The Subtle World of Christian Legalism

The Charismatic Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, while bringing in true praise and worship, became hopelessly bogged down in a shadowy world of legalism that paraded as obedience to God. It was actually a bondage to men and their Biblical opinions.

The Holy Spirit is the leader of the Church

The purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the freeing of believers to know Jesus better and live a life more in keeping with His Kingdom. But all movements trying to move themselves forward may fall into error. The first of these was the Shepherding Movement which promoted human leadership way beyond reason. After all,  denominations have monkeyed with organizational change and structure only to end up where they are now – losing membership and closing churches, occasionally by bankruptcy.

Over emphasis on the top guy in charge

The book of Revelation warns against the sin of the Nicolaitans, that of elevating leadership above the individual believer. The New Testament Church circa years 100-300 C.E. had everyone at fundamentally one level, with only those with an anointing, training or official duties standing out. They are not intended to be super stars, or, as it has turned out, media stars. That ilk has not entirely gone away, but the effectiveness of their churches may be waning too.

Another problem was the general misapplication of God’s hopes and promises to the level of Law. Three of these are especially onerous. The Bible states clearly that God hates divorce, but it became so much of a law that even a divorce that God Himself would sanction could not be legalized because the partners feared the wrath of the church community. What God has joined together is scriptural. This means that men may enter into a legal divorce and God not recognize it because He did not sanction it.

But the reverse is also true. God has not required a continuation of some marriages that people hold together at any cost and against His will. One partner might go to his or her pastor and be told to submit to the husband, or to the husband, go back and love your wife, when God had no intention of keeping this marriage together.  Children who were being abused stayed when they clearly needed to go to the police; women sometimes submitted to smarmy sexual activities as an act of submission, such as group sex, all heinous in God’s sight. Allowing the continuation of evil is never in God’s best interests. If someone will not submit to God, He will free one or more of the family members.

Euthanasia- you can expect this to be an issue

An acquaintance of mine had the unfortunate experience of tending to prolonged life of some family members, causing family friction, exhaustion of body and resources, and making the final years of life a strain rather than allowing an old person to die in peace. Church “legalism” – to keep some one alive at all costs, may not be the smartest move, esp. if it is all done with machinery. This is the devil’s way to deplete the last peace from the family. The Old Testament patriarchs folded up their robes, took to their beds, and after some careful words of encouragement died without rancor.

Pro-life does not mean pro-turmoil. Neither does it mean a case for euthanasia which seems to be more a refusal to see the end of life from God’s viewpoint.

Obeying rules allows us to feel virtuous without being so

Virtually every false religion is strapped with rules. This is a sure sign something is wrong. A former congregation (Messianic) of mine asked me back, but in the meantime all the women were wearing head scarves. I said no, I did not want to think I was in church with Muslims. I don’t think until that point they ever considered how legalistic that looked. Muslims make the women cover themselves as a sign not of true submission but of control, and Sharia Law is the most controlling of them all. I worked and lived in China where communism controls life, and they are freer there than followers of Islam.

The tithe does not count if you are angry about it

Another area of Christian legalism is the tithe. Yes, God would like 10% but many poor cannot do that. The scripture says to provide for God from “your increase.” There are some poor folks who do not have a living wage and no increase either. Of course they can give time and energy to someone in need, and compassion counts too. One person I asked to pray for me said that she thought my prayers were not being answered because I was not paying a full 10%.  I happen to know her income is nearly twice mine; she buys meat, I cannot. She takes hot showers while in the summer I cannot afford to heat my water. She placed upon me a legal requirement without knowing my circumstances.

Critics about money may be envious

Another time I learned from a close friend that she had won $2200 at a casino. She and her husband do provide a full 10% to God and they are not gamblers, even occasional ones, but for their 25th wedding anniversary they went to the local casino. The winnings were sufficient to open a little art shop-studio downtown in a nice location, a life long dream. My legalistic friend was horrified – “Oh God would never use gambling money to provide a blessing?”

And why not? Does it not say the wealth of the wicked will flow to the righteous? Proverbs 13:22 Jacob made a wad out of cheatin’ Laban.

It is far too easy for believers to duck under the law rather than actually take a prayer request seriously. We should in all cases know the mind of Christ, not just for ourselves but also when asked to counsel others.

Who are the Watchmen on the Walls?

The watchman for the city stands at attention on the city’s walls and looks into the distance to warn of impending attack from the enemy. He/she also can see the sins of the city.  The walls are salvation and the gates symbolize praise.  When Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem, his first duty was to repair the broken down walls.  The salvation message is the first thing to be restored.  Then the gates are praise; they are repaired next.

Wherever you are, take up your post and come against the devil and his friends.  Bind them, cast them out, expose their lies, in Jesus’ name.  God wants this country back as the harvest is great.   There are great, earth-shaking events on the horizon.  I can see them from my post. Blessings to you all.

Cheap Grace, Sloppy Agape, Greasy Grace

Is it my imagination or does it appear that millions of Christians think this life of a believer is some easy road? If I hear “once saved always saved” one more time I will _____.

Furthermore the way Grace is tossed around you’d think God didn’t judge sin or think it was much of a big deal. Not so.

Men’s hearts are dark and their deeds reveal what is in their hearts. All will be exposed, judged and cleansed.  One way or the other.

God will expose all evil everywhere

Agape (pronounced ah-gah-pay) is the Greek word for sacrificial love. Greek, being the most exacting of languages, has several words for love. Phileo means love between people. We recognize Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love. There is eros for sexual love, and storge which is family love, and there are many parts of the world where only family love exists. Sloppy agape has come to mean for the Christian church that since Jesus paid it all, we can sit back on His laurels and be-bop our way to the final whoppy-goodbye. Others call it greasy or cheap grace.

Grace is God’s word for blessings no human has now or ever will deserve. Grace then is undeserved benefits. But you’d jolly well think many are only too happy to let Jesus pay it all and then live no-account lives on the interest payments.

Sitting in church  produces no Christians

I can barely count the numbers of “believers” – using the term loosely – who think they become Christians by sitting in church. I challenge you. Sit in the garage for three months and see if you can turn into a Ford F150.

Jesus (and the Bible) reassures the new believers that they are not going to slip back into hell. But people – if you’ve been around for some years, you should not need constant reassurance about your salvation. You are not a baby anymore – or should not be. Babies are lovable and cute but they produce little more than smiles, and feces. Parents are only too happy to take them off the bottle and enroll them  into kindergarten.

The test of salvation is continuing maturity

The test of salvation is growing up. Is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing a bus load of adults who have some severe retardation? Or disability? No, because we know that the best that life has for them is not available. God will save and bless them but it is not the perfect thing for man.

Same for the believers. Time to show up, grow up and man up.

Divorce has a Spiritual Cause

Occasionally there is some public breast-beating by ministers ruing the statistics that non-believers and believers divorce at about the same rate. There is a deceptively easy reason for this. But in any event marriage is such a complex relationship that in talking about it we always leave out something important. Here, alone, e are talking about divorcea and how it is a final breakdown.

Marriage as flesh

First, the scriptures say the “two shall become one flesh.” While this union is not a simple co-habitation in the eyes of God, it may actually not be much more than this. It is, after all, just the flesh.

In the beginning the flesh is usually enough to keep the pair together. They marry with pretty much the same goals – a family, a house in the burbs, a decent job, and a few kids. Sometimes their common goals are a life as missionaries or even as members of the armed forces. Those common goals keep them together for a long time.

If the goal is sex alone, by either couple, the union is doomed from the start because the Bible says, the flesh profits nothing.  It has no permanence, so the value of marriage must be in the other extended relationship it brings to the couple, and their world and the world to come.  Marriage does have eternal value.

Man, in contrast to animals, in three parts

Man is made up of three parts – body, soul and spirit. The bodies come together but clearly not the spirits, and consequently not the souls. In most families mother and father are opposites – she is creative, he is a math whiz; or he is the farmer and she can’t grow chives in the window sill; or she is an engineer and he is a psychologist. This helps the kids have a better view of the world than two alike-people.

But no one can have, nor should they have, a union of souls. God saves souls and each one is distinct in His eyes.

Then there is the Spirit. This is where the rubber meets the road. After the children are schooled, married and gone, this marriage faces a new stress – what is the common goal – retirement, travel, self-indulgence, golf, amusements, games? Do they have a common life of set goals. One prominent marriage counselor says every pair should have a regular discussion about the family “mission-statement.”

At this point, the union breaks down.

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Agreement is gone!

While Amos spoke these words to indicate how the Christian should pattern his life with God, the rule applies everywhere. The marriage cannot last if the direction of their lives is not parallel. Parallel goals means agreement. Non-parallel goals means that even a small degree of difference will, over time, send them off in different, and conflicting directions.

It may be be evident as the paths begin to part, but that is the time for re-examination. Look to God for the answer. Men most often will blame the wife, marry #2 and live to regret it because they fail to look at their own faults.

The second marriage for men is almost always a disaster.

The wife may hit the bottle or have an affair. Again – an answer in the flesh does not work. The new rule in America of hole digging is – when you are at the bottom, stop digging.

Saving the marriage means being totally honest

Go back to where your paths diverged and be cruelly honest with yourself first and then each other. Divorce is not necessary, and it is a horror for even the most agreeable couple. It does not need to happen.

How the CEO was deceived by top management

We don’t often think of the Bible as a book for modern business management but here is a situation that could be Wall Street last week and worthy pf close reading and analysis.

BIBLE STUDY AGENDA
1. Read aloud preface
2. Students read the passage (see end of this lesson for the scripture) pp3-4
3. Discussion – see Question/Answers section
4. Read aloud the author’s commentary and ask for input.
5. Ask students if they plan to act on anything they have learned today, giving details if they feel free to do so.

PREFACE
Dictators have an abysmal record of failure – Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Edi Amin, Mao ZeDong – Putin and Al-assad please note. The problem is not that they are incompetent but that their totalitarian position prevents valid input from knowledgeable associates in their regimes. A leader who can murder you and your family at a whim’s notice creates a body of yes-men- sycophants willing to compromise truth for survival. Darius the King of Persia was such a man, but he was good hearted and divided the rule of his kingdom among a group of trusted people. Then apparently he neglected to keep these people under review? Was he too trusting? Or simply happy to be spared the nitty gritty of daily decisions?

How can a group of employees conspire against that? They have no handle except pride.

Daniel was made the top manager because clearly had access to “the Holy God.” In other words, he was a whole lot smarter than all the rest of them. Envy may well be the chief motivation in politics so to dethrone Daniel they played on Darius’ ego.

First they urged him to sign a truly stupid law. This was his decree:

For the next thirty days no one is to pray to any god or mortal except you, O king. Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions’ den.

Even on the surface this is a silliness; a 30 day period of worship had no relevance to this vast kingdom. As politicians say today, This is not a pocketbook issue.

King Darius fell for it. It appealed to his ego and he ignored any possible fall out. He knew better than to accept worship in any event.

QUESTIONS/ANSWERS
1. Did you have a situation where you have been manipulated by employees into a wrong decision?
2. Is there anyone you should have moved out and failed to do so?
3. Do you think you are too trusting?
4. Do you have a group of people that you are accountable to? Preferably people not in your company or team?

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY
1. Focus on the task at hand. Your decrees (today we call them decisions) need to advance the agenda of the company, its products and its employees and have little or nothing to do with personalities. Years ago I heard that the ball team Magic Johnson played with was instructed by the owner to refer to him as the King. How idiotic can you be. Basketball is played by teams and without that team sense a star is a dud. Asking team members to do that was the equivalent of sowing seeds of discord. (Proverbs 6:19)
2. Multiple, divided leadership is the model for success. The New Testament church was run by 5 leaders who were expected to agree (unanimity) on all issues. You say that is impossible? Not when the Holy Spirit is making the final decisions. Ministers fail, some very publicly, and churches go bankrupt because the Biblical model is not honored – perhaps not even known. God’s work must be done God’s way. When the goal is something other than advancing the Kingdom that group, church or minister will surely fade away. I can’t tell you how many ministries I’ve seen go down. Pride leaders some to believe they are above the law; one minister friend of mine had no trouble lying because he thought the ministry would flourish if he did so. His $100 thousand dollar investment in China went down the tube. God does not give permission to any leader to disobey the moral law and retain his position.
3. When the leader discovers his error he does not hide it but acts to repair the damage. Darius repented, fasted and prayed all night. Then in the morning after he saw Daniel safe and sound he went after the men who entrapped both him and Daniel. Cover-up never works; if man doesn’t catch you, God will.
4. Note that the King did not give these conspirators a pass. Too often leaders will tolerate employees in their company who have some other great talent. But people are creatures of habit; if an employee will connive once, he’ll do it again. Firing is painful but it must be done. These days it may mean a lawsuit but tolerating a problem does not solve it.
5. In modern times few individuals are total dictators and must make allowances for personalities and politics. In my past I worked for a woman who was extremely insecure in her job; she had been placed at the top of a large company at 35. It was an easy task for evil tongues to encourage her to fire or push out at least 4 top people, a genius bookkeeper, a volunteer coordinator, a very popular person and me as well. The company did suffer all the while not realizing she had become a victim simply because she knew the liar better and unwisely trusted her.
6. Finally, God is able to judge the conspirators,

Below is the entire passage from the Bible (The Message)

Daniel in the Lions’ Den See what you learn in your reading.

6 1-3 Darius reorganized his kingdom. He appointed one hundred twenty governors to administer all the parts of his realm. Over them were three vice-regents, one of whom was Daniel. The governors reported to the vice-regents, who made sure that everything was in order for the king. But Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors that the king decided to put him in charge of the whole kingdom.

4-5 The vice-regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel’s life that they could use against him, but they couldn’t dig up anything. He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. So they finally gave up and said, “We’re never going to find anything against this Daniel unless we can cook up something religious.”

6-7 The vice-regents and governors conspired together and then went to the king and said, “King Darius, live forever! We’ve convened your vice-regents, governors, and all your leading officials, and have agreed that the king should issue the following decree:

For the next thirty days no one is to pray to any god or mortal except you, O king. Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions’ den.
8 “Issue this decree, O king, and make it unconditional, as if written in stone like all the laws of the Medes and the Persians.”

9 King Darius signed the decree.
10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.

11-12 The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help. They went straight to the king and reminded him of the royal decree that he had signed. “Did you not,” they said, “sign a decree forbidding anyone to pray to any god or man except you for the next thirty days? And anyone caught doing it would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
“Absolutely,” said the king. “Written in stone, like all the laws of the Medes and Persians.”

13 Then they said, “Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, ignores you, O king, and defies your decree. Three times a day he prays.”
14 At this, the king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix he’d put him in. He worked at it the whole day long.
15 But then the conspirators were back: “Remember, O king, it’s the law of the Medes and Persians that the king’s decree can never be changed.”

16 The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.”
17 A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate.
18 The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting.

19-20 At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?”
21-22 “O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.”

23 When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.
24 Then the king commanded that the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces.

25-27 King Darius published this proclamation to every race, color, and creed on earth:
Peace to you! Abundant peace!
I decree that Daniel’s God shall be worshiped and feared in all parts of my kingdom.
He is the living God, world without end. His kingdom never falls.
His rule continues eternally.
He is a savior and rescuer.
He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 From then on, Daniel was treated well during the reign of Darius, and also in the following reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Albert Einstein

“I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”

Try Interpreting this Dream

Years ago I worked on an extensive Christian ministry project with two men. Let’s call them Joe and Bill. Bill had lied about me, not once but twice, and he lied about me to Joe as well. No one wants to work with people who behave this way so I eliminated all contact with them. This dream occurred several years later. Here is the dream. See if you get the same interpretation.

I found Joe down an embankment, flat on his back on a roadbed unable to move. (He is about 6’2” and 210 pounds.) So I ran off to find Bill so we could help our old friend. I found Bill in a grubby motel with a young prostitute with really dirty blond hair. He was smirking when I busted in the room.


I was so shocked I woke up.

End of dream.

Then I called a friend who did dream interpretations and here is what she said. See if it matches your interpretation.

She said, “Joe is on the road to everlasting life but he has fallen and can’t get up.” His walk with God is stalled.

She said Bill has taken up with “false religion” which is identified in scripture as the Whore of Babylon, a prostitute, meaning someone using religion for personal gain.

This interpretation I believe is right. (She never did know what the dirty hair was about.) And given my position I am in no way able to help them out. That was some years gone by now, and I feel confident about my part in this.

Will they be released from their situation? I hope so but not by me. They need to get their priorities straight with God first. This is a picture of what happens when you do not judge what you hear; Joe had fallen – he believed a lie so he suffered although not as much as Bill. You are responsible both for what you believe and for what you say.

Gay Marriage, Judeo-Christian Marriage and Contract vs. Covenant Marriage

There are two types of marriage from a legal standpoint, by covenant and by contract.

Human marriages are by contract

All marriages these days are by contract. You sign a legal license to marry and are formally married either by a preacher/rabbi, or in a civil ceremony by a “member of the court,” such as a justice of the peace or a ship captain. A license and a contract are required because the government wants to know who is responsible for any children and property belonging to this union. That is the extent of the contract in marriage.

Covenant marriage places the responsibility on God

But Judeo-Christian tradition sees marriage as a covenant and instead of there being 2 people in this marriage contract, there is a third, God Himself. The vows are taken before God and He assumes a special part in the union. A covenant to God goes way beyond a contract. In fact salvation as a promise from God is the most sacred of all the covenants he has made with the human race. From God’s standpoint we can break a covenant but He cannot.

You and your spouse might break that covenant, but God will not. The couple promise not only fidelity to each other but to God, and to His demands on their life and witness, and their raising children in the faith.

Ministers are wise to refuse to marry

Perhaps that helps explain why some ministers will not perform some marriages. A minister is within his rights not to marry any couple he does not think will fulfill the union properly or are not serious about the Godly connection each of them has. Since the marriage covenant under God also includes raising the children in a Godly home, you can easily see why same-sex marriages are not allowed in most denominations or by most ministers. Natural children are an impossibility.

Individuals who divorce can break their contract, as recognized by the state, but not the covenant. When it says “What God has joined together Let no man put asunder” (Matt 19:6) it means, under covenant law. Humans might separate what God joined, but God is not required recognize their having done sos. The Law of God is greater than any law from the State of Nebraska, or any other jurisdiction for that matter. This should help explain why so many of the rules regarding marriage in the New Testament seem to militate against divorce.

Legal human divorce does not break a covenant marriage

Women will occasionally say, “He may have divorced me but I still feel married to him” and be telling the truth. From God’s standpoint that union may well still stand. A man can divorce if his wife commits adultery but if she did not and he marries, he becomes an adulterer and God cannot bless sin, which may explain why so many 2nd marriages fail.

Statistically 2nd marriages fail at a far greater rate than 1st marriages, as a tacit confirmation of this spiritual fact. And same-sex unions have a far greater statistic of divorce than other unions. Lawyers frequently support same sex marriage because they know they want added legal business! (Some day I’ll write on Too Many Lawyers.)

In the case above, is the rejected woman expected to remarry her husband? Absolutely not. Many women are more than happy to be rid of a philanderer; let the new wife put up with him. God has not called us to bondage says the scripture. In all cases He wants to be the person involved in your life decisions.

Any kind of interference is called adultery

Because marriage is a covenant relationship of 3 (he, she and God) no other human should either get in the way, or ever take sides. You can always take God’s side, but you may not know what His Side is. Marriage is intensely personal and outsiders, no matter how close to the situation, esp. children, cannot know what is going on. And God does not want us to take sides either. Parents who try to break up a marriage will face God’s judgment if only on the other side of the grave.

In fact to take sides is to be involved where you don’t belong. This covenant of 3 does not include you and nosy interference can get you quickly on God’s naughty list, esp. close friends, mothers-in-law and The Other Woman. Minding one’s own business is always good counsel.

If you are facing or have faced divorce, you can learn the mind of Christ in the Bible. He has made it clear we are not to focus on the past, or be depressed in the present, but always to look forward, and not be in bondage to failures of the past.

The Meaning of “Elohim” – The Plural God

The first appearance of this word is in Genesis 1 which makes it important to us. It refers to “gods” plural, El meaning god, and the Hebrew plural is “im.” The Jews identify these gods as a combination of their One God and angels.

Three ways to know God not three gods

Christians believe Elohim refers to the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, the three faces we know as an all-powerful consuming deity.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The Elohim cannot include angels because (1) angels have no power of creativity. Their job is simply to obey (good angels) or bad (demons etc.). Angels are called “ministering spirits” and ministering is a matter of obeying God.

Hebrews 1:14
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Angels do not need to be saved in the human sense.

(2) We are made in the image of God but not in the image of angels. Angels have no physical body. They do have a spiritual body. Men are made “lower than the angels” which refers to our human body on earth. Angels have abilities as spiritual beings we do not have here. We will have greater mobility in heaven of course, where the human body is not a limitation.

(3) God “breathed” into man and made him a living soul. This does not happen to angels. That breathing-in process is what carries the image of God. Angels do not have that image.

Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Animals have souls, not spirits

Animals have souls, that is they have will, intellect and emotion, but not a spirit from God. Angels also appear to have souls since they can appear to man, and speak and have specific duties. Michael, for example is involved in war and Gabriel is a message bearer, but again, like animals, no breath of God. Man alone has his own spirit, that repository where the Holy Spirit can come in a create a born-again being, our important goal in this life.

To sum up, angels do not have the all-essential attribute of God, a God-infused spirit, and man is not made in angels’ images either.

What does it mean to repent?

The first leg on a journey back to God is forgiveness. Repentance is the second leg and best understood by what it is not.

What Repentance is not

It is not remorse, regret, lament, apology, feeling bad about, wishing it had never happened, depression, despair, sorrow, shame or guilt. Those are all valid emotions which ordinary people feel when they have done wrong, or at least when they think they have done wrong. But emotions are not actions.

Jesus never once asked anyone how they felt; but many times he asked them “What do you think?” Thinking governs actions. To repent is to act.

Jesus never asked how someone felt

Remorse is feeling so very bad about something that it destroys you. Judas betrayed Jesus and was engulfed by remorse so thoroughly he killed himself. That is not repentance.

Matthew 27:2-4 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.Could Judas have repented and been restored to Jesus? Yes, but he did not.

Shame and guilt can trigger repentance

Shame and guilt engulfed Peter after he had denied he knew Jesus. He didn’t kill himself or anyone else, but he skulked back into the shadows until Jesus openly and publicly asked Peter to undo in his heart what he had done previously in front of others. Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him since Peter had denied him three times. From The Message

15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (αγαπας) me more than these?” The word love here refers to the pure love of God.

“Yes, Master, you know I love (φιλω) you.” The word for love here refers to the love between persons, brothers, friends.

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (αγαπας) me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love (φιλω) you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love (φιλω) me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Peter knew what it meant to really repent. He believed he loved Jesus with God’s love, and could after the betrayal only confess to (φιλω) the love of mankind. But he did make as many confessions of love as he had of betrayal. In the Bible is pays to note patterns of behavior.

The English really cannot know these different words for love, essential to correct interpretation. Peter was required by the circumstances to agree and also recognize that his love was not as devoted and as unconditional as he had originally believed. Peter found out the truth about himself in this scenario. Peter was not only restored, he became one of the most aggressive of apostles.

Sorrow, lament, depression

Sorrow was what Mary felt when she saw her son die. Lament was what the women did at Golgotha. (Matt 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children. ) Depression is a long term response to anger turned inward. The cure for depression is not repentance but praise. Isaiah 61:3.

Repentance means change your mind

Enough of what it is not. Repentance defined is, using a translation of the Greek word metnoia, (meta=change, nous=mind), solely to change your mind. This takes an act of the will. It does not mean that you really need to know very much. The simplest person can change his/her mind.

I once worked for a gifted attorney; in fact she had never lost a case. Even though she attended church and Sunday school every week, (and her husband was a preacher’s kid), she told me that she hoped she would do enough good in her life to be accepted in heaven. Clearly she had not one clue what true salvation was all about. She needed a mental change. What will happen to bring her to this? I have no idea but clearly weekly preaching has not done it for her. Will she have a sudden realization of her lost-ness?

As one who worked with prisoners for years I saw people in jail who did not see their condition until they had a realization of the love of God. One murderer said he broke down in sobs when he realized that he had killed someone that God loved.

Bringing people to repentance

The Bible says there are two ways to get people saved: one is kind and gentle words of love, and the other is pure-T scaring them into the Kingdom.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

God uses all methods to bring man to Himself.

Paul’s “thorn” – not our suffering for Christ

I used to hear this.

“I have this terrible problem but I know I am, like Saint Paul, to bear graciously as Paul did over his thorn in the flesh.”

There are several things wrong with this interpretation of the passage involving the thorn.

2 Corinthians 12:6-12 (NASB) 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Can you lay claim to this passage

First, The persons who lay claim to this passage very often (1) do not know the Bible very well (2) have had no great special revelation (3) have not performed miracles, great or small (4) nor in danger of being exalted by their friends and contemporaries, rushing to them for healing and deliverance. Courts call this “standing at law” or justification for your position.

My suffering does not add to Jesus’ suffering

Second, Jesus paid it all. My suffering on my personal cross does not and cannot add to His work at Calvary. It does sound like I am saving myself by my works. There are some denominations which believe that you can pay for your sinful flesh by causing it pain. I think of the flagellants in the Philippines at Easter time marching through the streets at Easter, flogging themselves with whips. Nothing you can do to your physical body can substitute for the salvation of the body or the cleansing of the flesh. All false religion wants us to “do” something. We are called to believe and “be.” Much harder.

There are forms of bragging

Third, their claim not only does not make them humble, nor do they sound humble but it fact it sounds very much like bragging.

God has prlvided us with all we need

Fourth, Paul did not say he was stuck with this problem, whatever it was, until the bitter end. God told him that His Grace was available. Or, in other words, that He had provided for mankind everything they need as individuals and as groups to handle any problem.

God opened up the future

God was opening up to us, the future generations, the option of learning where all these solutions might be found. The 20th century became a major source of advancements in medicine, knowledge, language, culture and political understanding and freedom.  It also opened the options for vicious tyrants to take over nations. But the solution was always there whether it was Syria struggling against evil or Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine which change medicine across the globe. It was all the grace of God, but it was not for the 1st or 2nd centuries but for the heirs in future generations to come after Paul and his coworkers.

That is His message to us. No matter what problem you now have “in the flesh” – God has an answer somewhere. God gives revelation to those who seek Him with unmixed motives. That message goes way beyond any kind of thorn. You can look for yours!

It may well be at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Secular Humanism is Crippling the Church

If you have a chance, watch Secrets of the Vatican on PBS TV. It is worth all 90 minutes. Sixty years plus of corruption, pedophilia, homosexuality, intrigue, money laundering, drug trade and other evils have been uncovered with little contrition. The curia is the governing body of the Roman church. It comes from word roots meaning, ironically “care by” a “noble guardian.” There certainly has been not guarding going on and not noble but venal. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church is trying to do something about it, with mixed results, but it really can’t because so much of the foundation is flawed. The New Testament identifies a number of errors which demonstrate falling away from God.

When God changes his mind, so will I.

God has promised He will do His word. He has not promised He will honor the words of men. It is our duty to know the difference.

And Protestant churches have fallen into the humanism trap too. Secular Humanism is a real political group with a doctrine and devotees. That is not what I am referring to here. Secular humanism is the spirit of compromise that reduces both the Word of God and the effects of sin to a human perspective. In the case of the pedophiles, secular humanists (SH) say it results when priests cannot marry.

Secular humanism always identifies a problem as starting with Man and ending with Man’s doing something about it; so God is not a factor.

In no case is this correct.

God’s Truth & church doctrine often do not match

Truth is always based ultimately on the word of God, because it is the will of God, and evil results when God’s will does not prevail in a man, a society, a nation, and all the groups therein. Pedophilia is not caused by celibacy rules but a direct result of disobedience to God’s word/will. The Bible says clearly “Do not forbid to marry.”

1 Timothy 4:1-4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

How plain can you get? Here are more examples of common practice in violation of the revealed will of God.

Truth is Biblical not denominational

SH #2. Correction to church practice and corruption would have begun earlier but the lowly participant in this denomination is discouraged from reading the Bible. The entire scriptures are there for all men to know, read, promote, and live every day. Church believers can be and should be the backbone of immediate correction. They should have the power to be rid of corrupt leaders at any level. John 17:17 – Your word is truth.

SH #3. There is no “special” priesthood in the New Testament. We are all called priests. Each person in the church of Jesus Christ has a function. There are no fancy robes, headdresses, pope-mobiles, red sashes, gold goblets and on and on. No, the first church met often in the back of a restaurant, or someone’s home, or when under persecution in the graveyards of Rome. There was NO MORTGAGE.

1 Peter 2:9 -you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Women had as much right in the New Testament church as males Any differentiation tells us that the group is not “in Christ.” In Christ is where the church is supposed to be; when it is not it is somewhere else – in the world, in the flesh, in the devil, or more likely in trouble. Man is not the measure of reality, unless you mean the Man Jesus.

Galatians 3:27-29 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

SH#4. Believers are not saved by being baptized. They are saved before they are baptized. It is not necessary to baptize babies. They do not need to be added to heaven; because they already are there! They do lose that standing when they mature however; then salvation and baptism are appropriate.

Mark 10:14 … Jesus [said] Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom is where children are right now.

SH#5. There is no purgatory, i.e. a place where people go after death to get their lives straight. Jesus said, “Today you’ll be with me” to the thief on the cross. That ought to be good enough for today as well.

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to [the thief] “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

SH# 6 Jesus died once. That’s all, never again. No crucifix should have on it a body of Jesus. He left the tomb.

Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

SH #7. Yes Virginia there is a devil. Some churches speak of the devil as though he either does not exist or is not a problem. This makes it easier for the demonic kingdom over which he presides to run a muck in our lives. And again, it does not match the written word of God. There are four wills in the world, the will of Man, the will of the world system, the will of the demonic kingdom, and finally the will of God. The first three will pass away.

Christians have a responsibility to know the Bible and what they believe. They should also know what the Bible does not say. God has had 4 thousand years to create His written word and now we have it. And there is a test!

My new hero is Franklin Graham who said simply (I paraphrase) “When God changes His mind, so will I.”

https://wouldyouconsider.net/2014/07/11/the-subtle-world-of-christian-legalism/

What if the Rapture is way in the future?

The term rapture refers to a passage in the New Testament which says not all of us all will die normally, but some will be changed into our spiritual bodies and taken up to heaven. From The Message:

I Corinthians 15:51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal.There is no sure time frame for this in the New Testament so there are many different opinions about the date. But to hear a lot of modern preachers you’d think it could be tomorrow morning.

No time frame is given

Perhaps so. But that is not what is bothering me. I see folks using the rapture as a great escape. As in “I don’t need to worry about my creeping debt limit – at the rapture I leave all my bills behind.” Another version is “I am satisfied with what I am doing for God – maybe not much – but I don’t fear the future as I’ll be raptured.”

But if this miraculous escape doesn’t happen …. then the bills and the problems are still there, right? This is not life fulfilling, but life avoidance.

Obedience is not Avoidance

Jesus did not tell us to sit around on our assumptions but to get to work on His Kingdom: make disciples of all nations, preach the word, heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead, worship, praise, comfort, visit prisoners, and care for parents. Honor – that’s a reference to money – your parents and pray for your leadership. The Rapture theory gives some an excuse for not fulfilling their responsibilities from everything to not voting to not going to church.

Not one word from God about being “at ease” or waiting it out.

Buddhism is about waiting it out

What bothers me about all this is – not just that the scripture does not tell us specifically when this will be – but that it is a reflection of Buddhist teaching.

Buddhism is not really a religion although it is treated as such; it is a way of life. It focuses on gaining peace in the inner man. Buddhists are societal drop outs for the most part. They avoid conflict, stay to themselves, devote time to multiple prayers, fasting and staying away from trouble. It gives me great joy to see the Dalai Lama (Chief Buddhist Priest) in this world never backing down to the Chinese about stealing Tibet. Good. It is a proactive work for a non-proactive group.

The Communist Chinese government attacked Buddhism originally as a religion. In the past few years they changed their minds and encouraged it because Buddhists go along with the communist dictatorship.

Evil is challenged, not endured

But Jesus always put us in the position for challenging evil wherever we found it. Have you seen any Christians turning over money-changing tables recently? a metaphor for dealing with the corrupt monetary system. Well a few do.

It is infecting American society at a time when elitism and entitlements are defining who we are. Jesus Himself did not take the easy way out. And we are called to be and do in this world as He was. “As my father has sent me, so send I you.”

More than anything else, Christians are “sent” people, into society, the world, and the dark places to bring light.

#rapture #church #spiritualwarfare #Buddhism

God is Sovereign – sort-of

Sovereign means in total control. This mantra is frequently quoted. “We can only ask God. We are powerless. He is sovereign.”

This can be a giant cop-out. God was sovereign when He created the world (Genesis 1). He turned a huge area of authority over to Adam (man) to control, that is the world and its systems. Adam even had control over the animal kingdom.

Gen 1:26 – dominion means control in this passage.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

God delegated much power to Man

But in Genesis 3 Adam voluntarily turned over the world and its systems to Satan. (I won’t quote the whole thing.) And Satan is still the boss over the world. The whole world, says the Bible, lies in the wicked one.

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

God did retain authority over the earth. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, (i.e. what the earth produces.) The book of Amos reminds us He is in control of the weather. And He still controls individuals.

Psalm 24:1
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

God’s rule is only delegated to those who are under His direct authority through obedience- the nation of Israel and Christians. God has restored to believers all the authority over the enemy at any one point – raising the dead, casting out devils, healing the sick – the whole shebang.

Luke 9 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

Naysayers are powerless

Some preachers say that was for former times. Why? Perhaps because they do not have that power? Why should their powerlessness restrain ours? Those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit AND who are obedient to the Word have access to everything God granted in the former generations. To say otherwise is to have

2 Timothy 3:5 a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

For those outside His will and His word – the world and all its terrors of flesh and devil prevail. God is not in control of China or North Korea. He could blast ‘em both off the face of the earth. He still has the power to correct evil, and especially over nations. But the North Korean people “elected” their leader, such as it was, as have so many nations in dire circumstances today.

The power for those who believe

God has given believers (those who believe His word) the authority and subsequent power over all, if they take it and use it. It’s like a check in the bank. If you don’t cash the check, you don’t have the money. Simple. If you do not use the power of god, you might have it but it is of no consequence.

If we say God is Sovereign in order to avoid our responsibility for obedience then shame on us. Jesus said on the cross, It is finished. He means, He has done all the work. Now we pick up the challenge, to complete His work as He has directed.

We can have power over nations

Syria and its nasty genocidal leaders are our responsibility, first in prayer, and then possibly in the natural. Since I don’t work for the President of the USA (and you can forget wimpy NATO or United Nations from ever doing anything)) I can only pray believing God will bring to swift judgment nations which terrorize, exploit and murder their citizens in the streets which is what is happening today across the world.

Simply saying God is sovereign is no cure, and certainly no excuse for obeying the will of God. Period.

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Symbolism – Colors and Their Meaning

The Bible contains the meanings of words, colors included telling us to compare spiritual with spiritual, not spiritual with the natural interpretation. God used symbolism to tell his story to mankind because from the beginning people could not read. But there were theological lessons everywhere.  The rainbow is the first and foremost of these symbols and it is the major promise of God in history, his promise of good and glorious things for the family of man.

1 Corinthians 2:13 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches,comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The meaning of colors in based on the rainbow. It signifies God’s promise to all mankind, not just Christians and Jews.rainbow2

The colors are in order, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and finally violet, or purple. They form naturally in the sky. It is a picture of the path to the Kingdom of God which is the Christian goal. We pray this:

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

To enter the Kingdom you begin with red, which stands for the blood sacrifice, Jesus. No one comes into the presence of the Father without having recognized the blood covenant and its purposes.

Next is orange which is for deliverance from evil forces including demons and curses. A good bit of ignorance surrounds this in today’s churches leaving them to fight against evil without proper information and the results are sad.

After one has dealt with the devil you come to yellow which stands for holiness. Silver symbolizes redemption, and gold is holiness. It may seem superfluous to say this, but one can hardly expect to make any progress in the life of the Kingdom without having genuine holiness. There is a form of Godliness which has no power. Pity.

2 Timothy 3:4-6 (KJV) 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

After yellow comes green meaning information, and growth. Many national companies use green for health, harvest, and information. Before you can have faith in God, which comes next, you need the Bible which contains the information you need.

Blue symbolizes faith. Without faith it is impossible to go on. Yes, everyone has a measure of faith which is provided to him/her but beyond this faith must be exercised at every single level if one wishes to progress in holy things.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

I’ve heard Bible teachers and members of congregations say “I do not believe” this or that in the Bible and guess what? They don’t really, so move on. So there is not much reason to sit under their teaching. (Don’t confuse activity with progress. The devil can keep you busy for many years.)

After blue comes indigo. Some people call this lavender, or even shocking pink. It stands for spiritual warfare. Being a warrior for God comes after you have been through the previous processes, otherwise the devil tears your tail off. Spiritual Warfare brings a victory and after that comes the crown.

All ancient kings wore purple since purple dye was wildly expensive and only they could afford it. It comes from the crushing of a tiny little sea “worm” which produced the color. So now perhaps we can understand when the Palmist said, I am a worm and no man.

Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

Jesus was crushed for us all and now wears purple in heaven as King.

You will rule and reign with Christ here on earth if this process is yours. At this point the rainbow is a finished product. Your life has reached its goal.

Coming soon.

The Virgin Birth – It’s all about DNA

God made a decision to give Man free will which He refuses to violate.

How can God bail man out of the mess he is in?

If He chooses armies, the armies will get the credit and be the object of deserved worship. If He chooses angels, the devil can crow that they are evil angels and he then claims the credit. Since God is the only one who can pull this off He must come up with a foolproof way to assure there will be no fraudulent methods of an alternative salvation.

Blood sacrifice is universal choice

The answer is blood. In the 20th century we learn that all blood is personal; each man’s DNA is specific to him/her. From the earliest of times a blood sacrifice for even the most primitive societies has been the offering for the absolution of sins. But how can we certain that this blood of Jesus is unique?

This is the focus of the divine birth of Jesus. The Bible states that the sin passes from father to the children; the mother and her sin is not a factor. So the issue of whether Mary is a sinner is of no consequence.

Sin passes from father to the children

Exodus 34:7
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Therefore, the father of the baby who will save the world must to be sinless; no man can qualify for this job, so God becomes the father. If Jesus did not have a sinless father then Jesus would also be required to die for His own sins.

Mary not considered sinless

The Bible says the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the divine sperm entered her egg. Some religious groups teach that Mary was also sinless as Jesus but clearly this theory is not necessary for salvation, nor is it Biblical.

The sinless Jesus from the sinless father was born 9 months later.
Satan and anyone he chooses to save the world can’t do it because no one he selects is sinless. The result is the One and Only Jesus as the One and Only Savior of the world.

The DNA is the issue and God solved it.

Consequently when ministers say we are saved by the blood of Jesus, they are pointing to the single thing in the universe which can effect salvation and nothing else.