Are Mormon Doctrines Christian Doctrines?

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If you look at Later Day Saints (Mormon) websites and publications, they clearly state that they are Christians and that they believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.  However, they have many non-Christian doctrines, and even some that refute their own claims of being a Christian religion. Below are some that I found in some quick searched of their material.  Some of these below may seem ridiculous or minuet, however, there is a clear progression that shows the rejection of many Christian doctrines.  It can be easily said that the Mormons might know the name Jesus, but that they fall short on knowing Jesus, and much more so in trusting him for salvation.  On the one hand they say that Jesus is their salvation, but on the other they say that there is no salvation outside of Joseph Smith.  Just that alone would label them a cult, not Christians.  

  1. It is a sin to drink caffeine. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is formally known, determined that a reference to “hot drinks” in religious texts only applied to tea and coffee, not all caffeine products.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41351251)
  2. Baptizing for the dead, you can be baptized for someone who had died and remove their sin
  3. Mormons used to believe that people of color could not be saved because they fell from heaven with Lucifer, changed in 1978.
  4. Believe that they are the real Christians.  The time between Jesus and Joseph Smith was the age of apostacy and so the only true church is the one who follows Joseph Smith’s teachings. (Some believe that Joseph Smith will be a part of the Holy Trinity. 
  5. The Garden of Eden is in Missouri.
  6. Jesus has a goddess as his wife.
  7. Jesus had children with the goddess mother.
  8. Jesus and Satan are brothers.
  9. There is not just one God but many “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light,” (Book of Abraham 4:3)
  10. salvation is attained through obedience to the law and doing good works (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W Kimball, page 206)
  11. There is no salvation without Joseph Smith as a prophet of God (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, page 188)
  12. God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
  13. God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
  14. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22).
  15. God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
  16. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
  17. After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354).
  18. There is a mother goddess, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
  19. God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).
  20. The Trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).
  1. “As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements -‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,’” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 79).
  2. “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation,” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206).
  3. Good works are necessary for salvation (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 92).
  4. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23).
  5. Must be certified as qualified to enter the Mormon Temple. “Every individual who qualifies for a temple recommend is also qualified as a faithful Latter-day Saint. He or she will be a full-tithe payer, will observe the Word of Wisdom, will have good family relationships, and will be a better citizen of the community” (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign (Conference Edition, November 2005, p4)
  6. Joseph Smith received ancient scriptures – previously unknow – from an angel

A short list of scriptures from the King James version on what the scriptures say concerning some of these claims by the Latter-Day Saints.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
  • Ephesians 4:4-7 – There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
  • Isaiah 43:10-11 – Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
  • Galatians 1:8-9 – But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

There are many more scriptures that we could bring to bear upon the false doctrines of the Mormon Church, but these are clear enough to point out that their doctrines are different than the doctrines taught in the Holy Bible.  This is because their cannon of scripture is different then all other “Christian” religions. The Mormons has redefined what it means to have a cannon.  Their cannon it 2 fold, it is expanded (in comparison to other Christian religions) and it is “open”. “The first is that compared to the rest of the Christian world, ours is an expanded canon. In addition to the Bible, we accept as canonical three other books of holy scripture—the Book of Mormon (531 pages), the Doctrine and Covenants (294 pages), and the Pearl of Great Price (61 pages).” (https://rsc.byu.edu/historicity-latter-day-saint-scriptures/latter-day-saint-concept-canon).  An open cannon means that is it open to new revelation, interpretations, and additions, as is needed. 

This information will undoubtedly make its way into a class on cults that I will develop, but lately I see a bunch of people trying to unify Christianity with Mormonism.  I believe that you should search the scriptures yourself and do your own investigation into what the scriptures say, what the Mormon doctrines say, and see if they line up.  What I have provided in this short and insufficient paper is a starting point for your own prayerful investigation. I repeat the words of the Apostle Paul, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

In the Beginning

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“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

This is a simple statement.  Yet this statement is all inclusive and it assumes one key element.  It is all inclusive in that it includes Space, Matter, Time, and Scientific Laws.  The phrase, “in the beginning” implies that there is the start of a time frame.  Time has a starting point in the initial creation of the heaven and the earth.  Note also that heaven, at this point, is singular. This would also mean that these, the heaven and the earth are somehow contained in something. 

When I teach a class on Genesis 1:1 I often draw a cube on the whiteboard and explain that this is very similar to the aquarium that someone would put into their home.  In order to set up an environment to keep fish in, one must first have the space to put everything into. In this manner is how we can see that a container is necessary for God to put the heaven and the earth into. We also know that the universe runs in set patterns and dependencies.  Everything has its place and function.  There are scientific principles and laws of nature that govern how things interact within the universe. By way of example, we have the Law of Gravity, the Laws of Physics, and such things as these. We also have quantitative Scientific laws like mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. All of these things existed from “in the beginning”.  

To have intelligent conversations on any subject, certain things must be agreed upon as a starting point. This first verse of Genesis is assumptive that we can agree that God exists. Therefore, it does not explain the existence of God, or where he came from. It does not do so, because the purpose of the story being relayed is not to explain the existence of God.  It is given us the explanation of our existence. So, it only tells us that God it is who created.  God created everything.  Knowledge of God is assumed, even if we do not know who he is.  God himself is taken as a literal, legitimate individual.  What we learn is that it is God who had the ability to create things. Scripture says that a fool says that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). 

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The assumption is that any intelligent person in their right mind should know that there must be a God.  The understanding that the universe could not have come into existence by itself is something that anyone who has intellect, should know. Therefore, the notion that the universe suddenly created itself, or that it somehow was always in existence is for the weak minded and unlearned.  All that one has to do is to look and see how everything in this universe breaks down, wears out, and degrades over time, if it does not have something else to maintain it, or to act upon it for its restoration or betterment.  Nothing in nature ever evolves into a higher lifeform. The necessity of God for creation and maintenance is plain to see throughout the universe. It is a universal law.

The Jewish and Christian beliefs of God creating everything from nothing is not shared with any other belief system in the world.  This is referred to in the Latin, “creatio ex nihilo” (creation from nothing) and has been a long-held belief in Christianity dating back the beginnings of the Church.  The idea that God is so absolute in his power that he can cause something to be in existence from nothing is what makes the Judeo-Christian God unique from all other God’s and belief systems in history.  This ability makes him the only creator in existence. 

Some other Creation Stories:

  • Greek Mythology – In the beginning was chaos.  This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Norse Mythology- In the beginning was a chasm. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Rig Veda (an ancient Sanskrit writing) – There was the “first fashioner” he created Earth and Sky, but before him there were cosmic waters. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Chinese Mythology- Heaven and earth were in a state of chaos or cosmic egg for 18,000 years and it broke apart and formed the heaven and the earth. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology- the Earth was made from the killing and dividing of another god. 
  • Egyptian Mythology has three different creation myths.  The predominant one has two gander producing eggs that are the sun and the earth.  This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Zoroastrian Mythology- creation was made after a cosmic war between “lies” and “truth”.  Truth won and created the earth, then tried to destroy it, but cosmic man thwarted the plan by returning to earth as a plant stalk and repopulating the earth with vegetation. From the stalks we then see the produce of the first man and woman.  This is not a creation of everything from nothing.
  • Hindu and Buddhist see the universe as eternal with no beginning or end, it has always existed
  • Scientology from what I can see of it seeks to claim that it is the oldest of creation beliefs and that the cosmic lifeforce may have initiated a spark on non-active substances and then created all things. This still is not a creation from nothing.

Now I know that these are extremely abridged versions of these beliefs.  But I only have them here to show you that Judaism and Christianity are not the only cultures who believe in a creation event that is not some string of cosmic accidents that somehow led to men being formed.  Instead, in these we see that generally all cultures in history have believed that there was an actual creation event in antiquity, and that one or two gods or entities are responsible for this spectacular one-time experience in cosmic history.  The purpose of Genesis 1:1 is to introduce God (the I AM) as the ONE who is the actual creator.  This is where Judaism and Christianity differ from all other people, religions, philosophies, and theories that have ever populated the earth. We believe, according to scripture, that God is the one who created all things from nothing.  That means that there was absolutely nothing when God created everything. God is the point of origin for all things we know. This means that everything we have ever seen, touched, smelled, and felt comes from God who created all things:

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  • Psalm 90:2 – Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
  • Colossians 1:16-17 – For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
  • John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
  • Revelations 4:11 – Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Therefore, having read these verses, we can see, with just a quick glance, that God existed before the creation.  There is only one God and he created everything.  All powers and authorities within this creation are subject to his creation authority.  We can also see that everything was created for his own pleasure, not ours.

Yet there is another theology out there that rejects this whole premise of a God, or even an unnamed divine essence that created everything.  They reject all matters of faith in the claims of science.  This theology is known as Atheistic Humanism. They are armed with what they call scientific evidence that destroy the faith-based creation of Christianity.  They attempt to remove God from the creation event.  In doing so they are attempting to remove his authority over them.  The approach is simple, their claim is that someone who could believe in an invisible God to create everything and to just take it on faith is unhealthy thinking and ludicrous.  However, when you get to investigating what Atheists accept (believe) as truth, you will find that it also takes a great amount of faith.  Lee Strobel who has become famous for switching his stance from atheism to Christianity tweeted, “To continue in atheism, I would need to believe that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I simply didn’t have that much faith.”[1]

I like you have known quite a few individuals, some friends, some family, who have looked down their nose at me for believing in Jesus Christ, and for taking the Word of God at face value.  Yet this statement made by Mr. Strobel is one that I have heard from many people who used to be atheist.  At some point their mind realizes that everything they believe to be true is just that… it is a belief and when confronted with the lack of real evidence to support their rational mind, they concede that this belief takes just as much faith as believing in Jesus and the Word of God.  Then they begin to ask questions.  They begin to want real answers.  In finding no answers anywhere else then turn back to that ignorant Christian, and to what God says.  They begin to examine the Word of God and for the first time they begin to see what God has been telling all of us.

Isaiah 45:11 – Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

The Lord is not hiding in the darkness and hoping to not be seen.  Instead, he is putting out an invitation to all men.  To seek him out.  He says to ask about the work of his hands.  The entirety of creation speaks to his glorious work. (Psalm 19:1-7; Romans 1:20) God wants us to know that he is the creator.  That is why Genesis 1:1 starts with “In the beginning God Created the heaven and the earth.”. Later the gospel of John tells us that in the beginning was the word and that all things were made by him. (John 1:1-3) The very word of God is tied to his being the creator.  “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6) God’s revelation of himself in the first verse of Genesis, and the steps that he took to create everything, is his guarantee of his word.  It is given to us so that we can have confidence in everything else that is revealed in the scriptures.  The first sentence in Genesis is the foundation of all Jewish and Christian faith.  God exists.  God created everything.  God is all powerful.  God has all authority.  The word of God is trustworthy.  Psalm 148:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  What a strong foundation for faith and hope.  If he created all things, then he can make you a new creation in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God tells us that we can ask him about his works.  He tells us that the heavens declare his majesty.  Everyday we can look up to the skies and see proof of the work of his hands.  The creation shows knowledge.  No matter what language you speak or education level you reach, God’s creation is speaking to you about the God who created all things, including you. 

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The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:1-7)

It is amazing to me that this verse speaks of the cycles of nature and the manner in which the sun circles the earth.  This reveals from the very beginning that people of faith have always know the earth was circular, well if they read anyways.  Approximately 150 B.C. the ancient Greeks made a globe to represent the earth.  It is believed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (1st five books of the Old Testament) around 1445 B.C. I make this point to show you that men and women of faith do not need to fear what science says.  Instead, we should run to science and get involved and ensure that the science being performed is in fact science.  Just because someone claims a theory, that does not make the theory true.  The book. “On the Origin of Species” published in 1859 which is used to promote the theory of Evolution has yet to be proven with the principles of the scientific method.  Yet it is taught as an indisputable fact.  Now this undisputable fact is not just one set of facts or a unified theory either.  Darwin had four principles to his theory. Enst Mayr writes saying that Darwin had five theories of evolution. [2] Within each of these theories there are many more theories that have changed over time. Other theories on the origins of like include:

  • The Big Bang
  • The Electric Spark
  • Extra-terrestrial Origen (Panspermia)
  • Spontaneous Origin
  • Biochemical Evolution
  • Community Clay

These are just a few of the many that Humanistic Theology seeks to use in their running away from the truth. When you look at these theories (fancy ford for “belief”) you will see some very big leaps taken on speculation. Talk about “faith”.  It is a tragic comedy that those who believe in a constantly changing and scientifically unsupported theory are calling those who believe in an unchanging biblical view of creation to be fools. We see the proper demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black. 

Christians have been told that they are stupid and ignorant to believe in the Bible when science so clearly disproves it.  I would say yes, Christians have been stupid and ignorant, but not because of science disproving the Bible.  Because science has not disproved the Bible, instead the deeper the science and the more serious the scholar and the archeologist looks, they find that the Bible is validated by the scientific studies performed.

Therefore, we have been stupid for trusting the wrong source for our information.  Trusting in the religion of humanism and being willfully ignorant to the fact that lies are we listening to are well within the scope of words among prideful, self-seeking men.  Especially those who hate and reject God and are willing to go to any length to discredit his word.  We are ignorant of what science truly says concerning creation, the flood, and the events we now see unfolding as we come to the end of the age.  Just as the Word of God revealed the beginning it revealed the end also.  God is the one constant from the beginning to the end.  It is his design, his plan, and it is for his purposes.

No, the Christian does not need to fear science.  The Christian should seek out honest science and seek out the truth of God revealed in the Holy Bible.  God has never said that we should bury our heads in the sand.  Instead, he says to think, gain wisdom, seek knowledge, get understanding.  “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7) God does not want us to be ignorant of his creation.  Creation teaches us about God. Good science that follows the principles of science and discovery teaches us about this creation that God has made.  In this proper study we can find out so much about God and his handywork.  We can see how much love he has poured into the universe, the earth, and into men and women like you and me. 

There is an importance in what we discover in scripture and in science.  We find that we can trust the scriptures as passed given and preserved by God as they have been passed down from one Godly man to the next generation.  There are clear points in scripture where the author has put their own pen to the page and those are noted in the passages.  But the events that happen in the first chapters of Genesis, especially “in the beginning”, could have only been know by God.  It is God himself who passed these events to Adam.  We must therefore take what we have been given by God as the very Word of God and accept the truth of what it says.  We must take the text of the Creation as literal events and not try to bend them or twist them in order to make them fit into the theories of men.  I repeat the warning of Paul the Apostle, “Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightiest be justified in thy sayings, and mightiest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4). If we cannot believe that God performed creation that way that scripture tell us that he did, then we cannot believe anything else that the scripture states about God, Sin, or Salvation in Jesus Christ. 

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Therefore, humanistic theology tries so hard to discredit the first 11 Chapters of Genesis, especially the creation.  If it did not happen the way it is recorded, then everything else is subject to ridicule and reinterpretation.  This is the same approach that the serpent took with Eve in the Garden of Eden when he asked, “Yeah, hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1).  I encourage you to put away the fables of men, and to study the scriptures and the science for yourself.  There are plenty of resources available today for you to look at the science that disproves the theories of men.  You will find that the only reason you are having problems is because of your own ignorance and unfounded fear of the evidence concerning creation.  Evidence that supports a short earth.  Evidence that supports a catastrophic flood.  Evidence that proves that man was a purposeful and fully functional creation, unique from anything else on the earth.  Man was not the biproduct of an accident that took billions of years to form, instead he was a thought out, purposefully engineered creation by a God who loves and cares for him, and for you as a unique and designated offspring of that life.  Adam was designed for a purpose, and so are you. 

Strobel, L. (2017, Dec 12). @LeeStrobel Tweet.


[1] (Strobel, 2017) Tweet from Lee Strobel Dec 24,2017@11:22AM

[2] (Gruyter)

Bibliography

Gruyter, W. d. (n.d.). https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781400854714.755/pdf. (D. Gruyter, Ed.) Retrieved Apr 21, 2022, from https://www.degruyter.com/: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781400854714.755/pdf

My Church is Bigger Than Yours… Na Na Nah Boo Boo

I hope that title caught your attention. In all honesty, I can probably say that my church is not as large as yours is. However, this title is a little funny look at the way we sometimes compare ourselves to one another. We often get caught up on how big a church is.  Many like to boast that they go to such and such church, “You know the big one on the corner of such and such“.  With so no lack of pride we will tell of the great sanctuary and the stain glass windows. Or maybe we will point out the multiple classrooms, the coffee shop or the bookstore. There is nothing wrong with this.  Unless we put our measure of success upon how big our church is.  Different size churches can have great success in their place in God’s plan. The apostle Paul wrote, “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:5).

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In truth most churches in the world have less than 100 people on their rolls.  The bulk of  churches of the world are small to medium congregations that vary from 5-250 active members (I specify active because active members are the only ones who contribute to the mission of the church – don’t fool yourself).  The major growths in Christianity around the world are brought from small churches that grow into medium churches or who plant other small churches.  These churches are different in their purpose and design than larger churches. They have their own positive and negative attributes.

Small churches (less than 100) have high levels of member commitment.  The members are also more consistent in their tithes and offerings, and volunteer work.  They have less of a staff and therefore dedicate more of their budget to missionary work.  They will likely have a bi-vocational pastor, and because of their small size, he will be easily available to the membership.  The membership is likely to be aware of the burden on the clergy and are more likely to assist the pastor with his duties and donate food and clothing to him and his family to ease his financial burdens.  There is a genuine care in the membership for one another.  Evidence of this is that these churches are likely to have a food closet that is open to any members of the local church. Membership in these churches are generally aligned from family and close friendships, and an occasionally new comer who was invited to attend and then joined the church.

Their Achilles heel of an older small church is that they are likely to have a good portion of their budget tied up in building maintenance.  They are also likely to have most of their membership in being 65 or older.  They are also likely to have no children.  As a general rule their membership is not seeking to increase membership.  If this is the case for a small church, then they are a dead church. Unless a change is brought in their evangelism they will no longer exist.   For the majority of small churches who are active in evangelism, they will soon grow either in church planting other churches and missionary work, or they will increase in size and take other responsibilities and outreached in the community. 

Medium sized churches of congregations of 101-250 active members are more likely to open their buildings up for use to outside organizations that serve a service to the community.  Those may be the scouts, a food bank, a day care center, a meeting place for AA or NA meetings and such.  They are likely to have a free library available to members instead of a bookstore or a coffee shop.  Their main interests are likely to see the membership grow through discipleship classes, small group studies, consistent Wednesday evening Bible studies, Tuesday evening prayer meetings and these things.  They will have active committees to care for different needs of the church, its membership, and the outreach programs.  They are likely to have a lively children’s ministry, and may even have a certified school for certain age ranges. 

As you can see there is a great service that the small and medium churches perform to the growth of Christianity, missions, and in service to the community. So if you’re in a small church, don’t sweat it.  Enjoy the fellowship, get involved with the mission, and share the name of Jesus!   

Is Tithing Different Than Other Commandments?

Many Christians seem to think that we are set free from sin because of Grace, but we must absolutely pay tithes or suffer consequences from God.  They seem to think that if they become a believer and then commit a sin afterward that the Lord will forgive if they confess and then they move on with no other consequences.  The exception to this is tithing.  They believe that because tithing was instituted prior to the Law of Moses that the Lord handles that sin of disobedience differently and will curse them with failing to obey that commandment. They receive this belief because many preachers teach that very doctrine. 

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These teach that God had instituted tithing before he instituted the Law and so the act of tithing is separate from the Law and Grace issues of salvation and obedience.  But is this a true doctrine that is supported by the scripture?  Did God only institute tithing before the Law and so separate the lack of tithing from other sins?  Does God hold you accountable because Jesus fulfilled the Law?  If Jesus only fulfilled the Law and somehow the command to tithe is exempt, did he save anyone from condemnation? I move that God did not only institute tithing prior to the Law and so is expected with believers under grace, but that he also instituted the general law of righteousness and expects believers to adhere to those also.  For now let us look at the tithe doctrine.

Where do we get this doctrine?  Well, there is a story way back in Genesis that predates Moses and the giving of the Law in Exodus. This story involves Abram (Abraham) and Lot. When Abram was living in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron (modern day location is in the West Bank). In this story his nephew Lot and he had separated because of issues with their herdsmen and the resources available to feed their flocks.  Lot went towards Sodom and Abram to Hebron.  Sometime after there arose a war between the kings of the region, and Lot got swept up in the ones who were taken as slaves and pillage from several of the nearby kingdoms.  Just on a short side note.  This might serve as a good lesson on being to close to the world.  Ok, back to the main topic of this writing.   

When Abram heard wind of it, he took his men and “smote” the enemies and brought back all those who were captured and all of the things that were pillaged. When this occurred there was a king that came to honor Abram for his righteousness and obvious blessings of the Lord.  The name of this king was Melchizedek.  He was the king of Salem (Peace).  He brought bread and wine as a gift to Abram.  Abram in return gave him a 10th of everything he had to show honor to God’s king and priest, and to give thanks for the blessing God gave him.  This is affirmed by the writer of Hebrews, see Genesis 14:20 and Hebrews 7:2, in the King James Version, for comparison.

Genesis 14:20 – And blessed be the most-high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Hebrews 7:2 – To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Now a little more on Melchizedek and Salem. Melchizedek (Melchisidech) was a king and priest to El ‘Elyon (Hebrew for “God Most High”), of Canaanite origin. The name Melchizedek is an old Canaanite name meaning “My King Is [the god] Sedek”, or “My King Is Righteousness”.  Salem is believed to be Jerusalem in later texts.  The name Salem means “complete or perfect peace”.  You can probably see where the writer in Hebrews was headed.  Jesus is considered by the writer of Hebrews to be a king and priest after the order of Melchisidech.  This then shows that with Christ there is a change in the priest hood. The priesthood of Melchizedek was changed to the Levitical priesthood under the Law of Moses.  Now the priesthood in the manner of Melchizedek could pick up under Grace.  This would show that tithes were expected prior to the Law, and now after the Law. 

Further we see that Jacob also offered tithes to God.  Now this tithe was a promise to be faithful to God because God was faithful to Jacob.  It is put a little differently, however, it can still be seen of the giving of 10% of everything that God had given Jacob.

Genesis 28:20-22 – And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Once more we see that the tithing of Jacob was prior to the Law given in Exodus.  One could even make the argument that the requirement of tithes for Israel comes from the vow that Jacob made to God, that he would give the place Bethel as a temple and he would give a tenth of all he had from the Lord back to the Lord as gratitude. 

Here next we can see the command and the purpose of the tithe. 

  • Leviticus 27:30 – Tithe is declared the Lord’s
  • Numbers 18:21 – God says tithes are for the support of his priests
  • Malachi 3:8 – God says that to not tithe is robbing him
  • Haggai 2:8 – any treasure we have belongs to God
  • Deuteronomy 12:11-14 – bring all sacrifices, offerings, and tithes to the house of God

We an see that before the Law, Abram honored God by giving to his servant priest because of the priestly duties of king Melchizedek and in honor of what God had given Abram.  We also see that Jacob, who is Israel, performed an oath before the Lord to place a temple and to tithe.  Under the Law we see that the reasoning that God applies. The Hebrews in their exhale seem t have forgotten the vow and the reasoning of the tithe, so God reminds them in the Law. The tithes are a thanks offering to God for what he has given.  Since God does not need what is made by man, the tithes are used to support the priest in their duties and the maintenance of the temple.  In this tithe offering to God the priests gain the ability to concentrate on their priestly duties.  In the modern-day church this is reflected in church practice of paying a pastor, providing a parsonage, or giving a love offering to an evangelist, or charity to a missionary.  We are commanded to care for our clergy. 

1 Corinthians 9:9-14 – don’t muzzle an ox, he needs to eat while working

Luke 10:7 – ministers should eat what is given them by their hosts

Philippians 4:16-19 – shows Paul giving thanks for provisions given to him by the church

There is therefore a clear precedence for the continuation of tithing.  Now, if we cannot under grace ignore such a decree of God that he finds pleasing, how can we then ignore other items that please him?  Did you just get a confused look on your brain? 

Remember the premise.  Many Christians believe that Grace covers us from sins like lies, murder, sexual immorality and such.  They believe this because scripture does tell us this. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14).  That is straight from the Apostle Paul.  In this chapter of Romans, Paul goes at length to explain how it is that we are dead to sin, all is forgiven, and we are not held accountable to the Law unto death anymore.  Well, those who believe on Jesus the Son of God as both Savior and LORD, and I mean the only LORD who is God, they are saved -and only those. The Apostle of Christ even explains how when we sin, it is not really us who have been redeemed, but this flesh that is still holding us.  Paul tells us that we can rejoice because we are no longer slaves to sin, we can choose who we submit to, we do not have to submit to our flesh and transgress…  Uh oh.  That means that since we have been set free from sin, we should be servants not to sin, but to righteousness.  That means we are now set free to choose to be morally upright like Jesus our Master. 

So how does all of this relate?  Well first let us see the truth.  This does not only apply to the Law of Moses, but to the Law AND the prophets… the entirety of scripture.  Jesus said,

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20) 

Now without getting too theological, there are those who will say that Jesus was talking to the Jews.  I will agree with that.  There is evidence that God deals with different people in different manners depending on his purposes.  He is God and I must concede this point, much as I treat my children different according to age, maturity, trust worthiness, and so forth.  I think it reasonable that God knows that people are different and must be dealt with by different methods.  Keeping in mind the truth of the Gospel that anyone who truly believes and submits to Jesus as the Son of God who is both savior and Lord of their life is saved, Jew first then Gentile.  However, it still appears that Jesus is referring to his kingdom, that would mean that it covers his servants, wether under the Law or Grace.  Jesus expects that you will still be righteous in heart and actions.  We call this sanctification.

That aside, is there precedence on other sins other than the lack of giving tithes that God has revealed prior to the Law of Moses?  Yes, there is.  He is a short list (that means not all inclusive).

  • Genesis 3:1-20 – Fall of Adom and Eve = lies, deceit, covetousness, not trusting the Word of God, disobedience; false god; idolatry; lust; covetousness; unrepentance      
  • Genesis 4:5 – Cain and Able = Disobedience, False Worship, Vanity, Pride
  • Genesis 6:5-7 – Cain and Able = wickedness evil imaginations, lust
  • Genesis 6:9 – Cain and Able = Lies; unrepentance
  • Genesis 6:8-10 – Cain and Able = Murder (killing); lack of honor for parents
  • Genesis 6:11, 13 – Noah and the Flood = violence; disobedience; unrepentance
  • Genesis 9:5-6 God holds murderers accountable to death
  • Genesis 9:21-25 – Drunkenness; disrespect to parents
  • Genesis 11:1-9 – Babel= False gods, idolatry, pride, disobedience
  • Genesis 19:1-38 Sodom and Gomorrah; sexual immorality, violence, idolatry, disobedience, lack of fear of the Lord, unrepentance  

All the above are just a small portion of the things that man did that God disapproved of prior to the Law of Moses.  Tithing is not mentioned in any of the things that resulted in punishment in these texts. However, if we hold that the reason, we must tithe is because that it was demanded prior to the Law of Moses then we must also be in compliance with these other items that are identified prior to the Law. So, either grace covers all our sins or it does not.  Don’t worry, it does cover all sin and no works are necessary (Romans 11:6).

Do we then have an excuse to refrain from tithing? Paul says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1) That seems like a valid argument.  Paul is quick to answer.  “God forbid”.  If we are truly dead to sin, then we cannot, and must not sin just because our sins have been forgiven.  Instead, we should live a new life.  A life of love and gratitude towards God.  Our lives and everything in them are a gift of what God has already given.  Out tithe is then an offering of thanksgiving for what God has already done.  Not for what he might bless us with.  Certainly not an obligation under or outside of the Law.  Indeed, our tithe is no longer a tithe, but 100% of all we are and posses.   

If we see the tithe as an offering to God, as the ancient Hebrews saw all their sacrifices, then this is a different issue all together.  The Hebrews viewed all their possessions as actually belonging to God.  Without the blessings of God, then they would have nothing at all.  Therefore, they gave God back the best portion of what he had given them.  The tithe was not only in money, but in grain, livestock, currency, etc. The motivation was not for the blessings but rather, it was to be pleasing to God.  God had already given the blessings.  This tithe was simply a show of respect and gratitude in honor of God’s provisions. It is a reasonable service.  This it the same thing that Paul says concerning our sacrifice of love towards God and one another.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Here, Paul says that Jesus Christ has given us life.  How do we just give 10% of life back to Christ?  We do not.  We must give all that he has given us.  For if we are truly dead to sin, then we died.  The only life we have now, is in Christ.  That means 100% is now our offering.  The first fruits of life is love.  We must give love back to God.  We do this by presenting not part, but all of our lives as a living sacrifice, sanctified – set apart for him in Jesus Christ.  He has become not only our savior, but our Lord.  Not just Lord but the one and only LORD. 

With this mindset the heart is freed to give.  This is just one part of what Paul was trying to explain.  Since we have been set free from the penalty, we are now free to love God of our own choosing.  We can now give not only our tithes, but so much more.  We can not only chose obedience in tithes but in not bearing false witness, no gossiping, no showing respect to some people and disrespect to others, no murders, no abortions, no sexual immorality, etc.

We know that God is not trying to steal from us, nor is he trying to keep us from good things.  But we are simply allowing God’s plan to work.  What plan?  His plan of redemption. The furtherance of the gospel is supported with your sanctification and your giving. The tithe is for the maintenance and care of the temple (church), and the food and caring of the priests (clergy) so that they can perform their duties before God and man.  It is reasonable that we should care for these things before God.  It should be understandable that we are the manner in which God cares for his servants. 

Many times, I receive calls from people who desire to take from the church, and even expect that the church should give to them.  However, if the storehouse of the Lord is empty because his people have neglected to fill it, then the Lord will not be pleased, and the outreach cannot be sustained.  Without the tithing the building falls in disrepair, and the pastor must make choices between service to the Lord of feeding of his family.  From the unbeliever, seeing a church in disrepair, or clergy that are starving and in debt or working two jobs is a sign on unbelief from the congregation.  Who would want to believe a God who cannot take care of his own clergy and temple?

Look at Malachi chapter one.  The Lord says that bringing second best is a show of disrespect.  Giving with bitterness in your heart of contempt from feeling like your have been forced or coerced to give is not love, and neither is giving in expectant of blessings in return.  He says that you profane the altar of the Lord when you hold back from him.  I often have eyebrows raised when I tell those in attendance that if they cannot give their tithes with a happy heart then they should not give at all. The altar of mercy is desecrated by complacency.  Even with that stern rebuke the Lord is still merciful.  Even though we should not expect a blessing in return for tithing, the Lord will bless you for giving joyfully. 

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, Smith. The LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

Therefore, we cannot say that tithing is different than any other commandment under the Law.  We cannot say that tithing is not covered under Grace.  We can say that obedience in tithing, like obedience in not committing other sins, brings blessing that are inclusive of Gods good nature.  For the Lord says, “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of they life shat be many.” (Proverbs 4:10)  So then should we not tithe?  No, rather we should tithe, but for the correct reason. 

Luke 13:6-9 Dung Up Your Roots

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

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This passage is a call to repentance.  It is not only to the sinner, but to those who think that they are holier than others.  If you look into the text preceding this parable, we see Jesus is responding to a common belief that has somehow tricked down through the ages.  The question is do people suffer as a punishment from God for sin?  More specifically do people die as judgement from God for sin?  IN the case of the Jews, they wondered if the Gentiles would receive a greater punishment because their sins were worse than the Jews? Jesus, tells them that those who had suffered, referencing the verses before, were not any worse a sinner than those of whom he was talking to.  Then he tells them directly that their fate is the same, unless they repent.  Then he illustrates his reasoning with this parable in Luke 13:6-9.

In this illustration, we see the owner of the fig tree who is talking with his servant about the tree.  The tree was planted with the owner hoping to have the fruits that it would yield.  He probably imagined like many of us would, that the tree would be a big and strong tree with many fruits.  He may have imagined that he could one day lay under the shade of the tree and reach up and take a fig and enjoy the sweet delights of his investment.  Maybe he could share some with neighbors, or make delicate cakes or jams with the honey like figs.  He could gain joy from showing his tree off to his friends and telling them how it was just a twig when he had first planted it. 

But today, was one more day among many where he had walked out to the tree and it sat there, fruitless.  Most fig trees take three to five years to start ripening fruit.  We should assume that because the master was the owner of the vineyard, that he had already considered this. He waited until the customary time that they tree should be producing the fruit he so loved to eat.  The story even tells us that it had been three years. So, year after year this owner waited in patient hope that the tree would start new stem growth and produce ripe figs in due season.  Finally, the day has come.  The owner can no longer justify to himself the need to let the plant continue to waist valuable soil in his fields.  He calls his servant, “Cut it down and burn it.” He says with a sad and frustrated heart.  So many hopes for the little tree were now gone.  It was time to make room for another tree that would hopefully bear some fruit. 

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The servant, however, pleads on behalf of the tree.  Please! Let me ease the ground surrounding the roots of the tree.  Let me then put dung on the roots.  Let me soften the soil and put in some fertilizer and give it another season to have a chance to mature and to be pleasing to you.  Then if it bears fruit, we can continue to care for it and rejoice over the tree.  But, if it does not then we know we tried everything and gave it every opportunity to produce good fruit and I will remove it from the field.  The master then relents and continues in patience as the servant begins his tasks of breaking up the ground and seeding the dung about the roots of the tree, then I would imagine the faithful servant waters the soil and undoubtedly prays for good fruit in due season. 

There are some things to learn about God in this parable.  Some spiritual truths lay hidden in the telling of this story by Jesus.  It is an example of the expectations, judgement, and patience of God the Father.  We can see the interceding of the servant.  Much like the intercession of Jesus Christ, our great high priest before the mercy seat of God.  I think it such an amazing thing that God has taken the time to give us his reasoning as to why he does some of the things he does.  Surely if God has taken to time to give the why behind the what, we should sit up and listen. 

Expectations of God

Here in this analogy given by Jesus, we see a very reasonable expectation.  The owner of their vineyard expects his fig tree to give him good fruits.  He expects figs to come from his fig tree. Now we can understand that likely Jesus was talking to Israel who had been planted in the promised land and was expected to be God’s people.  As God’s chosen, they were to be an example to the nations of how to worship God.  Israel was to expound upon the nations of the world that Jehovah was the only God.  They were expected to bear fruit for him. 

In like manner we as the Church are expected to show forth fruits in showing that Jesus is the only name by which a man can be saved from their condemnation. (John 3:15-19) But not just any fruits.  We are expected to produce good fruits.  Fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). The fig tree was expected to produce figs.  We are expected to produce fruits according to our kind also. (2 Corinthians 9:10) The Apostle Paul confirmed this to the Romans saying, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”(Romans 12:1) Here we see that Paul explains that if you believe in God, then it is reasonable that you should do what he expects, that is to produce good fruit.  In the following verses in Romans 12 we see that this good fruit of self-sacrifice includes: non-conformity to the world, transformation by renewing of the mind, being an example of what is good and acceptable to God, being humble, and walking in faith. Sounds like the same things that God expected of Israel.  Listen this is not to be saved, but to those who have been redeemed.  It is a reasonable expectation for them,… for us,… the redeemed of the Lord.

In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus tells us exactly what is expected.  He says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The apostle Paul tells us the manner and reason for our salvation.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The problem with the fig tree is that it was producing no fruits at all.  They were neither good nor bad, they were nonexistent.  By their fruits you shall know them… A fig tree that does not produce figs is a dead fig tree.  James writes, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”(James 2:26) Now take a look at what Jesus said, “every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” A dead tree does not bring forth good fruit. A dead tree is good for nothing and is cut down and burned.

Judgement of God

In the Gospel According to Matthew we see just how sudden and final this judgement is by an example that Jesus makes of an actual fig tree.  Here is that telling. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19) The master came to the tree, expecting to find the good fruit that he desired.  In finding no fruit, the tree was judged to be just as bad as a tree that brought forth bad fruit.  The lack of fruit condemned the tree.  Jesus just said since you will not bear fruit, I have not need for you to take up space in the field.  How many ministers have stopped producing fruit by being complacent in their Sunday schools, and pulpits?  How many churches had failed to produce fruit after years of neglect in their neighborhoods?  How many of us who claim to believe in Jesus have never labored to produce the fruits of righteousness in our lives?  We have failed to tell family members.  We live in complacency.  We tell ourselves that everyone knows that we are Christians and if they want Jesus they will come and ask.  We ignore the commandment to preach, teach, and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19-20) We know what is good and acceptable to God.  Shall we not be judged? James tells us, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).  If then, what we fail to do is sin to us, are we not like the fig tree? Have we not behaved like Israel? Are we not in error of our reasonable sacrifice?  No wonder so many churches are dying.  Think not that even though we are forgiven of sin, that we should not be held accountable for our deeds, or lack thereof.

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Romans 2:6-10 – Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Was not the Lord talking to the church when he said, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5)? But even so in this statement we see the patience of our God.  He says to remember, to repent, to do the first works… or else!  He will come and remove thy candlestick.  The master of the vineyard said, cut the unfruitful tree down.  It serves no one any good.  Judgement came to the unfruitful tree, and to Israel, and to the unfruitful church.

Patience of God

We however are blessed.  Like to good master who waited patiently for many years for the fig tree to mature our Father waits patiently for us.  He is not hasty to be angry with us (Ecclesiastes 7:9). He forbears us with love.  He is long suffering towards us. The psalmist writes, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalms 86:15) This truth is echoed throughout scripture.

  • 1 Peter 3:20 – Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  • 2 Peter 3:15 – And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  • Numbers 14:18 – The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
  • Exodus 34:6 –  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

So, in here we see all kinds of examples of the patience of the Lord.  We even learn that the longsuffering of our Lord is what gives us our salvation.  This gospel of Grace through Faith is the result of God patiently suffering for us to redeem us at the proper time.  The perfect example of this is how Jesus prayed for Jerusalem when he spoke, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Yet there is even a limit to the patience of God.  Just as the master prepared to lay the axe to the fig tree, so to we see the chilling statement the Jesus added after his plea to Israel. “Behold you house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38)

Provision of Christ

Like the servant of the master who breaks up the ground and fertilizes the roots with dung, Jesus intercedes for both Jew and Gentile.  For the scriptures do say this concerning the work of God towards us who believe on the name of Jesus.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) So here we have the servant dunging up the roots.  We are weak in our flesh, yet the Spirit strengthens us in our hope of what we cannot see.  The Spirit intercedes for us with prayers that cannot be understood, nor voiced by the lips of men.  It is the Spirit that lives in us that knows our every weakness and what is necessary for us to grow in our faith.  He cries out to God the Father to ask for the things we need to remain faithful.  The we see here also that Christ himself intercedes for us in Romans 8:34. The Word of God says that who can condemn us?  Surely it is not the one who died in our place and who rose again.  The very one who sits at the right hand of honor and authority of God the Father does not seek to judge us.  Instead, he also intercedes for us before the Father.  The scars from his wounded hands, feet and side are a constant witness to the Father of the atonement that he has made by his own blood.  Why then would he commend his anger towards us, of whom, he has cleansed?  So we have no fear of eternal condemnation.  Our salvation is intact in whom we have trusted, in Jesus Christ the Son of God who is the Lamb who was slain for our sin. 

Knowing this then are we ok to become complacent at our good fruit?  No we are should be ashamed at such an attitude of complacency.  Once again, I defer to the Apostle Paul on this matter.

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What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

We are now dead to the old world and to the old ways of living in the world.  We have become strangers in strange land.  Our soul existence is in Jesus Christ.  We cannot be charged with sin, and yet we cannot return to our old land, as Israel tried to do when delivered from the bondage of Egypt.  We have been delivered from the slavery of sin and death and must now press on the promised land of the Kingdom of God.  With so great a provision made for us, that we are now new creations in Christ and called the sons of God, how can we not seek to be fruitful in good works?

John 6:28-29 – Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is what makes us to be fruitful.  We believe in Jesus Christ.  We walk in faith looking forward to the completion of our redemption.  We walk in the boldness of being the children of God through Jesus Christ.  We put away the shameful behaviors because they no longer define us. Remember James told us that faith without works is dead.  So then work out your faith.  Not for salvation, but because you believe that you are already dead to sin, and alive in Christ.  If you are alive in Christ then you are free to bear the fruits of righteousness today. So dung up your roots and be fruitful. Pray and study that you may be encouraged and your faith may be increased, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Go get your shovel.

Pagan Christmas – Who Cares?

There are those who try to discredit Christmas as a Christian holiday because some aspects of the modern celebration are imported from pagan holidays that existed prior to Christianity. Even the Puritans had the celebration of Christmas outlawed for several years. The reason was because they thought that the Christmas celebration borrowed to much from pagan religions and was therefore no longer Christian. They considered that this made it ungodly to celebrate Christmas, for fear that they would be guilty of actually be worshiping a false god. That is a strawman argument. 

Cultures all over the world and in different time periods have always had an impact on other cultures when they came into contact.  Even the dominant cultures have been affected by those of whom they have conquered and absorbed customs and even beliefs. Rome was undoubtedly influenced by the many cultures that it met with, including the Christian culture.  In return, ancient Rome has had a great impact on the whole world. This impact has reached all the way into modern societies, and with it has come it’s version of Christianity.  As the Roman Empire flourished it affected, art, architecture, language, and even legal systems and military strategies.  With this came the other influences that came from the pagan societies that impacted ancient Rome. The catalyst for this particular season of joy is the winter solstice.

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The winter solstice was celebrated by many ancient cultures including the Celts, Romans, and Druids. They would celebrate winter solstice (or the shortest day of the year) in December.  With this celebration and Christmas being adopted during the same timeframe we will see many similarities between the pagan traditions of Rome and that of Christmas.

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The winter solstice was extremely important to the agricultural life of the pagan.  This solstice marked the end of the long harvest season and gave a momentary rest from the harvest labors and the planting season ahead.  It also marked the onset of winter. Long hard days surviving the isolation and scarcity of food and interaction lay ahead. The celebration was a chance to celebrate and enjoy the company of family and friends and wish them well through the winter.  The Roman celebration was referred to as Saturnalia.

Saturnalia was dedicated to the Roman god Saturn.  Saturn is like the Greek god Cronus. The Roman and Greek gods have been so interlaced that many confuse them for being the same gods.  This is an example of the cultural influences that occurred over time. This festival’s influence is still felt throughout the modern world.  While the Winter solstice is generally the 22 of December, the Roman’s celebration was originally on the 17th of December. 

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Saturnalia was the most popular festival in Rome and lasted for seven days.  It was originally celebrated for one day and was eventually extended to seven days. With the extension of the celebration, we can see how this is like our Christmas to New Year celebration in the United States. All work and businesses were suspended, and slaves were temporarily free during this time. In fact, the roles of master and slave were temporarily reversed.  Slaves were allowed to order their masters around, within reason of course. The end of the festival culminated with the giving of a gift, presents like candles, fruit, or statuettes were primary gifts.  The gift was usually given from one person to another, and were meant as a means of obtaining favor from the god Saturn  

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Another cultural influence on Christmas came from the Roman honoring of Saturn with mistletoe. To appease Saturn, they would perform fertility rites beneath branches of mistletoe.  Other pagan cultures used mistletoe as a sacred plant and associated it with a stay of hostilities or a truce, much like we see the use of a white flag.  Enemies would meet under a mistletoe as a sign of truce. Along with that the Romans would exchange wreaths made of holy as a sign of good luck and well wishes.  Ornaments in the forms of idols also decorated the exterior of the Roman homes during this celebration. This custom was also seen in the Germanic areas where they would decorate trees in honor of Odin during the winter solstice.  This custom of ornaments and lights on the Christmas tree was undoubtedly adopted from their influence.

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It is no wonder that when Rome took over Christianity and converted their holidays into Christian holidays that they would take the traditions they used to and apply them into the official state religious celebration of Christmas. However, this does not take away from the current or Christian meaning for celebrating Christmas.  The pagan meanings and worship of false gods have long lost their meaning and have been overtaken by either Christendom or commercialism.  Frankly I am more concerned with the commercialism as this does specifically go against Christian values. However, this does not diminish Christians who celebrate Christmas, nor does it mandate that the holiday be renamed from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” to be inclusive or more historically accurate. 

Christians do not lose their Christianity just because the Romans (Catholic Church) have incorporated aspects of pagan traditions into the holiday.  Christians actually celebrate the arrival of God in the flesh, the birth of Jesus Christ, his death, burial, and resurrection through out the year, every Sunday.  In addition, having a special day to celebrate his birthday is a great remembrance of this miracle event, when God became his own creation.  It does not even really matter if it is on his actual birthday.  I am sure that God appreciates the time of remembrance and celebration for his amazing gift to mankind.  In addition, this gives us a venue to invite pagans and atheist into our homes and churches, our Christian culture. We have an opportunity to let them experience the grace of God the Father in Jesus Christ, God the Son, and to experience the presence of God the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer.  Christians should celebrate Christmas with all humility and generosity that they can. We need not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Who cares if they unsuccessfully tried to discredit our celebration?  We celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let them see Jesus!   

Pray, and Pray Now – John 16:26-27


At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. – John 16:26-27

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We live in a great age in the prophetic timeline. We live in the time of the Grace of God. We now have access to God in a way that the prophets of old so desired, and yet went to their graves not realizing. Moses met with God at the burning bush, had multiple conversations with God, and even went up to Mount Sinai several times to meet with God in the exodus. He saw the Lord descend from heaven in a pillar of fire and smoke. He even had a glimpse of God as he passed by Moses.


Abraham saw the angels of God and even the Son of God, talked with God, and was even called God’s friend. However, neither of these were allowed into the holy of holies. Neither of these had God indwell them with his Holy Spirit.


Even John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets who was on the cusp of the dispensation of the Gospel of Peace and the sending of the Holy Spirit did not have access to the Father as we do today.


We have intimate access to God that was previously not know. Even when Jesus told his disciples these words, “until now you have asked nothing in my name”. But now in that day, in this day we can ask in his name. We have a guaranteed audience and have been given access to the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. No other religion in the world can make that claim, only Christianity. Therefore, we can ask in his name.

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We are to ask and to continue to ask. Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And so in this day we are to pray in his name and to pray continuously in his name. We must understand that we have full access and permission to approach God the Father in the name and authorization of Jesus Christ. For Jesus said, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you”. No instead he tells us that I do not need to go to the Father on your behalf, because the Father himself loves you and desires to hear from you directly. The Father loves us because we love his son and obey him. The Father knows that we love his son because we obey him. (John 14:23; John 15:16; 1 John 3:21-22; Philippians 2:11)


The Father testifies of the son on more than one occasion saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) Because we have loved his Son the Father loves us. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). He knows that we love him because we listen to him, and we keep his commandments. (John 14:15)
But as we read what Jesus said in our text, that the Father loves us “because ye have love me (Jesus), AND have believed that I came out from God.” So then loving Jesus unto obedience is necessary, but also the believing that he is the Son of God, and that he is from God. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me…” (John 6:39).


What then is the will of him (God the Father) that sent him (Jesus the Son of God)?
• That all that the Father gives him should not be lost, not one
• That all that Father gives him should be raised up on the last day
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should have everlasting life
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should be raised up also on the last day


Therefore we can come before the Father with boldness to lay our petition before him. To pray and to seek and to find. For he says in our text that all we need to is ask. Ask for it. Ask for what it is that you desire of a sincere and concrete heart. In other places he tell us to seek, and to seek earnestly. So then we are to seek in earnest fervent prayer. For James, the half-brother of Jesus tells us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16) In east-Texas we would say that man’s words “hold water”. There is weight in the fervent prayer of a righteous man. It is because of who he is, who he knows, and what they mean to one another. Trusting in someone’s words means to trust that someone. John the one whom Jesus loves, said, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) It is with great relief that Jesus tells us in our text that all we need do is to ask.

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In the time of the Temple period only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. The High Priest had to go through quit a lengthy ritual to enter into the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt. To fail at any point in the preparations could lead to his death. Now we have free access to God. We can enter his gates with full joy knowing that we need not fear death. We do not have to worry if we have been properly cleansed, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has taken care of all the requirements and removed all uncleanliness from us. We do not have to earn the right, pay a fee, or even plead for the audience. We only have to come and ask. Simply ask. We must never fail to ask. To ask should be our first act.

If one has never asked God for anything, then they must be an unbelieving, unregenerate soul. For if we truly believe that we can have anything we need to please the living God and to be of service to him, to receive the rewards he gives to those who ask, then surely we would ask. It is true that if you do not believe, you will not ask.


Therefore,
• If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God (James 1:5)
• If any lack in our health, let him ask
• If any lack in our homes, let him ask
• If any lack in a sound mind, let him ask
• If any lack in matters of the spirit, let him ask
For we know this, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask of him?” (Luke 11:13). We do not need a formal set of words. We only need to ask. Just as we would to anyone in whom we trust.


We do not need to worry about how accurate our word order is, or how proper our speech. There is no special formula. There is only the sincere desire of the need from a pure and upright heart. Not a seeking of evil, but because of a great care for goodliness and the desire in righteousness. For how can we ask in his name and pour out a selfish desire? Lord, please listen to me for his sake (Jesus).


When I was a young man, I went over to help my dad with a plumbing issue that he had. I did not have the right tools and could not afford the tools needed to complete the task. My dad sent me to the local hardware store. He told me that I should go see the owner and explain what tools and material were needed and who they were for. Then once all the items were totaled up the owner told me all I had to do was to sign on the receipt. I told him I did not have the money for the items, he told me it was ok, because I asked for them in my father’s name, and he trusted my father’s name. He knew that my father’s name was honorable and that he would take care of the bill. I left the hardware store with everything I needed to complete the repairs because I had asked in my father’s name.


You see Jesus says, use my name when speaking to the Father. For Jesus also said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) We are allowed to use that honor in speaking to the Father. The honor associated with the name of the only begotten Son who the Father is well pleased in. Therefore, this should be our governance, if Christ would not pray for it then I should not either. If our desire should conflict with the desire of the Father then we should decline our will to his. Who would dare bring shame upon another’s name by asking inappropriately for something that would be out of character for the one of who’s name they are asking in?


Surely if I would have gone into that hardware store and asked for an excess of materials, or for items that were not warranted for me to use for the job I was sent for, then he owner of the store would have been wise and denied my requests. In addition, any other time I approached and used my dad’s name, then he would have had suspicions against my motives. Eventually, he would not let anyone receive goods on my dad’s name. I would have ruined the reputation of my dad’s name. Shamefully many Christians have already ruined their witness for Christ, by abusing his name. We therefore should not, cannot defile the precious name of Jesus with such a request.


What then is the “day”? For Jesus does say, “At that day ye shall ask in my name…”. It is the day in which he has returned to the Father. It is the day in which the Comforter has been sent unto us. In reading the preceding chapter we see that this in all in the context of persecution. In that day, when persecutions arise, you will ask of the Father in my name. One thing is guaranteed that when persecutions arise so does the voices of the children of God.


Was not Gideon found hidden in the winepress while threshing his wheat in order that the Midianites might not discover him? Did not Israel turn to the Lord and cry to him for deliverance because of the persecution of the Midianites? Did the Lord then answer, and give Gideon all that was needed to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and return the prosperity of the land? Undeservedly, they asked. The Lord was gracious in his deliverance. Why? Because he loved them and desired to do good things for them.


The Lord God desires to do good for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Psalms 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


If you are in persecution for Christ, then you shall ask in his name, and it shall be done unto you. When they beat upon for your testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pray, and ask. The Holy Spirit will equip you in your time of need. For the scripture reads, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10: 19-20)


We pray not only in persecution, but also in deliverance and in the days of plenty. We then give thanks and ask for the continued blessings of God. We ask for wisdom to remain obedient and to never become slack in our praises. Ask and he will give you, because he loves you, and desires good things for you. Pray therefor for your real need. The hunger and desire to the believing is to be in his presence. Does not he say, in that day YOU WILL ASK?


You will ask because it will be your God given desire to pray. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all things that we have been taught concerning the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit who prays for us and who teaches us to pray. So in our time of Joy we ask, and in our time of trial we ask. In the suffering of those we love, we ask. We ask in his name. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) For the labor of which we must set upon is intensive. We have not yet entered into his rest, for those who have entered into rest, labor no more. We instead look to him and pray in his name, our high priest unto God the Father, knowing that he has provisioned for us access to the grace of God. We can labor then and not faith, because we can pray, and ask what we will, for his will. We can pray, and pray without ceasing. For in that day, this day, we can ask what we will of the Father in Jesus’ name and the Father will give to us, because of the love for us and the honor to the Son. The Father is honored that the Son has been obedient and glorified the Father with his children. Every good Father loves his children. Pray, and pray now.

Martyrs of Nigeria

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116.15)

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I read today from, The Christian Post, about Reverend Silas Ali of Evangelical Church of Winning All, and how he was brutally murdered. This church is located in Kaduna State, Nigeria.  Their pastor’s remains were found after a search was made when he had come up missing.  The police speculate that he was attacked around Kibori, near Asha-Awuce, where his body was found.  He had been mercilessly hacked to death by machetes.  While the assailant(s) are unknow, there is a pattern of Christians being killed Nigeria without any signs of relief. 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law repots that thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria.  They report that at minimum of 3,462 Christians have been killed in just 300 days.  They have been killed by Islamic extremists, and the government appears to be helpless to deter the genocide. [1]

We need to pray for Nigeria and for our Christian brother and sisters that are in harms way.  We need to pray for their strengthening and faithfulness.  As the apostle Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…” (Ephesians 3)

We need to pray for the conversion of the souls of the Islamic extremists.  We need to pray that the Lord will open their eyes to the truth.  The truth that Jesus is the Son of God.  We need to pray that their hearts will be made ready for the planting of the seed and that they will receive watering of the seed of the Word, and that this will flourish into a white field ripened for harvest.  For we do not war against the individuals who commit such atrocities, but rather the spiritual principalities who have blinded the unfortunate followers of radical Islam.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We must also encourage one another in this life and remind one another that we serve a God of the living, not the dead.  For the psalmist says, “For though hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from failing.   I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:8-9).  Who is this God?  Why he is the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified and was buried, and then triumphantly defeated death, by raising himself from the grave.  It was he who left us no doubt when he said, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) 

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What then do we have to fear of men?  Though they kill the body, they cannot kill the soul.  For the soul lives on.  Those who love the Lord and die for him are greatly loved.  The Lord spoke to us in the psalmist and let us know, “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  What a labor of love it is towards the Lord God to lay down one’s own life for his sake.  The LORD loves and rewards those who are faithful unto death.  These extremists who think that they do God a favor by killing his children have only joined together the Father with his loved ones and have heaped coal upon their souls.  We should pray for their salvation, because they act in ignorance.  They have been deceived into thinking they are doing a favor for God and gained his approval.  Instead, they have gained his wrath to be poured out upon them, in everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire which was made for the Devil and his angels.  Much like Paul who was deceived by the foolish teachings of his own religion and persecuted the children of God, these men have gone astray.  However, like Paul, they can be made to see the error of their way, through the Lord Jesus Christ.  They can be given the opportunity to see, and hear, and to repent and turn to the God who loves them. We pray therefore that they will see the truth in Jesus Christ and come to repentance, and then reproduce disciples who love the Lord Jesus Christ. 

References

Kumar, A. (2021, September 13). Migerian Pastor Macheted to death; body foung by search party. Retrieved from The Christian Post: https://www.christianpost.com/


[1] (Kumar, 2021)

Is It Lawful to Put Away Your Wife -Just Because?

The Christian Husband and Divorce

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I am amazed at how many professing Christians get divorced.  One study finds that a person who has strong religious beliefs has a risk of divorce that is 14 percent less than those who do not have strong religious beliefs, in the United States.  Something that I found interesting is that cohabitating prior to marriage actually increases the chance of divorce by 40 percent. [1] The numbers of divorced Christians may include the ones who have previously divorced prior to becoming Christians and therefore may have skewed the numbers a bit.  In addition, many Americans profess to be Christian but rarely attend weekly church services.

Of these who call themselves Christians and divorce or separated are reported to have these following beliefs, according to Pew Research [2]

Divorced or Separated Statistics on Beliefs

69% Believe in God with absolute certainty

57% Believe that religion is important to one’s life

32% Attend Church Services at least once a week

61% Pray on a daily basis

25% Participate in prayer groups, Scripture Study groups, or in religious education

34% Consider religion as a source of guidance on what is right and wrong

31% Believe in absolutes of right and wrong

39% Read scripture at least once a week

36% Believe that the scriptures should be taken literally

73% Believe in Heaven

60% Believe in Hell

These are frightening statistics for me as a Pastor.  That means that most of the people who call themselves Christians, are not.  It also means that most those who are, are confused, and mislead.  They are confused and mislead because they have listened to what the world says a Christian is and have not taken the authority of scripture seriously in their lives.  God call this foolishness, and it is dangerous.  Even at looking at this one statistic of divorce, we can see that worldliness has had a devastating effect on our Christian homes.  We see that in these broken families that 69% believe in God and that they believe in Heaven.  However, we also see that only 36% believe that scripture can be taken seriously.  They have no definite sense of right and wrong morality.  They have instead been seduced into the philosophy of situational ethics.  This stance takes the position that there are no absolute codes of moral context to ethics, instead decision is made depending upon the context of the situation.  So then, it is not wrong to have an abortion if the lady does not feel equipped to raise a child, instead of seeing the unborn baby as an image bearer of God and a special gift given by God to the mother, and understanding that taking of a life is wrong, especially if the life is totally defenseless and cannot speak for itself. 

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These professing Christians are actually not Christians at all.  They do not attend bible study groups, church services, read scripture for themselves.  They do not pray, because they do not think that God hears them, will answer, or even cares.  All of this is from their own self-imposed ignorance of God.  No, they may say that they believe in God, but in practice they do not.  This is why their families are in shambles and reeling in divorce. 

Now, I have upset some of you.  Well, I can only say read on, because this letter is written in love.  My heart is broken over the divorce rate of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So then we will look at what God says.  In just one area of this debacle. We will deal with the husbands, “so-called”, rights of divorce.  You know… “boo hoo, my wife doesn’t do everything I want…” or “I’ve grown bored and need to live life…”, or what ever your spur of the moment, “just because” reason for seeking a divorce from your devoted and loving wife.  You see here in this scripture; we see the Pharisees came to ask Jesus about this very issue.  Now the Pharisees were the religious elite.  They spent years in seminary, they knew the 1st five books by heart.  They were the teachers of the law.  They sat in on the counsels to determine if a law was broken and if there was a penalty to be paid.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6)

Do you see that?  These fellers thought that they would be slick.  They tried to catch Jesus off guard.  The know what the actual will of God was.  They also knew why Moses allowed Divorce.  They knew that the covenant of a man and a woman was to be an example of the covenant between God and man.  They knew these things and more that we are not going to discuss right now that concerned marriage.  But we will look at the husbands’ responsibilities in the marriage toward his wife and the response that Jesus gave concerning that.  They thought that they would be able to accuse him before the Law, because Moses had allowed divorce.  So, if he said that is was Lawful then this gave them authority, but if he said that it is not lawful then they would say that he did not honor Moses or the Law, or the prophets. 

But instead of Jesus being caught off guard, he went to a time that superseded the Law. This is because his priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron.  Aarons priest hood was anchored in the Law.  But Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek.  This priesthood is preceding to the priesthood of Aaron and of the Law of Moses.  Jesus, therefore, goes back to the beginning.  He can do this because he was there, in the beginning.  All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made.  Jesus is an eyewitness to the war in heaven and the affairs of the Garden. See, Jesus said, “at the beginning made the male and female.”  This means that God purposed the sexes and created them distinctly for a specific reason.  This purpose of the man and the woman to unite as one, marriage, would be the very reason why a man was to leave his parents, and woman to leave her home.  This is their purpose, not to be single, not to play the field, and most certainly not to have casual sex.  But we men are a selfish bunch.

We love to put our own needs and desires above anyone else’s.  Why not we are the strong ones, who have to go out and show our dominance in the home and in the workplace.  We are the “king of the house”.   Husbands are those of us who should no longer need to “sow our oats”.  We have put those childish things aside.  We should instead show do respect to our wives and a singleness of heart.  Even as a Christian we should show do respect to God for who he is and have a singleness of heart towards Christ Jesus who is our bridegroom. 

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Saint Peter puts it like this, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) We should have an understanding that we are the provider and the safety and the strong hold for our wives.  We are their protector.  We are to protect them from the harm that comes from without the sanctuary that is our marriage.  We must realize that we are not put in authority as a husband to rule over them, but to help them.  We are not better than they are, we are both heirs of righteousness in Jesus Christ as a couple.  We are the one flesh that we were made by God to be.  Remember what God said in Genesis? “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is the cause… to cleave to his wife and become one flesh.  Shall a man divorce his own hand?  Or shall a man remove his own eye for “just because”? This word cleave means to hold fast to or to cling to.  The husband is to hold on to his wife and not let go. 

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.. “ (Ephesians 5:28-31)  Ok wait a minute.  This is a deep concept here.  You hear what the saint says here?  He said the same thing I just did.  No healthy, in his right mind, man hates his own flesh.  It is in our DNA to protect ourselves from harm.  It is our instinct to protect ourselves from harm.  That is why we have that little chemical that flows through our veins and muscles that gives us the emergency burst of energy we need for a “flight or fight” response to danger. This is saying that we husbands are of one flesh with our wives and that we should treat a threat against our marriage in the same manner as we would a threat to our own body.  We should fight unto death or take our wife and flee.  Especially where sexual sins are concerned, we should flee and not allow ourselves to be tempted. 

Before we move on out of this chapter in Ephesians, you better get your bible out!  Paul compares the marriage of a husband and wife to the relationship of the Church and Christ. Even as Christ is to present his bride spotless before God the Father, so are to present you wife spotless before Christ.  What? You say?  You don’t believe me?  Listen to Jesus’ very own words on divorce, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) What a shameful mess we are in today that divorce is so vast in the church. Husband! Present you wife and your marriage as a sweet smelling incense before the throne of the Lamb. 

The least of the Apostles, who was born out of season says that we should honor our wives out of love. Listen to what he wrote the church of Ephesus and Colossae.

  • Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:19)
  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)

Wow, Paul says that a husband should not only love his wife but to love her sacrificially.  This is not a sexual love.  It is not even a “feeling” of “being-in-love”, no sir this is a mentally committed love that chooses to put the wife’s needs above his own selfish desires.  This is the love that God gives us.  This is the love that God expects from us towards him.  This is how he expects the husband to demonstrate his love for God, in that he should love his wife in the same manner.  This is the love you wife deserves, and it is the love that you deserve to give her. That is why the Apostle Paul also tells us, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) Husband pay close attention, he says first love you wife, then the wife should show you do reverence. Not the other way around.  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3)

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How do we do this?  Well, we must keep in mind that God gave us our wife as a help-mate.  The husband and the wife are a team.  We are to share intimacy in all levels of our lives.  We should know that we have been given to one another as a blessing from God.  This life is hard and has all kinds of trials and distractions.  There are many hardships, and the heart of man is a lonely place.  That is why we have been given a wife.  To share in these moments of traveling from hilltops to valleys.  To support one another and encourage one another in the hard times, to cry with in the times of heartbreak, and to rejoice with in times of joy.  This is the relationship that God lives with us, through our wives. God gives us wisdom in this.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

We would do well to remember that this world has perverted the institution of marriage, and the sanctity of the wedding bed.  God gave us this gift of one wife.  We should consider it an honorable institution and one worth fighting for.  There are great rewards in marriage and there are terrible consequences to walking away from it, once we have taken a covenant vow before God.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

So is it lawful for a man to put his wife away for any reason (just because)?  According to man, it may be done.  However, according to God, No it is unlawful.


[1] (Wilkinson and Finkbeiner, LLP, n.d.)

[2] (Pew Research Center, 2021)

How Are Ye So Far Removed?


There is something that puzzles me greatly in the American churches. Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered together to conduct a survey that they refer to as the State of Theology. Now this survey was conducted which included the results of 3000 Americans. This survey asked questions like:

• True or False: God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake
• True or False: There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
• True or False: God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
• True or False: Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God
• True or False: Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God
• True or False: The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being
• True or False: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation


Now these are just a sampling of the questions that were asked in this survey. These questions can tell where an individual stands on these issues; and they are issues. These are the issues of life and death. What you believe on these affects your eternal fate.


We should expect that those who do not call themselves Christian should not believe in certain things that are in the bible. However, we should expect that “evangelicals” should believe what the bible says, and that the bible has authority over every other ancient and modern writings, philosophies, cultures, religions, or political and economic influences. While there is a wide difference in what people say that an evangelical is, the National Association of Evangelicals makes these distinctions to identify its members to the world.


• The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
• It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
• Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
• Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.


An evangelical should not be defined on political, social, or cultural trends that are made up in American or world societies. They should be distinct and adhere to these basic beliefs at a minimum.


Historically evangelicals have shared a strong conviction that (1) it is their duty to convert others to be “born-again”, (2) it is their duty to actively express and demonstrate the gospel through missionary work and social reform programs, (3) they have typically taken the defense that the Bible is the ultimate authority on spiritual matters and obedience is a necessity, and (4) the historical crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible for redemption of humanity.


It would seem then, that an evangelical is someone who confesses to believe in Jesus Christ for their savior and Lord. This survey shows that many evangelicals to not believe in basic biblical truths.
Many evangelicals do not believe:
• Jesus is God, Creator, and has always existed
• The bible and the information within it are accurate and true
• Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation
• Belief in Jesus is a requirement by God to receive eternal life
• The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity of God
• Hell is a real place where the unbelieving will be punished forever
• Jesus will return to judge all the people who have ever lived on earth
• Sex outside of marriage is a sin
• Abortion is a sin
• The Bible condemns homosexuality and all sexual immorality along with other sins


I cannot understand how those who say that they believe in the authority of scriptures can be so mislead that the very foundation of their belief is Jesus is in error. Paul the Apostle would have said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; bur there be some that trouble you , and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) How is it that you who call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who have professed to believe the gospel are so far removed from the very truths you profess to believe. If you do not believe the gospel that was first delivered to you, and have taken on a new gospel, then you do not believe in the gospel of grace that was revealed to you.


This means that their faith would be in vain. John wrote, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Again he wrote, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) The question is, do you believe what was written for your benefit? We are given the scriptures so that we can know what it is that we should know about God and to know that what we believe is correct. If we are told in just these two samples of scripture that Jesus is the Son of God and, we are commanded to believe that he is the Son of God; then failure to believe means that we are lacking something very important in our faith. The truth that Jesus is God, and that he is the Son of God is a requirement of belief in Jesus that cannot be ignored. If we then do not believe in this, we are not believers in Jesus, and we are not saved. We have simply… NOT believed on the name of Jesus.


Scripture also tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It is just as simple and clear as that. You see God does have all authority. He has chosen that men can be saved in only one way, believe that Jesus is God and that he became flesh and died for men, that their sins may be forgiven. This is the only way, belief in Jesus. This is what believing in Jesus means, if you don’t believe everything the scriptures say concerning him, then you don’t believe in him, or in the authority of his name as the living Son of God.


The problem is that we have progressively listened to the serpent in the garden. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he made her to question the authority of the Word of God that she had received. Once this doubt was in her head, she was vulnerable to the rest of his attack. Here is the account of the temptation of Eve in the garden.


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:1-6)


In here we see somethings that we should take note of, as those who believe. The first is that the form that Satan had taken. He was in the form of a serpent. The serpent in creation was subject to Adam and should have been confronted and put in his place with the authority God had given to Adam. Instead of putting the serpent to silence Eve listened to him. Second, the serpent is described as more subtle. This means that he was very intelligent and quite crafty. Notice that his approach is to say “Yeah, hath God said”. Did God really say this? Surely God didn’t mean you could not eat of that tree… Right there he usurps the very words of God and pulls the authority associated with it into question. If what she thinks that God said is not what God actually said, then it may not be wrong to eat of every tree in the garden after all.
Thus, it is with society. The serpent had slowly taken away the belief that what God has given us in scripture is accurate. This has been done through philosophies, pseudo sciences, textual criticisms, false teachers, errant preachers, and teachers who do not teach the whole counsel of God, and cults. Worst of all is that there is a new English version of the Bible out every day it seems. With so many versions in just English alone then how can you know which is the word of God? These have eroded trust in the bible and those who wield it.


If the Bible is not accurate, it cannot be trusted. If it cannot be trusted, then it may that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. It could be that we could save ourselves. It could be that God cannot tell us what is right and wrong. It could be that there really is no heaven nor a real hell. It could be that we do not even need to be saved at all. Do you see the progression?


Still there is this verse that calls to us. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” What things have been written that we may believe? Well that is the entirety of the Holy Bible. We are taught in the scriptures who God is. God is the creator, and as such he has supreme authority. In fact, his authority is beyond question. So, if God says something, it is fact and is trustworthy. If God caused 40 different authors located in three different continents over a span of almost 2000 years to reveal himself to us and to tell us something so urgent that we need to know, then shouldn’t we listen to it and take it for truth also?


These things are written so that you may believe… that seems like such an important statement. What then can we believe if we take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. To start with we can believe that Jesus is God, and Creator. (John 1:1-3) Here the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the living breathing Word of God. He says that Jesus was always with God from before the beginning because he is 100% God. John tells us that God did not make anything without Jesus, because Jesus is the one who created everything. So, in Genesis when it say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, that was Jesus who did the creating. In the first few verses of Genesis we see all three parts of the Trinity of God at work. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all in existence, and in union together. (James 2:19; Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4) Here we see that there is only one God in existence. This sole God created everything we have ever known in our lives and in the history of mankind. The theory of evolution is just that a theory. In fact, there are three different theories of evolution in existence today and they have all changed over time, as new science if brought out. This new science is more and more proving the Genesis narrative of creation.


Jesus as God has always existed. Since he has always existed, he was not created. Instead, he was the one who created everything. This gives him full authority over all of creation. This means that everything else written in the Bible is true also. So later when John also writes to us, “and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14), that this same Jesus, who is the Word, who is God, became a man and then walked among us. You see, Jesus was not a man who became God. There is no place in the bible where a man has ever become God. Neither is there anything written in the bible that says any other spirit, angel, or creature became God. There is only one God. No other God has ever existed. Anyone who tells you that you can become a god, or that Jesus is one of many Gods is telling a lie, from Satan. By the way, Satan is not a God either.


This Jesus, who is God in the flesh, walked among us and did teach many things about God, and how we should live, and what heaven is all about. He also taught us what hell is like. He affirmed the scriptures that tell us that God is a God of justice and he pours out his wrath on the unrighteous (sinful and rebellious). But Jesus also let us know of the great love and mercy that God has. Jesus was not just a great teacher of spiritual truths, he was the embodiment of the truth of God. This same creator who originally breathed life in to the first and every man since creation, also came to ensure that we can have eternal life in the presence of God. He was perfect and did not sin. Then Peter tells us this Jesus “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Why did he do this? Love. God loves you.


We cannot earn our way into heaven. We cannot buy our way into heaven. We cannot be a good person at heart and gain our way into heaven. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So here we are. We have all sinned in some way. Even if we had not the original sin of rebellion that was passed down from Adam, we have all still sinned. That is evident in our life. If does not matter how insignificant we may think our sin is, or even if we do not think it as a sin. If we have murdered, or if we have just told a little white lie or taken a pen from the office stationery at work, it is still a sin. The cost for that sin is death. Death is the result of failing to meet the standard of God. Because God is so holy, things that are not holy cannot enter his presence. Jesus made the way for man to enter the presence of God. He took that price of sin, the debt you owe, and paid it. Jesus died in your place. Jesus died, no one else. There was no angel, no ancestor or yours, no saint, and certainly no devil that stepped in and took the shame of your sin and bore it on their shoulders and died because of. That is why Jesus is the only way to heaven.


Then something happened to attest to us that Jesus is indeed God. He overcame death. Only God can defeat death because only God has the power and authority to. You see, death did not come into existence until after the fall of man. The fall of man did not happen until after the creation. God was before the creation. Jesus is the creator. God is the only one who can bring man back to God. Since there is only one God, he sent a piece of himself, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of redeeming us and all of creation back to himself. Jesus came, died, was buried, and rose from the dead, then he ascended to heaven where he resides waiting to return to take possession of the earth. But, to take possession, he will have to judge all of creation. Love is what keeps him on his throne in heaven. It is the will of God that no one should perish in hell. He desires that all should be saved. So, he is giving you every opportunity to live. You see in we are deceived by the devil so easily because we like to sin.
Let us go back and visit John again. John 3:16 is one that everyone loves to quote, the believer and the unbeliever also. But we never seem to get past to the other verses that accompany it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)
God does love. God did sacrifice his only Son for this love. God does require that you believe on this sacrifice and honor the name of his son, Jesus. Salvation is a free gift given to those who believe. But, did you catch the latter verse? “…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The ones who do not believe are already condemned; not chosen to be condemned. No, these are already condemned because of their own lack of belief. They have chosen to “not“ believe and chosen to reject Jesus, because they love their sin to death. That is why we are so easily deceived. We love the darkness. Only those who love the light, receive the truth.
What should we do then? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) Well, we should repent. Repentance must come before salvation. Repenting is a confessing to God that His ways are perfect and that you are not. You agree with his authority to say what is acceptable and what is not. Then confessing those things to him that you agree are not acceptable, those things we call sin. Confessing to lay those down and to never return to them again. Luke 13:3 tells us that except we repent… we will die. Repentance is first. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confession is a part of repentance.
We do not need to confess to a man, in fact in some cases it may be better not to. Confession is made to God, it is him of whom you are believing in, not a man. So, then repentance and confession are made to Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 tells us, “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.” The key here is to believe. Believing on Jesus is a choice. It is a choice and not a feeling. You are choosing to believe what the scriptures have said about God, and Jesus as the Son of God, and the sacrifice he made for you. This is what we call faith. We believe, not because we have seen, but because the trust that what God has said in the Bible is accurate and trust worthy. Without this giving of our trust in the truth of God and Jesus, then it is impossible to receive salvation. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It does not matter if you call yourself a Christian already, what matter is does Jesus know who you are?

Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Paul, one of Jesus’ apostles, tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We need to make sure of what we believe and why we believe it.


If you are not yet ready to believe, keep seeking him through his scripture, the Holy Bible. The Bible is what God has chosen to reveal himself to us by. Do not be a fool. There is no need to look anywhere else to seek God. Find a church, get into Sunday School, and attend a Pastor’s class or two and study earnestly in your bible. When your ready, ask God, and he will reveal himself to you.


Bibliography
Ligonier. (2020, 09 08). The State of Theology. Retrieved from thestateoftheology.com: https://thestateoftheology.com/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkdFeFl6RTRZemcwTmpGaiIsInQiOiJMVnBwTmQwNEs3blk0TW5oZ054ZGRuV2pTUnBibXcxdUxkSHlQU2hDQWxvU1RDamw4dmUrakRPa0ZcLzAyTlp3WDFFaDUxR0lHUmNUa0Q2cUZSRGZ1clJ5Q29WSWZNeXVmN1JGZHh4M2NMZldFMndEVHQ4Mzd0YzZ2RXZtMk1Jc0EifQ%
National Association of Evangelicals . (n.d.). What is an Evangelical. Retrieved from nae.net: https://www.nae.net/what-is-an-evangelical/