Tag Archives: Jesus

Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

No, I’m not the anti-Christ, but I can already hear the backlash simply from the post title alone.  However, I’m serious.  Don’t do it.  Don’t ask Jesus into your heart.  Maybe I should explain…wrong-way-go-back

I’ve heard it said many times, by many different preachers, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart…”  That’s what Christians refer to as an “alter call”.  It’s the time at the end of the service that is usually reserved to see if someone needs to be saved – to “ask Jesus into your heart and be the Lord of your life.”  You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  Aren’t we supposed to see people saved?”  Absolutely.  Salvation is number one, yet the way that the vast majority of preachers go about it is all wrong un-Biblical.  That’s right: asking Jesus into your heart is un-Biblical.

Case in point: Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is how someone is saved.  I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says to ask Jesus into your heart or any other concoction of words to give us warm fuzzies.  Paul out of his own mouth to the Corinthians in 1:2 that he was determined to deal with one subject only: Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In fact, Acts 3:5; 4:10; 13:30; 13:34; 17:31, Romans 4:24; 6:4;6:9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:21 – just to name a few, all deal with Jesus being raised from the dead!  I’d say that the resurrection was a pretty big deal.  It has to be.

That’s the true Gospel.  The true good news is that Jesus was crucified – in that he took on all of our sins while on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is NOT residing in your heart.  If, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, Jesus was never raised from the dead, then we are all still in our sins.  If we are still in our sins then we are in an “un-saved” state, still separated from God.

If, in fact, the way to salvation is through believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with your mouth that he is Lord, then what about the millions who have only “asked him into their heart?”  I don’t know.

That’s right.  I don’t know.  And I’m not afraid to say that.  I don’t know their hearts and I don’t know what was revealed to them at that moment.  Maybe they did get the revelation of what Jesus did at that moment regardless of how the preacher called it.  I don’t know, nevertheless, that doesn’t make the scriptures any less true.  We were told the way of salvation and we shouldn’t make up our own way.  An inconvenient truth doesn’t make it any less the truth.

So why do people do it the other way?  Why is it presented as asking Jesus into your heart?  Because it’s more warm and fuzzy that way.  It sounds so cuddly, who wouldn’t want to respond to that?  Slap some butter or frosting on it and who could resist?  <–Sarcasm.

Well, I know my answer is going to cause a ruckus, but we can thank the devil for that.

Think about it.  The devil has crept into the “church” and convinced people to do things a certain way because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ahhh…tradition.  It’s a killer.  Jesus told the most religious people of his day that tradition nullifies the word of God.  The devil doesn’t want us to change what we are doing, and if he can’t get us to be stagnate, then he’ll convince us of small changes in the way we do things so they no longer line with the Word of God.  If you think the devil doesn’t know scripture, you’re wrong.  He was around when it was being written.  If he could convince us to do something that would render the power of God of none effect, don’t you think he’d try it?

Am I splitting hairs?  Being too picky?  Or whatever else?  Yes.   Yes, I am.  This involves THE most important thing a person will ever choose.

Look, even if it’s not the devil that’s caused this different way of salvation, it’s still a different way no matter what. It’s not the way it’s presented in the Bible.  Shouldn’t that be enough …shouldn’t that be enough for us as Christians to re-examine how we do things?


Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 2

Although I diverted a few times since I introduced this topic, I decided it was time to revisit it.  I introduced a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about is who Jesus really was.  Not who we “think” he was or who people make Him out to be, but who the Jesus of the Bible was and what He actually did and said.  I personally use this approach for everything I believe and teach.  If there’s something I believe and it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then I must be wrong.  You shouldn’t lower the Bible to match what you believe or have experienced, nor base what you believe on what someone else has experience..  We must believe God to raise our experiences to match the Bible.

Maybe this should be a separate topic, but I think there’s something that needs to be established before we really hit this hard.  The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels, were all written after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.  However, those books were recording accounts BEFORE Jesus died, rose and ascended.  What I mean is that we often read the words and works of Jesus as if they were New Testament things.  They weren’t!  Jesus lived under the Old Testament law, spoke in regards to Old Testament promises, yet at the same time revealed things that were going to change as a result of his pending death and resurrection.  With those thoughts in mind, we really need to be careful of how we interpret what Jesus spoke.  Not all of what Jesus said is applicable to Christians today.  Yes, I just said not everything Jesus said should be applied to us today.

Now, before you call me the anit-Christ, you really need to re-read what I just got done explaining.  Jesus spoke as one under the “law”, the old covenant, that was based on performance.  We are under a different covenant that is based upon grace – the finished work of Jesus.  Once Jesus had died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the new covenant was then in effect, negating the old covenant or the “law” as many call it.  That being stated, if we are no longer under that covenant, then things spoke up under that convent are not necessarily applicable to us who are under a DIFFERENT covenant.  Can we glean truth, instruction, correction and guidance from things spoke under the Old Convenant?  Of course, and we should.  We just have to be careful not to apply certain things to our lives since we are not living under the same laws.  Clear as mud?  I’ll probably elaborate on that in the near future, but I really need to get back to the topic at hand.

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to a world view of Jesus, is that people will try to say that Jesus preached “love and acceptance”.  OK, let me rant here for just a minute.  We really need to watch out for and correct those who claim to know what Jesus taught, yet they never step foot in a church or have read a Bible consistently.  How could you possible know who Jesus was or what he talked about if you’ve never met him?  Simple…you can’t.  So suffice it to say, Jesus never preached love and acceptance.

Matthew 4:17          •Matthew 4:23          •Matthew 9:35          •Mark 1:14-15          •Luke 5:31-32          •Luke 24:46-47

So after reading those scriptures, would you say Jesus preached love and acceptance?  No, and those were just a few examples.  In fact, out of 154 times the word Kingdom is used in the New Testament, 121 of those times it appears in the Gospels.  The vast majority of those times Jesus is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven typically in a parable.  Why were these issues so prevalent in his teachings?  Glad you asked…

The first time that Jesus is recorded using the word “repent” is in Matthew 4:17.  In the Greek, it simply means to “change one’s mind”.  In other words, Jesus said, “Change your way of thinking because the Kingdom of Heaven has come to join you.”  For thousands of years, Israel had thought a certain way.  They had been trained to think about the Kingdom in a particular manner, in a literal sense.  That the Messiah was going come and establish the Kingdom literally and overthrow the Roman government.  Jesus came to tell them they were wrong.  How they had interpreted things were wrong.  That wasn’t very popular at the time.  In fact, it’s not popular now…to tell people how they have been thinking is wrong will not win you any friends in this day and age; especially if we talked to them how Jesus talked to some of the most “religious” leader of his day.  He branded those leaders as “hypocrites” and he said the were like white-washed graves that appeared nice on the outside, but inside were full of decay and deceit.  He said they were the blind leading blind and they both would fall into a pit.  Needless to say, Jesus was not pleased how the “leaders” of his day were representing the Kingdom.  All the more important for Jesus to introduce a new way to think about Kingdom.  (I cannot do it justice here or can I do as it as thorough as necessary, so I would encourage you to look into the book series that Miles Munroe has written that called Kingdom Principles and others titled similar to it.)

People will also use the incident with the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example of Jesus accepting people and probably to justify themselves in what they are doing wrong.  I wouldn’t say that he accepted her for who she was, but rather didn’t condemn her for who she was or what she had done.  Even when Jesus sent her away, he specifically said to her, “Go and sin no more.”  He in no way shape or form approved or accepted her lifestyle.  In fact the opposite was true: he told here to stop doing it.  Those who are living a sinful lifestyle today will do so under the guise that Jesus is OK with how they choose to live and who they choose to love.  He is most certainly not.  In fact, he would do today as he did back then…tell them to stop.  Would he condemn them?  No.  Should we?  No.  However at the same time, we don’t have to accept what they do as right and if we are branded as bigots or anything else they choose to brand us, then we are in good company because if they call us a bigot then they are calling Jesus a bigot.

How about the this incident in John 5:1-14?  Did he seriously just say what I think he said?  Oh, no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  He basically told that man, his infirmity was a result of his sinning and if he continued to do so, he would suffer something worse.  Can you imagine the backlash if we told someone with some type of debilitating disease that it was their sin that caused it?  I really think they might legalize stoning for that!  Yet, I’m supposed to believe Jesus preached love and acceptance?  I NEVER read Jesus telling anyone to “do what makes them happy” or any type coddling response to peoples sin.

Jesus did not accept sinful lifestyles.  Did he love those who sinned?  Absolutely.  Was he OK with their lifestyles?  No.  Should we love those who sin?  Absolutely.  Should we be OK with those lifestyles?  No, nor do we have to accept other people’s or “society’s” standard of what is right and wrong.  We have an absolute standard from the Word of God and that’s the one I’ll accept even if it’s inconvenient.  At the same time, it does not absolve us of our duties to love others as Jesus did.  Jesus never shoved his finger in someone’s face and spewed “SINNER!” all over them.  He did, however, correct those that were in need of correction and said what needed to be said regardless of who it would offend.

Don’t accept anyone version of Jesus if it does not line up with only true one.




Hearing From Heaven

Well, it’s been a while since my last post.  For all of you avid readers out there, I do apologize.  I was on vacation for a week in September and then there’s been some staffing changes at work, and my college classes have been taking up a little more time lately, so I haven’t had as much “free time” to post.  That’s more info than I usually post about myself, but I’d thought I’d explain my abrupt absence, but enough about me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has decided to post something in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Let me start by saying that was not God.  God was not the author of that incident.  It wasn’t the LORD trying to get our attention, nor was it a way to bring us closer to Him.  Who would want to serve a God like that?  Not me and I don’t.  Now, go ahead.  Quote all the Old Testament scriptures you can find to try and convince me otherwise.  Go ahead and quote Job.  All your attempts will be futile and time would fail me to list all the ones I know you’d use.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.  For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.  How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?  And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:10-14

The problem with trying to attribute this tragedy to God is the fact that we are under a different covenant than those in the Old Testament.  The Law no longer applies to us.  God is not dealing with us based on our performance.  He is dealing with us based upon what Jesus did for us.  His blood was the perfect offering that washed sin away forever.  You see, Jesus fulfilled the OT law and through Him, God is at peace with man.  Unfortunately, we still live in a fallen world.  The Bible says in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  Due to Adam’s transgression, sin entered into the world.  Death is a fruit of sin and as a result, it has corrupted everything from it’s original intent and purpose.  Sin is still in this world and it is still bringing forth death.

Things happen in this world that are not God’s will.  Many people claim that nothing happens but what is God’s will.  They say things like “thy will be done” and “the LORD gives and the LORD takes away”.  If God was in full control and nothing happens except what He wills, then why wouldn’t he just simply take sin away?  Why wouldn’t he just take us all to heaven now and be done with it?

People pray what Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:10, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  They do so when tragedy strikes.  Yet they know not what they are praying.  These same people will admit they don’t believe there is death, nor pain, nor sickness in heaven, that everything is perfect in heaven.  And it is.  But look again what Jesus prayed.  He prayed for God’s will to be done in the earth just like it is in Heaven.  If God’s will is perfect health, joy, peace and love in heaven, then that’s got to be His will for the earth, but we sure don’t experience those things 24/7.  The only logical answer is that things happen on earth that are not His will.  God left control of this earth to man in Genesis and He never revoked that decree.

God still speaks today.  I know God tried to warn people before this happened.  I know He tries to warn people before anything bad happens.  There’s not a father here on earth that wouldn’t warn their children if they were in danger.  How much more our Heavenly Father?  The problem is no one is listening.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”  20 children getting killed is not God’s idea of a good gift.  And I’d like to punch anyone who says otherwise.

When I was on my way home from South Dakota this last September, I was filling up my tires at a gas station before getting on the interstate to go home.  As I was checking the tire pressure, the passenger side front tire was only about 1 psi short.  I initially ignored it since I knew it wouldn’t affect anything being that close to where it should be.  As soon as I passed by it, I heard God speak to me (not an audible voice, but in my heart).  He simply said, “Fill it up.”  I just about didn’t, but I decided to anyway.  It took all of 10 seconds to do.  I finished up and hopped on the interstate.  Within a half our, about a quarter mile or so ahead of me, I saw a deer cross the interstate and a semi hit it.  I got to that point in the road about 1o seconds later.  If I would’ve ignored that unction, it would’ve been me hitting that deer at 75 mph.  At that speed, the potential would’ve been there for it to come up over the hood and through the windshield killing both myself and my daughter.

I share that because God warned me.  Not because I’m so special, but I heard Him because I was listening and I believe He wants me to live a long full life.  Most people don’t hear Him simply because they don’t believe that He is still speaking.  Unfortunately, they’ve probably heard that from the a church pulpit.

James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

We have a very real enemy, satan.  It doesn’t matter if you believe he exists or not.  In fact, he’d prefer you didn’t believe he exists.  That way he can wreak havoc in your life and you’ll blame God for it out of your ignorance.  Satan, like any criminal, is an opportunist and a bully.  He preys on the weak.  If a criminal knows someone can and will probably defend themselves, chances are they won’t mess with that person.  If they are sure you can’t defend yourself, you are a prime target.  Why do you thing there’s so much fraud surrounding the elderly?  Easy targets.  The devil is no different.  He doesn’t play fair.  He doesn’t care if you are 8 or 80.

Let not our prayers be in vain surrounding this horrific event in the form of asking God why He let this happen or why He caused this.  We need to be seeking God to show us how we missed the warning signs.  We need to be asking God to show us how to prevent things like this from happening.  We need to turn down the volume of distractions in our lives, be still and know He is God.

He is speaking to you today.  Right now.  Can you hear His voice?

Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 1

Yes, once again, it’s time for a series.  I think it’s nearly impossible to coverany particular topic in one post, yet at the same time too much can be a bad thing as well.  What I mean is overload.  Take general college classes for example, of which I am taking a few.  I can only read in one text-book on one subject for so long before I have to change my focus.  I think the same thing is true when it comes to blog posts.  Yes, I did six posts on speaking in tongues, but that didn’t nearly cover everything there is to say on that topic, nor am I completely finished.  It was enough to chew on for now and now it’s time to chew on something different.

There is a big misconception amongst Christians and non-Christians alike as to who Jesus was, along with what he actually did and taught.   There is a very skewed perception on Jesus that needs to be straightened out.  Let’s not look at my opinion or anyone else’s.  I think it’s time to actually look at the definitive source for all things Jesus…THE BIBLE!

There are a lot of things that people claim Jesus did that’s not in the Bible.  There’s a lot of misquotation surrounding what He said.  Much of what people get right when they quote Him is taken out of context.  Call me picky, but if I’m going to affirm or rebuke someone or myself, I want to make sure I have the correct scriptures taken in the right context to back me up.  Although there is a TON of scriptures that are misused and abused, I’m going to focus specifically on Jesus for now.

You see, the world (and many Christians) want to make Jesus out to be someone He wasn’t.  They want to make Him out to be someone who fits their lifestyles and choices.  They tailor Him to meet whatever they need Him to be so they can tell Christians that we need to be more like Him.  They are right about one thing.  We need to be more like Jesus.  We just need to be more like the REAL Jesus.

Christians are doing the same.  They are changing who He was to fit their agendas.  We so easily neglect that many of the people Jesus rebuked were the most religious people of His time.  We can’t pick and choose who we make Jesus out to be.  He is who He was and the Bible is very clear on that.  We can’t make Jesus to be someone He wasn’t.  Well, I guess we can if we so choose, but to do so would be an affront to the LORD.

Just so I’m clear, I will be pointing the finger at “sinner” and “saint” alike.  In fact for that reason, I’ll be pointing the finger at us first.  After all, He did say to take the beam out of our own eye before trying to remove the spec from our brother’s eye.  Yes, that was taken in context.

Well, this turned out to be more of an introduction than anything.  At least for those of you who read, you’ll know what’s coming up.  I do invite comments if there’s anything in particular that you feel has been an area where Jesus has been misrepresented.  It’s time for the real Jesus to be known.

Judging Others

I read something someone wrote the other day on a blog.  (I’m not going to link to the blog nor mention their name because neither of which are of any intrinsic value to what I’m writing about today.)  In it, was a quote that I’ve seen going around lately.  Here it is:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” – Harlan Ellison

I’m figuring they got the quote off of Facebook, because that’s where I’ve seen it plastered the most.  The person that posted it had something to say concerning the quote.  They said, “No one is entitled to tell someone else what they are entitled to or to determine the level of someone else’s ignorance. Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves.”  The last two sentences really got my theological juices flowing.  Is that true?  Are we not supposed to judge others or ourselves?

It’s real easy to jump on the bandwagon of “who are you to judge” or “how dare you judge me” or “you’re not my judge” or “what gives you the right to judge me“…  Do I need to continue?  As Christians, generally we will concede that God is the true Judge and that we have no business judging others.  But is that really what the Bible tells us?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

That was a quote from Jesus.  So that should clear things up, right?  Well, I’m not quite convinced yet.  Let’s look at some other scriptures and see.

  • Romans 14:3 – Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
  • Romans 14:13 – Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

So there is a few more that tell us not to judge.  However, what are the context of those scriptures?  Romans 14:3 is Paul is talking about those who think that eating certain foods is wrong, not about moral or social behavior.  He is still referencing the incident in verse 13.  apparently there was some debate surrounding what was ok to eat and what wasn’t.  That’s not surprising considering the strict dietary laws the Jews followed then and many still do today.

The reference in 1 Corinthians Paul is talking about whether or not he’s or anyone else has been a good steward over the things the LORD has entrusted him with.  He’s basically saying that we have no idea the motives behind what people do, so it’s difficult for us to decide whether or not things are being done with good intentions.

There are some other scriptures that mention judging but in a slightly different way.  Let’s look at those.  The first is in 1 Corinthians 5 verse 3:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed

Whoa!  Hold up.  Did Paul just say he judged someone for something they did?!?  Oh no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  What the heck Paul, don’t you remember what Jesus said?  So what gives?

First off, this is a pretty strong statement.  But what prompted it?  A man, who was supposed to be a Christian, was having an illicit affair with his father’s wife!  Paul even says this is not even heard of among the unbelievers in the area.  It was nothing to be proud of for sure, so Paul instructs them to not only  kick the man out of the church, but to ostracize him.  Look for yourself.  This is out of the New Living Translation because I think it really captures the heart of what Paul is saying.

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.  But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.  I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believeryet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. – 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Now that’s harsh!  It also spits in the face of many Christians and “churches”.  Paul flat-out says DO NOT associate with Christians that indulge in those things.  Boot ’em out and lock the door!  (Not permanently of course.)  Listen to what he says in verse 12:

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.  God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

Would you look at that!  Paul instructs Christians to JUDGE other Christians inside the church.  Listen to what else the Paul says to Christians about judging.  1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT:

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?  Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

Paul’s instructions were for them to bring their disputes before the church NOT in a “secular” court.  What’s even more surprising is that he likens that to judging the world AND angels!  I admit that I don’t know exactly what “judging angels” means, but it would seem to me that if we are unfit to judge disputes here on earth between believers, we are going to be unfit to judge the angels.

It would seem that those statements contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 7, but it doesn’t.  Jesus isn’t saying not to judge.  He is saying that we need to be very aware of how we judge since how lenient we are with others is how lenient they will be with us.  It is not a command not to judge.  It can’t be or else Paul was contradicting Jesus.

Even in the OT testament, Moses was a judge over the people.  In fact, the Hebrew word for God, ‘elohiym, means rulers or judges.  Were we not created in the image of God and in that were we not given the power of dominion (to rule) over the earth?  Is that not what rulers do, is to judge?  If we were created in the image of God, then we were created to judge.  That takes us back to the comments I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.  The comment, “Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves,” is itself contradictory to the word of God.  We were created gto

Paul even tells us to judge ourselves.  When he was instructing the Corinthians on the proper way to partake of communion, he told them:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-32

If we are to judge ourselves in such an important thing as communion, then surely we are not to leave the lesser things un-judged.  In closing, let me remind us all of something Peter said:

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? – 1 Peter 4:17 – NLT

Once again, we Christians have missed it.  We’ve been guilty of what Paul said in Romans 2:1 NLT:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.

We, Christians, are called to a higher standard of living.  Yet we act like we’re still lost.  If we would hold each other to the standards that Paul, through the Spirit of God, gave us, perhaps the world would have less evidence to judge us as hypocrites.  No wonder the world doesn’t want to be like us.  We act worse than them.

Our directives on judgement doesn’t absolve us of our requirements to show compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  It’s just the opposite.  The more we step up and begin to correctly judge things, it will also increase the amount of mercy, compassion and forgiveness we’ll need to administer as well.

Call Me A Bigot

I’d be in good company if you did.  It’s not that I’m aiming to be marked as one, but due to my unwavering beliefs, I’d be classified as one.  A bigot, according to www.dictionary.com is a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.  According to the world, since I’m pro-traditional marriage, pro-life or simply pro-Bible, I must be a bigot.  Do you know who else was?  Paul.  That’s right Paul from the BIBLE!  Paul was a bigot.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.  You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.  Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.  I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. – Gal. 1:6-9

Paul had previously entered the area of Galatia and preached Christ to them.  Some time afterward, he found out that they had begun to stray from what he preached.  He is shocked to find this out and says that anyone who preaches any other gospel should be cursed!  Can you believe it?  He actually said it twice!  It would seem to me that Paul had a “zero tolerance policy” when it came to any other gospel.  By today’s standards, he would be accused of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance.  Yet people want us to follow the Bible?  I think the people who want us Christians to do so, haven’t read their Bible.

Paul also says in 3:1 –

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. – NLT

Here he pretty much calls them stupid for believing something else other than what he taught them.  In fact, the entire letter to the Galatians is a rebuke of sorts!  Paul also realizes that he runs the risk of them turning on him for saying these things.  Look what he says in verse 16, “Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?”  He realizes that his statements may not be met with open arms, but that didn’t stop him.  He knew what he was called to do and say despite the consequences.

Paul had no respect for anyone who preached another gospel.  If there are things that are going on in this world that is contrary to what we believe to be right, then we don’t have to tolerate those things.  We don’t have to have respect to what we believe to be sin.  Want to know something else about Paul?  Did you know that he was not pro-choice?

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. – 1 Cor. 6:18-20 NLT

This definitely spits in the face of many Christians.  You see, the world (and many well-meaning Christians) don’t understand something: if you call yourself a Christian, you don’t get to pick and choose what you believe.  I know that’s a strong statement, so I’ll say it again.  If Jesus is your Lord, which is what makes you a Christian, then you don’t get to pick what you belive and what you don’t.  What Paul instructed Christians to do then is applicable to us now.  We don’t get to say that his instructions, or the other writers of the Bible for that matter, are outdated.  Or I should say, we don’t get to pick what is outdated and what is not, which is what the world and many Christians are doing.

The world wants to pick through the Bible and throw scriptures at us that they think we need to follow, all the mean while ignoring the ones that contradict and rebuke the very way they live their lives.  Then Christians, in a misguided attempt to love others, begin to become complacent and cave in on what they are supposed to stand up for.  We weren’t called to become friends with the world.  We were called to show them the way.  In fact, it should be no surprise that the world doesn’t like us.

  • Matthew 24:9 – Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. – KJV
  • Luke 6:22 – Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. – KJV
  • John 15:18-19 – If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. – KJV

Those statements were all made by Jesus.  The very person the world wants us to emulate.  Unfortunately the world has a skewed view as to who Jesus was.  They have made him into someone who accepts their ways.  Does he love them?  He sure does, but he doesn’t love their ways.  They mistake love for acceptance and tolerance.  Here are a few other things Jesus said:

  • John 3:35-36 – The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.  And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment. – NLT
  • John 12:44-45 – Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. – KJV
  • John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Those sound like statements that contain no wiggle room.  No ifs, ands or buts.  Sounds to me like Jesus was pretty closed-minded on the topic of eternal life.  Sounds to me like Jesus had no tolerance for another opinion, belief or creed.  Uh, oh.  Sounds like Jesus fit the description of a bigot.

But here’s the flip side:

Does that give us a license to treat people with disdain, hatred,mockery and discrimination?  God forbid!  It’s just the opposite.  We should show love and compassion on those we disagree with.  However, people think that love and tolerance go hand in hand.  They are wrong.  You can love someone without tolerating their lifestyle or beliefs.  It’s the concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin” which is not in scripture, but still a noble concept.

Where we (as Christians) have utterly gone wrong, is that we’ve stood for what we believe without doing it in love.  We’ve gone after the outward actions all the mean while neglecting the heart.  See, if we want to change how people live, we must change the heart.  Outward actions are a fruit of an inward belief.  No amount of protesting and changing of laws are going to change how people act.  Change the heart and you change the outward actions.

What sucks is that many Christians today would get rebuked from the very one they call Lord.  That’s right, Jesus would rebuke many of us just like he did then.  I call to your remembrance Matthew 23:25-27 KJV:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

This is what Jesus said to the very people who claimed to love God and his commands.  The people who claimed to be the most religious.  Yet this is exactly what we demand of the world today.  We want them to clean up their act, but we leave their heart untouched.

The same God we claim is intolerant to sin, the same God we claim is not pleased with our society’s ways, the same God we claim will bring judgement upon this nation (I for one don’t believe that He will), is the same God who sent His only Son to die for them.  Jesus became sin for us.  Jesus became sin for them too…maybe they just don’t know it yet.  And if we continue to present Him like we are, they never will.

It doesn’t mean that we ignore the scriptures I listed above.  But maybe there’s one thing you didn’t notice.  The letters in the New Testament were written to CHRISTIANS!  Those letters, in which the scriptures were taken from, were written AFTER those people in Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., received Jesus.  They were written AFTER they both heard and believed the gospel.

We are trying to shove scripture down the throat of those who have not believed on Jesus.  We are trying to shove scriptures down the throats of those who don’t have a heart towards God.  It’s like I said before, we are trying change symptoms instead of treating the cause.  Maybe it’s time we start working the soil before we attempt to plant seeds.  Of course that may mean we get our hands dirty.  We sure don’t like that sometimes.

 Don’t get me wrong.  Just because they aren’t Christians doesn’t mean those scriptures aren’t applicable to them.  They are.  God’s word is true regardless of one’s personal beliefs.  However, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  It’s frustrating and eventually you’ll give up.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:26 – First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.  Change the heart first and the actions will follow.  Jesus never preached “turn or burn”.  Let’s not either.  They are already hurting inside.  Let’s not make it worse.

We may need to tweak our approach, but it doesn’t mean we give up.  I still plan on standing up for what I believe is right despite the consequences.  I know others will as well…on both sides.

There is a quote that I’ve found to be true, especially during my time in youth ministry: “People don’t care how much you know if they don’t know how much you care.”  In this case, the world doesn’t care what we know, because it doesn’t yet know how much we care.  More importantly, it doesn’t yet know how much He cares.

Decreasing Ourselves

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

At the time that John the Baptist said that, people had begun following Jesus instead of him.  They had started going to someone else to be baptised and to learn from.  John didn’t get angry.  John didn’t get jealous.  John didn’t start a revolt against Jesus and begin a smear campaign.  His response (to those who came to tell him that people had begun following someone else) was clearly not the response we’d hear from someone in a similar situation in this day and age.

John had no problem with someone else taking the lead role from him, even it that meant he was no longer going to be the popular kid on the block. It meant that he was no longer going to be surrounded by crowds of people.  No longer was John going to get all the accolades.  And he was OK with that.

We sure aren’t…as a society that is.  It’s our way or the highway.  It’s a dog eat dog world.  You have to fight and claw your way to the top.  Be loud and proud.  Meekness is weakness.  On and on it goes with behavior and attitudes just like those and much of it from Christians.  Yet nothing could be farther removed from what the Bible teaches us.

The Bible says that before honor is humility; the meek will inherit the earth;  if we humble ourselves, then we’ll be exalted; if we want to be in charge, we should be the servant.  All that boils down to is putting others before ourselves.  It causes us to place selfishness aside.

I admit that it’s hard to do those things.  It would seem to go against human nature…and it does.  It goes against our fallen nature.  The one we received when Adam transgressed in the garden.  This old dead, disconnected spirit we inherited doesn’t like those things.  It doesn’t like putting others first.  It likes to live for self’; to do whatever makes you feel good.  Never, ever allow others to get ahead of you.  If you do, there might not be enough left for you.

That behavior may be the norm for the rest of the world, but it should have no place in the life of a Christian.  Once you believe on Jesus, you receive a new spirit.  One that contains the ability to enable you to put others before yourself.  For us, Christians, allowing Him to increase in our lives is putting the needs of others before our own.  Specifically the needs of other believers.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. – John 13:34-35

Jesus said that all the world will know we are His disciples if we love each other.  Love always puts the other person before themselves.  Here’s a portion of 1 Corinthians 13:5 in the Amplified Bible:

Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking…

The one man who had a right to exalt himself never did.  The one man who deserved all the honor and praise of men, never sought it out.  The one man who had the knowledge, wisdom and right to lead others, dedicated his life to serving.  In fact, he sacrificed his life for others.  He gave everything he had to give in every way.  All for love.

Giving less than you have within power and means to give, isn’t love.  Unless it costs us something, it’s not a sacrifice.  Let’s finally let the world see Jesus in us.  Let’s put others first.

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