A People for His Own Possession

…Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession…
–  Titus 2:13-14

If He’s purifying for Himself “a people for His own possession” why do popes and pastors claim these same people for their own possession?  It’s not right.

Hear the word of the Lord, O pastor:

…”Let My people go…”
–  Exodus 5:1

Why should you let the people go?  Because they are His people, not yours.  And so that…

…”…they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”
–  Exodus 5:1

How will the people celebrate a feast to Him in the wilderness?  According to Romans 12:1, they will offer their lives a living and holy sacrifice to the Lord in every place they go.

The Lord wants to possess His people – He does not want us to possess them.  He wants us to point the people to Him…that He may possess them.

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The Older Shall Serve the Younger

…the older shall serve the younger.
–  Genesis 25:23

Christian leadership operates on a principle at odds with worldly leadership.  In the world, the older has authority over the younger, but in the kingdom of God the older serves the younger.

Notice how God sets the example.  He Himself is older than everyone, yet He serves everyone.  When the world had gone completely astray, He committed Himself to coming to earth as one of us to set an example.  From the ignominious death He suffered in the fulfillment of that commitment, He was raised back to His place of majesty.

Likewise, you and I are to humble ourselves on earth that we might be exalted in heaven.  If therefore you aspire to Christian leadership, know that you are aspiring to be a servant – not a ruler.  It’s not about how many Christians you can be over, it’s about how many you can serve.

As Jesus taught:

“But do not be called Rabbi;
for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
Do not call anyone on earth your father;
for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Do not be called leaders;
for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”
–  Matthew 23:8-10

If we are all brothers, then those of us who are older (i.e. who have been walking with the Lord longer) should set out to serve our younger brethren – not lord it over them.

Consider also how Jesus responded when His disciples pestered Him about who was “the greatest” (i.e. who would be in charge when He wasn’t around?):

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.  And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.  For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
–  Luke 22:24-27

Survey the institutional church today and see that leaders do not “become like the youngest” or “like the servant.”  Rather, they have authority over their flocks.  And indeed the flocks are theirs and not the Lord’s.   This is the case whether it’s a mega-church of thousands or a small church of less than a hundred.

It’s not about hoarding the sheep; it’s about feeding the sheep.

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True Christian Leaders Rebuke Unrighteousness; They Do Not Kowtow to It

Pope Francis yesterday make the first remarks of his visit to the United States.  Read the text of what he said at the White House and see if his remarks (a 3-minute read; 614 words below) seem appropriate for a spokesman of Christ to a man who has been outspoken in his support for abortion and homosexuality.

Mr. President,

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

When the “vicar of Christ” chose to speak in favor of the president’s pet issue while being silent on his Lord’s issues, he demonstrated his corruption.  Christ’s spokesmen speak truth to power – not flattery.

The pope’s capitulation to the spirit of the age, and to a man who speaks for it, was complete.  If you would be a leader for Christ, do not be like this.

Source of the pope’s remarks:  Time.com

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Adjusting My Writing Schedule

In case you didn’t read it on my main blog, here is a post I’ve just written about my writing schedule:  Adjusting My Writing Schedule.

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The False Doctrine of Hell and the True Doctrine That Everyone Goes to Heaven

If you set aside two thousand years of church history and go back to the Scriptures on which that two-thousand-year-old church bases its authority – that is, the Old and New Testaments – you will see that everyone is going to heaven.

The way to see this is to start with the Old Testament. It is clear that the Old Testament teaching was that everyone who died descended to Sheol (Hades). Everyone. There was a hope of resurrection, but nothing more. Then the New Testament, in the story of Christ, explained how resurrection was going to work. The big surprise – even for believing Jews – was that resurrection led to heaven. They had been assuming that it led back to earth. Jesus shocked them with this revelation.

Once it was clear that resurrection led to heaven, the only thing left to ask was “Who would be raised?” The New Testament answer was clear: the dead.

Since everyone died and the dead would be raised and resurrection led to heaven, then it’s clear that everyone goes to heaven. Of course, there’s much more biblical corroboration of this but I’ve laid out the essential logic.

What people call hell (Jesus called it Gehenna) is the judgment for sin that consumes the earth. It is thus on this earth and in this life. It is not something that happens elsewhere after this life.  Hell is a real thing and it is an awful thing, but it is something the Lord gives us the means to escape.  And right relationship with Him is the means of escape.

The heaven-or-hell afterlife scenario under which the post-NT church has erroneously labored for almost two thousand years is a theological perversion of Scriptural truth. And the longer that error holds sway, the more frightened people are to challenge it. The way to challenge it is not with intellect or emotion, but with the Scriptures.

To God be the glory!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

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John 2:5

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.”
John 2:4 And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”
John 2:5 His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Jesus did not speak in the way that most folks spoke.  Mary knew this.  Therefore, when she presented the problem to Him, she told the servants to do whatever He said.  She knew He might say something that struck them as unusual, but she also knew that, if they heeded Him, the problem would be solved.  She could only have known this by experience.

We, too, can have the experience of doing the things that Jesus says and seeing the results take shape in our hearts and lives.

Jesus did not come to give you wonderful circumstances.  He came to give you peace and joy in every circumstance.  This is the way of God, and we are privileged to be able to walk in it.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

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John 7:46

John 7:46 The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.”

How profoundly true are these words!  It was true then.  And it’s true today.

Look for a human being whose rhetoric matches that of Jesus.  No one comes close!

Therefore, when you pray, don’t expect Him to speak the way you do, or the way that anyone else does.  But whatever He says to you, do it! (John 2:5; Luke 6:46)

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

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The book of Acts describes a process of finding those who were His

God knew those Jews and God-fearing Gentiles who truly loved Him and lived for Him.  When the apostles went from city to city, preaching the good news of Jesus the Messiah and the kingdom of God, those Jews and Gentiles who heard and believed were those who had been sincerely seeking God before the apostles arrived.

The gospel was not so much changing people’s’ minds about God as it was revealing people’s minds about God.  Those who had a heart for God were accepting the gospel, and those whose hearts were hardened toward God were rejecting that same gospel.

Lots of religious people were rejecting the gospel.  That’s because their hearts were hard before they ever heard the gospel.

Thus the book of Acts shows how God picked the ripe fruit and discarded the rotten fruit.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

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Why do people who accept Jesus Christ descend to lesser themes in the Bible?

Jesus Christ is the main point of the Bible.  This wasn’t made clear to the Jews, of course, until He came.  Yet once He did come, and demonstrate that everything about the Scriptures was intended to bear ultimate witness to Him, why do those who follow Him seek to use the Bible for other purposes?

For example, why study the history of the Old Testament if it doesn’t enrich your understanding of Christ?  Why try rummage through the Law of Moses to look for laws to obey if you can’t understand them according to Christ’s interpretation of them?  Why study biblical prophesy if you’re not going to relate it directly to the One to whom all prophecy points?

The Bible is about Jesus Christ.  Period.  Let us never study it except in the light of Him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

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Jesus in Psalm 100:2

Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.

Who is this Lord we serve with gladness?  Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, son of David, Messiah of Israel.

He is the One we come before with joyful singing.

Let us imbibe the words from this psalm with Jesus fully in mind.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

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