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Archive for March, 2012

Don’t you hate it when Christianity is painted with a broad brush — that it’s just a bunch of televangelists with carefully coifed hair scamming vulnerable people for money, Pat Robertson claiming to speak for God and saying embarrassing things in the media, Westboro “Baptist Church” picketing funerals and claiming that God hates fags? Many years ago, Catholics tortured and killed people during the Inquisition and then there is the Crusades (regardless of what atrocities led up to them). Christians are seen as hicks, hypocrites, money-grubbers, judgmental, bigots, hateful, intolerant, and even murderers.

I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity either.

But, three things, first, not everyone who says and does things in the name of God are true believers. Fred Phelps and his family who make up Westboro Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas are not a true Christian church, nor are they Baptist. They are a cult, led by an insane man. Many people in this country, some knowingly and some unknowingly, use this cult as propaganda that Christians are hateful and bigots.

I watched a video (For The Bible Tells Me So) a few years ago that many liberal churches were airing about the “intolerance” of evangelical Christians towards gay people and Westboro Church was one of their big examples of the so-called hatred in mainstream evangelicalism. The Westboro cult no more represents evangelicals than the soldier who killed several Afghanis represent the rest of our military. I would contend that it is intellectually dishonest to use Westboro as an example of evangelical Christian hatred for gay people. Everyone knows they are nutcases. And since Christ commands us to love our neighbor, we are commanded to love gay people. Saying that evangelicals hate gay people is simply a lie. There may be individual exceptions to that but as a whole, it is not in our theology to hate anyone.

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Second, if these other “Christian representatives” are true believers, they have gone their own way and even preach a false gospel. Many televangelists are false teachers as they preach the prosperity gospel and positive thinking as Biblical, which they are not. They have their own greedy agendas.

The Catholic Inquisition had nothing to do with true Christianity but was about protecting “the Church” and the positions of power that it had. If you look at how Jesus lived His life on earth and what He taught, there is nothing Christ-like about some of the atrocities done in His name.

Thirdly, when I behave badly — react to someone in anger, become prideful, have critical thoughts towards someone, refuse to forgive — I am giving in to my flesh and not submitting to the Spirit of Christ living in me. Christians are human beings who fail probably daily at having the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”) evident in their lives. What Christians DO have is forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s help in imitating Christ. If Christians all acted perfectly, we wouldn’t need Christ. We are sinners in need of grace and because we have the indwelling of the Spirit after expressing faith in Christ and making Him Lord of our lives, we are covered by the shed blood of Christ on Calvary.

Lastly, many people have left the church and the faith because of other Christians. I understand why and how that happens. But, the biggest mistake anyone could make is to leave the Jesus of the Bible in the process. Reject the badly behaving Christians, but don’t reject Christ. Don’t add false teaching into your beliefs. Flee any church that is not representing Christ properly, but don’t run into the waiting arms of false teachers who are more than eager to lead you down their deceptive path.

Run to Jesus. Study the book of John and study who He really is and accept Him.

I wish that Christians, including myself, were better representatives of Christ. Some of us are trying because we know the world is watching. But please do not reject the hope of salvation only brought through Jesus Christ.

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The Real Jesus?

Is it possible to find the real Jesus? That depends on how you answer a more fundamental question: Are you willing to set aside your preconceptions and let the evidence take you wherever it will? I have done just that and I guess I find myself still doing that sometimes.

Beliefs have very real consequences, so finding the truth is important. Think about Jim Jones and the tragedy in Guyana several years ago. Nine hundred followers drank the poisoned Kool-Aid in loyalty to and in fear of Jim Jones, who claimed to be the Messiah. Men, women, and children died a terrible death because of one false teacher who claimed to be God.

Faith is only as good as the one in whom it’s invested. If Jesus isn’t who He says He is in the Bible, then I will not find another faith or my own faith smoothie, but just live for myself. Why live for a Jesus who isn’t really the Son of God who now sits at the right hand of the Father? I would contend that what we belief is of utmost importance. It determines how we live our lives and how we view death.

I have done a lot of studying the past several years to see if the Christianity of my youth is really true. The facts about Christianity in my church growing up was mixed with legalism and man-made rules. When I left home as a young adult, I started questioning all of it and had to rediscover Christ bit by bit. I had to find out what the Bible really says and if it can be trusted. I tested everything that was taught to me by other people, including pastors. The Bible says we should test every spirit. I took that literally.

What I have discovered in studying several parts of the Bible inductively (having scripture prove scripture, NOT having commentaries prove scripture) has changed my life. I will be discussing more of that in detail in future posts.

Who is the real Jesus? Is He the Jesus Seminar Jesus? Is He one of several Masters? Is He just a teacher, a prophet that lived 2,000 years ago? Is He the “nice” God while the Father is the “mean” God? Is He an example for me to find the god within me? Or, is He really who HE says He is?

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A video from Covenant Life Church with Josh Harris about why we need to have correct Theology.

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Everyone knows that Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the people. But very few go on to finish what he said next; that it is the sigh of the oppressed and the illusory sun that revolves around man as long as man doesn’t revolve around himself.

The New Spirituality has solved that dilemma. We have found a religion that has helped us to revolve around ourselves, and once we have believed that the spiritual imagination needs no boundaries because we are gods, everything becomes plausible and nothing needs justification.

Ravi Zacharias, “Why Jesus?”

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Jude 4 talks about certain persons creeping in unnoticed into the church who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny that Jesus Christ is our only Master and Lord.

I’ve been observing over the past several years a rejection of the fundamental truths learned as children, that it is by faith that we are saved.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9

There are so many passages that mention it is through faith that we are saved. But many in the church over the years have taught that everyone is saved because of Christ dying on the cross. I thought that was pretty radical at the time.

Over the years I see the beliefs by these teachers within the church, evolving into greater apostasy. Is that an overreaction? Not only are congregations being taught that everyone has Jesus inside, that they just need to “wake up” to His presence, but many extra-biblical concepts. Consider these “new truths” being taught in many churches:

  • The joining of different faiths together, not to evangelize but to blur doctrinal lines and deny the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Muslims are being called brothers and sisters because we “all worship the same God.” Hinduism and Buddhism are being embraced as additional truths to Christianity.
  • Entertaining teachings from radical “believers” who say that it doesn’t matter if the tomb was empty or not, what matters is that the disciples experienced something.
  • Pastors teaching their congregations that God didn’t need some kind of mechanism to forgive sins…that is how the “ancients” viewed God. We need a new image of Jesus…not as a sin sacrifice. The way Jesus “saves” us from our sins is how Jesus lived His life. Oh, and its too bad that Jesus had to die, just think of what we would have learned from Him if He had lived to be 80 years old.
  • Heaven and hell do not exist as taught in the Bible. They are whatever we experience on earth.
  • Jesus is only one of many masters to take us to God. Buddha, Mohammed, and others are considered equally important as Jesus in the life of a Christian.
  • Christian pastors walking their church through Hindu-type practices in their church services, e.g., opening their heart chakras to receive “the truth.”
  • A congregation being taught that when you are mad at God (which is okay), you need to not only point your finger at Him, but maybe you need to stick your middle finger at Him.

There is much more. The people teaching these things are nice, gentle people. They have created an environment that is very inclusive, accepting, and loving. All churches should be this way, where anyone can walk in the front door and feel love coming from the congregation.

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. II Corinthians 11:4, 13-15

Is it loving to deceive people with false teaching? I would contend that it is not. We can’t pick and choose doctrines from the Bible, twist them to suit our agenda, and then add in the teachings of other religions. Why not?

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.   –John 3:16-18

The Bible and Christianity make it clear who is the only Savior and that we are in need of Him. Jude makes it clear what will happen to false teachers.

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts [in the presence of true believers] when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;

Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.    –Jude 12, 13

Yes, there is much wrong with the Church. Hypocrites, legalism, spiritual abuse…but we can’t abandoned the truth because these teachers are nice people. Truth is truth. What does the Bible really say? Be discerning. Study the Bible as a whole. I love those people who are being deceived and write this not to condemn but to warn. The Bible does tell us that as time goes on there would be more and more false teaching and people would abandon the faith. I’m seeing it before my very eyes and it is breaking my heart.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24, 25

Test every spirit. Your eternity depends on it.

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