Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Churches today, just as Israel of old, has forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calves of psychology, secularism, traditions of men and political bias—and we have reaped the rewards of our actions: Divisions, discord among believers, sexual perversion and worst of all, sexual abuse of children committed by the very ones who are supposed to protect them—from law enforcement to foster care to clergy in the Catholic and Protestant churches!   

It is a sad day indeed when the world tells the church that it needs to repent…And they’re right!  Hear what God says:

“As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did as you and your daughters have done. Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and complacent; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:48-50)

Notice that there is no mention of homosexuality. 

The real sin of Sodom was complacency and refusal to help the needy. And the church today continues on as if nothing is wrong—Much like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:17—“You say, I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

The church today has spent so much time judging others that we cannot see our own sin. (Matthew 7:3) Here Jesus is speaking of judging rashly, or passing judgment upon someone on outward appearance alone. We must judge ourselves and our own actions, but not make our word a law to everyone else.

The apostle Paul addresses this when he writes: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I was not including the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5: 9-12) 

Many have chastised me for speaking out against sin in the church—criticizing me as being self-righteous or legalistic. But I am only trying to warn God’s people of the path of destruction they are traveling on. Many Christians believe that just because they repeated a “sinner’s prayer” and “accepted Jesus as their Savior” that they’re okay with God and they don’t have to do anything else because Jesus cleansed them of their sins, now and in the future.

But listen to what the prophet Jeremiah said to those with that same attitude in his day:

“For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore. Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done—a restless young camel running here and there, a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.” (Jeremiah 2: 20-25) 

The apostle Paul speaks of the same type of Christians in the Corinthian church: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and dissension among you, are you not worldly? Are you not walking in the way of man?” (1 Corinthians 3: 1-3) 

But there is yet hope for us all who are called by His name:

“If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7: 13-14) 

Our land will not be healed by any political leader or policy. It will only be healed when God’s people, who are called by His name, humble themselves with repentant hearts, pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Only THEN will our land be healed.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best of the land. But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1: 18-20) 

Today is the day for repenting. Let us not wait until we are on the precipice of destruction before we cry out to God, like ancient Israel did. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as you did in the rebellion…See to it, brothers, that none of you has a wicked heart of unbelief that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3: 12-15) 

This is my prayer for the Church today.

This is not an attack on the Church and I mean no disrespect. I only desire to encourage Christians to seek God’s truths from His Word, the Bible, and hopefully to give you some constructive correction so that you won’t be deceived. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

False Doctrine #1 – Natural immortality of the soul 

The majority of professing Christians today believe that when we die, we have a separate “soul” that continues to live on, so that at the time of their death, those who are saved will immediately be ushered into heaven to live out eternity with Jesus and the angels. But throughout the Old and New Testament, you will not see one verse where God or His people proclaimed an immortal soul teaching. 

Many Christians point to Luke 23:43 as proof of this doctrine: “And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” So, what did Jesus really say? Was He actually saying that on the very day He spoke, that the thief was going to be in paradise in heaven? Because Jesus did not go to paradise that day. The thief could not have gone to paradise that day because Jesus did not go to heaven that day either—but only after God resurrected his body 3 days later and Jesus ascended into heaven. 

So what is the answer? How can this text disagree with our doctrine of natural immortality? The answer is simple. Greek text does not have punctuation. When the Bible was translated, the scholars put in the punctuation that they felt was correct, where it allowed the text to agree with their own interpretation. The scholars simply misplaced a comma which changes the entire meaning of the verse. They put the comma before the word today instead of after the word today. Which would more accurately read: “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.”

The most misquoted Bible verse that pastors use to convince you of this false doctrine is, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) But do you know what that verse really says? Have you even looked it up? The actual verse states, “We are confident, yes, well pleased RATHER to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (NKJ) I would rather be absent from my body and be present with the Lord too. But that won’t happen until Jesus resurrects my mortal body.

All throughout the Old Testament we are taught that after death we know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10; Psalm 115:17). And in Isaiah, we are given a remarkable prophecy concerning the second coming of our Messiah and what happens when we die: “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” (Isaiah 26:19)

Do you see? Where do we dwell until the second coming of Jesus? In the grave, awaiting our resurrection! Christian, this is the Bible truth. The danger of this false doctrine is that it gives people a false sense of eternal security. I have heard people say of loved ones who have passed away, “They’re in a better place now.” Or, “They’re with Jesus now.” Or, “I know that they’re looking over us from heaven.” This makes no sense because how could anyone enjoy their eternity in heaven if they were able to look down and witness all of the sadness, poverty, murder, rape and other evil that befalls their loved ones on earth?

No one naturally inherits eternal life. When we die, we return to dust and await the second coming of Jesus when He will resurrect us. We do not have an immortal soul, because only Jesus has has the power to give us immortality. (1 Timothy 6:16) The apostle Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 15:53 that “this perishable body must PUT ON the imperishable, and this mortal body must PUT ON immortality. (See also Romans 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:2-4)  

False Doctrine #2 – Eternal Hell Fire 

Even though every mention of the word “hell” in the Bible refers only to the ground or the grave, mainstream Christian churches believe and teach that when the lost person dies, he or she will be sent into the “fires of hell”, to remain and burn in anguish in extreme pain and suffering for all eternity!

So let me get this straight…Our “God of love” is going to torture the lost with fire for the ceaseless ages to come? And all for their short life of sin, in a mortal body that is prone to sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve? Does this sound like love? Not one bit. 

Even Jesus himself said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not PERISH, but have everlasting life.”  

This is the most well known Bible verse in the whole world—And yet so few people actually know what it means. There are only two options for us. One is to follow Jesus our Messiah and gain eternal life. The other is to reject Jesus and “perish”. Perish means to be completely destroyed—ie; nothing left! And when you learn the truth that we don’t have an immortal soul, then this really makes complete sense. 

Now don’t misunderstand. The lost WILL be judged and punished with “hell fire”, which Revelation chapters 19 and 20 describes as the “lake of fire”. But that fire will burn them up completely, (Malachi 4:1) and they will die the “second death.” (Revelation 21:8) And this agrees with what the prophet Daniel was foretold long ago. “And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, but others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:1-2) 

This is exactly why God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they ate from the tree of good and evil, “…lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” God did not want Adam and Eve to live forever in a state of corruption. When the wicked, (Those who have rejected God’s love and plan of salvation) are resurrected, they will be resurrected with corruptible bodies. (Think “The Walking Dead”) So the most loving thing that God can do is to destroy them in the Lake of Fire to put them out of their misery. 

What sense would it make if a loving God placed someone into a place of torment for ages, only to pull them out of the flames to judge them, and then throw them back into the flames? That is not the act of a loving God. Of course it is a way to instill fear into the hearts of those ignorant of the Scriptures in order to control them. Just as the early Catholic church did. But God has never called us to frighten people into His kingdom.

False Doctrine #3 – The Sabbath Day and Biblical Feast Days Abolished 

Many Protestant and mainline churches have criticized the Catholic church for it’s non-biblical doctrines and practices. But did you know that most of the doctrines taught and practiced in the Protestant churches came directly from the Catholic church? 

Ever wonder who changed God’s seventh day Sabbath to Sunday? In both Old and New Testament there is not a shadow of variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath. God’s Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends on Saturday evening. The seventh day Sabbath is the only day ever designated by the term Sabbath in the entire Bible. Not only was Jesus a perfect example in observing the weekly Sabbath, but all His disciples and apostles followed the same pattern even after Jesus had ascended into heaven. 

But if the change did not take place in the Scriptures or through the influence of the apostles, when and how did it happen? 

Most know about the Roman emperor Constantine and his supposed “conversion” to Christianity. But during the time of the Roman Empire, Constantine as well as his army and most Roman citizens were pagan sun-worshipers. At that time the cult of Mithraism or sun-worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It stood as the greatest competitor to the new Christian religion. It had its own organization, temples, priesthood, robes—everything. It also had an official worship day on which special homage was given to the sun. That day was called “The Venerable Day of the Sun.” It was the first day of the week, and from it we get our name Sunday. 

Most have also heard the story of Constantine’s supposed “vision” on the battlefield. Afterward, Constantine declared Christianity the new official religion of his kingdom and forced all his pagan soldiers to be Christians. He became very zealous to build up the power and prestige of his “new religion” with the help of the Catholic church. Through his influence, great numbers of pagans were taken into the Christian ranks. And for the first time in history Christians were forced to worship alongside pagan sun- worshippers—and they brought much of their pagan ideas, which they continued to be devoted to, with them. Christmas, Easter and many other pagan customs were Christianized and appropriated into the practice of the Church as well.  

After Constantine made the initial pronouncement and legal decree about the change, the Catholic church reinforced that act in one church council after another. For this reason, many official statements from Catholic sources are made, claiming that the the Catholic church made the change from Saturday to Sunday. 

The Catholic Mirror of September 23, 1894, puts it this way: “The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.” 

From the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine by Reverend Peter Giermann: “Question: Which is the Sabbath day? Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodicea transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” 

From Reverend Steven Keenan’s Doctrinal Catechism we read this: 

“Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day; a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”

See? Even the Catholic church admits that it changed the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday! Has the Catholic church, or any religion, ever been given power to make any alterations to the commandments of God? Absolutely not! 

The apostle Paul, who wrote pages of counsel about lesser issues of Jewish and Gentile conflicts, had not one word to say about any controversy over the seventh day Sabbath. Circumcision, foods offered to idols, and other Jewish customs and ceremonial laws were readily challenged and discussed by the apostles and non-Jewish believers in the church, but the weightier matters of the weekly Sabbath and God’s biblical laws were never an issue. Why? For the simple reason that no change was ever made! Had there been a switch from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, you can be sure the controversy would have been more explosive among the apostles than circumcision or ceremonial laws. 

The apostle Paul had warned the early Church that there would be a falling away from the truth soon after his departure: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31) 

He also wrote to Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from certain foods that God has created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4: 1-4) 

One doesn’t have to read very far in early church history to see just how that prophecy was fulfilled. 

I find it remarkable that out of the Ten Commandments, the one commandment God spent the most time explaining, is the one that Christians have refused to obey the most. I also find it saddening that God gave the Israelites 613 commandments, and most Christians today refuse to obey even ten! 

But I digress. 

There are a few differing views and beliefs concerning the Sabbath day throughout the mainstream Christian churches: 

  • Some believe that the Sabbath day commandment has been abolished completely.
  • Some believe that the Sabbath day has been changed from Saturday to Sunday
  • And others believe that we can keep any day as the Sabbath day. 

But according to Scripture, they are all wrong! Because the seventh day Sabbath still stands today exactly the same as when God commanded it on Mount Sini.

Consider the statement that Jesus Himself made: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 17-19)

Let me share with you an interesting discovery I made concerning the seventh day. 

Below is a short list of names for the seventh day of the week in which the root word ‘Sabbath’ is still easily recognizable. There are many, many more you can find by simply doing a Google search.

Arabic: Sabet 

Bosnian: Subota 

Greek: Savvato 

Hebrew: Shabbat 

Italian: Sabato 

Polish: Sobota 

Russian: Subbota 

Somali: Sabti 

Even the Navajo language has a way of counting days that refers to Sabbath. But the Navajo language is so difficult, that it’s a lot easier to use the word for Sunday (Damóo) and use that to frame the succession of days starting from the first day of the week. “Biisk’ání” is the Navajo addition that means, roughly, “the next day.” It’s like saying, “Sunday, and then another day is Monday, and the next day is Tuesday, etc.” But the only day that doesn’t follow this succession is Friday (nda’iiníísh), and it means the end of the work week. (Remember, the biblical Sabbath begins at sundown on Fridays)

It is obvious that Sunday was never considered the biblical Sabbath until later religious leaders substituted Sunday for the true Sabbath day.  

So what did Jesus mean about fulfilling the law and commandments? The prophecy of Messiah coming to fulfill the law is found in the Book of Isaiah: “The Lord (Speaking of Messiah) is well pleased for his righteousness sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” (Isaiah 42:21) The English word ‘magnify’ is translated from a Hebrew word that literally means ‘to make great’ or ’cause to be great’. This is exactly what Jesus did. He magnified the law or “made it great and honorable” by showing how good and beneficial it is to us.

False Doctrine #4-Biblical Feasts—For Jews Only? 

Many Christians today believe that the biblical feasts mentioned in the Old Testament were for only the Jews. But does that really make sense? God himself said that the Holy Feast days and Sabbaths were HIS feasts. Not Jewish only feasts. 

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘These are MY appointed feasts, the feasts of the LORD that you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. For six days work may be done, but the seventh day is to be a Sabbath of complete rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23: 1-3) 

Verse 4: “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts…”

Verse 37: “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts…”

Verse 38: “These offerings are in addition to the offerings for the LORD’s Sabbaths…”

Verse 39: “…you are to celebrate a feast to the LORD for seven days.”

And in Exodus 12 God tells Moses several times that these feasts were to be a “permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever.”

So who was God speaking this to? The Jews only? No! In Exodus 12:38, it is recorded that there was a “mixed multitude” that journeyed with the Hebrews away from Egypt. Nothing is told of exactly who this mixed multitude was. Some may have been Egyptians impressed by the recent miracles and plagues, some may have been foreigners held in servitude to the Egyptians like the Hebrews, happy to escape from their masters. These may also be the ones who were murmuring and causing dissension among the Hebrews in the wilderness. The fact is, NONE of them were Jewish because Judah did not exist yet. 

Everyone living today are descendants of either one of the tribes of Israel or the ancient “mixed multitude”. And if God told Moses that His feasts were to be a “permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever”, and if God never changes, then these laws must apply to all of us today. 

Many Christians today who claim that we no longer have to observe the biblical feasts point to the apostles’ meeting in Acts 15 as proof:

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not cause trouble for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. For Moses has been proclaimed in every city from ancient times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21) 

The apostles suggested these limited rules because they knew that the non-Jewish converts would hear the Mosaic laws discussed every Sabbath in the synagogues. Just as a new convert to Christianity is not expected to follow all of the rules and doctrines of churches immediately after conversion, the four prohibitions seem to have been a temporary arrangement until they were to learn that which was acceptable to God when they went to the synagog every Sabbath.

The New Testament reveals that Jesus, Paul and the apostolic Church also kept all of God’s feast days and Sabbaths. (John 7; Acts 21:22-24;  Acts 18:21; Acts 20:1-60) If God’s feast days and Sabbaths were abolished, was Paul and the apostles wrong for observing them?

I find it interesting that some of the more modern translators made some notable changes to the New testament writings. For example, in Acts 27:9  they use the term, ‘Fast’ in place of  Yom Kippur, or The Day of Atonement. Note that Luke mentions this day of fasting 30 years AFTER the death of the Messiah.  

Why was Acts 18:21 changed? We read in the older translations, “…I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.” But the more modern translations completely removed any mention of the coming Feast. “…I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.” 

It is bad enough that churches today have rejected God’s commandments; but then they exchanged them for traditional man-made holidays such as, Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Pastors teach people that these holidays are Christian holidays and encourage them to observe them. Even though they know that these observances are based on traditions of man and ancient pagan worship—not on the Bible!

And what does Jesus and the apostles say about God’s commandments? 

“Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” 

(John 14:21) 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3) 

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4)

We must remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: 17-19:  “…whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 17-19)

False Doctrine #5- You must believe in the Trinity to be saved

I have heard many Christians and pastors say that salvation is dependent on believing in the doctrine of the Trinity. God in three persons—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in the Bible—not even a hint, that this is biblical.

To me, this is the most dangerous of the false doctrines in churches today. Because it limits who can be considered to be truly saved and cheapens the blood of the Messiah. This doctrine is no different than many Pentecostal churches who claim that you can’t be truly saved unless you’re able to “speak in tongues”.

I attended a Messianic congregation years ago where during his teaching, the head rabbi said, “Unless you believe in the Trinity you cannot be saved.” I was astounded that a rabbi would make that statement! After I discussed my views based on Scripture and my concerns about it, some people there made it their mission to “reconvert” me. And to this day many of my Christian friends refuse to interact with me as they once did. Maybe they’re afraid of being found guilty by association?

Some have considered me to be legalistic—to trying to earn salvation by observing the Law. Nothing could be further from the truth. When my children were young they didn’t obey my rules because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed, or afraid I would love them less if they didn’t. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules.

I don’t obey God’s laws because I think He will love me more if I obey Him, or afraid that He will love me less if I don’t obey Him. But BECAUSE I love Him, I obey His laws.

I know there are many who would prefer that I remain quiet—to keep my opinions to myself. But regardless what happens, I know in my heart of hearts that what I believe comes directly from Scripture. And I can say with Jeremiah, “If I say, I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name, His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of holding it in, and I cannot prevail.” 

Christian, these are important doctrines that Satan has twisted and uses to deceive the masses in these last days. And what is the result of rejecting of God’s laws? Widespread idolatry, pagan religious practices, jealousies, hatefulness, social injustice and sexual perversion. 

When Israel rejected “God’s statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them,” but instead “walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel.” They lost favor with God and came under the harsh rule of those they followed. (See 2 Kings 17:5-17) This led to the Israelites’ pandemic failure to love their fellow man. 

The prophet Amos spoke of the epidemic of social injustice within the Kingdom of Israel. “…because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble.” (Amos 2:6-7) The only way we can be guarded against this same thing is by studying and learning God’s truth and obeying His laws. 

I sincerely pray that you will prayerfully study these things for yourself in the Bible. And I believe that God, through His Holy Spirit, will open your eyes to wonderful things that He is longing to share with you, so that you may stand in the day of temptation and not be deceived. 

God bless you on your journey.

Many Christians today have been taught, and believe that since we are now under grace, they are no longer obligated to obey God’s laws or observe His holy feast days and Sabbaths. They are also taught that as humans it is impossible for us to obey God’s laws at all. 

But why would God command His people to obey His laws if He knew that it was impossible for them to obey them? He wouldn’t. Not anymore than a loving father would demand his child to perform tasks that he knew was impossible for him to complete.

Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles had a problem with God’s laws. Paul wrote that his gospel of grace upholds and establishes the law. “Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” (Rom. 3:31 NLT)

And remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17 and19: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 

Has everything been accomplished? No. If it were, we would be living on the New Earth with Jesus and all of the saints with our glorified bodies. 

Jesus continues to give us a warning in verses 19 and 20: “So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

Our attitude towards God’s laws is a litmus test of our relationship with God. So the problem is not with God’s laws, the real problem is with us. “So indeed, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12)

In the sixth chapter the apostle points out the absolute necessity of holy living, in the words: “Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness, unto God…What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6: 11-18)

There is a deep issue here. In Scripture, the person who understands grace loves God’s laws. One of the most absurd of all modern fallacies is to teach that “we cannot keep God’s commandments.” Yet, believe it or not, many pastors are actually teaching this to their congregations.

So let us see what God says about it and what Jesus taught. By studying Scripture we find that God spoke in no uncertain terms about the importance of keeping His commandments. And yet modern churches today have not only rejected God’s laws concerning His holy feast days, but they have replaced them with man-made holidays that are based in paganism and call them holy days.

Many in the church refer to the Mosaic Laws and biblical feast days as for “Jews only” and Gentiles are not obligated to observe them. So let us see whether God really meant that only the Jews should keep His commandments and holy feast days.

What we have to understand is that when God gave His commandments to the Hebrews, it was a mixed multitude of people—tribes of Judah (the Jews), as well as other non-Jewish tribes of Israel—including some Egyptians who left with them. (See Exodus 12:37, 38) In other words, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. But God gave His laws to ALL of the multitude; Jews and non Jews alike. AND God expected them to obey them throughout all their generations.  (See Exodus 12:17; 24; Leviticus 23:41) God was even more specific when it is stated throughout the Torah (The first five books of the Old testament) that these commandments are God’s laws and God’s feasts. Never does it state or even allude to that God’s commandments are for Jews only.

When my children were young they obeyed all of my rules: Don’t play in the street, be nice to each other, respect your elders, brush your teeth, say your prayers, obey your teachers, etc. They didn’t obey me because they thought that I would love them more if they obeyed, or that I would love them less is they didn’t. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules. 

We should not obey God’s commandments because we think He will love us more if we obey or that He will love us less if we disobey. But BECAUSE we love Him we obey His commandments. 

This is not about salvation or legalism or being more righteous. It’s about loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3) 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3)

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love.” (2 John 1:6) 

“He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.” (John 10:12)

Many Christians in mainline denominations have expressed righteous sadness and outrage at the sexual crimes within the Catholic Church. And yet refuse to acknowledge the same sin within their own churches and homes. 

And those who speak out about sexual abuse in churches are often shamed in an attempt to quiet them. They may be accused of seeking attention, or of trying to bring down a godly man. They may be told to be quiet or they will be causing shame on the congregation and will cause people to turn away from the church and spend an eternity in hell because of the poor light they’ve portrayed the church in. After all, these abusers don’t just groom victims—they groom congregations and communities, in hopes that the majority will rise up and protect them.

Many church leaders try to deal with sexual abuse “in house” in order to keep their “little secret” from the community because they are more concerned about their reputation in the community than they are for the victims of sexual abuse. Ironically, this is the same method used by almost all pedophiles—Keep it secret, threaten and shame their victims. The result of all of this is that many young people are leaving their churches and even leaving behind their traditional faith.

According to a new study sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources, 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers under 35 have previously left a church because they felt sexual misconduct was not taken seriously.  Among the younger demographic, 9 percent said they have stopped attending a former congregation because they personally did not feel safe from misconduct. 

“I believe the gaps are generational in that the younger generation has had it with fakery, and they are bent toward telling it like it is, whereas older generations grew up with the ‘don’t tell secrets’ unwritten mandate. To be sure, both ages have experienced sexual abuse, but younger believers are more apt to share them,” said Mary DeMuth, a survivor of child sexual abuse and an advocate.

More than 90 percent of church goers said their churches were safe places for children, teens, and adults, and more than 80 percent believed their leaders would not cover up misconduct and would bear the cost of addressing incidents correctly, LifeWay found. 

These findings reveal that congregations assume the best about themselves and assume the best about their leadership. Unfortunately, these churchgoers’ optimistic views do not match up with the reality of a majority of churches. 

In spite of the #metoo movement and so many speaking out and publicly, sharing their own experiences of sexual abuse, major investigations have still uncovered hundreds of victims among Protestant churches, while allegations of abuse among missionary kids and within other evangelical organizations continue to come out. 

In 1 Corinthians 5 the apostle Paul had to deal with a similar problem in a congregation. His advice? “Shouldn’t you rather have been stricken with grief and removed from your fellowship the man who did this?” 

Jesus said that we are the light of the world. This sin needs to be stopped and repented of! Otherwise, our light will be snuffed out. 

It is a sad day indeed when the world tells the Church it needs to repent…and they’re right.

There has been a dangerous shift in God’s Church recently that should disturb anyone who profess to be Christians. Those who have believed and followed the teachings of the Bible for years are now refusing to acknowledge sin. 

In fact, I have witnessed many who actually support those who are living a sinful lifestyle—and even question if their actions are sinful even at all! And these are not new converts who are ignorant of the Scriptures. They are people who have lived godly lives for years—and even taught others the Bible truths that they now claim are not relevant anymore! 

Words we hear a lot of Christians use these days is tolerance and love. They are both good words, but we have applied them too often, where they don’t belong. What has been the result? Murders and violence plaguing our schools and cities, physical, emotional and sexual abuse of millions of children, corruption in businesses and politics, human trafficking and genocide. 

Just like much of the evils in the world, it began oh so subtly. First we invited unsaved people to attend our church services. Not only do we invite them to church, but we go out of our way to make them feel welcome and try not to offend or upset them by calling out their sin. Maybe even go the extra step of making the unbeliever part of your church family by allowing them to work in the nursery or teach a Sunday school class. Then before you know it they’re preaching their lies from the pulpit. 

What’s most concerning is that churches today have altered how they conduct Sunday services and how they market to attract unsaved people to an event they weren’t biblically meant to attend in the first place. The unsaved are not ready to experience what churches are supposed to offer. They’re not ready to hear the truth from God’s Word, the Bible. So churches attempt to accommodate them with worldly influences. Many church services today resemble a rock concert atmosphere more than a place of worship and discipleship. God told Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” But churches today have called clean what God has called unclean! 

In being so tolerant toward sin, churches today have become more like those they once preached against. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character. Sober up as you ought, and stop sinning; for some of you are ignorant of God. I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)

In some things Jesus was the most tolerant, loving man who ever lived, but by today’s standards, Jesus would be considered one of the most intolerant, narrow-minded and unloving people. Many bring up the fact that Jesus dined with drunkards, prostitutes and other sinful people. But they neglect to acknowledge that he was the most intolerant  and narrow-minded when it came to obeying God.

Jesus was tolerant toward the sinner, but intolerant toward the evil that enslaves the sinner. To the woman caught in the act of adultery He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He forgave her because he loved her, but he condemned her sin because he loathed it with a holy hatred. As Christians, there are certain things that we should be intolerant about too. Jesus was so intolerant toward sin that he turned over the merchant’s and money changer’s tables in the temple and called out the hypocrisy of the priests. And in the end he sacrificed his own life in order to free us from the power of sin. 

The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sin” throughout the Bible revolve largely around two major concepts. The first is that of transgression. To transgress means “to step across” or “to go beyond a set boundary or limit.” Most of the other words translated “sin” in the Bible involve a second concept, “to miss the mark.” 

Both of these concepts translate the idea of failing to measure up to a standard. Academic and athletic courses and tests are graded or judged according to a minimum standard. If we don’t meet that standard, we fail that test or course. 

This is where the biblical definitions of sin become important, because Scriptures define the boundaries and standards God set for us and on how we are to live our lives. The definitions of sin in the Bible are not simply arbitrary dos and don’ts. Instead, they show us the way God lives and the spiritual principles by which He lives—The same standard of conduct He expects His human creations to live by. 

What, then, are the boundaries and standards God has set for us that define sin? The most basic definition of sin is in 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Here God defines a boundary for mankind. He says that sin is transgressing His holy, spiritual law (Romans 7:12-14). God’s laws are good. The problem is with us. Breaking that law—crossing that divine boundary, that God has set for us—is sin. 

Just as a good parent shows their love to their children by establishing rules for them, God gave humanity His laws to show us His way of love toward us. Those laws also define how we demonstrate our love to God and our fellowman. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16; Matthew 22:35-40; 1 John 5:3) Sin is in violation of that law of love. God showed us a way to live in peace and harmony with Him and with mankind and defined this way of life by His law. When we violate or transgress that boundary and break God’s law, God defines it as sin. It boils down to whose will is most important in our lives. Is it our will, doing what we want to do? Or is it God’s will, doing what He thinks is most important? 

Revelation chapters 2 & 3 gives us an insight of what Jesus thinks of sin and what happens when God’s people refuse to repent. The question every Christian should ask themselves is, “What church do I belong to?”

The solution for the Church today is simple, but not an easy one. John Bunyan’s classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress” explains the hardships,  trials and temptations the Christian life can be. I have learned that whenever you speak God’s truth to people you will risk being looked at as the enemy. Even from other Christians. But in the end, it will be well worth it.

Some may wonder why I’m so passionate about being an advocate for abused children and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Maybe it’s because I was abused as a child myself—verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually. Maybe it’s because of the trauma I suffered I ended up in the hospital for anemia. Maybe it’s because I became a target for even more abuse and bullying throughout my school years. 

And because I desired so much to be accepted and loved that I suffered many failed relationships and a few failed marriages. But in spite of all this I still tried to serve God the best way he could: Ministering to the homeless, organizing youth events in churches, starting a home Bible study group, using my musical talents to reach others for God. But it seemed that nothing I did worked out.  

To make things worse, Christians ridiculed me for my “new beliefs” while unbelievers accused him of being gay because I didn’t chase after women. But there is one person who truly loves me and continues to believe in me. A few years after reconnecting with a girl I knew from high school, we were married and have been happily married for over 12 years now.

Maybe I became an advocate for abused children because a trusted friend from church ended up sexually abusing my own 13 year old son. Maybe it’s because I reported it to CPS and nothing was done. Or maybe it’s because me and my wife discovered that our own grandchildren were abused as children. Maybe it’s because I have witnessed how perpetrators convicted of child sexual abuse are only sentenced to probation and allowed to have contact with other children.

But even after all I’ve been through, I still refuse to remain silent about those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. I writes to legislators, asking them to change the sex offender registry laws, I write to judges, asking them not to be so lenient on those convicted of child sexual abuse.  And even though I have not received any positive responses, I am even more determined than ever to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.  

Maybe you feel the same way—That nothing that you have tried has worked out. But Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.” 

I didn’t fail to serve God. I just found several ways NOT to serve God. I only needed to find that one thing that God wanted me to do. And I think I found it in being a strong advocate for victims and survivors of child abuse like me.  

If you are a survivor of child abuse, maybe you too should consider being an advocate. It will not only help heal those who have survived childhood trauma, it will also help you to heal as well. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

One Thing

Shavuot 2019 (pronounced SHävo͞oˈōt) will begin in the evening of Saturday, June 8 and ends in the evening of Monday, June 10. In ancient Israel various herbs and legumes were harvested in spring, but the most important spring crops were cereals—barley and wheat. A spring ritual took particular note of the cereals: Newly harvested grain could not be eaten until the first fruits of grain had been offered on the day after the sabbath of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. (Leviticus 23:9-14) Shavuot, near the end of the grain harvest, included grain and loaf offerings. (verses 16-17) Shavuot was also called “the Feast of Harvest” (Exodus 23:16).

Although Shavuot began as an ancient grain harvest festival, the holiday has been identified since biblical times with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is customary for modern Jews to decorate their homes with greens and fresh flowers on Shavuot as a reminder of the spring harvest and the ancient ritual of bringing the first fruits to the Temple. Many Jews prepare and eat dairy foods (often cheesecake or blintzes) on Shavuot as a reminder of the sweetness of Torah.

Many people stay up all night studying Torah on the evening of Shavuot. This custom evolved from the story that says that when Moses went up Sinai to receive God’s laws many of the Israelites fell asleep and had to be awakened by Moses. As a result, many modern Jews stay up all night to study and celebrate receiving the Torah. Interestingly, when Jesus went away to pray in Gethsemane, his disciples also fell asleep and had to be awakened. So to honor our Messiah we too, may want to stay up at night reading Scripture. 

Traditionally, the Book of Ruth is read during services in synagogues on Shavuot. Ruth was a young Moabite woman who married an Israelite man. The Bible refers to both the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot’s sons, born of incest with his daughters. (Genesis 19:30-38) When Ruth’s husband died, she followed her mother-in-law, Naomi and adopted her Hebrew faith and her people as her own. (Ruth 1:16–17) To feed herself and Naomi, she gleaned in the field of Boaz, a rich man. Boaz is taken with her, and eventually they marry. Among their descendants is the famed King David. Ruth (a non-Jew) should be considered an example for all Christians to accept and obey the Torah as God’s holy instructions, just as the Israelites did at Mt. Sinai. 

In Exodus 19:1 we read that the Israelites came to the foot of Mount Sinai in the third month. The third month after the Exodus is Sivan; since this was also the month of Shavuot, the rabbis deduced that God gave the Torah on Shavuot. Today, it is widely accepted that the Torah was given by God to the Hebrew  people on Shavuot. In this sense, every year on the holiday of Shavuot the Jewish people see themselves as renewing this experience. We too can use Shavuot to renew our acceptance of the Torah and observe all that He commanded. 

We need to understand that although God had given the Torah to the Hebrew people, (Israelites) this also included the mixed multitude that left Egypt with them. (Exodus 12:37-38) It is possible that many of these Egyptians were the offspring of Egyptian task masters who had relations with Hebrew slaves. Just as many of the slaveowners (such as Thomas Jefferson) did in America’s history. The Hebrews of the Exodus did not become Jews until after the kingdom was divided into two, with 10 tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel and two in the southern kingdom of Judah. (1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10) This means that all Jews are Israelites but not all Israelites are Jews.

How does this relate to us as Christians?

The Bible also says: “count fifty days”, which is why, in the New Testament, the name for the holiday is usually translated as “Pentecost”. Shavuot and Pentecost are actually two different names for the same Festival. Therefore, the events of the first two chapters of the book of Acts must be seen against this biblical background. For instance, when in Acts 1:4 Jesus commanded his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, we would better understand this command if we remember that Shavuot is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals, when all Israelites were expected to be in Jerusalem: “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that He will choose: at the festival of unleavened bread, at the festival of weeks, and at the festival of booths.” (Deut. 16:16) Many Jews and non-Jews alike describe these as Jewish only celebrations. But Leviticus 23 makes it plain that these are God’s feast days: “Then the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘These are My appointed feasts, the feasts of the LORD that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (vs. 1 & 2) 

Remember  that mixed multitude that traveled with the Hebrews on their Exodus? Concerning His feast days God proclaimed to them, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” (Exodus 12:14)  And in case it wasn’t clear enough God also said, “The same law shall apply to both the native and the foreigner who resides among you.” (v. 49)

Preparing for the Holiday

The Bible teaches that the Israelites had three days to prepare to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. To ready themselves for the momentous occasion, they were instructed to wash their clothes and to stay ritually pure. (Exodus 19:10-11) By recalling those three days, today we can use the three days before Shavuot to prepare ourselves personally and spiritually, as a family, and as a community to re-experience this life-changing event.

Shavuot in the New Testament

In Acts 2 we read, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.”  (Acts 2:1-3) 

We  have to remember  that the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) forms the background of this event and that by the first century the festival was already associated with the covenant made with Moses. We would then understand that it was certainly no coincidence that the descending of God’s Spirit is described on the day of Pentecost, and we would be able to see these beautiful and profound parallels between God giving His Torah and giving His Spirit. On both occasions, Shavuot becomes the day when Heaven is opened and God Himself claims His people. 

The “noise like a violent storm” in Acts 2 definitely echoes the thundering and the fire of Exodus 20:18. It seems that Luke consciously builds these parallels and describes the events of Acts 2 in terms of a “second Sinai”, thus, Jesus’ command to the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem might also be understood as a hint that, as God’s Torah was given on Shavuot, God’s Spirit was also given on Shavuot. 

The Christian version of Pentecost

Today, many Christians are taught that Pentecost was the day that the Church was born. But if Pentecost was the birth of the Church, why did Peter not include Gentiles in his message? Why did Peter not mention the cross, salvation through the blood of Christ, or forgiveness of sins based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? Why did he not offer salvation by faith alone, apart from works? Why did he not say a word about the body of Christ? To press further, why did Peter or any of the Twelve ever mention the body of Christ? 

Because Peter didn’t know anything yet about God’s salvation based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—salvation by faith alone, or even the significance of the blood of Christ! Peter didn’t even know what Church was let alone the teachings associated with it. Peter only knew God’s prophetic, kingdom program. He only knew the prophecies of the prophets which Jesus had proclaimed throughout his earthly ministry. God had kept this revelation a secret until He revealed it to Paul. (Ephesians 3.1-7) The term ‘Gentiles’ would be better translated ‘Goyim’—meaning non-Jew. Or someone outside the tribe of Judah. (Remember, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews) The prophets reveal that the Goyim will be blessed through the Jews. (Zechariah 8:23)

The confusion continues

Great confusion has resulted from failure to understand that the events of Shavuot in Acts happened to believing Jews and Israelites—not to the Church. Because the Church did not exist yet! Another area of confusion has been the speaking in tongues. Some denominations and churches teach that believers are supposed to speak in tongues as proof that they “have the Holy Spirit” because that was the evidence experienced by Peter and the other followers in the upper room. Some even claim that a person cannot even be saved until they speak in tongues! 

Lastly, we should note that when one is saved by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) he is immediately baptized by God’s Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12-13). This baptism has no sign—such as speaking in tongues. The gift of tongues all but ceased long ago, and one day will be done away with completely. (1 Corinthians 13.8) But even when they operated in the Church, they were not a sign for believers but for unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14.22)

The Scriptures indicate clearly that the Church—the body of Christ, did not begin at Pentecost. Pentecost is one of God’s feast days and is still in effect today. God had never revealed or even hinted that His feast days were only for Jews, that they would ever end, or that the Church would replace the Israelites as the new body of Christ. What He had revealed was that Goyim would be blessed through the Jews. The Church was merely the method God used to bring us all—Jew and non-Jew alike, to the knowledge of His saving grace through His son, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. 

And I long for the day that we will all worship him around the throne of God!