June 28, 2015
I believe many of Christianity’s teachers try to restrict God, or oversimplify His ways, by putting their doctrines into tidy boxes. It seems that they like formulas and insist that the formulas always be carried out precisely. Yet in comparing passages in God’s Word, such as John 3:5-8, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:44-48, and others, we see that the born again experience is not achieved through a formula.
If we look at Rom. 10:9,10, two verses which Christianity emphasizes, we read that salvation comes from confessing with our mouths, “Jesus is Lord” and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. (v. 9) We also read that it is with our hearts that we believe and are justified, and it is with our mouths that we confess and are saved. (v. 10) This, then, would seem to raise the question, “Can a person believe and thus be justified, but refrain from confessing aloud and thus not get saved?” And what about verse 13 which tells us that salvation comes by way of calling on the name of the Lord? Must the name “Jesus” or “Yahshua” be used? Or can a person merely say, if said genuinely, “Lord, save me”, and say this even without stating any pledge concerning repentance from sin? Or is a pledge of repentance and/or proof of repentance necessary, as Luke 13:1-9, Acts 26:20, and 1 Peter 3:21 seem to indicate? Furthermore, is a turn from the power of Satan to God necessary for the forgiveness of sins, as Acts 26:18 teaches?
If we look at the dying thief on the cross, we see that his conversion does not fit any particular formula. Instead, he mentioned the importance of fearing God, he acknowledged his guilt, he acknowledged the innocence of Jesus, and by asking Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom, the thief was also acknowledging that Jesus was the Messiah. (Luke 23:40-42) However, we do not see where the thief said those words acceptable within the formula that is taught throughout most of Christianity, such as, “Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for my sins, so please forgive me, cleanse me, come into my heart, and save me.” In verse 43, we see that Jesus accepted this thief, so is it more about formula-based words, or about the heart? In fact, look at what is implied in Acts 10:44, for we don’t see any confessions with the mouth at all, but instead that “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.”
If we look at Mark 16:16, it says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Acts 2:38 seems to confirm the “Water Baptism Doctrine” implied there by saying, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So we could ask, “Must we be baptized in water in order to be saved?” But the thief wasn’t baptized in water. And is the baptism in water necessary as well as that baptism with the Holy Spirit? (John 1:33 // Acts 1:5) And did not those mentioned in Acts 10:44-48 receive the gift of the Holy Spirit before they openly confessed Jesus, repented, or were baptized in water? Yes, but then why do we read in Acts 8:12-17 about those who, because they believed Philip’s message, got “baptized [in water] into the name of the Lord Jesus” (v. 16), yet did not receive the Spirit until some time later –when Peter and John prayed for them and placed their hands on them?
When we look at the conversion of Paul, we do not read anything about him repenting or calling on the Lord Jesus. Though undoubtably he did, at least in his heart, the omission in the record helps negate any formula. Rather, what we do read is that Jesus forcibly halted Saul’s (Paul’s) sinfulness, and that without any record of Paul’s confession of sin, Ananias, at the Lord’s command, placed his hands on Paul so that Paul could “see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17) Only after this, was Paul baptized. (v. 18) What is emphasized is Paul’s submission and obedience to the Lord, and Paul himself, while testifying later about his conversion and commission, said, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” (26:19)
My reason in bringing all this up is to point out that Christianity should be careful about attempting to pigeonhole their every doctrine. Therefore, for anyone to point to “death-bed conversions” as a way to uphold the false doctrine of “Faith Alone”, rather than to be explaining what following Jesus entails, is not only inappropriate, but to give others, who are still carrying on with their lives, the wrong impression. It is to aid the dismissal of the numerous commands in the Word of God to obey Christ continuously.
If a person claims to be born again and saved, he is to be controlled by the Spirit, he is to be Christ-like, he is work righteousness (not sinfulness), and he is to walk in this conduct, with increasing excellence, for the rest of his life. If the rest of his life is only one more day, then that person is to do good for that one more day –as much as he is able. In the case of “Phil” (of whom we have not had any news about him passing away yet), his good works (God-pleasing works done in God’s power) would be that initial work of humbling himself in order to ask God to forgive him and save him, and then going forward with those good works –works such as, for example, forgiving all those whom he may have refused to forgive before, being patient and gracious with his wife and with the hospital staff, making right whatever needs to be righted (as much as he is able), etc. Truly, the works of righteousness involve the heart, mind, and soul, as well as one’s strength. (Mark 12:28-34)
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (Ja. 4:17) This is the case whether a person has 90 years, or just one hour, left to live.
June 27, 2015
Concerning your comments today at my comment page regarding my June 22 article where I wrote about the error of the “Faith Alone” teaching:
I wrote, “For after Eph. 2:8,9 comes verse 10, and it says, “For of Him we are a product, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God previously prepared, in order that in them we might walk.”
I also wrote, “So, Eph. 2:8-10 tells us that although the offer of salvation is God’s gracious gift to undeserving humans who could never attain it on their own, we are nevertheless expected to fulfill that for which we were created –the doing of good works.”
God has commanded us to do good works. So, if we are commanded by God to do something or refrain from doing something, and we refuse to obey, we are rebels. God’s Word is very clear about rebellion against Him. It is likened to witchcraft in His eyes (1 Sam. 15:23), and it reaps for a person Hell, no matter their claim. (Heb. 10:26,27) This means that anyone who refuses to listen to and obey Christ’s words and the Spirit’s commands, is not walking in Eternal Life. (Rom. 8:9,13,14) Only by walking through the Door, and then following Jesus, is a person walking in Eternal Life. (John 10:9,27,28 & 14:6 // 1 John 5:20) Anyone who dismisses Christ’s teaching, either by twisting what He says or through deliberate sinfulness, does not possess God. (John 14:21,23 // Titus 1:16 // 1 John 2:24 // 2 John 1:9)
Believers, even disciples, do sometimes turn from following Jesus. (John 6:66) Those once sanctified (Heb. 10:29), those once named the temple of the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16,17), can and do fall away and get sent to Hell. (Same verses // Mt. 24:47-51) It happens because the times of testing were too hard for them (Luke 8:13), they were overcome again by something (v. 14 // 2 Peter 2:20 & 3:17), or they never would devote themselves to Christ completely, totally, and unashamedly. (Luke 9:23,24 & 12:8,9 // Rev. 3:5,16)
I wrote, “And what happens if someone, though he claims to be saved, is not willing to walk in those good works which God prepared for him to walk in? Is the man’s faith alone going to justify him before God? It is not. James 2:24 states it clearly: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Thus we see that the Word of God, contrary to what most of Christendom teaches, does not teach “salvation by faith alone”.
James 2:24 is just one of the numerous verses which false teachers of “Faith Alone” ignore. They actually ignore the whole passage of verses 14-26, thus missing the warning of this Truth. James is talking about salvation and how truly believing, or how claiming to have faith, but having “no deeds”, will not save a person. (v. 14,19) Verse 17 tells us that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” The point is repeated in verse 26 and “dead faith” is emphatically emphasized by comparing it with the deadness of a body that is void of its spirit, finishing with, “…so faith without deeds is dead.” How can it be any clearer? Verse 20 states that “faith without deeds is worthless”, meaning worthless in God’s sight and thus worthless in acquiring salvation. Therefore, as verse 22 informs us, faith is made complete (acquires its goal) by what we do. “Do”. How we act. What type of works we have –God-pleasing or not.
As I pointed out, Jesus taught the same thing. As He says in Mt. 19:17, “If you wish to enter Life, keep the commandments.” “Keep” is about doing. Jesus is referring to works, deeds, action, behavior, conduct, and this also entails attitude, words, motives, and thoughts. It is about doing those works which are in line with God’s commands. Lack of obedience to God –lack of following His commands to do right– is rebellion, and this means, no salvation. (John 5:29 // Gal. 6:7,8 // Heb. 5:9 // 2 Thes. 1:8-10 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:6-10)
I also pointed out Jesus’ words in Mt. 7:21: “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” I was reminding us all that the word “does” is about action (works) and that we must do them in the will of the Father. I emphasized this by saying, “Then in the next two verses (7:22,23) He [Jesus] reveals that works done outside of the will of the Father will result in eternal condemnation.”
Then I wrote, “Consequently, it is not hard, if we interpret Scripture with Scripture, (as we are supposed to always do), to recognize that human-inspired works and God-inspired works are not the same thing. The former is worthless to walk in, while the latter we are required to walk in.” I’m not sure if you, at my comment page today, meant to affirm my article or were trying to correct me. If the latter, maybe you missed several of my statements..?
I summed up that paragraph with this: “Even a child can understand that when God offered us, through Christ, the undeserved gift of salvation, our part is to believe, bow our knee to the King, repent of our sins, and turn away from disobedience to obedience.” Obedience and disobedience (toward God) is about works –works that, in God’s sight, are either good or bad.
I also wrote this paragraph:
“Jesus has told us that we must love God fervently and that this is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt. 22:37,38) And what is love for God? 1 John 5:3 tells us: “This is love for God: to obey His commands.” Jesus, who is God in bodily form (Col. 2:9) demands the same. As He says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, My commandments you will keep.” And in verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, My Word he will keep.” To keep means to obey, follow, adhere to, commit to, perform, and carry out. It is about action. It is about obedience. This is what true faith produces (Rom. 1:5) and it is a continuous obedience (Luke 9:23) and a total loyalty to Christ. (14:27,33)”
So again I point out what God’s Word has clearly told us: That we remain in union with Christ through doing that which is right (John 15:6,10 // 1 John 2:24,25,28,29 & 3:24) and that this doing, this work, this behavior of Christ-likeness, is the obedience which comes from faith and which causes a person to walk, without rebelling, in God’s previously-prepared plans, thus achieving for that person the goal / the final result, which is salvation. (Rom. 6:16-18,22 & 8:4,29 // 1 Peter 1:2,5,9)
God’s Word does not teach the doctrine of “Faith Alone”. This should be abundantly clear to anyone who is studying the Scriptures objectively.
June 22, 2015
It is grievous that so much of Christendom teaches the false doctrine of “faith alone”. Adamantly insisting that this is what the Bible teaches in order to be saved, they actually deny Scripture after Scripture verse, as well as God’s Word as a whole, which does, in no uncertain terms, command obedience to God.
Often Eph. 2:8,9 is quoted to support their belief. It says, “For by grace you are having been saved through faith; and this is not of you. [Instead,] of God is the gift. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (See the literal translation from Greek) An unbiased reading of this should cause a person to understand that it is God’s gift of grace which makes it possible for a person to believe (the Good News) and thereby receive salvation. Another way to state it is, because of God’s goodwill, rather than by any worthiness on the part of the sinner, a sinner is offered salvation if they believe. Or, in other words, God has initiated the offer of salvation, not because we have earned this offer, but because of God’s kindness and mercy.
However we explain the verse, we must understand that the whole counsel of God’s Word and the whole of the Gospel cannot be condensed into these two verses. We cannot base our entire doctrine on these two verses. These verses assist our comprehension of the Gospel, but they do not explain the entirety of the Gospel. Therefore, studying the whole counsel of Scripture should be our pursuit, and this should begin with the very next verse. For after Eph. 2:8,9 comes verse 10, and it says, “For of Him we are a product, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God previously prepared, in order that in them we might walk.”
There is no legitimacy in quoting verses 8 and 9 of Eph. 2 without verse 10, particularly when verse 10 uses the conjunction word “For” to link it to the previous two verses. The three verses must be quoted together if honesty is to be used in teaching the doctrine of Scripture.
So, Eph. 2:8-10 tells us that although the offer of salvation is God’s gracious gift to undeserving humans who could never attain it on their own, we are nevertheless expected to fulfill that for which we were created –the doing of good works.
And what happens if someone, though he claims to be saved, is not willing to walk in those good works which God prepared for him to walk in? Is the man’s faith alone going to justify him before God? It is not. James 2:24 states it clearly: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Thus we see that the Word of God, contrary to what most of Christendom teaches, does not teach “salvation by faith alone”.
Jesus certainly does not teach “salvation by faith alone”. Instead He says, “If you wish to enter Life, keep the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) And, “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” (7:21) Then in the next two verses (7:22,23) He reveals that works done outside of the will of the Father will result in eternal condemnation. Consequently, it is not hard, if we interpret Scripture with Scripture, (as we are supposed to always do), to recognize that human-inspired works and God-inspired works are not the same thing. The former is worthless to walk in, while the latter we are required to walk in. This is not rocket science. Rather it is simple enough for a child to understand. Even a child can understand that when God offered us, through Christ, the undeserved gift of salvation, our part is to believe, bow our knee to the King, repent of our sins, and turn away from disobedience to obedience.
Jesus has told us that we must love God fervently and that this is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt. 22:37,38) And what is love for God? 1 John 5:3 tells us: “This is love for God: to obey His commands.” Jesus, who is God in bodily form (Col. 2:9) demands the same. As He says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, My commandments you will keep.” And in verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, My Word he will keep.” To keep means to obey, follow, adhere to, commit to, perform, and carry out. It is about action. It is about obedience. This is what true faith produces (Rom. 1:5) and it is a continuous obedience (Luke 9:23) and a total loyalty to Christ. (14:27,33)
This relationship, this continuous action of following Christ, consists of knowing Him and of Him knowing us in intimate friendship. (John 10:27 & 15:14) It is to be unified with Him in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17) and it comes through obedience to His commands. (1 John 3:24) Jesus reveals that knowing God and Christ is eternal life (John 17:3), while 2 Thes. 1:8,9 says that those who do not know God nor obey the Gospel will suffer damnation. Therefore anyone who claims to know Christ, but does not obey His commands, is not saved. (1 John 2:3,4) Anyone who keeps sinning is a rebel (3:4), does not know God (v. 6), belongs to the devil (v. 8,10), and is not born again. (v. 9,10)
We could go on with numerous verses. For example, the whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews shows that faith consists of works. And what about Heb. 5:9 which says that Christ “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him”? We could quote 1 John 2:29, too, which tells us that we “know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” We could refer to Rom. 2:7 which informs us that God will give eternal life to those who seek it through their persistence in doing good. We could mention Paul’s words in Acts 26:20 about the necessity of proving our repentance through our deeds. We could remind ourselves of the scores of times Jesus stated that those who did good would be accepted into Heaven while those who did evil would be condemned to everlasting punishment. (John 5:29, Mt. 13:18-53 & 24:45-25:46, Luke 6:46-49, etc.)
Does God’s Word really teach “salvation by faith alone, not of works”? Or have the false teachers twisted the Scriptures horribly?
Anyone who is reading the Word of God for themselves knows the answer.
June 15, 2015
Tonight I am so relieved and so thankful to the Lord. He does answer prayer. He does hear. He is merciful. And He is the God who does do miracles. (Ps. 77:14)
Yesterday my parents called to tell me that a relative had called them, distressed because her (elderly and sick) husband was about to slip from this life any day. When my dad tried to console Ida (not her real name) by saying, “Well, you’ve been through this before”, because her first husband had died of a brain tumor over 30 years ago, she answered that this time was a lot different. She said this time was harder because with her first husband, she knew he was saved, whereas with Phil (not his real name), she had no such assurance.
Truly, all the time we’ve known him, Phil has been resistant about discussing spiritual things; and though he has prioritized being good, he was obviously not born again. My dad suggested to Ida that she ask her husband if he would pray along with her as she led him to confess his sins and ask God, through Christ, to save him. She said she would try.
I felt very heavy-hearted last night when I went to bed. I told my husband how awful it was to think of Phil about to step into an eternity without the Lord. I went to sleep praying for Phil’s salvation. This morning, I began praying when I woke up, but I had a hard time believing Phil would actually humble himself. The times when it’s hard for me to pray in faith, I often refrain from “extras”, like coffee, chocolate, sodas, sweets, and movies, so that in so doing, I am nevertheless, through action, making a declaration of faith. (Fasting food is powerful, but for health reasons, I have, for some time now, put this practice on hold, though I would definitely recommend short food fasts for all who can do so.)
Well, throughout today I fasted all “extras” and kept praying. I praised and even sang some praises, letting God hear me proclaim His mercy, His power, and His ability to soften a stubborn heart. Mid-day my mom and I prayed on the phone together for Phil, and she told me that both her and my dad had been very burdened last night, as I had been. She told me that although it was hard to believe for the miracle, she had decided to believe and so was praying in faith. There was a point in time today when I had that breakthrough too. I thought, “I just don’t know what else to do about it. I can’t make Phil repent and I can’t make God make him.” But my next thought was, “But I have the power of prayer! Praying is how we get things accomplished and though I can’t do anything else about this, I can pray! And why has God told us to pray? –Because He answers prayer!!!” What a blessing! So I kept on, and I reminded my husband to pray and also texted a friend about it who promised she would be praying.
Guess what? My mom called this evening and told me that Ida had called them with good news. She had lead Phil in a prayer of repentance and salvation, and he had been willing and really did seem genuine. He even asked if he could go to the chapel to pray more! He couldn’t, but still, it indicated that he was truly desiring to talk with God and make sure he was completely right with Him.
Normally, I would think that last-minute prayers are rarely genuine. But, didn’t the Lord burden us to pray for a reason? Absolutely. And didn’t He give us the faith to believe that all things are possible? He did!
All things are possible –if God is willing it to happen. –And… if there are those who feel His Spirit nudge them to believe and pray, and will rise to the occasion.
Thank you, Lord God. For Your mercy, compassion, and power. Thank you, thank you. We know You are all-powerful. But sometimes we forget how immensely merciful You are as well. We love You, God, and we are so thankful, once again today, that we belong to a God who is so, so kind and good.
Now I understand, Lord, why I noted 1 Chron. 16:23 in my Bible this morning: “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day.” Yes, the Lord saves!
June 14, 2015
Those who are persecuted throughout the earth… well, it is something most of us, I’m sure, find hard to think about. The pain and fear which we realize others are enduring, as well as our overwhelming feeling of impotence in how to protect them, is enough to send anyone to their knees in intercession. Even so, there are some who mock. Some whose callousness is so low it should be reserved only for those recognized as barbaric. Yet we have them among us, in spite of the fact that we claim to be a civilized, tolerant society.
Read at this link:
Please pass the link on, asking others to take a stand against such talk.
Let’s also all be praying that God will protect and deliver innocent people from the hands of the cruel. Let’s pray hard this week for Saeed and others who are imprisoned for their faith in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Pray for their freedom, and pray that God will give them His supernatural strength to remain unflinching in faith and even in joy.
June 11, 2015
Remember the account of Elijah on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings chapter 18? It was a showdown between Baal (which means “lord”) and the LORD (YHWH / Yahweh), and it revealed who was the true God. It was a confrontation in which the LORD Most High showed Himself to be the mighty and true God.
I want to point out something from verse 21. Addressing the assembled people, Elijah said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” The expectation is that whoever is the true God should be followed (listened to and obeyed). The rebuke is about wavering between two opinions –about being indecisive about which lord is to be followed. Of course, being Elijah was the LORD’s prophet, then it is implied that to come to the wrong conclusion warrants sharp rebuke as well.
There is something else we should take note of here. But let’s first look at Mt. 12:24 when the Pharisee accused Jesus of driving out demons “by Beelzebub, the prince of demons.” In verse 25, Jesus responded by stating that every kingdom, city, or household divided against itself cannot stand. He then states, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself” (v. 26), and then Jesus goes on to contrast demons (supposedly) driven out by Beelzebub with demons driven out by the Spirit of God. (v. 27,28)
Beelzebub is a name for the devil, and Mt. 12:24-28 is a confirmation of that. The Pharisees mentioned Beelzebub and Jesus responded by using that name and the name “Satan” interchangeably. By the way, Beelzebub means “lord of the flies” or “lord of the air” (see Eph. 2:2) and even came to mean, “lord that, like dung, attracts flies”.
Now let’s go to 1 Cor. 10:20 which tells us that “the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God.” But did the ancient idol-worshipers think they were worshiping legitimate gods? Certainly that is what most of them believed themselves to be doing. And this, undoubtably, is what most modern-day idol-worshipers believe as well. Even those who don’t bow to a statue, along with those who believe in one God (as opposed to many gods), and who offer their god prayers, money, time, service, and other forms of obedience, certainly believe they are paying homage to the true God.
But are they? Are Hindus worshiping gods or demons? It’s easy to determine that they are worshiping demons. For they worship multitudes of gods, yet there is only one true God. What about Mormons? Do their beliefs line up with the Scriptures? No. They twist God’s Word and add to it. So their god is not the true God.
Is Allah, the god of the Muslims, the true God? No. Allah has no son, but YHWH does, and His name is Jesus. Furthermore, Allah, who the Quran states many times is “the best deceiver” (3:54, 7:99, 8:30, 10:21, 13:42, 27:50) sounds like Satan of whom Jesus said is “the father of lies”. (John 8:44) Yet God’s (true) Word says that God cannot lie. (Num. 23:19 // 1 Sam. 15:29 // Titus 1:2 // Heb. 6:18) Moreover, being that the Quran orders Allah-worshipers to maim and murder any non-Muslims they can (Quran 2:191-193, 5:33, 9:5, etc.), certainly makes Allah seem to possess Satan’s vehement-like attributes. Truly, Allah is not YHWH, the Creator and Most High God, the LORD.
What about New-Agers or those who claim to love Jesus yet who do not obey His words? Are they worshiping the true God? They are not. They are praying to themselves (as did the Pharisee in Luke 18:11) or to a different jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), meaning a deceiving demonic spirit. (1 Tim. 4:1 // 1 John 4:1)
Now let’s go to 2 Kings, ch. 1. Here we see Ahaziah, an injured king of Israel, seeking consultation from Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, a Philistine city. The LORD was insulted and angered by this and sent Elijah to inform the king that because of this sin, Ahaziah would be left bed-ridden and die.
But let’s look again at the name of Ekron’s god. It’s Baal-Zebub. Yet as we saw in Mt. 12:24-28, the names Beelzebub and Satan were both used for the devil, the prince of demons.
Let’s remind ourselves of the 2 Cor. 6:14-18 passage about the necessity of separating from all that is unclean so that the Lord Almighty will receive us as His own. In verse 15 we read, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” Instead of using “Belial”, some versions use “the devil” or “Satan”, because even though “belial” meant worthless, lawless, ungodly, and wicked in the Old Testament, it later became a name used for the devil.
Now one more thing we should take note of before we make a conclusion about all this. Back in 1 Kings 18:18 Elijah, in rebuking King Ahab and telling him to summon the people and the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel, said, “You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals / the Baalim / the various Baal gods.” So we see that Baal can be pluralized.
What then should we conclude about all this? Well, isn’t it clear that any worship that is not to the true God, YHWH, is worship directed toward demons, and particularly the prince of demons? Shouldn’t we recognize that service and obedience that is not ordered or received by the LORD is being given instead to another lord (Baal / Satan) and his evil kingdom?
It is no light thing to worship anyone or anything other than the LORD Almighty. To do so is to be worshiping Satan, even if a person thinks they are worshiping the true God. Believing something doesn’t make it so. We must believe the Truth and we must follow the True God. Those who think they are praying to, hearing from, and following the LORD, yet who are not, are deceived. They are under deception from the father of lies and from the demons who work for him.
All the modern talk about everyone’s religion being legitimate, everyone’s religion being okay and right for them, is playing right into the devil’s plan. Satan doesn’t care if he has to masquerade as the true God in order to get a following and get people to worship him. (2 Cor. 11:14) He will do what it takes. And he is doing just that.
But, as Elijah exhorted long ago, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21) We cannot follow both. For they are opposites. Consequently, if anyone does not follow the LORD, he is following Beelzebub, that prince of demons who attracts dung-eating flies.
June 2, 2015
Two days after writing against Memorial Day, Israeliteindeed wrote another strange post, this time beginning with a photo of two men each holding up a gun and a Bible. Though posing in such a way is certainly bad taste, I suppose such a photo could be an attempt to state that God’s Word does not condemn using guns if they are used to protect justice, liberty, and the lives of innocent people in jeopardy. It could even be an attempt to state that God’s Word actually commands that force, including weaponry, be used to combat evil.
As distasteful as the photo is, it is also distasteful that Israeliteindeed would make use of the photo in her argument for pacifism. By doing so, she is likening those who do not believe as she does with those who appear to be insensitive extremists. Furthermore, in informing us that “this picture is making the rounds in social media”, she reveals that she is much more entrenched in the world’s culture than she claims. By reading volumes of opinions, most of which are undoubtably void of the Spirit, she is taking precious time away from the reading of God’s Word and of attending to that which God called her to do –to preach the Gospel of holiness, power, and Spirit-filled living.
As I have said, Israeliteindeed, whose messages used to be full of Truth, are now continually full of error. Instead of sticking to the preaching of the Word, she has fallen into that practice which many bloggers often fall: Using the Word of God but twisting it in order to promote their own doctrine, agenda, or political viewpoint, even racism; and particularly of late, racism against Jews.
I do not claim to know which came first –Israeliteindeed’s replacement theology (her belief that God retracted the covenantal promises He gave the Israelites and handed them instead to His Church), or her belief in pacifism. But whichever the case, both of these intertwined beliefs of hers are not supported by Scripture.
I have pointed out the errors of Israeliteindeed’s replacement theology many times over the last year, so I will focus now on her error of pacifism:
Israeliteindeed speaks about imitating the apostle Paul. Yet let’s look at his words in 2 Tim. 2:3 where he tells us to endure hardship “like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Why would Paul, if he was a pacifist, liken our service to Christ with that of a military servant? Paul goes on in verse 4: “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs –he wants to please his commanding officer.” Is there any mention of how (supposedly) evil it is to serve as an armed soldier? No, instead Paul insinuates that it is an honorable profession. In Eph. 6:10-17 where he compares our spiritual armory with that used in physical battle, there is no hint there either of any condemnation of it.
Let’s look at the passage where John the Baptist warns that those who do not repent “will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9) Different groups within the crowd, including some soldiers (v. 14), asked John what they should then do. (v. 10-14) What was John’s response to the soldiers? Did he say, “Oh, you soldiers are partakers of an ungodly, violent vocation and you must immediately quit. In fact, if you kill anyone, you are murderers and antichrist.” –? No, rather John told them, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely –be content with your pay.” (v. 14) It is very clear that John was advising them to be content and act justly, and that they could remain being soldiers.
What about what Jesus taught? When He taught us, as individuals, to “not resist an evil person” (Mt. 5:39), which, by the way, we should compare with His command to refrain from throwing our pearls before swine (7:6), did our Lord say, “Do not resist a nation or group which comes against another nation or group with selfish, unjust intent”? Did Jesus ever deny that a country has a right and a responsibility to protect its citizens or request an ally nation to help do so? Did Jesus ever teach that a king does not have the right to order his servants to protect his kingdom? No, instead many of Jesus’ words teach the opposite. In fact, if we read Luke 22:36, we can see that there are times when Christ will directly order even individuals to carry a weapon.
In John 18:36 when our Lord states that if His Kingdom was presently of this world, His servants would fight to prevent His arrest, Jesus also, in using the word “now”, alludes to the Day when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord” (Rev. 11:15), conquered by Him and “the armies of Heaven… riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” (19:14) We know these servants of Christ’s are the saints, for “(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” (v. 8 ) Therefore, when “the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and His army” (v. 19), the wicked were killed –physically killed. (v. 21) For “With justice He [Christ Jesus] judges and makes war.” (v. 11) Jesus makes war. And He does so even now from His throne in Heaven in order to restrain evil from accomplishing full rule. (Ps. 144:1,2 // Mt. 10:34 // Rom. 13:1-7 // 2 Thes. 2:7 // 1 Peter 2:13,14)
Let’s look at Jesus’ words in Luke 14:31,32 where, in teaching about wisdom and about total, complete commitment to Him, He says, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.” He then goes on to point out that any wise king would first evaluate his military power, and if found lacking, would quickly send a delegation to ask for terms of peace. By including such a word picture in His teachings, Jesus is treating war as a familiar, albeit unfortunate, part of human existence. In addition, He teaches that, although wars must happen throughout history, we are not to be alarmed by them (Mt. 24:6), and that we should keep in mind that when He came to earth, He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (10:34)
So did Jesus or the apostles ever condemn the profession of serving in the military, the police force, or any government position that uses weaponry to combat those who commit injustice and illegal acts? No. Instead we read the opposite in Scripture. Rom. 13:1-7 tells us to submit to governing authorities, and because all of them have been established by God (v. 1), to rebel against them would be to rebel against what God has instituted. (v. 2) It tells us that such authorities bear the sword as God’s servants (v. 4) and because they are God’s servants, we are to pay taxes and revenue so that they may be paid. (v. 6,7) Moreover, we are to honor them and pay them respect (v. 7), and contrary to what Israeliteindeed is propagating, allegiance to one’s governing authority that is trying to do good is not to be deemed “patriotic idolatry”. Rather it is called “submission”, and that “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13) –submission “to every authority instituted among men… [because they are there] to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (v. 13,14)
Consequently, as we read the Word of God, we can understand that those who carry (and use) weapons for the good of society are God’s servants. Should we then believe Israeliteindeed’s statements, or do we believe Scripture’s statements? Should we tolerate it when someone continues to disobey the LORD’s command, “Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people”? (Acts 23:5) Government rules. Those who speak with arrogance and animosity against it speak foolishly, exposing their rebellion against God Himself. They disclose how truly spoiled they are and show their ignorance about what huge sacrifices have been made so that they can live as well off as they do. Yes, the believer’s “citizenship is in Heaven” (Phil. 3:20), but while in the body, one’s citizenship is also within one’s earthly country, and everyone who enjoys the privileges of that country has a responsibility, “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13), to that country. (Titus 3:1)
Everyone who receives protection and other benefits because of one’s government, is, under God, required to contribute back to that government. If someone’s conscience does not allow for them to serve in roles where there exists a possibility that would necessitate the taking of a life, then that is a privilege a fair government affords. Nevertheless, to implement an enforcement that restrains evil and punishes evil-doers is a God-ordained role governments are responsible to fulfill and those who are willing to help with that should be appreciated and respected.
God’s Word repeatedly teaches that the law of justice is to be upheld. Back in Exodus God speaks about courts of law. In 21:23-25, He commands, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye… wound for wound…” This is not to be done by individuals taking revenge, but to be enforced by governing authorities as a way to hinder and punish wrong-doers. As Prov. 17:15 says, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent –the LORD detest them both.” God wants those who persecute the innocent, as well as all those who are guilty, to be punished, for “blows and wounds cleanse away evil.” (20:30) However, if righteous people give way to the wicked, they themselves can expect to become polluted. (25:26)
The Word of God is replete with positive words about those who are servants of justice and righteousness, making no distinction concerning those in military position. In Luke 7:9 we read of Jesus giving a high commendation regarding a centurion, saying, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Undoubtably, this centurion had at times passed on the order to reprimand lawbreakers with the sword (see v. 7,8), yet Jesus mentions nothing about any requirement of renouncing his military connection. We can also read about Cornelius, the centurion, who was “devout, God-fearing, generous to the poor, and who prayed to God regularly.” (See Acts 10:2) There was also “one of his soldiers who was a devout man” (v. 7) whom Cornelius (due to the command of an angel) sent with two others to ask Peter to come (v. 3-8) and tell them “everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” (v. 33) The Holy Spirit came on that large group whom Cornelius had assembled to hear Peter’s message (v. 24,27,44), yet Scripture mentions nothing about Cornelius being required to give up his military position “in what was known as the Italian Regiment.” (v. 1) If it was necessary that he or anyone else do so, would we not read of the command in Scripture? Instead, we often see Scripture commending soldiers.
The song of Deborah and Barak is one such place where Scripture honors warriors who defeated the foe. (Judges ch. 5) Jaal, who pierced Sisera’s temple and killed him (v.26,27) is blessed with highest blessing. (v. 24) But cursed –by “the angel of the LORD” (v. 23)– are the people of Meroz “because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.” (Same verse) The Word makes it clear that being God’s servant to war against evil –physically (as well as spiritually)– is an honorable task. Oddly, Israeliteindeed has told us not to use the accounts of Old Testament wars to mold our theology on this issue, yet we know that all Scripture is inspired and profitable for doctrine. (2 Tim. 3:16 // 2 Peter 1:20,21) Heb. 11:32-34 certainly upholds this Truth, for we can read there of those commended “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised.” We cannot allegorize this, for those being referred to are warriors specifically named. They are Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and we know all these were God’s servants whom God used at different times to defeat His enemies. As verse 34 says of them, “and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” For these accomplishments these people are commended in God’s Word.
It is shameful to incorrectly handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15) and it is eternally dangerous for such teachers and their listeners. (1 Tim. 4:16) Scripture, not one’s bias, must be used to interpret Scripture, and it must be done as led by the Spirit, not by men. There is a difference between verses such as Rom. 12:17 –“Do not repay anyone evil for evil” and that which says, a few verses later, “He [a governing authority figure] is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (13:4) Rightly dividing between “Blessed are the meek” (Mt. 5:5) and “Rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15) is important. Understanding the balance between “Love your enemies” (Mt. 5:44) and, “Rejoice, saints..! God has judged her for the way she treated you” (Rev. 18:20) is crucial. Truly, mishandling the Truth is to turn to meaningless talk (1 Tim. 1:6) and it is the outcome of those who esteem their own knowledge above God’s Word on the subject. (6:20,21)
In light of all this (as well as numerous other passages we could include from Scripture), there is no Biblical reason to disparage those who bear arms in order to thwart evil. Just as the Scriptures commend such servants of God, so should we. –Even though Israeliteindeed, and others who either influence her or applaud her, state the opposite.