Doctrine

Abraham’s Faith Was Not Alone

Faith alone saves? Not according to Abraham, the father of the faithful.

When the Bible says Abraham believed God, it means he trusted God’s word to the extent that he acted upon what God had said:

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”” (Romans 4:16-22)

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:18-24)

If faith alone didn’t work for the father of the faithful, it won’t work for the children of faith either. EA

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

That’s not what John 3:16 says!

Sinners Prayer

While doing some evangelistic work at a local festival I was given the above piece of paper (which, by the way, also happens to be a fake $100 bill on the other side) by an individual who had stopped at our congregation’s booth. After reading the piece of paper, I decided to look up John 3:16 because the wording under the scripture reference seemed to be a little longer than what I remembered the actual verse saying, and just as I suspected – it’s not what John 3:16 says!

The prayer and the promise on this paper is as fake as the $100 bill on the other side. And like the fake $100 bill, these tactics seem real until you open them up to the light of God’s word so don’t fall for it. No apostle or prophet of Jesus Christ ever taught anyone to pray a made-up sinner’s prayer to be saved; and not one time in the New Testament can a verse be found that says faith alone saves anyone. Peter didn’t say, “believe and pray to Jesus for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38. And Paul wasn’t told to, “arise and pray some more, washing away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” in Acts 22:16. So why should anyone say anything close to that today?

John’s gospel is full of people who believed in various ways but they still weren’t saved, so don’t miss the point of John 3:16 (which happens to include the new birth that was discussed at the beginning of the chapter)! The point of John 3:16 is about opportunity. It’s an opportunity to find salvation from the effects of sin by listening to God’s instructions which have been given unto us by the Son who was lifted up on the cross to be the answer to our sins.

Believing in Jesus involves actions, and these actions don’t include some prayer written by the inspiration of some man or woman. And this why you’ll find sinners praying in the New Testament, but you won’t find the sinner’s prayer because that’s not what John 3:16 says.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

Why don’t you keep the Sabbath commandment of God?

There are many in the religious world who contend for the present day observance of (and by observance I mean the keeping of, or adherence to) the Sabbath day commandment that is particularly found in the Decalogue (or the 10 Commandments) of God’s law. Such contenders, often with great zeal and emphasis, seek to challenge others, with an ultimate goal of revealing the “sin being committed”, concerning their failure to observe the Sabbath day, by asking why God’s commandment is so blatantly ignored and violated. In the face of such of a query, three easy reasons can be given in reply that explain why no sin is being committed due to the fact that such an observance is no longer required by God:

  • The Sabbath commandment is a part of God’s former law that humanity is no longer amendable to, in part or as a whole, due to the new covenant made available through the gospel of Christ (Colossians 2:13-17; Galatians 2:14-19; Hebrews 8:7-9)
  • The Sabbath commandment, which was plainly given and reiterated throughout the law of Moses and many following letters of the prophets, is not repeated a single time for the church as whole, by direct command or influential reference, but rather it is seen that the church had a custom of coming together on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

Therefore, I do not fail to keep the Sabbath because I have ill feeling towards the command or even because of some perceived rebellious spirit; rather, I do not keep the Sabbath day commandment because, as his word shows, it is not something that God requires from us today in order to live in harmony with his will as we look forward to experiencing that moment and eternal Sabbath from the works that are done in his name. EA

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:8-10)

Purg-a-what?

A large percentage of the religious world has been taught that a place of purging exists to prepare the unready soul for eternity, a place that goes by the name “purgatory” – but truth be told, what exactly is purgatory responsible for purging?

For one, purgatory, in the not too distant past, purged people of their money through the sale of indulgences to shorten the time needed for penance of sins before one could enjoy “full fellowship” with God after death. This practice was so prominent it led to the cultural proverb, “As soon as money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory’s fire springs” as well as becoming the issue of Luther’s 28th of his 95 thesis paper.

Today, purgatory purges authority from God’s word which lends no credence to the existence of such a place. The debt of Matthew 18:23-35 couldn’t be paid off; and the reward, or loss, of work in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 refers to the faithfulness, or the lack thereof, of those who were brought to Christ through personal work. Unlike purgatory, the word of God teaches that individuals are “justified now” and are “without condemnation” through the “sin purging” blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9, 8:1).

Purgatory purges, but it’s not purging what most people in the religious world are taught to believe. EA

who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)

The Offensiveness of the Gospel

For millennia the gospel of a crucified savior has offended people, and it continues to do so to this very day:

  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was the actual Messiah of the Jewish people.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was the prophesied and most authoritative prophet of God.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior offered himself for the sins of all of humanity.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was offered for any supposed sin of humanity.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was a part of God’s plan to redeem mankind to himself.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior is offensive.

Fact of the matter is, this crucified savior knew that he was an offense (Matthew 13:57), and so did his preachers (1 Corinthians 1:18-31), but the real shame comes from a “church” that is offended by the offense as much as the world. EA

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:4-8)

What does the phrase “Cross the Jordan River” mean to a Christian?

To understand what “crossing the Jordan River” metaphorically means to a Christian you have to first understand what it literally meant to the Jewish people.

God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would inherit a land given to them by God himself. But before Jacob died, the children of Israel found themselves living far away from that land in Egypt.

Generation after generation passed until the time was right; the time had come for the children of Israel to inherit the distant, but promised, land of Canaan. Add slavery, a handful of plagues, a law given by Moses, and forty years in the wilderness to the equation and you’ll arrive at the book of Joshua and the promised land.

But before Joshua could lead the people into the land flowing with milk and honey, an intimidating river had to be crossed – the flood stage Jordan River to be exact. But by the grace of God the people safely crossed the river; and by faith they received a land that they had only heard of through a promise that had been made so long ago.

As Christians we look back at the moment the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River into Canaan’s land as a rite of passage. Once they crossed that river the promise became reality – and reality surpassed expectations.

In the same manner as God’s people of the past, we as Christians, who make up the people of God today, are looking for a distant land of promise we have only heard of. As we travel through the wilderness of life we cling to this land by faith because this “promised land” is an expectation that comes from believing in God. Heaven is its name, and it’s waiting for God’s people (Hebrews 11:16).

But before we enter this “promised land” a rite of passage must be experienced – a “river” has to be crossed; this river is a cold river; this river is a wide river; and this river is an intimidating river to say the least. This “river” is called death.

But by the grace of God, this raging river can be crossed (Hebrews 2:14-15). Because in Jesus, the waters have no choice but to subside since he himself faced the waters, and crossed them, bearing God’s covenant for us upon his own shoulders so we may follow him across on dry ground to inherit the land we have only heard of through a promise made so long ago.

So if you have wondered what “crossing the Jordan River” means to a Christian, now you know. EA

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

Washed or Wet?

When it comes to water baptism, intentions make a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matthew 3:7-9)

When it comes to water baptism, purpose makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5)

When it comes to water baptism, the origin of the act makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When it comes to water baptism, the result makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

You can be sprinkled over, poured on and even immersed – but there’s still a difference between getting washed and getting wet in the water baptism that we read about in the New Testament of the Bible. EA

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” (Acts 22:16)

There is no Grace without Law

One of the greatest misunderstandings about God’s New Covenant that people live under today is that this covenant is all grace and no law.

Now let me quickly say, on top of the fact that the Law of Moses is no longer in effect spiritually (Hebrews 8:6-7, 13), that I completely agree that the Bible teaches that no one is justified by the works alone of any law, because once a law is violated all a law can do is condemn (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 2:16). But let me also quickly say I completely disagree with anyone who believes that this situation means we are no longer under any law today because of God’s grace (Romans 6:14-16).

As Christians we are indeed under law today. For example, there is:

  • the law of faith – “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:27)
  • the law of Christ – “to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ, that I might win those who are without law;” (1 Corinthians 9:21)
  • the law of the Spirit – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
  • the law of liberty – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:10-13)

More could be said, but enough should be enough and enough has been said to help us see the truth of God’s will concerning law and sin and grace.

You see, there can be law without grace, but there can be no grace without law because without law there is no need for grace (Galatians 6:1-3). EA

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us…My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 1:9-10, 2:1, 3:4)

Premillennialism’s Presumptuous Faux-Pa Points

The Bible is meant to be interpreted by allowing the clearer verses help us understand the more difficult ones. This concept is as easy as understanding the importance of simple arithmetic before attempting to grasp the concept of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc.. Learning what addition is all about is a step that we must take before A (squared) plus B (squared) equals C (squared) makes any sense.

Mathematically speaking everyone agrees that this makes sense, but unfortunately there are many people in the religious world who do not follow along with the same concept when it comes to certain doctrines thatFile:Millennial views.svg originate with the thinking of men and women instead allowing the truth to be seen through more plainly spoken verses. Such is particularly the case when it comes to the various teachings of premillennialism and the unfortunate presumptuous faux-pa points that it stands on despite the clear teachings of the Bible.

Points such as:

  • multiple resurrections and judgment days when the Bible clearly teaches there will be only one simultaneous resurrection and final judgment by Jesus (John 5:28-29)
  • a literal reign of Jesus as king from physical Jerusalem when the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus has already turned that down (John 6:15)
  • the return of animal sacrifices “during the millennia” when the Bible clearly teaches that they have been permanently removed by Jesus (Hebrews 10:9-18)
  • the “back-up plan” role of the church when the Bible clearly teaches that the church, through Jesus, was included in God’s plan of salvation for all of mankind from the beginning (Ephesians 3:1-11)
  • the delay of the presence of God’s kingdom upon the earth when the Bible clearly teaches that, according to Jesus, the kingdom of God was going to appear before the death of Jesus’ contemporaries (Mark 9:1)

The truth is, almost the entire foundation of premillennialism comes from the book of Revelation (particularly chapter 20), which is a highly symbolic chapter from a book of prophecy that uses heavy symbolism in ways which must be understood in light of the clearer meanings (plain speaking exhortations, reproofs and examples) found in the rest of the Bible’s letters. When one seeks to and follows through with rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) it becomes much easier to rightly divide any time-line that God has revealed and thus avoid exegetical studies that become embarrassing eisegesical mistakes.

When this is kept in mind it becomes much easier to see how the major points of premillennialism are very presumptuous in nature but still easy mistakes to correct. EA

Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

You Don’t Need the Book of Mormon to Know the Truth of God

If asked why it took approximately 1,800 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the book of Mormon to be revealed the Mormons will respond by saying that the world was not ready for the truth. But is that true? Was the world living without the truth, the whole truth of God’s revealed word until the “hidden” books that make up the book of Mormon were revealed in 1827? Contrary to what the Mormon Church teaches, the answer is a resounding no!

The Bible itself testifies that the entirety of God’s truth for all of mankind was going to be revealed, and that in fact it had been entirely revealed, proclaimed and received before the end of the first century A.D.

And how can we be sure that this happened? Because Jesus told his apostles that “…when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth….” (John 16:13) and this is why:

  • Jude, in the first century, told his readers to contend earnestly for the faith which had been once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)
  • Peter, in the first century, told his readers that God had provided all things that were necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
  • James, in the first century, told his readers that they had been born again by the word of truth (James 1:18)
  • John, in the first century, told his readers that they knew the truth, were filled with truth and were walking in the truth (2 John 1-4)
  • Paul, in the first century, told his readers that they knew the truth of God’s grace and word through the gospel which had been preached to all under heaven (Colossians 1:5-6, 23-28)

Jesus kept his promise, and the Holy Spirit fulfilled his mission by the end of the first century as the testimony of God’s true apostles and prophets testify within the Bible’s pages which were recorded and preserved by the providence of God many centuries before some supposed “angel surrounded by light” ever uttered a word (see Galatians 1:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
The book of Mormon is not needed to know the truth of God because the truth of God is not found in the book of Mormon, for the truth of God’s true kingdom is only found in one testament – and that’s the books which make up the New Testament of Jesus Christ in the Bible, a testament that has no need for any “other” testament, hat’s down!

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)