Saturday, November 26, 2005

#113: Needed Comments & Questions

This section is a response to comments and questions from ‘’ which needs logical and Biblical answers. I will attempt to give answers to the best of my abilities. And if I don’t have an answer, I will humbly say so.

Thanks for your inquiries. We both have one attribute in common: inquiring minds. Although I use the word “inquisitive,” I think your use of the word “inquiring” is a better term when discussing spiritual matters. Your letter is a much-needed, well written asset and complement to this blog. Our belief system may not be identical, and that’s what makes it interesting.

I am a college student and a Christian (Southern Baptist). I stumbled across your website today, and I was just wondering about its purpose. Across the top it says, “For Christians who hunger for spiritual substance, but don’t care to belong to a church,” and “For those wanting to be sure they are being told the whole gospel message.” I also read a few of your comments on Democracy in America, and I plan on reading more of your writing. But I have a few questions, especially regarding your views on church and government:

To answer your first question, the multipurpose reason for this blog is to expose inadequacies that have been passed off as Christianity, for years, by many large denominations. To put it another way, the main reason is to let readers know exactly what the New Testament openly dictates on many Christian issues. Another important reason is to explain the need for the activation of these theological doctrines (a needed remedy) and why they have been kept on a low-/no-key status for so long.

Your statement about not belonging to a church is a little odd to me. The Bible says not to forsake the gathering together of ourselves, as is the manner of some. I’m guessing that you’re familiar with the passage and so church attendance is not what you’re opposing, but probably denominationalism is what you’re against. Is that correct? Why?

No. I oppose both; the reason is that by attending a church, one is condoning what is not being preached: the stuff that does not make one feel good to listen to—the stuff that makes one think, “I am not coming to this church again.” The stuff that is difficult and unnatural to live by. As you continue to read this blog, you will in no time see what I mean. I am sure many Christians who can’t find a church to attend would love to gather with Christians of like mind/belief. Could I attend your church with a clear conscience, just to fulfill the command in Hebrews 10:25 that you sited? No. Here is the reason why. I am not sure if Southern Baptists believe as those up North do, but if they do, there is a myriad of unbiblical teachings they propound. I will name just one: “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED.” This teaching makes most—regardless what type of life they are living—feel secure as to their eternal salvation, and even worse yet, leaves the door wide open to consider obedience as commanded in the Bible as something not absolutely necessary. This teaching has done more damage to the work of Christ than almost any other heresy. For your spiritual welfare and hopefully others’, please justify this teaching with New Testament Scripture. Once you have done that, I will produce over a dozen verses that say absolute obedience is paramount in the Christian life. In other words, I could not attend any church that does not subscribe to New Testament teaching. Even though most churches claim to believe the Bible, they preach it in a highly selective way (as a form of spiritual entertainment). A desire for a large attendance and lucrative collections should never influence what is preached or believed. That is what has been happening in most churches. I understand it is only natural to desire all the pews filled every Sunday, because to the world, that means success. And who wants a meager collection instead of one that produces a surplus? We must remember that the teachings of Jesus Christ turned the world’s values upside down. To prove my point, read the Beatitudes, Matthew chapters 5 through 7, and Luke chapters 12 through 21. This system of living is difficult for anyone to accept or understand unless they have Almighty God living in and through their bodies. And again, I understand. In fact, this upside-down value system is one of the main reasons many rich Jews, then and now, cannot/could not accept Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah.

You seem to proclaim yourself so bluntly. Do you hate us (other Christians that aren’t as smart as you)?

I do occasionally discuss off-the-wall subjects the Bible does not mention. I hope I don’t present them in a dogmatic fashion. If and when I do, I am wrong. But when it comes to what the Bible speaks of loudly and clearly, I will proclaim that with brutal honesty (bluntly). Do I hate you? Absolutely not. In fact, my heart goes out to dedicated, loyal, devoted, churchgoing people for giving their hard-earned money; that giving is a well planned Biblical ploy that works like spiritual mafia extortion: give 10 % or God will get you at the end; and don’t forget that God loves a cheerful giver. There is also devotion to an incomplete—or I could go even so far as to say a false—gospel; remember, a half-truth is more deceitful than no truth at all. Your comment as to my intelligence is false. I have built homes most of my life and am not an academic person. But when it comes to spiritual matters, God is starting to allow me to know what is in His heart. And if He, for whatever reason, chooses to give me wisdom, I will receive it gracefully and attempt to share it with people like you.

The church acts as God’s body on Earth, as you say in one of your posts. It is deserving of love because of that, even though it may be filled with hypocrites.

Turn to Matthew chapter 23. Read the complete chapter to see what Jesus thinks of hypocrites and how He addresses them. Does He still love them? Yes. The only thing is, the love He has for them is His desire for their Salvation, and if there is not a turnaround in their belief and their lives, that love will have no eternal value. A hypocrite is more dangerous and damaging, even more so than an atheist, to the cause of Christ. There are no ambiguities in an atheist’s life as to what they don’t believe. Consequently, a church full of hypocrites is in no way the body of Christ. Should we/I still love them? You bet: by desiring the very best of what God has to offer them, which is His life.

About denominations: So why is it wrong to have labels for our beliefs? This is what I was taught about denominations: When I say that I’m a Southern Baptist, I am saying that I believe in Salvation by grace through faith, full atonement, believer’s baptism, a symbolic Lord’s Supper, democratically controlled local congregations, etc. So when you, as a fellow Christian, hear that I believe these things, you can then seek to be unified with me as much as you can, barring any doctrinal differences we may have. Then, when we meet our local congregations that are also associated with this denomination, we are unified with them in doctrine and so are free to teach well what we believe. Is this not biblical? I believe it is biblical. Then why do you seem to oppose it?

Denominations are man-/woman-made organizations that tend to separate more than unite. Above, in all that you said Southern Baptists believe—salvation by grace through faith, full atonement, etc.—still one crucial sacrament is missing. Until implemented—if it could ever be—the absence of it will nullify all the blessed work of God. As already mentioned: OBEDIENCE. No obedience, no Salvation. Without obedience to all that the New Testament commands, your aforementioned statement is of little value. The only unity there is the unity of heresy. I apologize for being so blunt. If you can Biblically prove me wrong, as stated in a previous paragraph, I promise I will change my belief. A small footnote: Repeating, I believe MOST denominations are interested in mainly two assets: money and numbers, while devotion to God’s complete Word comes last, if at all.

You also mention people being sure they are being told “the whole gospel message.” Why? Do you believe that other churches aren’t doing a good job? Certainly many, if not most, churches don’t do a good job, but I wonder if that justifies a stand against all churches? If we saw 100 married couples, and 99 of them were abusive or adulterous, etc., and one was righteous, then we would not be justified in condemning all 100. And certainly that situation would not give us reason to condemn marriage, either, for this is a godly practice. Nor could we say that the church is evil, even if 99% of congregations don’t teach the gospel, and that would be an exaggeration, for the church is God’s love affair, and His passion, along with every member in it, hypocritical or not.

To answer your first question, for years I was searching for a church, denomination, cult, etc. that was completely honest with the laity. After many years of searching, I gave up and finally became a voice of one calling in the wilderness of spiritual compromise. Even though I truly believe there are many genuine Christians in the world (the 1%), it could be that the majority are not in the USA. They could be scattered in small enclaves here and there, and, most likely, are rejected by the Christian church per se. If there is any condemnation of the other 99%, it is not I; they are self-condemned by reading God’s Word.

Unfortunately I’m not very good at explaining my viewpoints, but perhaps you get the idea. I know that most churches are very perverted according to my view above, but that doesn’t mean that denominationalism itself is wrong. It means we should propagate its true Biblical form, and make sure we are attending a church which supports both the teaching of sound doctrine, and unity with other believers. Please explain your views.

You are doing an eloquent job of explaining your views. As to my views, I would briefly say that in general, keep away from organized churches; that doesn’t mean they are all perverted. I would save a lot of printed words and answer your question by asking you to read more of this blog. I am pretty sure I cover what you are asking for. If not, be more concise as to what views you are asking for.

Now, about government: In your posts about “American Democracy’s Fatal Flaws,” you state that, “When The Declaration of Independence was being signed, the war with Great Britain was raging for almost a year and the 13 Colonies were losing. But if they didn’t fight the Revolutionary war, they would have continued to be under the thumb of King George 111, and we would never have become a great nation. Therefore, they had to ignore the Bible-even if they knew what it said-and fight. That is OK, but don’t ask or expect God’s blessing, protection, or providence, to what you are doing.” So are you saying that God didn’t want/approve of the Revolutionary War? That sounds odd to me, because I was taught a concept the biblical concept of sanctity which applies to life, marriage, government (perhaps called sovereignty in context of government), etc.

If their actions do not coincide with New Testament teachings, as to how to treat one’s enemies, how can America/ns have God’s blessing? Jesus Christ is not in the least bit ambiguous as to this teaching. I will say this: God might have allowed this ungodly but great country to come into existence, just as He hardened Pharaoh’s heart so as not to let the nation of Israel leave Egypt, so He could fulfill His secret purposes. If one reads between the lines and more, in the New Testament, it becomes obvious that Christianity could never become a/the dominate religion in a large or rich country. The reason is that Christians were never taught to fight their foes to preserve their turf, but to flee or be chased out. Here are a few verses to corroborate my views: “When you are persecuted in one place flee to another,” Matthew 10:23 “. . . because Claudius had ordered all the [Christian] Jews to leave Rome.” Acts 18:2. “Because they would not disavow their allegiance to Christ, nor give their allegiance to Caesar.” Some American Christians would counter that by saying, “Can’t we pledge our allegiance to both?” That is exactly what has happened in America. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution. . . .” Acts 11:19. “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered through Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1. One thing we must always remember when attempting to decide what is right and what is wrong in this religion that is full of luscious deceit: “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29, and a similar verse in Acts 4:19. Other than Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, He never advocated violence of any sort. Jesus had a very special purpose for His action in the Temple of God, and I believe that it was not only to restore honor to God’s house, but to incite the Jews to anger as a valid reason to crucify Him. As for Biblical credence to concepts of sanctity of government coming from the New Testament, you have to show me where it even hints about that in the New Testament. Or am I misunderstanding you? My college dictionary describes the word “sanctity” as saintliness or holiness. Do you know even one government that fits that definition? I am sure you are aware of the word “sanctified” as it pertains to Christians; it means that a person is made pure and holy (clean slate, carte blanche) in the eyes of God. In other words, we are given the status of Jesus Christ. If we truly believe what God has done for us by His loving grace, we will start to live up to that perfection more and more each day. Therefore we must be very careful where and how we use that holy word “sanctity.”

I explained it to a friend who asked me about the war in Iraq. This is an edited form of what I said:

Well, this is in response to your question concerning the war in Iraq. To answer it, I must inform you of the Bible’s definition of government. If you will turn to Romans 13:1-7, you will notice several things. First of all, in verse 1, it says that God created all governments. Secondly, in the verses that follow, you will notice that the governments Paul is talking about are clearly good, in that they follow a specific purpose to punish evil (and be nice to good people). Obviously, we know that God wouldn’t have created a government such as Hitler’s Nazi Germany (although He let it be created). Therefore, we can reason from these verses that God only creates governments that exist to punish evil. Because Romans 13:1-7 defines governments as being good, then we can also reason that “bad” governments such as Hitler’s are not real governments in God’s mind…

The book of Romans was/is a private letter to Christians that live/d in Rome. It was written in A.D. 57 or 58. This is my off-the-wall paraphrase of the section in chapter 13: Paul was simply telling this new fledgling church that they must obey whatever that wicked Roman government dictated. But they should never obey Rome when it came to immorality and giving their allegiance to Caesar instead of to Christ; they must instead “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21. Or to put it another way, to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” is not a blanket rule to do bad things in order to obey bad governments. That is what Bush did by starting the senseless Iraq war. We must also remember that God is a hands-off operator when it comes to establishing anything. It would have been more accurate if Paul said that God allows all governments, good and bad; if a bad government orders Christians to do bad things such as killing people, possibly good people that are ordered to fight for another bad government, they must resist to the point of death. And I am certain they did, as is documented in the second and third century and beyond. One extremely paramount, unequivocal truth is that God never creates evil, though He must allow it because of our free will; otherwise we would be nothing but automatic puppets. God can receive no glory from puppets. Therefore, for Paul to say that God created bad/evil governments, at this point, I will disagree with the wording of this section until a more exact explanation is given. If you disagree with my belief in this section, I will understand.

Now, on to the subject of sanctity. …you know that sanctity involves a purpose for things, and there can be violations of that purpose. For example, God created marriage, but there are many illegitimate unions in the world. God also created the church, but there are many false churches in the world. In the same way, God created government, but there are illegitimate governments in the world.

Now, just as it is proper to prevent/fight illegitimate unions and churches, it is also necessary to destroy false governments that do not have sanctity. Sanctity is lost when an entity violates the sanctity of another entity. (This is also the biblical argument for the death penalty.) When the American Revolution was fought, this was the rationale of the war: England had lost its sanctity by violating sanctity of life. When WWII was fought, this was also a valid argument: Hitler’s government lost its sanctity and the Nazis themselves lost sanctity of their lives by violating sanctity of the lives of millions of Jews. That’s why it was okay for a soldier to kill a Nazi.

Now we all know that Saddam’s government has lost its sanctity, for it has violated sanctity of life many times. Therefore, just as homosexual marriage is a mockery of true marriage, so was his government a mockery of governments. It should have been done long ago, when the atrocities were committed. Remember, in God’s eyes, Iraq’s government was not a government at all and was in fact a mockery of an institution He created for good. As far as the U.S. being involved, I am proud that a government that is historically associated with Christian ideals was the one to finally do the necessary job.

I get the idea from reading a bit on your blog that you don’t agree with the War in Iraq. I see your quote, “If this section angers someone, and it should, give me a rebuttal.” Well, I am in no way studied enough to adequately address your statements, and I’m not even sure if I’m in opposition to you or not, having only read a few of your posts, but if my statements are in opposition to yours, then please post my message as a semi-educated rebuttal. Thanks so much for your time in reading this message.

Concerning wars: I am glad you brought up the subject. The Second World War, I believe, was a justified war, although not in God’s eyes, and possibly the Korean War. The Vietnam War and the Iraq War were not justified, either in God’s eyes or in man’s eyes. Who do we think we are? Do we think God appointed America to be the guardian of the world? No. With our excess and waste, we are the role model and spoiler of the world. And with President Bush claiming to be an Evangelical Christian, this war, for all practical purposes, is being fought in the name of Jesus Christ. What a disgrace to the most beautiful name in the world who is the Savior of love, not war. If you read more of this blog, you will see how I bad-mouth Bush as the great pretender (hypocrite). Let me give you something to think about: We in Christian circles think of when, and who is, or will be, THE antichrist (the one against Christ). We may be in error. Listen to what John says in 1st John 2:18, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now MANY antichrists have come.” As I see events happening in America and the world, and what a lying and corrupt administration we have, along with the possible exaggerated reasons Bush used to start the Iraq War, he is against all that Jesus Christ stands for. I am sure many genuine Christians could easily accept an atheistic president starting a war with Iraq, but not one who claims to be a “born-again Evangelical.” Anyone who claims Jesus Christ as boss and does things that are directly contrary to His teachings is an antichrist. With this definition of what an antichrist is, there are many antichrists in America, and George W. Bush is one of the most powerful antichrists in the world. I love my country, although I won’t pledge my allegiance to it. My allegiance is to Jesus Christ. I believe the precedence Bush has set (American Christians as warmongers) will do/has done more harm to the Christian religion than all other events and people put together. That is a hard assessment. If I didn’t say what I just now said, I would be a liar with my silence. Please forgive me for being bold about my belief. We may disagree on some major issues, but if you are sincere and have the right motives, your inquiring mind, and the New Testament as your guide, you will come to the correct answers to many of life’s mysteries and problems, regardless of what religion teaches. I hope you still can glean some good out of this blog. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

#112: A Self-Test To See Where We Stand

There is a test that we must occasionally take, and the more often the better; as we do so, we must not cheat on our answers. That test is called self-examination, the hardest exam in the world. Most of us have a need to color ourselves pretty, much prettier then we really are. It is easier to examine others, since their faults are much more visible to the naked eye, from our perspective. Proverbs 16:2 says, "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” This is true even for those of us who are living to do the work of the Lord. Here is possibly one of the best tests to make sure our lives are not illusory and that we are Christians in the true Biblical sense. Before taking this test we must resolve to be completely honest with ourselves. If we are not truthful, we will be cheating and robbing ourselves of true life and its eternal destiny.

Here is the test. Ask yourself: If every true and genuine Christian was thinking, doing, saying, and living exactly as I, at this time in my life, would the Church of Christ, His body, be holier, purer, more faithful, more powerful, more loving, more Christ-like than it is right now? If our answer is “yes” in all honesty, praise God, for He is proud of us. May God continue to bless us. But if our answer is “no,” then we must ask ourselves why. Do we have a legitimate excuse for our lifestyle? In everything we think, say, or do, we are an example for others to follow. Are we the best Christians we can be? These are the questions we will be asked at the Judgment. Some will say, "I believed you Lord; isn't that enough for salvation?" To which He will reply, “If you believed, you would have made every effort to be an exact replica of me (Jesus)." One might say in their defense, "But no one else lived that way and they said they were going to heaven. Why should I be any better? My minister never told me about having to live that way. Blame him; don't blame me!” No doubt there will be as many excuses as there are stars in the heavens for our seemingly good lives, but not one excuse will be good enough. At that time He will say to us, "Away from me, you do-nothings; I never knew you."

The Apostle Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 13:5: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?" Galatians 6:4."Each one should test his own actions." Indeed, our lives will be a continual test to see if we loved Him. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12. Paul says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of his world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2). In other words, as long as we conform to the ways of this world, we will not be able to know what God’s will is. We will be blinded. “Aim for perfection....” 2nd Corinthians 13:11.

Another test through which we must constantly put ourselves is how closely our belief parallels the Word of God. There is no doubt that everyone’s belief needs improvement with respect to what God's will actually is. That improvement will never come if we are not constantly watchful for the truth and introspective in our faith: judging of ourselves. As we grow in Christ's perfection, our errors will become self-evident, but as I said, this will not happen without close vigilance. Even as I write these words today, The Holy Spirit is continually showing me errors in my personal devotion to Him. This clean-up must never stop. If it does, it will be the start of a downhill slide that could end in the lap of the evil one.

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1st John 4:1.

There are many ways we can tell the kind of spirit a person has. The one John talks about is the person who claims that Jesus Christ was not totally human and that He had very special privileges being the spirit Son of God. That’s a cop-out. Such a person has a spirit that does not belong to God. Another way that one can tell the kind of spirit a person has is not so much by his/her words but by his/her life. We glorify God by desiring to live a pure and holy life of belief. When every aspect of his/her life glorifies Jesus Christ, that person has the Spirit of God.

We must remember that Jesus Christ had no special privileges as God's son. He was totally human; He came in the flesh, as we are. Had Jesus been play-acting and had His sinless life come automatically, He would not be a perfect example for us. Jesus had a human nature, but did not have a sinful nature because He did not sin. Can we say that Jesus Christ had a potential for sinful behavior? It may sound like blasphemy, but I personally believe that Jesus as a mere man had the potential to sin but He chose not to because of His belief in and obedience to His Father. Some might say that Jesus was not totally human as we are, since He was born of a virgin and did not have a human father, so therefore could not sin. If that’s the case, if it took no effort, why should we give Him glory and honor? He did something as a man that no one had ever done before and will never do again, and I am sure it took the greatest amount of intestinal fortitude He could muster to live up to His Father’s belief in Him. In other words, through obedience that springs from faith, evidenced by His sinless life, He proved that all normal humans and some not so human have the potential to be gods/goddesses in human form: body of man, life of God. Of course, the trick was—and still is—the possessing of God’s life via His Holy Spirit. Regardless of how He did it, it could not have come easily. He was perfect, pure and holy in spirit; therefore, He displayed it in His human body. God the Father was well pleased with Jesus his Son because He believed and obeyed his Father to the letter. Yes, Jesus could have sinned, but He didn't. If His Father had said, "You are unable to commit sin," it would have been no contest. But He said, "You will not sin, because you will believe and obey every word I say." Some might ask, “Where does it say that in the Bible?” John 14:31. "But the world must learn that I love the Father and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." Also, all one has to do is to read between the lines with a pure heart and many great truths will smack one square in the face. Not to make little of what Jesus did, I boldly say that Jesus Christ is my only example, my love, and most of all, my God. My only desire is to worship Him all day long.

Therefore, Jesus is our supreme example, our paradigm, as to what our desires, motivations, purity, holiness, love and belief will be. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin, because He believed and obeyed his Father. We too can say, “As of today, we will not sin again.” We are able to live this way because we have that same sinless spirit that Jesus had. Is that too much to believe regarding what God has promised us? Is that too much for God to ask of us? No, the power that makes this type of life attainable is given to us by God's grace and only by His grace. Jesus was full of truth and grace, and we may be full of that same truth and grace. The power we receive from God must be given through grace because it can never be attained through our own doing. This power to live as Jesus did is ours through belief in God. Even this amazing belief is a gift of grace to us from God the Father.

These are only a few of the difficult tests we must apply to ourselves to discern whether or not our lives are well pleasing to God. Remember, what we believed and did yesterday no longer counts. Our Lord has amnesia concerning what we did yesterday. We must do the same. What counts are our desires for today and tomorrow. God can read our hearts and minds, and most importantly, our motives. We cannot fool Him. Since that is the case, let’s stop fooling ourselves. As I said before, we can live a life that is pleasing to the Father because we were given this pleasing life as a gift through His grace. Of course, He cannot start to give us His Spirit until we start to make room for that Spirit by getting rid of our desires that stem from our selfish nature. We don't try to live a life pleasing to God to acquire His approval. First comes the approval, and then comes the life. That is belief to the greatest life-changing degree. If God can use just a regular guy like myself to put these words on paper, imagine what He can do for those of you who have education and talent. Yes, we are the ones that God wants to use. What are we waiting for? Give Him the go-ahead sign; give Him your life and not just your leftovers. I personally guarantee along with our blessed Lord that we won't be disappointed. This is a test, yes. Life is but a test.

Here is one more little test to know for sure if you have the living Spirit of Jesus Christ dwelling in your body. As I’ve mentioned previously, to possess His spirit means to have the same motives, desires, love, and driving force that Jesus had 2,000 years ago. Here is the question: How do we know for certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that Christ’s Spirit dwells in our bodies? If our answer is: “I know; I just know,” that answer is not good enough. What hard evidence do we have apart from just knowing it? The only evidence is a life that conforms to that of Jesus Christ. No ifs, ands or buts.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

# 111: Response to Comments

I am writing this post in response to comments I received from a relative of mine who is an extremely intelligent person with an excellent memory. About two months ago, he asked me if intelligent design belonged in the biology class. I gave him a hard copy of post #109, "Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design," because he is a physical chemist and I wanted to get some scientific input on the subject of discussion. I am not certain what his status is concerning his belief in God, and what effect God has on his life. But I do know that he believes in most, if not all, fields of science. I will quote only the excerpts in #109, relative to his comments. If you desire to know what the context of my responses is, click on post #109.

1) On his first comment, I could understand why he commented: because I didn’t make myself clear enough. Therefore, I clarified this next excerpt: “I don’t mean to actually delete those early chapters, but for informed Christians to, at least in their mind, realize the writer’s limited knowledge and improvise creation’s time frame as being much longer than six 24-hour earth days.” This was his comment: “Bad example. Moses did understand what a day was. God could have said millions of years.” The changes I made were to put an apostrophe in the word “writer’s,” move a comma in back of “improvise,” and change the pronoun “the” to “creation’s.”

2) “And yet, with all those mistakes, the Bible is by all means the best source of information in existence that relays to humanity why God exists and what God and life are all about.” His comment was, “How do you know this?” My response is this: The proof is in the pudding. I have had plenty of years to try many lifestyles to find lasting meaning in my life. In the end, every one of them failed. What the Bible teaches, if practiced without reservation, fulfills one’s most intrinsic needs. And isn’t that what we are all seeking?

3) “And I truly believe that holy book was inspired by God; He had it written by fallible men in such a way, so that men/women could understand, for the limited knowledge they had at the time.” His comment was: “Where’s the latest version? Did God retire?” My answer is this: To my knowledge, the New International Version Bible is still used as the best source for accuracy. And then I think he inserted a little bit of jest about God retiring.

4) “Therefore, the winner is the one who has the most plausible answer, and for that reason, is the closest to possibly having the correct answer.” His comment was this: “This is absurd. Apply it to planetary motion, and physics would not exist.” My response is this: Physics, evolution and natural selection have not been able to answer the question of how the information encoded in DNA molecules formed on its own in the first living organism. And until they have the answer to that question, intelligent design is the best answer. If it violates the laws of physics, so be it. Just remember that believing in the existence of God violates physics. Therefore, the laws of physics break down when God enters the picture. Could that be why many brilliant scientists don’t believe in God?

5) “Biology and evolution argue that intelligent design is attempting to sneak God into the biology class and the school room through the back door. That must never be allowed.” This was his comment: “Why do you need to know everything?” I will respond to that question with a question: Does God desire for us to remain ignorant on matters that will better our lives, especially for inquisitive people like myself? If there is something to be known which will better our lives, I desire to know it. Is that what you mean by the word “everything”?

6) “Unanswered questions.” This was his comment: “All possibilities are infinite, including mice made the world. Again, why can’t we just accept there are things we don’t know?” My response is this: There are at least, if not only, two excellent questions in the world: questions that have not yet been asked, and questions that have no apparent answers.

7) “Now the question arises, how could this motor have arisen from a population of bacteria without tails, through natural selection?” His comment was this: His argument. “After-X-years of bacterial evolution on day -Y- of history, God added a flagellin to X bacteria.” This is my response: As mentioned previously, evolution, which implies natural selection, could not have functioned without information; where did that genetic information in the first bacterium come from?

8) “Again, there is no natural system that can produce information.” His comment was this: “Bacteria already had information available and were mutating and swapping information.” This is my response: Information needs intelligence/a mind to come into existence. Where did that information which the “bacteria already had” come from? Sounds like we are going around and around.

9) “If the universe was the result of a gigantic explosion, it was mostly likely an intelligent metaphysical force (which I call God) that created that bit of physical matter out of thin air, so to speak. That makes more sense than a random unknown force or energy.” His comment was this: “And if not? If you’re wrong? Let's say God did start everything. Why should we call point G the beginning when it was really A?” This is my response: It won’t be the first time I have been wrong. In the second part, I have no answer because I don’t understand the logic to the question.

Since post #109 is so controversial, feel free to send in your comments and criticism.


Continued… He also gave me a comment on post #108, “Where is Your Heart?” In the second-to-last paragraph: “And lastly, love God with all your might and love for the needy.” His comment was: “Firstly! Why? Would God be happier if you spent your money on starving children or on this blog? Do you care more about the needy or this blog?” This is my response: That is a soul-searching question. I must attempt for a balance. But even more importantly, which will bring God the greatest glory, and which will make Him known as He desires to be known? That would be my primary motive, while not neglecting the needy or children. But one thing to remember is that the secular world does help the needy, and at the same time God receives no glory for that charity. Therefore, when I help those in need, I must make certain the gifts go toward wholesome things and not toward alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. I live in a panhandler district, and am approached quite often by beggars. To just give my money to them is foolish and possibly harmful. I always ask them what the money is for. If they say food or clothing, I will go with them and buy what is needed. As for helping starving children and giving God the glory, I have not been able to participate in that type of giving. Just to give to a charitable organization, hoping children are helped, I, at this time, will not participate. And at the same time, my heart actually goes out with many tears to these misfortunate children that I see on TV.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

# 110: Contradictions and Uncertainties

This post is being written in response to several comments and e-mails I received, asking for the list of Bible verses that show contradictions and uncertainties in the New Testament, which is contrary to what some churches teach: that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. WARNING: This post may be disturbing to some. Caution is advised.

Thanks for your inquiry. These Biblical contradictions could upset a person’s faith, as they did to mine in the early 1970s. I pray that does not happen to anyone who is reading this section. God has the ability to work through humanity’s shortcomings. In fact, He can take advantage of these errors in a surprising way: When people want to purposely find these mistakes to justify some ungodly belief or action, they are given more than enough rope to hang themselves with these contradictions. Also, this is good ammunition for those who desire to undermine Scripture. Those who are true Christians will understand that these human errors show that this book, although inspired by the Holy Spirit, is written by imperfect, though fallible, reborn humans. One important thing to remember is that the Gospels were written mostly by memory, 30 or more years after the fact. Even people with excellent memories still have lapses in memory. The sad thing is that some churches attempt to hide these errors and then teach that the Bible is without error. I believe it is best to tell the truth if it hurts or hinders, and let the chips fall where they may. These contradictions and uncertainties do not discredit the Bible, but let it be known that it was written and interpreted as best these authors and translators knew. I am not saying the old manuscripts were not tampered with, because there is some evidence that they were. Whether these alterations were done maliciously, inadvertently, or for benevolent reasons, who is to say? Regardless, the Bible will always stand tall. No book in the world does a better job of teaching and inspiring a way of life where ordinary people can reach their spiritual genetic potential, regardless of what organized religion has done to display just the comfy-cozy parts of the Christian life while playing down obedience, which takes effort.

And of course, there are those who haven’t studied the New Testament sufficiently enough to catch errors. I have known about those errors for over 30 years and my faith is stronger than ever. Repeating, of course in the hands of atheists, they can do much harm by undermining the faith of those just starting out to know the Lord. You can see why some churches don’t encourage the reading of the Bible.

All the bible verses in this complete blog are quoted from the “New International Version” of the Bible, a popular and accepted version by the majority of the Christian world.

1) This first contradiction, most likely, is the largest. In a casual reading, it could be easily overlooked. As big as it is, it doesn’t take away anything of substance. In other words, it doesn’t mean a hoot or a holler. Even though this large discrepancy doesn’t have any theological implications, it does reflect an uncertainty as to the accuracy of other portions of the New Testament.

This partially secluded error has to do with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:2, starting in reverse order with Abraham, Matthew ends up in verse 17 with the birth of Jesus. Now in Luke 3:23, Luke starts with Jesus and ends up with God in verse 37. But you don’t have to go as far as God. Go up to the last part of verse 33 where Abraham is mentioned. Starting with Abraham, go backward from Abraham to Jesus to coincide with how Matthew wrote it. Repeating, the genealogy from Jesus Christ to Abraham is totally different in Matthew than in Luke where he starts with Jesus and ends with God. If it sounds screwy, it is. Then, some have said that one account is of Jesus and the other is of Mary. That is foolish talk for the unlearned. There has never been genealogy of women in the Old or New Testament, and besides, Mary is never even mentioned in these two accounts. Someone was misinformed. If I didn’t make myself clear, let me know and I will try again.

2) Luke 9:50: “‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’”

Matthew 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me. . .” Luke contradicts what he said earlier. In Luke 11:23, “He who is not with me is against me. . . .”

3) Matthew 26:34: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’” Luke says the same thing in Luke 22:60.

Mark 14:30: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today –yes, tonight–before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will disown me three times.’” Did the rooster crow once or twice?

4) Luke 23:39: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us,’ but the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since we are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what we deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’”

Matthew 27:44: “In the same way the robbers [plural] who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Who said what?

5) In this next verse, the translators/interpreters are in error. Remember, there was no punctuation in Bible writings until about the 15th century; therefore, the translators put punctuation in as they thought was the common belief. Luke 23:42-43: “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Written that way, Jesus is saying that that very day, the thief will be in paradise. Now if the comma was placed after the word ‘today,’ the complete meaning would change. It should be read this way: "I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise." The thief will be with Jesus in paradise, but not that same day.

Here is why I say that: In John 20:17, three day after Jesus’ crucifixion, while Jesus was at the site of His tomb, Mary was there. “Jesus said, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.’” The question remains: Did the thief go to paradise before Jesus? With the comma as it is written in the New Testament, the answer is yes. Big error. This subject can have long-term implications, which I don’t desire to discuss at this time. But you can read an answer I gave to a comment in post #102 entitled “Conscious State at Death.” That may help you. There are seven comments in that comment section.

6) This next verse is in three Gospels, but is not mentioned in John. Matthew 12:32, Luke 12:10, and I will quote Mark 3:29: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” What is this sin against the Holy Spirit? I have heard many flimsy answers, but none will suffice. I personally don’t know if this is sinning against the Holy Spirit, but the only sin I know that can never be forgiven is the sin of unbelief in what God said in the Bible. This eternal sin contradicts 1st John 3:5: “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Can Jesus take away that eternal sin?

7) The two most reliable manuscripts do not contain Mark 16:9-20. Those verses are in my Bible and others I have. Should we believe those 11 verses or not? Do yourself a favor and read them. See how important and different they are from the other Gospels.

8) Matthew 20:18-19: Jesus said to them, speaking of himself, “They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Since Jesus knew this was going to happen to him, why is it written in Matthew 26:39 that Jesus said this in prayer to His Father: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”?

9) Concerning divorce, see Matthew 5:31: “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery.” My question is, what if the wife was an excellent wife, but the husband just wanted a younger, sexier woman and therefore divorced her? Was it her fault? No. It doesn't make any sense. Now listen to what Luke says in Luke 16:18, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” My question is this: Is adultery a sin that can be forgiven? I am sure it can be forgiven. Or is that the eternal sin against The Holy Spirit? Is a man or a woman still guilty of adultery after they repented and received forgiveness? I am sure the blood of Jesus Christ could cleanse that sin. Then what is the problem? If you know more than I do concerning this issue, let me know. There seems to be some type of misunderstanding somewhere.

10) When this New International Version Bible was being written in 1982, there were many—almost a hundred—uncertainties for the interpreters, since they had many ancient manuscripts to study from. They had to pick and choose which words and even sections they thought were the most accurate. Even though I mentioned only a few inconsistencies, there are many more minor ones I didn't mention, because that would only be nitpicking.

11) In 1st Corinthians 14:22-24, the Apostle Paul is teaching about speaking in tongues. In verse 22, he says that tongues are a sign for unbelievers; then in verse 23 and 24, he says the exact opposite. Read it yourself and see if you can figure out what he is saying.

12) In Romans 7:18-20, the way the Apostle Paul wrote those three verses has given many Christians a license to sin. It was never meant to be taken that way. This section is not an error, but the way it is taken is where the error occurs. As a matter of fact, the way it is taken, without a doubt, has done more damage to Christianity than any other obvious heresy. This is the way it reads: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” To clarify these three verses, I devoted blog post #76 to this extremely controversial subject, regarding exactly what Paul meant. If you read nothing else in this blog, read this post.

13) The end of the world is mentioned in four different sections. These four different versions could be united into one coherent study; nevertheless, on the surface they seem to contradict each other and leave some people bewildered. The Apostle Paul speaks of the rapture, as it is called in Christian circles, in 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven and with a trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” My question is this: who will be left, God’s people, or those that have been condemned? The Apostle Luke mentions it in his 21st chapter. I will quote only one verse, and if one desires to be more informed, read the whole 21st chapter. 21:10. “Then he said to them: nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” Matthew speaks on the same subject in Matthew 24th chapter, but with a few different events. The Apostle Peter has a different scenario in 2nd Peter 3:10: “But the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” And lastly, the book of Revelation mentions the destruction of the earth and its people from the sixth to the twentieth chapter. That is the most gruesome account. If you desire to learn more about the end of the world, read #103: “Living in the Midst of the Doomsday Age.” There you will also get my personal views.

14) Read Matthew 20:29-34. Those verses tell of two blind men that were healed by Jesus. Then read Mark 11:46-52. This section tells of one blind man healed by Jesus. There are so many similarities in language that one could assume they are the same story, with the exception of the number of blind men.

15) Matthew 27:32: “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Now compare that verse with John 19:16. “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” You decide!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

# 109: Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Even though I have already written on this subject three times in this blog, I am inspired to write again since the news is covering what should be taught in several school districts in different states. Another reason I am writing on this subject is to inform readers of what I believe is a ground-breaking analysis of all three schools of thought before personal decisions are made on what is right, wrong, and best for the majority of Americans.

Biology is the science that deals with the origin, history, physical characteristics, life processes, habits, etc. of living organisms such as plants, animals, and viruses. It is an exact science that has been around for over one hundred years. This biological science cannot be intimidated by the dependency upon religious dogma or even the mere mention of God, and I understand that. However, in the unique case of attempting to explain how the first living organism somehow made itself out of non-living matter, biology has not been able to scrape up scientific evidence or even a logical theory as to how it came into existence. I will talk more on this failure of biology as we get into further paragraphs.

In order to understand creation, we must first remember that the Old Testament was written over three thousand years ago, when knowledge of how the universe worked (science) and information of living organisms (biology) was nonexistent. When Moses wrote the book of Genesis (the first book in the Old Testament), he wrote it according to his knowledge at the time and also, most likely, according to information received from God. Did Moses or anyone else at that time know anything about how the stars are either other solar systems in our Milky Way galaxy or planets in our solar system? What about the infinite size of the universe, evolution, intelligent design, biology, or even our own solar system, or hundreds of other sciences that we now take for granted which help us understand ourselves and the world around us? NO. Could God have revealed all of the above to Moses? He could have, but it would have made no sense and only confused the poor man. Does that make the Bible wrong? No. It is our place to update at least that section to conform with today’s knowledge, without taking away any substance as to belief in God, morals, love of God, and other Biblical absolutes. I don’t mean to actually delete those early chapters, but for informed Christians to realize the writer's limited knowledge and improvise creation's time frame as being much longer than six 24-hour earth days.

God created the universe and man/woman through natural processes (God-guided evolution) which we now study. Since God lives in timelessness (eternity) where time does not exist, He was/is in no hurry to get things done in just six 24-hour days. This is by no means heresy. Just remember that God designed and created all things, and man came along and investigated through science what was created. In some complex areas of life, inquiring people realized that there must be a supernatural creator. And when someone comes along and attempts, in a seminal way, to make creation and science one coherent subject, God is pleased, as all intelligent and seeking Christians and scientists should be.

Here is what I am doing at this time: I am giving you a cutting-edge disclosure. I am mostly referring to the first four chapters of Genesis. In order for the creation of the universe and mankind to make much sense, the first chapter of Genesis (which talks about the six-day creation period) must be expanded into about four and a half, to thirteen billion earth years. Here is another question: Did God create Adam in a single 24-hour day, or was he the product of God-guided evolution? The answer seems clear. God mentioned Adam as the first in line of a people who would represent Him. The only thing is that the evidence seems to indicate that God still created Adam through the natural process of evolution, which took much more than 24 hours. Here is vivid evidence that Adam was not the only person on earth when God introduced him in Genesis: Genesis 4:13-17. “But Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear . . . I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him . . . .” Verse 17 states, “Cain lay with his wife . . .” I ask this question: Who were these other people, and where did they come from? These facts alone lead me to believe that there were other humans on earth who got there through the evolution process at the time when Adam was first mentioned. Therefore, Christians can still believe the creation story and also continue believing the Bible. I do, and it makes all the sense in the world to smooth (make more understandable) some of the conflicting material. For those who don’t believe the aforementioned, please give me a more logical reason as to where those other humans came from.

Since religion hasn’t done anything about the above paradox, we end up with the controversy of what to teach in our schools, along with misunderstandings in other areas of life and religion. This change may be difficult, if not impossible, for some who believe the complete Bible to be the inerrant, infallible Word of God. If that is true, there could not be one error or contradiction in the Bible. But there are dozens upon dozens of contradictions, like the one above, especially in the four Gospels. If anyone wants to know what some of those dubious verses are, let me know and I will make a list of them. And yet, with all of those mistakes, the Bible is by all means the best source of information in existence that relays to humanity why God exists and what God and life are all about. And I truly believe that holy book was inspired by God; He had it written by fallible men in such a way that men/women could understand with the limited knowledge they had at that time.

Intelligent design is backing up the knowledge that information cannot be the result of natural selection, random variations, or simple chemicals arranging and rearranging themselves until information is formed. The information I am referring to is the double-helix DNA strand, a large molecule consisting of just four chemicals: As, adenine; Ts, thymine; Cs, cytosine; and Gs, Guanine. The encoding of these chemicals in the proper sequence is all the data necessary for the reproduction and maintenance of all living organisms. That DNA strand is the most densely packed, elaborately detailed information assembly in the known universe. Since there is no known natural system that can produce information, intelligent design comes to the rescue and says, “Since biology can’t explain how that information was formed or where that information came from, the only other plausible alternative is that a metaphysical force, energy, mind, being, or benevolent intelligence must be responsible.” Then, of course, biology steps in and says, “Metaphysics (the boogieman) is not science.” Agreed. Neither is biology’s ignorance of that answer. Since neither has a scientific answer, both are on level ground. Therefore, the winner is the one who has the most plausible answer, and is therefore the closest to possibly having the correct answer.

Biology and evolution argue that intelligent design is attempting to sneak God into the biology class and school room through the back door. That must never be allowed. I personally believe that the proponents of intelligent design mainly desire that students and scientists should be allowed to examine all the possibilities for the answer/s to unanswered question/s. Then, once out of the classroom, students and scientists can assess and discuss between themselves what the metaphysical implications—whether God or religion—are to intelligent design.

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his book “The Origin of Species” and therefore got the credit for showing the world what evolution consisted of. As a spiritual man, I believe it was God who designed and created the evolution process and Darwin who explained it, to a large degree. His explanation of natural selection is still to this day a creditable source of biological information. However, one thing he does not mention is how the first living cell created itself out of non-living matter. In Darwin’s time, until the middle of the 20th century, it was believed that the cell was nothing more than a glob of protoplasm. In the last 50 years, our knowledge of the cell exploded. We now know that each cell is a little factory beaming with life. Each cell is basically made up of proteins, and each protein is consists of hundreds of amino acids.

In 1969, Dean Kenyon (an evolutionary biologist) and Gary Steinman published a book titled “Biological Destination” on the theory of chemical evolution. It was widely accepted by the scientific community as gospel truth for some time. They believed that amino acids had the ability to form themselves into the necessary specific sequence to form each desired protein. We must note there are only 20 amino acids that make up about 30,000 different proteins. A few years after the publication of that book, as biologists and others continued to study the structure of proteins and the properties of amino acids, it became evident that in themselves, amino acids did not have the ability to form proteins. In fact, in the early 1980s, Dean Kenyon rejected the theory of chemical evolution which he wrote so adamantly about 20 years earlier.

I wanted to mention that natural selection does work well once an organism already exists, but natural selection cannot be applied before an organism has formed, and an organism cannot form without genetic information from DNA. Natural selection keeps/saves the smallest functional advantages and rejects those that have no advantage. Repeating, the DNA molecule must have come about through a process other than Darwin’s natural selection.

More extremely-convincing evidence for intelligent design comes from a single-cell organism that maneuvers in its surrounding fluid by the use of a whip-like tail that can rotate at 100 rpm. Examining the mechanism that drives these tails, biologists have found a miniaturized outboard motor, called a bacterial flagellin, which has all the parts needed to function. It is made up of 40 different protein parts. Now the question arises: How could this motor have arisen from a population of bacteria without tails, through the process of natural selection? How could it build itself a little bit at a time until it was ready to function? We must remember that natural selection only preserves parts that have a functional advantage. Therefore, these parts would have been eliminated before the motor was completed. And just like a mechanical outboard motor, if parts are missing, it won’t work. That is called irreducible complexity. This motor could not have worked until all its parts were in place. Repeating, natural selection works great once an organism already exists, but it would be useless in forming an organism with a flagellin. The only way that motor could have been formed was if there was genetic information detailing exactly how to build it. Again, there is no natural system that can produce information.

This next paragraph will reveal an embarrassing riddle that cosmologists and physicists have not been able to explain. I will attempt to approach this extremely controversial topic with logic and common sense since empirical evidence is not available. Seeking to have a more complete picture in the creation of the universe, I will also give my version of why the universe was created. This subject must be read with an open mind. The laws of physics dictate that we humans cannot create physical matter out of thin air. That is as basic as the ABCs. Yet cosmologists and astronomers want us to believe that an extremely small object exploded and was the genesis of the Big Bang Theory. The only logical question is this: Where did this extremely densely-packed minute object come from? It could not have made itself. Then some will say that it was the result of some sort of energy and other unknown forces that caused it to form. I ask, where did those forces come from, and what made them form? The experts have not been able to answer this basic question. That is hole #1; as the renown physicist Stephen W. Hawkins frankly admitted, “At this point, the laws of physics break down,” and made no further comments as to the answer. If the universe was the result of a gigantic explosion, it was most likely an intelligent metaphysical force (which I call God) that created that bit of physical matter out of thin air, so to speak. That makes more logical sense than a random unknown force or energy.

Since most important things in life have a reason for their existence, the question remains: What was the reason the universe was created? Answer: All things that have life must reproduce in order to continue in a meaningful way. This intelligent metaphysical force (or mind—the word “mind” implies that it has life)—through that life is invisible through our physical eyes. To keep it simple, the potential physical worlds/planets that would come into existence through this creation (which has taken billions of earth years to create and is still incomplete, since I believe the universe is infinite) would be a perfect medium for intelligent physical beings to evolve. Eventually those who, through their belief and obedience, adhered to the control of this benevolent intelligence, could join its [His] company for eternity.

Putting all the aforementioned thoughts together into one unit, the sum total could be that biology/evolution, creation, and intelligent design could/should easily become one coherent harmonious subject. The nice part of this arrangement is that the atheist can now be an informed atheist; the Christian can now be an enlightened Christian; and those in between can at least be informed and do whatever they desire with their new seminal knowledge. And the best thing about it is that they can all live in harmony in the same classroom. Of course, Christians should never attempt to push their holy ways on others in the classroom, and the atheists must not belittle the Christians for believing and living as they do. I call that a happy ending to a controversy that has been going on for at least 80 years. Am I being naive in proposing this simple solution to a complex situation? Let me hear your opinion.

Friday, November 11, 2005

#108: Where Is Your Heart?

Have American Christians been going in the wrong direction regarding what we have been storing in our hearts? The heart is the secret place where we store our most valuable possessions and only two individuals know what it contains: God and ourselves. There are times that we attempt to fool ourselves as to its contents, but we can’t deceive God. God knows what’s in everyone’s heart. There is no doubt that there are many things we can store in our hearts, but in essence, it all breaks down to three categories: family and friends, things and pleasures of material value, and God and all that He stands for. Which one is most valuable to you and me? Remember that what we claim may not be the truth. We like to deceive ourselves for various self-centered reasons. Nevertheless, no matter what we desire to make ourselves believe, the truth of the matter is this: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21. Which one will it be: loved ones, worldly pleasures, or Godly values? Some will say, “Can’t I have all three?” Let me answer that question by quoting Luke 16:13:, “No man can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." To put it another way, if a person was forced to choose only one at the expense of the other two, his/her choice would be where his/her heart is. "You cannot serve both God and money.” For those of us who believe in this type of thinking, we are in for a pleasant surprise.

As Christians, not many of us were told that the desire for wealth, worldly pleasures, and love of family and friends could put us in serious trouble with God. Mark 4:19 puts it this way, “. . . but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” The sad fact is that we have been told by you-know-who the exact opposite. Now what are we to do? Should we believe God, or believe what we and the world have been told since day one? In order to unscramble this serious contradiction, we must examine the whole picture.

Let us try to figure out and understand why this principle is an absolute biblical truth. To do that, let me quote the one section of the New Testament most ignored by the clergy, as it applies to our Christian lives: Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure [singular] is, there your heart will also be.” The majority of the clergy have deleted these three verses from the New Testament with their contriving sermons in ever way possible; what they have produced is today’s organized religion per se.

What is highly valued and sought after in America? Answer: “The American dream,” which is to have things of material value and security from unforeseen needs or poverty. That is the exact opposite of what the Bible says. Jesus said in Luke 16:14, “What is highly valued among men is DETESTABLE in God’s sight.” [emphasis added]. Jesus couldn’t have made it any clearer, to the point where it is be impossible to water-down. Well, if the church cannot make it more palatable for the parishioners, they just simply ignore it. This next statement I say in an unequivocal way. There is no room for compromise, let alone abandonment of this verse. Since the evil one knows where men/women are most vulnerable (survival of the fittest), this is where he played his trump card; the Christian church blatantly played into the devil’s hand. And the devastating result is that there is little chance of anyone abandoning the precious holy grail of American Christians. There just is no legal defense or excuse for such a grievous offense toward the Holy Scripture. There isn’t any more to be said, except that we are seeing just one of organized religion’s crimes against God.

Now, on a positive note, let’s see how we can store up treasures—be what they may—in heaven. The most valuable treasure is believing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We cannot do that with only our mouth and mind; we must believe with our whole lives. The next treasure is obedience to all of Jesus Christ's commands in the New Testament. And lastly, we must love God with all our might and love the needy. Those who have those three treasures stored in their heart have wealth beyond description. If one could put the value of that wealth in monetary terms, one could easily be a spiritual multibillionaire. Okay; that sounds great, but how can one be certain they are not deceiving themselves? Easy answer: when the things and pleasures of this world start and continue to lose value; and at the same time, Jesus Christ emerges more and more clearly each day in one’s life—that is the evidence of the certainty of where one’s heart is.

When one claims Jesus Christ as Lord (boss of their life) and things of the material world are still precious, that is clear evidence of false Christianity. We must keep this verse in mind. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Was Jesus a radical to expect this much sacrifice from His disciples (Christians)? Some will say, “That was just Christ’s opinion." God’s truth is not an opinion. Am I a radical for bringing up this “the-heart-tells-the-truth” subject in the open, and in such a brutally candid way? Some will say. “That is just your opinion.” I don’t think so.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

# 107: Hatred, Persecution, & Hardship

In this section, I will attempt to explain the reasons Christians in the first century—and even the next few centuries—were hated and persecuted, why they endured hardships, and why it is not happening in America at the present. Before I do, I want to let you know for certain that I am not just making up or exaggerating the hatred and persecutions toward the early Christians. To prove that, I am going to quote all the New Testament verses that tell by whom and why the early Christians were treated in this vile way. This list will be quite long, but I thought it would be necessary so that one can clearly see how prevalent this sort of distasteful treatment was.

Acts 14:22. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

2nd Timothy 3:12. "In fact, EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted.” (emphasis added).

Hebrews 12:7. “Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”

Matthew 10:22-23. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”

Matthew 5:10-11. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Matthew 24:9-10. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.”

Matthew 5:44. “But I tell you: love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you . . . .” Is that what George Bush and Dick Cheney are doing? Did they ever read the New Testament?

Mark 13:13 is identical to Matthew 10:22. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Luke 6:22. ” Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:17-19. “All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”

Luke 21:12. “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you.”

Luke 11:49. “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.”

John 7:7. “. . . but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” Since Jesus Christ is our example, should we also be testifying that what the world does is evil?

John 15:18-20. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

John 17:14. “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of this world any more than I am of this world.”

Acts 11:19. “Now those who have been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen . . . .”

Acts 12:1. “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.”

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

Romans 8:35. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword?”

1st Corinthians 4:12. "When we are cursed, we bless: when we are persecuted, we endure it . . .”

2nd Corinthians 4:9. ". . . persecuted, but not abandoned . . .”

Galatians 5:11. “. . . why am I still being persecuted?"

1st Thessalonians 3:4. “In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.”

2nd Timothy 2:3. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

2nd Timothy 4:5. “. . . endure hardship, do the work of and evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Revelation 2:3. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”

I could understand the early Christians, and more so today’s Christians, as to why none of them desire/d to be hated and persecuted. That type of treatment does not make one feel very nice. Nevertheless, there are at least three reasons for all that persecution, hatred and hardship: First, they were going against the norms of the times. And second, their lives of holiness and purity, along with their words, exposed the ungodly ways of those who thought they were the elect. And of course, hailing Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah infuriated the religious leaders.

Now the question remains: Are today’s organized churches actively doing that to the point where they are hated and persecuted? NO. They are loved and respected by the community, and you can see why. They stress tolerance and unity of all faiths, regardless of their protocol for living. But what is just as detestable in God’s sight is that most church-going people have accepted the blending of how they live with how the world lives, to the point that it is impossible to tell who is who. In fact, atheistic morals are many times higher than the morals of those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Who is responsible for this deplorable condition? Leaders of Christian churches all over the world are.

The vast majority of the laity are not aware of what is expected of them by the New Testament—that is the main reason for this blog. This ungodly condition did not come about overnight. It has been going on for decades, actually centuries. And I can tell you here and now that the majority of those who are reading this message will not or cannot live the way the Bible teaches because they truly believe that the way they’ve been living and what they’ve believed most (if not all) of their lives could not be a false/diluted form of Christianity. It is that difficult to change how one believes, and especially how one lives. Then, some might agree to/believe what the Bible says, but then go no further. All I can say is that the Christian religion in America, if not in the whole world, is in a sad situation, especially with the sex scandals in the Catholic Church. They are the ones that should be tortured, more so than murders or terrorists. How many lives have they forever ruined in the name of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, there will be very little, if any, noticeable change, even though a few will realize that what the New Testament teaches is to be obeyed to the letter. Those few who choose to obey are the ones who will endure hardships and be hated and persecuted, especially if they are adamant in how persuasive they are in letting religious people—including the clergy—know that they are either deceived or deceivers. Of course, one reason most don’t speak up for what they believe is because they don’t want to be looked on as religious fruitcakes. One thing to remember is that in the first century, it was the religious leaders that did the persecuting. Listen to John 16:2: “. . . in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” Will the truth of the Gospel message also enrage today’s religious leaders to the point that they will inflict harm on people like me? Many will say, “Things are different in the world today; therefore, what happened 2,000 years ago does not apply to modern Christians.” If that is the case, how much Scripture must we delete to make it compatible with our sinful modern ways? Here is another one that should be deleted. Read the 23rd chapter of Matthew, as it vividly tells that it was the religious leaders that Jesus gave a wicked tongue-lashing. Seems like religion, then and now, has/had the ability to bring out the best and the worst in people who have been entrusted with leadership.

Therefore, if Christians are not being hated and persecuted, it may be because they are living the way the vast majority of the clergy—over 300,000 in America alone—has been teaching them since who knows when. I can hear some thinking at this time, “Screw what you and the Bible say; the church I have been going to all my life is right, and I don’t need to and am not going to change.” It truly breaks my heart to know that millions are stuck in what they believe, with no easy way out. You can see what will be in store for me as I pursue—with all my energy and resources—what the Bible and I teach in this blog.

I realize more than most that the last thing Christians want to be told is that their lives are going in the wrong direction, and that to live life to the fullest, they need change. I can hear others thinking, “I am never getting on this blog again. What I want to hear is how lucky I am to live in the good-old USA and I have a chance to be however great my dreams will take me. And of course, I love being told what a wonderful and smart guy/gal I am.” Hey, I wish you the best. Just remember that air conditioners will be at a premium where you are/may be heading. Ha-ha.

I believe the most fortunate are those who believe there is a God, but have done little about it, and are not attached to any specific religious organization. It would be easier for them to put two and two together as to what it means to be a genuine Christian, without any strong preconceived ideas. That means even knowing that hatred, persecution, and hardships, most likely, will be waiting for them. If that is part of living the good life with God, and it is, so be it.

No matter who they are, if they are not aware of a need—a desperate need—for a better life, it most likely will not happen. Another sad and deceitful challenge we are up against is that this physical world keeps persuasively saying loud and clear, “No matter what your desires are, I can satisfy them all.” And when a person is satisfied with what this world offers, it is next to impossible for them to venture into the realm of God. That is another reason why the needy and not the wealthy are better candidates for life with God through Jesus Christ.

If you are a person who knows there must be a God, but haven’t let it influence your life, and you are irritated by church-going Christians that nag people like you to join their church, or are always slyly preaching how good they are and how sinful others must be, read this complete blog. You will have more than enough ammunition to silence and even possibly convert them to the truth of the whole Gospel message, and at the same time, maybe convert yourself. But make certain not to leave out that hardships will be waiting for them along with hatred and persecutions, especially if they/you are gung ho/enthusiastic in doing the work that Jesus Christ started. That is the genuine Christian’s solemn obligation to finish. God bless all who are/will be aiming for the heights of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 04, 2005

# 106: I Understand

Compromise is a game of give and take. The world could not function without it. Almost everywhere we look, it takes wheeling and dealing in order to complete transactions. We see it in our own Congress, in order to get bills passed. Hardly a bill can get passed without some kind of concession/s by one side or the other. We see it as unions negotiate with all kinds of employers. A marriage would not work without it. That is the way the world works. Compromise is essential for the good of just about everyone.

But there is one area where compromise equals deception. Just about everyone hates to be told that they are being deceived, that is, in the spiritual realm of God. No one can compromise with the devil (evil) and end up a winner. Even a little compromise of what is right and holy, and the whole person will be corrupted. Here is the point: It takes just a little bit of poison to kill the whole person.

The New Testament is unequivocal as to what is right and wrong conduct in the lives of all who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. But much of what is right and holy living has been compromised by being omitted or diluted for this simple reason: Those commands don’t blend well (belong) with many of our modern ways, are not adhered to, or are labeled as being old-fashioned, unnecessary, too difficult, or next to impossible to implement.

When a person wants something done correctly, he/she goes to a professional. If you need your motor vehicle repaired, you go to an authorized dealer. If you need an operation, you go to a reputable doctor. If you desire to have a custom house built, you get a contractor who has a good track record. Although there are many things a do-it-yourself person can do by him/herself, it is always best to go to one who is skilled in a specific profession. We must remember that most professionals spent big bucks going to college for many years. When they are done with school, they expect a return on their money. They may come to love what they are doing and love the people they will be working for, and their clientele may be happy and grateful for their services. But the reason for all this joyful exuberance is the bottom line (the money)—the more, the merrier.

Therefore, I truly understand why people go to established churches. They expect the people behind the pulpit to be professionals who will tell them the whole Gospel message. They went to seminary school to learn what Christianity/Jesus Christ is all about. Therefore, when religious learning is completed, the graduate has a choice between being an assistant in some church and starting one’s own church. How will these future religious leaders measure success? They will most likely measure it by preaching compelling sermons, week after week; by how much money is collected; by the number of new parishioners; and of course, by keeping the pews filled. No doubt, there may be other reasons, but the above three reasons will dictate if one is going to remain in the Christian ministry, go out and dig ditches, or wash clothes for a living.

It will be a TRICKY job to preach a good sermon, convince the laity of the right way, and still somehow avoid telling the laity what they don’t want to hear. Tell them what they don’t desire to be told, and many will say bye-bye. To be more explicit, there are many New Testament verses (the ones I bring to the surface in this blog) that do not set well with this modern culture we live in. If and when preachers do preach on these hard-nosed verses, they must be made softer (watered-down) and not as absolutes. “That is only a small compromise; that shouldn’t hurt anyone. It does make the Christian life more palatable with our present lifestyle.” But that form of “Christian life” is not genuine, Bible-based Christianity. In fact, all those hard-to-swallow verses could fit on several pages of the Bible. The question is this: Out of 700 pages in large print or as little as 160 pages in fine print of the New Testament, how can eliminating two or three pages do so much harm? As I said before, it only takes a little bit of poison to kill. Therefore, when the clergy does away with those few pages, hopefully not in a clever and sly way, the result is spiritual poison with the ability to kill multitudes. If anyone desires to know what some of these hard-nosed verses are—our active part of Christianity—these are the posts that bring them out into the open: #31, #92, #58, #59, #60, #76, #77, and #78.

Now the question remains: Are these church leaders aware of the harm they are doing? I sure hope not. I pray they are doing it inadvertently. Nevertheless, one way or another, it is the clergy that is responsible for the ill/uninformed church per se. I am sure the vast majority of the clergy are good, honest, loving and caring people. And I’ll bet you that most churchgoers love their pastors dearly and think the world of them. That, however, even compounds the danger. Here is why: When someone is loved dearly, people often see the very best (by painting them pretty) in that person. To put it another way: Many would say, “Oh, our church leader would never intentionally do that; he/she is so loving, just like part of the family.”

The reason I am so bold and controversial is because I don’t desire, covet, or need anyone’s money, love, esteem, or anything else of value, be it material or spiritual. I do it because I hopefully love those people (that are being misled) in the same way that Jesus Christ loves them. How do I know I love them? Because it hurts me deeply when I put myself in their place (empathy) as they give their money and devotion to something/someone that may lead them to an undesirable place. That is strong language, but it is the truth. Then, some might ask, “What type of love does Jesus have for those that are being misled?” Answer: "He desires that all men/women be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth." 1st Timothy 2:4, paraphrased. That is the type of love that desires the very best for all people. But that love of Christ will do no one any eternal good if they don’t believe and live as directed in the New Testament.

I very well know that what I write will never come into vogue. Most likely, Religion's Crime against God is (or could become) the most disliked and hated blog on the web. I understand. Still, I am inspired to just keep on writing the truth and trust that God will take care of the rest. I can just hear some of you thinking, “That is your opinion of the truth.” To those who are thinking that way, I challenge you to prove me in error according to the New Testament. Everyone, including myself, needs a good challenge once in a while.

To go even further, I dare anyone to bring up any topic in this blog to your know-it-all Christian friends or even—if you have the audacity—to your church pastor. See what type of response you get, and then throw it at me. I am that confident that what I write is Biblical truth. WARNING: If you do not want to know what the Bible expects of Christians, please do not read the rest of this blog.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

#105: The Value and the Reality of God

All people desire to feel (see themselves as) valuable and important to some degree. How and where a person acquires this self-value is most important in the Christian realm. When this value comes from accomplishments, possessions and the opinions of people, the physical world is obviously of greatest importance to that person.

When this value comes from one's connection with God through Christ, then God becomes the thing of greatest value in one's life. In order for God to make one valuable in the spirit world, however, the material world as a thing of value must be eliminated to the greatest degree possible.

How can God make someone feel valuable? Only through the belief process (faith). As long we derive our value from and focus on the physical world, we, though perhaps unknowingly, have no real additional need to feel important in the spiritual world of almighty God. There is no room for both in one person. Jesus said, "You cannot have two masters." To paraphrase what Jesus said: One cannot have two predominant motivating factors in one's life. In fact, God cannot become real until the visible world is devalued. How can a person even start to do this in our modern, materialistic, me-first culture? It's done in two steps. First, we do our part; second, God is allowed to do His part. Repeating, we must eliminate the physical world as a source of value to us. This does, in fact, actually mean separation from many seemingly necessary material things—the more, the better, but of course only with the right motive. Finally, God, by His grace, becomes real to us, above and beyond mere words acknowledging His reality.

In the end, even this desire is given to us from God. All we can do is pray that through our free will, God will give us the desire to do our part.

What Makes God Real?

God does not become real through man-made rules, regulations, knowledge about Him, or good deeds. Holy words, rituals, formalities, and liturgy also do nothing to make God more real to man. Yesterday’s belief may have made God vivid yesterday, but it won't make Him more realistic today. We need a fresh supply of belief every day to keep God real.

Words, written or spoken, do an incomplete job of describing our great and mighty God. Our language tells us a little about God, although it is human words that make us aware of our need for God through our belief in Him. One thing that words—even beautiful, holy words—can never do is to make God real to anyone. We can even believe His Word as Lord and Savior, but even at that, He may not be as realistic as the visible world is to us.

Question: What makes God real to a person? Answer: Only God Himself can make Himself real to a person, and only to the degree that one is aware of a need for Him. God accomplishes this by allowing each of us to actually share His divine nature. Wow! That is hard to believe. Yes, God can become as real to us as the material world, but He will only become real to His chosen, and then only as they permit. God cannot and will not display Himself to anyone who claims to be a Christian but is living for self.

There is much depth of truth in the aforementioned words. It might be necessary to read them over a time or two in order to absorb as much understanding as possible from this extremely pertinent subject.