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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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IS IT IN THE GENES?

Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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DUAL CITIZENSHIP!

Monday, August 21, 2017

PassportsOur oldest son was born in France.  This meant he had dual citizenship.  He would have a choice at 18 to remain an American citizen or reject it in favor of continuing to be a French citizen.

According to a modern belief, Christians have a dual citizenship.  According to scripture, we were “dead in trespasses and sin” in “this world,” because we were “the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).  Because we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were “delivered” “from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossian 1:13).  However, in this belief we retained our passport from the kingdom of darkness.  Why?  Because, we remain susceptible to sin.  The first time we sin after rising from that burial with Jesus, we leave his kingdom and its citizenship and returned to the Dark side!  We remain in that kingdom until we repent and pray to validate our citizenship in Jesus’ kingdom.  Once we do, it invalidates that first passport and reinstates the second one.  We are again the citizens of Light!  That is, until the next act of darkness (sin).

According to this view, our “dual citizenship” continues until the day we die.  According to human nature, it is a topsy-turvy life of travel between the two kingdoms.  There are periods when we spend more time on the Darkside than we would like to admit.  Sometimes, due to our ignorance, our passport is reinstated for that side without our knowing it!  Also, one may feel comfortable with the congregation has placed membership with, but unknown to him, there is a scriptural violation the church is involved in that no one is aware of.  The entire congregation has slipped back to the Darkside through the deception of the devil.  He embraces the entire assembly with glee!

Those in this view do their best each night to pray asking for forgiveness before they fall asleep.  If they are asked, “If you dropped dead suddenly, without an opportunity to ask for forgiveness, would you go to heaven,” most will reply, “I hope so.”  “Hope so” doesn’t mean “I know so.”  There is no real assurance with this view.  One is either going into this “power of darkness”, stuck in it, or in the process of leaving it.  However, life in the “Light” appears fleeting.

Preachers attempt to encourage the membership that holds this view, but it is difficult because of its lack of assurance.  They too are caught up in this problem.  Perfection is the required goal, but it is “the impossible dream”!  They try to boost morale by affirming that they are following the truth, whereas others are not.  They point out the error that others are engaged in.  Yet, gnawing away inside them is the suppressed thought, “We aren’t perfect.  Will our imperfection keep us out?”  Then the devil intervenes with, “No, your imperfections aren’t as bad as theirs!”  Doesn’t imperfection mean one has failed to gain perfection?  James tells us, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).  If one is justified only if he is perfect, but one’s imperfection invalidates that justification, wouldn’t it prove that the person is guilty of breaking the entire law?

The Christian is “dead” to sin (Romans 6:2).  In Christ, one is always in contact with his blood which continually keeps him cleansed from sin (1 John 1:7-10).   Jesus took our sins and in exchange, bestowed upon us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The Father never sees our sins because Jesus has already taken care of them.  We are not cast out of Jesus at each act of imperfection.  Jesus’ blood is mightier than any of our failures.  We don’t temporarily lose our citizenship in Christ and revert to Darkside citizenship until we repent and pray!  One doesn’t change his citizenship with each act committed.  However, if one chooses to reject the blood of Jesus, then there is nothing that will removed his sins.  When that happens, his rejection keeps him from having fellowship with the Father (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29)!  Are you a citizen of the kingdom of God’s dear Son?

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin(1 John 1:7).

OPINIONS ON SIN!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Free from Sin“A lie is a big sin, but a fib is a little one!”  “It is a sin to break the Sabbath by mowing your lawn on Sunday.”  “Adultery is a mortal sin, but foreplay is a venial sin.”  “Sin is in the eye of the beholder.  What is sin for you may not be sin for another.”

Are there “big” sins and “little” ones?  It is true that some sins have more consequences than others.  Therefore, they are “big” only in that sense.  Some “sins” are connected to a misunderstanding of the Bible and one’s culture more than being an offense against God.  The “Sabbath” is on Saturday, not Sunday.  God did not make Sunday “the Christian Sabbath.”  It is more a cultural offense than a biblical one to work on Sunday.  “Mortal” and “venial” are manmade designations, but if an action or thought is a sin, it is!  Man excuses his sins with fancy sayings, but if it is sin, it is in spite of the sinner’s explanation.  If it is sin in God’s sight, it remains sin no matter what argument is used to excuse it.

James informs us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10 NIV).  If God did classify some “stumbles” as “little” and others as “big,” one is still guilty of breaking all of God’s law, not just one!  There is a sin which is and a sin which is not unto death (1 John 5:16).  For example, would one ask God to forgive a wayward disciple who was happier being justified by animal sacrifices rather than Jesus’ blood (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29)?  One could pray that he would repent and return to the Lord, not that he would be saved while rejecting Jesus.

Paul tells us, “for all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).  Guess what?  We don’t stop sinning because we become believers!  We go from a lost sinner to being a saved one.  Since the wages of sin is “death,” how can that “saved” part be true?  The answer is, “the Good News”!  Notice Paul’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NIV).  Lost receives = wages of sin.  Saved receive = gift of eternal life!

We don’t deserve salvation.  But God’s love is greater than what we do not deserve (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-11, 18-21))!  No one was justified by keeping law.  Required?  Yes, to teach Israel to be obedient and also the impossibility of being perfect.  God sent His Word to become flesh and offer himself as our sin sacrifice (Hebrews 10:9-10).  We are saved by God’s grace through our total trust (faith) in Jesus as our Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He took all our sins upon himself and bestowed upon us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  We are clothed in Jesus (Galatians 3:26-228).  We die to sin (Romans 6:2).  You bury what is dead (Romans 6:3).  We are raised with Jesus that “we might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4 ASV).  Law does not justify us, unless we can reach and maintaining perfect obedience.  Those who think they do are liars (1 John 1:8, 10).  One sin destroys their bubble!  We are justified by faith in Jesus as Savior.  To repeat, justification by law keeping is possible ONLY if we keep it like Jesus did (Galatians 2:16)!  Reality confesses that we do not.

The wages of sin is death.  But, we are alive “in” Christ Jesus!  His blood cleanses us (1 John 1:7).  Our gift is eternal life, not the wages of sin (Romans 6:23b).  Why?  Because we are dead to sin and its payment. Our gift from God is continual cleansing and eternal life!   So, as a believer, “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1).  Why?  You are a saved sinner!  You have been bought and paid for (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23)!

WHOSE RIGHTEOUSNESS?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Our RighteousnessMost Bible believers understand that one is not made righteous by birth.  One is not made righteous because his parents or grandparents are Christians.  One is not righteous because his friends are Christians.  One is not righteous because he attends church every time the doors open.  One is not righteous, even if he drops more into the collection plate than any other person.  So, what make a person righteous?

Soon after I put on Jesus, a preacher spoke on the judgment.  He painted a verbal picture of one standing before the Lord.  However, he had us informing the Savior about our accomplishments to prove we had a right to receive heaven as our reward.  Things like teaching, visiting, baptizing, preaching, gospel meetings, VBS, and the lot were given to prove our case and that we deserved eternal life.  I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.  After all, doesn’t scripture tell us, “The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20 KJV)?  The more we do, the more righteousness we gain!  It almost like another slogan, “Your good deeds must outweigh your bad ones if you want to go to heaven!”

With time, questions arose.  “How much must I do to accumulate the right amount of righteousness?  What if I come up short?”  The answer given was, “We must depend upon God’s grace!”  If that is true, how much grace will I need if my righteousness comes up short?  How much grace will I need to supplement my lack of “faithfulness”?

If you have ever asked those questions you probably received this kind of answer.  “To be faithful, you must achieve what the Bible says is faithfulness.”  Yes, but what passages specifically outlines the things to be achieved?  Another question!  If one does not achieve that goal of reaching faithfulness, will he be lost?  If the answer is, “No, that person will not be lost,” then it infers that one does not have to reach faithfulness or soundness to go to heaven!  If the reply is, “Yes, one must reach biblical faithfulness to be saved,” then were the Jerusalem, Corinthian, Ephesian, and Sardis assemblies lost since they were in error?  The usual reply is, “They were being corrected.  So, each had to depend upon the grace of God while they were in the process of repenting!”  Yes, but while in that process, were they lost?  They weren’t “faithful” since they needed divine correction!  How much grace must be supplied until that “process” is completed?  May one person receive 55% while another must have 99%?  Where does scripture assure us that 1) we will receive this gap assurance and 2) that we will receive whatever percentage we need?  Will one who needs 99% receive it?  If not, where does scripture give us the specific “cutting off” mark?  Must one wait until the judgment to see what side of that unknown mark he is on?  If so, what joy is produced by such uncertainty?  It almost seems that Mark 16:16 should be, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved into uncertainty.”

If one, whose heart is right, offered to put $10,000 a week in the contribution plate, could he expect that good deed to guarantee him heaven?  What if he wrote the Gospel Advocate each week, announcing each time that he had taught and immersed 40 folks, could he expect his good deeds to guarantee him heaven?  What if he visited the hospital every day and made no less than 20 calls each time, would that help?  What if he counseled and saved hundreds of marriages, would that be his ticket?  What if he memorized the entire New Testament and had half the Old Testament committed to memory, would that help?  Wouldn’t all that be equal to 50%, matching Jesus’ blood shed upon the cross?  If not, how much more would he have to possess to make his righteousness equal to Jesus’ sacrifice?

We know we cannot buy our salvation with silver or gold.  But, somehow man believes he can help purchase it with his righteousness.  That righteousness is gained by his obedience to law.  Not just any law, but the law of Christ!  Through his works of obedience, he believes he is justified by law.  Therefore, all that he does must count for something!  This “gospel” equals a believer’s righteousness + Jesus’ righteousness = his deserved salvation.  This view rejects the biblical teaching that Jesus purchased us and he is our sin sacrifice (Acts 20:28).  Dying on the cross, he took ALL our sins upon himself, and in return, he poured out his righteousness upon us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  That purchase is a 100% paid gift from God!  Only God can save (Acts 2:41, 47).  Man needs it.  He does not help supply it.  Believing that we are co-partners with Jesus in purchasing a percentage of our salvation is ludicrous.  If we substituted “gold” for “our works of obedience” one would declare that belief to be false.  Yet, some believe “our works of obedience” will do what “gold” cannot accomplish!  Satan still deceives!

This “justification by a ‘lawful works’ gospel” is clothed in the thought, “we are just as righteous as we do”!  If that is so, how much righteousness must “we do” to have enough so we can know we have “made it”?  It goes back to how well we must keep law to be “lawful.”  Eighty-six years ago, the question was asked in The Gospel Advocate, “Can we be faithful in our imperfections?”  This goes back to the question I proposed earlier.  “Were the Jerusalem, Corinthian, Ephesian, and Sardis assemblies faithful despite their error?”  How perfect must one be, or the congregation he is part of, to be faithful?  Law, regardless of which one, demands perfection.  No error.  No sin.  No shortcoming.  No disobedience!  What is the penalty if one does not reach that perfection (Romans 6:23a)?  Who can boast of having reached it, much less maintaining it?  When one commits one law breaking act, what is he guilty of (James 2:10)?

The Good News is that despite our inability to live perfectly under law, God sent His Son to do it for us!  He became the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  On the cross, he took away all sins.  We receive that gift by believing Jesus is the only one who can save us.  He paid it all!  We paid nothing.  We are saved by grace through faith, not justified by keeping law.  Those who believe they are justified by keeping law, are saying they have matched Jesus’ perfection.  Perfection is the only way one can be saved by that system of salvation.

So, whose righteousness will you be wearing when you stand before Jesus in the judgment?  Yours, or his?

Church Building Christianity!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Church Building 2Have you ever stated, “That is a beautiful church”?  Most people do.  Yet, what is “the church”?  When Jesus said, “I will build my church” was he referring to a structure of brick, wood, and mortar (Matthew 16:18)?  If so, was that “beautiful church” built by Jesus himself?  A church building is not recorded in history until the fourth century!  The beginning of the church is recorded in Acts 2.  It is not built from finite materials, but by the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28)!  Surely Paul wasn’t referring to one built by man on the corner of some street?

Although the building of a house of worship is not wrong, there are some misunderstandings created about that building which are not biblical.  This article will discuss some.   First, we need to be aware of certain facts.

  • A church building is not found in your Bible.  It came into existence a few hundred years after the New Testament was completed.
  • Even though the church began with about 3,000 on the first day, they didn’t believe a building was necessary to their work or worship (Acts 2:40-47).  Preaching was done in the Temple courtyards, but disciples met for edification and fellowship in their homes as they broke bread and praised God (Acts 2:46-47).
  • Most buildings are financed by the 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 collection.  Yet, there is nothing in that passage which allocates buying property or building a house of worship.  The stated purpose of that collection was 1) for needy saints in another city and state, 2) it was not for local needs.  3) it was for benevolent purposes, rather than evangelism or edification.

One misunderstanding concerns how one is to enter that house of worship. Some believe that silence is required to show reverence to God. This attitude was formed because people assumed the building was “God’s house” and the room where members worshiped was God’s “sanctuary.”  Yet, such a view comes from an Old Testament practice rather than New Testament teaching.  Who is “the house of God”?  Paul informed Timothy that it was “the church of the living God(1 Timothy 3:15).  Jesus is the high priest over “the house of God(Hebrews 10:21).  Peter informs us that “the house of God” is “us” and the Hebrew writer does the same (1 Peter 4:17; Hebrews 3:6).  Paul also informs readers that a Christian is the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in him (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  The building is simply a gathering place for “the house of God” or “temple of God” to assemble in.  The house of God is not a building erected by man from brick, wood, and mortar.  Christians are that “house”!  Jesus purchased it (Acts 20:28).  That being true, to adopt a man-made rule that one must remain silent in the building where the house of God meets is a tradition based upon a misunderstanding of God’s word!

If silence is the standard for reverence, there is a contradictory problem!  The saint is the house or temple of God not the church building.  The Christian doesn’t have to enter the building to revere God, he should already be doing so because God continually dwells in him!  That being so, if silence is God’s standard for reverence, shouldn’t the Christian, as God house, be mute?  Since the Christian is God’s house, the building is only the edifice where the house assembles.  If the house of worship is God’s house, and silence is equal to reverence, we are not reverent toward God until we arrive at the building and maintain silence!  When some make the building into “a holy place” to worship, they make the same mistake the Samaritan woman did (John 4:19-20).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father(John 4:21). Some limit or restrict worship to a specific location! When we make the church building into a “holy place,” where we must go to be in the presence of God, we are reverting to a worship that became obsolete and vanished away (Hebrews 8:13)!  Christians are continually in the Father’s presence, not just 1-4 times each week.  We continually present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, not just one to four hours each week (Romans 12:1-2).  We may assemble with others to edify one another, but our worship must be prior to that assembly, while in it, and continue after we have been dismissed from it.  The idea that we “go to worship” at the church building assumes that our worship is to be limited to time and place.  It isn’t.  To fit that misunderstanding, different rules and practices have surfaced that lack biblical teaching!

Some believe they come into the presence of God when they enter the auditorium or “sanctuary.” This is the reason some believe it is wrong to talk or laugh prior to worship beginning because it defiles this “holy place.” In the first century, brethren met and ate in their homes.  If we went back to assembling where they did, would we still be defiling God’s house by eating a meal in the home of a member where we are breaking bread and praising God (Acts 2:46-47)?  Since “we” are continually “God’s house,” are we defiling God when we eat breakfast, dinner, or supper? As God house or temple, when we eat, isn’t it God’s house doing the eating?  If you don’t believe that, you are admitting that you are absent from God because you aren’t in His presence until you are in the church building?  Perhaps that’s why some believe they can use profanity elsewhere.  They believe they aren’t in God’s presence!Some make the argument that any secular activity is forbidden in the church building because only spiritual actions are allowed. We are told that the reason for this “law” is because the Lord’s money may not be used to purchase anything which is not a “spiritual matter.” This objection is not made when the church purchases paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper for the bathrooms.  Is visiting a bathroom a spiritual matter?  Some argue that the 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 collection may be spent only on evangelism, edification, and benevolence.  Yet, neither evangelism nor edification are mentioned in that passage.  In fact, spending that contribution on local evangelism, edification, or benevolence is not there either!  If one may add things to a passage that are not there, doesn’t that open Pandora’s box?  Of course, if that collection may be used only for those three things, then who will be the official church interpreters on what evangelism, edification, and benevolence includes or excludes?  How long or short would that man-made list be?  Would churches divide because one’s list is shorter or longer than another?

What about dress codes? When did the phrase, “Sunday’s best” begin? Was it in Acts 2?  When Peter stood up to preach, was he wearing a $400 suit, wingtip shoes, white shirt, and matching tie and socks?  If a person subscribes to “church building Christianity,” that would be the law of how he must be dressed to please God when he steps into the pulpit!  For some, their religious culture is dearer to them than what the Bible teaches.  When one’s religious culture is written in stone and demanded, he has gone beyond the teaching of God’s word.

Dress codes are not sinful, but when they become law, they are!  Most will deny that their rules are law.  Yet, if someone suggests a change, the walls are quickly erected and defended.  That defense claims it is biblical!  That defense is usually, “Dressing up in your best shows respect to God.”  If that is so, it leaves Paul and a host of others out because they were not married to our religious culture!  If the religious culture of Paul is binding, as some think theirs is, we would still worship at the Temple and in the synagogue as he did!  Manmade religious culture must not be bound!  Yet, some do.

Some argue,

“A suit shows respect to God.  If you visited the President of the United States, you would wear a suit.  Should one pay more respect to the President than to God?”

That sounds logical, doesn’t it?  However, wearing a suit to visit the President is a cultural thing, not a biblical law.  When Paul worshiped God, or stood before governor Felix, he wasn’t dressed any different than he did every day (Acts 24:1-10)?  The only dress code in the first century was applicable each day.  They were to be clothed with Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 13:12-14).  If those who are serving communion must wear a suit to show respect to God, why shouldn’t those being served be required to do the same?  Are the “suited servers serving disrespectful members?  Shouldn’t the audience also respect God?  Such man-made laws work both ways!  Such a “law” or “requirement” is equal to what is condemned in James 2:1-4.  One should wonder if the person wearing the suit, also has a servant’s heart?  Which one would God respect, the suit or the heart?  Isn’t James 2:1-4 being violated when a man who may not own a suit, but whose heart is right, is eliminated from serving?  What is being respected?  Isn’t it the suit?  What is the main qualification of one who serves on the table under such requirements?  Isn’t it, “He must wear a suit”?  Is any server asked about his heart?  Why not?  Isn’t that more important?

When did men start wearing suits to serve the Lord’s supper?  A Bible student knows that it grew out of a seventeenth century culture rather than a first century command.  When did congregations introduce “a table” into the assembly inscribed with the six words of Luke 22:19?  It wasn’t in the first century.  In fact, such furniture isn’t found in scripture any more than one would find a piano or an organ!  It is another “rule” coming from the creation of the church building.  When did the practice begin with men standing behind the table?  You will find a piano in the assembly before you find that practice.   If we were following the practice of Acts 2:46-47, we would still be meeting in multiple homes of members.  The atmosphere would have a more meaningful relationship than is found in the sanctuaries and auditoriums of the 21st century.  If ten or so saints were meeting in your home, would you require two or more men to pass the Lord’s supper?  If so, what passage would you produce to prove it must be done that way?  The way it is being done, regardless of the church you are in, originated from “church building Christianity”!  So, the “required” suit rule comes from men rather than God.

Jesus told the apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV Emphasis mine, RH). Jesus said, “love one another.”  How will the world know that we are his disciples?  The world often sees followers of Jesus displaying their “rules” to prove they are his disciples.  How many of those items would completely disappear if we followed first century Christians by meeting in different homes rather than owning a building?  Would Christianity fall apart if our congregations were owner-less?  These problems show how easy, with time, different rules are made “lawful.”

Please remember that I am not saying church buildings are sinful!   I am not saying we need to get rid of our buildings and go back to only house meetings!  I am simply pointing out how misunderstandings of biblical teaching often lead to the creation of manmade rules which lead to division.  We should learn the difference between what God has said rather than become slaves to rules introduced by man.  Especially those that have been elevated to law!

So, what are your views of a building where the church assembles?

OPINIONS ON THE LORD’S SUPPER

Monday, August 7, 2017

OpinionIt is interesting that some believe the only thing which may be said prior to partaking of communion is the dialogue found in the Lord’s supper passages.  If so, which one will we use since they are different?

THE BREAD

  • Take, eat; this is my body(Matthew 26:26 KJV).
  • Take, eat: this is my body(Mark 14:22 KJV).
  • This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19 KJV).
  • Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me(1 Corinthians 11:24 KJV).

Since both Luke and Paul use the expression, “this do in remembrance of me,” are we obligated to follow their wording?  If we must say those words each time, why didn’t Matthew and Mark tell their audiences to do it?  If there are a variety of statements, isn’t it left up to the judgment of the one who is presiding?  Paul stated what Jesus did and said, but no command is given requiring us to repeat a specific phrase (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  If so, which one?

THE CUP

  • Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28 KJV).
  • This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many (Mark 14:24 KJV).
  • This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you(Luke 22:20 KJV).
  • This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me(1 Corinthians 11:25 KJV).

Since Matthew records Jesus using several more words for the cup which are not contained in Mark, Luke, or Paul’s passages, did he add to the Bible?  Since Mark, Luke, and Paul have less dialogue, were they deleting from God’s word?  Matthew uses the expression “remission of sins,” but the others do not.  Those passages show that even the writers did not quote Jesus word for word.  Where does Jesus or the Spirit demand that the same event, when introduced, must be quoted word for word?  Wouldn’t that view be an assumption based upon one’s preferences rather than “a thus saith the Lord”?

Some argue that one must merge all four statements together to see what Jesus said.  Of course, that demand is made by people who live in a culture where we may purchase multiple copies of the Bible in several formats.  We also may have the Bible on our desktops, laptops, iPads, and iPhones!  Such was not the case in the first century.

Although copies of the 27 New Testament letters were circulated early, they were not bound as “The New Testament” for several decades after inspiration closed.  For example, the eunuch’s only scripture was Isaiah.  What would he know about the Lord’s supper, much less a dialogue used while instituting it?  Did God hold that against him?  What about those that were in possession of Matthew’s account but did not see Luke’s, Mark’s, or Paul’s for another ten to twenty years?

Some believe, to be scriptural, one must take all four accounts and merged them together and use that united statement in the communion.  Yet, where is the passage that makes that demand?  Where would such a rule leave the eunuch and many others?  What is being demanded is little more than the commandments of men.  That is condemned (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:1-19).

Other than Jesus making a few statements to introduce the symbolism of the loaf and cup, nothing is given as a prescribed dialogue illustrating what must be repeated prior to its serving.  According to Jewish custom, they were reclined around a table large enough for thirteen men.  They were in the process of feasting upon the Passover meal.  Each man had brought his own personal drinking cup for the Passover liquid.  The apostles had prepared the lamb according to biblical instructions.  During that meal, probably at the beginning, Jesus rose and washed their feet (John 13:1ff).  They had argued over who was the greatest.  Peter rebelled at Jesus washing his feet and later when the Lord was talking about his death.  Beginning with the third of four Passover cups, Jesus began to institute his memorial supper (Luke 22:14-20).  The bread that was eaten was unleavened loaves.  The fruit of the vine was the customary drink of the Passover feast.  During the Passover meal, as well as when Jesus instituted his communion, each broke off a piece from the loaf and passed it to the next person.

To demand actions during the Lord’s supper which scripture does not mention, is to make laws that God has not introduce.  It is true that in most churches that “do this in remembrance of me,” the “doing” isn’t following the specific way Jesus and the apostles observed it.  We don’t recline at a table.  We don’t argue about who is the greatest.  The one who presides at the table doesn’t wash our feet.  We don’t all meet physically around a table as they did.  We have a few “servers” meeting behind it but no one eats at it!  To make a piece of modern furniture into the “Lord’s table” misses the biblical point!  We don’t receive a loaf of bread, break off a portion for our self, and pass it.  We are served a plate with unleavened crackers or bite size squares called “bread” and we pass that plate to the next person on our pew.  We are not reclined at a table.  We have men who serve the elements to all who are present.  They didn’t, but simply passed along what was given to them.  Is the way we do it, wrong?  It would be if we demanded that others practice it “the scriptural way” as we are doing it!  When Christians focus on the communion ware, the small table, or the size of the elements, rather than what they represent, we may not be partaking of the Lord’s supper!

It is amazing how human beings will create rules and regulations as if they are the word of God!  Sadly, Phariseeism is not dead.

CULTURE OR SCRIPTURE?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him(Psalm 89:7 NKJV).

Culture or ScriptureCulture, tradition, comfort zone, like or dislike, judgment, habit, and opinions are our world!  We may not recognize it, but those things are often part of our standard in reading the Bible.  One of my Facebook friends had a link to an article, “The Truth About Dressing.”  The production was A+.  The preacher’s message was filled with scripture.  Passages from the first covenant were nicely woven in with some from the second one.  Yet, his interpretation was based more upon the culture of the nineteenth through the twentieth century than it was with the Bible!  It sounded biblical because passages were displayed and quoted.  But his application wasn’t.  The context of the passage employed was missing!  The passage above was one of them.

His lesson was concerning “how” one “must” dress in “the assembly” to show “reverence” to God.  The passage in Psalms was followed with, “Do not draw near this place.  Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground(Exodus 3:5 NKJV).  He also used, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’” (Exodus 19:10 NKJV).  Honesty in interpretation demands consistency in application.  One of the first questions to be asked is, “Are these passages referring to a person wearing a two or three-piece suit in the church building for the purpose of showing reverence to God?”

If the expression, “the assembly of the saints” is referring to the Sunday morning assembly in 2017, then the rest of the context does too!  The preacher has inserted his assumptions on what is bound as “reverence”!  He discards the rest!  He must, because that information doesn’t fit his interpretation.  He believes reverence is based upon suits and ties.  If his assumptions are God’s command, then “clothing police” should be stationed at the building entrances to turn away all not fitting his interpretation.  If such disciplinary actions are not taken, why wouldn’t the elders and congregation be guilty of allowing folks to enter who do not fear the Lord!  Isn’t what they wear the standard for showing reverence according to that interpretation?  If not, then what is his point?

Notice Exodus 3:5.  God told Moses to take his shoes off because he is standing on holy ground.  If this passage applies to today’s assemblies, then all suited men must take off their shoes!  The preacher adds suits and ties to the passage which isn’t there, but deletes from it what is!  Is deleting showing reverence to the God?  Since the preacher believes this passage applies to actions in the church building, one must ask if he believes the building where saints assemble, is “holy ground”?  That which is holy are saints cleansed in the blood of Jesus, not the building?  In Exodus 19 he uses “wash their clothes” to mean suits and ties must be worn to show reverence.  Perhaps it means one is not consecrated to God if he has his suit dry cleaned!?  Shouldn’t it be washed, rather than dry cleansed, if that is what God demands to show reverence?

Moses was told to take off his shoes to show reverence.  I’m sure when we stand before Jesus in judgment, we will be fearful and/or reverent.  Wouldn’t that mean we must be wearing our “Sunday best” there, with our shoes removed?  What if we aren’t?  What if we are in bed asleep when judgment comes?  Will Jesus judge us for being irreverent?  I don’t sleep in a two or three-piece suit, do you?

Christians are God’s house (Hebrews 3:6).  We are God’s temple and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  We don’t have to go to Jerusalem or Samaria to be in God’s presence (John 4:19-24).  We don’t have to wait until Sunday at 11 am to worship.  We can talk with God (worship) every second of the day (Romans 12:1).  Whether we are in work clothes, pajamas, or in a two or three-piece suit, reverence is based upon the heart, not upon culture, opinion, assumptions, human judgment, comfort zone, like or not like, habit, or opinion.  If a Christian isn’t reverent before God 24/7, wouldn’t his faith be questionable?  Why limit “being reverent” to the “assembly of the saints,” to a few hours each week, or even whether one is dressed in his “Sunday’s best”?

Culture, tradition, comfort zone, like or dislike, judgment, habit, and opinions are our world!  We may not recognize it, but those things are often part of our standard in reading the Bible.

ALL SCRIPTURE?

Monday, July 31, 2017

All ScriptureIn Matthew 8:28, two men are possessed by demons in the country of Gadarenes (KJV).  However, in Mark 5 and Luke 8, only one is mentioned.  Most seem to prefer Mark and Luke’s account rather than Matthew’s.  Inspired writers sometimes focused on a narrower view than another due to the audience being addressed.  Matthew simply gives us a fuller picture.  Using Mark or Luke’s account isn’t taking away from what Matthew records, unless one teaches that Matthew was correct and Mark and Luke were in error!  It would also be wrong to teach that two writers negate Matthew’s account because two outweighs one.  If that thinking is true, then the majority always invalidates the smaller number!

We have another biblical case similar to the Matthew vs Mark and Luke account.  This time an activity is mention by three writers, but a fourth adds something they did not  mention.  So, is it a three against one scenario?  If so, what do we do with the “one”?  Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the one to add something, but inspired the other three to leave it out?  Since the three didn’t add it, does that mean we are authorized to reject the fourth writer’s material?  Doesn’t three trump one?  What is this three to one subject?  It is Luke’s account of the Lord’s supper which contains more information than Matthew, Mark, or Paul.  Paul offers the shortest amount of dialogue from Jesus.  All but Paul introduce the Passover meal as the setting for this event.  According to Jewish history in Jesus time, four cups of wine were consumed by participants during that meal.  Each person brought his personal cup.  Wine was poured into each cup following the consumption of the one before.  Luke covers the last two.  The others deal only with the last of the four Passover cups.

Luke’s first cup is the third cup of the Passover meal.  Before it is consumed by those at the table, he states to the apostles,

Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:15-18 NKJV).

This is followed by the serving of the bread.  Then Jesus takes the number four Passover cup and refers to its contents as his blood.

Notice Matthew and Mark’s statements which are parallel with Luke’s.  In Luke’s account, the statement is made by Jesus before the bread is offered.  In Matthew and Mark, it is made after the fourth cup, which is the second or last one mentioned by Luke.  All three mention the same statement, but Matthew and Mark place that statement after the Passover’s fourth cup whereas Luke has it after the third such cup.

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom(Matthew 26:29 NKJV).

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God(Mark 14:25 KJV).

Luke has two cups involved, whereas Matthew, Mark, and Paul only have one.  Luke has a specific statement by Jesus after the first cup and before the bread is served.  Paul does not mention the statement.  Matthew and Mark have that statement after the only cup they refer to, which puts it after the bread has already been served.  Is this a contradiction?

Is Luke giving the full picture, as Matthew 8 does in showing two men were among the tombs in chapter eight?  Mark and Luke only speak of one.  In Luke 22 he is giving the full story with two cups being introduced, whereas Matthew 26, Mark 14, and 1 Corinthians 11 give the reader the shorter version?

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire different men and have them to record different circumstances?  He inspired Matthew, Mark, and Paul to refer to Jesus using only one cup.  He inspires Luke to tell us about two.  He inspired Matthew, Mark, and Luke giving them Jesus’ words on not drinking that cup again until . . .!  Yet, two of the three are inspired to put that statement with a later cup!  God does not contradict Himself.  So, why the difference?  Perhaps there is a cultural understanding on this subject as there is on the subject of two or one among the tombs of Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8.  If we understand that difference, there is no problem.

It is interesting that the expression “he took the cup” is found in Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, and 1 Corinthians 11:25 representing his blood.  The word “cup” may also have reference, not to the vessel, but to the fruit of the vine contained in it!  Notice these passages with that understanding.

And he took the fruit of the vine, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins(Matthew 26:27-28 KJV).

And he took the fruit of the vine, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.  And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many(Mark 14:23-24 KJV).

After the same manner, also he took the fruit of the vine, when he had supped, saying, This fruit of the vine is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me(1 Corinthians 11:25 KJV).

In Matthew’s account Jesus commands all of them to drink from that cup.  Some believe that one container must be used to serve the communion.  However, each person brought their personal container to the Passover feast.  Matthew is referring to what was in Jesus cup which they were all to partake of, but from their own personal cups.  The emphasis is not upon a drinking vessel, but what is in that vessel.  Look at Luke’s statement using that phrase rather than the word “cup.”

And he took the fruit of the vine, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. Luke 22:17-18 (KJV)  . . .   Likewise also the fruit of the vine after supper, saying, This fruit of the vine is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you(Luke 22:20 KJV).

Rather than two containers being used as part of the Lord’s supper, the quote is moved and applied to the Lord’s supper or one partaking.  It may be that Jesus used that same statement with Passover cup three and also four.  Luke records it used before the bread with that consumption, whereas the other three record Jesus’ second use after the fourth Passover cup.

Would it be wrong if a congregation decided to follow Luke’s outline and have the fruit of the vine with the 22:18 statement, then the bread, and finally the fruit of the vine to represent the remission of our sins?  Perhaps it’s in the same category as to whether one preaches about one or two men among the tombs!  After all, the Holy Spirit inspired it and God must only say something once for it to be so.

THE BIBLE ONLY?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Bible OnlyHarvey Pearson and I collided with one another in 1957.  He was the Central Church of Christ preacher in Ada, Oklahoma.  I was a “licensed” preacher with another church.  Before leaving Ada for Memphis, Harvey gifted me with this slogan, “Don’t accept something because I say it, accept it because you find it in the Bible.”  Not too long after that, I read another slogan almost similar.  “We teach the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”

As the years passed, I noticed that some writers and speakers would back up their arguments, not with scripture, but statements by uninspired notable brethren.  It is a common fault.  When a human statement is used to prove a specific interpretation, we need to question the validity of that claim!  Anyone can make a claim, but claims are not our final authority.

After Acts 10, Gentile congregations began to appear.  In Acts 15, James introduced a solution that affected both Jewish and Gentile assemblies.   Jewish assemblies continued to be zealous for the Law of Moses (Acts 21:20-26).  Gentile assemblies were not required to follow that Law which included its worship and divine traditions.  However, in mixed assemblies of Jews and Gentiles, a problem developed over these different practices.  Paul addressed some of it in Romans 14.

Imagine how the convictions of a Jewish Christian could be offended by a Gentile brother?  The Gentile means well, but invites the church to his home after services and serves pork and catfish.  No kosher food is available.  Should the Jewish members pull a Simon Peter and say “NO” (Acts 10:13-16)?   If he did, would that refusal offend the Gentile brethren?  If so, what then?  Should the Jewish brethren bring out their scriptures to prove that eating unclean items was scripturally forbidden?  Should they not show Gentile brethren that such servings is offensive and contrary to their biblical convictions (Romans 14:23)?  How long did confrontations like this continue until Paul wrote Romans 14?  Did those confrontations continue after reading it?  Yes, congregations had inspired prophets, but so did Corinth and look at their mess!  Both Jew and Gentile saints had scripture that justified their position!  Christian Jews were justified by the Law of Moses in their refusal to eat pork and catfish.  Gentile saints were justified in devouring both foods because their epistle released them from that Law!   Both felt God was on their side.  Their differences were basically over what God had given to each.

Today, we get upset over a lot of things.  The claim is usually made that something isn’t biblical.  Yet, the differences are not over what the scriptures say, but based more upon tradition and human judgment than actual Bible statements.  For many it is, “I like,” “My opinion,” “I’m not comfortable,” “My preacher says,” “My parents believe,” “the majority believes,” “my church teaches,” “my Bible is silent on that,” “in our judgment,” “I don’t like the direction we’re going,” “I don’t agree with,” “I’m fed up with,” and “the Bible may teach it, BUT. . .”

Before the 19th century ended, there were congregations which desired to follow the ancient order.  Being “ancient” meant rejecting the inventions and traditions of men.  If it originated from men, it wasn’t from God.  Division erupted because things were introduced “which we’ve never done before.”  Rather than Jews and Gentiles, it became “Conservatives” and “Innovators.”  Conservatives claimed to be holding to the “old paths,” whereas those who accepted the “innovations” were not.  Being “conservative” was identified as the ancient order.  Those on the left were liberals or digressive.  Today, due to multiple divisions in all flavors of Christianity, we have folks on our left and right.  Right, left, or middle, all identify themselves to be following the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible!

So, the slogan I was given in 1958 was, “Don’t accept something because I say it, accept it because you find it in the Bible.”  Who said that?  It wasn’t Jesus, Paul, or any other inspired writer.  In fact, I know of no book, chapter, or verse that contains that specific slogan.  Most slogans or creeds usually fall short of their intended purpose.  There is one fact that is clear.  We are excellent in restoring the divisions of 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and  justifying that restoration as New Testament Christianity!

HOW PERFECT ARE YOU?

Monday, July 24, 2017

PerfectionA group stood on a 1,600 year foundation of biblical history.  They could quote the prophets coming and going, backward, and sideways.  The Messianic view they held was holding steady at number one!  They stood upon the shoulders of priests, scribes, and knowledgeable scholars.   Their parents, grandparents, and all the way back to Abraham were their legacy.  There was no way they could be wrong.  That is, until they tried debating an individual that was “full of faith and power” (Acts 6:8).

What happens when you believe you have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but you can’t “resist the wisdom and the Spirit” of your opponent (Acts 6:10)?   The simple solution?  You destroy his credibility!  “Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’” (Acts 6:11 NKJV)!  You add more charges, “For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”  (Acts 6:14 NKJV).  You prove your view is the majority one and his isn’t!  Once you’ve convinced others that the charges are true, you’re in the winner’s circle.  Your pseudo-truth triumphs!

Not many make a conscious decision to be like the synagogue mentioned in Acts 6:9.  Yet, even though we believe we have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, no one has perfect knowledge.  There is that possibility of being wrong on something.  The first congregation lack the proper understanding of Jesus’ commission for a decade or more and refused to share the good news with Gentiles (Mark 16:15).  Paul didn’t think Barnabas’ decision was “good,” so they parted company after a “sharp” exchange (Acts 15:39).  Peter had to be rebuked by Paul (Galatians 2:11-14).  Whether we admit it or not, we’re no different.

Sometimes people believe they are following the truth, but upon examination, it originated from man rather than God.  The problem is, that discovery is not made by some who continue to believe their position is valid.  Peter was convinced that it was against the Law of God to eat unclean meat (Acts 109-16)!  Evangelistic members of the New Testament church zealously taught Gentile Christians that they needed to be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:1,5).  Members of the church of God in Corinth thought is was okay to denominate (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  Some members in that congregation did not believe in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12).  The church in Jerusalem had a sect within it called Pharisees (Acts 15:5).  Imagine that!  Also, that congregation was filled with members, like Paul, who continued to be zealous for the Law of Moses.  They continued in the worship and practices of that zeal (Acts 21:24). Yet, God’s grace was abundant.  These citations illustrate the fact that even inspired individuals could make mistakes, be in error, and yet continue to be covered by the blood of Jesus.  Although perfection wasn’t possible, faithfulness was!

When one comes before Jesus at the judgment, he will not possess bargaining power!  One’s demands will evaporate.  Argumentation will be futile.  Reasons will be exposed as useless excuses.  One’s boasting of self perfection will be regretted.  Nothing will count except the blood of Jesus.  If our faith has not led us to be cleansed by it, we will remain in our sins!    Unless our obedience was based upon what Jesus did for us, it will be bankrupt.  So, how perfect must your perfection be, to be perfect enough to save you???  Reality warns us that our pseudo perfection doesn’t save.  Jesus does!  He is the Salvation of Yahweh!  So, where is your trust (faith)?  Is it in your ability to save yourself by your perfection, or is it in the perfection of Jesus?

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