to tell us to follow him and his way. Paul and his way never mention a requirement for love and obedience toward God (the number one thing Jesus said). Paul’s way doesn’t require you to do much of anything but have faith in the grace he talks about. But what is this faith that brings the grace and liberty he speaks of? Is it faith that Jesus is the Messiah? Well, even Satan and his demons know that is true. Is it faith that Jesus died and was resurrected? Again, Satan and his demons know that is true. There is nothing that we, as humans, can learn about God or Jesus that Satan and his demons don’t already know. So, what is there that we can have faith in that Satan and his demons can’t? Paul says that it is to have faith that through Jesus’ sacrifice we are now granted grace and liberty - and eternal life – even if we keep doing what Satan and his demons have been condemned for – disobeying God. Does that sound like something the Holy Spirit would even say? No! That is the opposite of what Jesus said. In fact, Paul says, if you buy into the modern day interpretations of the “predestined” crowd, that you were already assigned to hell or heaven before Jesus ever died on the cross – no matter what you do or believe. Does that sound like something the Holy Spirit would say? No!

Jesus did not change for anyone or anything – what you saw was what you got. What did Paul do? According to his own words he played chameleon – 1 Co 9:22: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Only Jesus can save you! Further, how can Paul save any, much less some, if they are already predestined one way or the other?

Jesus’ message was never contradictory or confusing. Paul’s was continually contradictory or confusing. Paul said circumcision was done away with and then made his own helper get circumcised. Paul said eating meat sacrificed to idols was okay; but, he said don’t do it if it offends somebody else. Paul says we are free from the law; but, he uses the law to justify keeping women silent (1 Corinthians 14:34); and, he praises women who do appear to speak out – i.e. Priscilla. Jesus was adamant in His condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Paul was a Pharisee and he remained proud and boastful about it – i.e. Philippians 3:4/6.

Are you a true follower of Jesus or have you been following Paul? Do you think Paul’s claims outweigh Jesus’ own words?

John 8:42 - Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

John 14:15 - If you love me, keep my commandments.

Luke 6:46 - And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

John 14:21 - He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:23 - Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

          The choice is yours. You can follow the crowd, follow Paul, or you can follow Jesus.

Matthew 22:14 - For many are called, but few chosen.

In Brotherly Love,


PS - Paul, though claiming an order from Jesus to go to the gentiles, continually went first to the Jews, and then complained of being rejected. Paul continually practiced the rites and customs of the Jews, but, was specifically charged with practices and teachings against the law (Acts 21:28). What did he do in defense? Did he get support from the Apostles? No, he asserted his Roman citizenship for protection. When that didn’t work for him did he get support from his fellow Christian Jews? No, he asserted a defense of being a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). When that still failed did he get support from any fellow Christians? No, he appealed to Caesar – as if the Romans or Caesar where experts on the laws of God!


Jesus is the ONLY Blueprint for the Children of God


The word blueprint, like many words, can have a variety of meanings. Here are a few: something intended as a guide for making something else, serving as a model or providing guidance, a detailed plan of action, a plan for achieving something, a pattern which decides how a person develops and looks. Jesus fulfilled all these functions for us in our need for a blueprint to become Children of God. He served as a guide for making us into something - Children of God - something we can’t become without following Him. He served as a model to do this; and, He provided guidance. He also provided a detailed plan of action (not just thought - action) to achieve the end goal - us becoming Children of God. How closely we follow Him will determine how we develop and look.

 If we follow Him we will become Children of God; but, if we follow any other blueprint we will become something else. Blueprints are technically specific for a reason. You don’t build a house using a blueprint to build a boat. However, we can use different blueprints to build a house, a boat, or a houseboat. This is actually where a lot of folks get led astray. It is as if God gave us a blueprint to build a house; but, they wanted a boat, so they think building a houseboat will take care of everything.

In the parable of the tower builder (Luke 14:28/32) Jesus makes it plain that a wise builder will have more than a goal, he will have a plan. He will assess the cost of labor and material. Jesus tells us that the first thing we have to do if we want to build an eternal relationship with God is that we have to look at the blueprint He provided and assess if we are willing to pay the cost. That blueprint is Jesus the Christ. He made it very clear there is a cost involved in being a disciple:

Luke 14:27 - And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 - So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

          After assessing the cost it’s time to pick a building site. In another parable about building Jesus warns us:

Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

(Matthew 7:24-27)

Notice that Jesus doesn’t focus on what you believe in - He focuses on what you do. God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, has given you a clean slate so that He can work with you to build an eternal relationship. Everyone with any life experience knows that it takes two to build a relationship. God has done His part - now it is your turn.

So what are the things Jesus had just talked about, in the above passage, which we must do? One, in essence, is to warn us to be merciful (Matthew 71/2). Another is to exercise caution and discretion regarding with who and how we try to deal with others who disobey God (Matthew 7:3/6). He also tells us:

Matthew 7:12 - Therefore, all things, whatever you desire that men should do to you, so also you should do to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Doing these things is the way we build our relationship with God. We as builders, must be proactive and productive. If we aren’t Jesus warns us:

Matthew 7:19 - Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

These statements should show you that there is a flaw in the popular blueprint of grace and faith without works. Following the blueprint of Jesus is the only that way to build an eternal relationship with God. Did Jesus live a life without works? No! Jesus’ whole life was about following the will of God. Through God’s grace we can have an eternal relationship with Him. All the sins we commit prior to accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior are forgiven. It is because of that unmerited grace that God can now get close to us and give us His Holy Spirit to help us in following the blueprint of Jesus - which is a blueprint of obedience and good works. We can’t have an eternal relationship with God without the help of the Holy Spirit; and, we can’t get the Holy Spirit’s help without God’s grace - which we can’t get without accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

There are a lot of folks that toss out the law and claim that most of what Jesus said was directed at the Jews only. First, consider the following words of Jesus:

John 10:1 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

          Jesus goes on to explain what he meant in John 10:7/18. Note that Jesus specifically says:

John 10:16 - And I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.

 We, the gentiles, are brought into the flock by hearing Jesus’ voice- if we listen to what He says. There is only one blueprint! Jesus is very clearly saying that He isn’t just for Jews - He is for all people that will listen to Him. If anyone, Jew or gentile, tries to get in any other way than by what Jesus says then Jesus says they are as a thief and a robber.

What other way are people trying to get in with today? Well, many follow someone else’s blueprint. Paul tries very hard to get folks to follow him; but, Paul doesn’t follow Jesus’ blueprint. Paul does away with a lot of Jesus’ blueprint - i.e. the Law, actions, etc. Paul does away with the foundation laid in stone and deals with the sandy foundation he is left with by trying to build a houseboat.

Many people are going to be hurtfully surprised when they learn that they were oh so close, yet oh so far away. Jesus was not speaking about unbelievers when He said:

Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but those who do the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; "depart from Me, those working lawlessness!" (See Note1)

(Matthew 7:21-23)

          Will you follow the blueprint of Jesus to build an eternal relationship with God?


In Brotherly Love,




Note1 - For the benefit of the reader this is another example of Jesus referencing the Old Testament - specifically Psalms 6:8 - Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are You a True Follower of Christ? Part II

What does Jesus say is necessary for eternal life?

Matthew 19:17 - And he said unto him, Why do you call me good? None but one are good, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He very plainly says keep the commandments. Jesus never once said to have faith in Him. He said, in Mark 11:22, “have faith in God’’. In Matt 5:20 he says your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. What did he mean by that? He answers that in Matt 23:23. The Pharisees were light in their regard for the law. Jesus points out that the Pharisees were more concerned with tithing than with the weightier matters of the law – judgment, mercy and faith. What did Jesus say about grace? He never even mentions it. Nowhere in the words of Jesus will you find Paul’s attitude that the Law is done away with by grace. Nowhere in Jesus’ words will you find faith or grace replacing obedience. Jesus stressed judgment, mercy, and then faith. Only Paul stresses grace.

So let us look closer. First, we should seek to define grace. We often consider grace to be a favor or kindness but it is more. The following are condensed definitions of Grace: by Merriam-Webster – unmerited divine assistance; by Strong - the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. We see then that grace is not God forgiving us or turning a blind eye to what we do. It is God giving us unmerited assistance to obey His commands by the divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. Hence, we are saved, not by grace, but with grace – we couldn’t obey without God’s help – but we must still obey. Why do you think Jesus, in Matthew 22:14, said, “For many are called, but few are chosen”? Could it be because many will be offered this grace and abuse it? You say, “But wait, Jesus died for our sins didn’t He?” Yes! Hence, “Saving Faith” then is faith in the fact that God will accept Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for your sins. Sins committed prior to accepting God as your God; and, accepting God’s appointment of Jesus as your Lord. Having this faith, God will grant you His Grace by baptizing you with His Holy Spirit to enable you to walk in obedience thereafter. If you have that faith, you, as in Old Testament times, will have found “grace in God’s eyes” – and will be given the Holy Spirit. When you are “born of the Spirit” you are given the ability to walk in obedience – if you chose to.

For the believer, the law is not written just in stone anymore, it is written on their heart. So what is the law we are to follow? We know Jesus, twice, made it very plain that the two primary commands were to love God and to love thy neighbor. We also know that there is more to it. Jesus said these were the greatest of the commandments – not the only ones. The follower of these is “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).

It’s time to stress an important point here – it is not about being “legalistic” or “bound to the law”. It is about the grace God has given you to be as Jesus was – loving and obedient. Jesus said you must also love your enemy (Matthew 5:44). It is about where your heart is. Do you focus on the differences or faults of others; or, do you strive to bring the best out in them? Do you strive for earthly gain and security; or, do you have faith in God to provide for you and lovingly share what you have? Do you give freely of the life God has given you? Are you “good ground”?

Luke 8:15 - But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Jesus paid to make you clean, to make you whole. It is up to you, with God’s grace, to stay clean and whole. Jesus also said:

John 5:14 - Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Why the warning of a worse thing? Again, when Jesus speaks you must remember not grace, but judgment, mercy, and faith. So, you may be saying, “But, none of us are perfect, we all still sin, and the wages of sin are death, so that would mean we aren’t saved.” Not true, Jesus addresses that issue too. His sacrifice made you clean so you could be His. God has given Him everyone that accepts Him as Lord. He makes it very plain though, how we will be judged regarding our sins that are not covered by His sacrifice – sins committed as one of His. In Matthew 6:12-15, in Mark 11:25-26, in Luke 6:35-38 and 17:3-4, Jesus expresses very clearly how we will be dealt with. In a nutshell – you will be forgiven to the same degree and extent to which you have forgiven others. If you don’t forgive others you won’t be forgiven. Judgment is for all – mercy is for those that show mercy. Judgment is for all – forgiveness is for those that forgive. Jesus is very clear about his opinion of hypocrites; so, you can’t expect to be forgiven you if you don’t forgive others. Consider why Jesus spoke the parable in Matthew 18:22 – 35.

What was the very first thing Jesus told people to do? We find the answer in Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:15 – repent. The definition is in order: in Merriam-Webster – turn from sin; in Strong – to think differently. Again, in Luke 13:3 and 5 Jesus warns us we must repent. He does not say you are saved from sin – He says turn away from sin – obey! One of the last things Jesus said concerned obedience, in Revelation 22:12: And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

             John 15:10 - IF you keep my commandments, you shall abide in   
             my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and
             abide in his love.

In Brotherly Love,



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Are You a True Follower of Christ?

What I am about to write will dismay or anger many. I ask only that you read and research it all before drawing conclusions. Those who follow or read what I have previously written here are sure to notice that I feel it is important to know what the Bible actually says. What some may not know, or realize, is that knowing the Scriptures is not enough. Knowledge does not save you. Satan has more knowledge about the Scriptures, about God, about Christ, and etc. than any human who ever lived except Jesus; but, Satan is often referred to as the father of lies (John 8:44) and tried repeatedly to twist Scripture even with Jesus Himself (Chapter 4 of both Matthew and Luke). So, while knowledge will not save you it can help you from being led astray. Satan is not the only prominent figure in the modern Bible to misquote Scripture.

I frequently cite Scripture to show the basis for my beliefs. If anyone bothers to check it out (and I hope they do) they will also note that I rarely paraphrase, but rather cite or directly quote the Scriptures I am referencing. There are several reasons for this. One is to aid readers in following the line of thought being presented. Another is to allow the reader to see for themselves, and verify for themselves, upon what my thoughts are based.

Satan is not stupid. As cited earlier he will twist and use the Scriptures against us just as he tried with Jesus. He has, and will, infiltrate the body of believers with false teachers and prophets – Jesus warned us of this in Matthew 7:15, 24:11, and 24:24, in Mark 13:32, and in Luke 6:26; as did Peter in 2 Peter 2:11 and John in 1 John 4:1.

For those that feel that God would not allow our modern day Bible to have been infiltrated or compromised by Satan, consider that God allowed the Garden of Eden and the original twelve disciples to be infiltrated by Satan.

So knowing all this, where does it leave us? We are right where we need to be – turning to God as the only source worthy of unquestioned trust. Yes, read and study; but, always in prayer; and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit – as Jesus said in John 15:26 and 16:13. I hope by now the reader is noticing how I reference not just the Bible; but, more specifically, what Jesus said.

We are all human and we can and do err – even if only unintentionally. So here are a few thoughts that may throw some off a bit. Anyone who has studied the Bible is aware of the confrontations Paul had with the Apostles. Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever compared the accuracy of Paul’s use of Scripture (remember Scripture then meant only the Old Testament) to what the Scripture actually said? See Note1

Many today that claim thorough knowledge and understanding of God’s word are very well versed in what Paul had to say. Many will pick Paul’s words over the words of God in the Old Testament and even over Jesus in the New Testament – as well as over the Apostles chosen by Jesus. Read for yourself and compare Paul’s words to what God and Jesus both have to say.

Consider what Jesus said was required to fulfill the law: two things - the first and foremost being to love God, the second to love your neighbor. Paul, twice, leaves the love of God completely out of the equation (Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:8).

Paul claimed that all things were lawful for him (1 Corinthians 6:12), even to eat food sacrificed to idols. Read what Jesus says in Revelation 2:14 about that.

Consider something really simple. How many Apostles were there? Twelve. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas – as per the requirements given in Acts 1:21 and 22 (Paul does not qualify). How many Apostles are recognized in Heaven? Twelve (Revelation 21:14). Is it any wonder then that the Apostles may have welcomed Paul as a brother but not as an apostle? To aggravate the situation further, consider that Paul proclaimed himself as “the apostle to gentiles”; but, in Acts 15:7 we see that that role was already filled by Peter that all knew was chosen by Jesus Himself.

Consider Paul’s constant boasting of being better than the disciples Jesus had chosen – i.e. 1 Corinthians 4:15. This even though Paul could have been chosen by Jesus but wasn’t – he was one of the Pharisees that Jesus spoke against. Paul was so brazen as to tell people to be a follower of him – 1 Corinthians 4:16. Paul claimed his gospel took precedence over everyone’s – even the gospel preached by the disciples Jesus had chosen (Galatians 1:8). He belittled the other apostles in his letters to other people, particularly James, John, and Peter (Galatians 2:9).

Paul claimed he was chosen to have God’s son revealed through him (Galatians 1:15 and 16), not the apostles Jesus Himself had chosen. John considered himself to be a slave to Jesus (Revelation1:1), while Paul frequently reminded people of his being a prisoner for Christ, he also compared himself to an angel of God, even Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:14). He claimed he was better than any other man – even sinless (Philippians 3:6).

Yet, Paul repeatedly felt the need to proclaim he was not a liar – i.e. Romans 9:1, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 1:20, 1 Timothy 2:7. No other writers in the New Testament did this. Rather, James and John repeatedly warned of lies and even did so before and after saying some had gone out from them but were not of them (1 John 2:19).

Biblical scholars have long wrestled with Paul’s interpretation of the “gospel” and the many “contradictions” introduced into the Bible via his writings. Some go so far as to claim his gospel is the only one relevant for us.

Consider how people would act if they were never to have seen or read the New Testament and heard only the words of Christ. To be saved, the followers of Jesus’ words, would know they must repent of their past sins (Luke 13:3 and 5); that they must love God above all else and with all they have and are (Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30), that loving God means to keep His commandments (John 14:15 and 21), and that they must love their neighbors (Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31) and their enemies (Matthew 5:44). The followers of Jesus’ words would know that they should care for the sick, hungry, thirsty, ill clothed, imprisoned, and the stranger (Matthew 25:35-46).

Now compare that to how people would act who heard only the words of Paul. They might well think they are predestined to heaven or hell already, no matter what they do. They might well not think of repenting, since they are predestined to heaven, and under grace, and Paul does not say to repent. They might well not be concerned about loving God, since they are already chosen, and Paul does not stress to love God, but instead stresses that God loves them anyway. They might well ignore God’s commandments since Paul implies that by grace they are free from the commandments and that they fulfill the commandments anyway by just loving one another – other fellow elect – here he leaves God and the non-elect out (Romans 13:8). Paul does say to love your neighbors - again saying it fulfills the law and again leaving God out (Galatians 5:14); but, he never says to love your enemies. They might not worry about caring for the sick - unless it is one of their fellow elect – since Paul only mentions the sick when it is himself, one of his friends, or someone he is healing. They might not worry about feeding the hungry – Paul doesn’t mention them either, except when complaining about himself and his friends (1 Corinthians 4:11); well, in a way he does, in 2 Thessalonians 3 he “commands” that if a person won’t work let him go hungry and if he doesn’t listen to what Paul taught then shun him. As for those needing clothes, again he mentions it only about himself and his friends. As for the stranger, he addresses them to say care for them because they might be angels (Hebrews 13:2). As to those in prison he addresses, most believe, only those bound for Christ sake – again like himself or his friends.

          Paul even goes against God in the Old Testament. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8 that it is good to stay single like he does (then implies the need for sex is a good reason to get married though). The very first thing God ever says is not good, in Genesis 2:18, is that it is not good that man should be alone. Paul (citing nature as an authority – the only person in the Bible to do so) says that for a man to have long hair is a dishonor (1 Corinthians 11:14). In the Old Testament a Nazerite was one separated for the LORD and he was to let his hair grow out and never get it cut while under his vows (Number 6:5, Judges 13:5, and 1 Samuel 1:11).

All this can be rather perplexing for people today. To me the answer is simple – I will follow Jesus. John’s final thoughts on the matter, to me, are among the most telling words in the Bible not spoken by God or Jesus:

1 John 2:27 - But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has been taught you, you shall abide in him.
In Brotherly Love,


Note 1

The first two examples I give are to illustrate the validity of my statements:

Paul in Ephesians 4:8 states, "Wherefore he says, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men"

What Scripture actually said in Psalm 68:18, "You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men."

                    Note that received gifts is twisted to become gave gifts.

          Paul says in Romans 3:4, " it is written, that you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged"

What Scripture actually said in Psalm 51:4, "...that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge").

                    Note that when you judge is twisted to when you are judged.

There are many, many more. Here are just a few more examples to compare regarding Paul’s misuse of Scripture:

Rom. 15:12/Isa. 11:10

1 Cor. 2:9/Isa. 64:4

Rom. 15:21/Isa. 52:15

Heb. 10:7/Psalm 40:7-8

Heb. 10:36-37/Hab. 2:3

Rom. 11:26-27/Isaiah 59:20-21

Rom. 9:33/Isa. 28:16 and Isa. 8:14