Saturday, March 31, 2007

# 193: Fear of the Lord

A term we don’t hear very often in church circles is “fear of the Lord.” And why should we be fearful? We have a God who is loving, merciful, compassionate, eager to give us His grace, etc. Therefore, I can understand why fear has been negated from the modern gospel message. But the truth is, fear of God coupled with love is the restraining impetus which is meant to keeps us in line with His will—so as not to disobey Christ’s commands—along with being aware of God’s wrath for those who are disobedient. Check Ephesians 5:6. Without that fear, our love for God would do little to keep us from doing as we please, while still calling ourselves Christians.

Question: How did this lack of Godly fear make its way into today’s mainstream Christianity? Most likely, because fear is a negative emotion. Nevertheless, when someone is told he/she may have a possible error in his/her perception of God’s will, that is when an awareness of that shortcoming becomes beneficial wisdom. Proverbs 9:10. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Test your life against Holy Scripture. Then, and only then, can corrective action be taken.

After December 7, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his speech to the nation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, spoke these famous words: "The only thing to fear is fear itself." Sorry to say, that principle does not apply when it comes to the worship of God. From a Christian point of view, the Bible says, paraphrased, "The only thing to fear is when there is no active fear of God in the land."

During our lifetime, fear is a necessary life saver; even though we don’t use the word “fear,” it is implied. There is a myriad of examples. And what is it that implores us to do what is correct? Answer: the consequence of wrongdoing, regardless of whether it is just an embarrassment, a minor penalty, or physical death.

Now I ask, what type of restraint/s, apart from fear, is there in conventional Christianity which keeps churchgoers from disobeying God’s commands? Do we fear God’s retribution when we ignore many of the teachings commanded by Jesus Christ—I mean ones which have a negative implication? Or do we silently/secretly say to ourselves, “God’s grace and mercy will cover them all when I repent”? Or are we even aware of those requirements, since most churches remain silent on most teachings which might have an unpleasant reception?

Fear of the Lord must not be taken lightly. That concept is mentioned several hundred times in the Old Testament and sixteen or so times in the New. Most of us take fear as a negative, but in reality, it is a Godsend. Could anyone imagine what this physical world would be like if there was no fear? Could you imagine what Christianity would be like if there was no fear of God? Take a good look around, and most anyone who truly knows our Lord can see the result of little or no Godly fear in America and elsewhere.

What can be done about it? After being fed ice cream and candy most of our lives, as it were, not many will switch to being force-fed spinach and broccoli just because they are healthy. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Religion, in general, has been turned into a belief of peaches and cream. That type of food goes down without any force. To get the masses of churchgoers to accept fear of the Lord, other than in word, is like taking a horse to a lake of crystal-clear water; if that horse doesn’t want a drink, it would be impossible to make him/her drink. Repeating, what can be done about it? Don’t hold your breath; there will be no big changes, if any at all, in the “anything-goes” conduct of Christians in general. The majority will stick with believing the pleasant, feel-good gospel which joyfully says, "God loves you, so fear not."

Proverbs 13:24. "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." In America, we as parents now have laws forbidding the use of the rod on our unruly children. The result is that very few children have a fear of their parents. What that has led to in the last several generations is openly disobedient children to their parents and others. And when these children became/become adults, guess what? They become disobedient to all kinds of rules and guidelines which keep the fabric of society in check. Much of this stems from lack of fear of any serious retribution.

As adults, this lack of fear toward our parents spills over into our spiritual lives to the point where there is little or no fear of our Lord. But for us who fear Him, we should be so thankful we have a merciful God. For when we slip and fall into sin—I mean inadvertent sin—God is waiting for us to return in repentance so that He can lavish His mercy on us. But, as Hebrews 10:26 says, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received a knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."

Notwithstanding this above verse, this does not mean we must give up hope of ever being forgiven. Now, if we become aware of our need to fear God, we will stop sinning deliberately, mean it from our hearts and truly repent, then there will be mercy and forgiveness from God. The reason I say that is because in Matthew 18:21, this is what it teaches: "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins again me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’" Other Bibles say, "seventy times seven." Would God expect us to forgive more than He forgives (of course, when there is true repentance proven by deeds)? Absolutely not. This verse illustrates God’s desire to continually forgive. Thus, our desire to keep on forgiving is sharing in God’s divine nature.

A more difficult situation is when a person says to him/herself, "Since I don’t fear God because of His great mercy, I will disobey Him and do as I please; because of His mercy, He will forgive me when I say to Him, ‘I repent.’" As long as this type of situation continues, there will be no mercy or forgiveness. God is no fool.

In conclusion, let me reiterate what is written in the last paragraph. I pray none of the loyal readers of this blog deliberately keep on sinning. And still, I believe that with genuine repentance and Godly fear, if a person stopped sinning deliberately and made a complete turnaround, God’s mercy would still be extended to that person. God does not hold grudges concerning past mistakes for those who love, obey and fear Him. As I mentioned in previous posts, God reads the heart as to why a person disappoints Him. If one’s heart actively desires to continually please our Lord, sins will literally be a thing of the past. Luke 1:50. "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." That tells me there is hope for all of us who wholeheartedly fear Almighty God and desire to love and obey Him; again, a love and obedience which springs from Godly fear and trembling.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

# 192: Playing the Part of a Fool

The main purpose of this blog has been to expose the diluted, watered-down "christianity"–which is no Christianity at all—which is presented by the majority of organized religion. Along with that, I have been attempting to clearly display what has been missing in their dogma/theology. I will not spare any tough or highly descriptive words in portraying the deadly damage they have been committing since the beginning.

From my vantage point, it is understandable why they preach what they do. Most, if not all, of those behind the pulpit, the clergy, go to some seminary school or Christian college for a number of years. That schooling is not free, although I don’t think the tuition plus room and board are as expensive as secular colleges. After graduation, most will become associate pastors to already-established churches. A few may attempt to start their own church from scratch. Either way, they are hoping to make at least a living wage. And that is totally understandable.

Included in that schooling, there must have been a course that teaches the dos and don’ts of being a successful pastor. Even I, who don’t claim to have any religious title other than an ambassador for Christ, and a Biblical aficionado, quite often receive emails stating that I should buy their course/books on how to increase church membership, and how to make first-time visitors permanent members. Here are two examples I received in the last several days:

Church Giving. Church leaders do not want to have to worry about it and church members hate to hear about it. But every ministry in your church depends on it. What if there was a Biblical way to increase giving that respected your members AND worked? No more high pressure, no more constant "passing the hat," and no more budget shortfalls. Find out the methods used by thousands of growing churches to increasing giving the painless way. In Him, --Curt Gunz; Here's the link for more information.

A visitor took the first what? When someone visits your church for the first time they have taken the first step. They are saying, "We are interested in your church." Are you going to meet them half-way or is the unspoken message, "If you want to become a part of the church here, fine; but do not expect us to go out of our way to help you"? Now, I know you would never say would not even think that. But, when someone visits a Sunday-morning worship service and no one from your church follows up with them, that is exactly what you are saying. You need a simple but effective way to contact them and let them know you care. REACH OUT! (the resources that have helped hundreds of churches grow) will show you EXACTLY what to do to "Crack the Code" of a great outreach ministry. In Him, --Curt Gunz Here is the link for more information:

P.S. Do you know all nine "Secret Codes" for a great outreach ministry? I bet "Secret Code #6" surprises you.

Again, back to wanting to be successful pastors; it is perfectly normal for any of us, if we were in their position, to desire the same.

After all is said and done, this new group of pastors is eager and ambitious to put their skills into practice. Now the question remains, will their ambition for size of membership and the quantity of donations be matched by their integrity to teach what the Bible commands?

Undoubtedly, I am certain that this new class of clergy desires to be Biblically informative, and at the same time present the gospel message in a way that would not turn off the laity. Therefore, those who are articulate at the sleight-of-hand form of communicating (hypnosis by charisma) will, most likely, end up with a large congregation, even mega-churches. In turn, those clerics who desire to be true to the gospel, the ones whose preaching is more comparable to the New Testament, will offend some who desire to leave church on Sunday morning on a positive note. These churches will never grow in size, to any great degree. The reason being, many who think the Christian religion is all peaches and cream will label those types of churches as a bit negative and go elsewhere.

I know there are not many of these small true-to-God congregations, but fear not, they are there. For whatever reason, I have not been blessed to participate with such a congregation in the forty + years of my devotion to Jesus Christ. Also, you must remember, just because a church is small in membership does not automatically make them true to New Testament teachings. I have attended several small congregations; I was surprised to find them as dead as doornails, not only in their preaching, but the smell of death could not go unnoticed.

The unanswered questions in my mind are these: Are these preachers consciously aware that the main purpose in their preaching is to somehow form a large church? Or is it to show and tell what is required in Scripture; to live in a manner which pleases the Lord? Are they aware that preaching difficult-to-apply Biblical commands is not a popular or smart way to run a church? Or do they truly believe what they preach—and don’t preach—is the way a church must be run, to be successful and "approved" by Jesus Christ? And who wants to be associated with a church that is not successful?

This blog's main goal has been to tell what the New Testament teaches, especially obedience to Christ’s commands, which the vast majority of religious organizations do not preach to any great extent. I keep asking the question, why not? And even if they did preach according to the New Testament, would there be any enforcement? 1st Timothy 5:20. "Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning."

The strongest emphasis of organized religion requires all to attend church services. And I agree; disciples of Christ need fellowship: to get together and encourage one another, to share their joys, make their difficulties known, and teach each other, as it commands in Hebrews 10:25. I ask, what does that verse have to do with going to church for an hour in Sunday School? Church activities usually consist of saying a prayer or two, singing a song, taking a collection—the most important part—listening to a sermon which is intended to make everyone feel as if we are doing our duty, etc., and finally, shaking a few hands, saying a few hellos, and that is it. Where is the fellowship and worship of God? Fellowship, to be of any real value, must be an informal, intimate gathering: getting to know each other as members of one family, God’s family. For information on the benefits of the House Church, click on # 96: The House Church, along with an unnumbered post that followed.

This blog challenges any person, clergy or laity, to defend their church-going Christianity as authentic, according to what is taught in the New Testament. Said another way, it would be an informative addition for bloggers and even myself to know what type of legitimacy they (churchy “christians”) claim to substantiate their form of love, worship and obedience to Jesus Christ, through their church attendance.

The point I am making is this: When someone tries to sell you a recipe or formula for an extremely valuable commodity, but without your knowledge fails to give you the complete blueprint because of fear that the remaining instructions, which are hard to accept/understand, would make most think, "Thanks, but no thanks." Of course, a person who knows no better would continue to accept the partial formula as valid since it is coming from a "person of God," and since the outcome or finished product would not be known in this world, the fool keeps on accepting the partial recipe as all that is needed for this valuable commodity, which is eternal life.

I truly believe no person in their right mind desires to be made into a fool. When someone makes a fool of themselves through the efforts of a slick con artist, most likely they will be on their guard so that it won’t happen again. But what about when, in the name of freedom of religion, con men/women are given religious legitimacy by the IRS? Then, to make their case more reasonable and logically correct, the Holy names of Jesus Christ and Jehovah are graciously promoted. And to make their legitimacy even more convincing, the majority of people who call themselves Christians NAIVELY take part in that scam, while joyfully giving 10% of their wages, their time and their devotion to keep the holy-bull scam going.

Listen to the dictionary’s definition of a fool: 1) a person with little or no judgment, common sense, wisdom, etc.; a silly or stupid person; simpleton; a mentally retarded person; 3) a VICTIM of a joke or trick; dupe. Here is the meaning of the word “scam”: to cheat or swindle, as in a confidence game.

What is the main reason so many people are making fools of themselves? The answer is so simple, it is scary. They do not compare what is being taught and not taught from the world’s pulpits, with the Holy Bible, primarily the New Testament.

Even though the plan of Salvation is simple in theory, there are many Bible verses that are not easy to understand, while a few defy all comprehension. There may be several reasons for that: the change in the meaning of words and traditions over time, translating from one ancient language to another; and, I am sad to say, the actual tinkering of people in high religious places. That’s okay; still, the biggest portion of the New Testament is fairly understandable, even though it will take much more than just one reading; the only exception is the book of Revelation, which is mostly symbolic, as it displays an irate God displaying His vengeance through His powerful angels. In fact, I believe many verses in the Bible are fluid, in that as people continue to grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ, more complete definitions come to the surface.

There are several other reasons why correct understanding will not be possible for some: when anyone does not have an active desire to obey what is being taught; when a person does not have a passion to love God with all their faculties; when a person is not actually born-again and does not possess the Holy Spirit; and finally, when a person does not make every effort, by their life, to advance the cause of Jesus Christ. Repeating, nevertheless, as a person continues to grow into the likeness and holiness of Christ, these hard-to-understand portions will continually manifest more of their true meanings. As mentioned previously, the New Testament is written in a secret code, in that what one reads must be experienced, if even to a small degree, to arrive at a better or more complete understanding.

I believe there are at least three basic reasons why people who call themselves Christians don’t read and reread the Bible over and over again from cover to cover, especially the New Testament. They may not be aware that the main reason for having an attachment to God’s book is to make absolutely certain we are attempting to believe and live exactly as the Bible dictated. That reading must include obeying the active parts, which will be disagreeable to our human nature, along with the easy and passive, though vitally important, verses of accepting the work of Jesus Christ through faith.

The first reason for lack of reading, most likely, is that there are more interesting activities to engage in other than reading the Bible; the second reason is that many people are just plain lazy and would rather listen to some preacher tickle their ears; the third reason is that many people don’t understand the depth of what they are reading. Again, repeating what was mentioned in a previous paragraph: The main reason for that lack of understanding is that much of the New Testament must be experienced, if even to a small degree, in order to make any sense.

There is a guarantee from God and also from this blog that if a person becomes an ardent reader of Scripture, with a pure and holy motive so as to learn what is the right way to live and believe, they will soon see through the duplicity of organized religion. It will in no way be easy to live as Jesus Christ commands, but it can be done.

For those who decide to read the New Testament and are left with questions which have no seemingly logical answers, send the question/s to this blog in the comment section. There aren’t too many Biblical questions that don’t have an appropriate answer.

In conclusion, there is no legitimate reason why good, intelligent people like you and others have to make fools of yourselves by blindly believing what is preached from many pulpits, or I should say, what is not preached. If you are a churchgoer, or have a friend/s who goes to church, tell them about this blog. Why should these subtly deceptive church leaders who claim to be ministers of Jesus Christ continue to make fools of you and many others? Let the millions of other fools support the clergy’s devious intentions. They will always be around. As P.T. Barnum once said, "There is a sucker born every minute."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

# 191: Worship

When looking up the word “worship” in Webster’s Dictionary, I came across two very descriptive meanings: 1) “extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind”; 2) “adore and idolize.” In the gospel of John 4:23-24, Jesus says, ". . . true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." One extremely strong word which stands out in that verse is the word “must.” There is no legitimate way to water-down that word. The only way to get around it is to ignore it. Also, that verse begs the question: How must a person worship in spirit and truth? Many people might say, "We worship on Sunday when we go to church." Is that brief weekly visit the main source of worshiping intensely in spirit and truth? To worship in spirit and truth implies some sort of vital actions to display that spiritual worship. Webster uses the adjectives “extreme” and “intense.” Do we have an intense or extreme devotion, love or admiration for God and His Son Jesus? Do we adore and idolize God and His Messiah? These are hard questions. If we claim to be His disciples, we have to acknowledge these crucial requirements, and not just shrug them of as farfetched. If there were stronger imperatives than extreme and intense, they would apply to the worship of God.

To worship in “truth” can only mean to live according to God’s truth; the place where that holy truth can be found is in God’s instruction book, the Bible. To worship God in spirit primarily means to love God and neighbor, since love is the standard behind all spiritual substance, which displays itself in some physical action. And the only way we can show our whole-hearted love and devotion for God is by obedience to His commands, which are truth. When we submit to worshiping God in spirit and truth, we have the joy and peace of living in the presence of Jesus Christ in the here and now. Warning: Failure to comply with His truth will most likely result in a sentence of death. Are we obedient to His truth? Worship which is not spiritual consists of worshiping worldly things, people, ourselves, family, etc.

To worship the Father in spirit and truth will never be an easy task. 1st Peter 4:18. "And ‘If it is HARD for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’” Regardless of the difficulty, now that we have been and will be made aware of the way He desires to be worshiped, we will bear much fruit, SHOWING ourselves to be His disciples. John 15:8.

The formula is simple in theory: Firstly, believe Christ. John 3:36. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." Secondly, love God and neighbor. Mark 13: 30: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ And, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” And thirdly, obey all New Testament commands. John 14:21. "Whoever has my commands and [actively] obeys them, he is the one who [intensely] loves me." [emphasis added]. 1st Corinthians 14:22. "If anyone does not love the Lord–a curse be on Him. Come, O Lord!" If and when we continually follow that formula with our lives, with no deviations, our positions will be secure in Christ.

Let’s grade ourselves concerning our Godly worship on a scale from zero to ten, ten meaning one’s whole life is geared around Christ, and zero meaning one is holding hands with Satan. Let’s be honest with ourselves. If we cheat, we are only hurting ourselves. And then the question comes up, regardless of what our score is, whether we are actively aiming for a ten. I do know that most of us like to paint ourselves pretty (think more highly of ourselves than is warranted). Our score is not as important as our active desire to get as close as possible to the top score. If I was to attempt to honestly score myself, I would be lying if I gave myself anything higher than a three. And yet my earnest desire to somehow reach that ten will allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in my life.

Before I can point my finger at anyone else, I have to truthfully examine what/who I have been worshiping besides God and Christ. This may be embarrassing, but I must recognize my shortcomings, thus exposing all the things I am now worshiping in my life before I can instruct/criticize others.

For the life of me, never before did I ever think of or use the word “worship” regarding the attachment I have to my children and grand children. As I continue to examine my life, another love came to mind, and to my surprise, the one I unknowingly loved more than all else—a love bordering on worship—is/was myself. All this time, that deceiver, the devil, had me by the throat, and thus has been quenching my devotion to Jesus Christ. That love of self must have had an insidiously negative effect on how I have been attempting to idolize my Lord Jesus Christ. After admitting these newfound errors in my devotion, I already spiritually feel a hundred pounds lighter. While in the process of composing this post, I was made aware of my misguided love regarding where my worship was going. And with God’s help and inspiration, there will be some dramatic and difficult changes to be made.

Now, for the first time, several New Testament verses have come to life (I mean their true meanings). The first: Luke 14:26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple." Another verse similar, yet not as strong, but still displaying the same principle, is in Matthew 10: 37. "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me . . ."

I am certain many who read these verses for the first time must have thought Jesus had a little too much to drink. Not so! Yet there is no contradiction. Let me explain. What Jesus is emphasizing by His strong words is that the love for Him and His Father must be so extreme and intense that all other loves could be classified as hate, and that it will/must dwarf the love we have for those closest to us, even the love we have for ourselves.

Those who don’t understand what point Jesus is attempting to put across will bring out these verses which seem to contradictory those above. Ephesians 5:28-29. "In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no body ever hates his own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church."

These verses are telling of two totally different principles. The former: Our Lord is exhorting us to make sure our love for Him is much greater than any human love can be. And the latter is displaying that love for our wives/husbands must be the same as the love we have for ourselves—not the type of love that wants attention, but a concern of caring for our marital partners in the same way we care our own bodies. Since no one hates their own body, it can be classified as a benevolent concern for self (love).

This paragraph is an addition to this post. The principle of hating those closest to us, as described above, seems to conflict with the principle of loving our neighbor as ourselves. That is not true. We must still love our neighbor as self, but that love for neighbor/s must never be of greater value than our love of God, as displayed by obedience to Christ’s commands. This is what I mean: If love for neighbor/s takes up more of our time, attention and devotion to the point where our lives seem to be solely devoted to neighbor, thus putting love for God in second place as to our spiritual prerogatives, then our priorities must be adjusted. This can be seen when a person goes gung-ho for some worthy humanitarian cause, while leaving God on the wayside.

So far we have only mentioned humans as objects of worship. Nevertheless, there are many material things that are worshiped in the world which have nothing to do with worshiping God in spirit and truth. I have used these upcoming verses a number of times, and they also apply to this post. Luke 14-16. "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. You justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows the hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight."

Instead of using the word “worship” when it comes to things we possess that have much value to us, in our materialistic culture we live in, we use the terms “highly valued,” “absolutely necessary,” etc. Usually they are things which are the result of being prosperous. The damage wealth does to the Christian life: First of all, our love for whatever puffs us up, making us proud, which is a much-desired worldly emotion, but hated by God. And more importantly, these noteworthy and pleasurable things or attitudes silently replace God, who desires all our worship. Then, in whatever happiness we gain, we give God thanks for all these much- desired worldly things or the happiness produced by whatever, which allows us to put God on the back burner for now. Of course, we may call on Him again when we get into a tight spot.

They are a few of the reasons why God strongly disapproves of wealth in the hands of His people. But the main reason is, how can a person worship God in spirit and truth with money? Also, to have more than one needs is a crime against those without the bare necessities. Along with that, being actively engaged in the pursuit of more of the good things this world offers steals time that should be devoted to the things of God.

I believe the most prevalent alibi goes something like this: “Look how much more we can do for the cause of Christ with all the money we give to our church.” One big problem, if not the biggest: This makes it acceptable for disciples of Christ to be prosperous in a monetary way, causing everyone to look up to them and their wealth as a pillar of the Christian church, thus making them role models. To put it as plain as possible, the reason the New Testament advocates blessings for the poor who truly love the Lord is because they are the ones who are blessed. James 2:5. "Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" In no way are the wealthy blessed, especially if they desire to either stay rich or desire just a little bit more.

Notwithstanding, if and when the wealthy desire to be obedient to Christ’s commands and be generous and willing to share their wealth with those in genuine need, especially the Godly poor, then they too can share in the goodness of God’s love by worshiping God in spirit and truth. But to display their lack of wealth, their lives must be lived in modest ways. Then they can be true models for all that look up to them. Click on post # 153: Anatomy of Wealth, or post # 116: What Money Can and Cannot Buy.

Could anyone imagine what would happen to organized religion if all churches preached the above message? Fear not. It will never happen, come hell or high water. Can anyone now understand why the majority of Jews 2,000 years ago never accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah? And it is no different today. Just remember this: Organized religion is big business, and spiritually naive people are their stooges/pawns.

The disturbing aspect of being wealthy and being a disciple of Christ is this: That principle is 100 % contrary to what the world and our human nature dictate to us all. The vast majority of us are encouraged to go to college, and then we will be able to live on easy street the rest of our lives. Americans are the guiltiest of all. And who is the role model for the world? Is it not America, where the streets are paved with gold? How far has our beloved country strayed from what the true definition of “children of God” really means? Whatever bad happens to us in the future, as God views all things, we will justly deserve it for desecrating the Holy Name of His beloved Son for 400-some years. For sure, there are certain signs in the air. The writing has been on the wall for some time, and George W. Bush has been highlighting his form of satanic "christianity" while putting the finishing touches in the margins. In short, that writing reads: "The time is near."

In ending, Almighty God demands to be worshiped exclusively by all who take on the name of His Son, and that worship must be in spirit and truth. Amen!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

# 190: The Sin Question

This post is a repeat of material which has been published previously; it has been modified slightly to be more comprehensible. To get the full benefit of what is being revealed in this holy and innovative interpretation, it would be better understood when used in tandem with post # 189, which follows below.

There are several New Testament verses written by the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25; when these verses are taken literally by non-Jewish readers, without knowing the point the apostle Paul was attempting to put across to Jewish readers in Rome, a totally disastrous misconception comes to life. This misinterpretation has led millions upon millions of people who call themselves Christians to rely on this portion of Scripture as a legitimate reason to believe it is just normal for them to sin. That false understanding of this section has done more damage to the Christian faith than any other heresy perpetrated thus far in the entire New Testament.

I have heard this minuscule section of Scripture used as an excuse for sin more times than I can count and even from individuals belonging to time-honored denominations. In fact, it may be the universal excuse for "unavoidable" sins—if there is such a thing—in all of organized Christianity. It is that super serious.

For a fact, these two posts are by all means the most important of all the 188 posts thus far published. I say this next sentence with no intent of boasting: This revelation has been/will be the most earth-shaking (shaking the very ground under the vast majority of most Christian denominations). The question remains: If and when they hear about it, what will they do? Answer: What did most of the religious leaders, Pharisees and "experts of the law" do, 2,000 years ago with the new teachings of their Messiah, Jesus Christ?

If one is not familiar with the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, much of this post will sound like Greek. Not to confuse anyone, it might be best for some to skip this extremely long and complex post until better and more complete knowledge has been acquired of what the basic core of Christianity is all about. I originally put many, many painstaking hours into the writing of this comprehensive post to make absolutely certain the information in this series is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute truth. How do I know that? Because this upcoming section CONTRADICTS ALL other New Testament principles which unequivocally tell us what we must believe and how we must live concerning sin. Although this series may be difficult for some to understand, it is a truth that all genuine Christians may have to read over and over again to get to the depth and damage it has done.

To corroborate the difficulty of understanding some of Paul’s writings, I quote 2 Peter 3:15. Peter writes concerning Paul’s letters. "He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." Please take time to double-check all the Bible references I mentioned to make sure I did not take any out of context. Again, please take this section seriously. It could be a matter of one’s spiritual life or death.

Here is that infamous section written by the Apostle Paul: Romans 7:14-25. "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 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."

"So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s laws; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law in my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me form this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I am acutely aware that if any person is not intimately acquainted with how sin is looked upon by God’s holy apostles, especially the apostles Paul and John, they could easily take the view which the majority of organized religion has. Repeating, this portion of Scripture is totally contrary in comparison to ALL other Bible teachings concerning sin; for that reason, it has been universally misunderstood since the first century. That is the reason I published this post in conjunction with post # 189, which emphatically displays sin as not being acceptable in the life of disciples of Christ. The result of this section of Scripture has been a general consensus of "Christians" thinking lightly of sin, thus secretly condoning what they know is wrong, and moreover, they believe that giving in to the desires of the flesh (lower nature) is acceptable in the Christian life. Although their false belief is usually said taciturnly, some go so far as to believe it was about time the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, finally “fessed up” to what a weak-willed person he really was, while still professing to be a great apostle of Jesus Christ. At this I am appalled, to say the least. It could be that this demonic lie (going easy on -sin) may have been the catalyst for the origin of this complete blog.

It is not uncommon for some Bible writers to use the singular personal pronouns (I, me, you, etc.) to, most often, denote the nation of Israel. There are several such verses in the New Testament and many texts in the Old Testament. Here are a few: In Revelation 3:17, the church of Laodicia [using the word “I”] is the only church that argued with the angel, telling him/her how wealthy I am. "You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’" In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes Hosea 2:23, although not verbatim: "and I will call her (the nation of Israel) 'my loved one' who is not my loved one; . . . ‘You who are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’"

The Old Testament is rich with writings which use the singular to denote a group of people, usually the nation of Israel. Hosea 2:5-7. "Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I [Israel] will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ [The Lord answers.] Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first.’" Hosea continues to chastise Israel until verse 13, using this discourse to speak for the Lord using the letter "I" while continuing to call Israel “her,” “she,” and “I.” Isaiah 47:8-10. "Now then listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security—[sounds like America]—and saying to yourself, ‘I am (Israel), and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood . . .” Verse 10: “You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’" Lamentations, Chapter One is the best example of a Bible writer who spoke of himself as the nation of Israel in the singular—Biblical muscle to the truth—to tell of the wretched condition that had befallen the nation of Israel. Jeremiah used the identical singular personal pronouns as Paul did in Romans 7th chapter. Lamentations 1:11. ". . . Look, O Lord, and consider, for I am despised." And continuing in verse 14: "My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. . . . He [The Lord] has handed me over to those I cannot withstand." 1:15. . . ."He [the Lord] has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. [That last statement is conclusive proof that Jeremiah is not writing about himself]. In his winepress the Lord has trampled the Virgin Daughter of Judah." 1:16. "This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears." 1:18: "The Lord is righteous, yet I rebel against His command." 1:19. "I called to my allies but they betrayed me." I am certain we all know, or should know, what a saintly prophet of God Jeremiah was in the Lord’s sight. Without question, he was not writing about himself, although if someone did not know God or the Scripture, it could be taken and has been taken that way, although I don’t know how.

I ask this question: Why would Paul write in this manner, which could easily be misunderstood by non-Jewish believers? I truly believe God inspired Paul to write Romans 7:14-20 in the way he did so that those who do not truly believe and yet call themselves Christians will have more than enough rope with which to hang themselves, so to speak. Why? Even though the New Testament is filled from cover to cover with evidence that Christ came to destroy sin in our lives, many people still don’t believe that simple truth.

Here are just a few verses that tell of the great work Jesus did to destroy the power of sin. Romans 6:1-2. "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:6. ". . . that we should no longer be slaves to sin. . . ." Romans 6:10-11. “The death he died, He died to sin once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way, COUNT YOURSELVES DEAD TO SIN but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Then there is Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death." One more! 1 John 3:9. "No one born of God will continue to sin . . . " Shall we disregard these verses?

When one studies Romans, one will quickly see who Paul is writing to, especially in this chapter. Romans 7:1. "Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law." It was Jews he was speaking to who knew what it was to live under Jewish law. Starting with Romans 1:19, Paul is pointing out that Jews as well as Gentiles are all living under sin, apart from Christ, and he begins to tell of the wicked condition the nation of Israel was in, according to the Old Testament. Verse 1:19: ". . . since what may be known about God is plain to them [Jews], because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:21. "For although they [Jews] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him . . . " Romans 1:22. "Although they [Jews] claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God—only Israelites knew the glory of God—for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1:32. "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death. . . " Romans 2:1. "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself . . . " Romans 2:17. "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law . . ." Romans 2:23-24. "You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’"

Isn’t that still true today? Atheists and skeptics everywhere blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ—and rightly so—because of the ungodly lives of counterfeit Christians. This fact alone pains me more than anything else, and gave me the incentive to rewrite this post. Romans 3:9. "What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin." This last verse is very important in seeing what point Paul is trying to get across to his readers: the fact that in his reference to Jews, he means those who were familiar with the law.

Starting with Romans 7:5, the Apostle Paul is desperately trying to explain how it is impossible to be obedient to the old Jewish law while under control of the sinful nature. Romans 7:5. "For when we [all Jews] were [notice this is past tense] controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death." In Romans 7:7, Paul uses the word "we" in reference to the Jews for the last time: "What shall we say, then?" As he continues, he starts to describe what a wretched condition they (Jews) were in under the law and without Christ as their Savior.

In subsequent references he uses the word "I" allegorically instead of "we" to denote the nation of Israel. Conclusive proof of this is displayed in the next several verses, but only to those who don't justify their lives of sin by this portion of Scripture and those who have an active desire to live a sinless life by God's grace. "Once I was alive apart from law." Romans 7:9. Now I ask you this question: When was Paul ever alive apart from the law? Answer: Never. But the nation of Israel was alive apart from the law before God gave them the law of Moses. Sin could not condemn to death without the law. Romans 5:13. ". . . for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law." "The law came so that sin might be recognized as utterly sinful." Romans 7:13 (paraphrased). The desire of the flesh [sinful nature, ego] continually won the inward battle against their desire to do good. This is the reason the nation of Israel as a whole could not please God, and the very reason for the coming of Christ.

I believe the subject of sin is important enough to repeat what I have written earlier, using a few different words. The point I am trying to put across is this: Before the law of Moses was given, the sins of the nation of Israel were not taken into account. Romans 5:13 (paraphrased). Although at the judgment, Israel will have to account for her action. Even though they did not have a law, they were a law unto themselves. But when the Law was given by Moses, sin was truly exposed for what it was, and that knowledge that was good brought death to the Jews. That Law, as good as it was, did not give Israel the power to overcome its sinful nature. Because all have sinned, all are condemned by this Law that is Holy and good. Although they wanted to do good, they could not because of the power of sin living in Israel. Before the Law, Israel was alive apart from the Law. But when the commandment (the Law) came, sin sprang to life and Israel ("I") died. Israel found that the Law that was intended to bring life actually brought death. Romans 7:8: "For apart from law, sin is dead." The Law was spiritual but Israel was unspiritual. In this unspiritual condition, Israel could not do what God wanted her to do. But the things she did not want to do, she did. Since Israel did what it did not want to do, she agreed that the Law was good. In this unredeemed state, nothing good lived inside Israel; that is in her sinful nature. Though she had the desire to do what is good, she (Israel) couldn't carry it out. The evil she did not want to do, she kept on doing. What a wretched condition Israel was in. Who would rescue Her from this sinful nature which lives in all Israel? Jesus Christ would. He arranged things so that all Israel, and the world, could be rescued from the power of sin.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross without sin, He defeated the power of sin; consequently, when He rose from the dead, sin had no power over Him. Christ destroyed the power of the flesh (sinful nature). This is the essence of the concept of being born again. We, too, died with Christ and rose again—water baptism is the symbolic commitment of belief in the new birth/a new person—never to sin again. Let me inject this thought about baptism: Jesus’ actual baptism was His death and resurrection. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 12:50: "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed." Now back to the topic at hand. Romans 6:11. ". . . count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Now since we died with Christ through faith—that means we must truly believe that event as being an actual fact—we will live according to His Holy Spirit. This does not happen automatically. It happens only when we believe we actually died with Christ. We inherit His death and victory over sin simply because we believe Him. That is the Christian mystery on which the complete Christian life hangs. However, when this belief does not spill over from our intellect into our lives, our belief is not valid, and in God's sight, does not exist.

Jumping to Romans 8th chapter: This chapter tells a completely different story than what many believe Romans 7th chapter teaches. This paragraph is imperative for us to understand in its entirety, even if it requires us to read it a dozen times. Now, read carefully Romans 8:9-14. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."

Is it even remotely possible that Paul did not write Romans 7:14-25, along with Romans 8:9-14? An emphatic no! He is the only author of both chapters. And since he wasn’t referring to himself in chapter seven, there is no contradiction between the two chapters. Of course, there will be those who will say, "Don't confuse me with the facts; I have had my mind made up for years as to what Paul was saying in Chapter seven." If Paul meant himself as that bad guy who could not do what was right but did the evil he knew was wrong, he would be totally out of character with regard to all of his other writings as a redeemed man of God.

As we know, Jesus was perfect in the true sense, and Paul fashioned his life after this perfect Jesus. Paul was a perfectionist before his conversion and continued to be a perfectionist in his redeemed condition. This is evident as Paul writes to the Philippians, telling of his life before conversion. Philippians 3:5. "A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." After his conversion, Paul's life was in every sense as pleasing to His Lord, if not more, than any other New Testament character ever could be.

Here is scriptural evidence of that fact. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1st Corinthians 4:16. "Therefore I urge you to imitate me." 2nd Thessalonians 3:7. "For you yourself know how you ought to follow our example." 2nd Thessalonians 3:9. "We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow." 2nd Corinthians 13:11. "Aim for perfection. . ." 1st Thessalonians 4:7. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1st Corinthians 2:16. "But we have the mind of Christ." Philippians 3:17. "Join with others in following my example, brothers . . ." Philippians 4:9. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice."

Then, still to justify their belief about sin, some who are naive will use Paul’s reference to himself in 1st Timothy first chapter: calling himself the worst of sinners, but only to substantiate their belief in Romans Seventh Chapter and Paul’s inner struggle with sin. Some say, "If Paul was a wretched sinner as a redeemed man, should I be expected to live any better?" This conclusion indicates a total misunderstanding of the passage. To keep it in context, let's look at what Paul said before and after that verse. 1 Timothy 1:8 (paraphrased): "The law was made for bad guys. But no matter how bad a person is, he is not so bad that Christ can't show him mercy." Then, in Verse 13, he tells how bad he was, and how God had mercy on him anyway. That is the reason why Christ came into the world: To save sinners—even bad sinners. What better way to illustrate the power of Christ? Surely it is easier to redeem the pure of spirit than one who is enthusiastically mired in one’s own sin.

In his redeemed state, Paul was no doubt the greatest, purest, holiest, and most Godly man that the New Testament reveals to us, apart from Christ. For early disciples, he was the prime example of anyone who overcame a sinful life. His example still speaks to us. To be absolutely certain that Paul was talking about his past and not his present condition, let’s look at 1 Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst [Chief]." Now watch how Paul switches from the present to the past tense. 1:16: "But for that very reason I WAS shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life." Now, if Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners in his “present” redeemed condition, what right did he have to preach to all the churches about good moral conduct and to live pure and holy lives? It's impossible. Even an unregenerate moron should be able to see this simple truth when it is put in context with Romans 7th chapter.

What kind of a hypocrite would Paul have been if he had expected the followers of Christ to do and be what he could not do or be? Was he giving the "OK" sign for everyone to desire to do good, yet continue to do the evil they knew was wrong? Remember 1st John 4:4 (paraphrased): The Holy Spirit who is in us is greater and more powerful than our sinful nature (the world). When people have the Holy Spirit of God living in them, they will not do the evil they hate. As a person is controlled by the Spirit, he/she will be empowered to do the good he/she wants to do, and the desire to do good comes from God’s Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

The demonic, hellish, satanic, deceptive aspect of the sins—which are committed because of a lack of understanding of Romans 7th chapter—are not so much the sins themselves, but the motive/s behind them: legitimizing and justifying what seems to be unavoidable evil. The Great Judge looks at the motives behind wrongdoing as much, if not more, than the sins themselves. 1st Corinthians 3:5. "He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men's hearts.”

In conclusion, by grace, we have Jesus Christ to accept our repentance and forgive our sins—grace is no excuse for abuse, or grace will cease. Grace gives us the ability to love and live to please God, not in the flesh but in the Spirit. Living in God's grace and living in the flesh are not compatible. Belief that gives us the power to overcome sin will not work so long as we refuse to believe that we can live without giving into sin (our sinful nature). Faith gives us the victory and in every case, we must sacrifice our old selfish, but pleasant, desires of following our own worldly fancies.

Bible verses taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV).

Friday, March 02, 2007

# 189: These Quotations from 1st John Equal: Tough Precepts

This post, # 189, is in conjunction with post # 190, which will be published in about a week. Post # 190, with the help of this post, will attempt to vividly explain a misconception that has plagued Christianity for 2,000 years. This post is a repeat of several previous writings in this blog, except the exegesis is more significant.

The book of 1st John, with its simplicity of word construction, contains the toughest and the most misunderstood teachings of any other New Testament doctrines, even though the last part of Luke, Chapters 12 through 21 are almost equally as bold, which express profound issues concerning tough Christian love. If your Christianity is marginal—if there is such a thing—or you have a weak spiritual constitution, or are a sissy, either male or female, it might be best to skip this post. The fact of the matter, this Book of 1st John, which contains only 5 chapters and a total of 105 verses, is the most watered-down and neglected of all Bible writings, especially by the organized church.

This post is going to tell it like it is with as little personal accentuation as possible. 1st John 1:6: "If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth." The key word is “darkness.” Whenever “dark” or “darkness” is used in scripture, they translate to a lack of accurate knowledge. Hosea 4:6. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Do we have all the knowledge we need to keep from being deceived? That is the main reason for this entire blog: to give a personal Godly insight, unbiased by the influence of religious affiliation.

In this next verse the key word is "IF." It is an extremely small word but has a gigantic implication, especially in 1st John 2nd Chapter, first verse. "My dear children, I write this so that you will not sin. But IF anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ , the Righteous one." [emphasis added]. IF does not mean WHEN. There is a world of difference between the two. "If" means most likely we won’t; "when" means most likely we will. Do we truly believe we will never sin again? If we truly do believe we will never sin again, we can claim this verse in our defense. If we believe we will sin again, since we are only human, this verse may not pertain to us. Does anyone see the deadly implication by the way the word "if" is used many times in the New Testament, with the same insinuation? Let me give an excellent analogy: When people buy fire insurance for their homes, do they buy it so that WHEN they have a fire, they will be compensated? No! They buy it "IF" (just in case) they ever have a fire, so they won’t lose everything. Repeating, "if" says that the chances are slight, while "when" says we will. Religion teaches "when," while the Bible teaches "if." I apologize for spending so much time on such a small word. Where do you and I stand?

Another small word is "sin." Definition by Webster: “an offence against God, religion, or good morals.” The word “sin” Scripturally refers to an offense against God. That opens a whole can of ugly worms. The sins that are committed against God via organized religion are not very often murder, theft, robbery, adultery or other sins that are punished by law, but mostly sins of omission: the things we don’t do which the New Testament admonishes us to obey. This post is quite descriptive on the Bible’s “things-we-don’t-do” list.

1st John 2:6."Whoever claims to live in him MUST walk as Jesus did." [emphasis added]. The key word is “MUST.” Do you or I know any Christian that claims to walk as Jesus did? If you do, please introduce her/him to me, excluding the clergy; the majority of them claim to be Christ-like, while what most possess is holy bull . . . There are over half a dozen verses identical to this one in Scripture. Verses like these are a class-action indictment against all organized Christianity, presented by this blog. Let’s be honest with ourselves, or should we just delete those types of verses from our Holy Book? I won’t say any more. What continues will be tough and maybe even tougher.

This next Bible verse will get most of us where it hurts: 1st John 2:15-16. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—1) the cravings of sinful man, 2) the lust of the eyes, 3) and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world."

Let me elaborate. 1) The cravings of sinful man: The main reason we crave so many material things and attitudes in America is because we are attempting to fill that empty space (the soul) with material stuff, be what it may, when only spiritual things can truly satisfy it; it is like attempting to fit a square block through a round hole of the same size.

2) The lust of the eyes: I believe men are more guilty of this one, but not in every case. When women flirt, most often, they desire a close bond, to feel secure in the arms of another. When men flirt, they more likely want to get laid. Please excuse my colloquial French. Either way, it is lust. Listen to Webster’s definition of lust: “a desire to gratify the senses; bodily appetite; a sexual desire, excessive sexual desire, esp. as seeking unrestrained gratification; overmastering desire [a lust for power]; intense enthusiasm; zest.”

3) Boasting: most of our boasting is not with our mouth—although we do plenty of that—but by showing off our new motor vehicle/s, big palatial home, new clothing, our accomplishments, etc. This list is endless; boasting usually gives us a good feeling, making us feel superior in some ways, while making others, most likely, feel lousy.

All of the above are no-nos. Don’t label me as some type of kill-joy. I am just quoting scripture, and trying to remind us all that even though we don’t often think of these restrictions, they are still staring us in the face by way of the New Testament. I will bet most church people seldom heard a sermon on these subjects. And if they did, I am certain the church attendance might be much less the following week. American "Christians" just don’t want to hear those kinds of verbal restrictions, even if they come from the Bible.

1st John 2:18 " . . . and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come." Just who are antichrists? Let me jump ahead for an answer. 2nd John 1:7: " . . . Any such person is a deceiver and the antichrist." Therefore, what John is saying is that deceivers are the antichrists. Are your church leaders deceiving you by not telling you the whole story according to Scripture? If I was going to hell, I wouldn’t mind going there if I was an ungodly person, but to go there because of another’s deception is real spine-tingling treachery. Then the question comes up, are we ourselves deceivers? That is why I am extremely cautious so as not to misguide anyone. Then, deceptive church activities beg the question: Why would a preacher even desire to deceive anyone? Ah! Their pay (money). No people in church, no money in pocket. Good motive to go easy (silence on the hard stuff). Of course, there may be some who are unaware of the consequence in ignoring these critical teachings.

Personally, I desire no financial compensation whatsoever; therefore, I can, with a clear conscience, tell it like it is. I can guarantee you will not find many who will tell or desire to listen when straight Bible talk is on the agenda. That is why I never expect this blog to win a popularity contest. While on this subject, I can’t figure out for the life of me how preachers justify in their own minds keeping silent on hundreds of New Testament verses that are vividly brought out in Scripture and clearly documented in this blog. If anyone has an answer, please leave me a comment, either positive or negative.

Here comes that very small but all-important "IF" word again. There are several large denominations that, when confronted with this "if" word, just wish it would disappear. They are the eternal-security crowd (once saved, always saved). Listen to what the apostle John says about that subject: 1st John 2:24. "See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF it does, you will remain in the Son and in the Father." Someday I will make a long list of Bible verses where that word "IF" is used in the same context; for certain, it is used at least several dozen times. This erroneous belief is one of the antichrist’s/evil one’s most prolific deceptions. If you belong to one of those religious groups, read the New Testament from cover to cover and you will be surprised how many times you will find the "IF" word. If anyone truly believes Scripture and loves our Lord, those "ifs" should have a chilling effect.

This next paragraph will be a shocker to most readers. There are at least seven verses which virtually sing the same song concerning the best way we can learn about the dos and don’ts in the Christian life. Let’s start with 1st John 2:27 ". . . and you do not need anyone to TEACH you. But as his anointing TEACHES you about all things . . ." To give this verse teeth, I will quote the other six similar verses. John 6:45. "It is written by the Prophets: They will all be TAUGHT by God." 1st Corinthians 2:13. ". . . not in words TAUGHT by human wisdom but in words TAUGHT by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." Luke 12:12. ". . . for the Holy Spirit will TEACH you at that time what you should say." 1st Thessalonians 4:9. ". . . for you yourselves have been TAUGHT by God to love each other. John 16:13. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will GUIDE you into all truth." John 14:26. "But when the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will TEACH you all things . . ." [Upper-case emphasis added to all verses].

I truly believe a majority of churchgoers, even educated and intelligent people, do not believe they can understand Bible/spiritual truths on their own, or they don’t have or make the time, and therefore need learned people (clerics) to guide/teach them every Sunday. A common rebuttal: “I don’t go to church to learn but mainly for the fellowship.” Sure, a few hand shakes and several lengthy hellos. Is that fellowship?

Several thousand years ago, learning the truth from a preacher may have been the main way to know exactly what was expected of Christians; that was when the printing press was not yet invented; at that time Scripture was duplicated by hand—a long, expensive job. For that reason, they were not readily available to the common people. But now there is no excuse. The Bible contains all we need to know about belief in Jesus Christ and what the Godly life consists of; it includes the emphatic teaching of obedience to Christ’s commands, but only as evidence to God and man/woman the genuineness and reality of our belief. Disobedience displays no evidence, and consequently no relationship–no ifs, ands, or buts. These are not my words; they can be found in many places in the New Testament. If you own a Bible concordance, look up the words “obey,” “disobey,” “obedience” and “disobedience.” Most will be startled.

This paragraph is a diversion from the ongoing topic, but I use it just to make my point. Seems all we hear about nowadays is that many Americans have lifestyles that are detrimental to their health, especially with our overweight and obesity problem. And the only reason for the problem is that those overweight people DISOBEY one universal law. When they consume more calories than their body needs, they are stored in the form of fat, period. That is not saying that some can’t eat twice as much as others and still remain thin because they metabolize food faster. Others may have been genetically disposed to being fat, or a few may have glandular difficulties. Nevertheless, the basic law still applies in all conditions: Eat only what one actually needs and not an ounce more, even to compensate for whatever inner genetic circumstances one is blessed or cursed with. To put it in simpler words: no so-called legitimate excuse is valid. One person is able to eat several pounds of fatty food and gain no weight; he/she is not overeating. Another person may gain weight when only eating several ounces of fatty food; that person is overeating. Albeit, various lifestyles can have either good or bad effects on weight gain. Break any universal law, whether physical or spiritual, and the price, one way or another, will always be negative. Actually, most human maladies can be blamed on disobedience to laws governing our human nature. Our modern technology has done its share in exacerbating the problem, and we, unwittingly, have become slaves to technology.

Back to the subject on hand . . . What we seldom, if ever, hear about is what the consequences are when we disobey God’s laws. Why? Because no one wants to hear them. They may not be as apparent as the result of physical disobedience, as the above paragraph shows, but there is a price to pay. And we can clearly see it by looking at the condition of our moral decline and how we are sliding downhill faster than a freight train going downhill without brakes. Are you and I disobedient to what God commands? I am sure the majority would say no. Are we traveling on the narrow road that only a few will find, or are we on the road which is wide, to make room for the multitudes traveling on it? This is a critical time to examine ourselves. It is never too late, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be to change.

And who desires change? Change is one of the most difficult thingamajigs to accomplish, regardless of whetherif it is a physical or spiritual change. Most of us will remain stuck in the situation we are in if we like it or not. These unpopular words will get a few where it hurts. I say, cool it; don’t get your nose bent out of joint. Just toss this truth to the wayside. But there may be a few who will heed the warnings. That is my most earnest hope and desire, though I may never know about it. I don’t need to know; God knows, and that is all that counts. My job is to impress the importance of making God’s Pearls of Wisdom crystal- clear. No seminary taught it to me. No preacher taught it to me. I was taught by God’s Holy Spirit via His Holy Book. And if He can teach a numbskull like me, he can teach anyone. But a person must have a desperate need, coupled with a constant effort—regardless of the cost—to fulfill that need. That seems like a high price. Not so; look at the end result: becoming a personal ambassador, here on earth, for the creator of the universe. Is there a higher or nobler calling? No matter how high anyone aspires in the Christian life, God’s ceiling is limitless. I ask, just what is holding us back? Ah, I know: complacency and laziness!

Concerning myself, here is a verse I have thought about for years. In Luke 19:40, Jesus is speaking: "‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they [Christ’s disciples] keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’" What exactly was Jesus implying by using the word “stones”? He may have been referring to Himself, to Peter, or to others that will come later. Jesus was the chief cornerstone, and Simon, son of John, whose name was changed by Jesus to Cephas, translated ais Peter, meaning stone. Stones usually are depicted as something or someone that is looked upon as worthless. Could I, by some chance, also be one of those worthless numbskull stones who is crying out in this extremely controversial blog? Only time will tell. Please excuse me for getting carried away.

1st John 3:6. "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." This is tough language. Let me continue. 1st John 3:9: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1st John 3:10. "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother." 1st John 3:8. “He who does what is sinful is of the devil . . . ." Could it be any clearer? There isn’t much a person can say to elaborate on these verses. This is the question I ask: Why isn’t this extremely daunting theology preached from the pulpit? Only one answer: If it was firmly preached and reinforced, the pews would be empty in a short while. With these verses in view, it is impossible to make any excuses or alibis for sin. Of course, the most frequent excuse I hear is that we are only human, and WHEN we do sin, we will be forgiven. Repeating, there are those familiar words again: "WHEN we sin," which is used by religion, and “IF we sin,” which is used by Holy Scripture.

1st John 3:17. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" This verse seems to imply that Christians must be generous in a personal way to those in need. Is there such a thing as a Christian without God’s love? The apostle John is not talking about giving to one’s church. He is talking about getting personally involved—one-on-one—with those in need. Of course, we must save for that needed vacation first, and all the other amenities we deserve after working hard all year. And besides that, with the skyrocketing gas prices, who has money to give away? That needy person/s will have to wait for someone else to help him/her. We don’t say that, but that is the way life is in the majority of the American Christian community. Shame on us all. And after reading this post, can we still call ourselves Christians? Organized religion has to say yes. Otherwise, you know what. As anyone can plainly see, according to the New Testament, this is a deplorable condition the church is in, and it is getting worse every day—even if we try not to think about it and pretend we never clicked onto "Religion’s Crime Against God."