R) "WORKS" (DO WE DO THEM?) AND "THE FUTURE" (WHAT DOES IT HOLD?) -
Does grace "annul" or do away with the law then?, No, it does not! Grace (and the Spirit) are just the better choice and option over the Old law (as to what will save you - what we're primarily interested in.) Does this mean that "works" of any and all kinds are no longer relevant? - as Paul would say, "God forbid!" (Which James would reiterate - Jam 2:14-26). Law keepers believe that the adherence of the law is our utmost duty and work (the Sabbath being the supreme outward display of this obedience.)
Many Sabbath organizations effectively "frighten to death" their constituent's by grimly proclaiming that Rome (Roman Catholics) and/or the government will soon "force" them to keep Sunday as a day of worship (instead of Saturday, that is.) This message has been prominently published by Sabbatarian authors, such as; A. Jan Marcussen, who writes this type of rational in the publication "National Sunday Law", claiming a six (6) million plus distribution. Since they believe that the Vatican is "the Beast" and Sunday is their "mark", this is not surprising to understand where they get this ideology.
Most evangelical's will not accept this position because many believe that there will be a "pre-tribulation" rapture of the church (1Thess 4:16). Where we will not be appointed to wrath (1Thess 5:9), and don't have to worry about mans devices regardless of anything that happens - seeing that God will protect us (Isa 44:10/Psa 56:11,118:6).
Sabbatarian's do not believe in any such thing as a "taking away" (rapture) before the last great tribulation (Matt 24:21). Because of this, the Author believes that they will indeed be present for that tribulation. That other Christian's (who do believe) will be raptured, and Law keepers will have to stay to endure those seven terrible years of apocalypse that will display Gods full wrath (Rev 14:10,19, 15:1, etc.)
I conclude this because scriptures most definitely and distinctly show that without faith you cannot please God (Heb 11:6). And those who don't have this faith (in a rapture), God will not honor (because they don't believe in it (Matt 13:58)/Heb 3:19), and it being sin to them [Rom 14:23]). But I also believe that many Law keeper's will wake up at that time (when they see that other Christian's are gone, and they've made a mistake). Where they will be many of those great tribulation saints (Rev 7:14) who spread the Gospel at that time. By then they will know what the "true" works of God are.
Getting back to the issue of works then, I'd like to make it clear that I in no way or form implied that grace and faith void out works, or we don't have to do them. But it is interesting that there is no "honor roll" for the works of the law in the Bible. In Hebrews chapter eleven (11), sometimes called the "hall of faith", it notes the greatest of men and women in the Bible, their exploits being based on their "faith" that they displayed in God. But NOWHERE in scriptures is there a "hall of the law." Why?, Because the just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4/Rom 1:17/Gal 3:11/Heb 10:38), and shall not boast in the works of the law (Rom 3:27/Eph 2:9).
So what is the main purpose and emphasis of works then? The answer to that would be to show, or, to display your love to all men that you have for God - and in a loving way, not as a "duty." God is all knowing so He already knows and sees your heart (1Sam 16:7), just as He saw Abrahams, and He "accounted" righteousness unto Abraham because he "believed" (or had faith in) God (Rom 4:2, 3, 5, 16). It was only then (or after) did Abraham give an outward display (works) of circumcision and the willing presentation of his son.
A good illustration to explain this would be in the display that a husband has for his wife. If that husband brings home a bouquet of flowers to his wife then would this be a willing display of affection (love), or a begrudging "duty" (works) that he is required to do? Of course it is a affectionate act, otherwise it wouldn't be true love! Now say if the wife had sternly demanded the husband to buy the flowers instead of the previous example (of willingness.) Would this be a "romantic" display of love? (i.e. - a "mandatory" gift.) Of course not!, It only being a romantic display when the gift is willingly given, usually done best in a spontaneous way.
These two situations are similar to how our relationship to God can be. Since He knows our hearts and all future events, then it would be safe to say that He knows whether we love Him or not.
Like the first example, "if" we love him then we will do "acts" that will show all mankind around that we love Him. Without a doubt, we could not personally give God a bouquet of flowers, but we will "love" our fellow man (1Joh 3:23, etc.), thereby showing love to Him because all men are made in His image (Jam 3:9,10). We will do it automatically (out of love), not because some commandment "tells" us to do so.
The second example I gave was one of a begrudging love of forced work, where "rules" and "regulations" dictate your conduct. This type of duty breaks down after a time because it requires "labor" which eventually gets old fast because it's no more love, but a "job." (as seen very well with the Pharisees.)
The last example that I'll give concerning this is still dealing with the marriage relationship. And it has to do with the ring that is given in the wedding ceremony. That ring is a outward example, for all people to see, that both are indeed married to one another. Surly if either were to temporarily remove the ring it wouldn't indicate or be accurate to say that the marriage had ended. Just as married people have the ring (as a "outward" proof of love), we too do good "works" to show that we love God. But this whole issue points out the big difference that is between religion and relationship.
S) ARE "RELIGION" AND "RELATIONSHIP" SYNONYMOUS CONCEPTS? -
Throughout time man has had a concept of religion as a way for him to communicate (or "try" to communicate) with his gods. That is, "religion" on either an individual or communal level.
Overall, the practice of religion is usually a certain set of rules, laws, sacrifices, or some other "work", in an effort to either satisfy your god or be holy in some way (holy, as meaning: higher, better or purer than other mankind.) In the Old Testament, this procedure was no different with the Hebrews. Where God had set up a number of rules, regulations, and rituals or "processes" in order to communicate and be right (righteous) before Him. What was different with the Jews was that God had promised that He would be among them (Exo 25:8), and bless them if they followed His word - He being the only true God.
The only problem is that they COULD NOT follow His word (the reasons noted in prior sections). But since God still desires communion with man, and to redeem man, He had devised a way were He would not just be among us (in His presence or Spirit), but bodily - In Jesus Christ (Joh 1:14).
This opens up a whole new realm and dimension which God has given, were we can have a direct and closer contact with God through His son (1Tim 2:5). Since he (Jesus - Heb 4:15) was as we are (human), and has experienced how we feel, we can have a relationship with God on an entirely new and different plain. One that is closer, personal, and more intimate (Isa 1:18/Rev 3:20/Jam 4:8). One that is not just "religion" (of rules, procedures, etc.), but of a "relationship" (communion, love, joy - within our hearts).
Because religion says you have to do this, or else (Deut 5:32, 30:14), and as per this set standard (Lev 26:14/Deut 17:11, 28:14), or pay the penalty - period! Pure religion is slavery and drudgery - with little (if any) flexibility or freedom, where you have to "prove" your devotion in order to be accepted.
Relationship says, "come let us reason together..."(Isa 1:18), "Draw near to me...." (Jam 4:8), "I will be near you when you call" (Psa 34:18, 145:18), "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Josh 1:5/Heb 13:5), and "I love you" (Deut 23:5/1Joh 4:19) regardless of what you do because I know you better than you know yourself.
Religion, and the law says, "do it or die" (Ezek 18:4, 20)
Relationship says, "I'll help you to do it" (Rom 8:26, Phil 4:13)
It is one thing to "say" you love someone, and another to "show" that you love them. Jesus said there is no greater love than laying down your life for a friend (Joh 15:13), but there is even a greater gift (Acts 2:38/Joh 14:26) that God gave to us, all when Jesus ascended into heaven - a gift that works within. As I noted, showing a person love is significant, but there's even a "BIGGER" difference between showing a person love, and being love within that person.
Showing an "outward" example of intimacy, like marriage, is one very intense example of a love relationship. Being "in" a persons heart is one of the most intimate examples of a loving relationship that can be imagined. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, God does BOTH of these displays of love in our lives. He notes that we (His church/body) are His betrothed virgin bride. He also asserts that He comes to live inside of us until the day that He returns to physically claim us (1Thess 4:16). There is no other way to describe this type of intimacy and love (agape) other than by accepting, receiving, enjoying, and partaking of it (1Cor 10:17/Phil 1:7).
But some people will still "try" to work their way into Gods favor. They'll try by attempting to keep rules, regulations, and other outward displays. There's an old saying that religion is mans efforts of trying to reach God, and relationship is Gods effort in order to reach man. The question might then be posed, "which direction would be easier (of those two) to transverse?" Since no man has a first hand knowledge of where God is, or a map of how to get to heaven, it would be most logical that God has a better path to us. That can be seen in the Old Testament where God dwelt among (Lev 26:12/Exo 25:8) His people. This is also the case with the New Testament where God came in the form of flesh (John 1:14) to dwell with us.
That being the case (where we CAN'T reach God, but God can reach us) would it not therefore be USELESS to "try" (in your efforts) to reach or please God. I mean, really, what could "you" possible do for God? (He has everything! - Deut 10:14/Exo 19:5/etc.)
Well, some might say that what a person could do for God is to keep and obey his commandments. If one could do this perfectly 100% of the time (Matt 5:48) then that would definitely be true. But true love is not in keeping "rules". A case-n-point would be in exactly what true love is all about.
I'd like you to ponder an illustration, where you came home one day to your loved one or spouse and you said, "Dear, I've decided from this day on, to have you follow a set of rules and regulations - and 'if' you keep these commandments 100% then this will prove that you love me." Considering this picture, do you really think that this would be a loving thing to do?
Let me take this illustration one step further; say that you had a previous relationship where you made the same demand (keep my commandments) but they failed miserably! Would it then be fair and loving to that second relationship and spouse to consider having them attempt to keep your difficult rules? Rules which the previous (1st) one couldn't do? Of course it wouldn't be fair; if the first couldn't, certainly the second (or the third, or fourth) could not also!
But isn't this similar to the illustration of what happened in the Old and the New Testaments? Doesn't scriptures say that the Jews couldn't keep the law? So would not it fall in the same thinking, where we also could not keep the law. Therefore, since God loves us (the New Testament believers) and knows our weaknesses (and their failure - Psa 78:39) would He not make provision to have someone else keep it. Someone who was perfect, and would have the power to keep it. If you haven't figured it out by now then you know I'm talking about Jesus.
The conclusion would be, "if" Jesus did do it all (i.e. - perfectly keep the law, and dying for us - Heb 2:9) then would it not be logical that we don't have to? Again, the scriptures point out he died in our place (Rom 5:8/Acts 2:24/Heb 2:9) taking the pains of death (the penalty of the law) so that we wouldn't have to be judged and die the second death. So if he did this for us then doesn't that mean that he did it ALL for us?
The answer would obviously be yes!, as Paul recorded time and time again throughout the scriptures (1Cor 8:6/2Cor 3:5).
So what is the sum then?, that God desires a close loving relationship and not a "religious" demagoguery that attempts to please Him though vain efforts and strivings. Why should you try when Jesus already did?
God would like you to consider Him as a friend (James 2:23), brother (Mar 3:35), and loving Father (John 16:27) - verses a condemning God (Rom 8:1) who requires you to labor in various acts that are barely possible for you to do. Why should you when grace gives it to you free of charge, and with little effort other than accepting and abiding (Joh 8:31,15:7), letting Him do the work.
There is no longer any wrath or condemnation in Christ. Where our primary "works" are to believe in him who the Father has sent (John 6:28). If we love him then our works will flow "naturally", from our hearts (which He has written His law on.)
I would hope the reader would (after reading this section) open their hearts to having a relationship, verses religion.
But we still have a problem as to why we have all this confusion (about these issues) in the first place. A lot of the problem has to do with many misconceptions that we have, we've been mislead, or, we just haven't thoroughly tested and researched the scriptures on our own enough to see the entire picture of what God has to say. But this was the case even in Jesus day (let's see how he handled it.)
T) THE MISCONCEPTIONS OF PRECONCEIVED IDEOLOGIES AND MISPLACED DESIRES -
From the very beginning, man has had his own ideas of what (he believes) things are and ought be. A good example of this would be in the days of Jesus. At that time, many Jews had the idea and desire that the Messiah would come to deliver them from the oppression of Roman rule, and set up the Kingdom of God.
They may have rightly gotten that concept and idea from many Old Testament scriptures, which noted that the Messiah would come to rule the earth (2Sam 7:12-17, Isa 9:7, etc.) But what they DID NOT know (and what Jesus was trying to earnestly communicate) is that the Messiah had to die FIRST, then, after that point would be raised from the dead and later return to rule.
Were the Jews wrong for their ideologies of what was clear scriptural references to the facts? Jesus answers that question when he entered Jerusalem (Luk 19:44), noting that they should have known his visitation. Again, Jesus tried to give them the teachings, scriptures, and miracles to prove his claim. But they were so blinded by THEIR own concepts that they totally ignored the obvious anointed one in front of them. Stephen called them (Acts 7:51) "stiff-necked" or hardheaded people who constantly and consistently resisted the plain truth and convictions of the Holy Spirit.
Are you feeling today some apprehensions to the facts and points drawn out within this report? (Might this be the Holy Spirit touching your heart?)
Because we to, today, are responsible for misconceptions (i.e. - we won't be able to plead "ignorance"), and are admonished to be like the Bereian's (Acts 17:11), searching all the scriptures for the entire truth, and not just what man or an "organization" might say. I am SURE that few Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, cultist or ANY other "error" prone religious organization will have any excuse before God on the day of judgment.
With that in mind, one of the most powerful blinding influences that can affect most people is "overt religiousness", "spiritual superiority and pride", and "self-righteousness".
Jesus certainly had to deal with this with the religious Scribes and Pharisees of that day; these are men who had a "know-it-all" mentality that would blindly bypass the obvious works and miracles of Jesus. Constantly only interested and concentrated on the "vain" and useless commandments of men (Matt 15:3-8/Isa 29:13/Tit 1:14/Col 2:22/etc.)
But is it any different presently?, Where we have many religious organizations and denominations today, who set themselves up as judge and jury, and who know ALL "truth", even though they may view the obvious!
That "obvious" observation today is one of many evangelical churches of all types, sizes, and faiths (no matter what "day" they may attend), being "fruitful" in spreading the gospel and reaping the harvest of the Kingdom of God (e.g. - people are being saved, and the Holy Spirit is clearly working within them.)
Question - "If these churches are so overtly deceived, having the "mark" of the beast, and a unsuspecting tool of Satan (because of the "day" that they worship), would then the Holy Spirit of God defile himself by working mighty works within those same churches? And if you do believe this, might you possibly be in danger of blaspheming God by calling His works (if it is Gods clear work) as works of Satan? (Matt 12:31,32)
Would this not also mean that Jesus lied when he said that Satan would not prevail against the church (Matt 16:18). This would most surely be the case if the Sunday-keepers have "his (Satans) mark."
If this is the case, where the previous premise is false, then could it be that we have misconceptions that cloud our minds? (as with the Pharisees of Jesus day - Matt 16:6-12).
The biggest misconception of today is with the meaning and purpose between Grace and the Law. Some churches have gone so far as to have "all out war" on the issue. Should this thing be so? (Jam 4:1-8), that the body of Christ destroys one another?
Remember, the Pharisees where partially right with one concept of the Messiahs coming, but where VERY WRONG on the OVERALL concept and plan of God when it came to the Messiahs mission; they blindly shut their eyes or chose to ignore the total truth (Matt 16:6-12), which our Lord tells us to beware of. Could it be that there are many people today who are WRONG about the overall plan, purpose, and concepts behind grace and the law? (God help them, if they are as the Pharisees [who are condemned - Heb 10:26, 27, 31]).
As I pointed out many ways in prior sections, grace is an improvement on (and over) the law. The law is STILL valid, but only as a tool and pointer to Christ. That only a PERFECT person can keep the law, or fall danger of comparing themselves with Christ (it's impossible.) That you cannot (nor can you ever) combine or have a marriage between the law and grace, just as you cannot combine water and oil.
If you are "stuck" on the concept of the old law, I challenge you to be as Peter when the sheet came down from heaven. He said, "Not so, Lord", because THE LAW said for him not to eat unclean foods. God has probably sent a "sheet" your way today (in this report), and He (through the many scriptures given in this report) has told you that you can choose GRACE. - Harden not your hearts today (Psa 95:8/Heb 3:8,15/Acts 19:9/Rom 11:7-10).
As we come close to the last section of this report, I would ask you to take a moment to read, ponder, and just meditate a few times over this all important scripture -
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. - John 1:17 - (Please reconcile the "but" in this scripture and you'll solve the puzzle)
Judgment Illustration >>>>>>>>
U) THE PROBLEM OF A HARD HEART -
It is obvious that many persons might reject the reasoning given throughout this report. It's understandable that we don't all agree on the same things and issues, because we're all different. But what IS NOT different is the unchangeable and unchallenged Word of God. There are maybe a few "gray areas", such as: how to be baptized (dipped or sprinkled), or whether a person should wear a suit or jeans in church (or something of the like) - sometime called non-essentials.
It should not be hard to grasp clear concepts of scripture such as: the deity of Christ, justification by faith, and other "essential" doctrines (2Joh 1:9,10/Tit 1:9/Heb 13:9/2Tim 4:3/1Tim 1:3/Rom 16:17). What has been ardently communicated throughout this report is that GRACE is one of these essentials. That it is grace that is supreme over any aspect of the law, the New taking precedence over the Old, etc. Not that grace does away with or "annuls" the law, but is more relevant than the law. This report has explicitly and distinctly shown (through scripture) that this (grace over law) is indeed the case.
Then why is it that some people accept the Word and others reject the SAME WORD. Two people who supposedly read the same scripture, "thou shalt not steal" should both logically come up with the same meaning (i.e. - you shouldn't steal.) But there are other issues which are not so clear because they are spread out among many scriptures in the Bible. Even then, if using logical reasoning, common sense, and research, you should be able to discern a common pattern of exegesis (sometimes called "hermeneutics".) But again, this is not always the case; hence, as seen in the reason why we have the almost innumerable denomination's - why is this so?!?
The Bible points out very clearly this supposed mystery of misunderstandings and confusions, by noting that the scriptures should be understood in a "spiritual" manner (1Cor 2:11-14), and the ONLY way it can be fully comprehended is if it's illuminated (Pro 6:23) by the Holy Spirit.
This can be plainly seen in the example of the Pharisees, where they (more than anyone of that day) knew the holy scriptures God had given the Jews. But at the same time, Jesus states time and time again, that they knew very little of what the scriptures "meant." in a deep spiritual sense (Mar 12:24/1Tim 1:7)
There is the key; it's one thing to "read" the scriptures and have an "intellectual" comprehension and understanding of it, and producing your own private (or personal) interpretation - 1Pet 1:20. But it is an ENTIRELY different situation where a person understands the scriptures by and with an spiritual insight. Jesus said to the Pharisees that they did not understand him because they where not his sheep (Joh 10:26). He said if they were his sheep then they would have understood him, and would have accepted him. But in the end, it was ONLY those who were Jesus sheep who would understand and follow him (usually the humble, less-religious, lower class.)
I (again) believe that the reason why the Pharisees could not be Jesus sheep was because they were "stuck" in their own mode of thinking, their minds being clouded by the "veil" of the law (as noted in sections I and J), and the sins of envy, hatred, and stubbornness (Matt 27:18/Joh 7:19/Mar 15:10). Jesus also noted these type of people are so stubborn that God would blind them even further (like He did with the Pharaoh - Exo 9:12,10:1) in order to fulfill prophecy (Matt 13:15). He called these people "blind guides" who wouldn't know the truth even if it struck them in the face (as should had been the case when he healed the blind man in that incident.)
The Pharisees asked Jesus (Joh 9:39-41), "are we blind also?" Jesus answering, "[vs. 41] - If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."(NKJV) Jesus was essentially saying to them that since they "thought" they were so spiritual and having ALL the answers (but were wrong, since they rejected him [the Messiah]), that their false religiousness would bring them into condemnation (i.e. - they would be judged and damned [James 3:1])
Taking these facts into consideration, might this situation also be the true today with many Sabbath organizations? Who proudly proclaim that they "know the truth" only because they are keeping the law, when many scriptures would note to do otherwise (i.e. - in the New covenant.) Might even the reader also have this problem? In other words, are you "his sheep?" Jesus said his sheep clearly hear his voice. He also noted that "he" is the truth (not some interpretation of the law.)
Do you hear "his voice" (his Word), or that of an organization and their doctrine (remember, the Pharisees were stubbornly in this category - Acts 7:51.) Is the truth of the scriptures in this report so hard to see? Scriptures note that we should ALWAYS examine ourselves (2Cor 13:5) and others (1Joh 4:1) in order to thoroughly check out what is true or false - I hope that has been the case with all who are reading this. We will soon see one day whether trusting in keeping the law, or trusting in grace will save you. Law keepers are taking a BIG gamble, one that scripture notes, they will lose - but by then it will be too late.
STONE Heart and Chisel Illustration >>>>>>>>
V) CAN A PERSON BE ACTUALLY BORN A "SECOND" TIME? -
Back in section "S" it was noted that you should have a relationship (verses religion) in order to fully experience Gods love. There is one step that you must take in order to have this relationship with God. We will find out throughout this section that the word "must" is key to this whole issue. We will also discover that this concept was taught directly by the Lord Jesus. So there will be no excuse as to its authenticity or validity. I say this because some denominations and Law keepers do not accept the Apostles Pauls writings as being totally authoritative (primarily because he goes against their dogma and thinking.)
This concept is very important, because Jesus also states (Joh 3:3) that you cannot even see or be part of the Kingdom of God unless (or until) you have this key element. The element that I'm speaking of is being spiritually born of the Holy Spirit. It is sometimes referred to as being "Born Again", but this terminology has taken on a negative connotation in recent years. The reason for this may be because there has been a "stigma" of it being associated with religious fanaticism. Even though that may hypothetically be the case, this does not negate the fact that it is a true biblical concept, teaching, and doctrine - one that Jesus himself stressed.
It is strange that in discussions with many Law keepers and Sabbatarian's, that they don't have this issue as being on top of their list. Their top ten list may look something like: 1) The law, 2) The Sabbath, 3) The law, 4) The law, 5) The law, 6) The law, 7) Love, 8) Faith, 9) Born again, 10) Grace. In fact, their top ten list would more likely be just the ten (10) commandments themselves. This may seem like an exaggeration, but as noted throughout this report, scriptures note (as with the Pharisees Jews) that the keeping of the law blinds people to true spiritual issues. So the narrow-mindedness is not surprising.
It is interesting that Nicodemus (being a Pharisee) most surly knew the law very well, but Jesus still noted that being born again was a necessity and vital requirement. It being one of Jesus most profound statements in the New Testament (Joh 3:1-8), as he was having a conversation with this prominent Pharisee - Nicodemus. After some formalities, Jesus came strait to the point by stating, "You must be born again" (vs. 7).
The word "MUST" should not be underestimated. I had a conversion with a person where they asked me, "What does 'must' here mean?" I best explained this by informing what it does not mean. It does not mean; maybe, possibly, probably, might be, could be, conceivably, perhaps, or exempted from. In fact, there is no logical or feasible way to escape the finality and totality of this statement. It being similar to Jesus' other phenomenal statement in John 14:6 where he noted that he is the ONLY way to God. You have no choice but to either accept, or reject it.
The problem may arise were there is a misunderstanding as to exactly "what" Jesus meant by the born again remark. Thankfully, you don't need an interpreter or theologian in order to understand Jesus' comment. That's because Jesus himself gives his own interpretation of the facts for us.
He notes (vs. 7) that we should not "marvel" or try to figure out what he's talking about. But that seems to be the case most of the time with man. I happen to come from a family who are very logical and analytical, so they are always trying to completely and 100% "figure" things out. So if it is not "logical" or immediately deducible then they have a hard time accepting it.
Nicodemus, being a Pharisee and an intellectual, also had this problem. But thank God that Jesus straitened out the situation by noting the word that he was speaking was concerning the Holy Spirit. And since the Holy Spirit is invisible omnipresent God, He is compared to the "wind" which goes and travels wherever or whenever (vs. 8).
So it is understandable that this "spiritual" (born again) experience would be an invisible, intangible, immeasurable process. It "must" be accepted by faith (Rom 1:17, 3:28/2Cor 5:7) because there are some things of God we'll never fully understand - because He is God (Isa 55:9).
The next question might be, "why" must we be born again. That question would not only take a section, but a whole volume in itself, and is not within the scope of this report. But if you choose to study it further then you'll find it has something to do with the "death" that happen with man in the beginning at the garden (Gen 3:6-24). Because of that event we "must" be born again from above (from God) in order to be saved and accepted by God.
Even though Jesus plainly taught this concept, many churches teach or speak very little about it. They might say that Jesus was only referring to Nicodemus, or that he was only speaking "allegorically" (in Parables.) I won't waste time responding to this ideology other than saying that if this reasoning were true then the whole Bible could be arbitrarily thrown out the door (because it would be for the Jews or Apostles only).
No, even this saying was/is for all of us also - so that we must in turn be "born again" by the Spirit of God. In a nutshell, it is a spiritual "rebirth." We must also submit our lives (1Pet 5:6), repent of our own personal sins (Luke 13:5), believe and accept that Jesus is Lord (Act 16:31), was raised from the dead (Rom 10:9), and ask God into our heart (Rev 3:20)
God says that you CANNOT even please or receive Him unless you have faith and belief in Him, and in His Word. And Jesus/God cannot do a work with you (Mar 6:5,6/Psa 78:41) until you fully believe.
In fact, this is the ONLY one sin in the universe that will prevent a person from entering into heaven. That is, the sin (or blasphemy) of rejecting the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:31). And the main job and duty of the Holy Spirit is to proclaim and testify of Jesus Christ (Joh 15:26). So in actuality, the rejection of Christ and his truth is that blasphemy, and the only unforgivable sin. A sin that will damn a person to an eternal lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15)
But God does not desire this to happen (2Pet 3:9), and has only created the dire alternative (hell) for the Devil and his angels (Matt 25:41) - and all those who choose to follow Satans stubborn and rebellious ways (Isa 14:14/1Sam 15:23).
So if anyone will go to hell then it will be their own fault, not Gods. They will get there by forfeit, and not by the wish or desire of God. What a tragedy, considering that there are so many people who are so near yet so far (Mar 12:34). They may be in a church and "think" they are totally right with God (because they're keeping some commandments) but are on their way to judgment - I pray that this is not you.
W) IN SUMMARY -
Many points were made and covered in this report, but to sum it up:
1) The old law of Moses is NOT dead, but does have another purpose.
2) We, as Christians, can choose (because of liberty) to keep the old law - But if we do then we WILL be judged by that law (ALL 300 or so commands, precepts, etc.)
3) There is another law (of grace, faith and Christ) which is part of the "New" covenant - being based on the old law, but is compressed into two, and which the Spirit helps us to abide.
4) The Sabbath is STILL valid for the Jews, or anyone who chooses to keep it (again, in liberty), because it is not so much a trivial "day" anymore. This, because the Spirit (who helps us to worship - because WE are the temple) is not LIMITED to time, space, place, etc.
5) On Judgment day - grace, not the law, will be the all determining factor as to whether you are justified before God. All others (who have chosen the law) will then be judged by that very same law, which if you are not PERFECT you will be deemed unworthy and cast into hell. Some Law keepers claim that they can 100% keep the law. This may be the case in theory, but not when one knows what God requires - total perfection! It might be possible to keep the law in the flesh, but NOT in the heart. It is a fact that a person sins regardless of whether they attempt to keep the law or not. It is impossible to be sinless (1Joh 1:8, Rom 3:23), otherwise scripture is not true. As Paul notes (Rom 3:4), may all men be liar's and God be true. God will not look at whether you keep the law, but rather, whether you sinned in your heart (Matt 5:48). Some might say that if we didn't have the law then we would not know sin (Rom 3:20, 5:13, 7:7) which is true. But that would reaffirm the premise that the law is for "showing" sin verses keeping it. It is one thing to "keep" the law (recognizing that it is an exercise), and another to see that it's just a "tool" to reveal sin. But, as I noted before, that one issue has been a major contention in the church ever since it's founding. And I don't think this report will significantly change that, because people will believe what they want to believe.
6) It is said that the Old Testament is in the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is in the Old Testament REVEALED (through and by Jesus Christ.) One of the primary purposes of this paper was to communicate that we DO NOT have to read or heed the old law as they did in that Testament - that we now have the living Word (Jesus) who we can (and should) read and heed - and also a living law (written on our hearts), by grace, faith and the Spirit. This is a quantum leap improvement, a thousands times better than any ordinary "piece of paper" or a stone tablet could communicate. The old is still our inferior example (1Cor 10:6,11), and one we can learn from, but it is Christ who is our primary and superior example (1Pet 2:21) - following in HIS footsteps, not the laws. Why be satisfied with the "finger" of God (Exo 31:18), when you can have "ALL" of God - in Christ!?!
7) It is sad that many commit themselves to a program the promotes VAIN "commandments of men" (such as vegetarianism), being conferred in the name of "health", from so called "professionals" who set themselves up as gods, professing and implying that they know more than the one and true living God who gives all good things. It should be remembered that a woman in Jesus time "suffered" many things because of these professionals (Mar 5:26), and it was Jesus (not these men) who healed her.
We should trust in God for our "health" [(read Dan 5:23), recognizing and noting, "and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways] - where you can hopefully see that a God, who holds your "breath" in His hand with ALL of your ways, most definitely has your "health" there also.
Jesus said (Joh 6:27) to "labor" not for the food that perishes, but for the food that leads to eternal life. But in the end, the wisdom of the Law keepers will justify themselves in some earthly way with this issue (Luk 7:35). You see, many people still stubbornly use the excuse that God/Jesus commanded it (that we keep the law), and if we REALLY loved Him then we would keep it. Well, that may be partially true, but that's only if you're willing to take the RISK of an interpretation. Do you want to gamble your life on the fact that Jesus was speaking of the law (as in, the Mosaic Law), or was he speaking of "his new law", which is the condensed two command, and alternative (improved) version of the old law?
If you are willing to risk your eternity on a misconception (as the Pharisees did, and are paying for it) then you are a braver person than I. But, if you are (were) willing to look at the "overall" facts and use basic logical deduction, reasoning, and thinking then you will see that they point to grace as being our ONLY hope before a Holy God.
Lastly, there are many organizations who "say" they know THE TRUTH, and who are most willing to express that their doctrine is the "most correct" and pure before God, but are not at all willing to honestly defend it. They don't really feel comfortable "testing" (1Joh 4:1) it against the Word of God - only "picking and choosing" what they prefer, and not looking at it in context.
When it comes down to the final tally, they really get timid and squeamish when it comes down to "testing" their beliefs as per the entire Bible (Romans, Hebrews and Galatians included.)
We should be able to logically ascertain and discern the facts of an issue whenever someone makes a claim, and examine it in the complete light of the scriptures.
God tells us to - 2Tim 2:15 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And if we study the whole scriptures, we should be able to (with the Spirits help) get a clear view and picture of the totality of Gods truth. And where there are conflicts or confusions, then we take the majority of what we have, as God has revealed it to us; seeing that He is not the author of confusion (1Cor 14:33) - but Man.
We may be able to not totally understand the complete concepts such as; the "Trinity" or "grace-vs-law", but we can see the comprehensive view of what more scriptures have to say about an issue.
But it IS NOT enough to agree or "intellectually confer" with that answer. You MUST then act on that new found truth by following a different path - and away from the old error.
As our closing scripture exhorts - Rev 2:5 - "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.
Jesus said this!
I hope that I helped give you a start in that direction. It is very hard for us sometimes to see that we could have actually been mistaken, but we all should acutely recognize that this can be the case (Rom 3:23), knowing that we are indeed - fallible. And I can say, with all confidence, that ALL logic would have to be thrown out the door in order to avoid all that has been shown in this report.
If you have not been able to see this, then all I have to say is that we will never truly know who is 100% correct until we stand before Gods judgment seat - I'll take that gamble, good luck to you - (Heb 10:31) - eternal life, or death are the stakes.
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