How well do you recognize Biblical truth when it comes to prayer?

Do some of the following statements sound familiar? “God will not hear your prayer if you have unconfessed sin in your life”. “God will not hear your prayers if you harbor bitterness against another person”. “God will not forgive you if you do not forgive others”. “If you ask God to reveal to you any sin in your life, He will do so in order for you to confess those sins, ask for forgiveness, and be made clean before Him”. “God will withhold blessings in your life if you do not confess sins”. Some would even go so far as to say that “when you sin, you lose fellowship with God.”

Maybe you have heard the old saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Many times when the Bible is read and studied, a dangerous assumption is made which leads to various faulty conclusions. Many well-meaning people make the assumption that it is acceptable to take any verse of Scripture and attempt to apply it to today’s Christian, while failing to realize the context in which many sections of the Bible were written. The entire Bible was written for our understanding but the entire Bible was not written as application for today’s Christian. Much of the Bible was written specifically to the nation of Israel and not Gentile Christians. Much of the Bible was written to motivate and inspire lost, pagan, and heathen people in order to bring them into a relationship with God. Many of the words of Jesus were not written as marching orders for Christians but should be seen as His way of showing God’s high and impossible standard of the Mosaic Law.

As you may or may not know, the Old Covenant was made between God and the nation of Israel (not Christians). The Old Covenant was a conditional covenant with blessings for those who obeyed the stipulations of the covenant and curses for those who disobeyed the covenant. God instituted this covenant with the blood of animals and set up a system of sacrifices for the nation of Israel to perform when they disobeyed the “Law” of the Covenant. When the proper animal sacrifice was offered to God in the manner that He prescribed, the blood of the animal sacrifice is said to “atone for” or “cover” the sin of the offender. God promised that one day He would provide the perfect sacrifice to offer perfect blood, not to “cover” sin but to “remove” or “take away” sin permanently. Once this perfect sacrifice was made there would no longer be any reason to offer sacrifices to God in order to pay for sin (Hebrews 10:18). When this perfect sacrifice was made by the shedding of the blood of Jesus on the cross, the New Covenant began.

The New Covenant is quite different from the Old Covenant in many significant ways. First, the New Covenant is an unconditional covenant that is not based on the imperfect performance of the recipient but on the perfect performance of Jesus on the cross. Secondly, the New Covenant is not restricted to Jews only but is available to anyone who believes, trusts, relies on the finished work of Jesus. When a person trusts in Jesus, a right relationship is established with God and also this right relationship is maintained with God (1 Peter 1:3-5). The believer has all sins forgiven, once for all (Hebrews 10:14) and has no need to ever fear God’s punishment again (Romans 8:1).

Today, many people continue to mix the Old Covenant and New Covenant as if the New Covenant is an extension of the Old. It is clear from Hebrews 10:9, “He does away with the first to establish the second” that the Old Covenant as a means to be forgiven by God has ended. The only option for forgiveness today is the New Covenant.

So how are the differences between the Old and New Covenants seen in regard to prayer? Some people will say that God cannot look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), that He will not hear you if you regard iniquity in your heart (Psalm 66:18). If these verses are analyzed in context, one will see that the writer of Habakkuk is asking God to punish those who are mocking Him with evil deeds. Can God look upon evil? God looks at the sinful world every day. Job chapter 1 and 2 describe Satan and some of his angels presenting themselves to God. Do you think God turned His head as not to look upon evil? No, God spoke with Satan at length about Job. As far as “regarding iniquity” goes, the idea of the words in the original language speak of a person who delights in wickedness; one who likes to sin. I don’t know any born-again Christian who likes to sin. Born-again believers have been given a new clean heart that does not want to sin (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Believer’s do sin from time to time but at the heart level, do not want to do so, as illustrated by Paul in Romans 7:15-20.

Many of those who claim that “God will not hear your prayer if you have unconfessed sin in your life” also claim that when a person prays the “sinners prayer” that God responds by forgiving them of their sins and saving them from hell. If this is accurate, then how does God hear the “sinners” prayer since He cannot hear the prayers of those with unconfessed sin in their life? The truth is that according to Hebrews 4:13, God hears and sees everything, whether sinful or sinless. He sees all the good and all the bad in the world and in the hearts of mankind.

Those who say that “God will not hear your prayers if you harbor bitterness or unforgiveness against others” are teaching a conditional God with conditional promises of blessing and cursing as described in the Old Covenant. Many people look to the words of Jesus in the “Lord’s Prayer” which are recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 as a summary of how we as Christians are to pray. However, most people conveniently fail to include verses 14 and 15 which say, “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.” Why are these verses left out? Because these verses speak of conditional forgiveness. Is the forgiveness that Jesus provided by shedding His blood on the cross; a conditional forgiveness based on how a person forgives other people? Well, the obvious question is “What if I don’t fully forgive someone, does that mean that God will not fully forgive me?” If this is the case, do you remember what the penalty for sin is? The penalty for just one sin is death (Romans 6:23). So with this kind of forgiveness, only one offense means permanent eternal torment in hell. Is this really what the New Covenant is all about? I don’t think so.

When someone says, “If you ask God to reveal to you any sin in your life, He will do so in order for you to confess those sins, ask for forgiveness, and be made clean before Him”, this person obviously does not understand the New Covenant. This kind of statement is wrong on so many levels. First, why would a saved and forgiven person ask God to reveal sin in their life when God says that He has forgotten their sin? (Hebrews 10:17) Colossians 2:13-14 says that the list of sin that a saved person had accumulated before salvation was “wiped out and nailed to the cross”. In other words, God is not keeping a list of a saved persons’ sins. There is no list. You are forgiven of all past, present, and future sins!

As far as confessing of sins, in a Biblical sense Christians should always “confess” which literally means “to say the same thing”. Christians should always seek to understand God in a more intimate way in order to know what God thinks about any and all things. As the mind of the Christian is progressively renewed in order to think more in line with God, confession or agreeing with God becomes more and more routine. The problem arises when forgiveness is linked to confession. New Covenant forgiveness is only by the one-time shedding of the blood of Jesus on the cross. According to Hebrews 9:27, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Since Jesus only shed His blood once, then forgiveness can only happen once. Christians are not being forgiven progressively as they confess sins. This man-made memory-based, apology-based, sincerity-based, and sometimes obedience-based system of forgiveness has the appearance of something good but in reality is directly opposed to the finished work of Jesus.

Those who say that “God will withhold blessings in your life if you do not confess sins” seem to be living under the Old Covenant system of blessing and cursing dependent upon a person’s obedience to the Mosaic Law. Once again, the Mosaic Law was never given to Gentile Christians. God is certainly interested in the proper behavior for His children, but the proper behavior under the New Covenant originates from the Holy Spirit living inside the believer and not the external regulations of the Law (Jeremiah 31:33) Under the New Covenant, God has permanently cleansed the believer, given him a new heart, given him a new human spirit with new desires, and given him the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27) as a permanent internal guide to lead the believer in all truth (John 16:13). Unfortunately, many Christians today are teaching Old Covenant laws for New Covenant believers. This equates to nothing more than Christian Karma. If certain requirements are met, then God must pour out His blessings and if certain conditions are not met, God will punish or at the very least withhold His “best” from His children.

Some would even go so far as to say that “when you sin, you lose fellowship with God.” The Greek word for fellowship is koinónia which also means “to have in common.” What does a believer have in common with God? Jesus. Losing fellowship with God due to sin is the equivalent of being taken out of Jesus. The fallacy with this thinking is that when a Christian sins he is somehow made dirty and distant from God. This is not the case. The believer is just as clean and just as close to God after he commits an act of sin as he was before he committed an act of sin. The problem is not with God it is with man’s perception. If a believer loses fellowship with God due to sin, what must he do to restore fellowship? We have already seen that confessing sins will not do it. We have seen that being sincere and apologetic with God will not do it. God has told us what will do it. Hear and believe the truth of the finished work of Jesus. Hebrews 9:9 says that continual sacrifice, whether it be animals or prayer cannot give a person a clear conscience with God. Why? Because the person who continual tries to make things right with God by any human effort will continually fail in this futile attempt, never to succeed. Once a person trusts not in what they can do but in what Jesus DID, they can then have a clear conscience before God regarding sin. Why? Because they are now trusting in the perfect performance of Jesus on the cross and not failed human effort.

As a Christian, when you sin, pray to God and thank Him for forgiving you. Praise Him for loving you enough to save you, all the while knowing ahead of time the millions of sins that you would commit in your lifetime. If you are a Christian, do not ask Him to forgive you. He has already done that!

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How important is baptism?

When you hear the word baptism, what image or thought comes to your mind? Usually, the focus is on someone being dunked in water before a crowd of people. Sometimes the word baptism brings to mind the benefits of such an action. However, sometimes the word baptism can become a source of tension, fear, and even guilt in the heart and mind of a person who has had a bad experience with the word and ritual. Let’s explore some of the more common misconceptions of the word and then the truth about baptism.

Some of the more common teachings on baptism include the idea that in order for a person to become “right with God” that person must be baptized. Sometimes baptism is said to “wash away original sin” and therefore is essential to becoming “clean before God.” The ritual of baptism is performed on infants or young children in many areas for this reason. Those who hold to this view claim that the act of baptism “makes the person a Christian.”

Others claim that the Bible records only the baptism of adults who made a profession of faith in Jesus and therefore infants should not be baptized since they are unable to make such a profession of faith. Some would even claim that when a person who is contaminated with sin is plunged beneath the water during a baptism ceremony, they come out of the water cleansed of all their sins by the ritual of water baptism.

Many times the ritual of baptism is associated with membership into “the church.” Some would promote the idea that a person must be baptized in order to become a member of “the church”. Some would even go as far as to say that water baptism is a sign of the New Covenant just as circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant. Those who are really focused in this way sometimes even require the ritual of baptism to be performed by the pastor of the local church as a requirement of membership into that specific local body of believers.

Different people or groups of people sometimes stress not only the importance of who performs the baptism ritual, but how the ritual is performed. Some people place major importance on whether the water was applied to a person by pouring, sprinkling, or immersion. It is true that the word baptize is translated from the Greek word baptizo which means “to immerse, or to place into.” The idea is that when a piece of white cloth is “baptized” it is placed into or immersed into a vat of dye, thus completely changing the white cloth. However, when the method of water application is of major importance, the focus is taken off of the true meaning of ceremony. I will explain later.

On the other end of the scale are those who claim that water baptism is not what is important but “the baptism of the Spirit.” This part is true, however, what usually follows is a distortion of the truth which is just as distorted as those who claim that water cleans a person from sin. Most of the time the phrase “baptism of the Spirit” is associated with speaking in tongues. Once again, for someone to claim that anyone who has been baptized by the Spirit should give evidence by speaking in tongues is a complete distortion of Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul focuses on the fact that all believers have been baptized by the same Spirit but have different gifts. In verse 30, he says, “Not all speak in tongues, do they?” 1 Corinthians 14:22 makes the purpose of the gift of tongues clear: “So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.” Paul makes clear that the gift of tongues is not given to believers in order to authenticate their salvation, but should be used as an evangelistic tool in order to preach the gospel to unbelievers who cannot speak the same language as the believer.

And now the truth about baptism. One thing must be kept in mind when trying to discern the truth about baptism or any other hard to understand aspect of Christianity. Always remember how a person is saved or made right with God. According to God, there is one and only one way for a person to be saved or made right with God, and that way is through Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except by me.” Ephesians 2:8-9 provides the clearest example of how salvation in the New Testament, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.”

No one is saved, made right with God, or cleansed by water baptism, since baptism is a human work. No one is made right with God by faith, since even faith is “the gift of God.” Faith is how people access God’s grace. People are saved by God’s grace, which is defined as unmerited favor on God’s part. Baptism would fall into the category of “good works” which is mentioned in verse 10. God wants His children to be baptized and to baptize all those who place their faith in Jesus as Savior. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His disciples with these commands as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Just as a married person wears a wedding ring to publically identify themselves as married, every person who is a believer and follower of Jesus should be baptized in order to publically identify with Jesus and His message. The ritual of water baptism is a way to physically illustrate what has been done internally in the life of the believer by the Holy Spirit. When a person is plunged beneath the water, the person’s death to sin is illustrated along with the fact that they died with Christ. Romans 6:3-5 explains, “Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection.”

While under the water, the person illustrates the fact that they were buried with Christ. When the person is raised out the water, they are illustrating that they were raised with Christ and now have new resurrection life, Christ’s life, living in them. Colossians 2:12-14 says, “Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. 13 And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions.”

Baptism is a beautiful picture of what God, through His Holy Spirit did in the life of the believer. However, the ritual of water baptism has no effect on whether a person is saved, clean, or right with God. Getting saved or being right with God has nothing to do with anything that a person can do, but is completely dependent upon what Jesus did. He shed His blood on the cross to cleanse you of all your sins. Hebrews 10:10-18 explains, “By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again—sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 16 This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”

Are you relying on His blood and His perfect performance or are you relying on a man-made ritual and your imperfect performance to be right with God?

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Celebrate Resurrection Day!

What is the most important day of the year for Christians? It is not the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus, commonly known as Christmas. It is not even Easter, as Easter originated with the pagan celebration of the false god Ishtar. If you guessed Passover, you are getting closer. Even though we as Christians gather together on Easter we are not celebrating Easter, but rather the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The first few verses of the sixth chapter of the book of Romans tell us some incredible news that is certainly worth celebrating not only on Easter, but all year long. Romans 6 tells us that Jesus’ death on the cross and the shedding of His blood paid our sin debt in full, but that is not the best news. His resurrection from the dead made it possible for us to have eternal, spiritual life. This eternal, spiritual life is His life, Christ’s life, living in us. Romans 6:9 says, “We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Without the resurrection of Jesus, eternal life for humans would be impossible. If you have the life of Christ living in and through you, praise Him today and every day!

'Celebrate Resurrection Day!
What is the most important day of the year for Christians? It is not the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus, commonly known as Christmas. It is not even Easter, as Easter originated with the pagan celebration of the false god Ishtar. If you guessed Passover, you are getting closer. Even though we as Christians gather together on Easter we are not celebrating Easter, but rather the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The first few verses of the sixth chapter of the book of Romans tell us some incredible news that is certainly worth celebrating not only on Easter, but all year long. Romans 6 tells us that Jesus’ death on the cross and the shedding of His blood paid our sin debt in full, but that is not the best news. His resurrection from the dead made it possible for us to have eternal, spiritual life. This eternal, spiritual life is His life, Christ’s life, living in us. Romans 6:9 says, “We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Without the resurrection of Jesus, eternal life for humans would be impossible. If you have the life of Christ living in and through you, praise Him today and every day!'
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Is the god of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all the same god?

Many people today in an attempt to promote unity and tolerance between all three monotheistic religions claim that the god of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity is the same god but is called by different names by each group. Islam uses the name Allah, Judaism uses the name Jehovah, and Christianity uses the name Jesus to identify their god. Some even claim that Judaism is preceded by Islam just as Christianity is preceded by Judaism and that each of these three groups shares in common its ancestry.

I will not attempt to address every possible question that could be associated with this topic but only some of the more pertinent issues in hopes of sheading some light on this complex dilemma. Who is Allah? Was Allah the Biblical God or a pagan god in Arabia during pre-Islamic times? We can speculate about the past or we can look at what historical writings and archaeological evidence reveals. Biblical theological conclusions will also be addressed.

The God of the Bible did not come into being as He is eternal and has always existed. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1 records how He created the universe, including the sun, moon, and stars. He created the earth’s atmosphere, land, and water. He created all the animals and the first man and woman who He named Adam and Eve. After sin entered the world as recorded in Genesis chapter 3, mankind began a wholesale rebellion against God and by chapter 6 mankind was so corrupt as a whole that God destroyed the whole world with a global flood. Only eight people out of several billion were preserved in an ark and lived through the flood in order to re-populate the earth. When these eight people who were the only people alive on planet earth stepped from the ark, everyone on planet earth possessed the knowledge of God. But as you can guess, as children were born and families developed, many chose to reject the knowledge of God and the worship of God. Since humans are designed with an innate desire to worship something, most created gods for themselves and then worshipped images of created things.

Archaeologists have uncovered temples to the moon-god throughout the Middle East, from the mountains of Turkey to the banks of the Nile. The most wide-spread religion of the ancient world was the worship of the moon-god Allah. In the first literate civilization, the Sumerians have left us thousands of clay tablets in which they described their religious beliefs. The crescent moon symbolized the cult of this pagan deity who was worshipped throughout Mesopotamia, by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Akkadians.

Throughout Genesis chapters 12-17 of the Bible, is the historical record of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham lived in the Ur of the Chaldeans which is modern-day Iraq. Abraham, his father, and his ancestors have a long and documented history of worshipping Allah the moon-god. In the Biblical account, God speaks to Abraham:

Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 12:2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” 12:4 So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do, and Lot went with him. (Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.)

God led Abraham to the land of Canaan which includes modern-day Israel.

In Genesis chapter 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham to confirm the land promise and all that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. God promised to give Abraham a son who would be his heir and who would have many descendants. After waiting ten years for his wife Sarai to conceive, Sarai suggested that Abraham should take her maidservant Hagar in an attempt of have a son with her, which Abraham did. Happy wife, happy life, right? Well, Sarai wasn’t so happy once she found out that Hagar was pregnant with Abraham’s child. Genesis chapter 16 records the following:

Then Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so she ran away from Sarai. 16:7 The Lord’s angel found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert – the spring that is along the road to Shur. 16:8 He said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai.” 16:9 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority. 16:10 I will greatly multiply your descendants,” the Lord’s angel added, “so that they will be too numerous to count.” 16:11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “You are now pregnant and are about to give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your painful groans. 16:12 He will be a wild donkey of a man. He will be hostile to everyone, and everyone will be hostile to him. He will live away from his brothers.”

16:15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, whom Abram named Ishmael. 16:16 (Now Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.)

God promised to take care of Hagar, Ishmael, and his descendants but look at what God says in chapter 17. In verse 2, God confirms that covenant that He had made with Abraham concerning his heir and the heir’s descendants by providing him the son of promise. This means that Ishmael was not the son of promise and that God’s covenant that He made with Abraham concerning the land that God promised, the blessing that God promised, the son that God promised, and the descendants that God promised would all be fulfilled not through Ishmael, but through the son to come. This covenant between Abraham, the son of promise, and his descendant is “everlasting” according to the following verses.

17:7 I will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 17:8 I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants after you as a permanent possession. I will be their God.”

God is confirming the fact that He has called out from among the pagan world around him a man (Abraham), provided a son (Isaac) to that 100-year-old man and his 90-year-old wife that would eventually produce what is known as the nation of Israel, and that this covenant will not be revoked.

17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him. 17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation. 17:21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

It should be clear from these verses that God blessed Ishmael from which the Arabs have descended, but God’s covenant and his promises are to Isaac and his descendants, Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel. One of the twelve tribes is the tribe of Judah. Judah means “praise.” Judah is where that name “Jew” came. Let me make clear that Arabs came from Ishmael. Not all Arabs are Muslims. Some Arabs are Christians.

Muhammad did not live until some 2500 years after Abraham. So Islam did not precede Judaism but Allah did. However, Allah being the moon-god was preceded by the God of the Bible since He is eternal and created the moon that represents Allah. Muhammad was raised in the religion of the moon-god Allah, but went one step further than his fellow pagan Arabs. While they believed that Allah was the greatest of all gods and the supreme deity in a pantheon of deities, Muhammad decided that Allah was not only the greatest god but the only god.

So does Allah share historical commonality with the God of the Bible? Yes, but Allah is viewed as a pagan deity in the Biblical record and the archaeological record, and is not an extension of revelation from the God of the Bible. The Old Testament of the Bible constantly rebuked the worship of the moon-god (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; 23:5; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5, etc.). When the nation of Israel fell into idolatry, it was usually the cult of the moon-good. As a matter of fact, everywhere in the ancient world, the symbol of the crescent moon can be found on seal impressions, pottery, amulets, clay tablets, cylinders, weights, earrings, necklaces, wall murals, etc.

Around 1445 BC, or 450 years after Abraham, God set the nation of Israel free from Egyptian bondage. He used a man named to Moses to lead them across the desert to the land that God had promised them. God makes another covenant with Moses on behalf of the nation of Israel as recorded in Exodus chapter 9:

3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

God once again set this nation apart from every other nation and every other so-called god. He gave Moses a constitution for this new nation that is referred to in the Bible is the “Law” or the “Mosaic Law.” This “Law” was not ever given to anyone other than the nation of Israel, the Jews. Within this Law, God set up a temporary sacrificial system to “atone for” or “cover” the sins of the people of Israel until “Messiah” could come to “take away” or “remove” sin permanently. The Mosaic system was to be followed to the letter of the law until Messiah came to offer His blood as the permanent sacrifice for all sin for all time.

Hebrews 10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. 10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. 10:4 For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 10:5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 10:6Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 10:7Then I said, ‘Here I am I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 10:8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offeringsyou did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 10:9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10:10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10:11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 10:12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 10:13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 10:16This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 10:17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

This is one of the major differences between Judaism and Christianity. Orthodox Judaism is still practicing the Mosaic Law and looking for Messiah to come. Christianity believes that Jesus is Messiah and that the Mosaic Law and its sacrificial system and rituals are now obsolete since they have been fulfilled by Jesus Messiah. The God of Christianity is none other than Jesus Christ Himself who is seen as God in human flesh. The book of Colossians explains this phenomenon:

1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all    creation, 1:16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. 1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son 1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

One can discover even more of the nature of Yahweh, the God of Judaism and the Old Testament, through the revelation of Jesus.

Hebrews 1:1 After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, 1:2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. 1:3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Yahweh, the God of Judaism and Jesus, the God of Christianity are completely compatible in every way. Jesus is the completion or fulfillment of what Yahweh promised in the Old Testament concerning sin and forgiveness. Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is NOT Allah the god of the Koran. There are fundamental differences between Yahweh and Allah in terms of personal attributes, theology, morals, ethics, soteriology, eschatology, theocracy, and in almost every other aspect. The claim that Allah is the God of the Bible and that Islam arose from the religion of the prophets and apostles is refuted by solid, overwhelming archeological and historical evidence. Islam is nothing more than a revival of the ancient moon-god cult. It has taken the symbols, rites, ceremonies, and its name from the ancient pagan religion of the moon-god. It is sheer idolatry and should be rejected by all those who follow the Torah of Judaism and/or Jesus Christ.

When God led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and gave them what is known as the “Ten Commandments”, the first two commandments speak to the fact that Yahweh is the one true God and will tolerate no worship of other gods.

Exodus 20: God spoke all these words: 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The worship of Allah in the form of “carved images or likeness” is considered idol worship by Yahweh. Jesus makes a similar claim in John 14:6

Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Since Allah and the God of the Bible are not the same god in any form or fashion, to worship both is to be polytheistic, which undermines the most basic aspect of Christianity. Christianity at its core is trusting Jesus alone. Trusting in “karma”, “being a good person”, “keeping the Ten Commandments”, “trying hard”, “feeling sorry for sins”, “hoping that things will turn out well”, “going to church”, “tithing or giving money”, “helping the poor”, “being tolerant of everyone”, or anything or anyone other than Jesus alone will not make you right with God or reserve a place in heaven for you. There are NOT many ways to God with different labels and practices from different cultures or belief systems. Jesus is the only way, or He is no way. If He is correct in who He is, what He did, and what He taught, then all other ways to God are incorrect. It is your decision what you believe.

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Is it possible that many well-meaning people are trusting in Christianity instead of trusting in Christ?

Is it possible that the basic doctrines of the Bible are acknowledged and believed without any internal change occurring? This phenomenon is known as “dead orthodoxy” and can apply to those leading congregations of people as well as the congregations themselves.

Read the following quote from Tim Keller:

“Dead orthodoxy makes the church into a religious cushion for people who think they are Christians, but in fact are radically and subconsciously insecure about their acceptance before God. So every Sunday, people gather to be reassured that they are all right. Various churches offer this reassurance in different ways:

Legalistic churches produce detailed codes of conduct and details of doctrine. Members need continually to hear that they are more holy and accurate, and that the “liberals” are wrong. They functionally rely on their theological correctness. Sound doctrine equals righteousness.

Power churches put great emphasis on miracles and spectacular works of God. Members need continually to have powerful or emotional experiences and see dramatic occurrences. They rely on their feelings, and on dramatic answers to prayer. Great emotion equals righteousness.

Sacerdotal churches put great emphasis on rituals and tradition. Guilt-ridden people are anaesthetized by the beauty of the music and architecture, and the grandeur and mystery of the ceremony. Following liturgy equals righteousness.”

Why do so many professing Christians believe that they are not “right with God?” Could it be because the only gospel that they have heard is a “different gospel?”

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Notice how Paul focuses on “who” is being deserted. Christ. Not a teaching about Christ, but Christ Himself. He is the one who offers grace for the forgiveness of sins, not this “different gospel” which Paul speaks of. This gospel is false in its doctrine. It is essentially evil and in direct contradiction to the gospel that Paul is preaching. What is this different gospel? It is a false gospel of Christ plus works. In this case it was promoted by a group of Jews known as “Judaizers” which taught that anyone who wanted to become a follower of Christ had to be circumcised, ceremonially washed, and continue to keep the Mosaic Law.

The “different gospel” that is being preached and promoted today can take on many forms but the underlying core of this gospel is that the finished work of Jesus is not enough. The different gospel teaches that a person must ascribe to a certain set of beliefs, experience certain things, do or not do within the moral and ethical parameters of a local church or denomination, and/or feel a certain way in order to “be” righteous (right with God), where the true gospel says that the finished work of Christ, when applied to the believer, makes him righteous, permanently

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.”

Regularly meeting with other Christians can be a very positive and encouraging thing to do, but should not be done under the pretense that it affects a person’s righteousness.

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Should the Ten Commandments be used as a moral guide for Christians?

Are we supposed to throw out the Ten Commandments now that Jesus has instituted the New Covenant? Aren’t the Ten Commandments our moral compass and guide? Are people wrong to post the Ten Commandments in churches, schools, and public buildings? Which part of the Law should Christians keep?

These are all legitimate questions and deserve legitimate answers. Paul address the accusation concerning the role of the Law for Christians in Romans 7:7

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law.”

The Law is good but only when used for its desired purpose.

1 Timothy 1:8 “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.”

The Law is not dead, but Christians are dead to the Law. The Law calls people’s attention to the fact that they are unrighteous and where they fall short of God’s perfect requirements. Christ exchanged our unrighteousness for His perfect righteousness. God now sees us as completely righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness applied to us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” The word “righteousness” is a judicial term which means “approval” or in a biblical sense means divine approval, or approved by God. All who are in Christ are righteous or right with God, never to be un-right with God due to a lack of performance on their part. We are now forever right with God based on the perfect performance of Christ.

One thing that happens during this great exchange is that God changes our heart. He removes our evil, corrupt, heart and gives us a new, clean, righteous heart with new desires. We now love Him and love what He loves. We don’t need a written document of laws to tell us to love Him and to love what He loves. We want to.

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations.

This list of “I wills” in Ezekiel 36 is what is known as an unconditional covenant made by God. God simply states that He will do some things. This unconditional covenant contains no if/then clauses whereby the beneficiary is obligated to meet certain requirements in order to benefit from the covenant. God says that for each and every person who benefits from the New Covenant, certain things are true. The first thing that is mentioned is that God takes the initiative to clean the person. Notice that when God cleanses a person He cleanses them from all their impurities. He purifies them, He gives them a new heart, He gives them a new human spirit and He puts His Holy Spirit within them. The result of these actions on God’s part is that the new person will begin to live a life in accordance with God instead against God.

The source of this new life is God’s Holy Spirit living inside the new human spirit of the believer. The new believer is not looking to follow a written code of ethics or morals, but rather following the guidance of the person of Christ living in and through them in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Phil 2:13 “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Titus 2:12 “It (the grace of God) trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,”

So in answering the questions about the Ten Commandments, one fact must be kept in mind. The Ten Commandments which are contained within the Mosaic Law were never given to Christians. The Mosaic Law was only given to the nation of Israel. Gentile Christians were never invited to participate in the Mosaic (Old) Covenant. Christians are not, were never, and should never be under any part of the Law which has never been a part of the New Covenant. However, the Law has its place in today’s society. I believe that the Ten Commandment should be posted in schools and public places in order to do what it was always intended to do; make lost people aware that they do not meet God’s standard of righteousness and are in desperate need of a Savior.

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Take a Guilt Trip in Remembrance of Me

The Eucharist, Communion, or Lord’s Supper is performed on a regular basis in most churches with various rituals and ceremonies attached. This sacrament or ordinance has its roots in the Old Testament Jewish Passover as recorded in Exodus 12:1,

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month is to be your beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to their families – a lamb for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a lamb, the man and his next-door neighbor are to take a lamb according to the number of people – you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat. 5 Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around sundown. 7 They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it. 8 They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat it raw or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails. 10 You must leave nothing until morning, but you must burn with fire whatever remains of it until morning. 11 This is how you are to eat it – dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. 12:13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt. 14 This day will become a memorial for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – you will celebrate it perpetually as a lasting ordinance.”

Once per year in the spring of the year, Jews from around the world continue to gather and celebrate the original Passover when God recognized the blood of the lamb, passed over them, and withheld the punishment of death to the firstborn among them. Within Christianity, certain parts of the Passover meal and celebratory feast are carried over into what is called the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. This idea is based on the last Passover meal that Jesus participated in with His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion.

Matthew 26:17 “Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I will observe the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. 21 And while they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They became greatly distressed and each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood, the blood of the New Covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Matthew recorded how Jesus changed the focus of this part of the meal to reflect a celebration of Him, His death, His blood, and His body, instead of that of the lamb. Jesus’s intention for those who partook of this important meal in the future was to celebrate Him. Luke emphasizes this point in his account:

Luke 22:19 “Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.””

For these disciples, the celebration was to look forward to Jesus’ death on the cross. For us today, the focus is to look back to His finished work on the cross as a memorial to what He did. It is a time for believers to share what they have in common with each other, i.e. Jesus, and a time to celebrate Jesus, His blood, and His sacrifice. It is also a time to look forward to Jesus’ second coming.

As Christianity grew throughout the first century, Jesus and His blood were celebrated with a meal by His followers. However, as with many things that involve people, the focus of this meal soon shifted from Jesus to the people who supplied the food for the meal. The idea was for those who had the means to bring an abundance of food, to do so in order that those who did not have an adequate supply of food could come and eat with those who God had blessed with an abundance of food. This meal was called an “agape feast” or “love feast”. However, many of those in attendance were arriving early, eating more than their fair share of the food and drinking too much wine. They were over eating and over drinking. The focus of these First Century believers was on themselves, their gluttony, and their drunkenness, and not on showing love to those less fortunate among them. The focus was certainly not on Christ and was not done in the spirit of His love for them. Paul issued a stern warning to those who had lost sight of the meal’s purpose.

1 Corinthians 11:17 “Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. 20 Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. 21 For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. 22 Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment. I will give directions about other matters when I come.”

In many churches today, when the Lord’s Supper is held, the focus is taken off of Jesus and His blood and placed on the Christian and his failures. Does this sound familiar to you? The mood is somber. The lights are dim. Everyone is quite and the table is set with a large white table cloth draped across it. Several men stand at attention like soldiers before a drill Sargent. Methodically, various circular silver trays are systematically distributed to these men and then to the audience in attendance. Inside some of the silver trays are broken crackers and other trays contain small cups of grape juice. The preacher conducting the ceremony recites the story of the last supper and everyone is told to partake of the elements of bread and juice. However, sometime before the story is read and the elements consumed, there is an emphasis placed on the participant and his track record of sins.

The audience is told to examine themselves and if they have any unconfessed sin in their life they should spend some time asking God to reveal that sin to them so they can confess it, ask God to forgive them of it, and then they can partake of the Supper in a “worthy” manner. Sometimes audience members are literally scared into thinking that they might “get sick” or “die” if they have partaken of the Supper in an “unworthy” manner.

The truth is that Christians are not made “worthy” by confessing sins. Christians are not made worthy by asking God to forgive them of sins. Christians are not made clean by partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Christians already are worthy, forgiven, and clean because of one thing; the blood of Jesus. Do you see what is happening? The emphasis is taken off of Christ and His finished work and placed directly on the believer and his record of failures. The funeral music and funeral atmosphere is put in place to enhance the guilt and fear experience for the trembling believer. Jesus meant for this Supper to be a celebration of Him, His blood, His resurrection, and the believer’s total forgiveness, total cleansing, and total acceptance. This should be the biggest extravaganza the church has ever seen, yet it is one of the most depressing and debilitating ordeals known to today’s believer. What a shame!

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