Monday, February 21, 2011

# 304: If You Disagree with This Post, Read & Obey the New Testament

There has been an insidious situation concerning the majority of church-going Christians that has been around for so long that it is the norm. The main reason for this flaw is because the New Testament is not read daily by churchgoers searching for instructions/commandments as a safeguard, to see if their belief system will actually take them into the company of Jesus Christ.

Some of these Bible-reading slackers believe that when people regularly go to church, give their weekly tithe, and are good for the rest of the week, that is all that Jesus Christ requires from believers. Then there are some who believe that once a person has accepted Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior, they are heaven-bound, and there is nothing more a person can do to improve/maintain their secure position.

They may not be aware that if Jesus Christ really is their LORD/boss, they must be obedient to all that He teaches. When someone does not do what is required on the job (disobeys), they will quickly be shown the door with a pink slip. It is no different in any situation when the supervisor’s (Christ’s) instructions are not followed.

I am certain there are several reasons why the majority of people believe this way, and for certain, the main reason is because they do not have an intimate knowledge of what the New Testament teaches; they believe it is too time-consuming and/or almost impossible to understand some sections. Another reason is that the clergy does not emphasize or teach the importance of knowing all that is required once a person is saved and becomes a Christian. Acts 17:11. “. . . for they [new believers] received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what [the apostle] Paul said was true.”

The reason the majority of church leaders are to blame for this deplorable situation is that many of Christ’s teachings are not pleasant to listen to, let alone obey. Therefore, most of these teachings are avoided. Not many people desire to hear sermons that have a negative connotation. Mark 12:24. “Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’”

Another reason why some clergy are guilty of this lack of required Biblical knowledge concerning the laity is that humans in general love to hear upbeat sermons, and not subjects implying that they may not be doing and living the right way; and if they don’t change the way they believe and live, they may be in trouble. I am not certain if the clergy are aware that by neglecting to teach these disagreeable but extremely important verses, they are committing the most grievous sin possible: literally sending these na├»ve/unsuspecting parishioners to hell.

When people are being told the necessary hard truth in the weekly sermons, most likely some will move to other more pleasant churches, most likely a mega-church. The most well-known preacher of mega-churches who always preaches what the laity desire to hear is a person who looks and preaches as if he just came down from heaven, wings and all: Joel Osteen. 2nd Corinthians 11:14-15. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.”

It is reprehensible and heart breaking—to me and to all Godly people who know what the New Testament really teaches—to listen to what these preachers are getting away with week after week, while thousands upon thousands are cheering them on. At the judgment, he and all those like him, if they don’t repent, will be sent into the deepest and hottest hell—if there is one—by Christ (the righteous judge), because the normal hell is not enough punishment for all the millions of people that may go to hell because of them.

Some may be thinking: “Who appointed this brash big mouth to be judge and jury of who is going to heaven or hell?” Believe it or not, it is not difficult for anyone who is familiar with what the New Testament teaches to spot religious con men/impostors, simply by examining what scriptures he or she doesn’t preach/teach/emphasize, and by being aware of the ear-tickling messages that are frequently preached. I could just hear multitudes exclaiming, “Our pastor/s is/are loving and Godly man/men, who wouldn’t think of doing such things.” Once these gullible people finish reading this post or the New Testament, they may not be so trusting of their angelic-looking and-sounding preachers. They are not only cheating the laity out of their weekly tithe, but also swindling them from God’s prize possession: to be in heaven with Him.

If nothing else, please remember this: Belief creates an individual’s reality. Whatever most people believe about religion or the New Testament, be it the truth, a half truth or an outright lie, not many are going to relinquish their reality, even if it disagrees with the New Testament or this post! Why? Believe me, I know how difficult—if not impossible—it is to change one’s belief system. Because living the way Christ/the New Testament requires would interfere with most people’s comfort zone. And who doesn’t desire to live a life of comfort? Only fools for Christ! 1st Corinthians 4:10. “We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ!” By not knowing/obeying all the difficult-to-obey verses Scripture teaches, many church people are allowing the heart of the gospel to be destroyed, along with cutting their own spiritual throats.

Then there are verses that seem to be trivial and can easily be overlooked, which may lead to trouble. And there are those verses that are the foundation of Christianity—perfection to the smallest detail—that pertain to the love for God, love for Christ, love for our needy neighbors and even love for our enemies. These love commands are not easy to live by, and the only way God will know we love Him as He required is if we obey all New Testament teachings. The reason obedience to Christ’s requirements is unpleasant is because they are contrary to the ways of the world (the rules, regulations, traditions and habits that humans have established). To put it another way: Jesus Christ turned ALL the world’s values upside down. If you don’t believe it, read or listen to the New Testament.

John 15:9. “ If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remained in his love.”

1st John 5:3. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God has overcome the world” [all the pleasurable things this sophisticated culture offers].

Another subject many church leaders are guilty of is not teaching the importance of producing fruit/works/deeds (the three are one and the same). The main reason they are necessary is because that is the best form of outreach, besides showing ourselves as Christ’s disciples; also, it is valid evidence to God, man and the holy angels that we are real Christians. No, works will never save anyone, but without them a person is as dead as a doornail. If you don’t believe it, listen to or read the New Testament.

John 15:8. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

Acts 26:20. “I [the apostle Paul] preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared for us to do.”

There are dozens of other verses that also tell the vital importance of producing fruit, works or deeds. When was the last time you heard a sermon on this subject, and the vital importance for all genuine Christians to bear much fruit? Something to remember: Every person who claims to be a Christian is either a good role model or a lazy/fake role model for other Christians to emulate. 1st Peter 4:18. “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinner?” It is not an easy job to bear much fruit.

The very best advice that anyone can give to those who desire to be extra certain (a safeguard) that they are in line with all that the New Testament teaches is this: read the New Testament every day; better yet, listen to it any time you can while doing other things that are monotonous, like while in the bathroom in the morning, preparing meals, eating, and while driving. There are endless things we have to do during the day; these are opportune times to listen to the Bible. This New Testament reading/listening will/should become a lifetime habit as a safeguard. It has been my safeguard for many years. One more suggestion: Except for the first three chapters, it might be wise not to read the book of Revelation every time the New Testament is read, because it is highly symbolic, and therefore difficult, if not impossible, to correctly understand many sections.

Another excellent thing to get into the habit of doing is to have the New Testament in front of you as you are listening, and when a verse comes up that you didn’t know or forgot about, highlight it; better yet, make a list of such verses, so if/when you desire to know where a certain verse is, you will know exactly where it is. For those who are more meticulous, buy a concordance in conjunction with the Bible you are using; that way all you need to remember is just one word of any verse you are searching for; look up that word in the concordance, and it will show you right where it is.

Here is the reason it is extremely important to know and obey all that is required: Often, all of the commands/teachings are obeyed except one or two, like having a relationship without marriage, which is so prevalent. Therefore, neglecting any command/s could be evidence that one’s faith is weak or nonexistent, especially if it concerns the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. James 2:10. “Whoever keeps the whole law [that gives freedom—see verse 2:12] and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Just a reminder: This love command is the second greatest of all other commands. This is serious business we are talking about. No excuses will do, such as, “Our pastor never told us that.”

If every person who claims to be a Christian in America was to take just one poor person or family, if they could afford it, and vow to help him or her in whatever way is necessary, we would have no poverty in this country. Shame on our Christian religion. It is no wonder atheists mock people who say they are Christian.

Galatians 5:12. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

The Christian religion is not so much going to church or not committing sins and all the others activities and requirements. The complete Christian religion is based on love. If we are not engaged in actively practicing love for the needy, etc. when we have the ability, most likely we are not saved Christians. Galatians 4:10. “Is Christ formed in you?” [Paraphrased]. Of course, to make sure we are not being scammed, we have to “… be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” with our giving. Matthew 10:16. Along with that, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Matthew 7:6. “Because there are always certain unscrupulous people who are looking for soft-touch Christians.” If you don’t agree with this paragraph, read/listen to and obey the New Testament.

If you say no thanks to the above statements, I hope the God of grace will have mercy on you. The only thing is, God cannot break His own rules and still be a God of compassion and love. The grace God gives us and the mercy He has for us are what we do not have the ability to achieve ourselves.

There is a big variety of Christian Bibles available; make sure you buy a modern one and not an old one like the King James. The reason is that after the King James was first printed in 1611, or even newer versions of it, several older Biblical manuscripts have been discovered that were not available in 1611, that shed new light on many verses; they are more accurate and easier to understand, plus they use modern English. Although I consult several Bibles, I quote and read the New International Version, NIV.

You can download the entire Bible for free at http://librivox.org/ and listen to it on your computer or audio player. Or, if you prefer to listen to CDs, you can purchase Bible CD's at http://www.amazon.com/NIV-Audio-Bible-Voice-Only/dp/0310920485/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297098797&sr=8-1 for $55.12.

One of the primary safeguards we have in the New Testament is avoiding worldly/earthly things, activities and attitudes that have nothing to do with promoting and defending the cause that Christ started. Those are strong words. Let us give just a few of those verses that make this teaching an absolute. If you disagree with this hard-to-obey requirement, read or listen to the New Testament.

1st John 2:15. “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—the craving of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has or does comes not from the Father but from the world. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Luke 14:14. “. . . they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” The two other synoptic gospels have this same teaching.

James 4:4. “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Philippians 3:19. “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”

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 [some of the clergy who are greedy and number-hungry] and fall from your secure position.” There are at least another half a dozen verses that essentially teach the same theme. If you don’t believe it, read or listen to the New Testament.

There are dozens upon dozens of activities that church-going “Christians” engage in that are outlawed by Holy Scripture—evidence that people who may believe they are Christian are actually disobeying many New Testament verses. For example: engaging in worldly entertainment of all sorts, such as sports—both spectators and sportsmen—and movies, along with all things that secular people are fond of. If you think that God is asking too much of genuine Christians, read or listen to the New Testament.

The reason many Christians do not read the Bible is because our culture has made the majority of us lazy: We would rather go to a church building and let the preacher entertain us. Or, all we have to do is to just click onto the Internet and get all that our deceitful hearts desire. Jeremiah 17:9. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

If anyone decides to change churches or start going to church, make certain to choose one where not too many influential or wealthy people are members. The reason is that the pastor/s most likely knows these people, and therefore will avoid most verses that bad-mouth rich people. And, believe me, there are many such verses. Rich people put much more in the basket than normal people. What religious fool wants to lose them as members?

I received an interesting comment several days ago. “Why does it bother me because I teach that a large number of people are being tricked into believing they are saved, when they may not be?” My answer is/was that a person has to know what the New Testament teaches, then live accordingly in order to positively know they are saved. That explanation did not suffice.

If I may say so, all true believers are members of one family: the family of God. Though I don’t know them, I have great compassion and empathy for them—more than anyone should have. I even have empathy for those who are not family members. To simplify that answer, I don’t like anyone to be tricked, especially by impostors who pretend to be representing Jesus Christ, thus, sending many good, credulous people into a “glorious” hell. These people will be shocked at the resurrection, thinking they are heaven-bound, only to find out that they were tricked. That is the main reason this blog has been on the Internet for almost six years.

There are several Biblical books in the New Testament that must be taken with the consideration of the audience for whom the author was writing. There are seven New Testament personal letters that were written to single individuals. One that is of particular importance is the gospel of Luke. Luke was an intelligent physician. His first letter was written to a man Luke addressed as: “Most excellent Theophilus.” Luke also wrote the book of Acts addressing the same person. His title “Most excellent Theophilus” tells us that he was a ruler, elder, and most certainly a man of nobility and wealth.

You would think that Luke wouldn’t mention anything that would discourage him from becoming a believer, if he wasn’t one already. Instead, he over-emphasized several verses concerning giving away most of one’s wealth to those in need. Many have ridiculed the way he put it. Now, let us attempt to put these verses into proper perspective. These are the verses:

Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse (and several others) doesn’t mean to give everything to the poor and then become in need yourself. The right thing to do is this: When we see someone or a family in need, help him or her out with the extra money we may have. But we must always verbally give Jesus Christ the glory and credit, and not take the credit ourselves for the gift. And we must never tell anyone that we have given. Matthew 6:2-4. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do . . . so that your giving may be in secret.” That type of teaching is not often practiced by the wealthy. The shameful thing about wealth is that it is never satisfied. It always wants just a little more, leaving the poor in the cold, as it were.

Let me quote several more verses where this same principle must be practiced: These next two verses could be the most despised verses in the New Testament. Luke 16:13. “You cannot serve both God and money.” Let me elaborate/clarify: accept only what God can do for you, or accept what money can do for you. It is impossible to do/have what God desires for us, and at the same time have money, when money only gives us our deceitful heart’s desires; the two are incompatible.

Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to squirm his or her way out of this one. Many American Christians just turn a blind eye and pretend it does not exist, and continue to make the American dream (prosperity) their goal.

Luke 18:22. “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Again, Luke is not implying that one should become destitute, but to give out of our excess when we know of people in need; of course, there always are people in need. Doesn’t that make good holy sense?

2nd Corinthians 8:13-14. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.”

1st Timothy 6:17. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our [spiritual] enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” By the way, this is the only time the word “enjoyment” is used in the New Testament. This verse allows many to believe that Scripture gives the okay sign to any form of enjoyment, because God is providing it. BIG LIE.

In fact, if only a few wealthy Christians were to practice the above giving criteria, they would be valuable assets for God as holy examples to other rich people.

Although not openly mentioned in the New Testament, it is implied in Acts 5:32-35, that when wealthy people share their wealth with the less fortunate, they also should sell their large expensive homes for much smaller ones, and share the proceeds when the needs arise (and sell their expensive motor vehicles for much less expensive ones). This is so they will not only be sincere but also look totally honest about their equality in the Christian community. I am certain that most, if not all, wealthy people will disagree with that, and think I am a religious lunatic. Regardless, crazy or not, still-generous Christians will be role models for other wealthy Christians.

Years ago as a young man, I was a wealthy housebuilding contractor. I went through that process of downgrading my entire life when I realized it was necessary; although it didn’t happen over night, it did occur with the help of the Holy Spirit.

At this time I have little to nothing monetarily. I live on a small pension, drive an 18-year-old automobile, and still have money to help people who are in need. I now am extremely frugal for my personal needs—they now call it “living green”—and generous in my giving to further the cause of Christ. I waste nothing. I buy my clothing at thrift stores. I now live in a small rented house. With that said, I am one of the most contented and blessed individual in this world. This goes to display that wealth and comfort do not guarantee the important thing in life, which is being loved by God and loving God.

Since I encourage Bible reading, I must mention that there is a windfall that few may know about, besides being fluent in New Testament knowledge. As we continue to read it, what will/may happen is that the New Testament takes on a life of its own as if we are right there. I am not sure if I am explaining it correctly. Something this unique is hard to describe. When this does start to happen, it will be much easier to obey many verses that may seem absurd to beginners. Praise God through our Lord Jesus Christ!

One thing we should never do is to think Luke and other writers meant for us to give 10% of our wages to our church, and then they can help the poor. Sure! Just to let you know, there is not one verse in the New Testament that mentions the word “tithe” (10%)—commanding or even implying that we give 10% to the church. That duty was law in the Old Testament, of which we are not under. That rigid sort of giving was concocted by: guess who? Religious leaders. There is no greater euphoric emotion than to personally be involved in being generous to the needy. I personally can testify to that firsthand. That is a spiritual joy that church giving is cheating parishioners out of.

For people who are not personally familiar with the New Testament, I presented a long, long list of New Testament verses in 2005 that will substantiate to a greater degree what has been written in this post. There is repetition of some verses already quoted.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

# 2: Hard-edged Bible Verses

The following, taken from the New International Version of the New Testament, is a seemingly secluded list which vividly displays a number of Bible verses that demand action. They make up only a few of the rules that govern the unpopular second part; therefore, it is most often ignored, explained away or watered down by organized Christianity. True Christians have a solemn responsibility to obey these commands without leaning on modern-day alibis.

The following is a test to determine if someone or an organization is a genuine Bible-believer. These Bible verses are the ones that are most frequently negated by a majority of religions. Are church-going people and others being tricked? This is a good section to copy. Taken verbatim from the New International Version Bible:

2nd Corinthians 13:5. "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith: test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

Luke 14:33. "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

1 Corinthians 10:24. "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."

Matthew 5:44. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Luke 6:35. “But love your enemies, do good to them. . ."

1 Corinthians 11:1. (The apostle Paul speaking) "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

Matthew 5:24. "Be perfect."

Matthew 19:23. ". . . I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven."

1 Corinthians 15:58. ". . . Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. . . ."

Luke 16:15. "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."

1 Corinthians 15:2. ". . . hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."

1 Corinthians 16:22. "If anyone does not love the Lord [displayed by obedience to all that He commands] a curse be on him." [emphasis added].

Luke 6:20. ". . . Blessed are you who are poor . . ."

Luke 6:27. ". . . Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you . . ."

Luke 12:33. "Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

2 Corinthians 13:11. "Aim for perfection . . ."

Luke 9:23. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself . . ."

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."

Galatians 5:14. "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 5:1. "Be imitators of God . . ."

Philippians 2:3. ". . . consider others better than yourselves."

Philippians 2:5. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . ."

Colossians 3:2. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

1 Thessalonians 2:4. "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our heart."

1 Thessalonians 5:17. ". . . pray continually . . ."

Luke 11:23. "He who is not with me is against me . . ."

Luke 13:24. "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. . . ."

James 4:4. ". . . Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

1 Peter 1:14. "Be holy, because I am holy."

1 Peter 2:21. ". . . Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

1 John 3:9. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin . . ."

If there is an active desire to live in obedience to the preceding commands, which are not suggestions, the result will be mixed blessings, among other things that are described in the following verses.

John 3:36. "Whoever rejects the son [as displayed by the way one lives] will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." [emphasis added].

Ephesians 5:1. "Be imitators of God. . ."

Philippians 2:3. ". . . consider others better than yourselves."

Matthew 10:36. "A man's enemies will be the members of his own household."

Mark13:13. "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

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?"

2 Timothy 3:12. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Luke 6:24. "But woe to you who are rich." Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. The meaning of rich: 1) having more than enough of material possessions. There are many other verses in the New Testament where God never has a good word to say about the rich, but always bad-mouths them.

1 Corinthians 15:19. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." What should Christians be doing that would make people pity them? Definitely not what they are doing in this modern culture. Do you personally know any Christians that you pity?

Luke 19:27. (Christ speaking) "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me." Well, excuse me! I thought you loved everyone—am I being factitious?

John 16:33. "In this world you will have trouble."

Luke 12:51. "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."

2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." [a superhuman spiritual being].

Luke 6:26. "Woe when all men speak well of you."

Matthew 17:20. ". . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Luke 18:8. "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" The answer is clear; since we don't see any mountains being moved or other such thing being done by so-called Christians, the answer is no. Most likely, Christ will not find much, if any, faith on earth. Oh, but you may say, "I am saved, born again and filled with the Spirit." You think so? Does the above test prove it?

Luke 12:19. "And I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. 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. . . ." Sounds like America.

Luke 18-22. "A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? . . .’ Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." As one can plainly see, there are prerequisites to eternal life, but only to confirm faith.