False Doctrine

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)

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)

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)

There Is Only One Redeemer

Christians are a redeemed people. In other words, Christians are a bought, purchased and paid-for people, hence the teachings of Paul when he said:

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

So how are God’s people redeemed? Peter answered this when he said:

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

God’s people have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (John 1:29) – simple enough to understand, that is until some try to teach that not only did the blood of the Lamb redeem God’s people, but so did the one whose womb bore the Lamb.

To the contrary of, or in addition to God’s word, whichever you prefer, the Catholic Church teaches, “As she suffered and almost died together with her suffering and dying Son, so she surrendered her mother’s rights over her Son for the salvation of the human race. And to satisfy the justice of God she sacrificed her Son, as well as she could, so that it may justly be said that she together with Christ has redeemed the human race.” (from Pope Benedict XV INTER SODALICIA)”

The Catholic Church attempts to share with Mary what belongs only to Jesus. Never can it be “justly” said that anyone is a co-redeemer of souls, for there is only one Redeemer of the lost; and salvation’s redeeming price was paid, not through His birth, but through His blood! To God be the glory, and to God alone for the price that has been paid:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:9-12)

While the creeds of men may refer to Mary as a “co-redeemer,” the scriptures do not – not once! And for good reason! For the just price of redemption came at the cost of blood, by Jesus’ blood; and the price was paid by Jesus and Him alone. While Mary played a wonderful and amazing role in God’s plan, she could not redeem herself much less the human race (Luke 1:46-47).

May we all remember, or learn, that those who hear the word of God and keep it are as blessed as the woman who carried the world’s only Redeemer. EA

And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!

(Luke 11:27-28)

The Real “Mourner’s Bench”

There is nothing wrong with feeling sorrow when it comes to sins that have been committed. After all, 2 Corinthians 7:10 does teach that a godly sorrow leads to a repentance that leads toward salvation.

A proper sorrow leads to a proper determination about sin in our life. Biblical sorrow has led an untold number of souls to Jesus for salvation. This is, in part, the whole call of the Gospel. But one practice in the religious world that has its roots in sorrow but not in the scriptures is the call that one may hear to the “mourner’s bench” (a.k.a. the altar call).

A godly sorrow over sin leads us to the throne in Heaven, not a bench at the foot of a pulpit in a church building:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:12-16)

When the Holy Spirit uses His word to cut at our heart we should act on the sorrow that follows; but our actions should be according to the scriptures. Confession is truly good for the soul, and our prayers for one another can have a great purpose (James 5:16), but the need for confession leads no closer to the “mourner’s bench” than it does the “confession booth.”

I say what I say to provoke honest thoughts about sorrow – not to hurt feelings that lead to nowhere. Trade your tradition for the scriptures and the “mourner’s bench” for the mourner’s throne! EA

How Did it Get to That?

The worst of situations have all started with a single decision. At first the decision may seem harmless enough; many even beginning with the best of intentions, but nonetheless the outcome comes out being a miserable one for all the parties involved. Sadly the religious world is no exception.

Many of the manmade traditions in Christianity that are so heavily adhered to today were all started by minor changes that eventually became mainstream without the followers even considering or wondering or realizing or caring how it had gotten to that point. Here are some examples:

Where is the Pope in the scriptures?

What about infant baptism?

How about the practice of praying to or through Mary or other “saints” as mediators?

What about women who serve as elders and preachers?

Where is the authority for instrumental music (including all the rock band wannabes) in the church’s worship of God?

How did the mourner’s bench get the status it has been given?

How did all of these situations get to where they are now? How can something that so many saw as harmless at the beginning turn into something so harmful in the end???

It all happens by not listening to the following words: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Those are not the words of some council or association or any other manmade hierarchy. They are the Holy Spirit inspired words of an apostle of Jesus the Christ of God. When we get this, then we can more easily avoid having to ask, “How did it get to that?” EA

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 3 – Your Vote Counts

Election, election, election – it’s not just for presidents! Election is for God’s people…people who come to God by faith through Jesus. This form of election is created by God, but we must choose to participate in it. No one elects God to the throne! His government is a monarchy, but we choose whether or not we’ll join His kingdom. The ticket will not change: it’s Heaven or it’s Hell for every sinner, and we can choose Heaven! That is the wonder and grace of the gospel!

But this isn’t enough for some! For some, well, they want the choice made for them. They want their election to be “unconditional.” Not only do they want salvation to be unconditional – they want damnation to be the same! After all, how can one be “unconditional” without the other being the same??? If one person has his or her ticket punched for them then all must follow the ‘party’ line.

The fact is that when it comes to God’s election, a person must choose which ‘party’ they’re going to be a member of; but a person may ask about the people in Romans 9? Doesn’t this chapter prove God chooses people according to whatever His desire is and not according to what a person chooses to do in response to God’s desire?

Good question! Think about the people in Romans 9. How did they choose to react to God’s calling? From Genesis to Revelation a person can read about God’s plan to bring a Messiah into the world to save people from our sins, and from Romans 1 to Romans 11 Paul is saying that God had a right to extend His grace to the gentiles and a right to reject Israel because of their treatment of His election that comes through faith in Jesus. Look at how Paul ends Romans 9:30-33. He ends it by saying that very thing! Israel lost their election because they stumbled at (meaning chose to reject) that elect rock of God’s people – Jesus!

Romans 9:7 mentions Abraham. Why does Paul begin with Abraham? Why did God choose to use Abraham? Because God foreknew him! Genesis 18:19 says:

For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Through Abraham the whole world was going to be blessed through One seed – who was that seed? It was Jesus (Galatians 3:16). And through Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, the promise would continue to be brought to fruition.

Romans 9:10-13 mentions Jacob and Esau. Why? Because when it comes to Isaac the Jews could say, “Isaac deserved to be counted in God’s elect and not Ishmael because Isaac was the promised child.” But in the situation of Esau (the older brother) and Jacob (the younger brother) the elder child would have his “promise of inheritance” pulled out from under his feet. And to make this even more interesting, before either of the children were ever born God chose who He was going to use to bring his purpose (salvation from sin) into the world! God predestinated Jacob to be used to bring God’s elect into the world because He foreknew him. And listen to this, God predestinated the service of Jacob, but nowhere does it say He predestinated the salvation of Jacob. Jacob didn’t “earn” anything, but he would answer the call that Esau rejected and traded for a bowl of beans!!! Don’t think so? Then read this:

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:14-16) (more…)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 2 – Biblical Election by Faith Wins!

The concept of election is a biblically true and wonderful concept. The woeful concept of Calvinism’s “Unconditional Election” is biblically false. Calvinism takes biblical predestination which means God had a plan to pay the price of man’s sin from the beginning, and turns it into God buying everyone a one way plane ticket with no chance of cancelling the destination. According to Calvinism’s “unconditional election,” once you get on the plane…make that, once you’re forced onto the plane headed toward Heaven or Hell there’s no way off because your ticket is already punched!

Calvinism takes predestination through and turns it into predestination to. It has God throwing people into prison, throwing away the key and then saying we’ll be punished if we can’t get out!

Without a doubt, throughout Bible history, God chose to use certain individuals and nations over others – but the question is why did God choose to use them? Is it because God indiscriminately predestined some individuals to salvation and others to condemnation regardless of individual reaction like Calvinism teaches or is it because God knew exactly how those individuals would respond to His call?

Scripturally speaking the answer to this is clear! Doctrinally speaking, Calvinism muddies the water.

Where Calvinism falls short in its understanding is seen in the fact that God knowing what everyone will choose to do in their own heart when it comes to His commands is not the same as God making (irresistibly forcing) them do it.

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.1 Chronicles 28:9

Combine the clear language of God’s attributes from these two verses and what we get is God’s ability to make His will come to pass, not by overriding the free will of men and women, but by using that free will in our hearts to make His plans complete.

With this biblical principle firmly established we can now objectively look at one of the most, if not the most, “controversial” books in the Bible when it comes to predestination and whether God simply chooses His elect’s salvation for them based on nothing they have done or on something they will do.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul says the avenue to Heaven has been predestined, but those who walk in it must decide for themselves! It’s all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we as individuals choose to do with it.

Now, what is the purpose Paul mentions in verse 28? The purpose is salvation in Jesus! This is the same purpose Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 1:9: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,.

Verse 29 follows up by saying God foreknew individuals, not for-chose!!! The verse does not say ‘those He predestinated He predestinated’ does it? Why not? Because the truth of Biblical election revolves around God foreknowing those who would be His elect by their willingness to conform to the image of Jesus. (more…)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election

Despite what some in the religious world thinks or teaches, there are doctrines that are false and dangerous and Calvinism is one of them. Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. It changes the meaning of why Jesus had to die, it changes the meaning of what the cross stands for and it changes the invitation to man given by God!

Calvinism begins with Total Hereditary Depravity. It teaches that people are born completely wicked and so spiritually depraved and separated from God that we deserve hell the moment we’re born. Other than the obvious, another result of the doctrine teaches that we can’t do anything good spiritually or choose to love God and come to him in faith. So how can a person ever be saved if there’s no way that we can choose to do good, choose to believe or choose to come to God? What’s the solution???

The solution to that situation (according the Calvinism), whether we’re lost or saved, is that when it comes to salvation the decision has already been made for us and there’s nothing anyone can do about it! From that point on, the unconditionally conditional doctrine of Calvinism’s Unconditional Election walks in the door as a welcome or unwelcome guest; it all depends on what position you find yourself placed in spiritually.

When you get past all the “pleasant talk” Unconditional Election says that God doesn’t ask a sinner to do anything when it comes to responding to his offer of salvation through grace. This goes for both salvation and damnation! The real issue with unconditional election isn’t whether or not God has an elect people (because he does), it’s whether or not that election is unconditional.

There’s an inconvenient flip-side to Unconditional Election that’s not very logical much less scriptural. If a person is unconditionally chosen for salvation by no choice of their own, then the flip-side is that another person is unconditionally chosen for damnation by no choice of their own. To put it more plainly – the flip-side of being unconditionally elected is being unconditionally rejected!!!

Unconditional Election destroys the fundamental foundation of the gospel that says “whosoever believes should not perish” in John 3:16. Calvinism says “whosoever” doesn’t mean “whosoever” because “whosoever” means a choice; and unconditional election gives a person no choice when it comes to salvation or condemnation!!! The doctrine of Unconditional Election says “wait, we do have a choice – the choice we made when Adam sinned.” Talk about being disingenuous with words! What kind of choice is choice if it’s chosen for us?

A huge question is: If a person is unconditionally elected or unconditionally rejected without any consideration for personal response or responsibility then why did Jesus act a like a person is personally responsible? Think about it for a minute… (more…)