Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Obeying the Authorities/Going to War

“Since The Bible Says to Obey the Governing Authorities, Christians Must Be in the Military and Go to War.”
Yes to the first part--no to the second.

The Bible does indeed say that we are to “be subject” to the governing authorities:
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:1-6

However, these “authorities are God’s servants”(v.6) put in place by God for his purposes.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-17

Since these authorities are “created through him and for him”, they are to be submitted to only when they don’t tell us to do things contrary to what Jesus has taught.

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!
Acts 5:29

There may be punishment for following Jesus rather than the authorities but we must follow Jesus because he is the final authority and judge. When Christians join the military or in the event of a draft, submit for duty—against Jesus’ and his disciples’ teachings of loving ones enemy (Matthew 5:43-48) and overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21), those who do follow Jesus’ teachings and refuse such things at greater peril of punishment.*

*See “Christians should be proud when their sons and daughters join the military and go off to war.” http://urbanlegendsbible.blogspot.com/2011/11/christian-soldiers.html

Christian Soldiers?

“Christians should be proud when their sons and daughters join the military and go off to war.”


Jesus said just the opposite. There is no way that shooting or bombing one’s enemy (or anyone) is loving them or blessing them—the enemy or the one who kills their enemy. As long as people kill each other in retaliation, the killing will never stop. Jesus has a better way in mind; Christians are, rather, to set the example:

“Love your enemy” (Matthew 5:43-48).

“Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:38-40).

Peter said, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Jesus’ expects his followers to be different because they’re not operating the way this world does, but in God’s way.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

Paul said, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world” (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4).

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

If we “resist” or kill an “evil person” the effect is like cutting off the top of a weed without digging out the roots—it will come back. Jesus’ way is to fight the devil instead—to get to the root of the problem with the spiritual “weapons” of prayer and love.

Finally, Jesus told his disciples, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

I don’t at all mean to sound harsh but only to convey what Jesus said—if you encourage your children to join the military, don’t be surprised if they die there. Even if they make it back home, they will have died to some degree on the inside. Jesus has called us to a better way--that of following his teachings.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32

Generational Curses

“God Curses People Because of the Sins Their Parents and Grandparents Committed.”

Not any more.

The second commandment and several other passages in the Bible really do say that:
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5

But God in his mercy and grace didn’t leave us there! Even as far back as Ezekiel’s time, God stopped passing the blame through the generations!

Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father? Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. Ezekiel 18:19-20

This entire chapter is clearly about individuals not bearing any guilt but their own—even in Ezekiel’s time. Then Jesus sealed it when he bore the curse of sin and death including the generational curse for us.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Galatians 3:13

Hallelujah! Jesus has already done it!!! We who follow Jesus are no longer under the Law! Each person is only responsible to repent for his or her own sins and Jesus’ death and resurrection have won us forgiveness! We don’t need any rituals to “break off” such curses; the New Testament never even suggests such a thing! Even in the Old Testament, God had Ezekiel rebuke the Israelites for saying such a thing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

“God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle”


The rest of the premise says, “So if you’re going through it, God must think you can handle it.” The possible origin of this “thought for the day” is confusion about Paul’s earlier encouragement that, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Paul also said that he and his co-workers “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8b, 9)

God won’t let those of us who follow Jesus be tempted with more than we can resist by giving us a way out. Handling difficulties or trials is not about our ability but our reliance on God’s mighty power working in our behalf.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“There’s Someone Out There for Everyone (to marry)”


It sounds good; it sounds romantic—unless you’re being bugged the thousandth time by your great aunt about when you’re ever going to find a husband or wife.

The New Testament doesn’t put the emphasis on getting married that most societies do. Once a person is married there are definite expectations, however. Jesus said that some people are to be married and some aren’t, that it’s a good thing if they aren’t but not everyone has the gift of celibacy.

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:11,12

Paul said that it’s better not to marry so that men and women can give their full attention to pleasing God rather than their wives and husbands.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-36

So while marriage can be wonderful and is holy and to be honored by everyone, (Hebrews 13:4) it’s not for everyone.

Going Through Hard Times

"One of the reasons we go through hard times is so we can comfort other people who are going through hard times."

Not quite

This one is almost true but just misses. It’s usually based on experience and the verse that says we are to comfort others with the comfort we have received.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

One person “rewrote” it in her mind to say, “We go through troubles so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have received.” That’s not what it says, that’s adding to the Word of God. This concept has prompted people to actually seek out hard times, to embrace hard times rather than overcome them when they do come and/or give others who are going through hard times a rather cold comfort—that hard times are good for you.

In addition, the context of this scripture is “sharing in the sufferings of Christ”—persecutions received for being obedient to Jesus’ teachings.

“It’s a Sin to be Sorrowful”

It’s a sin to be sorrowful since the Bible says we are to,”rejoice in the Lord always.”

The Bible does instruct us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) but every admonition in the Bible doesn’t have a reverse formula as though we were working mathematical equations. Jesus himself expresses great sorrow on a number of occasions (Luke 19:40-42, John 11:34-36, Matthew 26:37-39) yet was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul taught that we are to “mourn with those who mourn”. (Romans 12:15)

The Bible makes the distinction, however, between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. 2 Corinthians 7:11

“As Christians, We Don’t Need to Please God Because He’s Already Pleased With Us.”

It’s true that we come to God the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins and God the Father is definitely pleased with Jesus. However, that’s not where it stops.

The New Testament often urges us to do what’s pleasing to God.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:17,18

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 1 Timothy 5:4

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 2 Corinthians 5:9

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

“Christians Are a Bunch of Hypocrites”

To be a hypocrite means to play a role, put on an act, as in Greek theater--to wear a mask. The Greek actor only played his role while he was on stage, living an entirely different life the rest of the time. Yes, this can be said of many who are called by the name Christian and of many who are in any other religion—or no religion. And there are many Christians of whom it cannot rightly be said.

In order for a non-Christian to pass such a judgment on a Christian, it would take the non-Christian’s knowing how a Christian is supposed to live, acknowledging that such a life is a good thing, then walking away from it, unlived—just because someone else did.

Hypocrisy comes from a lack of spiritual maturity. Christians struggle too. No excuses, just reasons.

If you are a non-Christian who has been hurt by Christians who didn’t “walk their talk”, as a follower of Jesus (a.k.a. Christian) I apologize to you. I invite you to become a follower of Jesus and walk in his good ways. It won’t be easy but it will be wondrous.

“The Christian Trinity Consists of God, Jesus and Mary”

Not at all! The term “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible but is used to describe God in the three “persons” of the Father, his Son Jesus (not by sexual union) and The Holy Spirit—all God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was simply God’s servant to give birth to Jesus—though she was a very special and unique servant (no one else had such a privilege).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Falling From Grace

“To ‘fall from grace’ means to sin so badly that there’s no forgiveness big enough to cover it.”

Not at all. The term, “fallen from grace” comes from Paul’s admonition to the Galatians to resist being put under the Mosaic Law.

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

Anyone who tries to be justified by the Law is relying on the Law and not grace. You can’t have it both ways—the Law OR Jesus. So to “fall from grace” is to seek God’s approval by attempting to live up to the Law—even following the Ten Commandments. Such behavior results in being “alienated from Christ”, a serious matter. Paul quoted Deuteronomy (27:26) in saying that anyone who tries such a thing is under a curse because they then have to keep every one of the 613 parts of the Law (which, in fact, has been impossible since 70 AD when the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans—a vast number of the requirements involve Temple/Tabernacle worship).

And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:3,4

Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.
Galatians 3:10

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

In no way should this be confused with obeying Jesus’ teachings. Many people mistakenly believe that since we are “under grace,” to expect anyone to be obedient to Jesus’ teachings is to put them under “a bunch of rules and regulations” and is “works righteousness”.

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:23,24