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What you thought you knew about churches might not be true.

The heading of this post kind of tells the story.

“Christianity” to most people comprises of groups of people of different denominations (churches or names) that claim to worship God and Jesus Christ as their Spiritual Head.

There are multiple “churches” with different names, all of which lay claim to being “the right church” or the “right way”. There have been wars fought over this claim.

There is a serious problem with that claim as the Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Faith, From Strong’s concordance,    g4102. πίστις pistis; from 3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: — assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

So we see that there is only one persuasion (doctrine) which we are supposed to adhere to (stick to).

On the day of Pentecost God saw fit to begin the church by filling people with the Holy Spirit with the accompanying evidence of speaking in tongues. For about 150 years after that event only one church existed. What we see today is not one church believing one doctrine, but hundreds of “Christian” churches believing many different doctrines and all claiming to be right. Nowhere in the Bible did God say that anything was going to change until Jesus returned to gather up the true church. If there was only one church on the day of pentecost, and only one way to be saved as spoken of by Peter on that day how did things change? and if they changed, who changed it, and who gave them the authority to change things. How many times have we heard people say “well, we all worship the same God”. If that is true, then God sure is one badly confused guy!

I have asked these questions many times over the years, and almost without deviation the response is that man changed things, and that he did it without God’s authority!

So, where does that leave us today? As far as the Bible is concerned, nothing should have changed concerning the way of salvation. The churches that believe something other than what the Bible teaches about salvation are obviously misleading people, which would mean that they really are not “Christian” churches at all, and if they are not really “Christian”, what are they? They are certainly not telling the whole truth!

John 8:44
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

There would be many that would feel that I’m being overly critical when I quote this verse, but you would need to go to your Bibles and look at just who Jesus was talking to. He was speaking to the Jews, God’s chosen people. Why is he doing this? Because they were guilty of exactly the same problems the churches are guilty of today. They had misused and abused the word of God until it was largely unrecognizable. They had done it to accumulate power over the people.

Today there is still only one legitimate church, and that is the church that began on the day of Pentecost, and the salvation message is the same today as it was then

Acts 2:38
38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

Not some of you, or a few of you, or if you feel like it, but every one of you. And why not? When you receive the Holy Spirit, you will speak in tongues. That is what happens, it isn’t your choice, it what God does so you know that you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you become a member of the only church God recognizes. All the rest are frauds!

God’s Tithe

God’s Tithe

Proverbs 3:9-10

9 Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

John 3:16

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.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

The reward is not because of the tithe, but because of the understanding & attitude in which it is given.

In John 3:16 we see God’s sacrifice, in essence his tithe or offering to the world he created. In the natural world there are those that sacrifice their lives for the lives of others and the world makes heroes out of them. War heroes are often awarded their rewards posthumously and they are never resurrected to see the outcome or consequences of their sacrifice. In civilian life we see also that there are many heroes. There is no doubting the bravery and courage of those that sacrifice their lives for others in this world and it is certainly right to recognize and respect their actions. Some survive their selfless acts others do not, but ultimately all die as a result of the sin legacy of Adam. 

Jesus’ sacrifice was real. He came as a man in the flesh he lived a life which in many ways was normal. His countrymen could not come to terms with the fact that he was a miracle worker. To them, he was just the “carpenters son”. 

Matthew 13:55-57

Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Being a carpenter was not necessarily one of the most prestigious professions (if he was). He was not a scribe or a Pharisee, not was he a member of the elite with access to the road to the priesthood. He was a nobody really. Scriptures tell us he was not even a good looking man to be desired and he was despised or without any great value in the society of his day. He didn’t marry, which would have been extremely unusual for the firstborn of a household. There were probably many that knew him as he grew up that would have thought he was a little unusual. Maybe some would have tried to provoke him with the “you’re getting older you know, when are you going to get married?” It was the expected thing of the first born son, to produce heirs to carry on the family name.  We have no idea of what kind of an answer he gave, but it more than likely left people wondering. Jesus lived with the knowledge that he was the sacrificial lamb.  Jesus did the unexpected!

Day by day the world at large becomes more and more offended by Jesus. The so called believers wait for the appearance of an AntiChrist, and yet we are surrounded by them and they think they are winning. One day he will again do the unexpected.

Luke 2:49-50

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Jesus knew the terrible things he was going to have to go through, and we see the result of that stress when he was praying in the garden. It is called HEMATOHIDROSIS, and is a very rare condition most often caused by extreme stress. So we know that Jesus knew what kind of suffering he was about to undergo, and was probably consciously aware of it for most of his natural life. His Father also knew what his son was about to go through. For a natural father to be in the same position would be quite a traumatic experience, and worse, because there would be no resurrection. Both God and Jesus knew the final outcome of Jesus’ actions, but that would have had little effect on the pain and suffering that Jesus actually went through. Jesus asked to be released from the burden, “Take this cup from me” he asked, but knowing full well that is was not his father’s will. 

Every stroke of the whip would have been real pain, exactly the same pain that we would suffer if we personally received the same whip stroke. Roman scourgings were without pity and often those enduring it died. The flesh was flayed from the back and most times exposed muscle and bone. The mocking, the crown of thorns, ripping his beard from his face, carrying the crossbar for the cross, which was not nice smooth planed wood. It was rough and heavy. The anticipation of the nails being driven into his wrists and feet, and then actually having it happen. The people were amazed that Jesus survived to actually live to be crucified. The process of crucifixion is without any doubt the worst kind of punishment one man can inflict upon another. Everything that happened to Jesus before he was crucified was mild compared to what being crucified actually does to the human body, and it could take days to die. 

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord;

neither be weary of his correction:

For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth;

even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Hebrews 12:6-8

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Chastening, is to correct. Jesus took the correction that we were very deserving of. It has greater significance than that as it was a singularity in the realm of the spiritual world. God removed the inevitability of the punishment for sin and gave in exchange the very real possibility of eternal life. Never again will Jesus offer himself as a sacrifice for our lives. The cross was the most shameful punishment a man could have dealt to him. It was reserved for the worst of the worst. 

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 7:26-27

For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

Never again!  Jesus and God willingly set out to pay the price for our lives out of their love for us. Living with the knowledge of what was going to happen must have been extremely traumatic, but knowing the result may have tempered the emotions somewhat. What knowing could not do was eliminate the reality of the pain to be endured. The pain of the moment, both emotional and physical. It was going to hurt just as it would hurt anyone else. The reality of death and the separation from God was gong to be the same for both of them. The feeling as Jesus was hanging on the cross and darkness was over the whole earth must have been horrifying. The words that Jesus spoke at that time were filled with anguish and despair.

Matthew 27:45-46

Jesus’ Death (Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30)

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

The loneliness and despair must have been overwhelming. We can’t imagine the sense of loss at that moment, just as Jesus is about to die! How would we feel in the same circumstances?

John 19:30

30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Romans 3:24-25

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Sacrificing and giving are both premeditated actions. Giving is not necessarily sacrificing, as we can give something that is surplus to our needs and we will not miss it. Sacrificing is the act of giving something that has real value to us and something that we will miss. Sacrifice has long term consequences for us, both in terms of loss and gain. Giving does not necessarily have the same consequences. 

For reflection. Do you sacrifice, or give? Or perhaps you are just a taker!

The Law, Mercy, and Grace.

The Law, Mercy and Grace.

Many do not associate Mercy and Grace with the Old Testament Law as given to Moses. Prior to the Law there was no Law, only Faith.

A number of the Old Testament patriarchs, or “fathers” pleased God because of their faith and belief, however these men (and women) were few and far between.

What I need to mention here is that the people that ultimately were given the “Law” were hand picked by God and relatively few in number (sound familiar?)

What was their purpose and what were they to demonstrate to the nations around them? God’s Mercy and Grace!

You might ask how? Through the Law! That is a most draconian piece of literature if ever there was one, but on closer inspection we see that the law was just and merciful, and was administered by a God that is full of Grace.

We might look at the penalties for the “capital crimes”. Stoning, burning by fire, banishment etc. We think of here things as being brutal and torturous, and they are taken by themselves. No one would want to be stoned to death, or burnt. Neither of those deaths wold be quick or painless.

Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established. A persons guilt was established through the eyewitness accounts of two or three verifiable and reliable eyewitnesses.

Deuteronomy 17:6

At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

2 Corinthians 13:1

Paul’s Desire to Visit Corinth Again

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

Now we see the principle of the witnesses has been established in both the old and new testaments. Can you ask yourself how difficult it would be for anyone to be stoned or burnt under the law without at least two reliable and verifiable witnesses. A murderer or an adulterer would not be so foolish as to commit those crimes in the presence of eyewitnesses. No witnesses, no proof, no punishment. We might think that isn’t fair to the victims of the crimes, but we so often forget that death isn’t final, and judgment will take place at some time in the future.

Murderers and adulterers have been filled with the Holy Spirit. I personally have met at least one man who murdered seven people that is filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s mercy worked for him, and he is enjoying God’s grace as he receives many blessings in his life. I’m sure we have all met people that have committed “capital crimes” that God has forgiven as they repented of their sins. they are now our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Old Testament Law and it’s requirements to prove guilt is a demonstration of God’s mercy and grace to His people. It would have been almost impossible to convict someone under the requirements set out.

Even Jesus had to be convicted by false witnesses to suffer the penalty of death. there were no verifiable eyewitnesses to His alleged crime, so he was falsely accused and killed for our crimes, so that we could receive Mercy and Grace. Mercy when we repented and were filled with the Holy Spirit, and Grace as we daily receive the constant blessings that God pours out on us.

Acts 2, 10 and 19 are our verifiable eyewitness accounts of the Grace and Mercy of God as a requirement for salvation. Praise the Lord for His wisdom and Love towards his called and chosen people.

Success or Failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas A. Edison

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar

The greatest failure?

Some would have said at the time that this was the greatest failure in all of history.

After all that Jesus did and said it seemed at the time that this would be the last thing that anyone would have thought would happen. The so called Messiah, killed! what a strange end for such an amazing man. He was mourned by few and mocked by many.

No man has ever achieved so much with 3 nails and two pieces of wood!

11 of his disciples died violent deaths and countless others followed that example and continue to do so right up until this day.

Yet it is one of the greatest success stories mankind has ever seen or experienced. Countless lives have been saved and will live on into the eternities of time in a glorious Kingdom.

What will your life be, a success or a failure. With God and Jesus forever? or not!

It is all about choices. Jesus made his choices and although at the time it seemed that His choices were a failure, yet they turned out to be the greatest success story that has ever been told.

“The Father of Lies”

“The Father of Lies.”

John 8:43-45
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

The Truth is precious, not only in respect to God’s word, but in our everyday life.

In the beginning Satan gave the impression to Adam and Eve that if they listened to him he was going to improve their every day life, but he didn’t, he just made life much more difficult for them. If we Lie, we need to build a web of lies to sustain and prop up the original lie. Stan seems to be pretty good at that, especially in the religious world.

Man has learned to lie so well that some people don’t even know they are doing it, and they believe everything they say!

When men lie about secular things it is usually hidden and secretive (I say usually, but that isn’t always the case), but when it comes to religious lies, man is so open and apparently sincere about what they say that many believe the lies.

The political system is so bad that everyone expects politicians to lie, and we don’t believe them when they might just happen to tell the truth.

We can see what Jesus said to the religious leaders (who were also politicians) of His day in the verse above. Do we even begin to think that the majority of religious leaders today are any different? But they are sincere. The lie is so old now that it has become the truth, and that sets up another problem. The truth is now treated as the lie!

Isaiah 5:20-24
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
Therefore as the — fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away — the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised — the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Judgment is coming. Make sure you always speak with a straight tongue! Don’t cooperate with the devil!

By His Stripes

Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

Healed, how much? The word means thoroughly made whole. So then we should look beyond the physical and look at the total. In the New Testament Jesus took on the hard jobs, not just the scrapes and cuts that we endure in the course of our normal lives, but the deep wounds to our psychological well being as well as the most difficult of physical wounds and ailments. Jesus took on the incurable situations in our lives and dealt with them with ease.

All too often we seek medical help when we have the simplest problem and we slavishly do what they tell us, and yet how reluctant we are to do what Jesus tells us.

Salvation is the cure for the terminal illness of mankind, sin. Such an old fashioned word isn’t it, but until we are healed of our sin on a daily basis we don’t really know how sick we were. Our physical bodies can healed in the same way.

Isn’t it amazing just how much our whole attention is focused on a paper cut until it heals. A large wound is even more attention getting and can be quite debilitating. Sometimes we allow a surgeon to intentionally wound us to repair some inner problem in our bodies. We are commanded to rest and recover from major surgery unless we do more damage.

Jesus had major surgery performed on him so that we wouldn’t need to. His surgery killed him, just as it would have us. The pain and suffering caused him to concentrate on the healing.

Luke 23:46

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Do you commend your spirit into God’s hand’s? You should! We are commanded to enter into His rest. After all, we have endured major surgery and had a huge tumor cut out of our hearts, the sin tumor.

Is the real salvation too simple?

On the day of transition (Pentecost) from the Law to Grace, there must have been many of the people there that went their way and thought “it’s too simple, it can’t be real”. For some today the doctrine of Pentecost is too hard and they want to simplify that by taking away from the word of God. The oversimplified “gospel” of many churches does not produce the results they want, but it will produce results they don’t want.

Paul wrote,

Galatians 1:8
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.

Galatians 1:10
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

John wrote what was dictated by Jesus,

Revelation 22:18
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

It obviously doesn’t pay to fool around with the Word of God without permission. The penalties are rather severe.

It’s not What You Know, But Who You Know

Knowing Jesus is not “head” knowledge as in an academic learning process, but it is a total experience which is initiated by receiving the Holy Spirit, as it was on the day of Pentecost. Without that experience you can only know “about” Jesus and God, but they are not your friends and your relationship is not a personal one. See Acts 2:4-38 for instructions

Hebrews 8:10-12
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 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.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.