The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘church’

Old Testament Faith vs. Modern Judaism

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 22, 2016

I have written extensively about how the Old and New Covenants are one continual revelation of Jesus Christ–the salvation of mankind; and how the New Covenant Church is the continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament faith, by virtue of its being an Olive tree that joins together Jew and Gentile people of authentic faith into one Body for eternity.

Confusion is introduced when Bible teachers claim that New Testament faith has its “roots in Judaism.” The truth is that New Testament faith has its roots in the Old Testament faith, for they are both pure faith in Yahweh and His Messiah Jesus.

However modern Judaism is a religion which actually contradicts both Old and New Testament faith. While modern Judaism does still borrow from Old Testament faith practices when convenient (such as circumcision, meeting in temples, etc.), it has added to them myriad traditions and laws God never spoke, many of which completely obscure the purpose of God’s law and/or create loopholes around God’s law.

Michael Hoffman gives us an example of such a confusion-bringing teaching by Presbyterian theologian Douglas Jones–

“…consider the case of Abraham, that ancient father of Judaism and Christianity…One of the best ways of beginning to think about the nature of Christianity is to think of it in the light of Judaism. Today, we so often think of Judaism and Christianity as two distinct religions, almost like Buddhism and Islam. But early Christianity never saw itself in that way. The earliest Christians saw themselves as faithful Jews simply following Jewish teachings. In fact, the first main dispute in the Christian church was whether non-Jews, the Gentiles, could even be a part of Christianity! Christianity self-consciously saw itself as the continuing outgrowth, the fulfillment, of true Judaism. As such, Christianity didn’t start in the first century but long before with King David, Moses, Abraham, and ultimately the first man, Adam. Everything in older Judaism was building up and pointing to the work of Jesus Christ. Over and over, the early disciples explained that Christ was the fulfillment of the ancient promises of Judaism…So when we start thinking about Christianity, we have to understand its very Jewish roots. We should assume that Christianity ought to look and sound like Judaism except when it explicitly claims to change something. We should expect that the Scriptures, institutions, basic principles, laws, meditations, family life, etc. of Judaism would carry over into Christianity, unless Christ, the final prophet, authoritatively changed a practice….Christianity’s Jewishness is pervasive indeed.”(1)
 While Douglas Jones properly tied the New Testament church to Old Testament saints like David, Moses and Abraham, his improper use of the term “Judaism” to describe their faith is a dangerous misstep. Christians have fellowship with all the righteous–that would certainly include David, Moses and Abraham. But we do not have fellowship with the unrighteous–those who follow another spirit and another gospel–such as is found in modern Judaism.  Mr. Hoffman explains–

By improper application of the words “Jew” and “Judaism,” the preceding statement of a leading modern conservative Presbyterian’s view of Judaism, extols a palimpsest of confusion. First and foremost, by terming the Old Testament religion of Yahweh  as “Judaism,” an inexorable connection is inevitable and established between the religion of those who rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and the Old Testament religion of His Father, Yahweh. The reader is given the distinct impression that modern Judaism bears within it the seeds of the religion of the Old Testament, that it is the Old Testament religion without Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing could be a greater source of delusion. To ascribe to the ancient Israelite religion the term “Judaism” is a grave lexical and hermeneutic error. It gives to the creed of the entire Twelve Tribes of Israel and their Covenant Elohim, the title of a perverse man-made tradition that flourished among one segment of the offspring of the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob (the tribe of Judah). The word “Jew” is a corrupted form of the word Judah. It refers to two of the twelve tribes of Israel, Judah and Benjamin, and does not even appear in the Bible until II Kings 16:6, and then again in 25:25 and II Chronicles 32:18.

Paul’s allusion to the “Jews’ religion” in this context is instructive. Paul’s reference in this regard is negative: “And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14). The hallmarks of the “Jews’ religion” according to Paul, are two-fold: persecution of God’s Church (I Thessalonians 2:14-16), and allegiance to the “traditions” of men. 

The Pharisees asked Jesus why His followers disobeyed the Talmud (at that time known as the “tradition of the elders” and not yet in written form), by refusing to engage in ritual hand-washing: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” “But Jesus said unto them, ‘Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15: 2-3). How can it be said that “Judaism” (the “Jews’ religion”) is the root of Christianity, when according to Paul, it is a religion of man-made traditions and according to Jesus Christ, Judaism’s traditions of men made the Law of Yahweh of “none effect”? (Matthew 15:9). How can it be said that “Judaism” is the root of Christianity, when in the Old Testament there was no “Judaism”? One searches in vain for the term, yet modernist Christians today use it almost exclusively to describe the religion of the Old Testament, of Yahweh and His people.

After some Jews rejected their Messiah they formalized the tradition of the elders condemned by Christ as the very nullification of the Law of God, and that new religion is accurately and properly termed Judaism: “This new system, treated at first as simply provisional because of the surviving hope of restoring the Jewish commonwealth, had soon to be accepted as definitive…Then it was that Rabbinical or Talmudical Judaism fully asserted its authority…the Mishna ‘Oral Teaching’ completed by Rabbi Juda I, committed ultimately to writing in the form of the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds and expounded by generations of teachers in the schools of Palestine and Babylonia, held undisputed sway over the minds and consciences of the Jews. In fact, this long acceptation of the Talmud by the Jewish race, before its center shifted from the East to the West, so impressed this…Law (Mishnah) upon the hearts of the Jews that down to the present day Judaism has remained essentially Talmudical both in its theory and in its practice…Orthodox Judaism…distinctly admits the absolutely binding force of the oral Law…” (2)

  Hopefully, you can see that neither Jesus nor Paul accepted Judaism as authentic faith, but instead a corruption born out of rebellion against God. Remember that Jesus told the Pharisees God would require of their generation all the righteous blood from Abel to Zechariah, whom their fathers had killed.  Not only did they refuse to enter life, they hindered others from doing so by “taking away the key to knowledge.” (Lk. 11:45-52) Their spiritual children continue to do this to this very day, obscuring and perverting the Word of God with their legions of laws and traditions.

Thankfully their physical children can repent and be converted, and become the children of God!  Paul is a prime example, and we also have the example of Nicodemus going to learn from Jesus in John 3. It appears that Nicodemus did become a follower of Jesus, forsaking the traditions of his fathers for the living Truth. He later publicly identified with Jesus by helping to give Him a proper burial (John 19:39-40), an act which surely burned the bridge between himself and the Pharisees.

God bless you as you continue to seek clarity on these issues!

(1) Hoffman, Michael. Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit (Kindle Locations 2473-2483). Independent History and Research. Kindle Edition.

(2)Hoffman, Michael. Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit (Kindle Locations 2484-2513). Independent History and Research. Kindle Edition.

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Answering the Charge of “Replacement Theology”

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 10, 2016

Introduction

In this post, I will endeavor to answer the false charge of “replacement theology.” Those who charge thus do not understand the following truths in Scripture:

  1.  God made a distinction between faithful and unfaithful Israel. Only the remnant (faithful Israel) would be saved.
  2.  Faithful Israel has always included Gentiles
  3.  The Old Covenant (with Israel) has been replaced with the New Covenant (with Israel).
  4.  Faithful Israel was not replaced, but carried into the New Covenant, where it remains to this day:
    a. The Olive Tree into which both Jews and Gentiles can be grafted by faith
    b. The foundation of the New Covenant Temple, which is the Lord’s Body
  5.  Unfaithful Israel has been “cut off” from faithful Israel, just as the Lord promised in the Old Testament. The kingdom was given to faithful Israel, which includes all Gentiles who join themselves to the God of Israel.

We will look at each of these points in more detail.

God Made a Distinction Between Faithful and Unfaithful Israel

God’s distinctions between faithful and unfaithful Israel can be seen in the following verses. Please do look them up!

Faithful Israel is beloved of God–Ex. 15:13; Deut. 33:3; Ezra 3:11
Unfaithful Israel is not beloved of God–Lev. 3:16; Jer. 12:8; Jer. 16:5; Hos. 9:15

Faithful Israel is the children of God–Exo. 4:22; Deut. 14:1; Isa. 1:2,4; Isa. 63:8; Hos. 11:1
Unfaithful Israel is not the children of God–Deut. 32:5; John 8:39-44

Faithful Israel is the kingdom of God–Exo. 19:6; 1 Chr. 17:14; 1 Chr. 28:5
Unfaithful Israel is not the kingdom of God–Matt. 8:11-12; Matt. 21:43

Faithful Israel is the people of God–Exo. 6:7; Deut. 27:9; 2 Sam. 7:23; Jer. 11:4
Unfaithful Israel is not the people of God–Hos. 1:9;  Jer. 5:10

Faithful Israel was the priests of God–Exo. 19:6
Unfaithful Israel was not the priests of God–1 Sam. 2:28-30; Lam. 4:13-16; Eze. 44:10-13; Hos. 4:6; Mal. 2:2-9

Faithful Israel was the vineyard/vine of God–Isa. 5:3-7; Jer. 12:10
Unfaithful Israel was not the vine of God (it was a degenerate, alien vine)–Jer. 2:21

Faithful Israel was an Olive Tree–Psa. 52:8; Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6
Unfaithful Israel was not the Olive Tree (but branches to be consumed)–Jer. 11:16

Faithful Israel was the Bride of God–Isa. 54:5-6; Jer. 2:2; Eze. 16:32; Hos. 1:2
Unfaithful Israel was not the Bride of God–Jer. 3:8; Hos. 2:2

Faithful Israel was counted as the children of Abraham–2 Chr. 20:7; Psa. 105:6; Isa. 41:8
Unfaithful Israel was not counted as the children of Abraham–John 8:39; Rom. 9:6-7; Gal. 4:25-30

Faithful Israel was chosen–Deut. 7:7, 10:15, 14:2; Isa. 43:20,21
Unfaithful Israel was not chosen–Deut. 31:17; 2 Ki. 17:20; 2 Chr. 25:7; Psa. 78:59; Jer. 6:30; Jer. 7:29, 14:10

Faithful Israel was circumcised in heart–Gen. 17:10; Deut. 30:6
Unfaithful Israel was not circumcised in heart–Jer. 4:4, 9:25-26; Rom. 2:25-29

As you can see, God has always made a distinction between faithful and unfaithful Israel. Another term designating “faithful Israel” is “the remnant.” Isaiah wrote:

For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return; The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness. (Isa. 10:22)

Paul, in quoting Isaiah, equated Israel’s “returning” with “being saved.”

Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. (Rom. 9:27)

Faithful Israel has always included Gentiles

Israel was never a “pure race,” as some teach, but a people who were called to worship God from a pure heart. Please read Gentiles Included in Old Testament Israel  in order to understand this.

The Old Covenant (with Israel) has been replaced by the New Covenant (with Israel).

Yes, in this case, there has been a replacement!

Dispensationalism attempts to have the old and new Covenants operating at the same time. This is false doctrine at its finest, for the writer of Hebrews states that the old Covenant has been rendered obsolete (Heb. 8:13). Now that the Lamb of God has been slain, He is forever the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:11-15). As a sign that the New Covenant was now in operation, the temple veil ripped from top to bottom at His death, opening the new and living way….through the veil, that is His flesh (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 10:19-20). There is no other way to the Father but through Jesus Christ.

Many people do not realize the New Covenant was made with Israel and Judah! (Jer. 3:31-34) That is, it was made with the faithful of Israel and Judah, for the unfaithful were blinded and stumbled because of their disobedience (I Pet. 2:6-8). Therefore any Gentile who enters the New Covenant, is now a citizen of the Commonwealth of [faithful] Israel (Eph. 2:12-18).

When Jacob blessed his sons just before dying, he prophesied that the scepter would not depart from Judah UNTIL Shiloh (Jesus) came. At that point, the gathering of the people (God’s faithful Israel) would be to Jesus.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Gen. 49:10)

Jesus is King of kings. He has claimed David’s throne, and rules faithful Israel from Mount Zion forever (Isa. 9:6-7). The obedience of God’s people is to Him (not to Judah). Those who have not gathered to Him are not in covenant with God.

Faithful Israel was NOT replaced, but carried into the New Covenant, where it remains to this day.

a. Faithful Israel remains the Olive Tree into which both Jews and Gentiles can be grafted by faith

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Rom. 11:16-24)

The root of the olive tree is holy because the root is faithful/obedient Israel! Unfaithful Israel was cut off, just as God promised. God does not graft us (believing Gentiles) into an unholy people, for we can have no fellowship with darkness. If the unholy repent of their unbelief, they can be grafted in.

I beg you to see that no “replacement” is being taught here. Faithful Israel has never been replaced. The throne of David is occupied by an eternal King. The faithful Israel of God has increased by the influx of people from all nations, just as God had always planned.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about how Gentiles could be established “in the midst” of Israel–

And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. (Jer. 12:16)

And so they have!

b. Faithful Israel remains the foundation of the New Covenant Temple, which is the Lord’s Body.

Upon faithful Israel, the new temple was raised, which is the Lord’s Body (the continuation of His Church).

Isaiah testified that foreigners would be gathered to Israel, and must not consider themselves “separate” from God’s people:

Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak, saying,
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”…Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.” (Isa. 56:3-8)

A foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord is not separate from God’s faithful people, nor has he replaced them. Listen to Paul:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:11-22)

Faithful Israel, far from being replaced,  is the very foundation of the New Covenant temple (the Church), holding up the entire building. The Church has not replaced faithful Israel, but has been made a partaker in her promises.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29)

Unfaithful Israel has been cut off from faithful Israel, just as God promised.

Unfaithful Israel will not inherit the promises. Ishmael became a symbol of this spiritual truth, according to Paul in Galatians 4. He wrote that the unbelieving Jews/unfaithful Israel shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman (Gal. 4:28-31).

The charge of “replacement theology” largely comes from children of the flesh (Ishmael) persecuting the sons of promise (Isaac) out of jealousy. They despise the idea that Gentiles can be grafted into God’s Israel, while they themselves are cut off due to unbelief. They see things through carnal eyes, trusting in race or nationality, just as many Jews did in Jesus’ day. Nevertheless, God’s Word is true–they are cut off from Israel until they repent and believe. The kingdom has been taken from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits of righteousness (Matt. 21:43). Unfaithful Israel will not be heir with faithful Israel.

How tragic that so many western Christians take up and repeat the delusions of those who have been cut off, twisting the Word of God. They “stand with” the spiritual Ishmael (unfaithful Israel) instead of Isaac (faithful Israel). May God open their eyes.

The doctrine that Unfaithful Israel is in any way accepted by God is antichrist. Jesus struck down this lie in John 8:37-47; Matt. 8:10-12; Matt. 21:33-45. John the Baptist struck it down in Matthew 3:7-12. The apostle John struck it down in 1 John 2:22. Peter struck it down in 1 Pet. 2:4-9. Paul struck it down in too many places to list. Only through repentance and faith in Jesus can a member of unfaithful Israel be translated into faithful Israel (the kingdom of God).

Let us agree with the Word of God, even if others refuse. (See Cut Off for more information.)

Conclusion

I think this quote by Sam Storms perfectly concludes this paper:

Jesus saw the realization of Israel’s true destiny in the circle of his disciples. They are not to be thought of, however, as a “new” Israel, but as the “true” Israel, the “true people of God.” With Jesus’ offer of the kingdom came the fact that acceptance means the realization and fulfillment of the promise. This offer was accepted by the disciples and thus was realized and fulfilled in them. They constituted neither a new Israel nor a separate body of believers: rather, they were the believing remnant within the unbelieving nation.

This “Church” (Matt. 16:18-19), therefore, is not a wholly distinct and completely new creation or purpose of God, separated from his people of the Old Testament, Israel, and in some sense “replacing” them. Rather, the Church of the present age is simply the continuation and maturation of the believing remnant of Israel, namely, the disciples and all others who received Jesus as Messiah. Thus, the fellowship or Church established by Jesus stands not in opposition to but in direct continuity with the Old Testament Israel. This body is “true” Old Testament Israel: the remnant! (Kingdom Come, Sam Storms, p. 343)

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, nationalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Avoiding Persecution at the Expense of the Gospel

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 3, 2016

Ever since I began to read the Voice of the Martyrs magazine* years ago, I have had the conviction that the western Church has much to learn from the Church in the rest of the world, and particularly from the suffering Church. This is not to say that the non-western Church has no errors or weaknesses. We know from reading Revelation 2 & 3 that churches can have both. They need rebukes, exhortations and continual guidance by the Great Shepherd. Sometimes they go so far astray, they are under threat of having their lamps darkened forever.

However the non-western Church has an advantage, in that her faith has survived wars, poverty, social upheaval and persecution. In most cases, she has not learned that persecution must be avoided at all cost, or that Jesus died to give her prosperity and earthly security. Jesus did not lie when He said it was hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, and we in the west are rich. There is a great blindness and apathy that seems to accompany prosperity and ease, unless we are very careful to cast it off. I believe that listening to these foreign disciples–and watching how they live out their faith–is akin to going to Jesus for some much-needed eye medication.  We have much to learn.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a message with you from a Christian evangelist who works in Tyre, Lebanon among 95% Muslims. He was born a Muslim himself, but became a follower of Jesus at a young age, due to the influence of a Christian church in his neighborhood. He lived for some time in the USA, after being flown here when his life was threatened because of his preaching. But he went back, and he opened a mission which openly admits with a sign that it exists to proclaim the gospel.

Mohammad Yamout tells his story and delivers some powerful exhortations to the western Church in the video below. Here is a transcription of part of it:

“Any Christian who thinks he can avoid persecution, I think that is not possible…We’re in the devil’s den. You’re attacking the fortress of the devil. The devil is not going to kiss you if you attack him. He’s going to attack back…

And any time you will try to avoid persecution, you have to do it on the expense of the gospel. You will compromise your stand in order to avoid persecution. I don’t want to compromise my stand. I don’t want to compromise the gospel to avoid persecution.

Many people, under the pretext of wisdom, say, ‘You have to be wise.’ I don’t know how wise you can be. I don’t think you can be more wise than Jesus Christ. He came, and He had to be persecuted. And He had to die. There was no other way.

For the gospel to spread out, and for people to know the truth, we have to die too. For the Muslim people to know Christ, we have to die. There has to be a line of martyrs in the future, I think, before these people understand that there’s a God that loves them. If we’re not ready to pay that cost, I don’t think anything’s going to happen….

Christianity was spread in the first century church by the blood of the martyrs. People died, that’s how Christianity was spread. That’s how we conquered.

Today in order to conquer, we have to be ready to die. People ask me in churches, ‘What makes a good missionary?’ And my answer is always, ‘Are you ready to die?’ If you’re not ready to die, pack it and go home…This was the life theme of every successful missionary–they were ready to die for Jesus.”

I hope you will set aside time to watch the entire video. God bless you.

*Note: While I credit the VOM magazine for helping me to better understand the worldwide church, and I respect its founder Richard Wurmbrand, I can no longer promote the ministry due to some revelations that Richard Wurmbrand’s son brought to light.

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Memorial Day

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 24, 2015

There was a time when days like this gave me vaguely fuzzy feelings for reasons I did not fully understand.  Somewhere, someone had “died for me,” and because they made the ultimate sacrifice, I was now “free.” It sounded pretty amazing. Sentimental parallels have been drawn between these combat soldiers and Jesus. I now know that this is as appropriate as drawing sentimental parallels between Jesus and the antichrist.

When I was converted, the love of God was shed abroad in my heart in a powerful way. I had been the antagonist, the rebel against God’s law and kingdom. I had done what was right in my own eyes for a long time; thus I deserved to be destroyed. But God became a man who died to redeem me, and then He patiently sent ambassadors to draw me into fellowship with Him. Why?  What difference does one stubborn human being make?  I still don’t know the answer to that question, but one thing I know:  I am changed, and I can’t go back to what I was.  When Jesus called me to die to myself and follow Him, He called me to a life of humbling myself to reach those who don’t deserve being reached (just as I didn’t deserve it).  He sent me to “every creature” with good news that God wants them back and has made a way back, if they will surrender.  Who should be exempted from this good news?  I can think of no one that exists outside of “every creature.”

When I recognized that Jesus was rightfully my Lord, I began to desire His opinion on everything, so that I might live pleasing to Him. Not only did I pray to understand His will, but I studied Scripture carefully apart from the direction of a church. This is not a slam on churches, but I’m pretty sure this is what saved me from adopting the “God and country” divided heart that I see in so many professing believers. (I should confess that I have not always been free of a divided heart in other areas.)  It is a tragic reality that many churches proudly display their divided loyalties by having an American flag right by the altar. Can a man give allegiance to two masters who have entirely different goals?

I had been raised a good patriot who believed in the inherent goodness of America compared to other nations. I believed we were free, we were more moral than others, we only fought in “just wars,” and it was possible to strap on a machine gun and go off to war in the name of God. I carried this cultural baggage into my new relationship with God, but eventually I learned that I had never been truly free; neither had I been more moral than others. True freedom is accessible to God’s children from any prison, and is denied to the richest, most powerful people on the planet.  True morality is only found in Christ. [Oh, but you are spiritualizing. Of course I am spiritualizing. We are supposed to be spiritual people, who do not have in mind earthly things but heavenly.] Further, the idea that I could now kill in God’s name and with His blessing seemed greatly at odds with the Great commission, which has the salvation–not the destruction–of people in view (Lk. 9:55-56). God’s command to Peter to put away his sword was suddenly His command to me, and the example and instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples became the plumbline of my life. That included His instructions in the Sermon on the Mount about loving and blessing my enemies–a portion of Scripture men of all denominations have cleverly twisted in order to grant themselves licentious loopholes.

As a member of God’s kingdom, I learned that I would need to walk in God’s “higher ways” rather than in the earth’s ways. Nowhere can His higher ways be seen more clearly than in the life and death of Christ, the innocent suffering to rescue the guilty. I saw that although we have a crude but necessary form of justice in our country, man’s justice will always pale in comparison with the righteous justice of God coupled with His triumphing mercy.

By looking deeper than the picture painted by mainstream media, I also found that the “just wars” we were waging were actually the ungodly schemes of ungodly men by which they enrich only themselves, and destroy multitudes (including those sainted soldiers who signed up to kill people they didn’t know for a cause they only thought they understood).  I saw patriotism for what it really is–“the pride of life”–something that belongs explicitly to this perishing world. Something a child of God should abhor (I John 2:15-17).  I realized that every country sees itself as more moral, more just, etc., than others, and this is only a collective reflection of man’s propensity to judge himself pure in his own eyes.  Patriotic songs and holidays reflect those twisted sentiments that so defy the Word of God (for all have sinned, Rom. 3:23).

And perhaps most importantly, I saw that all nations are, in fact, raging against and competing with God (Psa. 2). They want our allegiance. They want our sworn oaths of unquestioning obedience (Matt. 5:34).  They want us to sing their praises, their virtues, their supremacy over others. They want us to believe that our freedom comes from what they do with live ammunition. They want us to teach the illusion of their goodness to our children, and lead our children to pledge their loyalty to this god-like protector. And if that is not enough, they want the very bodies of our children to sacrifice on their altar of global power.

Oh, they speak great swelling words about our feigned national righteousness, and most of us desperately cling to the lie that the tree is good (or used to be good), despite the evil fruit abounding in our midst. Why? Perhaps we are just afraid of losing our own little piece of the national pie, and instinctively know that our earthly dividends depend upon earthly schemes. If such is the case, we have proven ourselves lovers of this world and not God.

Why not just admit that Psalm 2 is correct?  Why not admit that most, if not all, of the traditions our fathers handed us are vain and only constitute an empty way of life (I Pet. 1:18)?  Why not admit that men globally killing men they don’t know for reasons they don’t comprehend is a bloody manifestation of the Destroyer’s kingdom, not the Kingdom Jesus founded.

This is why I am so critical of any parallel drawn between soldiers who die in armed combat, and the King of kings who gave Himself–silenced and slaughtered–to be food and life for His enemies.  Can light and darkness be equal?  Is giving your own life to save your enemies the same as giving your own life to kill your enemies? They are not the same! And those who have the living Jesus in them should know better.

If we are deceived any longer about this, we are deceived willingly. There are multitudes of citizens in this internet age who are revealing the secrets of the monster that America is (and this phenomenon is not limited to America). The secrets of the military are accessible to those who actually want to know;  military men are killing themselves in droves for a reason. Any honest person who evaluates the history of this country knows that this was never a land of freedom and justice for all;  there were always at least two classes of people robbed and abused from the beginning (Native Americans and Africans).

But even if these things were not so, we have the words of Jesus. If we have not let Him transform our thinking and behavior, we need to ask ourselves if we are really His sheep.  In His kingdom, a slave is God’s free man, and a free man is God’s slave. The way to life is by first dying, the way to inherit the earth is meekness, the way to deal with enemies is by blessing them, and the way to overcome is to submit. We shall not be as the Gentiles, lording it over others, but we shall be as the One who washed the feet of both the faithful and the betrayer.

But, if we would rather be as “the Gentiles” or “the world”–living by the sword or praising those who do–God will choose our delusion.  It will probably look something like this:

America is the greatest, most moral country on earth, and our soldiers are heroes who died to set us free. 

Such sentiment has become foolishness to me now. To me, Memorial day is a day of pride, purposeful blindness to our faults as a people, and utter rebellion against God’s ways.  I understand why the world participates–and every nation has its similar days. Factions of the world revere the destructive and counterproductive works of men because they do not know God. But what about those who say they DO know God?  Do they profess to know Him, but in works deny Him (Titus 1:16)?

I do not mean to disrespect the dead–perhaps someone you loved–by this writing. Often they were brave men and women who sacrificed a great deal for what they thought was right. However, it is my contention that they were as blinded by the god of this world as the jihadist, and those who celebrate their works are equally deceived. Memorial Day is a day of sadness for me–sadness that so many people kill and die for utter vanity because they never understood the power of the cross of Christ.   If there is still any deception remaining in you, dear brother or sister, I pray that you would shake it off and live as a citizen of heaven from this point on.

serve 2 masters

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One Church from the Beginning

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 6, 2015

The false teaching of dispensationalism posits that Israel and the Church are two distinct organisms with different destinies and responsibilities. With this foundational error laid, it then goes on to cause even greater confusion and harm as it interprets Scripture in ways quite opposite of how the New Testament writers did.

In Stephen’s history of Israel, delivered just before his death at the hands of his own countrymen, he made this interesting statement:

This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai… (Acts 7:37-38a)

That word “congregation” is the Greek word “ekklesia” or “called out ones.” It is also correctly translated in many other versions as “Church.” Stephen had just called the Old Testament Israel “the Church in the wilderness,” even as he reminded his listeners that they were accountable to obey the Prophet whom Moses predicted would come (Jesus).

The apostle Paul said this concerning the Old Testament Church:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (I Cor. 10:1-4)

Paul is very clear that this Old Testament Congregation was a people who went through a form of baptism, ate spiritual food, and drank of the living waters of Christ. They were to walk with and be fed by Christ. This is the same language applied to the Christian life under the New Covenant gospel. Certainly such spiritual truths are more clear to us today because we can examine the New Testament, and are able to look back to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But the principles were already in operation in Old Testament Israel, though somewhat veiled, being a copy or shadow of the “good things to come.” (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 8:5, 10:1)

The Congregation (Church) was to listen to God’s voice and do whatever He said. They would be blessed if they obeyed, and cursed if they disobeyed. With most of them, God was not well-pleased, and they perished without ever obtaining the promise. Others in their posterity would make it further than they did, but would also turn aside to idols after once being faithful. If God’s many warnings to Israel are to be believed (and I believe them), these apostates would also would be “cut off from Israel” (regardless of whether they were ever officially forced to leave their physical land).

The Old Testament Church, just like the New Testament Church, was a remnant of faithful people within a larger group of unfaithful people who also claimed to be the Church (Israel). This is why Paul said that not all “Israel” are “Israel.” (Rom. 9:6-8) All professed to be His, but many denied Him by their works (Titus 1:16). The Lord has always known those who were His, and still does now that the New Covenant is in place (2 Tim. 2:19). We can say, and often do, that “not all the church is THE CHURCH.” God’s true Church is growing, and is pictured by an Olive Tree which has Jewish and Gentile branches (Rom. 11), in keeping with His original plan to bless all nations through Abraham’s Seed–which is Christ (Gen. 22:18). These only are the true Israel of God–or the true Church–then and now.

Though men judge by outward things (appearances, religious obligations, ethnic origins), Jesus will clean out His threshing floor (those who claim to be His people) and will gather the wheat into the barn, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12). There are those who say they are Jews, who are in reality followers of satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Paul taught us how we can tell a true Jew in God’s eyes–his heart must be circumcised by the Spirit of God (Rom. 2:28-29). Those who are Jews only outwardly are not Jews at all, according to Paul.

Israel and the Church are not two separate entities. They are simply the Church under the Old Covenant, and the Church under the New Covenant. As Truth was progressively revealed in the process of time, the Old Testament Church rolled over into the New Testament Church, and together they (OT prophets and NT apostles) became the foundation of the New Covenant Temple, with Christ as its eternal Cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20). It is one Church from the beginning, but the New Covenant has fulfilled the Old Covenant, and caused it to be made obsolete forever. The Seed of Abraham has come, and He has obtained the promise for everyone who repents and believes in Him (Gal. 3:16, 29). This is the Israel of God, upon whom will be everlasting peace. Praise God!

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ISIS, Suffering with Those Who Suffer, and Following Jesus

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 14, 2014

My heart goes out to the Christian victims of ISIS.  They are suffering greatly. It is my hope that many more will be rescued. To be honest, I feel almost guilty that I can sit here in my living room and type out these words without fear of a threat on my life.

 

Yet I cannot hope or ask that someone will bomb their tormentors. This is not of the Spirit that lives in me. I know that He is angry with the wicked every day, and that He will judge in righteousness. But today my hope is that their tormentors can also be saved, and that, like Paul, they too can become the bondservants of Jesus. 

 

It seems that this emergence of ISIS has revved the American Right’s terror of Islam into high gear. Can I say right here, in the beginning, that I believe the American Right–which claims to be Christian–is spiritually adulterous and thoroughly leavened? True Christians, please beware of being swept away in its tide.

 

Islam is a false religion, a religion that was sown with the seeds of violence from the beginning.  It’s more radical adherents are indeed terrifying. But the American Church has been led by fear for so long, and I have to wonder why. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1).

 

I think the American Church is fearful because the American Church is apostate.  I think she is a friend of the world and an enemy of God.  I think she has taken up carnal weapons because she has become a stranger to the real weapon–the Sword of the Spirit. 

 

The American Church has joined with the world for many years in using carnal weapons and warfare to “crusade” against “the enemy”–and the enemy was always flesh and blood.  Because of her adultery, she did not see how the world was able to lead her and use her to pursue its own questionable goals. She is a woman astride a terrible, destroying beast, thinking she has some control.  Once the world and its god is through using her, it will turn against her.

 

In the meantime, she is always fearing lest “the enemy” gain the upper hand. Fearing “the enemy” could bring an abrupt end to the quickly fading American dream, which she holds much more dear than the kingdom of God. Fearing, fearing, fearing. But also hoping–

 

Hoping that she can live by the sword without dying by the sword. Hoping Christ didn’t mean what He so plainly said. Hoping she doesn’t have to love THAT neighbor. Hoping she can turn the other cheek only when there is little at stake, and He will understand. Hoping that by manipulating politicians (if that is even possible), she can create for herself a safe fortress in which to love only those who love her. 

 

And for all this crusading, the violence of “the enemy” has not been stilled. It has not even been lessened. It has only gotten worse. 

 

There is a way to overcome this world. Jesus is that Way, and Jesus demonstrated that Way. His Way is so powerful, that by it He disarmed principalities and made a public spectacle of them, and overcame even death and hell for those who would follow Him. His children lose even their fear of death (Heb. 2:15).  Jesus calls us to that Way, but most refuse to get on that Way because it’s not comfortable to deny yourself and take up the implement of death-to-self. We like to speak of such things only hypothetically, always hoping that actual violence and pain and suffering never show up on our doorsteps and bring before us that terrible choice between self-preservation and Jesus. 

 

But the reality is that many, many have already made that choice. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving NOT their own lives to the death. They did not overcome by twisting Jesus’ words into oblivion. They did not overcome with a secret stash of weapons, or by saving their lives in this world (Matt. 16:25). 

 

We should hurt with those believers who are hurting. We should remember them as if suffering with them (Heb. 13:3). They are body parts in the same Body we belong to, and if they hurt, we also hurt. We need to pray for their peace and their endurance under trial. 

 

But at the same time, we should remember that–like the members of ISIS–we were once blind and without God in this world. We too were once the tools of satan, and through us, he hurt many people–we ourselves hurt many people.  We were enemies of God and alienated from Him in our minds because of our wicked works. But Jesus came to save that which was lost, and He died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS. There is hope even for murderers and people following false religions. 

 

Let us love Jesus and obey His commands. Let us come out from among false, self-centered and earthly-minded religion, which has caused so much harm. Let us return to the simple Way of denying ourselves and obeying all Jesus’ teachings. Let  us not explain them away any more, lest we be condemned with those who “take away from the words of this Book.”  Let us think of no one as unworthy to hear the gospel from our lips, for we are sent to “every creature.”  Let us be the good samaritan, no longer justifying ourselves caring for one and hating another.  Let us be willing to suffer with Christ in this life, and commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously. Let us pray fervently that Christ may give us boldness and confidence under trial, and that His love will be perfected in us so that we do not fear those who can kill the body–but only Him who is able to destroy soul AND body in hell. 

 

As iniquity abounds more and more in this nation, and as our grande illusions of freedom and self-determination crumble into dust, the love of most will grow cold as paranoia and desperation set in. Hopefully some in the church will repent and gather fully with Jesus;  those who do not will be scattered.  The world will be judged, but judgment begins in the House of God.  The Father will examine every branch in the Son, and those which are not producing good fruit will be cut off. TODAY, let’s examine ourselves, our actions, and our motives. Let’s judge ourselves honestly, and change if necessary, lest we be judged!  Never forget that lovers of the world have made themselves enemies of God. The saints shall be hated by ALL nations for Jesus’ sake. But he that endures to the end shall be saved.

 religious 3 Isis

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Errors that are Perverting the Christian Faith

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 27, 2014

My last post explained how the combination of Old and New Testaments are one continuous unveiling of the one eternal gospel of salvation.

Many people do not recognize this beautiful, seamless story of redemption in Scripture, but instead think there are two groups of “chosen people” and two plans of salvation. This is largely due to the false teachings of dispensationalism and zionism, which are taught in most American churches. Zionism is also furthered in the American secular media, and the media controlled by “the religious right.” (Please remember that “religious” does not equal “godly.” While the religious right has a form of godliness in taking certain moral stands that the Christian can agree with, in many ways it wanders from the true path of godliness laid out by Christ.) You can read a history of modern dispensationalism here, and an illuminating list of Scriptural problems with that system of thought here. Some good articles about modern “Christian” zionism can be read here. I encourage any reader who hasn’t researched these subjects thoroughly to read several sources.

During the Babylonian captivity that judged Israel’s apostasy, some of Israel’s religious leaders(rather than repenting) were schooled in Babylonian religion/witchcraft, mixing it with their already apostate “worship of God.” This demonic hybrid religion was eventually set forth in the Jewish Talmud. (Read a history of the Talmud here.) This extremely racist and evil theology was kept by some of the Pharisees, and its deviations from truth had already colored the perceptions of many Jews in Jesus’ day. It specifically taught Jewish supremacy and a hatred for Gentiles. Certain verses from the Torah were cherry-picked to give support to this understanding, while ignoring the fact that God had promised in the Torah to bless all nations from the beginning! (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:8) Perhaps this is why most of the Jews in Jesus’ day–even those who repented and followed Him–did not understand the Old Testament prophecies of Christ as a suffering King who would save all nations, but instead expected Him to be a military hero for Jews against Gentiles.

Those errant teachings have survived to this very day, and they continue to war against the truth! The Pharisees believed their lineage to Abraham secured them as “the chosen” despite their wickedness, but John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul and others corrected their brand of “once saved always saved” error. Most importantly, the New Testament records their corrections! Yet the error persists today in dispensationalism and zionism, an evil mixture of doctrines that insists there are two peoples of God, two salvation plans, etc., as if the Lamb of God hasn’t been slain and forever established His “one new man” Church/City/Holy Nation of Jews and Gentiles united by faith.

Dispensationalists undermine and reject the truth by insisting that there are two salvational programs for two separate people groups. They wrongly believe that “rightly dividing Scripture” is applying some Scripture to only Jews, and some to only Christians. “God’s people the Jews,” they say, are defined by blood or national borders, and are accepted by God even if they are committing evil and denying Jesus. This is a horrendous and wicked lie, and reveals a grossly inaccurate understanding of Hebrew and Jewish history. “God’s people the Church,” they say, is a “parenthesis” interrupting the Biblical story, and they proceed to chop the Biblical story into 3 or 5 or 7 “dispensations,” depending on which flavor of falsehood they hold to. Supposedly the Church is completely separate from the nation of Israel, rather than having been brought near and made citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel by the blood of Jesus (Eph. 2:11-13). Next comes a denial of many important portions of Scripture, with the excuse that said Scripture only applies to the Jews. One egregious example is a rejection of the Sermon on the Mount, either in full or in part. Another is the contention that all verses putting forth obedience as a condition of salvation are only for the Jews. Paul’s teachings that emphasize “belief” and “grace” are stressed (and usually twisted), while his teachings emphasizing obedience are downplayed or ignored. And thus dispensationalism leads to a gross mishandling of Scripture, and lays a false foundation upon which one can more easily shipwreck his faith through disobedience and presumption.

Dispensationalists, due to their errant concept of an earthly Israel being an alternative “people of God,” generally go on to adopt Israeli Zionism, which is basically a secular, racist movement among predominantly secular Jews–many of whom aren’t even Jewish by blood or connection to the Hebrew Torah! Their Christianized version of this political movement is generally called “Christian Zionism.” Through antichrists like John Hagee (a man who denies Christ came to be Israel’s Messiah), fables like the Left Behind series, and unholy alliances like the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (try to imagine the Apostle Paul participating in such a fellowship), undiscerning Christians are swept away in what amounts to apostasy from the true faith. Furthermore, the secular, political movement uses and exploits the support of undiscerning Christians in order to fund its advancement and insulate itself from having its injustices exposed and condemned.

All sorts of secondary false doctrines arise from this apostate belief system, such as: evil-doing America will be blessed so long as she gives military support to evil-doing Israel, giving money to Jews who are settling in occupied Palestinian territory is advancing the kingdom of God, evangelism of Jews is a waste of time, Arabs in general or Muslims in particular are not worthy of Christian charity and outreach, etc.

The dispensational/zionistic model is not a small problem, or a minor discrepancy of doctrine that doesn’t matter in the long run. While a person can be saved while believing all or some portion of this lie, the lie itself is a HUGE problem, and a HUGE blight on Christianity with global consequences. In effect, it transforms what the world sees as the “Christian Church” into a debacle that resembles the marauding crusaders of the past! While Christians don’t physically march to “the holy land” with a sword in hand, their blind support of this secular nation, and their financial aid in robbing Palestinians of their homes and livelihoods accomplishes much the same thing. And while they condemn Islam for being a bloody religion, they themselves are being used to perpetuate and excuse the shedding of more blood. All this in the name of Christ!

My friend, the Lamb of God HAS been slain, and the one new man HAS been created (Eph. 2:15). There is no going back, there is no ignoring this monumental fulfillment of the Promise, and there is no skirting its implications. The Church is not a parenthetical afterthought, but a fulfillment of all the promises! Those who are mastered by the Son of God are blessed, and those who reject the Son of God are cursed–period, end of story. I stand with Paul, who wrote of all who bring some alternative gospel, “Let them be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8) Please be on your guard against these continuing Pharisaical lies supporting a secular military state, now repeated ad nauseum in Christian churches, eroding and perverting the faith of many. There is only one story and one means of salvation for everyone! Woe unto them that call evil good by insisting that we bless what God Himself will not bless!!

Discern, brothers and sisters! You must discern the true people of God, which is the true Body of Christ. There is NO division whatsoever between Jew and Gentile in Christ. Do not give your support either financially or verbally to the enemies of God. If Paul had not been so insistent on this point, he might not have been so hated by the Jews! But he wouldn’t back down, and thank God! For this kept the purity of the gospel in tact despite the repeated attacks against it. It remains for us now to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Yes, God chose one family of people–a family in which God-fearing Gentiles have always been welcome–through whom to demonstrate His glorious saving truths. Each person who was chosen to carry the story forward was chosen based on faith. The faithful remnant of this family was used as a foundation upon which God’s True Temple is still being built. To them was given the privilege and responsibility of being God’s Kingdom ambassadors to the world, and this privilege and responsibility now falls upon every person who has been grafted into the olive tree.

However, while we appreciate the root from which our faith has grown, we must be careful to define God’s plant (His people) just as He does. We must not deny that when the King of Israel arrived on the scene to fulfill all the promises, only the faithful remained in His kingdom, and the unbelieving and unfaithful were expelled. Their place in His kingdom was given to others who would produce the fruit God wants (Matt. 21:43). And so the promise was fully realized: through Abraham’s Seed (Jesus), all nations have been blessed with the opportunity to be saved.

I also acknowledge that, in God’s timeline, there were two covenants given. The second covenant has superseded and fulfilled in spiritual reality what the first could only foreshadow. In God’s perfect wisdom, He made the first covenant such that it would lead those who had sincere faith to the Savior.

In a sense, we all begin our journey of faith in the first covenant, brought to a place of sorrow and death when we realize we are guilty of breaking God’s law. And from there, we must go on into the second covenant–that place of restored relationship with the Father through the blood of Jesus, and our obedience to Him. The Old Testament believers made this journey also, looking ahead to God’s Sacrifice by faith, pressing into the reality that was in heaven. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. each made that journey! No person of faith has ever been left out of God’s unfolding plan of salvation, no matter which stage of the unfolding happened in their lifetime. The Hebrews 11 “hall of faith” is a monument to this wonderful truth. Perhaps that chapter continues as each one of us finishes our race.

I hope this writing has helped you to be more on guard against the destructive errors of dispensationalism and zionism. Perhaps it will at least encourage you to do more research into these subjects, to fill in whatever gaps you have in your understanding. This is a journey I myself have been on for about ten years, and I don’t expect any reader to simply believe everything I say. Neither do I assume I have arrived at a perfect understanding. However, I have a firm conviction that I must sound an alarm about these false doctrines, and this has been attempted in this post. May the God of Truth guide the steps you take from here.

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The Unfolding Revelation of Salvation

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 25, 2014

The more I read the Scriptures, the more I realize the Book of God is one progressive written revelation–a revelation of God’s plan of salvation for all people.

Even the word “revelation” has within it a progression from something that is not yet revealed, to something that becomes manifest. Between the unrevealed and the revealed is the progression. In Scripture, the “manifold” (many folds) wisdom of God is peeled back layer by layer, to gradually reveal both His justice and His mercy, His authority and His voluntary humility, His unequaled greatness and His willingness to condescend to help the helpless. Reading and grasping the big picture in a progression of real historical events leaves one overwhelmed at the creative genius of our God.

All Scripture points to Jesus, the means of Salvation! But as you journey from Genesis to Revelation, Redemption is opened bit by bit.

Let’s begin in Genesis.

When there were only two human beings on the earth that needed redemption, God began His redemption story. When they brought sin into the world by their disobedience, He convicted them, subjected them to severe consequences, and promised–in Gen. 3:15–that there would be enmity between satan and the woman’s Seed, but the Seed would win the battle. This “Seed” was the first mention of Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer and Savior for sinners. The covering of skin over Adam and Eve’s nakedness pictured the covering we receive when our sins are atoned for and forgiven–a costly covering bought with the death of the Innocent and Holy God. “The woman” figuratively was the Church. God’s Church–those who belonged to God by faith–would go on to bring forth the Seed who would bruise the serpent’s head and rescue sinners from his kingdom.

The first two children born on the earth became a picture of the division that exists between those who seek to please God and those who don’t. Cain slew Abel because his brother’s deeds were righteous, and the Church’s first martyr was safely deposited under the altar of God, to rest there until the full number of his righteous brethren were also killed. (Rev. 6:9-11)

In the days of Noah, the Lord revealed His hatred for sin and many aspects of His means of redemption and the future final judgment. Only those who believe His warnings and work out their salvation with fear and trembling–in accordance with His commands–would be saved. Noah was the only patriarch of his time with ears to hear, signifying that comparatively few will be saved. He followed the Lord’s blueprint exactly, and his family survived to enjoy the new world. The ark was a type of salvation in Christ. When God shut the door on the ark, He demonstrated that the “day of salvation” would come to an end; thus the only safe time to get right with God is “Today.” The human rejection of salvation in Noah’s day, while two of each animal were saved, pictures how Jesus came to His own, but most of His own received Him not–and Gentiles were saved instead. Noah’s family pictured God’s Church (throughout all of history) issuing the invitation, and storing up such food as would sustain believers while they waited for the new world. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Lk. 17:26-27) Yes, the days of Noah pointed to future days, days which seem to be fast approaching.

Why did the Lord choose Abraham? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him. (Gen. 18:19) Here was another man seeking God, and he was also chosen to be an instrument of God’s grace. He believed the Word of God that he would have a child, he obeyed God’s command to leave his people and become a sojourner, and his faith was counted as righteousness. A promise was made to him that because of his obedience, in his Seed, all nations will be blessed (Gen. 22:18). It was, from the beginning, a promise with global implications. He would be the father not just of one nation, but of many (Gen. 17:4). Now who do you suppose this Seed was by whom all nations would be blessed? Yes, back in Genesis 3, we learned of a Seed who would crush satan’s head. The apostle Paul later identifies this same Seed as Christ. He tells us the promises to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ, and anyone who is Christ’s is Abraham’s seed and inherits the promise (Gal. 3:16; 29). Paul stated that in making the promises to Abraham, God had preached the gospel to him and foretold how Gentiles would be saved (Gal. 3:8). The beautiful, glorious GOSPEL, my friends! It was being unfolded in Abraham’s day and Abraham understood it, keeping himself as a foreigner even in “the land of promise,” always waiting for the heavenly city.

Next we come to Isaac, who was chosen over Ishmael even though both sons came from Abraham. God did not choose by blood or tradition; a faith response to His promises is what He looked for. Sarah foolishly tried to make God’s promise come true before the proper time by “helping” her husband father the child Ishmael through Hagar. Poor Hagar was caught in Sarah’s foolish act of the flesh, but God took care of her and her child, and continued with His plan, using each event to teach us. Isaac was born by a miracle of God, and received the blessing of Abraham’s inheritance. And what do these things mean? Years later, the mystery is explained by Paul. Hagar and Ishmael represent children born according to the flesh–Jews who think they are Abraham’s children by blood or religious ritual alone, who count upon having the letter of the law without having the Spirit who wrote it. (Though Paul applied it to the Jews of his day, I believe it also applies to Gentiles who think they are saved through the same fleshly means.) Sarah and Isaac represent the TRUE CHURCH–those who are born by a miracle of God and receive Abraham’s inheritance–salvation–by faith! Sarah herself pictured the “Jerusalem Above,” the mother of the free (for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom). And so the very gospel that brings salvation to those who are born of the Spirit–not the flesh–came even more into view. (Gal. 4:22-31)

Jacob wrestled with God. He had desired the birthright of his brother Esau and deceived him to get it. As a man living a real life in God’s history, he needed to be broken and fully submitted to God, but his story became yet another picture of the gospel. The “birthright” of salvation can be taken from us and given to another who wants it more, if we place too little value upon it. Esau became a picture of those who sell the birthright (salvation) for temporary pleasure (Heb. 12:16). Again, bloodline did not seal anyone in the promise. God has always retained the right to choose only those who seek Him and place value upon His Word. Jacob later saw in a vision a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. Upon awaking, he exclaimed that he was in “the house of God.” (Gen. 28:12-17) This dream foretold the mediation of the Savior, who would come to earth and be the Way by which men are reconciled to God. Those thus reconciled would be His House, His very dwelling place!

Jacob had twelve sons, one of which became a picture of the Messiah/Seed. Joseph dreamed his brothers bowed down to him, and he was hated for this and his father’s favoritism toward him. Clothed in a coat of many colors, perhaps depicting the international scope of Christ’s ministry, Joseph’s close relationship with his father became unbearable to his brothers. Rather than doing what was right themselves, they wanted to kill the one who exposed their own unrighteousness. When they sold him to traveling merchants to be rid of him, they could not have known that in time, the Jews would “sell” their very Deliverer–the promised Seed–to be crucified, thus fulfilling the unfolding picture. In spite of much personal suffering, Joseph went on to become the unlikely savior of Egypt and all who would come to him for food–unfolding the truth that Jesus is the Savior of the world and all must come to Him for the bread of life. Even Israel (Jacob) had to come to Joseph to live, showing that even that nation must be saved by Jesus. Joseph’s brothers did bow before him, looking for mercy, just as all Jesus’ “brothers” must do to be saved. As Joseph, Jesus was “fruitful in the land of His affliction”–the earth. The Word of God has accomplished what He was sent to do.

When the children of Jacob/Israel were in bondage in Egypt, God raised up a deliverer, the humble Moses. The bondage of Israel represents the slavery to sin all sinners labor beneath. Pharaoh represents the cruel king of this dark kingdom–satan. He is a harsh taskmaster, forcing sinners to attempt what will always be impossible. Moses was saved from infanticide just as the Seed/Christ would later be saved–the dragon/satan always nipping at His heels and trying to abort the ministry of the One who would bruise his head. Moses, as a picture of Christ, battled against Pharoah–not with carnal weapons, but with the Word of the Lord and signs and plagues sent from heaven. The Exodus he led out of Egypt was a picture of the glorious Lord Jesus leading those who trust in Him out of the world and into the kingdom of God. The Israelites crossed the Jordan river safely, while Pharaoh and his army were drowned; this pictured the baptism into death God’s people must undergo to be saved, and also pictured the ultimate overthrowing of satan and those who hate God’s people.

Aaron, the High Priest of the wilderness tabernacle, was a direct picture of Jesus–the High Priest to come who would pass through the very heavens to mediate for His people (Heb. 4:14). While Moses was a shepherd and a prophet, a humble man who was willing to die for his people, Aaron sprinkled innocent blood on the mercy seat to atone for the nation’s sins. Both men, fallible as they were, were foreshadowing the works of the Seed/Messiah to come.

The sacrifices of animals were never able to atone for sin (Heb. 10:4). This sacrificial system given to the Hebrew family, including the blueprint for the tabernacle, was given as a copy of a reality which already existed in heaven (Heb. 8:5). The veil which kept the people from the inner sanctuary signified that the Way into the Most Holy place was not yet revealed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. It was a mere illustration of the reality which would soon be manifest. Christ would come and officiate in the “more perfect tabernacle not made with hands…not of this creation” (Heb. 9:7-11). As Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus redeemed even the sins committed under the first covenant (Heb. 9:15). Thus He fulfilled the Old Testament shadow and became the Savior of everyone who ever lived, or would live, a life of repentance and faith.

By the time Joshua led the Hebrews into Canaan, there had already been a huge “cutting off” of those who did not have faith. The older generation, with exception of Joshua and Caleb, perished and never inherited the shadow of promise. They did not believe God, and they continually tested Him in spite of His past faithfulness. Neither their lineage nor their participation in the tabernacle rituals were able to secure for them an entrance into “the promised land”; thus they became an example to those who would come after, that we must overcome temptations and obey the Lord if we want to inherit the real promise (I Cor. 10:1-13). Joshua was a type of Christ, leading the people in battle as Christ leads those soldiers who side with Him (2 Tim. 2:33). Remember, however, that Joshua himself worshiped the Commander of the Army of the Lord, Who refused to be identified as fighting for either Joshua or the enemy. He fought only for the Lord (Josh. 5:13-15), signifying that God’s work is for His own glory, and He is not a respecter of persons. Joshua’s rescue of the Gentile Rahab from the city of Jericho was an early example of God’s grafting Gentiles into His spiritual nation. Heb. 11:31 declares that Rahab was saved by her faith!

David was chosen from among his more likely brothers to be king of Israel, demonstrating again that God looks upon the heart in His choices. As a shepherd who risked his life battling bear and lion to save his sheep, David demonstrated the heart of the coming Messiah who would lay down His life for His friends. As the youth armed with boyish weapons courageously facing the giant, he demonstrated how Christ would defeat satan with unlikely weapons because God was with Him. As the anointed king living like a refugee in the wilderness, hunted incessantly by jealous Saul, and supported by his faithful “mighty men,” he again demonstrated aspects of Jesus’ ministry. Before His time to die had come, there were unsuccessful attempts on Jesus’ life. Those seeking power in this world were and still are jealous of Jesus; they can no longer kill this overcoming King, so they persecute and kill His followers. Nevertheless Jesus’ disciples are His “mighty men.” They might not look like much in the world’s eyes, but those who know their God (Jesus) do exploits (Dan. 11:32).

For the sake of time, I will mention only two more collections of men that manifested the glory of God’s salvation–the judges and prophets of Israel.

The judges of Israel rose in a time when men were doing “what was right in their own eyes.” Rather than allowing the old covenant to lead them to faith in their Savior (Gal. 3:24), many were leaving God for the idols of the heathen. They continued to “honor God with their lips,” while withholding their hearts from the Spirit’s gracious influence (Isa. 29:13). They continued to circumcise their flesh, but would not circumcise their hearts. Judges were raised up by God to win battles and bring stability to the nation. Jesus promised His disciples that they would sit on twelve thrones judging Israel. I believe they are already on those thrones judging the Israel of God (the church). Some of His disciples were used to give us the New Testament Scriptures, by which we today judge all matters in the church. And in some sense, all God’s church members are called to judge in the church (I Cor. 5). Through righteous judgment, we rebuke impurity in those who say they are God’s, but do what is right in their own eyes, and we overcome the lies that continually try to lead God’s people off course.

Next came the prophets, pleading for Israel’s repentance and warning of God’s judgment if they should refuse. God’s people was His Bride, and she was meant to be faithful to Him. But most (thankfully, not all) under the old covenant were unfaithful, and turned God’s glorious unfolding gospel on its head by saying God had delivered them so they could now sin with impunity (Jer. 7:1-15). They insisted they could not be destroyed because they were “the people of God” and God was with them, deliberately forgetting that the promises had always included curses on the disobedient. (Does this sound familiar? The same sin-excusing doctrine is preached in many churches today–Jude 3-4). They persecuted, and sometimes killed, the prophets sent to them. Ultimately, Jesus would be THE Prophet Moses said would come, to bless the people by turning them away from their sins (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:26). As the prophets came with the word of the Lord in the Old Testament, God has now spoken to us “in these last days” through Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2). He was crucified by those He came to save. Jesus taught that His disciples would also be mistreated like the prophets, but such are blessed and will inherit the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:10-12).

After years of prophetic silence, John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah and anounced that the Kingdom of God was here–not just in type, but in reality! The time for wishy-washiness was over; repent and believe the gospel or be banished from the kingdom! Only the repentant would be accepted.

Jesus came also calling for repentance. He did many miracles to support His claim to be God come in the flesh. He rebuked and corrected His enemies, who were perverting the truth with their professed adherence to the letter of the Law and purposeful ignoring of its spiritual intent. He openly declared that all things written in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms about Him would be fulfilled (Lk. 24:44).

The layers that had been unfolding over time suddenly revealed to the world the Plan of Salvation in all of its manifold beauty. He was lifted up, and He drew all men to Himself. The King of Glory didn’t look like much to carnal eyes, but the spiritually reborn had found the One whom their soul loved. Those who stumbled over Him, being disobedient, found themselves on the outside of a supernatural kingdom that can only be entered by the supernatural Door. And thus the Story reached its grand climax.

The examples I shared in this paper suffice to show us that Scripture is one beautiful unfolding revelation of one plan of salvation offered to all people. In the next post, I will try to explain why many people do not recognize the seemlessness of this beautiful redemption story in Scripture, but instead think there are two groups of “chosen people” and two “plans of salvation.” But for now, I want to end this writing focused on the amazing Truth–

God’s Kingdom/Church has been established on His holy mountain. The Seed of Gen. 3 has come and bruised the serpent’s head. God’s King is on His throne never to be de-throned, and His kingdom is advancing by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, and by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left (2 Cor. 6:7). As a kingdom which is not of this world, it is neither defended nor destroyed by anything the god of this world can create. Jerusalem Above is the eternal city of refuge to which poor sinners can, forsaking their sins, flee in good faith that they will find mercy and life.

The Gospel message of salvation–something Paul called “the revelation of the mystery”– has been fully opened to our minds by Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all things. The Old Testament prophets had “the Spirit of Christ in them,” and they prophesied of “the grace that would come to you,” says Peter (I Pet. 1:10-12). John called it “the everlasting Gospel” (Rev. 14:6) and referred to Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:7). The Book of Revelation wraps up what began in Genesis–the story of how the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, defeats every enemy including death, and inherits the nations. Praise be to Him forever!

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The Apostate Church & How We Got Here

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2014

At one time I attended a church that seemed to me more conservative than most. In time, I realized the pastor was contradicting himself on the issue of obedience to Christ. He would say we must obey and that disobedience was unacceptable. But later he would say disobedience can never cancel grace. (False grace message refuted here.)

This pastor even taught that Samson had committed suicide; therefore we can be sure that some people who commit suicide die saved (a dangerous lie–Samson wanted to die, but left his fate in God’s hands). I confronted the pastor on this teaching, and was quickly labeled a Pharisee. Sadly, a couple years after I left this church, one of the young people committed suicide by purposely laying his head on train tracks.

There was a children’s Sunday School teacher brazenly teaching the children, including my son, that they were “once saved always saved.” When I asked the pastor why this teacher was allowed to teach contrary to official church doctrine, I never got an answer. As far as I know, the false grace teacher continued to teach long after I left. Perhaps he was a good tither.

Recently I saw pictures of the pastor’s daughter, who has grown to adulthood since I left the church. She and the assistant pastor’s daughter both have public pictures of themselves in the most revealing, immodest clothes, complete with pouty lips and seductive poses. How tragically sad, this road that they are on.

I was told by someone, “You can’t blame the church.”

Well, I know that free will plays a huge part in what our kids do. Not every parent or church is to blame for their choices. God Himself is a perfect parent whose children go astray.

Yet I think this is a fair question: What role did the church’s false doctrine play in these kids going astray? A friend of mine has written a good article on this subject entitled “Careless Doctrines Damn.” Read it here.

Did the young man who ended his life on a train track think he was about to be welcomed into heaven–even though he was not enduring to the end of his life in hope?

Could phrases from the pulpit like “You cannot out-sin the grace of God” cause young girls to think that playing with the sins of seduction and immorality will have no real consequences? I say they can.

Incidentally, shortly after I rebuked one of these young ladies for being a poor role-model for younger girls (among other things), another girl from the church–maybe 12 or 13 years old–expressed her approval of the picture. This child has found her Brittany Spears to follow, not on the world’s stage, but in her church. With church “family” like this, who needs the world to lead them astray? Now our kids can all go astray together, take communion on Sunday morning, and think all is well. After all, nobody is correcting their behavior because they are afraid of being called legalists and Pharisees. Keep yourself unspotted from the world?! That’s for religious people. We’re all about relationship here, baby.

But what does Scripture say?–

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Eph. 5:3)

There must not be even a hint!! Oh, that Apostle Paul; he was quite the legalist! If only we could throw HIM out of our church and get away with it.

Some say if America doesn’t turn around, America is doomed. They say this quite piously because they go to church and have conservative values like “I disagree with homosexual marriage.” Meanwhile their own kids–sometimes churched and homeschooled–are becoming prostitutes right before their eyes. And that’s just the tip of the noticeable iceberg. Under strong delusion, you don’t realize how big the problem is until your boat starts sinking, and the shock and horror of it all causes your heart to melt. Once the labor pains begin, the unrighteous harvest you’ve been sowing all along is brought forth, ready or not (Isa. 13:6-8). But for now, we are for the most part content to lament the good old days of America, and hope that our church attendance and/or voting records mean something.

Apostate Jerusalem pats herself on the back and says, “Thank God I am not like the Gentiles” even as she herself rejects God’s Word. But I do not speak of the Jews; I speak of the apostate New Testament church, who has followed her older sister down the same careless path. She does not see her paupery, her nakedness or her need for repentance. When her children are destroyed, she laments and asks, “Why?!” But she cannot receive the truthful answer that it is her fault for mishandling the Word and allowing leaven to spread unchecked. She can’t accept the truth–that she is drunk with the world and its ways, and the blood of the true saints who tried in vain to correct her.

Thus the necessity of continuing to blame those rotten liberals for all of her problems.

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Biblical Confession

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 12, 2014

The word, “confession” may conjure up all kinds of definitions in people’s minds, depending upon their religious background. Some believe that confession is merely saying “sorry” for your sins, and that this can be done once daily or weekly while sin is ongoing. It is generally believed that as long as this “confession” is being done, God is ignoring the sin. Others believe that confession is listing as many sins as can be remembered to a priest so that he can forgive those sins which are listed. Some believe that if some type of penance is added to the confession, or money is given to a church, this increases the likelihood of finding forgiveness.

I am thankful that despite our different religious backgrounds, we can know the Truth, and the Truth can set us free. We can be forgiven and redeemed, but we must learn what God requires. Following are some biblical truths about the confession God accepts.

1. When we realize we have sinned, we must humbly confess our own unfaithfulness to God, confess that God has justly judged us, and accept our guilt (and its consequences.) For many, they confess without humility, with excuses, and hoping only to escape the just judgments they are reaping in their lives. “Yes, I sinned, but here is why I am justified, and why I don’t deserve my circumstances.” This is not acceptable to God.

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. (Lev. 26:40-42)

2. Confession involves being fully exposed and honest, hiding nothing, coupled with forsaking what was done. If we are still hiding things from God or others we have wronged, we have not properly confessed.

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psa. 32:5)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. (Psa. 28:13)

3. Biblical confession is accompanied by turning from sin and being willing to learn from God how we should walk (repentance).

When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk. (I Kings 8:35-36)

4. Confession is accompanied by doing God’s will and separating from evildoers who will lead us astray. If we continue to keep evil company, we will continue in sinful habits (I Cor. 15:33). Someone who insists on being the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20) because he will be led away from doing God’s will.

Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives. (Ezra 10:11)

5. Biblical confession should be accompanied by making restitution whenever possible. If we stole something, we should pay back with extra to prove we understand how unjust the theft was. If we lied about someone, we should do what we can to restore the person’s reputation. The “extra” demonstrates that we know we are indebted to the person we wronged. If we are truly humbled before the Lord, He will guide us in how to make restitution when it is possible. The restitution does not cancel our sin (this comes through God’s forgiveness and mercy), but proves our hearts are changed.

When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged. (Num. 5:6-7)

Zacchaeus said to the Lord, “Look, Lord…if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…” (Lk. 19:8-9)

6. Confession includes acknowledgement that Jesus is alive today even though He was crucified for your sins, and the honest profession that He is the legitimate LORD (Master) of your life.

…That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. 10:9,10)

7. Proper confession, as it is defined by Scripture, is one of the conditions of receiving God’s forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I Jn. 1:9)

8. Biblical confession (along with its accompanying humility, forsaking sin, submission to God, etc.) must come before baptism. Baptism of an unrepentant, unchanged person means nothing to God (despite what many churches teach!)

Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matt. 3:5-6; also Mark 1:5; Acts 19:8)

9. Biblical confession will be done by all people, sooner or later. But only those who voluntarily humble themselves and confess Biblically in this life will be saved. God is just, and will make all men acknowledge how they have rebelled and resisted His Truth. Isn’t it wise to make peace with Him now–through the means of salvation He has offered (Jesus)? Today is the day of salvation if you can hear His voice. He will not strive with rebels forever, but will close the door of salvation and punish them.

For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom. 14:11; also Phil. 2:11)

10. After we are redeemed, we need to confess personal as well as corporate sin. This involves examining ourselves regularly to judge (discern) the rightness or wrongness of our actions. If we determine what we have done any wrong, we confess and repent. We should also acknowledge any sin the church is doing as a whole. There is no room, in Christ, for walking in darkness and hiding sin. Too many churches are covering up sin rather than exposing it. This is dishonoring to God, and brings injury and spiritual confusion to many people. We have the examples of godly men, Daniel and Nehemiah–

Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God…(Dan. 9:20)

…Hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. (Neh. 1:6)

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

11. All believers are priests in the spiritual kingdom the God (I Pet. 2:9), and as such, can confess sin to one another. This is for the purpose of accountability, praying for one another, and teaching one another (Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16).

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jam. 5:16)

Please note: Nowhere in the New Testament are sinners commanded to confess their sins to a priest in order to be forgiven. Our healing, forgiveness and redemption comes from God, through our High Priest Jesus, not from any other man. Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (I Tim. 2:5). He alone is able to save, and we must come to God through Him. (Heb. 2:17; 4:15-16; 5:9; 7:24-25) If any person or organization teaches that you must come to God through a man (whether he calls himself a priest or not), do not believe it or submit to it. Believe the Scriptures.

God bless you!

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