Cantonese Saturday Night? Just Stop!

כור את־יום השבת לקדשו׃ Or as it is said in the King James version, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” This phrase has shaped and lead to many of the deepest divisions and conflicts within the umbrella of Judaeo-Christian or as the Muslims say Bookish people. Even the Muslims themselves, as well as the Druze and Samaritans are affected. Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. These simple words weigh on people more than the injunctions against blasphemy or murder. But have any of the parties to this debate actually parsed the words well enough to form such divisive and rigid doctrines?

This is a command in two parts. The first seems plain enough. Remember the Sabbath, Shabbat, Shabbas to the Ashkenazi (Kenites?) among us, seems to be a reminder to honor and practice the Sabbath. That’s Saturday on the English calendar, right? Simple enough. But how do we practice it?

But wait. Most Christians tell us that the Sabbath is Sunday. Sunday? Saturday? Which is it? Continue reading “Cantonese Saturday Night? Just Stop!”

Blessed Bloody Barbecue

I always find it ironic when one of the Ashkenazi repeat the mantra of doubt, “The Christian Bible isn’t my Bible.” There is a lot of of finagling on the part of Jewish teachers to arrive at that conclusion, which is then taken to heart by the uninformed congregant and repeated with the eye-watering fervor of a child wishing for a precious toy. I can certainly empathize with this position. Having argued with certain individuals who use fallacy and polemic to twist scripture so that it says whatever currently suits them, I know what it feels like to argue a known obvious truth with someone who simply changes the meaning to suit their conclusions. It’s like wrestling atop a pile of sand draining through a hopper. The domain of the topic can completely shift from one clause to the next, in a single statement by a deceitful polemicist. Continue reading “Blessed Bloody Barbecue”

Christians are Weirdos in Relationship to God

Christian living is a complicated subject largely because it is a matter of interpolation. Jesus and to a degree the apostle Paul–a.k.a. Saul l’Tarsi–are role models, mentors to be imitated. We have their sermons and narratives to draw on to see how they lived and what doctrines and principals are to be applied. However, we are forced to then interpolate those principals and doctrines to our present day circumstances and then using sound interpretation apply the commands and instructions of scripture to our lives. It’s pretty complicated if you break it down and focus on every little step. If you are trying to accomplish it on your own it just doesn’t work. Likewise if you are completely uninvolved, believing that Grace is a big magic wand that frees you from responsibility to exert any effort in achieving the goal of be shaped in the form of Christ, you’ve failed before you begin.

To complicate things further, there are several distinct heresies, Continue reading “Christians are Weirdos in Relationship to God”

Forget to Forgive

A sermon today included the following points:

  1. Woe to him that is offended for God shall not heal his life nor grant him a miracle.
  2. If you are offended you must forgive. In fact, you cannot be blessed by God unless you forgive everyone everything.
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, failing to hold a person accountable or free from punishment.
  4. [The pastor] believes in doing to them what they do to you. But that means forgive everyone cause Jesus forgives everyone.
  5. Forgiveness doesn’t mean [the pastor and his church] won’t track you down and beat you if you are doing something violent, never-the-less you can’t hold grudges.

This lead me to revisit the passages cited which were MAT 18:7 (kjv) and COL 3:13-14 (kjv). Continue reading “Forget to Forgive”

Dead Camels Fill the Heavens with Midges

A young woman named V recently argued that old dead heresy of Calvin in the context of whether the Holy Spirit still baptised and conferred gifts. The greater questions have been dealt with previously, but she raised the following questions:

1) I suppose what i dont understand, then, is why does the bible say once we are saved, we are sealed? What can break the seal?
2) How do you believe one becomes saved?
3) Why do you believe that once salvation was offered to the gentiles, paul only preached salvation by grace through faith?

What follows was my response with expanded exposition on the scriptures:

First things first. Continue reading “Dead Camels Fill the Heavens with Midges”

Becomming Dis-Spirited.

I’ve heard a lot of commentary to the effect that a person is “spiritual” not religious. On the surface this makes sense. It was a common fad in the Pentecostal as well as Evangelical circles in the 20th century to equate innovative faiths like the Catholic and Calvinist faiths with “religion” and western Orthodoxy with non-religious “relationship” and “Faith”.

I’ve been guilty this in the past as well. Religiosity is one of the few remaining pejoratives allowed to the politically correct and they brood it about like a goad. The problem is the way the term “Spiritual” has been pirated by the New Age movement and pagan faiths. What used to be a distinction between empty ritual and a relational faith in the person and character of a tangible, present, paternal Creator–has become a cop-out to avoid adherence to any given creed or doctrine. It is being used to cast the Received, Orthodox, Western Christian tradition as a boogeyman out to oppress the free thinker and the Godly.

You ask a person what “kind” of Christian are you and you get vague answers about being spiritual and “just believing the Bible.” Good, you believe the Bible–Torah, Neviim, Khetuvim, Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation of John. Good deal. But what does it MEAN to you? Why are you evading the question? What do you have to hide? What body of doctrinal forestructure, what tradition of faith are you so ashamed of that you can’t tell me what it is?

Another problem with this wishy-washy Spirituality, is the question of what “spirits” are involved? Do you mean the Ruach Hakodesh and the Seven Tributary Spirits of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, or do you mean you cousin Bob who died in 1984? Do you have familiar spirits? A strange black cat? A dozens cats? Sheilaism is rampant.

These Spiritualists see no distinction between Christianity, Mormonism and Islam. The formative principles of these faiths are diametrically opposed, yet “spiritual” individuals insist they believe in all of them. Oddly they often fail to conflate Judaism and Christianity. Isn’t it Ironic? These are the two Religions that are actually capable of commingling, given that essential Christianity is a revision and expansion of Judaism. But the very understanding of God and deity between Mormonism and other faiths is irreconcilable. “As Man is now, God once was?” Blasphemy, if you are a Christian or a Jew–or both.

I’m not advocating armed religious conflict. But Christian, “stand up and be counted.” Stop hiding behind silly semantics and demonstrate what makes you separate. Without distinction and yes, discrimination–what do you really have to offer. But above all, admit that you have religion. The Christian Religion.

Lambs dip while hogs wallow. 2 Pet 2:14

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 2TI 4:1 (bbe)

Never before has this been more true nor more confused and destructive. Television streams a constant barrage of every false and demonic doctrine packaged and presented with all the finesse of only a video studio can achieve, marketing lies and deception along with charms and keepsakes and vacations at amusement parks. People can have any flavor of false prophet or even build a personalized religion by sampling these media giants like a hungry child at an open buffet. There plates are full but when they eventually must regurgitate the tasty but malnutritious bounty, they ultimately go hungry and cannot reproduce. Being unfruitful (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.) they will ultimately be pruned from the vine and cast into the fire.

Strong language, I know, but not undue. Recently I was channel surfing and landed for a moment on a prophet of Lucre and Mammon who was trying to excuse his ministry, which is generally comprised of assuring rich oil merchants that their money is proof of God’s favoritism and their sinful lives are merely an inconvenience. It is serendipitous that the man is named for the god he preaches.

On this particular day he was prophesying from Galatians, a much misinterpreted book because taken out of context several verses are so filled with hyperbole’ that the meaning is lost, until you read the following passage which corrects the course and intention of the passage. Mr. Money had the Scripture saying that since, Jesus death was to bring about relationship and, since human’s ultimately fail in obeying the law on their own, the law is valueless except as a contrast with the life of license to live without conscience, which he assures us is the meaning of grace. Now I know from other of his broadcasts that he does teach that God’s Standard of Holiness is a necessity in the Christian life. But in the moment, confused by the unintelligible babble of the so called amplified Bible, he over stated Paul’s indictment against legalism and Judaizing of the Church, with a license to be free of the Law as a School Teacher to show us what a Holy God disapproves in the life of his children. Like so many others he misunderstood Paul.

As peter said:

These are fountains without water, and mists before a driving storm; for whom the eternal night is kept in store. For with high-sounding false words, making use of the attraction of unclean desires of the flesh, they get into their power those newly made free from those who are living in error; Saying that they will be free, while they themselves are the servants of destruction; because whatever gets the better of a man makes a servant of him. For if, after they have got free from the unclean things of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again taken in the net and overcome, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them to have had no knowledge of the way of righteousness, than to go back again from the holy law which was given to them, after having knowledge of it. They are an example of that true saying, The dog has gone back to the food it had put out, and the pig which had been washed to its rolling in the dirty earth. 2PE 2:17-22 (bbe)

Mr. Money’ take on Galatians would necessitate a discrepancy, that Peter’s Gospel and Faith are at odds with Paul’s in effect a different religion. God changed his mind. Instead, we live by faith and that means we know that our sins were forgiven on the cross, even the ones we’ll commit after salvation and therefore we are never accountable as long as we believe. Well God might be displeased; it might hurt our relationship–but he’s patient so it’s all good, all the time.

But let’s look at what Galatians really says. At the heart of Paul’s thesis he makes the following statement:

Being conscious that a man does not get righteousness by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, we had faith in Christ Jesus, so that we might get righteousness by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law will no flesh get righteousness. But if, while we were desiring to get righteousness through Christ, we ourselves were seen to be sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? In no way! For if I put up again those things which I gave to destruction, I am seen to be a wrongdoer. For I, through the law, have become dead to the law, so that I might be living to God. I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me. GAL 2:16-20 (bbe)

“So that we might get righteousness by faith. . .” Some would have you believe this means that the righteousness gained by faith is not a works righteousness because if you ever do right, then you are being legalistic. But Paul asks, rhetorically, “Is Christ a servant of sin?” The answer is a resounding no. Christ was sinless, this is the very basis of his substitutionary death on the Cross. The whole point is our identification with Christ on the Cross is the death of our carnal nature and slavery to living in sin. “I have been put to death on the cross with Christ. . .and that life which I am now living in the flesh I am living by faith. . .” Our human life is crucified and the spirit empowers us to live a holy life, not by ignoring sin and legislating it away. How more legalistic can one be, than a pardon without a transformation. The guilty murderer pardoned of his crime and all future crime to commit murder again and again without remorse and without punishment? Is this what the God in Christ bore the suffering and humiliation of the cross for? Of a certainty it is not! Instead Christ died that, living through us, replacing our broken, human spirit with a new inspiration of God’s breath, we could be made new like Adam before the fall, free to live sinless by letting Christ live through us and kill each sinful habit and trait one by one, perfecting us in his grace. This is the grace unto salvation the Victory in Jesus. It is the power to trust and to obey, for it is obedience not offerings of money, land, goods, produce or even blood, that pleases God.

Imagine, for a moment, you are a parent. You love your child with the whole of your being. That child goes off to school in the morning and comes home that night with a shapeless limp of clay, malformed and sickly, glazed so poorly the bubbles have burst exposing cavities that go down to the ceramic beneath. Your child holds this miserable creation out to you and with a fearful smile and shameful eyes says, “here mommy”; “here daddy–.” There’s a pause then, “I made this for you!” And a tiny glimmer of hope lights in the back of childish eyes that are all to well aware of the inadequacy of the offering. Do you reject the pot; dash it against the wall and try to teach the child how to make better pottery?

In the same way, “Our heavenly father rejects neither our offerings, nor our works.” Instead he blesses them and sets them in a prominent place, so he can say, “My child made that for me!” With all the pride of a daddy showing that first pot, or Christmas tie, or photo of a gangly teen with pimples and greasy hair.

The cross is adoption, but grace is the growing. Eventually you will make fine pottery or master works of what ever craft you choose, because the Christ living in you will live through you growing ever more righteous. Take the burden of your sin to God, one thing at a time and shed it. Let him crucify it dead and never to be remembered by him or by you and thereby committed again. As Peter says don’t return to your wallow and be destroyed, worse off than before, because there is no remaining means of salvation for you.

Rules of Engagement

I know that I have visited this topic previously and it may seem that there is little more to be said, however the larger issue is the fact that a particular body of anti-Christian heresy continues to pervert and beleaguer the church and one of the most profound results is the instability of the Christian home and family. I refer of course to the teaching that God has changed with the times and sin is no longer sin. But, more specifically, I refer to the casual even positive way in which divorce is now viewed among those who consider themselves believers. Why this matters has been covered partly in previous musings where I point to the Jesus midrash where he clearly links the relationship between the church and himself with the relationship of man and wife. But in the larger scope it has to do with the, pardon the expression, fundamental understanding that grace, while freely given to any who would ask, has rules and a heavy cost for those who are able to retain it. Grace once given by God can be and often is, discarded to the damnation of former believers who are careless of God’s repeated admonitions in scripture. To wit: One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29:1

This whole issue came up again recently centered around a young lady who, after living with her boyfriend outside of wedlock and leading him to Christ in that time, was found out and expelled from her congregation, weeks before her wedding. My initial opinion was that was rather late in the game to find her out and didn’t help the situation any, as she was in the process of rectifying her error. We must always be quick to forgive and restore the genuinely penitent. But her reaction to the whole thing was certainly less than contrite so I’ll leave it to her pastor to be the voice of wisdom in that situation. What I could not ignore, as a man of God and student of theology, was the outcry of support to her status updates on Facebook (R). One of the most egregious responses she got included the following remark:

Times are very different from biblical times and while living with someone before marriage may not be the best choice it is definitely not the sin it once was.

Imagine! “Times have changed, so the Bible is irrelevant and Jesus’ own words are no longer binding on the believer.” Can there be a more depraved and apostate voice? And this was only one of many rushing to encourage the young lady by comforting her in her sin, with the full belief that sin in the life of a Christian is nothing more than a livable mistake, and not one that will actually separate you from God.

Well, in answer to A.W., the young woman who expressed the startling doctrine above, I have to point out one simple truth. Jesus is the foundation of the Church and our hope of salvation. If he is fallible in any point then we are fools to follow him and there is not hope in him. If we are right to trust him and have saving faith we cannot and will not question his authority or infallibility. That means on any subject, including divorce and remarriage, which he spoke, he is the last word and there can be no changing it because times have changed. Jesus claimed to be God in flesh and one with the father. If his words are not timeless and law for all time, then he lied and we are not saved. If he was true and we are saved by grace through his ministry and blood sacrifice then we have no authority to do other than he commanded. There is no third option.

The church as a whole is in crisis today because those in the pew are taught they can accept the worlds values, disregard Jesus’ commands, and remain in right relationship with God or at worst backslide without danger of damnation. There is a church movement that has taught us that we can live like the world and God will simply look on sadly, and that the church cannot judge the behavior of those who claim to be Christian. The Corinthian church faced a similar issue. They felt they were being loving and gracious by allowing those who were living in sin to be comfortable in the congregation. Paul takes three chapters from 4-6 of 1Cor. to show them the error of this thinking. He reaches the high point by saying cast out the immoral brother (or sister). The point being let them straighten out their issues outside so they don’t corrupt the young in the church, or introduce tolerance of habitual error.

In Hebrews Paul speaks at length about mercy and compassion and God’s willingness to forgive sin. This is where the Calvinists and Protestants gather their ideas regarding once in grace always in grace and the perverted gospel that judging is itself a sin. What is generally overlooked is the fact that the whole essay on perseverance of the saved, is bookended by the statement, before and after, that habitual sin will damn even the believer. This is found in Hebrews 6:4-8 and in Hebrews 10:26,27 demonstrating that the author clearly sees nothing in salvation by faith that allows for carnality and rebellion. You can lose your salvation for rebellion. Paul’s warning to Corinth, found in chapters 4, 5 & 6 of I Corinthians, is that the loving thing to do is kick people out so they will realize there error and repent before it is too late, then they can be welcomed back with full fellowship and love.

The world has infected the church with a lot of demonic ideas that seem like love and compassion, but are really just sin and damnation. The place where Satan seems to have made the greatest inroads is in the area of Divorce and Remarriage.

Jesus’ commands and New Covenant law regarding marriage is simple, and laid out in MAT 5:31-32 (nrsv), MAL 2:16-16 (nrsv), MAR 10:2-12 (nrsv), & 1CO 7:10-17 (nrsv), among a host other passages. These passages resolve to eight simple rules regarding marriage that are binding under the New Covenant and if a person confesses Christ he or she is bound by them thereafter. <edit>Bear in mind that these are standards for those who have already accepted Christ.

1) If you are offended by your spouse you can no-longer (as was custom in the day) kill her and get another. 2) Moses allowed divorce to those who are hardhearted so they wouldn’t be forced to confront rule #1 3) Given that hard-hearted is one of the signs used by Jesus and the apostles to indicate an unrepentant person It is clear that divorce is in fact legal but sinful never-the-less. 4) If you marry it is for life, period. The only legitimate excuse for divorce the infidelity of your spouse AND you must have not done the same. 5) If a person commits adultery and is divorced by his or her spouse, the spouse is free to remarry. The adulterer must remain celibate for life. 6) If you just can’t live with one another and have to separate, and that leads to the sin of divorce, a separation for any cause other than adultery make you responsible for your spouse’s needs for sex, any mistakes made, and neither of you can remarry except by reconciling to the original spouse. 7) Any remarriage that violates these principles is not a marriage before God regardless of the church’s stance on the subject and the partners are engaged in habitual sin. 8) A believer may never initiate divorce from an unbeliever nor separate from a spouse except by mutual consent and for a finite period. However, if an unbeliever (one who has never confessed Christ or is forever lost) leaves a believer, then the marriage is annulled without prejudice toward any children of the marriage.

The church is in crisis and people are dying spiritually in the pews because of sin they have been tricked into accepting into their lives by a selfish and hard-hearted generation of believers and unsaved who have driven godless values into the congregation and allowed them to fester.

People please wake up before it is too late.