Monday, March 31, 2008

# 243: Freedom

# 243: Freedom The majority of us in the world, especially in America, take freedom for granted. But freedom is like a two-sided coin: It can bless, and it can damn. Freedom to do as one pleases brings damnation, while freedom to do as one should brings blessings.

The freedom that is given to us by Jesus Christ teaches us to love God, our neighbor and even our enemies, while the negative side of freedom which is given to us by man/woman gives us a license for greed, inequality, immorality, and much, much more.

Let me quote the verses in Luke 4:5-8, where the devil was tempting Jesus, and then give the implications/inferences of that section of Scripture that may shock many. "The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, because it has been given to me. And I can give it to anyone I want. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."’”

Some will say that the devil was lying and the world does not belong to him. If that was true, Jesus would have corrected him. Instead, by his silence, Jesus condoned/agreed with his statement of ownership. Since Jesus refused his offer, that offer still stands to anyone and everyone who desires splendor and authority (the good things of this world). [We must remember, "The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it." 1st Corinthians 19:26]. Therefore, the devil was referring to having control of a multitude of people in the world with their self-centered, satanic splendor and authority.

Now the question comes up: When someone, possibly unknowingly, blissfully worships the devil [there are many who do], what does a person do and how do they live with all that authority and splendor? Repeating, the first thing is that those people may not know they are worshiping him by the way they live. If they believe they are Christians, with all that wonderful splendor and authority, they will most likely praise and thank their god, who they may presume is Jesus Christ or Jehovah, but is most likely Allah, Buddha or Satan.

Many Americans believe God has blessed, and is still blessing, individual Americans and this country in general with the wealth and power it/we possesses/possess. To believe that statement, a person cannot be familiar with the New Testament (NT); or, he/she just ignores Bible verses that are contrary to their sinful human nature. Just read Luke 12:19-21 and many more similar verses, which this Biblical blog brings to the surface, to see how God feels about that type of life. This is what a rich man said: "And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. [His wealth gave him the freedom to] Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

If one can distinguish good from evil, it becomes evident that America is not a Godly country. Just in case anyone is not aware of what is going on, I will sadly point out just a few of the practices that are an abomination to Jesus Christ and Almighty God. Just remember, this is my country; I was born here. The fact remains that this is not my home. I am just passing through. Thank God I am a citizen of another place: the Kingdom of God.

We were given many freedoms by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some of them are precious and we, the people of America, have given many of them a sour note, to the point where they are repulsive to the true people of God.

As previously mentioned, the most prevalent of all our ungodly attitudes is our desire for wealth (the American dream). That statement may sound foolish to some who are not aware of what the NT teaches. And according to our human nature, it is stupid. Why, then, is wealth an abomination to God? To verify that God really teaches this principle, I will just quote two of a dozen or more similar verses. Jesus speaking in the book of Luke 16:13 and 16:15: "You cannot serve both God and money . . . What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight."

Two of the main reasons God detests wealth in the hands of those who profess Christ as their Lord are: Money has an ever-present companion—pride—which makes them believe they are better than others. Along with that, wealth gives security against unforeseen want. With that type of worldly security, a need for spiritual security becomes superficial, though not one wealthy person will ever admit it.

Of course, many will give this rebuttal: "Look at all I am doing for the cause of Christ with His money." That is only an excuse to keep living above and beyond “the good life.” The truth of the matter is, the size of the gift is not of importance; the motive behind one’s devotion is what has value in the sight of God (doing/giving all one can to promote the cause of Jesus Christ). Scripture offers conclusive evidence in Luke 21:1-4: "As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’"

To put it in baby language, money is God’s greatest competitor. In this world, money speaks louder than God. This principle is not believed by the majority of worldly Christians. And one can see why. Money can give people just about everything their worldly hearts desire, except holiness. The people in America and the world are money-hungry. No ifs, ands, or buts. Therefore, since the prevalent desire most Americans have is their desire and love for wealth, that would make our freedom- loving country ungodly.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t people in America who are blessed with true wealth; they have the freedom to receive the wealth that can never perish. When someone has this Godly type of wealth, the desire for worldly wealth is put into its proper place: in the hands of those who go after the freedom this country gives. If anyone needs more proof of how God feels about worldly prosperity, there at least half-a-dozen posts in this Biblical blog that will give all the Biblical evidence needed concerning the freedom that gives life.

When we talk about our god in America, we have to be honest with ourselves. Our real god is our desires in this complex and pampered society. What are the names of some of our gods? The first is comfort, easy life, entertainment, freedom to do as we please, wealth, our stomach, which means we are slaves to our taste buds. If it doesn’t taste just right, regardless of whether it is extra-nutritious, we have the freedom to reject it for processed, fattening and poisoned "food" as long as it is tasty. Restaurants are the guiltiest, as they cater to our taste buds. They make their food taste as good as possible so that customers come back and they increase their bottom line. That is the god the majority of us truly worship. The price for that form of worship is a god we hate: sickness and disease. Have you ever heard of this type of restaurant advertisement: “Our food is nutritious but it may not taste the best; but remember, we care for your health and not our profit. Taste is not everything”? Forget it; it will never happen.

You see, the freedom Christ gave gives us the freedom to live in a way that pleases God without harassment from our sinful human nature, inspired by Satan. 1st Peter 2:16. "Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil." Also, in the book of Jude, verse 4, it says, "They are godless men who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our Sovereign and Lord." If anyone forgets all that is written within this post, don’t forget this homemade cliché: “Freedom without love for God and our fellow man/woman is a license for greed and immorality, while freedom which Jesus Christ gives is a license (power) to have faith, love and obedience to all that Christ teaches.”

Another activity the vast majority of Americans, Christians and atheists alike engage in is the freedom to be greedy. Of course, few will call it “greed.” In its place they use many euphemisms, thus making it attractive and not so self-centered. Next to having the desire for wealth, its kissing-cousin is greed. It is one of the most ungodly and destructive freedoms of all. There are many verses that teach us not to be greedy. I will give just one. Luke 12:15: "Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’" Here is the biggest lie in America: Stamped on our money are the words, "In God We Trust." To be truthful, it should say, “In Greed We Trust.”

We have freedom of religion. Isn’t that wonderful? That means we should tolerate and not criticize anyone’s religion, regardless of how ungodly it is. That is one of the main reasons why ungodliness is so prolific in the religious world. That does not deter this Biblical blog from saying it like it is in God’s New Testament. If, by some chance, religion in America was banned altogether with punishment, the few Christians that would dare to worship in this country would be the type of people genuine Christianity was meant for.

When it comes to inequality, the good-old USA is the champion of most industrialized nations. The top one percent of the population is richer and healthier, lives longer, and makes more money than the other 99% of the population.

How did this inequality come about? In 1913, some of the richest men in America (John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford the 1st, J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt (the railroad tycoon), Seymour Hersh (the news paper magnate), and a few others) came up with a great idea to increase their earnings at the cost of the working-class people. They somehow went in cahoots with our government to require an income tax on all working-class people. When corporations and government get together to rule the people, it is called fascism. At the same time, they put into existence the Federal Reserve, which was financed by money that was yours and mine. If that is not bad enough, it was done according to the 16th Amendment. Would you believe that the 16th Amendment gave no such power to take our hard-earned money and slyly give it to the richest of the rich? That is still going on to this day. It was illegally enacted, and it is still illegal to tax our salaries. The IRS cannot show you or me where it says anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that it gives the government the right to tax our income. This is difficult to believe, so don’t believe me. Go on the internet and search for "Aaron Russo--America--Liberty to Fascism.” There you will get all the details and proof that this country, which was supposed to have freedom, has become a fascist country with your money and mine.

Then, politicians who claim to be Christians are the biggest legal crooks in the world, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and all their cronies. Politicians were crooked in 1913 and they haven’t changed to this day. One has to be at least a millionaire to run for most high offices in America. The question remains: How can the rich govern the middle- and lower-class and still give us the freedom all peoples, rich or poor, are entitled to? In order to aptly govern the working-class, they would have to walk in our shoes. Sure! That will never happen.

What happened to equal rights for all? Have the African Americans had equal rights with all the personal discrimination that has been going on since who knows when? This is a gigantic disgrace for a country that supposedly considers all people equal.

Let’s not forget “liberty and justice for all.” That type of justice comes at a price, and it may not be the freedom for the downtrodden. If they can’t afford a good lawyer, they get screwed, whereas the rich, along with a few crooked lawyers, can actually get away with murder, like O. J. Simpson. Therefore, many times, our freedom, which entitles us to “liberty and justice for all,” is not real freedom.

Another activity our freedom has given us that repulses God and company is the sexual immorality that is going on. It is now commonplace. Anyone can see it or hear about it no matter where they go. As to what is going on among the young, the two most prevalent sins are premarital sex and all kinds of promiscuity, to say the least. They fear not concerning pregnancy; they have the freedom of choice: abortion (legalized murder).

This immorality all started big-time about thirty-some years ago at Woodstock, and their immoral role models are still going strong. Along with that is the acceptance of homosexual activity. It is now as accepted as heterosexual lifestyles, on TV and elsewhere, and nothing, to my knowledge, can be done to reverse these situations except Godly intervention: the duplication of Sodom and Gomorrah.

This type of activity is encouraged by all kinds of video entertainment which are usually sexually explicit. The entertainment industry gives us only what makes them money; thus, the choice of our entertainment is a truthful barometer of America’s moral makeup. They [many who call themselves Christians] love to watch this filth. This fact is an indication of where so-called "christians" are and where they are going. Our freedom of speech and freedom of the press have made all this filth possible, not to mention the type of music the young are listening to. They call it rap. It rightfully should be called “Satan’s dance of death.”

Let us not forget another freedom we have in America: legalized pornography. This popular sport has been the demise of many a good man, and the breaker of many homes. Guess what is missing in their lives? Jesus Christ. If a man claims to be a Christian and is engaged in this filth, he is worse than the unbeliever who does the same thing. He is a hypocrite, and hypocrisy is God’s most despised transgression. Therefore, many of our freedoms are a license for immorality. For these reasons, God has damned, not blessed, this country of ours.

To qualify God’s sentence of damnation, check out the book of Revelation, Chapter 18, and three other verses in that book: Revelation 14:8, 16:19, and 17:5. Try to figure out what country the apostle is describing via the glorified Christ, which is the modern-day Babylon, and read what will happen to it. Many of the indications aim at our great and beloved USA. If it isn’t the USA, then what other country could/would those descriptions be pointing to?

----------------------------------------------------- This is a response to comments which turned out to be longer than I expected; therefore, I am placing it on the main section of this Biblical blog. Also, this person asked questions which, most likely, will interest many.

“Anonymous” has left a new comment on your post # 243: “Freedom":

Who in the world could possibly argue with this post? It is funny because I have the same thoughts regarding this subject matter.

Now maybe you can help me where I am confused. What is considered wealth? Does God imply that you have to be poor as in "homeless" to be blessed? I had a job that I worked at 16 hours a day 6 days a week that consumed my life. It brought me lots of money, and a huge ego. A wonderful acronym for ego is Edging God Out. Realizing this while I was in the action and was often appalled with myself. I broke loose of the chains that were around me and left that job. Now, I know I have to make money to eat, I like having a roof over my head, in the town I am in it is imperative to drive a vehicle... I no longer "worship" money, but I realize I need it to some degree.

At what point is money considered greed? Desiring to live correctly and in line with what God desires for yourself. Eating well (unprocessed organic fruits and veggies) etc., fasting, praying, loving others above ones self, and studying the Bible. What would someone do, what do you do for the money you need to support your roof, food, and bare necessities? Just curious, please shed some more light on this issue.

-------------------------------------------------------- Thanks for your comments and heart-piercing questions.

As to your first question: "Who in the world could argue with this post?" No doubt, some will say that I am looking only on the negative side of America. That may be true, but the negative doesn’t go away by denying it. I ask, What is there in this country that would give God a reason to bless us? Of course, some religious people would comment on all the churches we have in America (about 300 thousand). Sure. They are filled every Sunday morning with people who know very little about what the New Testament teaches except what they hear from the pulpit. What I mean is that church leaders must be very careful that what they preach is not offensive or too demanding, or they will go looking for a less demanding church.

As I read your second question, "What is considered wealth?" I must examine my own life regarding wealth. Material wealth can be described as a condition of the heart (no matter how much one has, it is never enough). The wealth God abhors borders on greed. In fact, I believe wealth and greed cannot be separated. If we are able, we must work to earn money to care for our needs and our family—if one has one—who depends on the breadwinner. If we have a little left over—the amount depends on the size of one’s heart—it might be a good idea not to spend it frivolously or put it in the church basket (the clergy have more than they need) in case an emergency comes up. But here is the catch: That extra money is also a nest-egg when a neighbor is in need. Their needs are as important as yours and mine if one lives by the second most important command "love your neighbor as yourself." It may sound stupid to those who are not motivated by Godly love.

As I have said many times, genuine Christianity is a religion of Godly love. We are showing the world what Christ would do in our situation. If that is not one’s motive, a bit of remodeling is in order. Christianity is not just going to church on Sunday morning and thinking one has done their duty to God for the week. That type of religion will send many to a place they never dreamed of going.

Concerning being homeless, if that situation came about by any of a multitude of abuses, it would be a disgrace to Christ. In that situation, there would be little one could do to promote the cause of Christ. Most often, homelessness is the result of many bad choices. This doesn’t mean a homeless person isn’t/couldn’t be a disciple of Christ, but chances are slim. When Christ and the apostles talk about the poor who are blessed, the disadvantaged (poor) have the greatest need for real life, which only Christ can give. This subject of wealth and poverty walks a fine line. The main thing is to have genuine love for the needy. If one has that love, chances are that it would be impossible to have wealth to the point where it is lavished on self, with regard for those in need. This question can never be adequately answered, since life has many variables.

I also agree with you that we should to feed ourselves and our families the healthiest food available, made from scratch, so we can avoid as many commercial toxins as possible and avoid poisoning our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That is much more important for physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health than many are aware of. I also agree with your next statement concerning fasting, praying, loving others above one’s self, and studying the New Testament.

Your last question about me: "What would I do?" I am retired and receive a small monthly pension, which is more than I need; thus, I have a great opportunity to help those who are in need. Although I eat well, I never waste anything and am frugal in my spending. But never will I scrimp when it comes to the needs of others; in that way I am a spendthrift. I live in a small studio apartment, which is more than big enough for me; the rent doesn’t cost much, so there is that much more money to have when the need comes up. I ride my bike 90+ percent of the time, thus saving gas and money and living green, while getting plenty of exercise. I have no debts except my rent, and I do advertise this Biblical blog on Yahoo. For some reason, God has been extremely gracious to me, enabling me to publish this blog and promote His love.

This blog has one purpose: a desire for every person to experience eternal life in the here and now with Christ, which brings them the joy, peace and love I was given. Even though God’s free grace makes us eligible for Salvation, it still comes at a price: the death of self-interest, which may sounds foolish to many.

I would not be able to write what I do if I wasn’t living it. I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world. What is written in this biblical blog comes straight from the horse’s mouth. I could go on and on about myself, but I think I have answered your question. I pray God will continue to bless you and yours with His love and grace. From the little you wrote in your comments and questions, I perceived you must be a real Christian. JC

Monday, March 24, 2008

# 242: Response to Questions

# 242: Response to Questions This post is a response to a comment on another post. Since it mentions hell, I thought it would be more appropriate to place it in the main section of this blog. The questions asked are extremely poignant, and the answers will be of interest to many readers/bloggers.

“Anonymous” has left a new comment on your post "Day Nineteen":

Do you do what you do, and live the way you preach with the motive of eternal life? If The Bible didn't give you, and people like you, the fear of hell fire would any one be "Christian"? What really motivates you? Is it fear? I'm not judging you, I'd really like to know... Please explain Joanne

First question: "Do you do what you do, and live the way you preach with the motive of eternal life?" Answer: No doubt, eternal life with God and Christ is the grand prize for all genuine Christians/disciples of Christ. And that should be our ultimate motive to live the way we do. Personally, for me, that is not true; since it is in the distant future, I don’t think of it as much as I should. This may be an error in my belief, and may need correction, but if I said otherwise, I would be lying. The reason for my motive will be answered in the following paragraphs.

Second question: "If The Bible didn't give you, and people like you, the fear of hell fire would anyone be ‘Christian’?" I can’t speak for others because I may be unique in this area. To my recollection, I never feared hell, possibly because of my assurance of being with God for eternity. That confidence may spring from my solid faith in Christ, my love for God and neighbor, and last but not least, the way I make every effort to live as the New Testament commands. Should that eliminate the fear of hell? I can’t answer that.

Even though God freely gives all those who are His beloved children, justification (freedom from all sins) and sanctification (making them holy in His sight), does that make me perfect? Absolutely not. Since Jesus Christ is perfect and my only role model, I continually strive to live a perfect life, but no matter how much I/we strive, there will always be more perfection ahead of us. In this world, perfection is a necessary but elusive Holy Grail.

Third question: "What really motivates you?" This question is the most difficult question I have ever been asked. I would say there are several aspects of the Christian life which motivate me.

The first—and, most likely, the strongest— is this: For a good part of my adult life I was a man of the world. I was a carpenter/house builder, always striving for more money, power, and the good things of this worldly life. When I acquired all of the things that were supposed to bring contentment and fulfillment, I found they did not do for me what they promised to do. I was still empty of anything of real heart-satisfying value.

Then, at the age of about 30, I started to get interested in religion. The promises made to believers in the New Testament kind of hooked me into seeing if there was any validity to those promises.

For several years I was not as dedicated as I should have been and did stray at times. But still, I kept going back, knowing that it was the right way. For a while, I became a Bible student and learned the New Testament inside-out. Then I was astonished at why what is taught in the Bible and what was taught in many churches were not the same. So, for several years, I started going to many different churches and denominations. I found the same story regardless of where I went. Therefore, I became a “Lone Ranger. I could not tolerate hypocrisy.

Then, about three years ago I started this Biblical blog to let everyone know what the Bible taught that was never preached in many churches. To my surprise, this blog has blessed and taught me more than I could have ever imagined, not to mention how many bloggers it has blessed. The main thing I found out was that living with love as the motivator of life gave me the opportunity to live life to the fullest. That is where I am now.

The second motive is that I know it is the correct way to live, disregarding heaven or hell. Many times it is difficult, but at the end it is always rewarding.

One more motive: One does not have to keep up with the Joneses. What I mean is that all the important things the people of the world strive for are stupid and stressful in my eyes, since I found something much better, and more lasting: faith, love and goodness.

One more motive: Jesus Christ was/is a perfect man, and that is the kind of example I needed since I am a perfectionist at everything I do; at least that is what I have striven for all my life. No doubt there are more motives which I cannot think of at this time.

One more comment: At this time I have less material things than the majority of people have in America, and yet if contentment and security could be scientifically measured, I would rank as one of the most satisfied. I am not sure if that is a motive or a result. Thanks much for your questions. May God bless you. JC

Sunday, March 23, 2008

# 241: Are We Absolutely Certain?

There are many people who believe they will be going to heaven at death, on an assumption that may not be in accordance with the New Testament (NT). This post will bring out Biblical verses which will clarify what is required to know, with certainty, if our presumptions are correct.

While we truly may believe we are living as is required, it would be a devastating occurrence at the last judgment to find ourselves not being accepted for eternal life because we did not actively adhere to the mandatory NT dictations.

This Biblical blog is doing all that is humanly possible to keep as many people as possible out of hell and avoiding the severity of its eternal torment, which no human words can ever describe. It could be that hell is not real to many people who call themselves Christians, except as a place where the other person (non-believer) is going.

I truly believe that every person who is a genuine Christian should do everything in their power to warn as many people as possible that hell is a real place where they may go if they don’t live up to all that the NT teaches. Making every effort to do that is the main focus of my life.

Then, many will mention the absolute importance of grace, in that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we will be permitted to enter heaven. And that is precisely true because no one, regardless of how many good works anyone does, will ever be qualified for eternity.

The only thing we all must remember is that God’s grace is apportioned only to those who have faith in Jesus Christ and that His death on the cross will remove all our sins when we repent; once we have done that, then we are expected to love God as He requires. That means our obedience to NT commands will be the necessary result showing that we love God and have faith in Jesus Christ. If we say we love God and have faith in Jesus Christ without obedience, that disobedience makes our Christian lives null and void. Does that make sense? Romans 1:5: ". . . to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith."

Repeating, faith saves us, but faith only in word is not saving faith. As the apostle James said several times, "Faith without works is dead." Also, works that don’t spring from faith and love are worthless. The works of love accurately display our faith and love. This Biblical fact cannot be overly stressed. And that is exactly what the majority of Christian churches do not stress. Being lax toward this IMPERATIVE doctrine has become one of the most deadly heresies of the organized church. The reason they are lax is because the laity, in general, is lazy. They take the course of least resistance and don’t care to go out in the world and attempt to convince as many as possible that works are as important as faith and love. God’s grace cannot compensate for shirking our duties. Not many desire to hear this type of gospel, because works are not easy; I can attest to that fact—it is not easy. Romans 2:6. "God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life."

When it comes to the second greatest commandment, “loving our neighbors as ourselves,” which requires effort, we must not forget the spiritual aspects of loving those who have spiritual needs; I mean those who believe they are Christians but are not aware of what the NT commands as to how to live. How can we say we love them if we don’t somehow try to reach them? Trying to help them in this manner is much more challenging than just giving financial help or whatever else many may need.

Jesus said in Matthew 29:19 and 20, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age."

The apostle Paul says in Philemon 6, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

When approaching those who claim to be Christians and believe they are going to heaven, ask them if they are aware of what the NT commands regarding how to live. The NT is the ONLY source which contains the criteria for what our lives should consist of. If we don’t know what the NT contains, most likely, our certainty of eternal life is flawed. Repeating, if we do believe we are living a holy life apart from NT knowledge, chances are, it may be misguided.

Another timely question to ask is whether hell is a real place to them, and what it would be like to live there for eternity. A scary thought. I am not trying to sound like a “hell-fire Baptist” to scare as many as possible to walk the straight and narrow, and thus continue to bilk parishioners’ money and attendance.

Along with evaluating what our status is with God, we must also be concerned with the eternal future of others. That is one of the basic tenants for outreach when approaching those who may be lost without knowing it.

As you know or should know, many of these commands are not popular or easy to implement; therefore, it is a crying shame most churches don’t include them in their sermons. Thus, it is not a good idea to ask church leaders what the requirements are as to being certain our Salvation is secure.

Let us see what the NT says about making our Salvation secure.

Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

1st Corinthians 10:12. "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall."

2nd Peter 1:10. "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 6:11-12. "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what was promised."

2nd Peter 3:17. "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 5:9. "and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."

Hebrews 12:14. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

This next command sounds so simple and is one of many similar ones throughout the NT. For some, it may be one of the most difficult to obey. James 4:4. "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

This one may be just as difficult: James 4:17. "Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins."

If anyone desires a longer, though incomplete list of NT commands, go to the table of contents and click on post # 31. Don’t let that list overwhelm you; just be aware that it exists, and little by little the Holy Spirit will bless those who desire to obey the Lord and love God the Father as He desires. Those who desire to live holy lives will be satisfied. Guaranteed!

I am very aware that most, if not all, people desire to hear pleasant things said about themselves, and like to read literature that is easy to read and gives them a good feeling about themselves. Most people who go to any church will get an earfull of pleasant words, and some of those words may be true.

But at the same time, words of warning are just as appropriate, if not more. As most know, this Biblical blog is concerned with teaching what is in the Bible but not preached in most churches or elsewhere. Therefore, this Biblical blog will never become popular. And yet, there are some who subscribe to it, and take what the NT teaches as gospel truth which is to be obeyed, as pointed out. Therefore, make an active effort to live by what it teaches. God, Jesus Christ and I ask for no more. I pray you are, or will become, one of God’s saints. God will bless and give a certainty for Salvation to everyone who has an active faith, love and obedience.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

# 240: The Children of Selfless Love

This post will be an expanded version of Luke 10:30-35, "The Good Samaritan," which I will now quote: "In reply Jesus said, ‘A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away. A priest [supposedly a holy man] happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, [also, supposedly a holy man], when he came to the place and saw him, passed on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine [the medicine of the day]. Then he put him on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’"

Samaritans are despised by most Jews, and vice-versa; therefore, Jews do not associate with Samaritans. John 4:9. This despised Samaritan has set a perfect example of what it means to have selfless love (loving your neighbor as yourself).

How many genuine Christians would have done the same thing if they came upon a helpless and suffering man? I do know that most, if not all, would have done the same. But what about people who only use the name Christian, possibly go to church and claim to be religious? They all have important places to go and things to do. Would they disrupt their busy schedule, along with spending time and money, when they might think to themselves, "I am sure someone else will see what happened and care for him; we just don’t have the time"?

Most likely, the most precious virtue a person can possess is selfless love for others in need. That type of love is not cheap or easy, and does not express itself frequently. Let us see how Scripture describes it. Philippians 2:3-5. "Do nothing out of vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Romans 12:10. "Honor one another above yourselves." 1st Corinthians 10:24. "Nobody should seek their own good but the good of others." Also see 1st Corinthians 13:5. "Love . . . is not self-seeking." The goal of Godly love is equality for all. Could selfless love be depicted any clearer? That love is supposed to be the exclusive way Christians live. What happened? For us to live that way would mean that a dramatic exchange must take place: taking the burdens and poverty of the needy and exchanging them for true riches, then giving them whatever love gifts they need.

It is a crying shame that the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians do not have that sort of unique, holy and selfless love. But at the same time, there are some people who have this precious love, but either don’t believe there is a God (atheist); believe the human mind can not know whether there is a God or go beyond the material phenomena (agnostic); or, as people of other religions do, openly acknowledge God but do not worship Him; and then, the nonreligious who believe there must be a God, but go no further. The last of those four groups, most likely, is the largest. Of course, let us not forget that there are a few genuine Christians whose lives are dominated by selfless love, which is inspired by God.

Let us attempt to examine the motives behind some of these people who have this selfless love which is considered to be exclusive only to devoted Godly people. What gives them the desire and power to live in this selfless manner?

I am certain that they believe “What goes around, comes around.” Scripture confirms this truth: Galatians 6:7. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." But can that simple but powerful belief produce selfless love? There must also be some other motive/s. The joy of sharing the joy of others could be one. They may have acquired a humility [though I don’t know how] to consider others better than themselves. If they were real Christians, I would say it came from God. But God is no part of their lives. And yet, since we all were created in the image of God, it may be a deep yearning to fulfill a deep but dormant Godly desire.

This is what bothers me: I am jealous, and most likely, God is also; repeating, this is the way people who call themselves Christians ought to live, since that is what is commanded in the New Testament. And yet, the vast majority of Sunday-morning Christians are content to do literally nothing but go to church, if even that, as the most important part of their Christianity. Their main concern is greed of all sorts, dressed up with a halo. But the real evil in their lives is that their religion is wrapped up in themselves, making it a selfish religion. They are concerned with their own Salvation more than all else. If they were truly living as Jesus Christ commanded, their first priority would be to do good works of love to all others, regardless of the cost or effort.

I am not sure if these non-Christians believe in any type of afterlife. Even though they don’t believe in Christ as their Savior, it seems they deserve it. In my lifetime, I have met several selfless people. I would love to visit with them now, and pick their brains as to several questions I now have about their motives and future. I think some of them believe they are spirit beings encased in a physical body. That seems to imply that since spirits are not prone to death at physical death, possibly their spirits may live on after their death.

My question is this: Why don’t these people become Christians, and at death be assured of eternal life with God? Most likely, the reason they don’t is because they see the hypocrisy in many who profess Christianity but don’t live as Christ requires. All they see is greedy people who live worldly lives while still calling themselves Christians. Who is there to call them on their error, other than this blog? I know the majority of the clergy won’t, for at least two reasons: first, many churches don’t care to know the private lives of their members. If they did, they would keep their mouths shut so as not to lose any income.

That goes to show the damage hypocrisy has done and is still doing to the very people who could raise Christianity to the highest level by knowing that religions that have even a bit of worth must center their efforts on the good of others.

Are these Sunday-morning Christians who regularly put their dues in the collection basket aware of the fact that the main way to show God they love Him is by loving and putting others before themselves? Without an active love for the less-fortunate, Christianity is a farce, regardless of how many holy pretenses they display.

Here is the reasoning behind paying their weekly tax of 10%: This is what they think: They believe that weekly payment relieves them of their duty of having to cater to the needs of their neighbor (the Good Samaritan). They say to themselves, "It is the clergy’s responsibility; that is why I am paying them. Let them help the needy; again, I am free of my responsibility. Thank you Lord; I feel better now."

The closest thing on earth to selfless Godly love is the love most parents have for their young children. Is there anything they wouldn’t do to help their children? In most cases, no, there isn't. What will they get out of it? Their children are their responsibility, but beyond that is their loving attachment to them.

There is a clue for the motive for the children of selfless love. They live this way because they must truly believe they have an attachment to all who are in need, and therefore are responsible for their welfare. However or wherever they got that motivation, that is what the modern Christian church desperately needs. But don’t hold your breath; it is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.

You see, these fake Christians are taught by much of organized religion that they are saved and going to heaven; thus, it is not absolutely necessary to do these works of love, and these works of love are only to gain a better position in heaven. That is the lie that will send many to the fires of hell. I discussed this topic in depth in the previous post. For new bloggers, read a few of the posts in this blog for the reason I make this egregious charge.

My question is this: Does our Jehovah God have any part in their goodness? Is He the one who is secretly inspiring their selfless love, just to show-up the religious hypocrisy of those who take on His name but live like hell? That is a tough question, because as Christians we are taught that only through faith in Christ are we granted eternal life. Here is a verse in Romans which may teach otherwise. Romans 2:14. "(Indeed, when Gentiles [non-Christians], who do not have the law [Christ’s commands], do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show the requirements of the law are written on their hearts . . . )." Will the Good Samaritan be granted eternity since he is the role model of how real Christians must love the helpless? The mind-boggling questions this paragraph presents will go down in eternity unanswered.

The bottom line, after all is said about any religion, is this: Above and beyond all which is necessary for any religion to be effective, if an active selfless love is not the end-product of that religion, be it Christian or otherwise, with or without God, it/they have missed the gold standard of what genuine religion was meant to accomplish. This is a tough precept for many to digest.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

# 239: The Power of Love

In many, many ways, “love” is the most influential word of all humankind’s vocabulary. There are many meanings to this powerful word even though—it is a shame—quite often it is used in ways that make it just a meaningless word. But that does not dilute its true meaning and power when it is actively used with sincerity.

As many regular bloggers most likely know, I am going to bring out love’s spiritual implications and aspects. As I have said several times in previous posts, Christianity is a religion based on love for God and for those in need, which springs from faith in Jesus Christ according to what He has taught in the New Testament (NT), actually making Him our Lord (personal owner and boss) and Savior. When that faith/acceptance statement is initially made, if it is genuine, we are on a road (or should be) which puts us under the control of Jesus Christ. 1st Corinthians 6:20: "You are not your own, you were bought [by Jesus Christ] at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Do we know what we are getting into when we decide to become disciples of Jesus Christ by making Him our Lord and Savior? Most likely, most of us don’t. What we are told is that we will be saved from our sins through our repentance and receive eternal life in heaven, which is true. That sounds great. But there is a blessed catch: We must vow to desire a wholehearted obedience to Christ’s powerful law of love, as described in Holy Scripture. Obedience can save no one, but is a necessary result or path which our faith and love for God and Christ lay out for us via the NT. Avoiding or downplaying obedience or love is sure evidence that our faith in Christ was/is not genuine.

Some will ask, "Does that mean we have to add to what Christ did for us to be saved?" Absolutely not! You see, faith, love and obedience are intertwined in such a way that if one of those components is missing, the whole (Christianity) falls apart. The power to live the Christian life, which is produced by faith and love, cannot manifest itself apart from its completeness. As the apostle James adamantly teaches in verse 2:17, faith without works/action is dead. Ephesians 2:10 also adds this: "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has created in advance for us to do." Therefore, love and obedience must also be classified as necessary works of faith; not the works of the law/written code to gain acceptance as the Jewish teachers of the Law and Pharisees contended, but the good works of faith which have two inseparable partners: love and obedience. The principle described in this paragraph, though it is a bit repetitious, is most likely one of the most pertinent in this post and possibly of this complete Biblical blog. Praise God. It is worth rereading.

That is where the rubber meets the road. There is absolutely nothing easy about fulfilling the Christian requirements for love as diligently pointed out in Scripture. There is nothing passive about loving as God requires. The reason I say that is before our conversion, we were so accustomed to living for our own betterment, regardless of whether it was noteworthy or evil.

There is nothing simple when it comes to making changes in our lives, especially when those changes may have to be dramatic. To many, that change will sound impossible, as when Christ said, "We must obey two of God’s greatest and most important commands, which are mentioned at least half-a-dozen times in Scripture." They go this way: Matthew 22:36-40. "‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind [the gospel of Mark adds] and with all your strength,’ and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Also, Romans 13:8-10: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law [Christ’s law].” Paul says in 1st Corinthians 9:21: ". . . (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law).” Therefore, it is necessary, since we also are under Christ’s law, that all born-again Christians make, as their ultimate quest, those two love commandments their Holy Grail (a seemingly unattainable goal).

That is exactly where the majority of organized religion has failed miserably. By ignoring or downplaying those two commands, which are the foundation of the Christian religion, the church has become a passive social club, if even that, and all in the name of Jesus Christ. Does anyone know of any church that emphasizes these commands and stresses their importance, in that it is imperative to make every effort to actually live by them? This is a hard statement which has only two outcomes: to do this gives life; to avoid this gives death. That statement is true because if there is genuine faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, it will always display itself by love and obedience. Galatians 5: 6: "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

Like the song in the early 1950s said, "They say that love’s a word, a word we’ve only heard, but can’t begin to know the meaning of." What they are implying is that the letters l-o-v-e are not really love until an appropriate action is given. If and when that needed action becomes one-sided or expires, love also dies, regardless of how much some may claim otherwise.

When we start to implement that love for God and our fellow man/woman through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and obedience to His will, the power of God is produced and released as if God’s Spirit Himself was actually doing the loving. As mere babes in Christ, that is how we begin loving God as He requires. As it teaches numerous times in Scripture, without an active desire to obey the teachings/commands of Jesus Christ, love for God is nonexistent. We can shout from the rooftops for the world to hear how much we love God, but all that dogmatic shouting will not validate love for those whose words of love are empty. Ephesians 5:6. "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient."

You see, there is no one who believes she/he is a Christian, and at the same time would deny they love God, which infers they do believe they love Him. Those who only adopt the name “Christian” do it to make themselves believe they are holy, etc. Therefore, only mouthing the word “love” makes the most powerful and influential word in the world cheap and meaningless.

The reason love is powerful is because we all need to be loved—although some may deny it—because genuine love, either from God or man/woman, empowers us with security, confidence, worth, respect and more. But when being loved by God, actually with humans also, it must be reciprocal: God loves us and we must love Him as He desires. Without God-type agape love driving any Christian organization or individual, God and Jesus Christ are no part of their religion.

However, God desires the very best for all peoples, which can be interpreted also as love for the lost. God desires all to be saved and come to a knowledge of Christ; still, God has a very special love for His own, and when His chosen become aware of the love God has for them, they will come to the realization that they are recipients of the most valuable ingredient in the universe (becoming clones-of-Christ-in-the-making), although some may dispute that statement.

Now the question comes up: If all our energies go to loving only God with all our faculties, along with loving those in need with the same love we have for ourselves, what love/time will we have left over to love our family and even ourselves? Should our love for God and others come before those close to us whom we love so dearly? The answer to this question has become one of the most contentious issues in the complete NT. I will comment on this subject after I bring to the surface 5 NT verses which seem contradictory. Just refer back to these verses when reading the explanations which follow.

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."

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 . . ."

John 12:25. "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

Ephesians 5:28-29. "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church."

Matthew 12:50. "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

1st Timothy 5:8. "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Concerning Luke 14:26, what Jesus is saying here when he uses the term “hate” is that no matter how much we love our immediate family and ourselves, we must consider that love as hate in comparison to the love we have for Him and His Father. Matthew 10:37 puts it in a more understandable manner. "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." Still, this type of teaching is a hard sell for most religious people. Most will say, "My family and loved ones come first." Along with that, "How can I hate myself?"

I personally believe the word “hate” is not an appropriate word in this context, according to our modern language. The word “hate” might have been understood 2,000 years ago in that context as meaning “to love less”; the translators could have suggested in the footnotes the possibility of its meaning in its time of antiquity.

Concerning Ephesians 5:28, Paul is saying that, like we care for our own body, we must treat our spouses the same. Most Christians would not purposely do anything harmful to themselves. In fact, as disciples of Christ, we must take excellent care of our bodies so that our mind, spirit, etc. can function to maximum potential.

Concerning John 12:25: To hate our lives most likely means we would rather die and be with Christ, which is far better than continuing to live in this dog-eat-dog world; at least I feel that way. 2nd Corinthians 5:7. "We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and home with the Lord."

When it comes to 1st Timothy 5:8, as to providing for his relatives—meaning mothers, fathers, grandparents and widows—they are the responsibility of any active disciple of Christ who is able, so as not to burden the church, so the church can help those widows, etc. who are really in need.

As we can see, the word “love” is used in different ways: Its meaning can make a world of difference in these seemingly contradicting verses.

Also, Jesus is saying that to love Him and His Father with all one’s effort, one must get self-interest out of their way or their devotion to God will be compromised. This type of teaching is not taught in the majority of Christian churches; in its place, they teach self-betterment.

The champion of self-betterment—instead of preaching betterment of Godly love and continually working to advance the cause of Christ—is Joel, with a membership of 30 thousand, along with many others who make up Trinity Broadcasting Network. They are a disgrace to God and Christ and to everyone who calls themselves authentic Christians. That type of trade-off cuts at the heart of the two greatest commands, thus making that type of Christian religion ineffective.

It takes little or no effort to get caught up in this easy-to-listen-to religion: just don’t study your Bible daily; don’t pray every day for your loved ones and the lost; continue to get involved in the things of the world; don’t have your mind on Christ every day; and put on the back burner the things concerning loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength, which is evident by lack of obedience to Christ’s teachings and lack of love for those in need. Now that is what one would call the easy Christian life.

I understand where the modern church is coming from. It is difficult and illogical to put God and others in need before self and family. It seems like a high price to pay, but not really, after a person is born of God. Our new birth means we have a new extended family. That is what Jesus means when he says in Matthew 12:50, "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Since you and I also belong to the family of God, yes, we will put God’s will first. What must we be doing to do the will of God? Answer: Making Christ’s two love commands a priority before our own needs. If we don’t, we will be destroying the foundation that holds up the remainder of all Christian virtues. We end up with a loveless "christian" religion—as we see in many places in this twenty-first century—with no true spiritual value, since it is only made up of empty words of love, with no Godly substance.

For certain, our salvation, righteousness and justification are given to us free of charge because of God’s mercy—we didn’t have to work for them—thus saving us by His grace. Once we have accepted His free gift of Salvation, etc, we will have the power—God’s love gives us power—to put it into practice by doing good works and producing much fruit, and thus be freed of our self-centered, sinful nature. John 15:8. "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." A good, nitty-gritty example of what that means is found in the following verses: 1st Corinthians 10:24. "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Also, Paul says just about the same thing in verse 33. "For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Just one more: Philippians 2:3. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

The aforementioned verses are what Christianity is all about. We now have the Spirit of Christ controlling our every action. Romans 8:9 says, ". . . And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" [this verse may exclude infants in Christ]. Who said the Christian life is a big, happy-go-lucky party? Without obedience to God’s commands of love, we will be without the POWER to live and LOVE as God so adamantly requires.

In conclusion, my heart’s desire and prayer is this: that many will take the power of love to heart and earnestly pray that God’s Spirit will bless you by inspiring you to consider these demanding requirements of Godly love as an essential part of the genuine Christian life.

I also ask all of you to pray to God that He will bless not only you and your family but the many who are lost, possibly your friends or even strangers. They need your prayers and mine. And I hope and pray that your faith will continue to grow so that you can enjoy Christ’s company even more and more. Prayer is our direct hotline to God through Jesus Christ, and if we are sincere, God will respond to our prayers. Thank God He inspired all of you to click onto this blog. Again, God bless everyone. JC