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. 

Jesus in Ezekiel 18:32

Ezekiel 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

Can you hear this cry of Jesus’ heart?  He came to His brethren to warn them of the judgment that was coming upon the nation of Israel.  And indeed in 70 A.D. the Romans utterly destroyed Jerusalem.  Many Jews lost their lives.  Jesus had warned His fellow citizens of this crisis throughout His ministry and even as He was being led to His crucifixion.  Remember:

Luke 23:27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him.
Luke 23:28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
Luke 23:29 “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’
Luke 23:30 “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘COVER US.’
Luke 23:31 “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus was taking no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  Think about that.  People were wrongfully torturing and killing Him, yet He took no pleasure in the retribution that would come their way.  Instead, He hoped they would repent and be spared.

Let us be like this One.

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: Luke 23:30 is quoting or alluding to Hosea 10:8 and possibly Isaiah 2:19.)

Deuteronomy 32:18

Deuteronomy 32:18 “You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.

O Christian, have you neglected the Rock who begot you – Jesus Christ our Lord?  For through Him you were spiritually begotten (1 Peter 1:3, 23).

Have you forgotten the God who gave you birth – that same Jesus Christ our Lord?  For through the pains of His labor you were born to eternal life.

Therefore, return to Him, just as Isaiah pleaded:

Isaiah 31:6 Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected…

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Keep Learning About the Inheritance

We should seek forever to understand all the inheritance that the Lord left us.  Twice Paul mentioned it in his letter to the church at Colossae:

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
Colossians 3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

This inheritance was left to us by Jesus of Nazareth, and the Scriptures give its details.  Therefore, search out the Scriptures that we might know all that we are in Christ. His inheritance is exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even think to ask.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

John the Baptist Was Not Interested in Fancy Titles

Consider this brief narrative about John the Baptist:

John 1:19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
John 1:20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
John 1:21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
John 1:22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
John 1:23 He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

John the Baptist was not interested in making a name for himself.  He was willing to be regarded as just “a voice in the wilderness.”  His interest was not in himself but in the one he was preaching.  Thus he was to say of Christ:

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.

May we similarly not be interested in a name for ourselves.  Let us be intent only on enhancing the stature of His name.

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.)

John the Baptist – A Man Who Forsook Privilege

Both of John’s parents were of priestly descent (Luke 1:5).  Thus, John was entitled to minister as a priest in Jerusalem’s great temple.  Yet he forsook that privilege to minister instead in the wilderness.  In this regard, he followed in the path of his priestly predecessor Moses (Psalm 99:6) who forsook the privilege of being called the son of Pharoah’s daughter in order to be counted with the people of God (Hebrews 11:24-26).

In this regard, John was also following the pattern of Jesus Himself as outlined in Philippians 1:5-8.  That is, John did not demand to be treated as his privilege deserved, but rather he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the call of God to serve.

Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus – let us follow the path they have laid down for us.  It is the path of humility – the path of seeking not our rights but rather our responsibilities.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

What Great Faith the Ancients Had!

Faith is believing in the goodness of God.  The less evidence you have to work with, the greater the faith.  That is, a person who has loads of evidence for the goodness of God requires little faith to believe in the goodness of God.  The person who has far less evidence for the goodness of God exercises far more faith to reach the same conviction that God is good.

Consider then how great was the faith of Old Testament worthies when compared to us.  Abraham, Moses, David, and the others did not get to see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ before they were called upon to believe.  As Jesus said:

Matthew 13:17 “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Let us therefore not be weak in faith but imitate the great faith of those who came before us:

Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Most of all, let us imitate the faith of Jesus.  For remember that when He prayed for salvation from death and delivered Himself to the cross, no one before had ever been raised from the dead in the way that He was anticipating.  No one had ever been raised without a mediator to call him forth on God’s behalf.  No one had ever been raised from the dead never to die again.  What Jesus was believing would happen was something that, while promised Him in the Scripture, had never before been experienced or witnessed by any other human being.  How could one body contain that much faith!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

A Doubting Heart Cannot Keep the Great Commandment

Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’

This, therefore, is the great commandment.  Since it requires love “with all your mind,” how then could a double-minded person (i.e., a doubting person, or a divided heart) possibly obey it?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

The Double-Minded Take Some of Their Thoughts Captive to the Obedience of Christ

Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Notice that he said every thought, not just some of our thoughts.  For if we take only some of our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, we become double-minded.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Getting Stuck on the Path from Unbelief to Faith

In the transition from unbelief to faith, some get stuck in double-mindedness – that state in which we alternate between believing and not believing.

If this condition is not resolved, it leads either to outright rejection of faith or else hypocrisy.  Thus whether you are a lapsed Christian or an active churchgoer, you might be under the same influence:  unbelief.

The solution therefore is to be sure to transition all the way from unbelief to belief – not stopping at some point in between.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Shed Every Trace of Unbelief

Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

This man knew that his problem was double-mindedness.  He was not a defiant unbeliever.  Rather, he was wavering between belief and unbelief.  That is, he believed under a cloud of doubt.

The solution to this dilemma was given by Jesus:

John 20:27 …do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Make your transition complete.  Go from a part of you believing in Christ to all of you believing in Christ.  Go from believing in Christ some of the time to believing in Christ all of the time.

Be not double-minded.  Rather, be single-minded in faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Remove the Wicked Thought from Your Heart

1 Corinthians 5:13 …REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

If Paul thought it critical that the Corinthians remove a sinner from their congregation, how much more important is it that you remove a sinning thought from your heart?  For your heart is a “congregation” of thoughts.  And if you allow any leaven at all, the whole lump will be leavened (see verse 6 in this same chapter: 1 Corinthians 5:6).

For a believer, a thought of unbelief is just as evil as a thought of murder or adultery.

If you tolerate thoughts of unbelief, they will sap your faith of strength and leave you weak in the face of temptation.

Doubting is a curse.  Seek redemption from it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Guard Your Heart the Way You Would Guard the City of the Lord

Psalm 101:8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.

Your heart is a “city of thoughts.”  That is, it is a place where thoughts gather and dwell.  If you would have the Lord dwell in your heart, then it must be a city hospitable to Him.  That means removing any “aliens,” and even any troublesome “citizens.”

When we are double-minded, we are tolerating thoughts of unbelief.  No, doubts may not completely dominate our hearts – but they dilute it, they make our hearts impure and thus impotent.

Therefore, you must “slay” any wicked, unbelieving thoughts that seek residence in your heart.  Clean up the “town” of your heart that the Lord may live there in peace.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

The Double-Minded Are Part-Time Atheists

Psalm 10:4 The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

If all the wicked’s thoughts are “There is no God,” then we’d have to say that some of the double-minded’s thoughts are “There is no God.”  After all, a double-minded person is a person of more than one mind.

Don’t be a professing Christian and practicing atheist.  Don’t be a part-time unbeliever.  Be single-minded in your devotion to Christ (Philippians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 11:3).  Let none of your thoughts be “There is no God.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Hebrews 3:12 – Unadulterated Trust in Christ

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

Is there “an evil, unbelieving heart” within your believing heart?  That is, are you double-minded?  If so, you aren’t the first.  Take heed to this admonition by ridding yourself of every thought of unbelief.  For if you tolerate any degree of unbelief in your heart, you can’t be properly heeding this warning.

Recognizing that a heart is a “set of thoughts,” re-phrase the exhortation and understand that we are not to allow any set of thoughts to reside within us which do not believe Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Beware the Evil, Unbelieving Heart

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

An unbelieving heart is evil.  Avoid it as such.

Be as intolerant of unbelieving thoughts taking up residence in your heart as you would be pornographic thoughts.  Evil is evil.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Get Down to One Mind on the Subject of Christ

Don’t doubt Christ.  That is, don’t be double-minded about Him.

Shed your thoughts of unbelief – one by one, as you recognize them as such.  Avoid them as you would any other evil thought.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Eve’s Sin Was a Failure to Trust

If you read Genesis 3, you’ll see why Paul says (in 1 Timothy 2:14) “the woman was deceived.”  The serpent begins the deception by raising doubts in Eve’s mind about God’s instruction concerning trees and fruit (actually given in Genesis 2:16-17).  Then Eve sees the tree, that it was a delight to the eyes, that its fruit was good for food, and that it was desirable to become wise – and she ate.

It wasn’t like Eve attacked Adam or cursed him or blasphemed God.  She didn’t do anything that we would otherwise call evil.  Rather, she failed to obey God’s command, which was essentially a failure to trust His judgment.

We are restored to God by reversing Eve’s sin.  That is, we come back to God when we trust Him, when we trust His judgment.

We don’t have all knowledge.  Therefore, if God says “Don’t do such-and-such,” we should trust Him and not do it.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

The Inheritance of God’s Promises Is Greater Than Any Monetary Inheritance

By watching how Jesus took to heart and trusted the promises of God, His disciples came to see just how valuable these promises were that they had inherited from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Esau is the classic example of a worldly-minded person who had no appreciation for the blessings inherent in a promise from God.  Thus the New Testament says:

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
Hebrews 12:16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

Therefore, be moral and godly…and seek to understand the promises of God that you might benefit from them.

Jesus and his fellow Jews inherited these promises by virtue of their fleshly descent from Abraham.  We, however, receive the full inheritance through our spiritual connection with Jesus Christ our Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Jesus Lived by Faith in the Promises of God

One of the things that was so striking to the Jews who surrounded Jesus of Nazareth was that from their childhoods he had been reading the same Scriptures as they, yet he was getting so much more out of them than they were.

The difference was faith.  Jesus took to heart what Moses and the Prophets had written.  He banked His life on it.   And look what it did for him!

The original disciples were therefore keen to learn from his faith and to imitate it.  They began to take God’s promises to Abraham much more seriously than they ever had before.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

The Apostles Taught Righteousness; Today’s Pastors Teach Something Else

It is common to find in American churches these days a system of classes offered to newcomers as a way of matriculating them into local church life.  Such classes are often numbered – in the style of college courses – 101, 201, 301, and 401.  Churches also call such classes, in a baseball metaphor, “rounding the bases.”  The classes usually teach the distinctives of that local church, opportunities for volunteering, assessments for gifting and service, and so on.  For example, here’s how the classes are titled at Saddleback Valley Community Church in southern California – considered the originator of this particular format:

  • Class 101 – Introduction to Our Church Family
  • Class 201 – Introduction to Spiritual Maturity
  • Class 301 – Discovering My Shape for Ministry
  • Class 401 – Discovering My Life Mission

In this way, a church seeks to transform church visitors into productive church members.

Contrast this approach with the teaching of the apostles found in the New Testament.  The difference is stark.  The apostles taught people to turn from sin and to become godly.  As for specific examples, look at these passages:

  • Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9
  • Colossians 3:18 – 4:1
  • 1 Peter 2:11 – 3:16

In other words, the apostles taught morality.  Their focus was to teach ungodly people to be godly.  Most of all, they taught Christ, who was the guide for all righteous behavior.

Today’s American churches are more interested in turning a visitor into a member than they are in turning a sinner into a saint.  It’s just one more reason to recognize the superiority of the kingdom of God over church.  In this regard, see:

If you attend a church, ask yourself: Are the people here becoming more godly?  Am I becoming more godly among them?  How much progress can I measure?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Acts 23:1-5 – The Limitations of Conscience

Assuming you read yesterday’s post, you know how walking according to the spirit leads to a very different view than does walking according to the flesh.  Yesterday’s post also reveals the limitations of human conscience.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  It told him that he was in the right.  His accusers’ consciences, by contrast, told them that Paul was in the wrong.  If conscience was always a dependable guide, everyone’s conscience would have been saying the same thing.

For this reason the book of Proverbs says:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

This does not mean that we should ignore conscience.  It does mean that we should live in the fear of God that our consciences may continually be calibrated to His.  Here are some posts on calibrating our consciences.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

John 1:31 – Repentance Is the Key to Recognizing Jesus

John 1:31 “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”

The obvious implication of this verse, especially when considered in the light of who in Israel rejected the Messiah, is that without repentance we have no hope to see God.  As it says in Hebrews:

Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

There was a certain degree of sanctification required to see Messiah in the flesh (that is, to recognize Him as the Messiah).  There would also be a certain degree of sanctification required to see Jesus in the glorious coming of His kingdom.  Those who would not repent of their sins were blind to His second coming, just as the Pharisees – who had rejected John’s call to truly repent – were blind to Christ’s first coming.

The lesson for us to learn today is that we must turn from our sins in order to have the vision necessary to see God.

Don’t let the light that has come to you turn into darkness.  Keep yourself free from sin, for sin will take you back to darkness.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Revelation 22:4 – Have You Washed Your Robes?

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

Why are you seeking Jesus and His kingdom?  Do you truly want to find Him?

If so, you must wash your robes in order to have the right to Jesus our Lord who is the tree of life.  He Himself is the gate by which we enter into the “city” that is the kingdom of God.

If you will not wash your robes, however, hear the parable Jesus told of the the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14), and, specifically, what happened to the man who would not dress properly after the king had been so generous with the invitations:

Matthew 22:11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,
Matthew 22:12 and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless.
Matthew 22:13 “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The kingdom of God is about doing what is right.  See Psalm 15.

It’s only the repentant ones who are able to dwell with Him for long (Isaiah 1:27).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Words That Go with Doubt, Double-Mindedness, and a Divided Heart

Doubt is double-mindedness.  It is the state of a divided heart.  It is the going back and forth between believing and not believing.  Put another way, it’s the unwilling to settle on belief or unbelief.  Certain characteristics go with this state.  Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the words that the Bible uses to describe the characteristics of this state:

“halting”  –  From the King James Version of 1 Kings 18:21 (see “hesitating” below)

“hesitating”  –  As in Elijah’s challenge: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).

“limping”  –  From the English Standard Version of 1 Kings 18:21 (see “hesitating” above).

“unstable”  –  See James 1:8 where the double-minded (i.e. doubting) man is said to be “unstable in all his ways.”

“vacillate”  –  Although 2 Corinthians 1:17 doesn’t explicitly reference doubt or double-mindedness, the similarity with the idea cannot be missed.  Thus a doubting man is vacillating between belief and unbelief, and therefore is of two minds.

“wavering”  –  See Romans 4:20 where Paul says that Abraham did not “waver in unbelief.”  Also from the New International Version of 1 Kings 18:21 (see “hesitating” above).

windblown  –  This word is inferred from the description of the doubting (i.e. double-minded) man in James 1:6, which says that he is “like the surf of the sea drived and tossed by the wind.”  (By the way, this calls to mind the phrase “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” found in Ephesians 5:14-16.)  This word also fits with Jesus’ question to Peter “Why did you doubt?” when Peter was provoked to fear by the wind and began to sink in his walk on the water to Jesus.

Since we ourselves would not want God or His angels to characterize us in this way, we should seek to avoid doubting

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

A Double-Minded Man Is a Divided Kingdom

Jesus said:

Matthew 12:25 …”Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.

He must have figured that it went without saying that neither can a man divided against himself stand.  And indeed it does, for James confidently says:  

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

A double-minded man is “unstable in all his ways” just as a divided kingdom, divided city, or divided house are all unstable.  For this reason, those with undivided hearts are rightly commended:

1 Chronicles 12:33 Of Zebulun, there were 50,000 who went out in the army, who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war and helped David with an undivided heart.

Therefore, let us serve God with undivided hearts.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Double-Mindedness Is Doubt; Doubt Is Vacillating Between Two Minds

To be double-minded is, of course, to be of two minds on a subject.  Where faith is concerned, this means being both believing and unbelieving.  That is, if you are double-minded then you have within you both a mind to believe and a mind not to believe.

This state of having two minds is called doubt.  Doubt is thus a vacillation, or alternation, between believing and not believing.  It is the hesitation to make a choice between those two minds.

For this reason James says:

James 4:8 …purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Get down to one mind.  That is, be single-minded in your devotion to Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Hypocrites Are Unbelievers

Jesus tells this parable in Matthew:

Matthew 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?
Matthew 24:46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
Matthew 24:47 “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Matthew 24:48 “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’
Matthew 24:49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;
Matthew 24:50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,
Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In Luke’s version (Luke 12:42-46), the parable ends with Jesus saying, “…assign him a place with the unbelievers.”  Thus we may understand that hypocrisy and unbelief go hand in hand.

This stands to reason because hypocrites are, of course, pretending.  They are playacting.  They are feigning faith.  Therefore, the underlying problems of a hypocrite are the problems of an unbeliever.

Let us not fake faith, for this would put us in an unpleasant place.  When we find ourselves faking it, let us repent so that Christ may bring us to a better place.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Questions and Exclamations of Jesus of Nazareth

There are times in the ministry of Jesus that He seemed surprised by the kind of thinking He encountered in His fellow Jews.  His attention was arrested and He seemed to be full of wonder at what He was beholding.  It wasn’t that people thought differently from the way He did – it was that He seemed genuinely surprised that this was the case, as if He expected their thinking to be more like His.

It’s at moments like these – the juxtaposition of His mindset with that of His contemporaries – that we can make a choice about how we ourselves want to think.  That is, given this clash of diverging perspectives, do we want to keep on thinking “normally” or do we want to think the way that He considered normal?

The best way to explain further what I mean is to just start noticing some examples.

Matthew 14:26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
Matthew 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Matthew 14:29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Obviously, Jesus’ question is, at least to some degree, rhetorical.  He wants Peter to think.  But that aside, Jesus seemed more focused on helping Peter understood why he sank after a while than he did on the rest of the guys, none of whom even dared venture out of the boat.  If Jesus thought Peter had “little” faith, what would He have said about the other eleven?

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Mark 6:4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”
Mark 6:5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
Mark 6:6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

Technically speaking, we don’t have a question or exclamation here from Jesus.  We only have Mark’s description of His bewilderment at their unbelief.  Sure, they knew Him, but should familiarity breed that much contempt?

Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”

This is actually an exclamation and a question from Jesus.  Read in context, Jesus is surprised that His disciples don’t get that the prophets had long prophesied His death and resurrection.  None of them expected Jesus to be raised from the dead, and He seems genuinely surprised that they are surprised by His resurrection.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Scriptures on Fear of Man

God does not want us to be afraid, and therefore “Do not fear” is a common refrain in the Bible.  Perhaps the consummate verse on this subject is 1 John 4:18 (see below).

The fears that plague us go by many names: anxiety, intimidation, worries, and so on.  Here then are some verses through which God seeks to calm us [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Deuteronomy 1:21 ‘See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

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2 Samuel 17:2 “I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and terrify him, so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone,

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Ezra 4:4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building,

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Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

There’ the solution in a nutshell:  fear the Lord of goodness so that you might not fear any evil.

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Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
Psalm 27:2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Psalm 27:3 Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

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Psalm 94:19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.

Anxious thoughts do seem to multiply, but they can be counteracted by the consolations of God.

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Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

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Isaiah 54:4 “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

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Mark 4:18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
Mark 4:19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

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John 9:22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.

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John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

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Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

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1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

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1 Peter 3:6 … do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

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1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

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1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

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Contrast this post with Scriptures on Fear of God.  The word “fear” is covered in both posts, but oh, what a difference in the meaning depending on where the fear is focused.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Scriptures on Fear of God

The Bible speaks of “the fear of the Lord” in a variety of ways.  The purpose of this post is to demonstrate some of them.

The fear of God is not an idea about which pop culture has much to say, unless to mock those who subscribe to it.  The biblical idea, though, is quite healthy and, if practiced sufficiently, will lead to a strong faith.

The great irony of the fear of the Lord is, of course, that if we truly fear Him we needn’t fear anyone or anything else.  This is why Jesus was so utterly courageous.  His only fear was His Father in heaven.

Here then are some verses showing the variety of terms used to refer to godly fear [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Deuteronomy 5:29 ‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

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Nehemiah 7:2 then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

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Psalm 2:11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.

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Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.

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Psalm 34:9 O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
Psalm 34:10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
Psalm 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

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Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.

Godly wisdom doesn’t come from educational degrees but rather is rooted in the fear of God.

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Psalm 119:38 Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

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Psalm 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

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Psalm 135:20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD;
You who revere the LORD, bless the LORD.

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Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

There is a direct correlation between fearing the Lord and turning away from evil.  That is, the more you fear the Lord, the more you turn away from evil.  Conversely, the less we fear the Lord the more we turn to evil.

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Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches, honor and life.

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Isaiah 57:11 “Of whom were you worried and fearful
When you lied, and did not remember Me
Nor give Me a thought?
Was I not silent even for a long time
So you do not fear Me?

The less we hear the word of the Lord, the less we fear the Lord and the more we fear people (“Of whom were you worried and fearful?)

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Isaiah 66:2 “For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

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Jeremiah 2:19 “Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your apostasies will reprove you;
Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter
For you to forsake the LORD your God,
And the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

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2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

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Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

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Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
Hebrews 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

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Contrast this post with Scriptures on Fear of Man.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Scriptures on Quietness

Quietness is important to the believer – quietness of life and quietness of heart.  It is in quietness that we are best able to hear the voice of our Lord, for He is gentle and profound.

Therefore, let us think about these verses that speak of quietness that we might practice it [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife.

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Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

We who seek to be as the bride of Christ should keep quiet, not contentious, hearts before the Man of the house.  See also the reference to Luke 10:38-42 below.

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Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

See also Matthew 6:7-8 below.

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Ecclesiastes 9:17 The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.

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Isaiah 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,

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Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD.

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Matthew 6:7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Matthew 6:8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

The idea here is quite similar to the word picture in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 above.  Go to Christ in quietness, not in wordiness.

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Matthew 10:27 “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

How are we going to hear a whisper if we are not quiet?

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Luke 10:38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
Luke 10:39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.
Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”
Luke 10:41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
Luke 10:42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Although this passage contains no explicit mention of silence or quietness, it is easy to infer from Mary’s behavior…and noticeably absent from Martha’s.  Consider also the similarity between Martha and the “contentious woman” of Proverbs 21:9 above.

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1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

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Although quietness is itself a virtue, it also supports our ability to do something that pleases the Lord:  Scriptures on Listening.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Hebrews 13:7

Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Who has led us more than Jesus Christ?  Who has spoken the word of God to us in a greater way than Jesus Christ?

Let us therefore imitate His faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Should We Not Pray for Those to Whom We Tell the Truth?

2 Samuel 6 tells the story of how an Israelite named Uzzah, who was not a priest, tried to steady the ark of God.  Only priests were supposed to handle sacred objects.  Uzzah wasn’t a priest, and so he died.  David was offended by this and only later recovered from his upset.

In Israel, priests were taken from the descendants of Aaron.  Uzzah did not qualify.  In our age, priesthood is a spiritual matter, and not a function of one’s physical lineage.  Therefore, it’s the principles that hold true.

A priest is taken from among men and appointed on behalf of men (Hebrews 5:1).  Because a priest is appointed on behalf of men, he is supposed to deal gently with them – even with the ignorant and misguided (Hebrews 5:2).

The ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6 symbolizes the truth of God.  If we are to take hold of the truth of God, we must do so with the best interests of our fellow human beings in mind.  The apostle Paul understood this and thus said that he “ministered as a priest the gospel of God” (Roman 15:16).

It is especially important that we forgive those who mistreat us when we proclaim the name of the Lord.  See the section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus teaches us to revere the Name and to forgive others in our praying (Matthew 6:9-15, especially verses 9 and 14-15).

2 Timothy 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
2 Timothy 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Such an approach can only be forged and maintained in a spirit of prayer.  Prayer is the essential duty of a priest in our age.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Daniel 12:3 and Hebrews 13:7 – Those Who Led You

Be sure that those who led you, led you to righteousness.  Not led you to religion, nor led you to themselves, nor led you to their group, nor led you to anything else but righteousness.  Compare these two verses [emphasis added]:

Daniel 12:3 “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Those who lead bear the responsibility to lead to righteousness.  If they are faithful to this assignment, they will shine like the stars forever and ever.

Just how important is righteousness?  Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So many people speaking in the name of Christ today are leading people to churchgoing rather than to righteousness.  For this reason, the words of Jesus apply to them:

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Don’t be among such leaders.  Pursue righteousness…and lead others to righteousness.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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.)

Wickedness

If you would find the Lord Jesus – that is, if you would seek and find the king of the kingdom of God, who is the Lord Jesus Christ – then you must put away all wickedness from your heart.

James 1:21 says that we should put aside “all that remains of wickedness.”  Does this sound like the Lord thinks a little wickedness is okay?  On the contrary, it sounds like He has what they call a “zero tolerance policy” regarding human wickedness.  Therefore, if you want the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, put away any trace of wickedness.

This quest to remove anything wicked was a mark of the New Testament church.  For example, in 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is telling the church at Corinth that they need to separate themselves from a wickedness found in their midst.  Note especially verse 13 where Paul quotes Moses, saying, “Remove the wicked man from yourselves.”  Moses originally spoke and repeated this admonition to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7, 12; 21:21; 22:21.  The point could hardly have been lost on anyone who took Scripture seriously, and the New Testament church certainly did.

Wickedness comes up again in 2 Timothy 2:19 where Paul tells Timothy that everyone who “names the name of the Lord [should] abstain from wickedness.”

And if you’ll remember the parable of the talents, Jesus described that slave who hid his talent as “wicked” and lazy (Matthew 25:26).  The man’s one talent was then removed from him and given to  the one who had been productively using the ten talents.

The Old Testament had made this point clear long before the New Testament was written:

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.  –  Psalm 45:7

Thus we are to hate wickedness as much as we love righteousness.

Jesus Christ had no wickedness in Him.  Therefore, to imitate the Lord is to remove wickedness from ourselves.  For if we don’t,

“…be sure your sin will find you out.”  –  Numbers 32:23

There is no place for wickedness in a heart that would be a home for Christ, the king of the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Coming to Our Senses

You probably recall Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15).  At the low point of the story, the prodigal has gone away to a far country and squandered his father’s riches on loose living.  He found himself having to take a job feeding pigs; he was so poor and hungry that he longed to eat what the pigs were eating.  That sets the stage for this:

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”‘ – Luke 15:17-19

I emphasized the word “senses” because I wanted to sensitize you to it so you’d look for it in this following verse from the epistle to the Hebrews:

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. – Hebrews 5:13-14

The senses to which God would have us come are our moral senses.  Many people are accustomed to live for the pleasure of their physical senses.  If such people would only channel that same level of energy into pursuing the pleasure of their moral senses, they would find a joy they have not previously imagined.  For this reason, the Scripture says:

“You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness therefore God…has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.”  – Hebrews 1:9

Therefore, if you want joy…do right.  That is, come to your moral senses…and act on them.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

What Faith and Conscience Have to Do with Each Other

Faith and conscience work together.  In this regard, see these verses:  1 Timothy 1:5, 19; 3:9 and Hebrews 10:22.   Note particularly 1 Timothy 1:19 which says that when conscience is rejected, faith gets shipwrecked.  Conscience is thus the rudder that keeps the ship of faith on course.

People who sever conscience from faith end up with licentiousness.  Jude warned against this in his short epistle when he wrote condemning “those who turn the grace of our God in to licentiousness…” (Jude 1:4)

Reading the Bible can be a help to both faith and conscience.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Only Read the Bible to the Extent That It Nourishes Your Conscience and Your Faith

It’s easy to get blessed when you read the Bible but it’s also easy to get confused.  After all, it was written by dozens of authors across dozens of generations, and all in languages other than English.  Therefore, if you start to feel overwhelmed, recognize that there’s a simple explanation for why you feel this way.

Bible reading should nourish your faith in Christ and your consciousness of right and wrong.  Those are the two senses you want to always be developing.  This should be the purpose of your Bible reading.

Some people read the Bible to build sectarian arguments they want to make, or to justify a particular feeling they have or point of view they hold.  There are all sorts of unproductive reasons for reading the Bible.  To grow in faith and in morality, however, are two valid and commendable reasons.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Hebrews 9:27

Hebrews 9:27 says that “it is appointed unto to men once to die and, after this, the judgment.”  This principle is fully illustrated in the life of Jesus.

Jesus died.  Then came the judgment of his life.  As a result of that judgment, Jesus was elevated to the highest possible place in the universe: that is, the right hand of the throne of God.

Similarly, each of us as human beings will be judged at the end of our respective lives.  None of us will be elevated as highly as Jesus because none of us will have lived as righteously as he did.  We will, however, be elevated to the level we deserve – just as he was elevated to the level he deserved.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Philippians 2:5-11

Paul is telling us something wonderful about Christ in this passage.  Note also, however, that he’s telling us to imitate Christ’s behavior – not merely admire it.  This is the same admonition Jesus gave  His disciples (see the post on Mark 9:35).  Greatness lies not in how you rule but rather how you serve.  True humility is the only path that leads to true greatness.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Are We Lovers of Pleasure or Lovers of God?

Take a look at the phrasing Paul uses in 2 Timothy 3:4.  It’s pretty clear that he considers these two categories mutually exclusive.  Why then do we act as if they are not?

Let us be like those before us who chose rather to endure ill treatment for serving God than to pursue the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

“For the Lord, He is good, and His mercy endureth forever!”

“For the Lord,

He is good,

and His mercy endureth forever.”

– Psalm 136:1

If this is true of the Lord, it should be true also of those who seek to imitate Him.

Are you good?  Does your mercy endure forever?  That is, are you consistently merciful to others?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Why Did Felix Become Frightened in Acts 24:25?

In Acts 24, Paul was preaching the gospel to a Roman governor named Felix and his wife, Drusilla.  This, of course, involved a discussion about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come”  (verse 25).  This provoked Felix to put off any further discussion until later…if ever.  It was clear something had made Felix uncomfortable.  Why did he not want to continue?

The judgment to come was the one in which God would judge the secrets of men’s hearts through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:14-16).  Considering the righteousness of the life lived by Jesus of Nazareth, Felix knew this would be a daunting level of judgment.  Like most people, he just wasn’t ready to contemplate that sort of scrutiny.  We can find this dynamic described in John 3:19-21, wherein it says “everyone who does evil hates the light and does not want to come to it lest his evil deeds be exposed.”

Living before the face of Christ is indeed a sobering prospect.  However, it is the only way we will find true salvation in this earth, and this reward is well worth the effort.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Jesus Saw That People Were Ready to Repent

In John 4, Jesus was in Samaria.  Through His interactions with the people there, He saw that there was an abundant harvest ripe for the picking (John 4:31-38).  But a harvest of what?  A harvest of righteousness born of repentance.

In John 4:4-27, Jesus spoke with a woman who, when prompted, acknowledged her sinfulness to Him.  Subsequently, many from the area came to Jesus believing based on the woman’s testimony (John 4:28-30).  After interacting directly with Jesus, however, the faith of these people became firsthand instead of secondhand (John 4:39-42).  The reaping of which Jesus had spoken to His disciples had become visible!

This, however, turned out to merely be the first fruits of the harvest because Luke tells us that although the Samaritans were still constrained by the Jewish-Samaritan divide on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, they rallied to Him in abundant numbers on the announcement of His resurrection and ascension (Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3).

Would that we were not so blind to the harvest of righteousness.

O Son of God, give us eyes to see the harvest as you see it that we might enter into labor, reaping what others have sown, and bring You the harvest You so richly deserve!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Why Don’t Churches Repent?

The book of Revelation was addressed to seven churches in seven different cities of what we today call Asia Minor.  At the beginning of the letter (chapters two and three) there was a specific message for each church.  Five of the seven churches were told to repent.  That’s 70% of the recipients of the letter!

Why aren’t 70% of churches repenting today?  Do they think they are more spiritual than the churches in the book of Revelation?

We should all repent because the kingdom of God is here!

The days of church are over.  Therefore, repenting as a church is not a matter of having a better church – it’s a matter of being devoted to Jesus Christ instead.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

False Prophets Can Only Mimic the Mechanics of Ministry

False prophets, false teachers, false Christians – all of them can imitate the outward behaviors of the true servants of the Lord.  The false do not, however, behave in the same spirit of righteousness that animates the true.

Recall that in the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned that many would say to Him, “Didn’t we prophesy in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles?”  but that His response would be, “Get away from Me, you who practice lawlessness”  (Matthew 7:22-23).

In His extended indictment against the Pharisees, Jesus pointed out that they “devoured widows’ houses” – a likely allusion to the special circumstance in which God commanded a widow to provide for Elijah (1 Kings 17:9), which had apparently been hijacked by the Pharisees as a routine fund-raising scheme (Matthew 23:14).

False servants of the Lord usually operate in groups (because they need each other’s approval) and maximize the outward aspects of ministry: more architecture, more music, more programs, more, more, more.  As a case in point, note the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40, and how it was the false prophets who did the most arm-waving.

A true servant of the Lord founds his ministry on the righteousness of his life.  His tree is not hollow, there’s life-giving sap flowing from the trunk to the branches.  A false servant of the Lord can only wave cut-off branches – but many people can’t tell the difference so the number of false servants multiply.

Whether you are a servant of the Lord or among those served, turn your heart toward the Lord and ask Him to wash you clean.  Live before Him with a pure and adoring heart.  We must repent!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Lord’s Prayer Is Focused Almost Entirely on God’s Interests

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4) is focused almost exclusively on God’s interests.  No wonder so many people recite its words in mindless repetition, quickly moving on to something else as soon as the “Amen” is uttered.  To take its words seriously would require genuine repentance.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Don’t Try to Be the People of God; Instead, Act Like It!

In yesterday’s post, I explained why we shouldn’t try to be the people of God – because we already are.  Since we are the people of God, however, we ought to act like it!

We have the “people” part down; it’s the “of God” part that is giving us trouble.  That’s where we need to repent. 

If we are “of God” we ought to trust Him, pray to Him, and walk with Him.  We ought to treat others the way He treated them…and the way He treats us. 

What’s the point of being the people of God if our behavior bears no resemblance to His?

 See Luke 6:46-49 and Romans 2:24.  By the way, reading the Bible doesn’t make us anymore the people of God than anyone else, but it certainly gives us less excuse to act ungodly.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

God Prefers Actual Righteousness to Judicial Righteousness

I was recently in a discussion with two evangelicals who disagreed strongly with the idea that Everyone Is Going to Heaven.  In the course of listening to them explain their position, I was reminded of – and struck anew by – their doctrine of “judicial righteousness.”  That is, they believe that Jesus Christ died for sins but only by faith in Him can we appropriate the benefit of the sacrifice, which is forgiveness for our sins.  It was obvious from other contexts that they don’t believe they are any less sinners than non-evangelicals – just forgiven because of their faith in Christ.  In other words, they believe everyone is guilty of sin but only evangelicals (or believers) have righteousness, which is based on this “justice.”  Hence the term “judicial righteousness.”

This is an apalling idea.  Jesus was not sent merely so that we could be forgiven of our sins; He was sent also so that we could stop sinning!  That is, when Paul said that God made Christ sin so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21) it was to make us actually righteous – not merely judicially righteous.  God blesses us through Jesus not in spite of our wicked ways, but because through Christ our behavior changes to something worth blessing (Acts 3:25-26). 

When John the Baptist told his hearers to look to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), he was not saying that the Lamb of God was taking away merely the punishment for sins, but rather the sins themselves.  John’s whole ministry was about repentance.  He was interested in seeing people changed (Luke 3:1-14).  He was certainly not saying that faith obviated the need to change.  Rather, faith gives a person the power to change.

Looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) – that is, seeing Him who is unseen (Hebrews 11:27) – is all about the power to live righteously in an unrighteous world.  The notion that faith is the only distinguishing characteristic of those who love Him is a sad and dangerous one.  If you cannot live a life demonstrably more moral than people at large, then don’t name the name of the Lord for you’ll only dishonor Him (2 Timothy 2:19).  Your judicial righteousness is useless and leads the world to blaspheme the name of the Lord.  Actual righteousness, on the other hand, advances His kingdom because it demonstrates God’s power to change lives.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

How Today’s Church Advertises Its Disobedience

Today’s churches declare that Jesus is Lord, but then demonstrate that they are not in submission to Him by how they are divided.

In New Testament days there was only one church.  Oh, they met in different places but it’s clear from the apostle’s writings that there was only one church in each city.  After all, there was the epistle to Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and so on.  There were not letters to the Ephesian Baptists, the Ephesian Methodists, the Ephesian Presbyterians, and so on.  In fact, when the church in Corinth showed the initial signs of dividing along such lines, the apostle Paul rebuked it sharply (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1 through 3). 

Today’s churches exist in over 30,000 denominations, proving they they are no longer subject to a single Lord.  The first part of Ephesians 5:24 says that the church was subject to Christ.  Well, it has long since abandoned that subjection and gone off entirely in its own direction – or rather, directions. 

In the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed that those who believed in Him would be one (John 17:22).  Earlier in His ministry, Jesus taught that any kingdom divided against itself would fall (Matthew 12:25).  How can today’s churches claim with a straight face that Jesus is their Lord?  Alas, when I was a pastor I used to claim that He was Lord of me and my church, too.  But He opened my eyes and I saw that I was serving myself more than I was serving Him.  Therefore, I repented.  That is, I changed.  I’m no longer a pastor.  I no longer have a church.  I no longer go to church.  Rather, I seek to obey the Lord.

The church doesn’t need reforming – it needs to be abandoned.  Instead of going to church, obey Jesus.  He said that we should turn from selfishness and love one another.  He also said that we should be humble.  Therefore, don’t associate with any group that thinks it’s holier than everyone else.  Instead, be holy in your behavior.  Husbands and wives, love each other and your children.  Children, honor your parents.  Live for morality, not for gain.  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Christ Our Life

Christ did not come to enter into your life.  He came to be your life.

Jesus said, “I am the life.”  (John 14:6)

Paul embraced this idea and stated it this way, “For me to live is Christ.”  (Philippians 1:21)

Paul also wrote that “Christ is our life.”  (Colossians 3:4)

In Galatians 2:20 Paul declared himself to be dead and that Christ was now living in Him.  In Galatians 6:14 Paul reiterated that he had been crucified to this world.

The point is that we should cease living by ourselves and for ourselves – the way of life we inherited from having been born into this world (1 Peter 1:17-19).  Instead, we should live life for Christ and with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

The death we die through Christ is a death to sin, and the life we live is life to God (Romans 6:10).  Repent of trying to get God to help you live your life.  He has already promised to help you live His.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Your House Is Left to You Desolate

In Matthew 23, Jesus made it abundantly clear that none of us should try to take His place as the leader of God’s people.  He denounced the Pharisees for taking the seat of Moses.  Then He instructed His disciples to avoid positions and titles of leadership.  Yet in spite of this clear warning we have thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations today, each with its own human leadership. 

The apostle Paul foresaw these divisions and spoke out against their first manifestations (1 Corinthians 1-3).  Yet he knew usurpers would come out of hiding after his departure (Acts 20:29-30).  It is upon the foundation of such self-appointed leaders that the institution of today’s Christian churches stand.  Yet Jesus is not ruling them.  Instead, He is ruling the kingdom of God which neither has nor needs any human leadership.

Thus, the houses of worship we see in the world today are left desolate by the Lord.  Be sure that when His word is preached and His name is glorified, He will be faithful.  But He is not being faithful to that institution; He is being faithful to His word, His name, and to those who believe in Him.  This faithfulness of His will be shown wherever His word is preached – whether in a church or not.  Churches have no bearing on the efficacy of His word.  As He said to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem so He says to every leader of a church today, “Your house is being left to you desolate!”  (Matthew 23:37-30)

Repent of your loyalty to any person, group, or name other than Jesus Christ Himself.  He alone is worthy of our obedience, and His name alone is worthy of glory (Zechariah 14:9).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Come, Now Is the Time to Worship

Jesus said that the problem with the Pharisees was that they said things but did not do them (Matthew 23:1-3).  This, of course,. defines a hypocrite.  And Jesus was not afraid to call them by this name (no less than eight times in Matthew 23!).

This does not mean that the Pharisees did not know the truth – it means they did.  Jesus went so far as to say that salvation was from the Jews (John 4:20-24), just as today He would also say it is from the Christians.  The problem with the Jews, Pharisees, and Christians is not that they don’t have the truth but that they don’t practice it.  Remember: hypocrites are long on truth and short on behavior.

Another way of defining their problem is to say that they pay lip service to the truth, but little else.  As Isaiah put it (Isaiah 29:13) and Jesus quoted him in Matthew 15 and Mark 7, their lips are close to God but their hearts are far way.

For example, one of the most popular songs in many churches today begins with the exhortation that we should come and worship because “now is the time.”  The words echo Jesus’ words in John 4:23.  Those who sing the words are paying them beautiful lip service but their hearts don’t grasp the meaning.  For while Jesus was talking about worship as a way of living that is for all times and all places, today’s singers make the song about singing at select times and places (that is, at a “worship service”) – as if “now” was not always “now.”

If “now is the time to worship,” and if “now is always now” then let us worship Him now – from our hearts.  If worship is abundant in our hearts, it will permeate our entire being.  It will also overflow into our lips, but those expressions won’t be reserved for certain days and times at certain places with certain other people.  It will be at all times and in all places, for our hearts will not be able to help themselves (Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:17).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom

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The God of Correction

The early chapters of the book of Revelation are filled with scathing criticisms of Christian disciples.  Jesus was the one who was dishing out those rebukes.  He didn’t speak this way because He didn’t love those people.  Quite the contrary.  He spoke harshly because He loved them and their behavior demanded this kind of response (Revelation 3:19).

Discipline is an essential part of parental love, as Hebrews 12:1-11 makes clear. 

The whole God-loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan-for-your-life message is only accurate to the extent that you understand that the foremost part of that plan is that you live a lifestyle of repentance.

Indeed, God does intend to give you a great future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11), but you can only experience them if you turn from living for yourself to living for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). 

Living for Him means loving God above all and our neighbor as God loves us (1 John 3:23).  It doesn’t mean having God make all our dreams come true.  Rather, it means making God’s dreams for us come true to by being obedient to His instruction (James 4:13-17). 

This means God’s overarching message to us must be one of correction because selfless love is not the way most of us have been living.  The good news is, that if we will bear His reproof, we will be filled with His Spirit (Proverbs 1:23) which results in righteousness, peace, and (yes) joy for us (Romans 14:17).   

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Have You Stopped Repenting?

We can’t think we’re having fellowship with God if we keep living the same self-centered way we have been.  We must live as if every thought we have is on display for heaven (because it is).  When we do have evil thoughts, we should confess them (1 John 1:5-10) – and long before they ripen into evil actions.  This repentance brings the joy of heaven (Luke 15:7).

God came to earth and lived as Jesus of Nazareth so that He could be rejected and crucified by us.  Why did He do this?  So that we could have irrefutable proof that He loves us.  Thus, we would from then on look to Him in heaven knowing that we could be forgiven for any sin.  For this reason we fear Him, because He is approachable (Psalm 130:4).  If we thought He was unwilling to forgive sin, we would never go to Him.  He wanted to demonstrate His approachability.

That Jesus forgives our sins does not mean that our sins are not judged.  Certainly, Israel was judged for its crucifixion of Jesus in the destruction of its temple, its capital, and its sovereignty in 70 A.D.  Yet all the individuals who repented of their participation in that event were forgiven and were protected and delivered through that terrible time.

We can only afford to stop repenting when we have stopped sinning.  If, therefore, you have stopped repenting, have you stopped sinning?  Are you even making an effort to repent – or have you given up, saying to yourself that you’re living okay compared to others?  Do not go the way of the world.

Do not stop repenting until you have stopped sinning.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Do You Self-Identify as Righteous or Sinner?

We know that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but rather sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Even the great apostle Paul identified himself as a sinner being saved and not as a righteous person – at least once he came into the saving graces of Jesus (1 Timothy 1:15).  Prior to that, he was a typical Pharisee – self-righteous and proud of it (Philippians 3:1-7), even when he was persecuting the Lord’s people (Acts 22:19-20). 

Jesus told a parable to make clear the attitude he was looking for in those who prayed to Him (Luke 18:9-14).  You can either trust in yourself, which makes you think you are righteous because you are comparing yourself to other people.  Or you can trust in God, which is righteous because you recognize that you are a sinner when compared with Him.

One of the problems with churchgoing is that it sets up in the churchgoer’s mind a division between those who are honoring God (that is, those who attend church) and those who don’t honor Him (because they don’t go to a church).  Jesus never commanded anyone to go to church.  What honors Him is obedience to what He has commanded.   

If you would honor God, then acknowledge your sinfulness to Him and let Him lead you into His righteousness by faith in His glorious redemption (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).  Your faith in Him will distinguish you in His eyes (Acts 26:18) and give you the light necessary to navigate this darkened world in which we live (John 12:46).

Even Jesus, who was without a single sin of His own (Hebrews 4:15), identified with sinners when He submitted to the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17).  Note that it was immediately after He had done this that the Father spoke from heaven about the love He had for this Son.  Thus, acknowledging our sin does not alienate us from God – instead it endears us to Him. 

Be assured that repentance is becoming in God’s sight.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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The Centerpiece of All God’s Workings

When Paul was preaching the gospel to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), he closed with a warning that God was accomplishing a work in their days which some would not believe even if it was described to them.  That warning is eternal and therefore applies today as well.

The stone which the builders rejected is the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8).  The builders rejected it then and the builders are still rejecting it today.  Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it (Psalm 127).  The Lord is building His house.  If you are building one for Him you are wasting your time – and His, too (read Stephen’s address to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7).  Rise up, you people of God, and be done with lesser things.  With all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, serve the King of kings – Jesus Christ our Lord.

Many people will say that the church is the centerpiece of God’s workings, but they are wrong.  Do not join that error.  Serve the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent King Jesus!  Only He can cleanse you from your sins.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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The Day of the Lord

The Old Testament prophets told of a coming day of the Lord.  We live in that day.

The day of the Lord was to be a time of judgment and glory.  The glory was of God.  The judgment was for sin.  The day of the Lord would mean goodness and glory for the righteous, but terror and devastation for the unrighteous.  (See Malachi 4 for a picture of the contrast.)

Search the Scriptures for other references to the day of the Lord.  There are at least two dozen of them. 

Jesus made clear that He came to bring a sword that would divide (Matthew 10:34).

There are those longing for the day of the Lord who do not know that it has already come upon them (Amos 5:18).

Repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for there is salvation in no one and nothing else (Acts 4:12).  All who seek Him will find Him and all who believe in Him will experience refreshment of their souls (John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.  For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Biblical Language Without a Biblical Spirit

Beware of those who quote the Bible but do not have the Bible’s spirit.

The Bible’s spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Not everyone who uses biblical language is of this spirit.  You know this. 

Do not listen to those who speak Scripture with anger, bitterness, strife, malice, or any other ungodly spirit.

Biblical language without a biblical spirit is as a noisy bell or clanging cymbal.  God is love.

Whenever you refer to the Bible, be sure you are doing so in God’s spirit.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

“Do Not Stretch Out Your Hand Against the Lad”

You have heard these words from Genesis 22:12.  God was intervening as Abraham was about to slay his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.  This was a test and Abraham had passed it.  There was no need for the process to continue further.

Fast forward over two thousand years.  Jesus is about to be crucified.  Where were we?  That is, why did not the humanity present look up to heaven and say to God, “Do not stretch out Your hand against the lad.”  We could have said to God, “You have proven that you love us and you do not have to take this innocent Life.”  Yet we did not say this.  On the contrary, we shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Or at the very least, we were silent.

Even so, God loved us and followed through with the sacrifice.  Thus is the love of God – though He desires us to reciprocate it, He will not cease extending it even when we don’t reciprocate it. 

God, help us to repent and be like You!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Jesus is the Wisdom of God – Let Us Listen!

You know that it is better to quietly listen to someone who has wisdom than to be in the company of a celebrity with all the hoopla (Ecclesiastes 9:17). 

Jesus is the personification of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). 

Let me ask:  How do you listen to Him?  How often do you listen to Him?  What good is wisdom if we do not listen to it?  And what good is wisdom if we listen to it but do not act on it?

Moses said that we should give heed to everything Jesus says.  No, Moses didn’t  know Jesus by that name but he prophesied of Him in Deuteronomy 18:15, telling us to listen to Him when He came.

What if all the people going to church stayed home for the same amount of time to listen quietly to Jesus?  And then acted on what they heard?

If you have not been listening to Jesus, God probably seems distant to you (Isaiah 59:2).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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What Have You Done with the Keys to the Kingdom?

Remember how Jesus chastised the spiritual leadership of His day with the indictment that they had withheld the key of knowledge from the people?  (See Luke 11:52.)  What about us who claim to speak in His name today – what are we doing with the keys to the kingdom?

Jesus left us the keys of the kingdom through His apostles.  The most prominent of the original twelve, Peter, gave a complete set of them in the opening of his second epistle.  You know the list – what are we doing with those keys?

Are we using these keys ourselves, and thereby leading others into the kingdom through our example?  Or do we completely divert our own attention (and that of others as well) by focusing on building church instead of entering the kingdom?

Church is about attendance and offerings – the kingdom of God is about righteousness.  Let us seek His keys and enter His kingdom.  In other words, let’s stop constructing things and instead enter what He has constructed!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

All Is Vanity…Except…

“All is vanity,” declared the Preacher of Ecclesiastes.  He looked at the world of flesh and declared what any sane person would:  “It’s futile.”  The hope we see so dominant in the book of Isaiah is subdued in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Yet the Preacher does close his tome with the conclusion, “Fear God and keep His commandments.”  Thus he hopes for a solution to the dilemma he has described.

Like Job who said, “I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last He will take his stand on the earth,” while in the depths of his despair, the Preacher knows whom he has believed.  

You, too, know whom you have  believed.  Only you can see Him so much more clearly than could Job or the Preacher, for you have heard of the life of Jesus Christ – crucified and three days later raised from the dead.

Therefore, lay aside the way of life you inherited according to the flesh.  Live in the spirit.  That is, live life in this world in the light of the dimension you cannot see – where God dwells.  That is, live by faith.  Specifically, live by faith in Jesus.  He loved us and released us from our sins by His blood.  In the light of His loving and righteous eyes, there can be meaning in the midst of vanity, purpose in the midst of futility. 

Our purpose is to love at every opportunity, just as He did.  We do not build monuments, we relieve pain – the pain of human suffering.  Therefore, all is vanity, except that which is done out of love for Him.  Nothing you sow to Him is in vain, for in due time you shall reap.  Fear God and keep His commandments.  That is, revere Jesus in your heart every conscious moment and do what He says. 

Stop building things that will eventually crumble.  Instead, be kind to the hurting.  God will remember, and that is your foundation for the future.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

John the Baptist Was a Model for Jesus’ Apostles

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as a man.  The apostles were sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as God.  (Luke 1:16-17)

John the Baptist preached repentance.  The apostles preached repentance.  (Luke 1:16)

John the Baptist was preparing a people for the Lord.  The apostles were preparing a people for the Lord.  (Luke 1:17; Titus 2:14)

Those who did not believe and act upon John’s message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as a man (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth).  Those who did not believe and act upon the apostles’ message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as God (the resurrected and glorified Jesus). 

Those who did believe and act upon John’s message were gathered by Jesus as His flock of disciples.  Those who did believe and act upon the apostles’ message were gathered by the glorified Jesus as His flock of disciples (the kingdom of God).  (Isaiah 40:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Peter 5:4)

John the Baptist showed no jealousy when his disciples left him to follow the Lord.  The apostles likewise were making disciples for the Lord, not for themselves. 

As John was martyred in the course of his ministry, so also the apostles were martyred in the course of their ministry (thus the apostles did not live quite long enough to demonstrate that they would not have been jealous because of disciples leaving the church for the Lord’s kingdom; on the contrary, they would only have been bothered by disciples who did not discern the Lord’s appearance).

As John downplayed his own role and magnified the Lord, so the apostles downplayed their own roles and magnified the Lord.

The Lord establishes patterns, and those who know His patterns follow Him.

Blessed be the God of John the Baptist and the apostles of Jesus!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Are You Becoming the Righteousness of God in Him?

In the last verse of 2 Corinthians 5 Paul states God’s goal as making us become the righteousness of God in Christ.  How are you doing in that regard?

Jesus did not come to bless us irrespective of our sins.  He came to bless us by turning us from our sinful ways (Acts 3:26).  He was given the name Jesus because His aim was to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  He exists to change our attitude from disobedient to obedient (Luke 1:45) and from proud to humble (Philippians 2:3-13). 

None of this can happen if you are not yielding to the Lord Jesus every day.  Some people think that our transformation from sinner to the righteousness of God is effected in a single transaction.  They teach that “the sinner’s prayer” or an appropriate “confession of faith” is the means whereby this transformation instantly occurs.  This is not true, not logical, and not effective.  Anyone can see that there are as many such “born again” people with bad reputations as there are with good ones.  We can turn to God in an instant, but we have to stay turned to Him if we want to see His grace become effective in our lives.

If you are not growing in grace, repent and turn back to Him.  If you are growing in His grace, keep growing until you have fully matured into His likeness.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Serve Only Unleavened Bread!

In the Scriptures, unleavened bread represents truth.  Leavened bread represents truth with distortions – born of sin, which leads to hypocrisy.  Thus Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.

Leaven results when we add our opinions to God’s thoughts and present them as a unified whole.  The Scriptures warn that we should never add to God’s words or take away from them.  Presenting His words to others in purity is extremely important.

Today’s man-made churches are a constant source of leaven.  That is, today’s human church proclaims Jesus Christ but adds to that message all sorts of unbiblical demands as if God were making them.  Most of these demands stem from the church’s desire to perpetuate itself.  God only needed the church on a temporary basis until the kingdom of God had come.  That’s why the New Testament church is the only legitimate church that the world has ever known.

We should repent and return to the unleavened bread of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.  If we did this, then Jesus would be glorified and our lives would be changed.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Why Does the Church Preach a Diminished Gospel?

I wrote elsewhere that The Church Preaches a Diminished Gospel.  Why does the church do this?

Tradition is part of the answer.  The church as a structure has been handed down to us from generation to generation.  I myself used to accept it as God’s plan when I was a pastor.  If you search the Scriptures, however, you find that support for this institution in our day is not present in its pages.

The Scriptures speak of the kingdom of God in expectant terms, while churches were merely the means that believers used to prepare for that kingdom.  Jesus never said, “Seek ye first church.”  Rather, He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”  Search the Scriptures yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Therefore, a likely reason for the church to preach a diminished gospel is self-preservation.  If the kingdom of God has come, as Jesus and His apostles said it would, then the church no longer has a reason for being. 

Why should we seek to preserve something God has discarded?  Do we want the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem as well?  If we’ve been seeking to preserve the church then let us repent…and seek the kingdom of God.

Do not accept a diminished gospel.  Receive the good news of the Lord in all its fullness!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Is Your House Doing Better Than God’s House?

If your family doing better than God’s family? 

By answering this question affirmatively , Moses left Pharoah’s palace to live with his fellow slaves, the Hebrews.  By answering this question affirmatively, Nehemiah forsook the comforts of life in the Persian capital and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it.  By answering this question affirmatively, God Himself left the glory and honor of heaven to walk the earth as one of us.

God does not always ask us to do such dramatic things.  Perhaps He will simply ask us to share from our abundance with those who have need.

God’s house is the human race.  Is your family doing better than the human race? 

If you answered in the affirmative, do whatever He tells you.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Today’s Churches Are Potemkin Villages

A village is where people live.  A Potemkin Village is where people pretend to live.  Like Potemkin Villages, churches today are mere facades of the one that we see in the New Testament.

Churches today use New Testament vocabulary, but don’t produce the same outcomes.

Churches today try to simulate New Testament outcomes, but don’t have the same power.

Churches today claim to have New Testament power, but pretend more righteousness than they actually produce.

The solution is not for the churches to try to do better.  Rather, the solution is for them to quit trying to do church at all.  They should seek what the New Testament church sought: the kingdom of God.  The difference for us is that the kingdom of God is already here while the New Testament church had to wait on it to come.  (See The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now.)

The New Testament church prepared to enter something that was not yet present.  We prepare to enter something that is everywhere present.

Potemkin Villages are useless, except to try to fool people who don’t know any better.  The New Testament sought the kingdom of God with its very life.  They would be the first to stand up today and say that church is not the object and never was the object.  Let us repent and seek the kingdom of God!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

 

The New Testament Is About Righteous and Holy Living

The New Testament is about righteous and holy living – not church administration or church growth. 

If you take the time to read the New Testament, you can’t help but be struck with its emphasis on righteousness.  It’s as if its writers believed the whole point of Jesus’ ministry, including the Old Testament scriptures that led up to it, was to inculcate godly living and eradicate sin among human beings. 

Righteousness, holiness, godliness, goodness – these are matters about which the New Testament is incessantly explicit.  Church government, church planting, church growth principles – all these concepts that guide church thinking today are not explicitly taught in the New Testament.

Why should we ignore what the New Testament makes explicit in pursuit of subjects about which it is relatively silent? 

The apostles told people to repent and the Lord added to the church.  Today’s church leaders add to the church and leave it for the Lord to make people repent. 

Church leaders today are more interested in growing their churches and ministries than they are in acting on and teaching what the New Testament teaches. 

If we would please God, let us repent, read the words of Scripture, and act on what they deem important.  Forget church.  Instead, give all the diligence of which you are capable to living righteously in the sight of God.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Not the Hearers, But the Doers

Romans 2:13 makes clear that it is the doers of God’s word, not its hearers, who are just in God’s sight.  James 1:23-25 makes a similar point. 

The world today is filled with a lot more hearing of God’s word than it is with the doing of it.

If you read the Bible, be sure that you act on what you understand.  Otherwise, you will be like churches.  They constantly seek to get more people to hear the word, but to do the word is of less interest to them.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Church Worship Is Idolatry

Some people worship church, thinking that they are worshiping God.  Worship of anything other than God Himself is idolatry.   

The woman at the well in Sychar brought up to Jesus a discrepancy between Samaritan worship and Jewish worship:  The Samaritans worshiped at their mountain and the Jews worshiped at Mount Zion.  Jesus replied that the time had come for the issue of worship’s place to be rendered obsolete.  Thus He said that “neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship.”  How then do people today say that having a place of worship is important?

Jesus did not die so that Old Testament rituals could be replaced with New Testament rituals.  What would be the point of that?  Rather, Old Testament worship rituals were to be replaced with sacrificial living (Romans 12:1), doing good, and sharing (Hebrews 13:16).  Worship that had previously been focused on festivals and events would now be expressed through all our waking hours as we lived before the invisible Savior God.

By making worship something we do when we go to a designated place, we commit the sin of idolatry for we have reduced God to a time and place.  All idolatry creates idols or relics that become the objects of our devotion.  God wants to be the constant object of our devotion and it demeans Him to relegate our worship to representations of Him.

To say, as some do, that one cannot live a life of worship pleasing to God outside of a church context is to instruct people to place church on a level with God.  Idol worship always makes people forget about the omnipresent God.  This is why God always condemns it.  It is contrary to truth.  God allowed the Israelites to have a tabernacle, a temple, and related furniture and utensils of worship, but only on a temporary basis until an eternal and spiritual administration could be put in place.  Now that the eternal administration of the kingdom of God has been established, all that temporary equipment is obsolete.  It memory is useful as types and shadows of Christ and His kingdom, but to set up our own houses of worship, furniture, and utensils in its place is as much idolatry as if the Jews were to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and start sacrificing animals again.

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Who Is Your Brother?

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that He could be Lord of both the dead and the living.  Until the Second Coming, He sat at the right hand of the Father waiting for all His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.  Once that happened, He became (once again) King of the Universe, Lord of all humanity, and Father of the brotherhood of man.  Therefore every man is your brother; every man is my brother.

Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan and what provoked Jesus to tell it?  A lawyer had challenged Him by asking what was necessary to inherit eternal life.  In response, Jesus asked him what his reading of the law seemed to say.  The lawyer answered with the commandments to love God and neighbor.  Jesus commended his answer but the lawyer went to on ask, “And who is my neighbor?”  You can almost hear Christians asking today, “And who is my brother?”  Both questions attempt to diminish the scope of God’s commandments.   

Jesus is not Lord of some – He is Lord of all.  Every knee shall bow; every tongue shall confess.  It is not our business to know when and how that happens for each of our brothers.  It is our job to love them.  And honor them.  All of them.

Let us repent of all spiritual arrogance and not waste any more time wondering if someone is our brother.  He is.

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Immanuel

As you probably know, Immanuel (sometimes rendered Emmanuel) means “God with us.”  Matthew’s gospel quotes this prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, noting it as being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.  Of course, Matthew did not mean that Mary literally named her baby “Immanuel,” but rather that the meaning of his birth was that God was with us.

We know that God has always been “with us” in the sense that He supports us.  His desire for intimacy “with us,” however, goes much deeper.  Jesus walking the earth as one of humanity was a profound expression of that desire.  God in our flesh, dealing with our limitations, experiencing our life…and our death.  This, however, was just the first installment of His intense intimacy with us.  “Immanuel” meant much more.

Through the new covenant He has made with mankind, God now dwells in us and walks among us.  He is our God and we are His people.  Under the old covenant, it was Satan who freely walked the earth as we saw in the book of Job.  Now, however, the evil one is under our feet (Rom 16:20).

God’s is the voice we hear whispering in our hearts (1 Kings 19:12).  From there He judges the secrets of our heart (Romans 2:16) so that we may live for His approval and not the approval of others (1 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 1:10; Romans 2:28-29).

We come to realize, therefore, that God’s desire to be with us is so great that He will pursue this end until the two become one (Mark 10:8).

Let us therefore repent of this hardness of heart and stop resisting Him who desires to be with us all the days and moments of our lives.  Let us answer the knocking He makes at our door (Revelation 3:20).

The Gospel Was Hidden in Plain View

The good news of Jesus Christ was chronicled well in advance.  What we now call the Old Testament testifies abundantly about Him.  In fact, through John 5 and Luke 24 we know that Jesus taught that He Himself was the primary subject of these Scriptures.

So thoroughly did the Old Testament proclaim the gospel that the apostles had no need of a New Testament.  Yes, we have one, and need it, for it contains the apostles’ testimony.  But the apostles themselves did not have it because it was only assembled after they had all died, and they did not need it because the Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient for them.

Thus the story of Jesus was written in advance but in such a way that no one could fully understand it until He had been crucified and resurrected.  Similarly, the story of His Second Coming was written in advance – through the Old and New Testaments – but only understood once someone recognizes that the Messiah…was God!

The contrast between what the Scriptures say before Jesus and what they say after – and through the prism of – Jesus is staggering.  The more we repent in humility before Him the more light we can see emanating from its pages.  If you don’t see Jesus all over the Old Testament, you are not seeing it rightly.  Turn to the Lord that the veil  described in 2 Cor 3 may be taken away.

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The Kingdom of Satan Has Become the Kingdom of our Lord

As Revelation 11 heralded, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.  As Jesus had prophesied, the ruler of the world has been judged and cast out.  We are no longer to walk according to the kingdom of ignorance.  Instead, we are to walk according to the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).  Our Lord sees us!

Satan ruled the world from the beginning in cunning and darkness.  Whereas the Lord has always been willing to reveal Himself, and has done so repeatedly and in many various ways – most of all in His Son Jesus Christ – Satan continues to veil himself Acts 26:18).  The only power he wields in the world today is through that which our sins give him (Proverbs 5:22).  But that can be a lot.

Nevertheless, the Lord’s kingdom prevailed in the great war of the heavens at the Second Coming which occurred on schedule at the close of the apostolic (i.e. the New Testament) age.  (See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)  Therefore, we are no longer to make distinctions among humanity as if this one belongs to the Lord and that one doesn’t.  Before Jesus, we all belonged to Satan.  That’s why death had a sting.  That’s why everyone who died went below to Sheol (Hades).  Since Jesus, we all belong to God.  Death no longer has a sting.  Everyone who dies goes up to heaven.  (See Everyone Is Going to Heaven .)

Satan is weak.  Each human being is a son of God, and creation had long waited for the revealing of the sons of God.  Yes, many of us are blind and many are weak – but these are conditions which can be changed through the grace of the Lord.  Call to Him.  Let Him equip us with every spiritual weapon by which we might resist all temptations and do what is right in our daily lives.  This crushes Satan under our feet like powder for the Lord has already made him subject to us. 

Stop seeing the world (i.e., the kingdom of Satan) as dominant.  Indeed, it once was.  But it is now subject to the kingdom of God which is in our midst.  Let us repent of our sluggishness and take the world like the promised land, with Joshua of Nazareth at our head.

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The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

You must be familiar with the words of this post’s title which come from Psalm 118.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.  Alas, in this fallen world, this is the way it seems to happen.

God had chosen Joseph to prepare a salvation for all of his father’s family – yet his brothers rejected him.  God had chosen David because the king that all the people thought perfect for the role, wasn’t.  David’s older brothers mocked him for approaching the battle lines and expressing curiosity about a big thug who was taunting the armies of God.  And, of course, you are well familiar with how the leaders of Israel rejected Jesus who was the ultimate example of this verse.  They did not think Jesus a worthy stone, yet He turned out to be the chief corner stone of the final and eternal dwelling that God was building.

Builders are always rejecting God’s choice because they prefer building to obeying God.  As it was in the days of the Tower of Babel, so it was in the days of Jesus.  In that sense, it is not at all strange that we see today those who are building churches rejecting Jesus in the process.  Oh, they will pay Jesus lip service.  It’s all done in His name.  Yet the building is not for Him to inhabit.  Church builders today are attempting to build for God buildings He has not requested.  As Stephen would say, they are resisting the Holy Spirit just as their fathers had done.  I myself was one of those builders but in His mercy, God showed me where I erred. 

The corner stone of life is the invisible God.  In our age, that means the Lord Jesus Christ who needs no earthly temple, for He Himself fills the heavens and the earth.  Those who reject Him and build on any other foundation are building on a foundation of sand that will not withstand the floods that inevitably come.   

Repent and return to the Lord from whom you have deeply defected.  He will be merciful.  He waits with loving arms.  Stop building things for your purposes while saying that they are for His.  He has no need of a house, but He does knock on your door that He might come in and sup with you.

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The Lord Wants the Pleasure of Teaching His People

We who know that the face of our Creator is found in Jesus of Nazareth do well to proclaim His name and tell of His glory. 

We must be careful, however, that we never assume His teaching role.  He is the Teacher of all humanity.  He is the One who holds class from the heavenly Zion into the heats of all mankind.  He is the one who makes known the paths of righteousness to every one of the lambs in His flock. 

We cannot teach anyone how to live.  We proclaim Him who teaches everyone how to live.

We do not know enough about righteousness to be teachers.  We are children who know the name of the Teacher.  Our goal is to let Him have the pleasure of teaching us, and anyone else who will listen.

If our brother sins, we can point Him back to Jesus the Teacher.  Nevertheless, we should do so in a spirit of gentleness, looking to ourselves lest we, too, be tempted.  All men know the Lord; He has seen to that. 

All over the world today, people are teaching in the name of the Lord, taking attention from the saints that is due the Lord only.  Let everyone be a disciple of His; let none of us be disciples of each other.

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The Spirit of Paul

Re-read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians and refresh your apprehension of the spirit of Paul.  You probably know that spirit well since over half the New Testament came through him.

Where is the spirit of Paul today?  It is certainly not guiding the churches.  Or should we say, the churches are certainly not following it.  Paul was shocked to learn that factions were developing in the church at Corinth and he showed no tolerance for it.  He chastised them, calling them “fleshly men” and “babies in Christ.”  If the beginnings of fissure in the church of one city provoked him so, what would he do upon encountering the fractured world of denominational and nondenominational Christianity we see today? 

The churches of today profess allegiance to Paul but are rebellious to his direction.  He told the Corinthians he wanted to “know nothing but Christ” whereas today’s churches major on everything under the sun except Christ.

What would Paul say to the churches today?  “Flee idolatry and pursue the righteousness, peace, and joy that is the kingdom of God.”

Paul preached faith.  The wolves he said would come in after him preached a doctrine of man-made church.  Choose which of these you will embrace for they have nothing to do with each other.  The churches claim Paul’s legacy but do not have his spirit.

If Paul were here today he would tell us to forget about church altogether and pursue the kingdom of God instead.

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“After My Departure”

The apostles did not expect good things to happen to the church after they departed.  On the contrary, they frequently warned of the apostasy that would come in the absence of their direction.  The comfort was that the Lord was coming soon in His kingdom and therefore each believer should hold firm to what he’d been taught, looking for the day of the Lord (also called “the day of Christ”).  Thus Paul had warned the elders at Ephesus about what would happen after his departure.  Sure enough, by the time John wrote Revelation, the church at Ephesus was receiving a rebuke from Jesus.  Yet He told them to return to their first love, reminding all who had heard the Olivet discourse of His prophecy that the ones who did not let their hearts grow cold could endure to the end and be saved in the coming of the kingdom.

Jesus and His apostles were unified in their view that the demise of the church would coincide with the coming of the kingdom.  Paul and Peter became convinced that they would not survive to see it.  There was always the question about whether John would live to see it, given what Jesus had said to Peter about him.  Since the apostolic witness on this point is consistent and abundant, why do people act today as if the Lord or the apostles had established some sort of transfer of power that would allow the church to be administered generation after generation waiting on a kingdom whose coming was still supposed to be considered imminent almost two thousand years later?

It’s much easier to believe the New Testament on this point:  The kingdom of God came in the midst of an apostate church at the end of the apostolic age.  All church traditions handed down from that point, which would have been around the late 1st Century A.D., would therefore be questionable.  The kingdom has been in the earth since then.  If we’re seeking Jesus, we’ll find Him in the kingdom, not church. 

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Yes, I Am a Recovering Christian Leader

Yes, I am a recovering Christian leader (to borrow from the 12-step lexicon).  I was a pastor.  I sought to get people to come to my church.  I thought I was doing it for God, but I should have known better.

I told people that they needed God.  That was true, and I believed it.  What I wasn’t admitting to them, however, was that I needed them.  I needed them in the church when I preached because I would be embarrassed if my church was empty or only had a few coming.  I needed their tithes because without them I couldn’t pay the bills.  I needed them to volunteer because without their time commitments we couldn’t have enough programs to attract more people.

I liked to think that I had surrendered my life to a calling to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, but there was so much I that I had to do to sustain the church that only a fraction of my time went to the original purpose.  There was new member visitation, worship team practice, board meetings, and programs of every description: for youth, for women, for men, for couples, for singles, and on and on it went.

There are successful churches and there are struggling churches.  I’ve been part of both.  Those that do well operate on sound business principles, those that struggle don’t.  In other words, church success has nothing to do with Divine presence and church failure has nothing to do with Divine absence.  Church was an instrument of God in the New Testament, but it’s been a strictly human arrangement ever since – as evidenced by its divided nature (“A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand”).  Any church’s success or failure today can be explained by sociological, not theological, principles.

The point is that church is a structure God has not used since New Testament times.  He blesses faith wherever and whenever He finds it in a human heart.  If that person happens to be in church, fine.  If that person is somewhere else, fine.   People pay attention to church structure, but God doesn’t care.  He’s looking for faith in individual human hearts.

Once I realized that God had abandoned the structure of the church, I did, too.  I have never regretted it.  It is a beast that consumes the resources of people who want to serve God.  I know this not just from the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, but from my own personal experience.

Having repented of my pastoring, I am now free to praise His holy name – which is precisely what I was wanting to do all along.  Only now, I don’t need people to give me anything or do anything for me in order to accomplish that.

I explain more about how I walked away from being  a pastor in I Left My Church by Letting It Leave Me.

Do You Know Who Is Obeying God?

Christian leader, do you know who in your congregation is obeying God and who is not?  If you do not know, how can you be their spiritual leader?

You not only don’t know who in your flock is being obedient and who is being disobedient, you don’t know it about the people you are seeking to visit and join your church either.  For all you know, they could be living relatively righteous lives without going to church and then fall into sin with a member of your church.  It’s happened.

You cannot see the secrets of human hearts, and therefore you are in no position to know whether a congregant needs a rebuke or a pat on the back.  A person’s thought life alone is completely out of your purview.  And then there’s the fact that they are only in your church for a portion of the 168 hours in a week.  You don’t know what they are doing the rest of the time.  Are you beginning to recognize that you are completely inadequate to be a spiritual shepherd to these people.

I will tell you who is not inadequate:  Jesus our Lord.  Let Him shepherd the sheep.  And while your at it, join the flock.  You need shepherding, too.

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Where Does Repentance Fit Into Your Ministry?

Do you tell people they should repent?  Do you emphasize the point, or gloss over it?  Are you afraid people won’t follow you if you talk too much about repentance?

As a Christian leader, you know that repentance was an essential element of the good news message.  From John the Baptist, through Jesus, and all the apostles, the gospel was consistently preached:  Repent and believe!  This came from a rich tradition, for the Old Testament prophets were noted for their consistent call for wayward Israel to return to the Lord.  Of course, their work was built on the foundation of Moses who could be quite strong in his denunciations of the Israelites.  In fact, his frustration with them on one occasion caused him to be deprived of personally entering the promised land.  Even Moses, however, wasn’t the beginning, for Noah, and Enoch before him, had also called for repentance.

Thus the Bible reveals the centrality of repentance to the message of God.  How could anyone speak in God’s name and ignore it?

Let me ask also about repentance in your own life.  How important is it to you in your walk with God?  How can you walk with God without it?

If repentance is not relevant in your personal life, it would not likely be relevant in your ministry.

The “Instead of Going to Church, Pray” 30-Day Challenge

Christian leaders, here’s a challenge for you to issue to your flocks:  Ask your people to spend the next 30 days giving all their church time directly to God.  That is, if they would spend two hours total on Sunday morning at church (service time, commute time, and prep time), then have them spend that time alone with the Lord.  Have them do the same for every church program and activity over the next month.  In other words, you won’t see them for thirty days, but God will be seeing them instead.  If you have a media or traveling ministry, ask your followers to give the time directly to God that they would spend reading, watching, or listening to your materials.  In both cases, have them give all the money that they would be giving you directly to the poor.  When the thirty days are up, ask them what they learned from the experience.
 
Do you think it would be acceptable to God for you to conduct such an experiment?  Would He mind having the people come directly to Him?  Would He protest if the money would be going to the poor?
 
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Lone Ranger Christian

The epithet “Lone Ranger Christian” is often tossed from the pulpit in an attempt to stigmatize any believer in Jesus who does not honor church.  Church is a social phenomenon so it’s natural for such a point to be well received by this audience.  They’re there – they want others there with them.  Rare is the church that doesn’t want to grow.  The more the merrier, and all that.

Consequently, the pastor’s argument against “Lone Ranger Christianity” is relatively weak and doesn’t consist of much more than the epithet.  Oh, he’ll throw in some lines about how we all need each other, but neglect the fact that most people who don’t come to church have plenty of relationships and aren’t recluses.  He’ll also throw in some Scripture, but not too much since the New Testament lacks any commandment regarding church attendance.  The closest it comes is Hebrews 10:25 which no church today practices because they all assemble separately when the verse calls for assembling together.  (For more, see my post on Hebrews 10:25.)

Aside from the weakness of the argument against “Lone Ranger Christianity” is the fact that this is exactly the kind of Christianity that was practiced by its Namesake and Founder.  That is, you do not see Jesus submitting Himself and His plans to others.  You do not see Him with a “home church” as base.  He does not have a pastor or elders to whom He submits.  (Well, He did eventually submit to elders but they had Him crucified – in part precisely because He had been a Lone Ranger and had not submitted His teaching to their authority.)  Jesus’ ministry was primarily conducted from town to town and on the roads in between.  Yes, He would go to a synagogue to teach and, yes, He would go to the temple and celebrate Israel’s feasts, but as for what we call church life today – He practiced none of it, taught none of it, and commanded none of it.  Therefore, the Hero of our faith was…the original Lone Ranger Christian.  How then do we follow in His steps without taking on His attitude?

Church is no longer of the Lord, and hasn’t been for a long time.  Seek His kingdom and His righteousness instead.  It is better to be alone and serving the Lord than together with others serving someone else.

See also:  How to Be in the One True Church

The Sin of Diotrephes

John’s third letter tells among its few lines the even shorter story of Diotrephes.  And a disturbing story it was.

It seems the apostle John couldn’t even get a hearing in Diotrephes’ church.  And indeed it was on the verge of becoming the church of Diotrephes instead of the church of the Lord.  Paul had warned the elders of Ephesus that some from among them would draw away the disciples after themselves.  John, in another letter, had warned that antichrists would arise in the last hour.  Diotrephes is a specific example of that which the apostles – and the Lord Himself – had warned: the falling away of church leaders just before the Lord’s return. 

If you seek followers for your church or ministry, you have inherited the sin of Diotrephes.  You probably are not drawing disciples of the Lord to yourself knowingly.  You think you are doing it for Him.  But recognize now that the Lord has chosen His people for Himself, not for us. 

Let us be done with the sin of Diotrephes.  That is, let us be done with the sin of wanting to be “first among them.”  Jesus Himself had warned us not to be called “Rabbi, Teacher, Leader, or Father” – all titles He reserved for Himself.  Again, let us flee from being over any disciple of the Lord.  They are His.

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Reform the Clergy or Eliminate It?

You may wonder if I address Christian leaders in hope of reforming the clergy or eliminating it.  My hope is that it will be eliminated in the flesh and reformed in the spirit.

By eliminated in the flesh, I mean that I hope the church and all its clergy go away.  The church robs believers of their God-given liberty and enslaves them to the needs and purposes of the church.  This is true whether the church is worldwide in scope, is a local nondenominational church, or even a house church of a few people.  Church was only ordained by God for New Testament times.  Since then His kingdom has prevailed.  And since then, the church has fought the kingdom for the hearts of believers, telling all who would listen, “Those of you who would serve God must serve me.”   

By reformed in the spirit, I mean that every person in the clergy who knows Jesus Christ will praise Him daily and tell others of His goodness.  This does not require a paid position in a church or ministry.  In fact, spreading the gospel should not be a way of making money.  Otherwise, those of us who speak of Him are simply peddlers of God’s word.  We who know something of the Scriptures can freely share what we know as we have occasion.  But we must always respect every other person’s relationship with the Lord and never insert ourselves between Him and the person (which is what church does).

Therefore, I urge all of you who are considered Christian clergy: cast aside your ministerial title and status.  Live for the Lord, and sing His praise.  And if that means that you will sell hot dogs instead of passing the offering plate for your income, then know that you will have exchanged shame for glory.

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Go Back to Your Beginnings

Go back to your beginnings with the Lord.  Remember that sense of blessing that you had? 

Go back to the gospel of Jesus Christ that was preached to you.  Remember how you thought and felt in that moment?

It is other gospels you have heard since then that have blown you off course.  Other influences have entered into your life and brought you into bondage whereas it was Christ who had made you free.

Go back to the purity and simplicity of devotion to Jesus Christ that you once had.  You loved Him above all others and you were prepared to do anything to serve Him.

You did not learn about church and all its trappings from the Spirit who taught you about Jesus.

If you go back to your beginnings, and reinforce those truths that He Himself has made known to you, then you can walk closely with Him once again.

Remember:  Jesus first.  Jesus last.  Jesus always.

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The Parable of the Unjust Steward

If you have believers in the Lord devoted to you as their spiritual leader for the Lord, then you would do well to mimic the steward in Jesus’ parable who was found squandering his master’s possessions. 

Let the Lord’s servants go to Him that they might serve Him.  During their time with  you, you laid burdens upon them, usually in the name of the Lord.  Maybe it was about church attendance.  Maybe it was about volunteer service in church, ministry, or organization programs.  Maybe it was financial commitments you asked them to make to you or your organization for the Lord’s sake.  In any case, free them from these obligations.  Set them completely at liberty and you will find other comfort and care for yourself when they have all gone.

Above all, however, be sure to let them go.  They are the Lord’s sheep and you and I should never have taken them – even if we were well-intentioned.  We may have been blind, but now we see.  The earth is the Lord’s and the sheep are the Lord’s.  He is able to care for them.  We may proclaim Him.  In fact, we should proclaim Him.  But we cannot take His place.  He alone is the Shepherd, the Pastor, the Ruler, and the Teacher of the people.

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The Divided Kingdom Is a Sign

If you’re a Christian leader, you know your Bible.  You know that the Lord gives signs.  The divided church is a sign to us.  Specifically, it’s a sign that the kingdom has come to replace it.

The prophets and apostles, and the Lord Himself, told us that the church’s last days would be marred by apostasy even though some believers would remain true.  The beginnings of this were even documented in the New Testament, especially the book of Revelation.  That fracturing has never stopped.  Today there are over 30,000 Christian denominations.  Do you now see that this is a sign that the physical church is not the kingdom of God?

A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  There is no more divided kingdom on earth than the self-identified church!  How could it possibly be the Lord’s?

There was one who restrained the divisions in the days of the apostles, but once He was taken away there was nothing to prevent the continual dividing.  Thus the splintering continues even to this day. 

The kingdom of God, by contrast, is not divided at all.  It would be impossible for the Lord’s kingdom to be divided.  Thus, let the sign of the earth’s divided church alert you to stop seeking the church…and start seeking the kingdom!

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The Society of the Washed?

What if those who had submitted to John’s baptism had decided to form a society?  They might have called it “The Society of the Washed.”  We could further suppose that the doctrinal statement of that society was that all who had submitted to John the Baptist’s call for repentance and baptism would be allowed to go to heaven while those who did not submit to John’s call would not be allowed.  This would, of course, defeat the purpose which John was after and would be antithetical to spirit of humility he sought to inculcate in the people.  For this reason, no such society was formed.  Neither John the Baptist, nor Jesus, nor the apostles would have allowed it.  Only an insincere or partially repentant one would have even suggested it.

Unfortunately, after the age of the apostles such societies were formed, and they still exist today.  Their members think that because they have recognized the Lord’s call to repent, and perhaps even have begun an initial response  of repentance, that this makes them better than others and somehow worthy of ultimate salvation.  This attitude is not born of humility.  Let us reject it.

Abandon any society of the washed and live your life for Jesus without making distinctions between people.  The Lord only is judge.

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Thy Kingdom Come

Do you pray “Thy kingdom come?”  Toward what purpose?  If His kingdom came would you receive it?  What if it meant a choice between your church meetings and receiving the kingdom – would you choose the kingdom over those church meetings?

His kingdom has come.  It is here today and has been since the days of the New Testament closed.  Though it has been hidden from you, you can receive it now.  It has always been present when the winds of revival have blown because it has been the kingdom moving in those winds.  Many of the people in the church over the years have been affected by the winds, but the church itself is a man-made structure impervious to them.

Many people will not let go of the old when God brings the new.  This was certainly true of the Pharisees.  They had long waited for a Messiah who would deliver them.  When He did not match their preconceived notions, however, they rejected Him and clung to their traditions.  Today’s Pharisees are doing the same thing: they are clinging to their traditions of church even though the Lord’s kingdom is available to them.  I hope you are different.

O Lord, show a man what he may let go of, in order that he may grasp the things that You are offering. 

Receive His kingdom now.  Walk in the light of His glorious presence.  Serve Him in everything that you do.  The church age is over.  The kingdom for which we have prayed, lo, these many years has come.  When the Son of Man comes, He asked, will He find faith on the earth?  I pray He finds it in your heart right now. 

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Did You Dedicate Your Life to Being a Meeting Promoter?

Those of you who promote church instead of the kingdom of God are promoting meetings over the keeping of God’s commandments. 

I know most of you have good intentions.  Your hope is that by getting people to come to church regularly, they can hear the commandments.  You believe also that they’ll be around other like-minded people of faith who will encourage them and help them stay faithful.  The first problem with this is that it connects people to you and your congregation rather than to God.  The second problem is that it doesn’t work (and the first problem is why it doesn’t work).

You know that church is a monster that must be constantly fed.  If it dies, you lose your source of income.  For this reason you have to keep it going.  If the church were the kingdom of God would this be the case?

As a church leader, your life is consumed with how you can get people to come to your church’s meetings (i.e. worship services, programs, activities).  And if enough people come, your concern shifts to how to get them to donate enough money to pay the expenses associated with those meetings.  Is this why you gave your life to the Lord – to be a meeting promoter?  Don’t you long for more spirituality than this?

We’ve gotten way, way off track.  With church, the means has become the end.  Let’s drop the means and go straight to the end: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Live for Him.  Obey Him.  Tell others about Him.  But don’t try to build Him something that He doesn’t want and doesn’t need: your church.  He already has one of His own. 

Forget your meetings.  Let your sheep join His flock.  And don’t forget to join it yourself.

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Q: Are You Saying We Shouldn’t Build Churches and Invite People?

A: Yes, that’s what I’m saying.  There’s no scriptural foundation for doing so.  If you want to invite people to something, invite them to righteousness.  That is, tell them about Jesus.  He said that He would build His church.  Do you want to ursurp His place and be like Uzzah, Saul, or Uzziah?  Do you want to be like the Pharisees and seat yourself in His chair?  Let us repent and become His true servants!

Are You Prepared for a Stricter Judgment?

It’s clear that God judges us according to the light available to us.  If you are a Christian leader, you have more knowledge of God’s will than the rank and file.  And you have far more knowledge than the people of other religions…and those of no religion.  Do you think about the awesome weight of judgment this brings?  It is a terrible and fearful thing!

Take heed to your life.  Get alone – away from everyone else.  Ask God to show you where you stand, so that you can be sure things are as right as they can be between you and Him while you are still on the earth. 

Some of you have been frowning on people who will actually have a higher standing than you in heaven.  Does that shock you?  Better to be shocked now – when you can still do something about it – than then.

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Where Is the Procedure Manual for Your Church?

Have you ever wondered why God gave so many specific and detailed instructions for worship in the Old Testament tabernacle but so few for the New Testament church?

You know that the law of Moses is filled with everything you’d want to know about how to sacrifice on God’s altar.  The book of Leviticus alone can be overwhelming.  Why then would God place so  little information about the operation of the church in the New Testament?

Here’s another question from a different angle:  Did Jesus Christ die on the cross so that God could move worship services from Saturday to Sunday?  Was that the whole problem – that He just needed to change the day, get rid of the animals, and institute some new rituals, and then people would start obeying Him more?

I hope you will think about these questions and give them serious consideration.  In the meantime, know this:  the New Testament church was temporary housing for those who believed the good news about Jesus and were waiting on the kingdom of God.  At the end of the New Testament time period, the kingdom came and those who had been faithful knew it.  They came to realize not only that Jesus was the Messiah, but that the Messiah was God!  They also realized that this God now lived in their hearts to love and direct each and every one of them.  Therefore, they no longer needed the structure of church.  The church continued on, however, led by those weak in faith who kept looking for a physical return of Jesus.  That church keeps splitting in generation after generation – there are currently over 30,000 separate versions of church.

Therefore, today there are two churches: the one that you see with your eyes, and the one that only the Lord sees because it consists of those who truly believe in Him and serve Him.  God didn’t leave us a procedure manual for church because we don’t need one.  We just need to live in the omnipresence of Jesus and keep His commandments.

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Why Your Church Doesn’t Put God First

Your church doesn’t put God first because if it did, it would go out of business – for that’s what the church is:  a business.  It has customers, revenues, expenses, operations – all the characteristics of a business. 

You have to teach on tithing, you have to receive offerings, you have to seek volunteers to staff the various ministries of the church.  Without the time and money of the members or participants in your church, you can’t continue the ministry.  The church has to turn away from the commandments of God and focus on self-preservation in order to survive.

You may have convinced yourself that God wants all this but you can’t find commandments in the Bible that tell you how to operate a church.  Oh, different churches will pick a verse here and a verse there to justify their practices, but the Bible says so little about the operation of a church that people are forced to invent procedures for them – especially about how they’re governed.  If God wanted churches to succeed the New Testament church, wouldn’t He have left instructions about how that should occur?   

Because the New Testament church put God first, we know about the kingdom of God.  They were thrilled at the prospect of exchanging church for that kingdom.  Why do we keep clinging to the remains of what they were ready to discard?   For their sake, let us cease the vain imitation of church and pursue the kingdom of God with all our hearts. 

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The Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan

When Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, why you suppose he chose a priest and Levite to represent the two uncaring individuals who passed by the victim without giving any care?

Obviously, priests and Levites were the clergy of their day – analogous to today’s Christian leaders.  The Samaritan had no religious standing at all.  Was the Lord trying to send us a message?

Maybe He was trying to tell us that religious services don’t matter in the kingdom of God.  What matters is giving care to those who need it.  Why don’t we just forget the religious services?

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