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.
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)
Baptizing for the dead, you can be baptized for someone who had died and remove their sin
Mormons used to believe that people of color could not be saved because they fell from heaven with Lucifer, changed in 1978.
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.
The Garden of Eden is in Missouri.
Jesus has a goddess as his wife.
Jesus had children with the goddess mother.
Jesus and Satan are brothers.
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)
salvation is attained through obedience to the law and doing good works (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W Kimball, page 206)
There is no salvation without Joseph Smith as a prophet of God (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, page 188)
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).
God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22).
God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
“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).
After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354).
There is a mother goddess, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).
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).
“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).
“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).
Good works are necessary for salvation (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 92).
“We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23).
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)
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).
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.
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 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.
I heard this on the radio this morning. The host said, “What if I told you a story about someone who could heal all your hurts.” Then they went on to say, “well it is not a story”. It is the greatest story ever told. They went on to explain that Jesus came to heal all of their hurts. Then they just said that we should have joy over that. It was not a bad thing to say at the first hearing. I assumed that their reference was to the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” that was released in 1965 by directory George Stevens. This is a movie adaptation of the biblical telling of Jesus of Nazareth, from his birth to his ascension, after his resurrection from the crucifixion. Or maybe it was referring to the Gather song, “It’s Still the Greatest Story Ever Told” which sings of the coming of the messiah as the baby Jesus, and how God became his own flesh and blood creation out of love for mankind. Now, this is the greatest story ever told. It also happens to be true. God became man. The Creator became his own creation to reveal his love of his to his creation. But to say that Jesus came to heal your hurts is the greatest story is a sweet little lie, or at the minimum a very incorrect statement, and no where near the truth.
You see, since the ancient of times, we have had great men of renown (Genesis 6:4). We have had wise men, like Solomon to give us sage advice and provide a model of sound judgement. Men like his father King David to show us how to protect the weak and provide for one another have been around since the beginning. We have even had men who have walked and talked to God, men like Enoch, Job, Noah, Moses and Abraham. We even have references to peoples hurts and sicknesses being healed in the Old and the New Testament, without it being a miracle. The author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts was a physician himself. God, from his throne was already reaching out to his people and healing their lands, their health, and giving them protection from their enemies. Jesus did not need to come here for any of that kind of stuff. Jesus did not come here for that kind of stuff. Did Jesus heal? Yes, he did. Did he come here to heal, yes, but not superficially. Does he care for you and your problems? Yes, he does. But that is not the reason why him coming is, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. You see we can already do all of these things for one another, if we so chose to do.
We can provide emotional support and care. We can provide medical treatment, and life saving measures. We can prolong life beyond what would have been. We can deter the effects of many diseases and even put many in remission. We can provide food and clothing to the orphans and widows. We can encourage one another when going through rough patches. But what we cannot do, is restore our relationship to God. We cannot raise ourselves from spiritual death, and make ourselves holy before God. This is what makes “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. God sent his only Son to restore our relationship to himself. Only God can give life. Only God can sustain life. Therefore, only God and bring us back to life.
In the beginning God created man with his own hands, and gave him life. Genesis 1:26-27 – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 2:7 – And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Here we see the special relationship that God and man had from the very beginning. God created man with a special vision and purpose in mind. He created man as a model after himself and man was to be the caretaker of creation. He was God’s representative on earth. God planned him out, formed him with his own hands from the earth. This shows man’s relationship to God and to his creation. The God breathed life into man. God gave man life in an intimate and direct manner. Then man became a living soul. Man from the very beginning was flesh, spirit, and soul. Man was alive and if you were to continue reading in Genesis you would see that he was in fellowship with God. He walked and talked to God with no mediator in between, no fear.
Then a horrible event took place. Man was deceived by an enemy of God, who was once one of God’s chief angels. This fallen angel wanted to God. So he used cunning words to deceive the woman and the man that God was unfair and unjust. This deceptive picture of God caused man to question God’s word and authority. This led to the first sin of disobedience against God. Because man’s image of God had been distorted by what they were told about God, they believed incorrectly, and sinned. This is the same reason that I am writing this today. This false image of who Jesus is and why he came is a deception that must be confronted, lest anyone come to Jesus for the wrong reasons, and miss out on the real reason he came. Did Jesus heal people of their hurts, diseases, and deliver them from devils? Yes, he did. However, those were just signs to prove his authority for why he really came. The reason he came is so much more important than just physical healing or food for your stomach. He came to give you life, life that you have never had before. He came to deliver you out of the hands of death.
You see sin, brought death. Not just spiritually, but physical death also. Diseases, famine, pestilence, injustice, mental illness, and far more are all brought about by sin. These are not brought about by God, but by our fallen condition, caused by sin. We have never known a day without sin, since the fall of mankind in the beginning. This is part of the reason we cannot redeem ourselves. We do not even have an idea of what true justice, or righteousness looks like. But God does. He above all knows the cost that sin has had upon us, his special creation. Therefore, Jesus came to make us his righteousness. He was sent by the Father because someone had to die for the sin that we were trapped in. It had to be someone who had never sinned, nor was a receiver of the curse of sin through the bloodline of Adam.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the statement made by God through the apostle Paul. The only payment for sin is death. That is the only reward that sin ever brings – eternal death. But God gives eternal life through Jesus Christ. The apostle John recorded the words of Jesus as this, 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. (John 3:16) So, let us take a moment to reflect on these two statements made by God. Sin, of which we are all guilty of by inheritance, action, or omission is punishable by death. There is no alternative to this debt. Unless the debt is paid for us.
Now, here comes the Creator. He loves us so much, that he created us with a special purpose and in an intimate manner and remembers the intimacy we once had. He desires to have this intimacy once again with his creation (you and me) so much that he decides to pay the death penalty for us. He does this though sacrificing his own son, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus died in our place, anyone who believes and accepts this payment of our death debt through the death of Jesus can be saved based on that belief. Now we who believe are brought from death to life. We are not just spared death and given a life, but we are given eternal life.
So what is eternal life? Jesus put it like this, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) Eternal life is the restoration of the creation to the Creator. We once again are able to walk in fellowship with God. Remember, he is the source of life. Life emanates from him. Without him there is no life. We are tied into the source of life for eternity because he is eternal. He does not change, nor die, and neither do we. We have eternal life through Jesus Christ unto God the Father, sealed by the Holy Spirit.
What is the difference in what you believe? He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36) You see we must have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and why he came. He came to do far more that just heal our hurts. He came to restore our relationship to God himself. He came to deliver us from death and from the wrath of God. Those who reject him, or who do not believe on him, are already under the wrath of God. Deliverance from the wrath of God comes in this way…
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that he was sent by God the Father to redeem you. Believe that Jesus did everything necessary to redeem you though his death, burial, and resurrection. Believe from the heart is not a feeling, but a choice to fully believe this as the truth. Belief on Jesus is what makes you righteous before God, and confession of this faith in Jesus Christ is what ties this belief to your acceptance of salvation. This is because it is prof of your belief. Not for God, but for yourself and for those who need to hear the truth. God Saves… this is “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. It is the story of how God loved you so much that he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for you, so that you could live with him. God has done for you what you could not do. He saved you from wrath, and death. He gave you eternal life.
There seems to be a lot of confusion over the question of prayer, and if God answers all prayers. Many Christians sit in pews and listen to pastors who teach that God answers all prayers. The pastors say that sometimes God will say “yes”. They will admit that sometimes God says “no”, or even “maybe”, or “wait”. These are all valid answers. I have seen examples of such answers that I have given to my own children in seeking to be a good parent. Children sometimes ask for things that are not good for them. Or for things that are inappropriate for them. However, there were times to when they were asking things with the wrong attitude, or the while they were being punished, or things that they just knew that I would not allow, but they asked anyway.
On those occasions, I simply ignored the pleading. I had all the right to as a parent. Just because I was asked, it did not mean that I must answer or even that I had to listen. You may have been in a similar situation with your children. Lucky for us we serve a God who is the essence of what is good. He loves us from his goodness, and his goodness gives us love. Therefore, He always seeks our best interest, within his will. We are his children, and we are treated as such. But, what about those who are not his children? Does God have to pander to their requests? Does he have the right to disregard their prayers?
The Holy Bible starts out with a simple assumption, that God exists. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) If God exists, and he created the heaven and the earth then God is sovereign. We either must believe that or not. Now if we believe that God is sovereign then we must believe that he is not under our jurisdiction. He is free to determine what he must and must not do. God gets to choose his own actions. God’s actions are governed by his own character.
This character is what has been the demonstration of what is true in love, charity, longsuffering, righteousness, and all things that are good. Our since of justice comes from the character of God. God as creator does not have to answer for himself to his creation. We simply must accept that he can choose to answer any prayer that he so chooses to answer. In accepting that as truth we must also accept as truth; God can choose to not answer, and even ignore some prayers. We do not dictate the terms to God. It is God who dictates terms to his creation.
To ignore the sovereignty of God would put us in the same place as Satan. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Ezekiel 14:12-14) You would think that we would see and understand that to stand in the presence of God and make demands of him is to put ourselves in the position of God. This is what happened in the Garden of God in Eden. There Satan tempted Eve to sin, by telling her that she would be like God. (Genesis 3:5) We must listen to what the Word says and not what we desire. So, are there times that God chooses to ignore prayers? What does the Word say about unanswered and ignored prayers?
Well James the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3) The epistle of James is believed to have been written around 49-50 AD, that would make it the earliest written letter written, after the Ascension of Christ, in the New Testament. Here James is answering the same question that we are still asking today. Why doesn’t God answer all prayers? In this short sentence James tells us that if we ask to consume it in our lusts, that is to say, to satisfy fleshly desires, or in self-serving desire, then you are asking in vain because God will not honor that prayer. So, the motivation of our prayer has to be sincerely unselfish. So, is it wrong to ask for the things we need? No, Jesus himself told us that we should ask that our joy may be full. Jesus also says that we should seek the kingdom of God first, because the Father knows everything we need, and he will supply our need. So, James does not contradict Jesus. Both Jesus and James, tell us that we should ask with the proper motivation.
We also see that the Lord will not hear those who think immorality in their heart. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalms 66:18) What an eye opener this verse is. To put it in context, the writer is actually praising God for hearing his prayers, and NOT those of the wicked. He draws a contrast and comparison between himself as a righteous man before God who seeks to do the will of God and those who do not seek the will of God. These who enjoy and keep sin in their hearts will have their prayers unanswered because they are separated from God and God will not hear them. Pay close attention to what Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) Iniquities are knowledgeable sins. These are sins we know are wrong and choose to continue in them. These separate us from God, and then he will not hear us. This is what leads the Apostle John to write, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31) There seems to be a theme developing here. The theme that wrongly motivated prayers and a desire to continue in sin are some things that motivates God to NOT answer prayers. Heck it even seems that he ignores those who do such things.
In fact, God tells the prophet Jeremiah, because Israel has violated these two principles and rejected God, he will not hear them when they pray, and he forbids prayer for them. Did you hear that? Don’t believe me? Listen to Jeremiah 14:10-12, “Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” Wow he will not hear their prayers, not anyone else’s prayers for them. He will not listen even if they fast, no matter how often nor how long they pray, because they have rejected him. I think that it is fair enough to say that the doors of heaven can be closed to those who leave God, should he so choose.
Ok so far we see that God can choose to ignore prayer from those who have improper motives rooted in selfishness. God will not hear those who choose to live in sin, or who have forsaken God for another god. Now we move on to those who have actually rejected God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and the Word of God was with God in the beginning and created all things. The Word also tells us, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.” (Proverbs 3:19-22) and then scripture also tells us that this wisdom of God that Created, this Word of God that Created, this Jesus that Created, if you reject him. Then you will cry out and the Father will not hear you.
• Proverbs 1:24-28 – Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: • Matthew 10:33 – But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. • John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
There we clearly that the rejection of Jesus Christ means that the Father does not know you. That would mean that he is not your Father. You would not then be his child. He would be under no obligation to hear those who have rejected Jesus. God does have a real heart for those who listen to him, those who abbey his will, and those who care for others. So much so that Zachariah tell us that God proclaims that those with hard hearts, who refuse to listen to the Lord and his commandments he will not hear. (Zechariah 7:11-13). Proverbs 28:9 tells us that those who turn there ears away the hearing of the Law of God, God considers their prayers an abomination. That means that God thinks that those who do not even bother to listen to his law and then want to pray to him, that their prayers are an outrage. There is another form of ignoring that God does not particularly care for and will cause prayers to be unheard. Those who ignore the plight of the poor, when they ask of God, their prayers will be, likewise, ignored. (Proverbs 21:13) God will not hear the prayers of those who mistreat his people either. These are those who hate good, love evil, who seek to hurt and kill the Saints of God.
• Psalm 18:40-41 – Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not. • Micah 3:2-4 – Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
These have cried in the past and the Lord choose to ignore their pleas. There are other examples of prayers that do not get answered. Prayers from those who worship idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14; Ezekiel 8:15-18. Those who do not believe will not receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-7).
So then if we are all unrighteous, who does God hear? Those who seek and call upon him in belief that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him to know who he is.
• James 1:5 – But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. • Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. • Job 33:26 – Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, That he may see His face with joy, And He may restore His righteousness to man. • Psalm 91:15 – “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. • Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. • Psalm 65:2 – O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.
• Jeremiah 36:7 – Perhaps their supplication will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” • Matthew 7:11 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! • John 14:13 – Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. • John 14:14 – If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. • John 16:23 – In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. • John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. • James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. • Matthew 21:22 – And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” • 1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. • 1 John 5:15 – And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. • Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
Scripture is clear. God is sovereign and he chooses to ignore those who do not recognize or who ignore his sovereignty. But to those who sincerely seek him, and desire to know him. He will reveal himself to them. Those who are repentant and who confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died, was buried, and rose again from the grave, and desire to perform his will, God will hear, and answer. He will fulfill the desires of that person’s heart. God hears those who hear him. If you first ask to hear God, he will let you hear him, that your joy may be full. You want to hear something really neat? God prays for us. (Romans 8:27; John 17:15; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:15) In addition, for those who accept Jesus as Christ, those have been made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) This means the unrighteous man that John said God would not hear… we are no longer that unrighteous man. Therefore, God hears us, because of Jesus Christ, in order that the Son of God may be glorified of the Father. What wonderful news!
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.
These scriptures focus on some very important principles on what we have in Christ, and our responsibilities as individuals and as a church toward one another. We have (1)Boldness to enter in to the Holiest of Holies by the blood of Jesus Christ. (2) A freshly slain and living way to through the veil. And (3) A great High Priest over the House of God. Because we have such important gifts from God the Father, we have certain responsibilities that we are to focus on as individuals and as a church. They are to:
Hold Fast Our Confession
Consider One Another
Exhort One Another
The responsibilities covered in this scripture are the foundation of church life. Church life is not just showing up once or twice a week and being entertained for an hour or so and then going out to eat at a restaurant and never considering the impact of Christ in our lives and in the lives of our brethren.
We are invited into the very presence of God. That way is made possible because of the covering we receive from the blood of Jesus. We are able to enter into the Holy of Holies to do service to God. The Levitical High Priest could only enter the presence of God once a year. The purpose was to offer sacrifices for the House of Israel for sins they had committed throughout the year. In the book of Exodus the process for the priests to enter the Holy of Holies is outlined. The clothes that Aaron and the priests were to wear had to first be washed with water. Then Aaron was to be robed and anointed with a specially made oil. Only after the washing, the robing, and the anointing could Aaron enter the presence of God with confidence that he would not be destroyed. This complete sacrificial system was superseded by the complete sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Jesus is our cleansing, sanctification and access to the Father. His living sacrifice is what gives us boldness to enter the presence of God.
Our sins are therefore, not only covered, but removed from us. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Do you know that no matter how far east you go, you can never find the west? Nor can you find the east from going west. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) Jesus became the great High Priest, because of his righteousness toward God. Now that Jesus is risen He is continuously before the Father offering up prayers and interceding for us. This gives us a clean conscience by which we can enter with confidence in to the presence of God.
The Lord Almighty had extended salvation to us, and an invitation to renew our fellowship with him. We must move on past the basic milk of the gospel. We have to move on to the meat and potatoes of our relationship with God the Father. Genesis 5:24 says that “Enoch walked with God.” Genesis 6:9 says that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” We have the same ability right now. Jesus had made it possible to walk in the presence of the Creator of the Universe! – Amen! We can draw near to God and into his very presence through prayer, scripture study, and fellowship. “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11) We have become priests to God, and there is now no veil between his presence and our priesthood. We need to come to God with a “true heart” and in “full assurance of faith.” A true heart has full faith and acceptance that one can into the presence of God.
Hold Fast Our Confession
These times we live in are hazardous to Christians. Groups like ISIS are torturing and killing Christians by the truck load. Hostility towards Christians and the scriptures is toxic even here in the United States. Christians are losing their jobs, educational opportunities, and freedoms of open worship all across this country. Sharing the Love of Christ is often met with “hater” rhetoric and standing up for your Christian faith can even lead to civil and criminal charges in many states.
Now this should not surprise us, Jesus made more than one warning that we would be mistreated and persecuted for embracing Him. I will not expand on it here, but read Matthew 24: 4-13 to see what Jesus warned we would face in the last days. But remember the importance of taking up his cross. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or shat shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Sond of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”(Matthew 16:24-27) (Matthew 24:4-13) (Daniel 7:13-14) Keeping in mind that this is our end game, we should assist one another and keep each other’s sufferings and needs in mind. In case you missed it, Jesus is RETURNING – Amen!
Consider One Another
In the 17th chapter of John it is recorded that Jesus prayed for us. “I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from evil… Sanctify them through Your truth, Your Word is truth.” (John 17:15) Jesus not only prayed for His apostles, but for every believer in the world and anytime. If it is so important for our savior to consider our needs and to pray for us. How much more should we pray for one another in our daily lives. In James 5:16 it says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Assembling together is not just something to be done on Sundays. The assembling with believers is mandated over and over in the New Testament. Assembling together puts us right in the presence of Jesus. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Assembling together gives us a support structure through accountability and encouragement.
I am a recovering alcoholic, and as such, I cannot go and hang out with old friends who drink. Instead I have to be around other recovering alcoholic and abusers. My old friends are still living in there destructive lifestyle and would only encourage me to return to my old ways. I would be foolish to put myself in that situation. It is not that my old friends wish me harm. They just miss the guy I use to be.
But those who are striving to leave the old ways behind, and know the consequence of failure, are more likely not to let me return to my old ways. In addition, they can more readily see the signs of when someone is on their way to return to drinking or abusing. Then they can intercede and stop me from making a foolish mistake, in a moment of weakness, which could cost my life. In fact the first signs that someone is recovering is that they stop going to meetings, and stop communicating with their sponsor. It is very simple. “Birds of a feather, flock together”; so this gives us strength in numbers.
Exhort One Another
Living a life for Christ, even in American, can have its hazards. It takes courage and love to go our on a daily basis and talk to people about Christ. Even in environments where your expected to. Ministry takes a lot of overcoming insecurities, and self criticisms. Preaching the gospel, caring for the poor and homeless, the elderly, diseased, and those imprisoned takes personal sacrifices. These sacrifices include time, money, family relationships, employment, and sometimes social status. Wow, just thinking of it can be daunting.
Without encouragement fellow believers would fail. Encouragement is more than just patting on the back and saying hang in there. Encouragement is interceding for one another, supporting one another financially, and reinforcing the heart and mind with scriptures. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Some other scriptures of encouragement are: Psalm 9:9, Psalm 23:4, Palm 25:22, Matthew 11:28-29
So in closing, I encourage you to pray one for another, do not forsake the gathering together with believers, remember the sacrament of the breaking of bread, and draw close to Jesus. “And let the peace of Christ rule your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) – Amen!
Newell, William R. Hebrews, Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987. Print.
Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996. Print.
Carson, D. A., Douglas J. Moo, and Andrew David Naselli. Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Print.
King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.
Henry, Matthew, and Leslie F. Church. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1961. Print.
Sitting here watching the rains come down by the gallons, I wondered away in thought. It is kind of scary how far off our thoughts can get. Well at least mine. We have been reading in 1st Corinthians and I wondered. How could the first century church get to far off from what the gospel was about? I mean, the Apostle Paul is still alive, and writing to them. They had Apollos, Cephas, and other spirit filled followers, of the Way, right there with them. Paul even sent Timothy to follow up with them and make sure that they were following the teachings they had received.
Jesus commanded us, as believers, to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe ALL I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The word observe has several meanings, but they all come down to follow with the eyes of the mind and stick to correctly, or conform ones actions or practice to. So another way of putting it could be that Jesus said to teach them to conform to the commandments I gave you. This is what discipleship is. With that in mind. What are the most important commandments of Jesus?
If we took all of his teachings and commandments, and the way he lived his life and put it all together, what would be the result? What are we to conform our lives to? Now I’m talking to believers, those who have repented, confessed Jesus as Lord, taken up their cross and are followers of the Way of Christ.
Does anyone remember what kind of house Jesus lived in? Wasn’t it the biggest one on the block? Wasn’t his chariot the newest thing out of Rome? Does anyone recall when he was on the Mount of Olive and he said, those who are rich are welcome in the kingdom and the poor need to wait outside? Well if you remember all these things you have a very different version of the New Testament then I do.
No he said that the Son of man has not where to lay his head. He walked almost everywhere he went. He said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. He said if you give to the poor and the hungry and visit the prisoners, then you did so to him.
So what is the command? Couldn’t he just come out and say it? I can be pretty thick headed. Hmmm… Well, thanks to Jesus thinking of me, and how I would need to have my hand held all the way, he did tell us very plainly.
When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He not only answered, plainly, but went the extra mile. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all our mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, KJV)
Once again Jesus reiterated,“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV) By these two commandment, everything Jesus wanted us to observe is made perfect.
Just to make sure we understood how important these commandments are Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” So… In loving the Lord we keep his commandments to love the Lord your God and to love one another. But how do we love the Lord? How do we express the way to love the Lord? We live in a world where all we are taught is how to love ourselves.
Let us start with something basic. Most of us being selfish, still know how to show love to our children, a spouse, a sibling, a pet, a close friend, or to parents. I know, not all at the same time, but we have at least a starting point. You can express love to the Lord in the same way you express love to one of these that you do love. Now this is only a beginning and meant to get you to find your own ways to express love for the Lord.
Do Things For Him
Shut Up and Listen
Give Praise and Brag on Him
Let’s start with being thankful. Expressing thanks to someone you love just for being there is a great way to show your love. I love the fact that my wife is there for me, even when she doesn’t realize it, her presence lifts me up. Sometimes I just reach over and tell her, Thanks for no reason. When my son cuts the grass for me, I tell him thanks, because he did not have to do that. When my wife brings me diner, and yes she does bring me diner. I know in this day and age that is not the norm, so I thank her for it without fail. She is not my servant, but shows her love for me in this manner. The Lord does things for you all the time, even when you do not know. Show your love and appreciation by thanking him, as often as you need to. You should thank Him, as soon as you think of it.
Do Things for Him
That brings us to another point. Do things for the Lord that He enjoys. I help my wife with cooking, and dishes, and other household chores. I make her little drawings, I by her flowers for no reason. So what are some things we can do for the Lord? Funny you should ask, because he told us in Matthew 25: 34-40,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
I love to just sit on the bed, or go for a drive with my wife and just enjoy being with her. I love sitting on a peer with my son and fishing, or just being in the presence of my family without the phone in my hand, or theirs. Just spending time with them lets them know they are important to me. Spend time with the Lord. Get up early and go to sit by the water and just enjoy His presence, or have a cup of coffee and meditate on His goodness. Spend time with him and let him know you enjoy the time he has to spend with you. Enjoy his voice.
Shut Up and Listen
Most of the time I spend with family is sitting in the living room or at the dinner table and they just talk about their day. Most of the time they talk to fast I can hardly keep up with the conversation, much less add my own thoughts. I often have to stop them and make them start over so I can understand. They laugh at me a little sometimes, and sometimes they even repeat what they said, to make sure I know what was went on with them. But just taking the time to listen, and try to understand is another way I show my love. I care about what they are trying to say, even if I don’t always understand it the first time. Spending time with the Lord in Prayer and study is a very good way to not only learn more about God, but to show Him that you love Him enough to try to understand Him. Remember the Lord says to Seek and you shall find. Ask and it will be given. Set a specific time of day just to spend in prayer and study His Word.
Give Praise and Brag on Him
When my wife gives me a pat on the back, or brags about me to others, “Boy Howdy!” I love it because I know she thinks about me, when I’m not there. I will honestly tell you my wife is the best cook I have ever known. I mean, I will lay money on it. She knows it and so does everyone else. I love to brag at work and tell everyone the latest culinary masterpiece that she developed in the cooking channel that is our kitchen.
The same way is with my son’s playing of the trumpet, everyone in the stadium knows that he is the best trumpet player in the band, and it they didn’t know before I got there, they do when I have left. Or that my other son is the hardest working, biggest hearted man I know, who will literally give you the shirt off his back. The gentleness in his heart makes me cry every single time I think about him.
This is the way we should brag and praise the Lord. Hey! Your God is the one who SAVED you from death. Y our God is the one who formed you in the womb. our God is He who provides everything you have. Your God is He who parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He is the creator or all that is see and unseen. He is coming back to wipe away the heavens and the earth and create a new heavens and earth, and guess what, your gona have a front row seat! Praise God! Brag in Him. “ I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.” Psalms 9:1
Knowing that someone loves you is euphoric. We are created in God’s image. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are one awesome God and deserve our love and our outward expression of love. So rejoice in the Lord and brag about being His beloved. “For the Lord gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (Psalms 127:2) Don’t take Him for granted. Tell others how much He loves you and them.
This is only a short list of ways to love the Lord your God. I am sure you have already thought of many more. It is time to move away from the milk of the gospel and onto to cereals of the doctrine of love in Christ Jesus. There is no division in Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus there is no Jew, Catholic, or Protestant. We are one church. We are all baptized in to one resurrection, and by His love they shall know we are one in Him.
Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) What then is repentance? Why is it so important? What does it look like?
I will tell you first what repentance is not. Repentance is not just being sorry because you got caught. Although, being caught can be a motivation towards repentance. Sorrow for being caught and apologizing is not repentance in itself. In truth, repentance does not require an emotional response either. Yes emotions can be a factor in bringing someone to repentance.
What is required for repentance?
Repentance requires an understanding of a wrong that was committed.
Repentance requires an understanding of consequences that have a cause and effect from act committed. Repentance requires ownership of the act committed.
Repentance requires a sincere commitment not to re-commit the wrong that was committed.
For Christian repentance it requires acceptance that Jesus paid the consequence for the wrong committed. Christian repentance requires that we commit our lives to God through Jesus. Acts 20:21 tell us that it is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”. So then, repentance is a decision, a change of mind, resulting in an inward and outward action of turning from your old way of life to a better life in fellowship with God through Jesus the Savior.
Repentance is a gift that God has given us. We have all been hurt by someone in our past, by someone we really loved and trusted. We have all felt so betrayed that we didn’t see how we could ever trust anyone again. No one could make us love again. No one would ever be allowed to get that close to use again. We have all felt that loneliness that comes with the anger and isolation of mistrust. For those of us who have overcome and have someone in our lives we can trust again, how did we do that? Better yet for those who still struggle with trust issues, how do you overcome?
How do you trust someone again? Can anyone EARN your trust? I think the answer is no. No one can earn your trust. So then what? This is the way… you have to give someone your trust. You have to take a chance. You have to give it away. You have to forgive. This is what I mean by, repentance is a gift from God. We cannot earn Gods trust any more than someone can earn yours, if you have been hurt. God chooses to give us a way to come into His graces. God chose to make the sacrifice of blood that was necessary to bring us in to his fellowship again. Why? Because like you, God wants to be close to the ones that He loves. Because God knows that having a relationship with you as an individual is worth the sacrifice.
Repentance is a part of the foundation of Christianity. Acts 17:30 states, “…but [God] now commandeth all men [women] everywhere to repent.”, and again in Luke 13:13 we discover that unless we do repent, we will perish. So then the way to eternal life starts with repentance… a choice to change. Peter announced in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Repentance is necessary for salvation. How can a husband who has wronged his wife expect to be forgiven and trusted if he is still committing the offences that lead to his separation from his wife? How can an employee make amends to an employer if they are still stealing from the employer? How can an addict be trusted if they are still using? It doesn’t make much sense does it? It is one thing to be sorry, it’s another to choose to change. Repentance is yet more than these, you have to put your faith in Jesus. You have to trust that He has the power and the will to deliver you.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, the first few steps to recovery are to admit you have a problem. Know that you are powerless to stop it. You have to take a moral inventory of yourself. Know that you can be delivered from the behavior by a higher power. Then commit to that power, and continue in the way you are led. I can think of no better example of repentance.
When you repent, you have to put your faith in Jesus to deliver you from your moral bankruptcy. You have to commit to Jesus for life. The phrase “Let go and let God.” Does not mean to quit trying. It means to submit to Jesus.
“Know ye not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether to sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness: But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)
This is the doctrine of salvation – “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus stepped in and took blame for everything you ever did, or will do against God, and paid the price with His life. You say I didn’t do anything against God. Well the truth is you have. Every lie, everything you took that wasn’t yours. Every vile thought, every time you talked about someone behind their back. Every time you judged the homeless, or ignored a widows tears, or a child’s hunger. When you chose to use your pain to hold judgement against someone else, you did those and more against God. Just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t need to repent either.
1John 1:8-9 was talking to followers when he said, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The church of Pergamos was warned, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16) Examine yourself today and confess aloud your sin to Jesus and recommit your way.
The Lord Himself commanded us to take up our crosses daily. This way you can be in fellowship with God today. “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:3-4)
This is a gift from God toward us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1)