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Why The Church Is Divided



This is a subject I have very much wanted to address of late seeing as there continues to be so much division, even in the watching community.  It shouldn't be this way.  Those of us who have a genuine saving faith in Christ should be unified even if we disagree on the details.  Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for godly division, but I see many Believers dividing for the wrong reasons.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere human beings?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
- 1 Corinthians 3:1-7


Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley: each were godly men who loved the Lord Jesus Christ.  When you read their writings you will notice that their intention was to bring Scriptural clarity and to reform the Church, not necessarily to break from it entirely.  Yet their followers became so enraptured with their perceived gnosis that they divided themselves into groups, breaking fellowship: "I follow Luther," and another, "I follow Wesley."  What, after all, is Calvin?  And what is Arminius?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe.

Brothers and sisters, it should not be this way.  Do you want to know why Christianity has more divisions than any other religion?  The first reason is because it is the only true religion.  The enemy knows this Scripture well: "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."  This is the very reason why you don't see the enemy creating more divisions within Judaism, Buddhism, or Islam.  They each have only a handful of sects.  They pose no threat to the enemy's plans.  Yet Christianity is the genuine article, so it will be expectedly counterfeited most often.  You never counterfeit fake currency.

The Apostle Paul warned against doctrinal and semantic quarreling and argumentative behavior amongst Believers, yet I see far too much of this behavior from Christians in comments, forums, and churches:

He is conceited and understands nothing. Instead, he has an unhealthy interest in controversies and semantics, out of which come envy, strife, abusive talk, [and] evil suspicions.
- 1 Timothy 6:4


And again...


Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
- 2 Timothy 2:14


And also...

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, arguments, and quarrels about the Law, because these things are pointless and worthless.
- Titus 3:9


Paul doesn't tell us not to study or teach doctrines, words, genealogies, and so forth, but simply not to quarrel about them.  If you can have a civil and loving conversation with a fellow Believer about a difference of opinion then you probably should, but once it becomes an argument you need to be introspective and decide if you are helping or hurting the cause of Christ by continuing the argument.  Agreeing to disagree lovingly is an ability that Christians seem to have lost and I would encourage all of us (myself included) to strive to get that ability back.

Let us not be divided.  We share One Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one vital mission: to reach the lost with the Gospel of Grace before the clock strikes midnight.  Christians are spending so much time bickering and playing defense when the godly expectation is that we would arm ourselves for battle and storm the gates of hell.  There are people, real people, who desperately need the life-giving message we bring, but we can't bring it if we spend all of our timing arguing over the small things.



When To Divide


Through my study of Scripture and learning from other great men of faith I can only find three legitimate reasons for division:

1. Defending the nature of God.  We worship YHWH, the God of Israel.  As the Scriptures and two millennia of revelation and Christian scholarship clearly show, He is One God subsisting in three Persons and Jesus is fully God.  A hundred Scriptures and a myriad of scholarly and scientific discoveries confirm this truth.  There will be no compromise whatsoever because any compromise could very well mean that you are worshiping a God other than YHWH and only YHWH can save.

2. Preserving the Gospel.  Christ died for all of our sins, was buried, and literally rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 10:1-13).  Christ is the Anointed One of God and the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).  He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).  The legalists and lawless alike reject the Atonement and therefore the Gospel, which is the only message by which anyone can be saved.  Legalists preach law without grace and the lawless preach grace without faith.

3. Dealing with unrepentant sin.  To understand this category you need to first have a good foundation in regards to repentance.  The Greek word for "repentance" is metanoia, which means a change of heart or mind, change of conviction, or conversion.  Legalists have twisted and added meaning to this word and in so doing have returned to the law and fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).  Biblical repentance is first and foremost changing your mind and believing in Christ for salvation.  If you read through the book of Acts you'll find that the evangelistic methods employed by the Apostles were very different from the "turn or burn" street preachers who condemn unbelievers and Believers alike.  Street preaching is great, but not if you're self-righteous and think the Gospel is too good to be true - in that case it's deadly.

Once that foundation is laid, we can differentiate between two categories of people who are unrepentant in regards to sin: the saved and the unsaved.  All Believers are saved through faith (John 5:24, 6:37-39, 10:28-29, 17:9-12, Romans 4:5, 6:23, 8:38-39, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 7:25, 10:14, 1 Peter 1:4-5), but some are more carnal than others.  Some will produce no works and obtain no rewards, but yet be saved (Romans 4:5, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).  They continue to believe, but have drifted into habitual sin and will experience guilt and temporal destruction until they repent (1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Timothy 1:20, 1 John 5:16-17).

It's also important to differentiate between the general repentance of sin that all Believers have by humbling themselves and acknowledging that they are sinners in need of a Savior (Luke 15:21, 18:13, 1 John 1:9) and the repentance of specific sins that all Believers continue to struggle with.  The former general repentance is necessary for salvation because it is synonymous with believing the Gospel.  Carnal or cultural Christians who have never humbly acknowledged their sinfulness and need for Christ should be weary because they may never have understood or believed the Gospel.  On the other hand, every Believer who ever lived, Peter and Paul included, continued to struggle with the flesh and had to repeatedly and continually repent, not for salvation, but for fellowship and in response to God's loving discipline (Romans 7:7-25, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, James 3:2, 1 John 1:8-2:1).  Sinless perfection happens upon glorification in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50-57, Colossians 3:4, 1 John 3:2) not here on earth.  Legalists who tell you otherwise have deceived themselves and are practicing falsehood.

So division is necessary when someone claims to be a Christian, but has clearly not repented (changed their mind) and believed the Gospel.  Their rotten fruit is evident either by their sins of legalism or lawlessness.

In the second scenario where a genuine Believer is struggling with sin, division may also be necessary.  If they are broken over their sin and ask for forgiveness then you should forgive them (Matthew 18:21-22, 18:35).  When there is genuine repentance then fellowship isn't broken.  If you've been in Christian community for any length of time you'll realize that forgiveness and reconciliation are a normal part of life.  We can't condemn and isolate ourselves from one another every time someone sins or else Christian community would not be possible.  Legalists isolate themselves (Proverbs 18:1) and pride themselves on their supposedly superior morals and gnosis, but we know we are all broken and desperately in need of Christ.

However, if you lovingly rebuke a sinning brother and he does not change his mind, then winsomely, lovingly rebuke him again, when necessary by taking another Believer along with you or bringing the issue before the Church.  If unrepentance continues then have nothing to do with him (Matthew 18:16-17, Titus 3:10), but if he returns to you in repentance then receive him in love (Luke 15:11-32, Philemon 1:15-18).

If you are causing divisions in the Church for some reason other than the above three reasons, you might need to seriously consider if it is you that Paul speaks of in Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10.


When To Unite: A Theology Of Everything


Have you heard of the theory of everything?  It is the most sought after prize in physics: the discovery of a single, unifying framework that can accurately explain the underlying reality of the physical universe - specifically a theory that can unify the seemingly incompatible theories of general relativity and quantum field theory.

Theology, like physics, seeks a similar prize: a theology of everything.  There are many competing theories: Calvinism and Arminianism, faith and works, eternal security and conditional salvation, Conditionalism and Naturalism, pre-trib and post-trib, and on and on and on.  Systematic theologians often, but not always, argue their side in a vacuum and therein lies the problem.

A quick Google search can find you exactly what you want to hear.  If you're a Calvinist then you can find dozens of articles listing out dozens of verses that would seem to make Calvinism a sure thing.  But wait, a slight change in search terms and you can find articles that list out verses that seem to say just the opposite.

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
- Proverbs 18:17


We are so uncomfortable with mystery and tension that we find the answer most personally suitable and stick to that no matter what someone else says (2 Timothy 4:3).  Our problem is less lack of knowledge, and more lack of faith and humility.  The truth of the matter is that there really is doctrinal and theological tension in the Bible on a number of issues.  The person who thinks they've figured it all out has been deceived.  The more we study the more we learn, but we won't understand all of God's truth until glory:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12


So when it comes down to it, as stated earlier, there are three absolute truths in Scripture on which we can never under any circumstances compromise: 1. the nature of God, 2. The truth of the Gospel, and 3. the nature of sin.  We have to remember that it is Christ Himself (through faith) who gives us life, not the Scriptures (John 5:39-40).  But how do we handle everything else?  Three verses give us the answer:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- John 17:17


And...

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
- 2 Timothy 3:16


And also...

For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
- Isaiah 28:10


So how do we handle the non-essentials?  The answer: by trusting that what God says is true.  All of it.  My systematic theology is that God's Word is literally true and He does not lie (John 17:17, Numbers 23:19).  That's it.  There are no qualifiers.  I said at the beginning of this article that the first reason Christianity is divided is because the enemy is putting forth his best efforts to divide it.  The second reason is because Christians are not trusting what the Scriptures plainly say.  I firmly believe that you can attribute the vast majority of divisions to textual liberality.

The practical application of this method of reading the Scriptures is twofold:

1. What a particular passage or verse says is literally true, unless it or another passage or verse clarifies that what was written was a parable, symbol, or idiom, in which case the clarifying Scripture stands.

2. If the prima facie reading of different Scriptures appears to cause a contradiction then one of the two passages has an alternative literal meaning.

I'll explain how I apply this method to the faith vs works debate.  Let's take the books of Romans, Philippians, and James for example.  Legalists often offer up James 2 and Philippians 2:12 as chief proof-texts of their beliefs:

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
- James 2:24


The Roman Catholic Church has heavily relied upon this Scripture to defend their decision in the sixth session of the Council of Trent that condemns those who believe in sola fide (faith alone).  Separated from its context and other competing Scriptures it would seem to support their decision.  The problem is that other Scriptures state quite emphatically the exact opposite such as Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:28, and Romans 4:5:

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

If you then try to mix faith and works you end up with a mess and find yourself fallen from grace:

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
- Romans 11:6


And...

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
- Galatians 5:4


We have a problem.  There is a seeming contradiction between James 2:24 and Romans 4:5.  The legalist errs by reading James 2:24 in a vacuum and ignoring Romans 4:5, but others err by ignoring James 2:24.  What gives?

We have to ask ourselves if one of the two verses has a clarifying Scripture or if it can be read literally in another light.  The words and context of Romans 4:5 give us no room to maneuver, but James 2:24 does.  The first reason is that James 2:24 does not specify if the justification is before God, before man, or before oneself.  Either interpretation would allow for a literal reading of the text.  The second reason is that James 2:14 clarifies how we should understand James 2:24:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

This verse is James' opening statement in his discourse on faith and works and we learn that the object of his attack is not a genuine saving faith apart from works, but the claim to have faith when one's works are evidence the claim is false.  The Greek word legē ("says") is the key here for without it the verse would be translated "...if someone has faith but does not have works?  Can that faith save him?"  According to many other Scriptures the answer would be an emphatic, "Yes!" (John 3:18, 5:24, Acts 10:43, 13:39, 15:11, Romans 3:28, 4:5, 9:30, Galatians 2:21, 3:11, 5:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, and many more).

So what we learn is that legalists are actually not reading the Scriptures literally enough because a literal reading of James 2:24 in light of James 2:14 would convey the idea that the justification spoken of is not a justification before God, but before oneself or other men - a justification of the claim to have faith.

To wrap up this example, let's look at the other oft-cited verse in the debate, which is Philippians 2:12:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

We were born fleshly and all too often we let our emotions control us, but God's Word tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9) and so we must not read into Scripture our emotional response to it, but instead read it from the conviction of faith and a sound mind.  God's Word is truth, but our feelings about it are often not.  As a person who struggled with fear and despair I would latch on to verses like this at the expense of dozens, even hundreds of other verses that would otherwise give assurance of salvation, but again, they are all true.  So the key to Philippians 2:12, like the rest of Scripture, is simply to believe what it says.  It does not say "earn your own salvation," it says "work out [plural] your own [plural] salvation."  The pronoun heautōn ("your own") and the verb katergazesthe ("work out") are both in the plural and so the idea is conveyed to the collective Christian community rather than the individual Christian.  In other words, let the collective strive for or work to accomplish the practical implications of salvation (you can read more about this here).  Words matter and the Christian who says otherwise is not fully trusting God's Word.

So how does this theology of everything affect various theological debates?

Calvinism vs. Arminianism: The same Word that says "the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 9:12) also says "Pharaoh hardened his [own] heart" (Exodus 8:32).  Both Scriptures are true.  God is completely sovereign (Acts 17:26, Romans 9:14-24) yet human free will exists (Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15, Proverbs 16:9, Ezekiel 18:30-32, John 17:17, Galatians 5:13, 2 Peter 3:9, Revelation 3:20).  I say both are true.  Why can't Almighty God create a universe in which He is completely sovereign and Believers are predestined (Romans 8:29) yet humans also have real free will?  Suggesting that He cannot create a universe like that would be to say not all things are possible with Him (Matthew 19:26).

Limited vs. Unlimited Atonement: The death of Christ was a single sacrifice made for all, both Believers and unbelievers (Hebrews 10:12, 1 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:2, 4:14), so in this sense I cannot square some interpretations of the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement with the Bible, but I realize some Calvinists like R.C. Sproul recognize the Scriptural deficiency here and agree that "limited atonement" is a misleading belief.  In my view, when we accept all of the relevant Scriptures rather than reading a select few in a vacuum, a distinction is made between the Atonement itself and receiving the Atonement.  The Atonement itself quite literally paid for the sins of everyone who ever lived, yet it is a gift that must be received by faith (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8) and if it is rejected it has no effect.  Yet in some sense Believers were predestined (Romans 8:29), so like the previous debate, I say both are true.

Eternal Security vs. Conditional Salvation: There is clearly one condition for salvation, which is a present active tense genuine saving faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:18, 3:36, Romans 10:4, 9, 11, 1 Corinthians 15:2, Galatians 2:16), so on the one hand salvation is conditional.  On the other hand, a myriad of Scriptures are evidence of eternal security (John 5:24, 6:37-39, 10:28-29, 17:9-12, Romans 4:5, 6:23, 8:38-39, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 7:25, 10:14, 1 Peter 1:4-5).  Once again, both are true.  I've seen so many one-sided websites and articles that list out every conceivable verse for one side or the other, but gloss over the literally dozens of other Scriptures that the other side uses!  One side in particular in this debate condemns the other side relentlessly, but both present solid Scriptures.  Brothers and sisters, love one another.

Pre-Trib vs. Post-Trib: If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that the rapture is not in the Bible I would be a rich man (well maybe not rich, but I could buy one really fancy dinner).  It clearly is (John 14:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 12:5) unless you want to argue that verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:17 don't mean what they plainly say.  The post-trib proof-text is Matthew 24:29-31 ("after the tribulation of those days... they will gather his elect").  People cite that Scripture to me as evidence against a pre-tribulational rapture quite often, but I have to kindly remind them that pre-tribbers also believe in a post-tribulational resurrection and gathering of saints (martyred Tribulation Saints, the remaining Jewish remnant, and living Tribulation Saints if any - see Daniel 12:12-13, Revelation 12:17, 20:4-5).  Again, Scriptures don't exist in a vacuum - let us not be like those who only read the red letters.  God's Word is truth - all of it.  I see no way around a pre-trib rapture, it just is what it is (Isaiah 26:19-21, Luke 21:36, John 14:2-3, Revelation 3:10, 4:1, 12:5), but as mentioned above, there is also a post-trib rapture of sorts, so in a sense they are both true.

In summary, there are bits of Scriptural truth in all of the above beliefs, but God and His Word are bigger than all of them.  So long as differences of interpretation don't drift into one of the three categories in the previous section, we need to remain united in love and humbly recognize that not one of us have all of the details figured out.  Focusing on certain Scriptures while ignoring others is why we have division.  Let us love one another despite our differences because in the end our love will count more than our gnosis.  It is love that is the mark of a true Christian, not his intellect or biblical expertise.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- John 13:35


Internet Christianity is failing in the mission and defiling the testimony because we are continually bickering with one another and priding ourselves on what we think we know better than the next guy.  I may disagree with other Christians on many things, but I am called to pursue them in love in order that the world might believe that Jesus is the Messiah (John 17:20-23).


A Big God


The Scriptures reveal the mind of Almighty God and His ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9, Job 11:7, 36:26).  His Word is perfect and true and so we must first and foremost trust what it literally says as much as we possibly can.  All of our quarrels and divisions can be attributed to some lack of faith in God or His Word because whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Too many of us read the Bible like it's a step-by-step IKEA manual, when in reality it is so much more.  All too often we think God is just two or three dimensional, which is why doctrines like sovereignty or free will cause so many arguments.  Each side chooses not to see the truth of the other.  Our God is a big God.  God isn't two or three dimensional - He is a hyperdimensional super-being.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  We have only scratched the surface of the truth of God, but insofar as He has revealed Himself through His Word we need to trust what He has revealed.

The Bible itself is multi-dimensional.  It has layer upon layer upon layer.  There are a number of prophecies that have already been fulfilled multiple times yet we isolate Scriptures and treat them like they exist in a vacuum and can have only one application.  If you've been reading our articles for any length of time then you've probably picked up on the fact that the Bible is filled with shadows, types, numbers, unexpected connections, and mysteries.  It's a treasure trove that's waiting for the faithful and humble of heart to discover (Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 25:2, 29:23, Matthew 11:25), but you must first accept what it says on its own terms.

Lastly, I must fundamentally disagree with labels like "Calvinist" or "Baptist" or "Fundamentalist", which serve only to divide the One invisible Body of Christ:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-27


There are only three legitimate reasons for division within Christianity: defending the nature of God, preserving the Gospel, and dealing with unrepentant sin, but the majority of divisions appear to be over the non-essentials accompanied by endless quarreling and lack of humility.  As the precious Body which God purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28), we must do better.  Love one another:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
- John 15:12



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42 comments :

  1. Strongly recommend this video. Contains clues to Revelation 12 we haven't heard.

    https://youtu.be/54mBdNDkN4U

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing. I'll check it out.

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    2. Anon - can you summarise please? 60 minutes is a long time to listen/watch when one is trying to put the kids into bed:)

      RD

      Delete
  2. Amen Gary, well said! I have a particular belief about eschatology, but eschatology is fluid in the sense our understanding changes as we get closer.....for instance, up until a little over a year ago, I didn't know what the sign of the Woman in Labor was....

    I recognize that I could be wrong, and therefore strive to respect the views of others while holding my own, and am willing to accept any view other than mine that proves correct.....so, it is an unessential to me in that sense. Instead of taking up battle flags against one another, I believe we should strive to listen to all views, consider them, be willing to change if warranted, not shoot at each other, and let events play out as they seem to be doing as we expect, and rejoice together in the Truth as it manifests itself.

    Great comments on your part, Shalom!

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    1. Thank you Sam!

      Love you brother.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Calvin wasn't a Godly man; he was a tyrant that re-introduced Augustine's Manichean Gnosticism to the church. He demanded that people call him "master" and vindictively destroyed anyone who didn't. he also had people who disagreed with him openly executed or banished. As Martin Luther said of Calvin's actions in Geneva, "With a death sentence they solve all argumentation" (Juergan L. Neve, A History of Christian Thought, vol. I, p. 285).

    The problem with the error people get into with James is a hermeneutic one where they assume the context by the terms, rather than defining the terms by the context. "Justified" simply means "to be declared (counted as) righteous", and is a Greek legal term equivalent to a judge pronouncing a defendant "innocent". It does not always mean being justified before God, and in this case, it means being justified in the court of people's opinions, as defined by the context of the epistle, especially James 2:1-13.

    "Saved" is another one; the word actually means "saved" as in "rescued, delivered, or healed", and can mean salvation from earthly troubles, God's chastening in the earthly sense, or deliverance from eternal condemnation (what we think of as "saved" in modern Christianese). In the majority of contexts, "saved" is not in the context of eternal life; this is the case with James. Abraham was justified before God by faith (see Romans 4:2-8), but he was justified before men by his works (James 2:21, Romans 4:2). The same with Rahab, who was saved (delivered) from the destruction of Jericho by her work of lying to her countrymen (a sin) in order to save the Hebrew scouts.

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  5. Good article Gary. Lets hope we all remember this when we start getting arrogant and condescending about the pre vs mid vs post tribulation beliefs/perspectives.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. I can be guilty at times also, but have to remind myself to be patient and humble.

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  6. Yes, it appears the 'church building' and denomination has become the plumb line for many believers even though the Word which can be our only plumb line states that God does not live in a building made by hands.
    The traditions of man are making void the Word of God. However, argument is not required. We can share our testimonies and encourage one another, but just as there is a time to speak there is a time to refrain from speaking. If we act on that Word spoken to us as individuals, growing daily in the Lord, we will continue to be 'lively stones' and allow the Master builder to do His work.

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  7. My observation is that the reason the church is divided is because the new testament, which was compiled by men on instruction of the Roman emperor in approx 300 AD, contains two gospels. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, as brought to us by Jesus Christ and his 12 appointed Apostles, and the gospel ABOUT Christ Jesus, brought to us by self-appointed "apostle" Saul of Tarsus.
    For many years I have struggled to reconcile what I was reading and hearing from Jesus with what is being said by Saul, even though some of the things Saul says are very "nice on the ear". It was only then that I realised how cunning the advesary is in confusing our thoughts by taking the Truth and just slightly twisting it, or adding/subtracting from it. "The whole world has been deceived". Yes indeed. Wheat and Tares, they look the same right? Many in the church like to say, the Bible is the Word of God...is that the Truth and the Whole Truth so help me God? No, again, it is parcially true. Jesus IS the Word and the ONLY Truth. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Everything that contradicts, argues, slightly twist, add/subtract from His life and His Ministry, is the Lie. Read His Words, study His actions, know His voice...nothing else matters, really. "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done."

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    1. Bro, don't be deceived. All of Paul's apostles are thoroughly inspired by the spirit of God and rightfully part of the cannon. Even Peter said that some of Paul's teachings were hard to understand, but he never called him out as an apostate.

      RD

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    2. Why Paul? Here is the answer 888.

      www.bereanbiblesociety.org/why-paul/

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    3. Brandon,
      the site you refer to posts many half-truths.

      the article states:
      "In the gospels, Jesus clearly says that He came only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” and that His disciples were NOT to go to the Gentiles (Matt. 10:5,6)."

      This is true, but only half-true.
      Jesus' first commission to his disciples to spread the Word, was when He was still alive, and his disciples had to go only to the House of Israel (which was now in Galilee)....first.

      After Jesus was resurrected and appeared again to His disciples, he sent them on the so-called "Great Commission":

      Matthew 28:16–20,
      "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

      the article further states the age old myth, that Saul was the "apostle to the Gentiles" and after that quote all the references and claims he made this of himself in his letters

      the above two little pieces of the Word shatters both these myths
      this is the point I tried to illustrate in my statement above, we should not take our eyes off Jesus, not allow this to happen by anyone

      this is how the adversary operates, he always deceives us with half-truths, just the same as he tried to trick Jesus during his trials in the dessert, and how he deceived Adam & Eve
      there will always be an element of the Truth in his deceit

      "the whole world has been deceived" yup, that's you and me
      we are flesh and we will fail, none of us are exempt
      thats why the only answer is our Saviour and His Word

      Delete
    4. "....the new testament, which was compiled by men on instruction of the Roman emperor in approx 300 AD"

      If you are referring to the Council of Nicea, it was in 325AD, and the NT wasn't even on the agenda, because it was already effectively compiled, distributed, and used by the churches.

      Constantine didn't direct the outcome, nor could he over churches that had endured 10 persecutions prior to this and grew. In fact, he didn't care to; he wasn't a theologian, all he wanted was unity and to avoid another civil war.

      Some info you should watch:
      https://youtu.be/WSKBGdv07nQ
      https://youtu.be/Nduka-QqXbQ

      BTW, Paul agrees with Christ and the Old Testament. You have to understand the context of the Gospels and the types and shadows in the Old Testament, particularly of the Tabernacle and sacrifices. People ultimately don't believe Paul because they don't believe the Gospel.

      Delete
  8. @Anonymous:
    You said it bro, Peter, Paul...where's Jesus in this?
    "Paul's apostles"...
    Again, only 12 were chosen and appointed, there were very specific criteria in this regard
    if one reads the Revelation of Jesus Christ he again confirms, 12 apostles, 12 thrones to judge mankind
    No disrespect, I do not wish to argue, the above post was a statement I shared, use it don't use it
    I have been the Berean, I have put the two gospels side by side
    I have heard all the arguments
    I've read the websites, I have studied the Word and the letters
    in the end, I returned to Root again and again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not that the Hebrew Roots doesn't take the Scriptures seriously, it's that they don't take the Scriptures seriously enough. If you're right about Paul then it doesn't really matter because not one of us will be saved anyway (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-30, Psalm 14:3, 53:1, 143:2, Isaiah 64:6, Luke 18:19, James 2:10). But if you're wrong and you're caught trusting in something other than Christ's propitatory death and resurrection then it's going to cost you your soul, or, at the very least, a lot of pain and regret during the Tribulation.

      Regardless, even if you removed all of Paul's epistles then you would still be left with the same story. It wouldn't change the message it would just make it more difficult to understand. All are condemned under the law. All are under sin. God sent a propiatory sacrifice (Himself) to fix the problem (Isaiah 53). Salvation is through faith in Him alone (Genesis 3-4, Genesis 15:6, Habakkuk 2:4) because no one keeps the law (Isaiah 64:6, Luke 18:19, James 2:10, 3:2) and the law is not something to be kept partially, but completely. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar (1 John 1:8, 10).

      Now regarding the gospels, the Gospel of Grace is also contained in them, especially John. John contains some of the clearest Scriptures on sola fide and eternal security in the entire Bible and yet never once mentions repentance.

      Regarding Paul, if you're going to remove his message than you need to go all the way and remove Luke also because Luke wrote the book of Acts (part 2 in his letter to Theophilus). There is scholarly consensus that the author of Luke wrote Acts also. Acts 8-28 is primarily about Paul. The Apostles agreed with Paul's Gospel (Acts 15:1-19) over the same kind of issue the Hebrew Roots movement pushes. To the Apostle Peter, Paul was a beloved brother (2 Peter 3:15) whose letters were the very truth of Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). And yes, Paul was an Apostle (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1) appointed by God (Acts 9:13-16), though perhaps not one of the Twelve. There is an argument that can be made that Paul was God's chosen replacement for Judas instead of Matthias, but it doesn't matter to me. The Twelve were first and foremost sent to the lost sheep of Israel whereas Paul was sent primarily to the Gentiles - hence Apostle to the Gentiles.

      I've seen many strong arguments, but the modern Hebrew Roots movement is not one of them. God's Word is true - all of it. And all the books and epistles in the NT were written hundreds of years before canonization.

      To be clear though, the Hebrew Roots/anti-Paul message is not a message that will be tolerated here.


      Blessings and God's grace,
      Gary

      Delete
    2. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Pet 1:21 The Holy Ghost delivered both Old and New Testaments. Scribes in the Tribe of Levi met in groups of 6 recording very utterance from God's chosen Priests, checking very Jot and Tittle against each other. This method was then used by 54 men hired by King James to bring the Received (Inspired) texts, accepted as the Word of God, 200 years before the Council of Nicea into English.
      Jesus brings a Sword of Truth to Divide the Holy (Separate) Church from all else. It's not arrogance, it's a Baptism of Fire in the Heart by the Holy Ghost that brings Salvation, nothing else. "You must be Born Again to see the Kingdom of Heaven"; all will be physically Born Again, but in life, only a SPIRITUAL Baptism of the Holy Spirit brings true conversion to JESUS.

      Delete
    3. @Gary:
      When I was referring to Root, I meant the Root of Jesse, not the Hebrew Roots movement.

      Isaiah 11:10 - And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

      Actually the whole of Isaiah 11 is just beautiful how the coming Saviour of mankind is described.

      On Apostleship: there are 13, Jesus and His 12 appointed Apostles
      Jesus chose the twelve from many to further His own calling of Apostleship
      We clearly see the criteria for an apostle when Matthias was chosen to replace Judas in Acts 1:12–26).

      21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

      From the personal witness of Jesus in Revelation, he again only note 12 Apostles who will sit on the thrones to judge mankind

      On Saul's "apostleship", only himself makes this claim in his letters, none of the 12 Apostles recognized him a such, at most, as a teacher. The claim he makes that Jesus appointed him, is a claim he makes himself.

      If Saul was chosen as he says, it would be in direct conflict with the criteria for the 12.

      Saul was not a contemporary of Jesus, he never heard him speak, he didn't endure the 3 years of training with the Lord, he was not witness to his death and resurrection, and he wasn't present when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples.
      So his whole ministry, was hearsay.

      Saul claims that Jesus appointed and created positions to "equip his people for works of service"

      Eph 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers...

      let's listen to His voice:
      Matth 23:8 -10 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And don’t call anyone on earth ‘Father,’ because you have only one Father, the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘Teachers,’ because you have only one teacher, the Messiah!

      John 14:23-25 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.
      “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit— the Father will send Him in My name — will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

      I'm not usually one to post links to websites/videos, but if anyone wants to further follow this train of thought, or even if you're just curious...these guys have done an extensive job on it

      https://jesuswordsonly.com

      Delete
    4. "When I was referring to Root, I meant the Root of Jesse, not the Hebrew Roots movement."

      You can call it whatever you want, but it's not the Gospel and its not the Bible. All of Scripture is God-breathed, not just the red letters.

      "On Saul's 'apostleship', only himself makes this claim in his letters, none of the 12 Apostles recognized him a such, at most, as a teacher. The claim he makes that Jesus appointed him, is a claim he makes himself."

      Your statement is false and you yourself cite Acts. Absurdity does not come from the Lord. The first person who claims to appoint Paul is not Paul, but your supposed Lord Himself:

      "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel." (Acts 9:15) Also, Luke recorded this, not Paul.

      In summary:

      1. The Gospel of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation for anyone and this message would still be true even if all of Paul's letters were removed from the Scriptures - it would just be more confusing to understand.

      2. Paul didn't appoint himself, but was appointed directly by the Lord Jesus Christ in public nonetheless - in the presence of other men.

      3. At the very least, the truth of Paul's claims are confirmed by 1. Luke who also wrote one of the synoptic gospels, 2. Ananias (Acts 9:10-19), 3. James (Acts 15), 4. Peter himself (2 Peter 3:15-16), and 5. our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-19).

      4. All Scripture is God-breathed and Paul's letters were Scripture (2 Peter 3:16), which means his claim to be an Apostle (though not necessarily one of the Twelve) were confirmed by the truth of Scripture and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself because Christ appointed him and confirmed it through at least four others.

      5. All of the Scriptures testify about Christ (John 5:39, Colossians 1:16) and God speaks and writes through men, so "Jesus words only" includes every word written from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Any other claim is a lie or misguided deceit.

      I pray you will seriously consider these Scriptures and take them to heart. God's Word is truth. All of it. Also, just a final reminder that the beliefs you are espousing will not be tolerated here - especially on an article where the objective is Christian love, humility, and not quarreling. I wish you the best and pray that you will come back into fellowship with us.


      In Christ,
      Gary

      Delete
  9. "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 C.E.) The only doctrine I will NEVER "agree to disagree" with is Adminianism though. MARANATHA!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, must be "Arminianism" of course. Not biblical.

      Delete
  10. Martin Luther was a Black Cloistered Rosicrucian Monk who blamed the Catholic Church and the Pope as being the Whore church and Antichrist. He said "The best way to baptize a Jew is to tie a rock around his neck and toss him in the Jordan River.
    John Calvin was John Cohen or Cauvin, a Zionist whose TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Fixed Pre-desination to Salvation are all Lies.
    John Wesley founded the Methodist Cult built in Arminiansm
    Jesus hates Nicotaitane Doctrine; elevating the clergy above the Laity for the purpose of destroying the simple Faith in JESUS Mat 1:25KJV; JAH Ps 68:4KJV; JEHOVAH Ex 6:3 the only Covenant Name through which any Salvation is offered.
    YHWH is Saturn; the ineffable Name used by the Rabbis has nothing to do with the SPIRITUAL Name JESUS. If you want Salvation the only way is to call on the personal Name of JESUS; the only Name which yields the value 888. YHWH is the contraction of Yahweh aka El seen in Bab=Gate + El "Babel". Unity in worship of YHWH started at the Tower of Babel.
    It's hard to believe this article will pass the scrutiny of true Born Again believers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rather, it's hard to believe your arguments will pass muster to anyone besides yourself.

      Delete
  11. I retired as a hitman for Team Pre-Trib a few years ago, and I'm very glad I did. I finally learned that arguments over secondary doctrines that inspire such venom and rancor between believers are Satan's stock in trade. Avoid them like sin.

    "Let it go, let it go..."

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good one Gary, it seems to be crazy how people like cast labels on everyone rather than focusing on the Gospel and "How" Christ died. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

    I think you kicked the football past the 200 yard line!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen! Thank you brother. You are such a continual encouragement to me.

      Delete
  13. Calvin personally put to death 58 people who disagree with his TULIP Doctrine and ordered the Exile of 70 in Geneva. Thousands died in France and far more when Calvin's Huguenots took over South Africa's Diamond and Gold mines. Which part of "He who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword" or "Thou shalt not kill" is hard to understand?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jesus did tell us His church would be like a tree, a place where every bird flying through the air would find a place to rest... Have you ever seen a tree with just one branch on it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's such a beautiful thought. Many branches, but one tree and together we provide rest and comfort for the lost and weary.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately it also attracts some of the birds of Matthew 13:4...

      Delete
    3. Jesus also tells us that there would be many trees with lovely branches and leaves which will look good to the eye but are not..."by their fruits you will know them".
      Eat of the Fruits of the Tree of Life.

      Delete
  15. Gary-Most excellent post. I love reading all your different topics that are all very educational yo me.

    Of course we all wont see eye to eye on various subjects, but as long as each side respectfully listens with an unbiased mind to anothers different view, there is more hope to correct ones thinking. It works both ways of course.

    I came in here not long ago and felt a need to kindly interject my having been persuaded from my former pretrib belief, but I honestly feel I did so in a loving Christian way. I felt the responsibility of letting the ones that basically were closing up shop so to speak and awaiting the rapture in a few months....
    to "possibly" be prepared to go through some tribulation .."if" we are still here as I strongly believe we will be. I also rolled belly up and stated I hope my minority belief is wrong as I would LOVE to be wrong and out of here! I see thousands upon thousands of Christians overseas going through horrific trials and tribulations right now, and we could be next.

    With the love of Christ, I try to kindly express my views just as many here have kindly expressed theirs. Very very civil in my opinion comments directed both ways.

    God bless us all for learning here together and may God kerp blessing Gary for this amazing divine site!

    Stan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind thoughts brother. I appreciate your love and humility. Let us keep looking up!

      Delete
    2. Whether by death or rapture (both defined as events no one knows the day or hour of) we are the Lord's.

      Delete
  16. Gary,
    Your article was spot on and very encouraging. I have been wondering about this bickering being so bad now, and you correctly showed us satan is doing all he can to divide us and conquer. Doesn't everything we do must be done in agape love or it will not survive the Bema judgment? Even understanding all mysteries does not count if we do not walk in love.
    I am glad to have found this site.
    Blessings,
    Megan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Megan. I think when real faith goes in then real, godly love comes out. That's why when I see many of these "Christians" bickering in the most condescending and hateful ways imaginable I have to question whether they really believe in Christ or if they are trusting in something else.

      Agape all the way.

      Delete
  17. US Debt Limit of $20T hits on Sept 29 "Kol Nidre" is the day before Yom Kippur when Talmudic Synagogues forgive "All Vows" and "Sins" of the Congregations planned to be committed during the coming year. Exactly the opposite from what Jesus taught

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. There are elements in the modern Rabbinic Judaism which should be exposed. Whether or not it is on this site, that is up to the owners.

      The returning Messiah will deal with everything.

      I guess there is nothing new on the "17" mischief in Jerusalem. These same articles have been front page for several days now.

      Delete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete


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