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After church on a Sunday morning about a decade ago, a relatively new member of our evangelical church greeted me with something like this: "Hello, Brother Newsome. I'm really enjoying your Sunday School lessons. My wife and I are learning a lot more about the Bible than we were learning at our former church." I was gratified and told him so. He smiled, too. Then came a really somber expression and this: "The Lord told me something about you that I've gotta share; hope that'll be okay with you." Immediately skeptical I responded, "I'm all ears!"
"God has some really big plans for you, sir," he began. "He's gonna use you to reach thousands upon thousands of good Christian people and prepare them for the end times that are rapidly approaching. Thousands of unbelievers will come to know Jesus as a result of your ministry, too."
"God's good," I replied, "but tell me why you're convinced that He would've told you that but not me?"
Smiling again, he followed with something resembling this: "Well, you believe in the spiritual gifts. I've heard you say so. You see, I have the gift of prophecy. That's my primary function within the body of Christ."
"Tell me about how you learned that you have that gift," I probed.
"After several of the elders at our former church had prayed for me and my wife a few years ago, there was a message in tongues. The interpretation was that I had been personally blessed with the gift of prophecy and that I should stay especially close to the Lord so that I might learn things from The Holy Ghost that will be of great benefit to other people."
I smiled and bid him adieu, but I didn't buy into any of what I had heard. How might YOU have responded? (If you have questions about "messages in tongues," please go to www.DYPK.org/pentecost and read what's there for full comprehension.)
In the early Autumn of 2016, someone engaged a member of my Link1(TM) Bible Research Team in dialog about the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation. My colleague had observed that there is still MUCH in those books that we are to understand "later." He continued that most of the end-times-prophecy experts who're successfully convincing others that, today, THEY can understand all or most of what's written there are actually reading between-the-lines.
> "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part...For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I
know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." —1 Corinthians 13:9,12
That person countered that those books are actually easy to understand—for those who have been blessed with the gift of prophecy. He continued with lots of conclusions that he claimed to have gained from an extensive study of the scriptures...and from The Holy Spirit. My colleague's recognition that most of it had been gotten via extra-Biblical revelation was driven by the fact that the scriptures that person cited cannot sensibly yield those conclusions. That person's frequent use of seminary terms confirmed, for my colleague, that he had actually gotten most of it from Bible "experts." (Have questions about what's true and what's new about end-times-prophecy? With an open Bible, study what I've written at www.DYPK.org/rapture.)
As I had done in the first scenario, above, my colleague gracefully moved away from that dialog. Was that the appropriate response? You may recall from my September, 2016, article that Jesus NEVER shared any of the important stuff with folk who hadn't first demonstrated "ears to hear." Here's the link: www.dypk.org/TCmonthly/TC0016.pdf.
> "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." —1 Corinthians 14:38
Spiritual giftedness? Yes, I believe that can be genuine. So why the push-back? It's because there is an easy-to-observe profusion of presumed "gifts" that've been bestowed by men in the visible church. Some of those "gifts" are even like a "selfie;" i.e.: chosen for one's self! That's neither a legitimate assignment, nor a credible privilege for men:
> "God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,
according to his own will" —Hebrews 2:4
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Join us at TC's Friends Club on Facebook to participate in (or just to follow) sensible discussions about articles like this one.
Extra-biblical "revelation" is dangerously destructive, at best. Many, even in the mainstream visible church, have fallen (and continue to fall) for ridiculous fables because they're focused on trying to "get messages" from the Spirit. That's especially dangerous when they do it before they've acquired the KNOWLEDGE that's required for determining whether a given messenger is The Holy Spirit or another spirit. In my long-term and short-term observation, it's almost always another spirit...one that mimics "the warm fuzzies" that uninformed believers associate with The Holy Spirit. How and why are those other spirits so enormously successful at that? They're the seducing spirits^—accurately rendered by the KJV translators at 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 John 4:1 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-6, per Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #G-4108.^
> "My people are destroyed for lack of [sincerity?] [prayer?] [worship?] [regular church attendance?] [holiness?]
[righteousness?] [faith?] [hyperspirituality?] [regular participation in trance-like praise and worship? (Can anyone
cite a scriptural precedent for that – Old Testament or New Testament?)] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] [believing "what
'we' believe?"] knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6
> "...For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to KNOWLEDGE..." —Paul, at Romans 10:1,2
> "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived^ ["wholly seduced," per Strong's #G-1818] by the serpent's cunning,
your minds may somehow be led astray...if you receive a different spirit...or a different gospel...you put up with it
easily enough [i.e.: You're waaayyy too gullible!]. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those 'SUPER
APOSTLES.' I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge..." —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 11:3-6 [NIV]
So, what do you think Paul really thought about those "super preachers" and their gullible followers?
Today's super preachers draw the largest followings – and successfully mine for those followers' dollars: Extra-Biblical "revelation" and entertainment are their stock and trade. Entertainment sells, even during economic hard times! They're highly polished motivational speakers. They succeed by making sheeple FEEL good. Some of the most popular of them clearly don't have even a good BASIC understanding of the scriptures.
Would it be reasonable to label those who follow today's super preachers "naive?" Yes; because, per 2 Timothy 4:3,4, they will not endure sound doctrine. They're attracted only by their insatiable appetites for "the warm fuzzies;" i.e.: their ears itch! Lots of them are eaten-up with a compulsion to seek out and follow hyperspiritual preachers and teachers whom they think get frequent "new revelations" from God—of the extra-Biblical variety, of course. Many pentecostal believers think extra-Biblical revelations that are spoken via the interpretation of "tongues" are genuine. There is not even ONE scripture to support that fable. ALL the pertinent scriptures refute it. Don't believe that? Invest some prayerful, open-Bible time at www.DYPK.org/pentecost for irrefutable confirmation.
Critical THINKING is an indispensable skill for adults in this Information Age. Today's schools (public and parochial) teach children WHAT to think. Universities teach their students WHAT to think. The visible church teaches folk WHAT to think, too. Shouldn’t someone be helping people learn HOW to think? THAT’s the primary objective of www.DYPK.org. It's available to you 27/7/365, for individual or small group Bible study. (No extra-Biblical "revelations," here!) Plan to become a frequent visitor. And please feel free to ask questions and share your comments: www.DYPK.org/contact.
> "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn,
and relearn." —Alvin Toffler
—T. C. Newsome
^ The 2 Corinthians 11:3-6 word is translated, "beguiled," in the KJV. Per Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,
#G-1818, the original Greek word meant "wholly seduced." Curious about that? Paul was referring, there, to the text
of Genesis 3:13. Per Strong’s #H-5377, the original Hebrew word, there, meant "morally/greatly/utterly seduced."
Ever heard about that in church? Wonder why...? Does your preacher know about it—as it relates to Genesis chapter 6?
You can discover most everything you've always wanted to know but were afraid to ask about that at www.DYPK.org/exp01.
In March, 2006, nineteen multi-denominational believers met to form what was to become Bible Explorers Club, LLC. (See www.DYPK.org/about for more on that.) We were motivated by an awareness of the personal responsibility to study to show ourselves approved unto God, so that we'd never have to be ashamed or unnecessarily ineffective as His representatives. The fact is that we had each ABDICATED that responsibility. How? Whatever we respectively believed, then, about the Bible and Christianity had been gotten, not from the Scriptures, but from DERIVATIVE WORKS. Those were the sermons, books, videos and commentaries of denominational "experts."
Five of our original group were clergymen...four different denominations. If you're a seminary graduate (of any denomination, I think) your freshman year included derivative works—what "the church fathers" thought the Holy Scriptures mean. The inevitable result? Forever thereafter reading God's Word through the filters of those "church fathers" and the acquired denominational biases of your seminary professors. You may or may not be aware that theologians hold one another accountable to their respective "what 'we' believe" franchises...
Need more than that to become an Acts 17:ll Berean
skeptic? Maybe this'll help: "In religion and
politics, people's beliefs and
convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without
examination." —Samuel Clemens
The bottom line is this: God has given YOU the gift of a sound mind; remember? That's a terrible thing to waste! God did NOT give those "church fathers" sounder minds than He has given you and me! Shouldn't you do something to take full advantage of YOUR generous gift? Shouldn't you do whatever it takes to put the proverbial horse in FRONT of that cart?
Few of the charter members of our larger Bible Explorers Club, LLC, were able to discard those denominational filters. All of us who're members of our smaller Link1(TM) Bible Research Team have rejected the tendency to rely on "experts" to do our studying and critical thinking for us. The default mindset – driven by human nature; a.k.a. the sin nature – is to passively return to "what I've always been taught." Before the 20th Century, when literacy was the exception, that excuse might've been acceptable. Because you're reading THIS without a lot of difficulty, that excuse is really flimsy. It won't fly on Judgment Day.
So! If we occasionally disagree on interpretation of Scripture, that's okay! My understanding NEEDS to be challenged once in a while. Yours, too! That's among the things that prompt intelligent folk to dig a little more – seizing each new opportunity to gain more knowledge and understanding, as if they were rare treasure!
So, if you wish to lead me to Bible Truth about something, Show me the pertinent scriptures. Please don't direct me to a sermon, a book, a commentary or a video by a denominational "expert." No need to type each word of the collection of scriptures to support your current conclusion. Just tell me where they are. I'll find them.
Many are of the opinion that there is no place for DISAGREEMENT between Christians...that we're to always operate in complete harmony and unity. While that may sound incredibly "religious" to you, it does NOT enjoy the support of sound doctrine. The following may be acceptable to you, as supporting rationale:
"We've never had a cross word between us in sixty years of marriage." Ever heard anything like that? Did you believe it? Did you wonder silently, "Well, bless your old hearts, then how do you communicate?" In Christian fellowship, as in marriage, occasional disagreement is a very normal (and important) part of healthy interaction. If a relationship is to grow, occasional disagreement will be necessary. Follow this link to more on that topic: www.dypk.org/blog/0094.pdf. The diagram on page 2 may be helpful, too.
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Join us at TC's Friends Club on Facebook to participate in (or just to follow) sensible discussions about articles like this one.
Why do churchgoers continue to gush flattery on their preachers and denominational leaders? Do you think it may be that most of us perceive that they're "called" and "chosen" and we're not? Is that even marginally supported by scripture? Here's a little-known quote from the Old Testament: "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; [in so doing] my maker would soon take me away." The apostle, Peter, responded wisely to that carnal mindset, too:
> "And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him]. But Peter took him
up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." —Acts 10:25,26
Got it? Not "Reverend" Peter or "Bishop" Peter or "Cardinal" Peter or "Pope" Peter; just "Peter." What's so hard about that?
God, alone, is worthy of any lofty name that would tend to assign glory—or "special" status (See Psalm 111:9). The widely-coveted "reverend" title is from the word, "revere." To revere a person is to regard him as worthy of great honor or worship. To covet or to even tolerate such a title for oneself or to clothe oneself in a manner or to speak in a manner that might even suggest such an elevated status is to think more highly of oneself than one ought to think. In short, to present oneself as "special" within God's family is sin! The interim consequence of that sin results from others perceiving one as "special." In the visible church, there are "special" people; but the playing field is level in THE Church: Correction, exhortation, reproof, and occasional rebuke are reciprocal (See 2 Timothy 4:2).
Jesus had this to say about those who behave and clothe themselves in a manner that might suggest an elevated status: "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." —Matthew 23:5-12
It is truly unfortunate that some of Martin Luther's 16th-Century Reformation contemporaries coveted the enormous potential for controlling their followers and their followers' dollars. They copied the organization and the business model of the Roman church and the pomposity^ of its clerics. They elevated the Protestant clergy to "special" status. To reinforce that scripturally unjustified perception among their followers many clerics, even today, adorn themselves with pompous attire. With or without such pompous attire, most rank-and-file churchians perceive their clergymen as "special." In doing that, they perpetuate a dangerously false narrative.
^ "Pomposity," per the World English Dictionary:
1. vain or ostentatious display of dignity or importance
2. the quality of being pompous
3. ostentatiously lofty style, language, etc.
Here's something else you may not know: The Roman church replaced the false-god name, "Dagon," with the name "Ichthus," meaning "fish" in Greek (See Strong's H-2486). They claim it's an acrostic for Iesous Christos THeosUios Soter. That translates to "Jesus Christ God Son Savior," in English. Many Bible and church history scholars have concluded that it's simply the Romans' clever continuation of clandestine Dagon worship. The Ichthus monogram in Greek is ιχθυς. To yield the symbol for 666 in Greek, it is said that one must simply superimpose the first, second and last letter of that monogram on top of each other.
So, who was/is DAGON...??? Per Judges 16:23, Dagon was worshiped by the Old Testament Philistines. "Dagon" means fish-god, per Strong's H-1712. The primary worship of the Babylonians was to Dagon. In Chaldean times the head of the church was the representative of Dagon. He was infallible and people had to kiss his ring and his slipper. He was also addressed as "Your Holiness." Like the Roman super-clerics, Dagon's priests also wore the fish mitre and pompous robes. What about that fish mitre? For starters, it's a tall hat that resembles Dagon's fish mouth...
—T. C. Newsome
Most of us use the term, "expert," to describe a person who has refined and polished a special skill or studied to gain advanced knowledge in a given field. Experts in the knowledge arena are often seen as having authority over others who have not studied to gain equivalent knowledge and understanding. Because we live in The Information Age, many thinking people are deciding not to trust experts in any field...except for religion. Can that be good? What could be more important to an intelligent Christian than what he comes to believe about the Bible and Christianity? Samuel Clemens said this about that: "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." Regardless of what you think of Mr. Clemens, he was clearly objective in that observation.
The Information Age affords us access to all the same information that is/was available to the experts in every field. Here's the catch: Some of us are determined to learn, for ourselves, what we need to know and understand about things that are really, really important for us. Others continue to trust "experts" to do all their studying and critical thinking for them. Many of those they trust are con artists and many more of them simply haven't done their basic homework—especially in politics and religion. Those who haven't done their homework typically trust other "experts" who behave as if they've done theirs.
Christian? You're instructed to study to show YOURSELF approved unto God. Why? So that you won't risk fully-justified shame when engaging other intelligent people in conversation about your faith. Until the 20th Century, most church people had no choice but to trust denominational "experts" for Bible knowledge and understanding. Today, we are without excuse. The 21st-Century Information Age has yielded all the tools we need to fulfill our scriptural challenge to search for knowledge and understanding—as if they were valuable treasure:
> "My people are destroyed for lack of [sincerity?] [prayer?] [worship?] [holiness?] [righteousness?] [faith?] [regular church attendance?] [hyperspirituality?] [getting "truly
'saved'?"] [believing "what 'we' believe?"] knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6
The only current draw-back is that, "in church," people aren't learning how and where to find those tools—or even what to look for. At best, in some of today's visible churches, people learn WHAT to study...to confirm "what 'we' believe." The Bible Explorers Club, LLC, web site is dedicated to helping you discover HOW to study...to learn the 1st-Century Gospel truth. Yes; that's amazingly different from today's enormously popular "evolved" gospel message. (We published a fascinating article on that critical topic in July, 2015: www.DYPK.org/TCmonthly/TC0002.pdf.)
It will become important for you to know that we are not in the business of trying to convince you to change your beliefs to our beliefs. Here's some brief confirmation of that good news: www.dypk.org/we-believe.
Finally, whenever you encounter questions about any of our scriptural conclusions, please ask: www.dypk.org/contact.
—T. C. Newsome
My late mom tried her best to make me into a preacher. My pastor/evangelist dad kind-of-sort-of supported her in that. Mom's motives were purely subliminal, I think:
A. To be able to bask in the admiration of her would-be preacher mommas peer group.
B. To qualify her for special preacher-momma blessings in Heaven.
The fact that her dad was an uncommonly well-known "super-preacher" may've played a big role in that. She kept telling me I could become the next Oral Roberts and stuff like that. Hmmm...(Read 2 Corinthians 11:5 in several Bible versions to understand why I've used the term, "super-preacher," here.)
Mom was, in fact, a godly woman who would stop to actually get onto her knees and pray for me several times every day. Her prayers were worthy and appropriately effective. They may've been responsible for my acquisition of discernment. Along with that and a touch of Godly wisdom, I have learned to lean more to my God-given intellect than to my feelings in matters of importance:
> "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9
> "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered." —Proverbs 28:26
Jesus' humble disciples who simply practice "being Christian" while earning a living via secular trades and professions are special. (That was Paul's position...and mine.) Preachers, bishops and theologians are NOT special. Instead, their legitimate function within Christ's body is simply DIFFERENT from yours or mine [1 Corinthians 12]. Those who believe otherwise cannot be effective in "the ministry." The "We're 'called and chosen' and y'all are not" mindset is inappropriate. In fairness, I think it is subconscious for the most part. Still, though, it is readily observable. Who can remedy that?
Jesus' "The Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19-20) clearly did not assign "the ministry" to career professional christians. The apostle, Paul, believed that the establishment of a professional clergy would inevitably corrupt "the ministry." And it has! It is unfortunate that, after the Reformation, Protestant groups quickly adopted and adapted the business model the Romans have used ever since that A.D. 325 Council of Nicea. Because "money talks," several of those Protestant organizations soon amassed political power, too. Like the Roman "church," accountable to no one, those Protestant "churches" have become a lot like the proverbial manufacturer of industrial lubricants that uses all or almost all of its output to lubricate the machinery with which it manufactures lubricants. Are your tithes and offerings going to such an organization? If you pay to play, I'll bet they are.
Among the very destructive messages of the visible church is the implication that each of us should anticipate a "special" calling, much like the one Samuel experienced as a young man. A valued correspondent wrote this a couple of years ago: "When a naive believer fails to receive this 'special' calling, the door is left wide open for a preacher's voice to become 'the voice of God'." That is why so many impressionable young people who admire their preachers come to believe that they should make lifetime career commitments, too. They're most vulnerable when they feel The Holy Spirit drawing them to a close, personal relationship with Christ.
A large megachurch near us is publicly proud of its commitment "to turn out at least 50 new preachers every year." It is clear to objective observers that the senior pastor of that church confuses Christ's mission – to make Disciples – with making Preachers! (Great for bragging rights at his denomination's annual national convention.) Yep; you guessed it: There are hundreds of BELIEVERS who faithfully warm the pews of that church. But guess how many DISCIPLES there are.
Like millions of the naive faithful, I waited and prayed for decades that God would reveal His "special" calling on my life. (While I loved my mom and appreciate the fact that she wanted God's best for me, I really needed divine confirmation!) In the meantime, I pursued things I enjoyed and was pretty good at doing. Those were secular pursuits for the most part. They yielded a really good living and I had a ball, too! Still, though, I often thought God just didn't have a plan for me, except maybe to be a good adult Sunday School teacher and effective spokesman for our denomination's "what 'we' believe" franchise. Much later, I learned that He had been preparing me for TODAY. So, what was my "calling" during all those years? It was to pursue things I enjoyed and was pretty good at doing! Might that be God's initial plan for the young folk you know and love?
Here's the take-home message: PREACHERS are NOT "special." BELIEVERS are NOT "special." DISCIPLES, alone, are the "special" Christians. So, mommas, please don't let your babies grow up to be professional christians. According to Our Lord at Matthew 6:5-7, those guys have their reward! Instead, pray for your babies and encourage them to make lifetime commitments to become effective DISCIPLES.
—T. C. Newsome
Take a really short nostalgic trip back to the days of your childhood: Remember how you felt when you first learned that your parents and their adult relatives and friends had lied to you about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? Did you begin to question other things they told you, too...especially when they added that you must Just have faith to believe it? That's how I felt decades later, when I discovered that my parents and their relatives and friends and our religious leaders had all misinformed me about the nature and scriptural meaning of faith. Disillusioned. Embarrassed. Angry. Confused.
Why would they have done that? The short answer is that they didn't intentionally lie. Instead, they were driven by the universal forces that yield abusive behavior in adults who were themselves abused as children. By innocently repeating those lies the people you and I have trusted most have perpetuated one of the most damaging forms of emotional and mental abuse. Compounding that problem is this: Whenever Christians express doubt, their mentors often cite the "just shall live by Faith" scriptures—Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The message? Even if it makes no sense at all you must have Faith to believe it, anyhow; so don't be “a doubting Thomas!”
Given such a strong guilt trip, most Christians stop questioning those who presume religious authority over them. Me? I stopped questioning them openly. Inside me, though, the questions kept gnawing away, and I just didn't know how to gain peaceful resolution. Was there something wrong with me? Actually, no. The visible church teaches people what to study—to confirm doctrine. What they hadn't taught me is how to study—to gain 1st-Century truth. You?
Just know that you are not likely to learn how to do that in church, either. Why? The visible church would quickly lose its control over you and all the faithful. Many would even start questioning its credibility and its authority...and their questions would enjoy the full support of Scripture. Is the mindset of the visible Christian church unique? No. Mind control is the primary tool of organized religion and government.
> "What luck for rulers that men do not think." —Adolf Hitler
> "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and
without examination." —Samuel Clemens
> "Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep
nonsense." —Carl Sagan
Jesus never permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. His responses were rational; never hyperspiritual, and rarely emotional. Want to be like him? That's how. "God's gift of a sound mind is a terrible thing to waste."
The apostle, Paul, pronounced high praise of the Bereans of Acts 17:11. Why? Both they and the Thessalonians had initially responded to the Gospel with extreme skepticism. The Thessalonians simply rejected the message. The Bereans went home and studied the scriptures, again, to learn whether the things they had heard just might be true. Paul called those Bereans "more noble" because of a characteristic that prompted them to respond intelligently. By that measure, might Thomas have been our Lord's more noble disciple? At 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul (also the author of those "The just shall live by faith" scriptures) wrote, "Study to shew THYSELF approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed..."
As again evidenced by a memorable email exchange with a former pastor, the vast majority of clergymen think (perhaps subconsciously) that they're "called" and all the rest of us "not called." I reminded him that, though many are called, few are chosen. He was quick to agree, based on the apparently prevailing mindset that preachers are "the chosen ones" and we, the "not called" and "not chosen," are their subordinates. He wrote, "My earnest prayer for you and all those who are taking part in your studies is that you will be sure that you don't trade Faith for Understanding." Hmmm...
> "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?…and fools hate knowledge?" —Proverbs 1:22
> "knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth." —Proverbs 14:6
> "My people are destroyed for lack of sincerity? prayer? worship? church attendance? holiness? faith? righteousness?
hyperspirituality? believing what ‘we' believe? knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6
> "...they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge..." —Paul, at Romans 10:1,2
> "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles
of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth
milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age..."
—Paul, at Hebrews 5:12-14
(See, also, Jesus' words at Matthew 15:14, re: the blind who presume to lead the blind.)
> "If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all." —Jesus, at Mark 9:35
Surveys by The Barna Group and others indicate that surprisingly large and growing percentages of Christian believers perceive that much of God's written word is fiction. For many, that appears to be a conscious conclusion. For many others, it is apparently subconscious. I think that phenomenon is directly attributable to childhood disillusionment. Who'll be accountable for that?
Feel very free to send us your questions and scriptural rebuttals: www.DYPK.org/contact. But, please, no arguments from 3rd-party "experts."
—T. C. Newsome
What? Did the 10 Commandments really go away? Here's why I ask: I keep hearing from disciples of John Calvin that "We're no longer under the Law; we're under Grace! The law was only for Jews!" (They still haven't discovered the critical fact that a very small percentage of Hebrews were/are "Jews."^ Some of'em get really, really red-faced in response to any sensible challenge to that memorized talking point. Curiously, many of'em display the 10 Commandments yard signs in front of their houses. Okay, so here's the real scoop on why sensible challenges to that Calvinist^ claim are much needed and very appropriate:
^ Visit www.DYPK.org/the-dots for more on who the Jews were/are. Read Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 to learn what
Jesus thinks about people who claim to be Jews but are not. Visit www.DYPK.org/salvation to understand the
two extremes of salvation theology.
In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself and
the unique essence of His nature to people. His message, there, can be boiled
down to this: "Here are the boundaries for your thinking and your behavior
(the 10 Commandments). Stay within these
boundaries to enjoy my blessings and my protection. Step one foot outside and
you're on your own. But if you do wander outside, just step back inside
with plans to stay. Then you can, again, enjoy my protection and my
Here's a another version of that: In the Old Testament, God repeatedly demonstrated what sin is and why it will always yield pain, some short-term but mostly long-term. Lots of fun now and it feels really good, too, but it's gonna hurt you and those you love forever!
You can safely conclude that "sin" is not long list of bad things He'll punish us for doing or thinking. It's just that He knows everything about our human nature (the sin nature): He knows that obeying the 10 Commandments will keep us out of trouble with our friends and our families and our employers...and even with our enemies most of the time. He knows that not obeying them will inevitably cause lots of pain and unnecessary stress for us and for the others with whom we interact. For those who're focused on uncommon personal fulfillment, the 10 Commandments is the best-ever short list of rules for accomplishing that.
The 10 Commandments are also a valuable gift to civilized folk who wish to organize themselves for long-term societal success, maximum productivity and relative harmony. By patterning their governments after that model, societies can even manage – and sometimes control – the behavior of those who're determined not to hold themselves accountable to any set of rules.
Did Jesus change any of that with his New Testament message? This should answer that question: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." —Jesus, at Matthew 5:17,18
Here's some of what DID change with the New Testament that we still enjoy today:
1) We no longer have to sacrifice animals to gain forgiveness for our sinning. That's because Jesus (a.k.a. the perfect
Lamb of God) became our forever sacrifice at His crucifixion.
2) We are no longer required or permitted to confess our sins to priests or any other human being in order to get
forgiveness. That's because Jesus became our high priest upon His resurrection. We must go directly to Him with
our confessions and our repentances.
3) Jesus serves, today, as our advocate. That's like a defense attorney. Satan is our accuser; i.e.: the prosecutor. When
our defense attorney comes to believe that we're truly repentant, He petitions The Father to gain our forgiveness.
That is unmerited favor, or grace.
4) Jesus vetoed every one of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of new "laws" that the Old Testament scribes and
Pharisees had added. (Many O.T. Scribes and N.T. Pharisees were not Jews, but imposters: www.DYPK.org/the-dots.)
No. The 10 Commandments didn't go away. You've heard those die-hard Calvinist talking points, too. But I'll bet you're smart enough to have figured all this out even before I saw fit to write about it...
—T. C. Newsome
PS: To participate in Bible discussions about articles like this one – or to just read and enjoy them – join us at TC's Friends Club. Here's the hot link:
It is my personal observation that "prophet" and "apostle," etc., are the laughable titles that men who're convinced that they're "extra special" bestow on other men who come to think themselves "special"...but not quite as "special," you know, as those "extra special" men who gave them those titles. (You may have to read that more than once to understand what I've said.)
In the visible church, there are "special" Christians and "regular" Christians. The "regular" Christians honestly think they've hired those "special" Christians to study the scriptures, do all their critical thinking and fulfill The Great Commission for them. They sit uselessly in the proverbial bleachers, cheering the action on the playing fields. As in football and such, the players inevitably become enamored with themselves—the observable heroes of the incredibly naïve cheering crowds.
In THE Church, there are no "special" Christians: The playing field is level—even instruction, correction, reproof and occasional rebuke are RECIPROCAL.
Jesus' humble disciples who simply practice "being Christian" while earning a living via secular trades and professions are special. (That was Paul's position...and mine.) Preachers, bishops and theologians are NOT special. Instead, their legitimate function within Christ's body may simply be DIFFERENT from yours or mine [1 Corinthians 12]. Those who believe otherwise cannot be effective in "the ministry." The familiar "I'm 'called and chosen' and you're not" mindset is inappropriate...even if it is subconscious. In fairness, I think it's subconscious for the most part. So who can remedy that?
Here's the essence of something Jim Beatty, a respected Facebook friend, posted on April 1, 2016: "One definition (as used by Paul) is that an APOSTLE was an eye witness to the resurrected Christ. If we use that definition, there is no "succession of apostles," as some claim."
Another definition, per Nelson's Compact Bible Dictionary, is messenger: "The authority committed to the apostles by Christ was unique. It could not be transmitted to others. The apostles could install elders or other leaders and teachers in the churches, and they could authorize them to assume special responsibilities, but apostolic authority could not be transferred. Their authority has not come to us through their successors, it has come through their writings which are contained in the New Testament."
Among the confusing messages of the visible church is that each young believer should anticipate a "special" calling, much like the one Samuel experienced. When a young believer fails to receive such a "special" calling, the door is left wide open for a preacher's voice to become "the voice of God"—especially in churches where preachers are perceived to be "special." Many of the naïve faithful come to believe, thence, that their preachers are "called" and the rest of us are "NOT 'called'."
My late mom tried her best to make me into a preacher. My pastor/evangelist dad kind-of-sort-of supported her in that. Mom's motives were purely subliminal, I think:
A. To be able to bask in the admiration of her would-be-preacher-mommas peer group
B. To qualify her for special preacher-momma blessings in Heaven
The fact that her dad was an uncommonly well-known "super-preacher" may've played a big role in that. She kept telling me I could become the next Oral Roberts and stuff like that. Hmmm... (Read 2 Corinthians 11:5 in several Bible versions to understand the term, "super-preacher.")
Mom was, in fact, a godly woman who would stop to actually get onto her knees and pray for me several times every day. Her prayers were worthy and appropriately effective. They may've been responsible for my acquisition of discernment. Along with that and a touch of Godly wisdom, I have learned to lean more to my God-given intellect than to my feelings in matters of real importance: "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9
And there's this:
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?] [worship?] [prayer?] [hyperspirituality?]
[holiness?] [regular church attendance?] [believing "what 'we' believe"?] [faith?] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] [becoming
full time Paid Professional Christians?] KNOWLEDGE." —Hosea 4:6
On April 1, 2016, a respected Facebook friend, Chaplain Tommy Davis, posted this about the unscriptural terms, "clergy" and "laity": "I was speaking with a judge and we had a lengthy conversation about the believer's calling. I assured the judge that God has called believers to be both 'kings and priests' (Rev. 1:6). The phrase 'clergy and laity' is a fabricated concept unsupported by the new covenant. Believers are called both to the church and the political/business world. A CEO, judge, police officer and any other vocation is equal in calling before the Lord. Too many of us want to decorate the pulpit and then wonder why the Devil is winning in the courts, the schools and [the] corporate business world. If you are not 'salt and light' where you are you will be not be any good in someone's pulpit either. If we are to impact this world for Christ we had better start leading in the church (among believers) and outside of it (among non-believers). To be a holy nation, all believers must be holy (set apart) for God's service (1 Peter 2:9)." —Chaplain Tommy Davis (This link should take you to that post: https://www.facebook.com/chaplain.t.davis/posts/10209474788614438.)
Dare I conclude without this critical observation?
Tens of thousands of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa are currently getting burned alive, raped, beaten, drowned and beheaded, etc., by Moslem Jihadists. In the U.S., though, a possible majority of Believers continue to think themselves EXTRA Special..."My preacher says we're gonna get raptured out'a here before all that bad stuff starts happenin' here, y'all!"
And many still wonder why the visible church continues to build momentum in its epic failure to accomplish its own man-made mission—"to get people 'saved'." In case you're wondering, the assignment GOD gave us is very different: God's assignment – a.k.a. "The Great Commission" [Matthew 28:19,20] – to THE Church is this:
a) Preach the gospel.
b) Make DISCIPLES of those who believe it.
c) Teach them to do the same.
Who's doing that?
For several 20th-Century decades the visible church filled its pews and its bank accounts with lots and lots of naïve BELIEVERS but very, very few informed DISCIPLES. The 21st-Century visible church scrambled for new marketing methods when the formerly-successful methods had clearly stopped working: For many of the megachurches, at least, free tickets to Heaven, motivational speeches and professional entertainment seems to be working fairly well.
Are they making NEW Believers? "Preaching to the choir" apparently keeps the current followers and those followers' dollars coming back. Most of the would-be NEW Believers have apparently come to think that the visible church has lost all credibility! Can you think of even one reason why they may not be justified in drawing such a conclusion? How might they have sensibly come to any other conclusion?
Chew on that.
PS: Post a comment or ask a question: www.DYPK.org/contact.
Jesus spoke in parables to the masses; Remember? In fact, He never shared any of the really important stuff with anyone until AFTER they had demonstrated "ears to hear." Why? Because he had just three years to accomplish his mission. If he had shared the important stuff with everyone – most of whom wouldn't have had "ears to hear" – it might have taken him 3,000 years to complete his critical assignment. Clearly, the efficiency of his sharing was as important as his message. So, how did he know when a person had acquired "ears to hear?" This is how:
Meteorologists confidently forecast stormy weather when barometric pressures fall. The lower the barometric pressure, the more intense the upcoming storm. That's because nature abhors a vacuum. Adjacent areas of higher air pressure rush frantically towards a low-pressure area in an effort to equalize the barometric pressure. That causes wind and other familiar weather phenomena.
When a person gets really, really curious about something he/she starts asking questions...questions that appear to arise from a burning way down deep inside. That's because human nature also abhors a vacuum. When those kinds of questions emerged from a person, Jesus knew he wouldn't be wasting his extremely valuable time in sharing critical information with him/her, because the TIMING was right: That person's listening efficiency was at its very highest point.
There were some notable occasions when Jesus used a brilliant technique for purposely YIELDING a piqued listening efficiency in people who didn't already have "ears to hear." His intentional encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is an excellent example of that technique. That can be taught, coached, practiced and mastered. Shouldn't that sort of skill-building replace the currently observable emphasis on entertainment in the visible church? Shouldn't "To be like Jesus," be much more than the poignant words of a song? Shouldn't Christians be learning the METHODS Jesus used and mastering the skills he demonstrated for building the Kingdom? Isn't our time short, too?
Paul instructed the non-preacher believers at Ephesus and Thessalonica to put on the whole armor of God. This is the essence of his message to those two churches:
1. the Belt of Truth
2. the Breastplate of Righteousness
3. the Shoes of PRACTICE unto Readiness
4. the Shield of Faith
5. the Helmet of The HOPE of Salvation —1 Thessalonians 5:8
6. the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
7. the Wisdom of Alertness
That prompts some really important questions. Here are three of them:
A. Recall the story of David and Goliath? David refused King Saul's battle armor because it was heavy and awkward.
That's because David hadn't practiced fighting while wearing it, as had Saul. Battle armor (even God's whole armor)
would be too awkward and heavy for anyone who hadn't, first, become intimately familiar and comfortable with
its collective weight and feel in PRACTICE.
B. How effective might one be in real conflict if one's SHOES of PRACTICE Unto Readiness were clean, having
never been worn in rigorous Practice? Have you ever worn shoes that hadn't been broken-in?
C. How effective might one be with a SWORD if one has never used it in regular strenuous combat Practice exercises?
How might one even effectively practice with it if one's knowledge of it is both passive and limited to what someone
else has told one about it?
Unfortunately, it is not "practice" that makes perfect. Only "PERFECT PRACTICE" makes perfect. Roleplays in your church's "what 'we' believe" seminars and workshops are justly characterized as imperfect practice. For perfect practice you will want to align with a few other believers who'll resolve to separate denominational dogma from 1st-Century truth. Then and only then can you enjoy "perfect practice." Your Shoes of Practice Unto Readiness will get broken-in and really dirty, too – with regular exercises of .managed conflict. within your very special group. You will each grow in skill, spiritual muscle for bearing the weight of God's combat armor and in stamina—for enduring to the end.
If you've put on Christ's yoke, you must push against it, too. Without teamwork there is no work. Not only must we each be receptive to reciprocal instruction, correction and reproof (even occasional rebuke), but we must actively cultivate such environments and relationships. Otherwise we can gain no skill. Without skill there can be no perfect practice. Without perfect practice there can be no readiness. Without readiness soldiers in the army of the Lord grow lethargic and weak: The weight of God's armor causes weak soldiers to collapse even before any real combat begins. Even if those soldiers make it into combat, if their armor still feels awkward from lack of perfect Practice, they'll be quickly and easily defeated. It's easy to sing about being in the army of the Lord, but who will practice to learn how to fight effectively in the ranks of the real army of the Lord? You?
> "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
—Jesus, at Luke 14:33
We soldiers in God's army cannot afford to avoid conflict like the plague. If, like the proverbial old couple that claims to have never argued, we were to always avoid confrontation, none of us would be able to fulfill the mission of the church. Now, you may currently think that the assignment Jesus gave to the church was to get as many people "saved" as possible. That's enormously popular, I know, but it couldn't be further from the truth. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20 is about making DISCIPLES. Getting people 'saved' is an invention of post-Reformation clerics:
(2) Make Disciples of those who Believe.
(3) Teach/Encourage each new Disciple to do the same.
There are BIG differences between Believers and Disciples. Believers can't fulfill The Great Commission. Disciples can. The visible church has made millions of Believers, but who's making Disciples? Can that be done from a pulpit? No one can "teach" a young child how to ride a bike. Kids learn how to ride bikes from patient COACHES. Shepherds can't produce sheep. Sheep produce sheep. Nobody can "make Disciples" from a pulpit. The making of Disciples is a "coaching" assignment to us all. Disciples are made one-at-a-time, by other Disciples, and that takes time. But where are the Coaches? You? If not, then you may want to gather a group of friends for regular Discipleship PRACTICE. Sound like an impossible assignment? There's help: Visit www.DYPK.org/how-to-study. Share that info with a few of your friends as a preface to organizing for regular Discipleship skills practice. I did that. It worked. Still working!
It is unfortunate, at least, that most churchgoers think they're Disciples because they believe the Gospel message and are faithful in church attendance. Their pastors typically think they're fulfilling The Great Commission because they've filled their pews with Believers! But even devils believe (James 2:17-26 ), you know. To become a Disciple a Believer must fulfill "The Great Commission." That means to become a Student of, an Adherent to and a Teacher of the doctrines of Christ. (Your personal assignment may be to teach what you learn to just ONE other believer, so don't get nervous about all this; okay?)
Instruction, correction, reproof and occasional rebuke in THE Church are reciprocal. Instruction, correction, reproof and occasional rebuke in the visible church are, observably, the exclusive domain of the clergy. In THE Church, participants are actively involved in the process; not passively. The playing field is level! Each participant, aspiring to gain more knowledge and understanding and greater spiritual maturity recognizes and respects those others who may have advanced further than himself in the acquisition of either of those things. Their reciprocal interaction enables each one to…be thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:17) and to…make full proof of…his…ministry (2 Timothy 4:5).
Preachers, please pay close attention: Neither can you advance in any of those critical disciplines unless you also submit yourself to reciprocal instruction, correction and reproof. Restricting that kind of collaborative interaction to your professional peer group and to organizationally superior clerics will stunt your growth…and theirs. That may sound like an unreasonable requisite for membership in The Church, I know. It will, in fact, be an impossible task for you…unless you will come to understand, first, that we laymen are not your subordinates. Many of us would readily interact with you as peers, to our mutual benefit, if you would be proactive in cultivating the collaborative environments and the relationships that encourage it. Or, you can choose to leave the driving to us…
Yes, there are some core doctrines and principles and some critical truths on which we must agree in order to enjoy effective Christian labor and fellowship. Beyond those, though, I personally hope the Bible Explorers Club, LLC, will never opt for a "what 'we' believe" mindset. Why? My beliefs need to be challenged regularly. Yours do, too. Collectively, our spiritual growth would otherwise be stunted and we would become like the visible church—mere masters of marionettes.
PS: Post a comment or ask a question: www.DYPK.org/contact.
At John 14:2,3 are these words of Jesus: "...I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also." Revelation 21 describes the place he went to prepare for us:
> "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is]
with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and
be] their God...And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven
last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he
carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem,
descending out of heaven from God...And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth:
and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height
of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the
measure of a man, that is, of the angel." —Revelation 21:2,3,9,10,16,17
Twelve thousand furlongs would translate to roughly 1,400 miles (2250 kilometers), using today's measures. That'd be the distance from Havana, Cuba to Toronto, Canada or from Charlotte, North Carolina to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And the walls of that majestic city are about 216 feet (66 meters) thick! At least two credible schools of thought concerning those measurements have emerged during our research:
Many scholars contend that each of the four sides of the city is 1,400 miles long. If they're right, the city is also 1,400 miles tall. How tall would that be? Approximately 35% of Earth's 3,949 mile (6,355 kilometer) radius. Its 12-layered foundation would be 1,960,000 square miles (3,155,600 square kilometers). Other credible scholars insist the angel of Revelation 21 measured the entire circumference of the city. That would yield an approximate length of ~350 miles (~560 kilometers) for each side and a ~122,500 square mile (~197,225 square kilometer) foundational footprint. The height of that structure would reach ~350 miles (~560 kilometers). How high is that? Mt. Everest is less than five miles high. Earth’s troposphere is roughly seven miles thick. Our stratosphere goes up to ~29 miles and is then overtaken by space. Although, the scriptures are unclear regarding which school of thought is the right one, this second scenario makes more sense to us.
WHO'LL GET TO ENTER that awesome place? Revelation 22:14,15 answers that question, very clearly: "Blessed [are] they that DO his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Hmmm...Sounds to me like even those who've ever gotten "truly 'saved'" but practice certain sinful LIFESTYLES will be very angry about the inevitable lock-out! Who'll they be angry with? Their preachers who sugar-coated Christ's salvation message, giving them a false sense of security! Does this startling news burst your bubble? Then, how would YOU paraphrase those critical words of Christ? For some really great help in understanding this, invest some time at www.DYPK.org/salvation. Then, if we still have your attention, grab 2-3 friends and invest some group time at www.DYPK.org/rapture—paying special attention to the section on Jesus' parable of the Ten Virgins, five wise and five foolish. (The take-home message there, too, is very different from what you've likely been taught...)
WHEN will those who're qualified get to go in and occupy that awesome place with many rooms? That'll happen precisely 3½ days after the two murdered Witnesses come back to life [Revelation 11:3-15]. That's when Jesus will arrive on a symbolic white horse [Revelation 19:11], at the 7th Vial, the 7th Seal and the 7th Trump – i.e.: the last Trump. Again, it's likely that you've been taught that the rider of that first symbolic white horse is Jesus. Unfortunately, the rider of THAT white horse is the grand imposter! Per 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, he will SUCESSFULLY masquerade as Christ, deceiving almost everyone on Earth...including millions of sincere, but misinformed believers in Christ. How could that happen?
First, Jesus will not appear until after there's a Great Falling Away. Unbelievers can't "fall away!" Second, if you're among the millions who've bought into a very different sequence of end-time events, you're pre-conditioned for inclusion with those who are to "fall away." Blaming your preacher or your denomination's Bible "experts" won't help you. You'll bear the ultimate weight of your own decision to believe the enormously popular "feel-good" stories, after having been exposed to the clearly-stated, but not-so-attractive scriptural truth. Sincerity doesn't count! "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." —James 2:19
> "Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it."
—Jesus, at Matthew 7:14
Got a question? Got a comment? Got a scriptural
rebuttal? Those are always welcome. So please feel free to submit them to us at
www.DYPK.org/contact. Visit the
"INDEX" page at www.DYPK.org
for multiple other topics.
"Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong, whether I find a place in this world or never belong, I've gotta be me! What else can I be but what I am? I want to live, not merely survive. I can't be right for somebody else if I'm not right for me. I've gotta be free! I'll do it alone, that's how it must be. Daring to try, to do it or die, I've gotta be me!" Those lines are from song lyrics of the Sammy Davis Jr. rendition of "I’ve Gotta Be Me." Both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Pressley are often identified with "I Did It My Way." With that song they elicited lots of spine tingles and crocodile tears, even more so after their deaths.
Older folk will remember
"Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," from the 1946 musical, "Annie Get Your Gun."
The troupe sang
about how the Oakley family and their community lived happy lives despite their
lack of education and wealth: "Still,
they're as happy as can be, doin' what comes natur'lly."
Odds are that at least one or two of those songs inspire feelings of pleasant nostalgia for you. There may be a myriad of possible reasons for that, but this one thing's for certain: We're all creatures of Human Nature. We've each learned that it can be painful to replace what comes naturally with behaviors that others may expect...or even prescribe for us. Along the way we've also discovered that we must endure a lot of that pain in order to become functionally productive and reasonably successful within a civilized society.
Remember learning how to prepare for a job interview? How to dress? How to behave? What to think about? How to answer anticipated questions? Remember finding out that table manners and good English can either get you a job promotion or cause you to lose out? How about dating etiquette? Adjusting your personal ambitions to become a valuable member of a TEAM can also be painful. In none of those contexts will doing what comes naturally yield a favorable outcome.
So how does one gain all that painful, but critical knowledge efficiently? Twentieth-Century American moral and social philosopher, Eric Hoffer, wrote, "When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." While it's true that experience is a good teacher, learning from other people's experiences can be considerably more efficient and a lot less painful. That's one of the primary reasons why God put His word in writing for us—so that we can learn why and how to align with His superior thinking in order to experience abundant life, now and later, with a lot less pain.
Most of the Old Testament heroes had substantial character flaws. We can relate to that. Many of the New Testament characters did stupid stuff, too. We can relate to that. In both testaments, the individuals and the nations always dropped the ball only when they were engaged in the stinking "gotta be me" thinking that's joined-at-the-hip with Human Nature. When they recovered, it was always after they had discarded that stinking thinking and replaced it with the fully-informed thinking that God still prescribes today. Painful? Yes. "No pain; no gain."
Fully informed? Yes: "My people are destroyed for lack of [sincerity?] [prayer?] [worship?] [holiness?] [righteousness?] [faith?] [regular church attendance?] [hyper-spirituality?] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] [believing "what ‘we’ believe?"] knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6
For every human being, "doing what comes naturally" comes all too naturally. Why? Human Nature is the Sin Nature. Christians are instructed to crucify it. What comes naturally for us is captured in a dangerously misguided religious cliché, "Follow Your Heart."
The Old Testament is clearly a record of God's effort to teach the Hebrews why and how to THINK rationally...to use their minds, instead of their hearts, for making choices. At Jeremiah 17:9 in the KJV translation is this: "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things] and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Here's a worthy thumbnail sketch of God's entire Old Testament message:
"O.K. guys, these are the boundaries for your thinking and your behavior. Stay within these boundaries to enjoy my blessings and my protection. Step one foot outside these boundaries and you're on your own. Step back inside with plans to stay and you can, again, enjoy my blessings and my protection."
The Gospels record Jesus' modeling of – and confirming – that mindset for us: He never once permitted his feelings to override his thinking. Want to be like Jesus? That’s how. Want proof? Read about His post-wilderness-experience temptations at Matthew 4:1-11.
Now that your knowledge includes the critical fact that human nature is the sin nature, can you afford to continue being "you?"...doing it "your way?"..."doing what comes naturally?"
Constantine and his co-Emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan in 313, declaring tolerance of all religions. Seeking to unify his empire and to make Christianity more palatable to the predominately Pagan population, he "hybridized" the holy days and other religious practices of Christians and Pagans. "Sun Day" was the Pagan day of sun worship.
A life-long sun-worshiper, Constantine (while claiming Christianity for political gain), observed that the church at Rome was haphazardly organized and had gained little to no control over the widely scattered adherents to Christianity. Through his skillful manipulation of dialog at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantine succeeded in convincing pompous would-be church leaders that they could benefit enormously from his well known financial and political savvy. He assured them that organizing for control would include the need for their followers to have some "$kin" in the game.
Those churchmen were quickly lured by the very phenomenon Paul had warned of three centuries earlier: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. BUT THOU, O MAN OF GOD, FLEE THESE THINGS..." [1 Timothy 6:10,11] What followed was that "The popes filled the place of the vacant emperors at Rome, inheriting their power, their prestige, and their titles from paganism." —Stanley's History, p. 40
It is unfortunate that, after the Reformation, Protestant groups quickly adopted and adapted the business model the Romans have used ever since that A.D. 325 Council of Nicea. Because "money talks," several of those Protestant organizations soon amassed political power, too. Like the Roman "church," accountable to no one, those Protestant "churches" have become a lot like the proverbial manufacturer of industrial lubricants that uses all or almost all of its output to lubricate the machinery with which it manufactures lubricants.
The Popes and their pompous parades of pious pretenders clearly patterned themselves after the 1st-Century scribes and Pharisees:
> "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." —Jesus, at Matthew 23:5-8
A wonderful blessing of informed Christianity is the easy destruction of profoundly popular doctrines by beautiful Bible and historical facts.
Is it the purpose of the church to get people "saved" and then to get them Involved? Or, might it be our mission to get people involved and then to get them "saved?" Which do you think?
On second thought, neither my opinion nor yours may be appropriate, here. Perhaps we should consult God's written word for the answer. Is it the mission of the church to get people "saved" or did Jesus prescribe a very different mission for us?
> "Therefore go and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…" —Jesus, at Matthew 28:19,20 [NIV]
"Believers" and "Disciples:" Are there differences? To learn the answer focus, first, on what Jesus did NOT tell us to do:
> "Go, therefore, and get people 'saved'."
> "Go, therefore, and get people 'saved' and then get them involved in church attendance and active Christian
fellowship, activities and programs."
> "Go, therefore, and get people involved in church attendance and active Christian fellowship, activities and
programs and then get them 'saved'."
> "Go, therefore, and persuade people to believe in me so they can be 'saved'."
What he did tell us to do was to (a) Preach/Share the good news, (b) MAKE DISCIPLES of those who believe, (c) Baptize them and (d) Teach them…to obey His teachings. That's the only assigned mission of The Church. Take it to the bank:
> "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY him." —Paul, at
The visible church has done a respectable job of making BELIEVERS. Can't argue that. But, Believers are passive.
They are non-productive, in the Matthew 28:19,20 sense. But the visible church values Believers highly: Many of
them give offerings. Some of them tithe. But are they Disciples? Are they even "saved?"
> "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced
themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things..." —Paul, at 1 Timothy 6:10,11
(Not a warning to rank-and-file Believers, but to members of the Professional Clergy!)
Disciples are active. They're fruitful. They make other Disciples. They obey the commandments of our Lord. They, alone, are The Church. Believers are…well, SPECTORS; they warm the bleachers while professional Christians keep them entertained.
> "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." —Jesus, at
Those are Jesus' words; not mine. Fact: It is not the mission of The Church to get people "saved." Sorry. That's the job
of the Holy Spirit:^
^ "...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." —Acts 2:47
When the visible church beckons Believers and Participants, it promises them programs and activities and a perpetual series of fully choreographed dog-n-pony shows. The opening acts are often professional musicians and singers. The headliners are often motivational speakers. Today, with the newest crop of mega-churches, there is the promise of a better life via Positive Thinking and Prosperity. When Jesus beckoned his disciples, he promised them NOTHING. (Wanna chew on that for awhile?)
George Barna's research appears to yield a strong and clear snapshot of today's thinking Christians: They're leaving!^ They're finding entertainment and meaningful social interaction elsewhere. Thank God, some of them are discovering grassroots networks of Disciples who're working to revive The Church…one that at least resembles the church that Jesus described at Matthew 28:19,20. Must all Christian thinkers eventually follow suit?
^See the book, Revolution, and multiple other publications by George Barna and the Barna Group.
Today's church leaders, with their programs and activities, are, themselves, responsible for the current bumper crop of pew potatoes. But are those programs and activities, alone, the culprits? The preaching and teaching of the visible church are also remarkably programmed for yielding Arrested Christian Development: No matter how strong their pulpit skills, preachers CANNOT make Disciples from the pulpit. That may be at least one of the reasons why so many Sunday morning sermons are characterized as "salvation" messages: Pew potatoes love to say (or think) "Amen!" when messages are directed to others. (The "Amen!" response, today, means "You tell'em, Brother!")
Those clergymen who try to "teach" Discipleship via pulpit sermons presume an impossible task: Discipleship cannot be "taught;" it must be "coached." Only personal coaches can do that, one-on-one. Doubt it? Stand behind a podium and try "teaching" a group of young children how to ride bikes...
So, what is the value of pulpit sermons? Pew potatoes love motivational speeches that are creative and skillfully and sometimes humorously delivered. If a preacher can consistently keep'em awake, they'll tell their friends, "You've just got to come and hear our wonderful preacher just once, at least!" and the church will grow. Include a pomposity of fully choreographed musical entertainment and FREE tickets to Heaven that can't be revoked, lost, given away or trashed to build a mega church... and collect lots of followers' dollars.
Are size and growth legitimate measures of success for an institution whose assigned mission is to make Disciples? What eternal value might there be in a church building packed full of blissful Pew Potatoes, even if most of them were of the sweet potato variety? For some fascinating additional insight, visit us at: www.DYPK.org/we-believe.
> "We started out in the right direction during those first few centuries: loving, serving, healing, restoring, forgiving,
sharing, praying – every one either learning to be a disciple, being a disciple or training others to be disciples.
But somewhere along the way, we turned into serious slackers, slugs even. We benched ourselves and appointed
a 'chosen few' to do what Jesus and the Father called us all to do, and we sat down to watch. We opted for
disobedience and convenience. Why did we do that? We, as the people of God, chose inertia over 'doing the stuff.'
We ignored God's command to 'take dominion over the earth and subdue it'…for the pleasures of more mundane,
less challenging 'kingdoms' and a permanent pew cushion. Folks, we've messed this job up big time…"
—a 2014 "Reflections" post by an unknown author, at http://wordpress.com/2007/08/10/disciple-or-pew-potato
Where scriptural challenges of a "what 'we' believe" franchise are discouraged, there can be no healthy forum for making Disciples. Such a church is programmed only to manufacture and maintain a congregation of naïve Believers, a.k.a. pew potatoes. Consciously or subconsciously, that's what the collective leadership of the visible church wants and that's what it gets. Will God be mocked?
Meaningful DIALOG is critical to the making of Disciples. Lecturing has been shown to be of very little value for real learning of any sort. An effective Disciple-making forum is characterized by on-going, reciprocal correction, instruction and reproof:
> "All scripture…is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of
God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." —2 Timothy 3:16,17
Note: The phrase, "man of God," here, includes non-clergy Disciples. Perhaps you've heard something different...
> "…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure
sound doctrine..." —2 Timothy 4:2-4
So why is lecturing the "teaching" tool of choice? It is because, "That's how we do church, here!" Preferring to "teach" and "preach," today's church leaders continue to turn deaf ears to proven learning-based methods.
> "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." —Abraham Maslow
Among the just under 11,000 Baby Boomers who'll reach retirement age every day for the next 18 years or so are a respectable number of capable and experienced thinkers. Thinking Boomers have sat quietly in the church pews for decades, wondering whether their preachers have really done their homework. That notorious 60s-styled skepticism and curiosity continues to gnaw at them—especially when they're in church. When they retire, many of them will make the time to do their own scriptural homework. It won't take them long to discover that their silent doubting has been fully justified. (Note: Their kids, the Millennials, are not only abandoning the visible "church," they’re abandoning religion, too...in favor of secularism.)
They'll soon discover that all seminaries teach "what 'we' believe," that seminary graduates teach "what 'we' believe" and that the Believers who warm their pews believe "what 'we' believe." Those Boomers have not been naïve, but patient. As soon as their retirement tsunami gains critical mass, they're likely to spring some major surprises on the visible church. Clergymen beware: "Make full proof of thy ministry." —2 Timothy 4:5
Spoken or unspoken, the primary objective of the visible church is to build and maintain congregations of BELIEVERS. To attract those Believers, they use various methods for making Christianity appear ATTRACTIVE. How attractive can that be to God? How attractive is it to you? How does it compare to the method Jesus used?
Essentially, though, this article is for laymen. If you're a Christian layman, please examine your priorities: Will you be a perpetual spectator who keeps the bleacher seats warm or will you be an active participant on-the-playing-field, pursuing the mission JESUS prescribed for The Church?
Google(R) "pew potato" and you'll find some really interesting stuff. As an example there's a fascinating Foxworthy-styled "You might be a pew potato IF…" piece. And there's a tongue-in-cheek "pew potato" hymn—"Sitting On The Premises," to the tune of "Standing On The Promises." Most of what you'll find, though, is quite serious. It's written by clergymen. Each of them is either promoting a method for transforming pew potatoes into "sweet potatoes" [my term] or searching for ways to do that. Best I can figure, their treasured sweet potatoes are pew potatoes, still, but involved in church programs and activities. Hmmm...
Therein lies those clergymen's implied "pew potato" definition: "A believer who may or may not attend church regularly, who avoids involvement in church programs and activities." You may soon agree that definition falls far short of its potential.
In 2013, a Bill and Blanche Fry of San Antonio, Texas wrote, "Couch potatoes may be the kings and queens of the sofa, but some…reign as sovereigns of the pew! Couch potatoes may expend more energy with TV remote controls than pew potatoes do with Bibles or hymnals. The pew potato is a Christian who has become inactive or has retired because of what she perceives to be sufficient years of service." —http://www.churchofchristusa.com/Archives/old%20bulletin%20articles/Pew%20Potatoes.htm. (That post may've been taken down by now...)
Perhaps you now perceive a more apt definition for the term, "pew potato." Consider this one:
> "'Pew Potato,' noun: 'a sincere, but passive Christian BELIEVER who is not and will probably never become a mature
and fruitful Christian DISCIPLE'."
—T. C. Newsome
You've probably heard that timing is everything. That isn't just an empty cliché; it's true and it's practical. It's not only true and practical; it's also scriptural:
> "To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which
is] planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build
up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time
to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a
time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a
time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a
time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."
Verse 7b, there, is pertinent to this learning opportunity: "...a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." Knowing the right time to speak is clearly a good thing, but knowing what to say when that perfect timing has arrived may be at least equal to that in importance.
A bit longer than two years ago, an older teenaged reader emailed these questions to me:
"If someone asked you why you're a Christian, what would you say and why would that person need to be one, too? A few times I've had people ask me why I believe what I do. But I never could answer it because it's just what I've grown up on. It's a hard question. I could say some great things about being a Christian. I’m forgiven, I'm loved, I learn such great knowledge from what he put for me, I have an eternal home and a living God I praise. But why? Some people that aren't Christians wonder how we get here and what's the point of staying in that type of belief. But how exactly would you explain that to someone who doesn't even know where to begin? Or why on earth we even believe what we do? It sounds crazy, but its like a[n] [East] Indian who'd grown up on something different. Maybe we're curious on why they believe what they believe and where's [the] proof. I can't prepare myself for people like that with questions, so when they ask, how am I supposed to get them anywhere?"
This is how I responded:
"No matter what the religion, almost NO ONE would be able to come up with an effective answer for those who ask. It's a universal dilemma...not unique to Christian believers. Here's a remarkable observation: 'In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.' —Mark Twain
"Here's a pertinent scripture that I've never heard from any pulpit: '...[be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that ASKETH you a reason of the hope that is in you...' --1 Peter 3:15 (Emphasis via capitalization is mine.)
"I think the reason why most preachers skip over that scripture is because they prefer to teach their followers to share the gospel message even when people DON'T ask. They call it 'witnessing,' but that's a classic oxymoron! (In court, do people go to the witness stand to "witness" or to answer questions about what they have previously witnessed?) First of all, sharing the gospel message with others who haven't asked is 'pushy.' 'Pushy' is what high-pressure salespeople are. Second, it's horribly inefficient—a waste of time for BOTH parties. That's because, until a person ASKS, they don't have what Jesus called 'ears to hear:' Jesus NEVER shared any of the really important stuff with anyone until after they had clearly demonstrated 'ears to hear.'
"The fact that you're aware and concerned that people who ask deserve credible answers is evidence that you've ALREADY distinguished yourself from at least 95% of the world's religious adult population. I think you can build your own standard response by following the apparent pattern of Jesus' first disciples and apostles:
> They cited the Hebrew [i.e.: Old Testament] scriptures that foretold the coming of the Messiah.
> They shared critical stories about the birth, life and ministry of Jesus.
> They talked about his capture, mock trials, scourging, crucifixion and resurrection.
> They spoke of 'The Great Commission.'
> IF they thought the other person/people STILL had "ears to hear," they shared the plan of salvation. For us, that
might include John 3:16,17.
"All this will require some short-term and long-term study and practice on your part, but I'm confident that you can master this skill. And, yes, it is a SKILL...to be improved with much practice, as in sports. So, I encourage to find at least one other person who also perceives the value of learning and polishing that critical Discipleship skill and start practicing, pronto!"
I received the following response:
"Thank you for all that information! I'll be going over it and going to the Bible. I figured that I should wait 'til a person asks me, because I wouldn't like to be told or pushed into something like that without wanting to know in the first place; that is, if I were someone else. When someone asked me recently, I just all of a sudden had that question. And I've never heard that scripture, either, come to think of it. I'll definitely have to do some studying on this subject too! Thanks so much!"
Might you have responded differently? If so, how?
It's true! Jesus never shared any of the important stuff with anyone until after they had demonstrated "ears to hear." Why? Because he had just three years to accomplish his mission. If he had shared the important stuff with everyone – most of whom wouldn't have had "ears to hear" – it might've taken him 3,000 years to complete his assignment! Clearly, the efficiency of his sharing was as important as his message! So, how did he know when a person had acquired "ears to hear?" This is how:
Meteorologists forecast stormy weather when barometric pressures fall. The lower the barometric pressure, the more intense the storm. That's because nature abhors a vacuum. Adjacent areas of higher air pressure rush frantically into the low-pressure area, in an effort to equalize the pressure. That causes wind and other familiar weather phenomena.
When a person gets really, really curious about something he/she starts asking questions...questions that appear to arise from a burning way down deep inside. That's because human nature abhors a vacuum. When those kinds of questions emerged from a person, Jesus knew he wouldn't be wasting his valuable time in sharing critical information with them—because the timing was right; i.e.: that person’s listening efficiency was at its very highest point.
That High-Vacuum Ministry Technique[SM] can be taught, coached, practiced and mastered. Shouldn't that sort of discipleship skill-building replace the currently observable emphasis on worshiptainment in the visible church? Shouldn’t "To be like Jesus," be much more than the poignant words of a song? Shouldn't believers be learning the methods and techniques Jesus used and mastering the skills he demonstrated for building the Kingdom? Isn't our time also short?
> "Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to ANSWER every man."
—Paul, at Colossians 4:3-6
Here's a pertinent and brilliant quote from Chaplain Dave Sparks, Riverside, CA (Truckstop Ministries, Inc.), posted to Facebook on October 18, 2013:
> "The problem with evangelism vs. discipleship is that evangelism is only a subset of full discipleship. Evangelism,
by itself, leaves the church with a lot of infant, milk-drinking Christians. And then, to compound things, these same
immature believers are 'trained' in evangelism. It's like multi-level 'pyramid' marketing where you become a distributor
to sign up more distributors. The 'product' (if any) is secondary. Not all believers are called to be evangelists, but
we're all called to be disciple-makers which is much broader than just evangelism. The 'product,' if any, is seldom
more than 'fire insurance'—keeping people out of hell. As important as that is, it's far from being God's total will for
us! And taking immature believers with a VARIETY of gifts and trying to provide rudimentary training in becoming
'junior evangelists' falls so far short of God's intentions for us."
You? Do you have "ears to hear?" Then submit your questions, comments and scriptural rebuttals. Those are always welcome.
"...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." You're likely familiar with that scripture. It's at James 5:16. But does it mean what you've always been told it means? Can't recall what it was that piqued my curiosity, but I went to the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible to find out what it meant...in the New Testament Greek language. It's Strong's reference G-1756, and the Greek word for the KJV phrase, "effectual fervent" is transliterated, energeō:
1. to be operative, be at work, put forth power
2. to effect
3. to display one's activity, show one's self operative
Surely enough, its meaning is not a good match for what I had always been taught. And then I remembered this verse: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." —Paul, at Ephesians 6:13
Perhaps you can see why my perspective on prayers of petition started evolving. I began to contemplate the notion that "effectual fervent" petitions might actually include observable goal-oriented action and prayer. Then I remembered this profound observation: "When the Holy Spirit enables a person to achieve a goal that he'd normally NOT be able to achieve, it's a lot like driving a car with power steering and power brakes. That person must go through the exact same physical motions as with manual steering and brakes, but the task becomes a lot easier."
For some reason, then, this verse came to mind: "And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." —Jesus, at Luke 22:35,36
> A purse is a money bag; but I had to look up that word, "scrip." Strong's reference for it is G-4082.
The transliterated Greek word is pēra—"a leathern sack, in which travelers and shepherds carried their provisions."
From that point forward, Jesus clearly expected his followers to do a lot more than JUST PRAY for protection and safe passages throughout their lives and ministries. For their journeys they were to take extra pairs of shoes, changes of clothing, food and water. But wait! He also told them to carry swords! Why? Some may naïvely argue that the swords were only for killing animals for food. You may suspect another important application—self protection. That's why large numbers of practical realists in the U.S. keep firearms...for self protection. Plenty of intelligent (and now scriptural) rationale to support that practice and the mindset.
All that's in the New Testament. Are there Old Testament parallels? Consider this: God fought many of the Hebrews' battles for them, but He still expected them to maintain well-trained standing armies that were able and ready to do battle on a moment's notice. Sounds like God's M.O. is unchanging; doesn't it? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." —Paul, at Hebrews 13:8
Given all that, why are so many Christian believers NOT involved in the critical battle to salvage the once-Christian U.S.A.? Some may be of this mindset: "I hate my government and the anti-Christian curriculum in our public schools, but I live too comfortably to get motivated enough to do something about it." Millions of others, though, fully trust in preachers who keep telling them, "Just pray!"
Just pray? Really? Is that scriptural? "But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand." --Ezekiel 33:6
After reading the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes just before the Revolutionary War a preacher named Peter Muhlenberg declared, "There is a time to preach and a time to pray but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come!" When the smoke cleared, America had won. Please make a note and spread the word!
What's the greatest commandment of all?
> "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
—Jesus, at Matthew 22:37-40
So exactly how are we to demonstrate love for our neighbors? Part of the answer appears at Romans 12:10,16. There, Paul offers a prescription for our behavior toward other Christians, at least:
> "[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour
preferring one another" —Romans 12:10
> "[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but
condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
In the late Autumn of 2011, the dialog of a small group of enthusiastic Bible Explorers(SM) became even more lively when a participant asked, "Exactly how does a Christian 'honor' another person?" Synergy emerged when we explored the meaning of the word "condescend" and why/how we are to condescend to other Christians "of low estate." The interaction and the reciprocal learning that followed were rich and fruitful. We discovered that some of the other Bible versions yield even more fascinating insight for Romans 12:10, quoted from the KJV above:
> "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." —NLT
> "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." —ESV
> "love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor." —RSV
> "..as to brotherly love, kindly affectioned towards one another: as to honour^, each taking the lead in
paying it to the other" —DBY
^ "Honor," per Strong’s #G-5092, was translated from the New Testament Greek word timē —honour which belongs
or is shown to one: (a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds;
(b) deference, reverence.
The word "condescend," at Romans 12:16, above, presented a stronger challenge for us: The questions, "Why?" and "How?" and "When?" must we "condescend" became our focus for awhile. Definitions for the word, "condescend," look like this:
> "to do something that one considers to be below one's dignity" —WordNet 3.0
> "to come down from one's superior position; to deign (to do something) – or to stoop or descend...to submit; to
waive the privilege of rank or dignity" —Wiktionary
> "to descend to the level of one considered inferior; lower oneself" —American Heritage® Dictionary of the
English Language, Fourth Edition
> "to descend from the superior position, rank, or dignity proper or usually accorded to one; voluntarily waive
ceremony and assume equality with an inferior; be complaisant, yielding, or consenting in dealings with inferiors;
deign – or to stoop or submit; be subject; yield" —Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
So what behaviors might be observed in a person who "honors" another person – whether the other person is a social equal or one "of low estate?" Here's a starter for your consideration:
> "There are two types of people—those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in
and say, 'Ah, there you are!'" —Frederick L. Collins
Our group concluded that we "honor" others by saying and doing things that make them feel good about themselves. So that's how we're to demonstrate genuine love for other Christians! It's a good beginning, for certain, but there's more.
Another participant suggested that there may be just one primary thing we can do to cause other people to feel good about themselves—just listen, really listen, to everything they have to say. For those who may view themselves as being "of low estate," we may have to ask a few sincere questions before they'll open up and share what's on their minds and hearts. The well-kept secret, though, is to just listen:
> "The opposite of listening is waiting: Most of us don't listen to understand, but to reply." –author unknown
A young boy once visited with an elderly neighbor who was despondent because of the recent loss of his wife. When the boy's mom asked where he'd been during that time he replied, "I was visiting with Mr. Hill, next door."
"Oh? What did you fellows talk about?" the mother asked.
"Nothing. I just helped him cry."
Because the reason why we are to listen to others is that Jesus said we are to love them, the following analogy may also become valuable to you:
Remember when you fell deeply into love with another person? Your observable behaviors toward that other person changed. When that other person fell deeply in love with you, that other person's behaviors toward you changed, too. How?
Envision two young lovers. One is talking and the other is listening. Well, "listening" may fall short of what's really happening: The one listening is "hanging onto—even savoring every word" being spoken by the one they love. It’s as if those were the most important words ever spoken in the entire history of human interaction! My wife calls that unique facial expression observed in young lovers "goo-goo eyes."
Reminisce if you will, and then consider the four intriguing scenarios that follow. They're based on the work of Dr. Anthony J. Alessandra of Ashtin Learning Systems, in San Diego, CA, and Dr. Edward Stainbrook, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine:
Can Withheld Listening Be Capital Punishment?
McGraw-Hill Inc., in its The Power of Listening (© 1978), disclosed critical insight into reactions of human beings to withheld listening: "Among some remote people, a serious violator of tribal law is declared a 'Non-Person.'" No other person in the society is allowed to acknowledge the non-person's presence in any way, at any time. Doing so carries with it the risk of being declared a non-person, too. No one may even make eye contact with the non-person. No one may speak to or, in any way, acknowledge that the non-person has spoken. Touching or being touched by a non-person is also prohibited.
The non-persons eventually succumb to extreme depression. Their postures become "hunched over." They begin to lose weight. Most of them soon wander off into the bush, where they die.
Misbehaving children of some Victorian households were put "in Coventry." Coventry rules were similar to those tribal rules, above. Survivors have said they'd rather have been beaten.
The pitiful condition of children in Rumanian orphanages was widely publicized a few of years ago. No one responded when they cried. No one touched them, except to occasionally change a very dirty diaper. Many Americans tried to adopt those children. Some were successful, but there was a price to pay: You may recall hearing that all of those kids were said to be mentally and/or emotionally "deformed" to some degree. Even more disturbing was the suggestion that many of their physical deformities might have been the result of their circumstance. For many of those Rumanian children, withheld listening may, indeed, have been capital punishment.
Withheld listening is also used as a cruel tool of brainwashing, to intensify the erosion of self-esteem.
> "Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery." —Dr. Joyce Brothers
> "No man ever listened himself out of a job." —Calvin Coolidge
What might happen, then, if you and I were to focus totally on those other Christians with whom we interact? What might happen if we were to listen, really listen to what they have to say? Suppose we were to "hang onto, and even to savor every word" they speak? Might we become genuinely interested in and excited about what they have to say? Might we add quality to their lives? Might they begin to feel better about themselves? Might they even reciprocate? Might we learn some important lessons and even gain some valuable information in the process?
"Ah, there you are!"
My earliest childhood memories include sincere Christian mentors teaching me about the importance of "getting 'Saved'." You're likely to have learned about that, too. I was to discover, much later, that what my mentors had taught me about the character and nature of "Salvation" was one of two (2) extreme theories. I discovered that neither of those extremes comes even close to enjoying the support of Scripture. The pertinent, Old Testament & New Testament scriptures, serve as strong indictments of both.
The theory you may have embraced was either the same as mine or its polar opposite. Both are enormously popular. They've gained so much popularity, in fact, that we have not been able to discover any NON-extreme "Salvation" teaching within the ranks of the visible church. I have concluded that that's precisely why God knew He must leave us His Word for us, in writing...so that we wouldn't have to rely on the word of denominational "experts" who purport to speak for Him.
> "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man..." —Jeremiah 17:5
There are a couple of theological terms I must share if you are to discover (for yourself) that the truth about "getting 'Saved'" clearly doesn't reside with either of the two extremes. I'll try to keep this really simple, so that no one should have a problem understanding it. To accomplish that, I have underlined each word of the operative phrases for easy comparison:
> "The 'Arminian' Theory," from Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609)—
... that each believer must be "Saved" at the point of death in order to "go to Heaven," but that a believer can "get 'Saved'" and subsequently lose his "Salvation,"
causing him to miss Heaven
> "The 'Calvinist' Theory," from John Calvin (1509-1564)—
...that a believer must get "Truly 'Saved'" just once in order to "go to Heaven" upon his death and that a believer can never lose his resulting "eternal 'Salvation'," no
matter what he may do, say or think afterward
Trying to understand all the history and the details of each of these extreme theories can take some time. I'll leave the Googling to those who'll want more info. Meanwhile, the pertinent scriptures (all of them, taken together or separately) consistently characterize "Salvation" as a FUTURE condition. Here are a few of the multiple New Testament examples of that:
> Endure to the end [That's in the future!] to be saved —Jesus, at Matthew 24:10-13 & Mark 13:13
> "...power to BECOME [a future condition] sons of God." —John 1:12
> "...SHALL BE saved" [a future condition] —Paul, at Romans 5:9,10
> "And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation is nearer than
when we believed [It's in our future!]." —Paul, at Romans 13:11
> "Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before
the [future] judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things DONE in his body, according to that he
hath done, whether it be good or bad." —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 5:9,10
> "... putting on the breastplate of...the HOPE of salvation [a future condition]." —Paul, at 1 Thessalonians 5:8
> ...SHALL BE saved [a future condition] IF they continue... —Paul, at 1 Timothy 2:14,15
> …IF we hold…steadfast to the end [That's in the future!]… —Hebrews 3:6-13
> DO the will of God to receive the promise [in a future time]. —Paul, at Hebrews 10:36
> We are kept through faith UNTO salvation [a future condition]. ready to be revealed in the last time [That's in the
future!] —1 Peter 1:5
> "The END [a future condition] of your faith is salvation. —1 Peter 1:1-25 (v.5,9)
Proponents of the Arminian Theory are heard to sing with enthusiasm and occasional tears, "I'm Saved and I Know That I Am!" I contend – with full scriptural support – that many of them will be saved —at the Judgment. (We're told of just ONE Judgment. It's in our future! And, no, each person is not judged immediately upon his physical death.) Those who are actively following Christ today are pursuing eternal salvation.
The Arminian Theory is the extreme right wing of Salvation Theology.
Followers of the gospel according to John Calvin are often heard to recite this: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." —Paul, at Romans 8:35,38,39. Upon close, fully objective examination, that passage speaks clearly of the inability of any third-party to negate the LOVE of Christ for them. Nothing more. Take it to the bank.
> "…[Christ] became the author of eternal salvation to all that OBEY Him" Paul, at Hebrews 5:9
> "He that sayeth, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him...he that
DOETH the will of God abideth forever." —1 John 2:1-29 (Verses 4 & 17 are quoted, here.)
Further, millions of both of the extreme "Salvation" persuasions have come to the conclusion that God's GRACE will cover any lifestyle they happen to choose...or fall into. Wrong. The following should be sufficiently convincing with minimal commentary:
> "And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and DO not the things I say?" —Luke 6:46-49
[N.T. confirmation of Ezekiel 18:20-32]
> A good life = eternal life. An evil life = eternal death. —John 5:24-29 (v.29)
[more N.T. confirmation of Ezekiel 18:20-32]
> IF you keep my commandments, you'll never taste death. —John 8:52
> You belong to the one you obey. —Paul, at Romans 6:16
> Continue in his goodness or be CUT OFF. —Paul, at Romans 11:22
> Defile your body and be destroyed. —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 3:16,17
> "TEN (10) SPECIFIC SINFUL LIFESTYLES that will preclude future salvation —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:8-11
> I won’t be brought under power of any sin. —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:12
> FOUR (4) SPECIFIC SINFUL LIFESTYLES that will preclude salvation —Paul, at Ephesians 5:5
> ELEVEN (11) SPECIFIC SINFUL LIFESTYLES that will preclude salvation —Paul, at Colossians 3:5-9
> EIGHT (8) SPECIFIC SINFUL LIFESTYLES that will preclude salvation —Revelation 21:7,8
> DO…to gain the right to Tree of Life…and enter the city [New Jerusalem]. —Revelation 22:14
> SIX (6) SPECIFIC SINFUL LIFESTYLES that will preclude future salvation —Revelation 22:14,15
(Note: Those who may ever have, once-upon-a-time, gotten "truly 'saved'" are NOT excluded from this lock-out.)
> Even the DEVILS "believe." —James 2:17-26> "If again entangled…the latter is worse than the beginning."
—2 Peter 2:20,21
> And there's this surprise:
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and
them that hear thee." —Paul, at 1 Timothy 4:16
If Timothy had been aligned with the centuries-later Extreme Salvation Theories of either Jacobus Arminius or John
Calvin, wouldn't he have justly presumed both himself and most of his hearers to have been ALREADY "Saved?"
I would be remiss to avoid mentioning, here, that the book of Hebrews – especially chapter 6 – is extremely troubling to those sincere ones who keep trying to convince themselves that John Calvin's theory is trustworthy. (I have a recording of a well-known Calvinist theologian trying to explain it away...amusing.)
The Calvinist Theory is the extreme left wing of Salvation Theology.
Still not convinced? At this link you can find a substantial collection scriptural confirmation: www.DYPK.org/salvation. Then, you might wish to request our exhaustive scholarly research paper, "The Salvation Scriptures Objective Analyzed."
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?] [worship?] [hyperspirituality?] [prayer?]
[holiness?] [regular church attendance?] [believing "what 'we' believe"?] [faith?] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] KNOWLEDGE."
It is false religion that thrives on hyperspiritualized mysticism. Although He is spirit, none of God's discernible characteristics are mystical or hyperspiritual. They're purely intellectual and pragmatic. He is the original scientist, physicist, astronomer, mathematician, chemist, logistician, physician, sociologist and psychologist. His written Word depicts him, always, as logical, sensible, objective, practical and reasonable. That message is demonstrably consistent throughout the Bible. Spirituality and mysticism are clearly NOT mindsets that can lead believers to the knowledge of God.
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?] [worship?] [prayer?] [faith?]
[holiness?] [believing "what 'we' believe"?] [regular church attendance?] [hyperspirituality?]
[becoming paid professional Christians?] [getting '"truly 'saved'?"] KNOWLEDGE..." —Hosea 4:6
But aren't we "spiritual" creatures? Isn't it the Holy Spirit that is to lead us into all Truth? Aren't we told that we must worship God in spirit and in truth? At 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved. Why do you think he didn't instruct Timothy to pray for increased knowledge and understanding and for God's approval? Wouldn't that have been more spiritual?
Sensible men acknowledge that God's logic, sensibility, objectivity and reasoning exist on a plane to which we can aspire and admire but never attain. The Old Testament records His attempt to teach men logic, sensibility, objectivity and RATIONAL thinking. His message, there, is also consistent. It is reasonable. It is logical. It is simple. It is law. This is the essence of it:
> "These are the boundaries for your behavior. Stay within them and you will enjoy my blessings and my protection.
Step one foot outside those boundaries and you're on your own."
Does that sound even remotely spiritual to you?
In what ways do God's New Testament messages differ? They don't. At Matthew 5:18, Jesus insisted that not even one jot nor tittle of Old Testament Law was to pass away with the dispensation of grace. Analyze the content of the Sermon On The Mount. Logical? Sensible? Objective? Reasonable? Is it mystical? Is it spiritual? Not! Dissect all the other recorded teaching and communicating events of Jesus: Are they predominantly mystical/spiritual or are they pragmatic? If you've been objective in your analysis, you have concluded that the essence of His message is practical and always characterized by sound reasoning; not mysticism—and never by hyperspirituality.
Then, why did most of Jesus' hearers (and most of today’s churchgoers) not "get it?" That would be the fault of Human Nature, a.k.a. The Sin Nature: As predictably as streams of water after a rain, The Sin Nature defaults to the course of least resistance and the most comfort. The course of least resistance for mankind is subjective, feelings-based reasoning. Passive, it requires no work. Christ-like objective reasoning requires work:
> "Yea, if thou criest out for knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and
searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. —Proverbs 2:3-5
When you rely on your feelings for reasoning, you become susceptible to many "other spirits" that can cause you to feel almost like The Holy Spirit made you feel when He first drew you to repentance. Therein lie the wages of your Human Nature—Death. Wouldn't it be, thence, reasonable to conclude with a degree of certainty that thinking and "doing what comes naturally" is suicide?
> "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils" —1 Timothy 4:1
> "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are
gone out into the world." —1 John 4:1
> "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5
> "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND…" —Paul, at Romans 12:2
> "God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste." —yours truly
Those Christians who're to discover truth will have adopted the MINDset of those Acts 17:11 Bereans.
Clearly, we are to join our hearts and MINDS together for the purpose of gaining original truth and then acting on it, to fulfill the mission that Jesus assigned to The Church. Most readers will be surprised to learn that the mission Jesus prescribed is SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT from the mission the visible church currently pursues. Follow this link to learn HOW that mission differs: www.DYPK.org/BLOG/0089.pdf
Need more sound scriptural substance? Examine Jesus' post-wilderness-experience temptation: With each of his attempts to gain control of Jesus, Satan intelligently appealed, not to his intellect, but to his FEELINGS. With equal brilliance Jesus forced himself to ignore those feelings and to respond using only his MIND. How did he do that?
A. He reminded himself that God's word is in writing.
B. He reminded himself that it is in writing for a critical primary purpose—so that those who will resolve to cast off
denominational dogma and to demand original truth need never be betrayed by FEELINGS.
C. He forced himself to rely totally on what is written. Jesus' feelings (i.e.: his spirit) bore witness of extreme weakness
and hunger and thirst. But he responded rationally, "It is written…"
Satan enticed Jesus to be subjective. Jesus chose objectivity. Satan enticed Jesus to consider his feelings (i.e.: his broken spirit). Jesus chose to use his MIND. Satan enticed Jesus to rationalize. Jesus chose to be rational. He chose to reason logically and to be practical, not "spiritual," in responding. Why did he do that? He had but one primary purpose—to establish a very clear and critical precedent for you and me.
If, with tears flowing fancifully down your face you sing, "To be like Jesus, To be like Jesus. That's all I want: to be like him," consider yourself now fully informed: Jesus never permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. Want to be like him? That's how. To be a Disciple one must become like Jesus. To become like Jesus, one must THINK like Jesus thinks. Now you know how Jesus thinks.
Of my favorite quotes this one, from Vince Lombardi, is prominent: "Gentlemen, this is a football." I have massaged it some, to yield this: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Bible. The critical parts of its message are plainly written. Unlike the U. S. Constitution, they need no expert 'interpreters.' If you are literate, learn to read God's written Word objectively; i.e.: as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means."
> "The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn,
and relearn." —Alvin Toffler
Yes, it is by the drawing of The Spirit that a man comes into relationship with God. But it is by the active (as opposed to passive) exercise of that man's intellect that he studies to show himself approved by God, a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed. If that same man were to submit passively to religious mysticism and hyperspirituality he would be easily duped into error and damnation by a very real spirit that MIMICS the "feelings" he experienced at the time of his initial drawing by The Spirit. (You may want to read that long sentence again, more than once, to grasp its critical message.)
To qualify as "sound," a doctrine must enjoy the clear support of a reasonable collection of objectively comprehended scriptures, each within its rationally perceived context. All else is either pure heresy, pagan mysticism or wishful dreaming ...rainbows and unicorns.
The Holy Spirit drew you, initially, by engaging your heart. When you responded by accepting Christ, that was just a start! It's a scriptural fact that those who stop there will NOT become Christ's Disciples. (Questions about that? Please ask.) The visible church has done a splendid job of making BELIEVERS. That's a shame! Why? Because The Great Commission [Matthew 28:19,20] has nothing at all to do with making Believers: Jesus commanded us to make DISCIPLES of those who've already heard the Gospel message and believed it. Who's doing that? Don't you hear a new "salvation" sermon every Sunday?
Here's a critical question for every member of the Christian clergy: Of what possible value is a church filled to overflowing with BELIEVERS...???
Because God has already engaged your heart, we of the Link1(TM) Bible Research Team hope to engage your mind and then your heart. God has given you the spirit of a sound mind, too, hasn't He? As you read and discover, please take several short breaks to do what those more-noble Bereans of Acts 17:11 did.
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Post a comment or question or just read what others are saying: www.DYPK.org/apps/blog.
The history of medicine and medical practice is fascinating. There was a time when almost anyone who wanted to become a medical doctor could become one. There were atrocities. Controls emerged. Medical practices improved with time, but with the controls came the propensities of human nature. The makers of medicine quickly recognized a major opportunity—to influence medical school curriculum. That was a happy marriage. It continues today.
Enormously profitable are the manufacture and sale of cancer drugs and chemotherapy and radiation equipment and prosthetics, etc. A huge healthcare industry has swollen with our ever-increasing cancer rates. That industry and its satellite industries employ multiple hundreds of thousands of people. Like the big banks and insurance companies and automobile manufacturers, it has become "so big that we cannot afford to allow it to fail." Politics aside, if the cancer industry were to crash the U.S. economy might be devastated. So is a cancer cure likely? Really?
The history of Christian beliefs and practices and of institutional Christianity is even more fascinating. The visible institutional church also finds controls necessary. The burning question, here, is whether those controls might be of a similar character.
During Jesus' post-wilderness-experience temptation [Matthew 4:1-11], Satan offered him wealth and power. Jesus refused it, of course, but only the naïve and the uninformed could believe the visible institutionalized church might have resisted it. "My denomination?" Your denomination. Mine, too. The phenomenon is so pervasive that if critical end-time truth is to be preached to the masses it will not likely come from denominational pulpits, but from grass-roots Christian movements…The Church.
> "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor
a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the
north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it]. In that day
shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst." —Amos 8:11-13
Another asks, "But wouldn't it be necessary for religious leaders to exercise enough control to keep heresy out?" That's a sensible question. The answer is reminiscent of the business models for McDonalds and Burger King and Wendy's and KFC and Church's and Long John Silver's and Captain D's, etc. Their franchise contracts are strongly worded to ensure a globally perpetual sameness. The (even innocent) application of that kind of sameness to the church yields a recipe for disaster. The inevitable primary tool for that disaster is mind control. The end products are the respective "rose-colored glasses" through which sincere, but uninformed (and misinformed) Christians ever thence read God's word. I, too, was numbered with the uninformed and misinformed...until I embarked on a plan to rectify that in 2006.
> "Where all think alike, no one thinks very much." —Walter Lippman
Religious mind control and the resulting "rose-colored glasses" have effectively divided the visible church, yielding massive discord and confusion. If God is not the author of that, then who'd be the author?
> "The gates of hell have observably prevailed against the visible church. The Church will arise from its ashes.
With which body will YOU align?"
Tens of thousands of life-threatening medical and pharmaceutical mistakes are big news, today. But there was a time when doctors in the United States enjoyed our utmost respect. Today, many of the informed among us don't trust them at all. Why? Most of today's doctors, when they've graduated from med school and completed a residency, seem to think they've "arrived." While most states may require annual (or even less frequent) competency exams, their primary objective is to pass those exams.
How do the majority of our Christian clergy differ? Only in that they practice religion instead of medicine: At seminary they learn "what 'we' believe." From their pulpits they preach "what 'we' believe." Their parishioners believe "what 'we' believe." If you think that may NOT include you, then read on...
> "...IF ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free." —John 8:31,32
Jesus warned us, "Beware, lest any man deceive you." Only those you trust can deceive you. Who do you trust? Who do they trust? Then how can you ever enjoy the benefit of Jesus' promise at John 8:32,33? You can, but it won't be easy: "Mind Control" is not just the domain of politicians and dictators. It is practiced, universally, by the visible institutional church. "My church?" Afraid so. Consider these questions once again:
Why do Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe what they respectively believe about the Bible and Christianity? Permanently affixed rose-colored glasses. Why do Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists and Nazarenes and Presbyterians and Episcopalians and Lutherans believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Can't they read for comprehension?…only through their respective rose-colored glasses. Why do you believe what you believe about the Bible and Christianity? Are your rose-colored glasses permanent? Probably. You CAN break free...but WILL you?
Unless you are super-human, you currently read God's word through rose-colored glasses that have been affixed and then pounded, repeatedly, into the very fiber of your being—by those you have trusted most. So effective has been the repetition that you will find it almost impossible to remove those glasses. It is likely, in fact, that you will not even want to remove them. Why? There are at least three reasons. You will do well to recall them often:
> Repetition is "the mother of learning."
> Surely, "It can't be wrong when it feels so right." —memorable lyrics from a Debby Boone song that have become
the virtual anthem (and the ultimate demise) of today's visible church
> Deception begins with trust and thrives on long parades of trust. Could someone you do NOT trust ever deceive
The vast majority of our preachers are NOT malicious. They have methodically affixed and regularly reinforced rose-colored glasses, too. With few exceptions they are, themselves, deceived—and most don't know it. The "what 'we' believe" glasses that are manufactured and affixed by the seminaries (of every organized denomination) are even harder to remove.
From childhood, my rose-colored glasses were pentecostal. As an adult, I read God's word through them. I was deceived: www.DYPK.org/pentecost. Many of my friends, then and now, comprehend God's word through their once-saved-always-saved glasses: www.DYPK.org/salvation. They are sincere but still deceived—and their deception is demonstrably consequential. Many more of my friends (especially in the Bible Belt states) cling, with a death grip, to their Pre-Tribulation Rapture glasses. They're deceived, too: www.DYPK.org/rapture. A quick read of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 will disclose the enormous price they may ultimately pay. You can only grasp the truth of that scripture if you will force yourself to read it as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means...perhaps in multiple Bible versions:> "…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send
I know, it's comforting to presume that those scriptures were written about other believers and their preachers…
Those aren't the only rose-colored glasses that keep sincere Christians from truth, of course, but they easily serve as primary examples of the debilitating effect of religious mind control. Regarding each of these three examples, the objectively comprehended scriptures – and even the well-documented historical record – are an overwhelming indictment, whether taken individually or collectively. At least two of "The Big Three"^ filters are of undeniable Occult origin. Then how did they ever sink such deep roots into mainstream Christianity? We've learned why and we can help you learn why, too. Stay tuned! Plan to be fully engaged in our discussions at www.DYPK.org/apps/blog.
If you were Lucifer, and as intelligent as we know him to be, how would YOU go about deceiving millions of sincere Christians and their preachers? When would you start that? Who would be YOUR front men?
TC0005, 10/15/2015; Title: "Is Christianity Losing Ground?"
According to a 2012 study by Gallup International "59% of the world said that they think of themselves as religious person [sic], 23% think of themselves as not religious whereas 13% think of themselves as convinced atheists." Adherents.com says "Sizes shown [in the following chart] are approximate estimates, and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups, not providing a definitive number."
Christianity 2.2 Billion
Islam 1.6 Billion
Secular/Non-Religious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.1 Billion
Hinduism 1.0 Billion
Chinese Traditional Religion 394 Million
Buddhism 376 Million
Ethnic Religions 300 Million
African Traditional Religions 100 Million
Sikhism 23 Million
Judaism 4.2 Million
Bahá'í 7 Million
Jainism 4.2 Million
Shinto 4 Million
Cao Dai 4 Million
Zoroastrianism 2.6 Million
Tenrikyo 2 Million
Neo-Paganism 1 Million
Unitarian Universalism 800 Thousand
Rastafarianism 600 Thousand
If you were to Google(R) "list of world religions," etc., you would find numbers that may differ from these, but not substantially. After reviewing the chart please answer the following seven questions, privately and prayerfully:
(1) The Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus you've encountered―how do you think they each arrived at the conclusion that their respective faith is in the only true
religion...or, at least, the primary "path to God?"
(2) Those of the Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist faiths [etc.] that you know―what do you think
was the typical process that led each of them to conclude that their respective division of Christianity is the "true" (or, at least, the best or "safest" form of) Christianity?
(3) How and at what point did you decide to invest the rest of your life in believing whatever you personally believe about the Bible and Christianity?
(4) Are your answers to the first and second questions the same―or are they different? If different, how and why are they different? If they are the same, what should
those people do about that?
(5) Are your answers to the first, second and third questions the same―or are they different? If they're different, how and why are they different? If they are the same,
what must you do to fix that?
> "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination."―Mark Twain
(6) Was Mark Twain right?
(7) Which of the following do you think will get you a "pass" on Judgment Day?
―"But I was really sincere! I felt in my spirit (or in my heart) that what we believed was true!"
―"But I trusted my church to dispense truth!"
―"But I trusted my preacher!" Why would he have told me something that he hadn't personally verified to be true?"
―"But I trusted my family and friends! Why would they have taught me anything that they hadn't checked-out?"
―"With family and career I just didn't have time to search for the original truth, so I had to trust other people for that."
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?] [worship?] [prayer?] [hyperspirituality?] [holiness?] [regular church attendance?]
[believing "what 'we' believe"?] [faith?] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] [becoming full time Paid Professional Christians?] KNOWLEDGE." —Hosea 4:6
> "Thus saith the LORD; 'Cursed be the man that trusteth in man...'." —Jeremiah 17:5
—T. C. Newsome
TC0004, 09/17/2015; Title: "Christian Hearts & Minds"
Tears flow fancifully down the faces of many followers of Christ as they sing the lyrics, "To be like Jesus...To be like Jesus...That's all I want...To be like Him." What most fail to recognize, though, is that Jesus never even once permitted his "feelings" to interfere with his critical "thinking" or his actions. Want to be like Jesus? That's how.
No scripture compels believers to take on Christ's "heart" but we're commanded multiple times to take on His MIND. Yes, Jesus was known for his compassion —always characterized by DOING what needed to be done. Here are a few reminders of the importance and the wisdom of that Godly mindset:
> "The HEART [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9
> "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND…" —Paul, at Romans 12:2
Lest you miss Paul's truly critical point, here, it is this: "Change the way you think!" That's a far, far cry from praying, "Oh, God, please realign my thinking to be Christ-
like." (See Hosea 4:6, below.)
> "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5
> "...not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound MIND..." —Paul, at 2 Timothy 1:7
> "...Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same MIND…" —1 Peter 4:1
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK
OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?]
[worship?] [prayer?] [hyperspirituality?] [holiness?]
[regular church attendance?]
[believing "what 'we' believe"?] [faith?] [getting "truly 'saved'"?] KNOWLEDGE." —Hosea 4:6
> "God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste."
For Christian believers and every other human being, "Doing What Comes Naturally" comes all too naturally. Because Human Nature is the Sin Nature, Christians are instructed to crucify it. What comes naturally for us is unfortunately reinforced by two dangerously misguided religiously-correct clichés: "Follow your heart" and "Let your conscience be your guide." There is no scriptural support for either of them. (Take that to the bank.)
The Old Testament is clearly a record of God's effort to teach the Hebrews why and how To THINK rationally—to follow their MINDS, instead of their HEARTS: In a nutshell, God's entire Old Testament message is justly characterized like this:
> "O.K. guys,
these are the boundaries for your behavior. Stay within these boundaries to
enjoy my blessings and my protection from your enemies. Step one foot
outside these boundaries and you're on your own. Step back inside with plans to stay and you can, again, enjoy my blessings and my protection."
'Tis blasphemy to "spiritualize" such a practical concept.
An uncommonly insightful friend of one of my Link1(TM) Bible Research Team colleagues wrote this on Saturday, March 16, 2013:
> "When I look
back over my life, though I can recall my emotions at different times, the
overriding question that comes to mind is the one I am persuaded that God will
put to me on that day. It is not, when one thing or another occurred, 'How did
you FEEL?' but rather, 'What did you DO?' My Lord, help me not to let my
decide my actions, that my answer to You, when You call upon me, is as clear as the mind you gave me, and not muddled by the ramblings of a wandering heart."
—Stanley Levy, Torrance, CA
—T. C. Newsome
TC0003, 08/20/2015; Title: "Sometimes I Lie Awake at Night..."
> "Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'" —Charles M. Schulz
It took me a while to learn how to study the Bible as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. That'll probably take some time for you, too. Why? For me, it had nothing at all to do with reading comprehension or even a capacity for cognitive reasoning. It had everything to do with love and respect for my Christian mentors, past and present. There is something about our Human Nature that causes us to want to trust others, especially those who appear to be genuine and sincere. In following through on that natural tendency, we inevitably accept the "filters" through which those others have come to perceive the human experience—and man's relationship to God.
I was a preacher's kid. My dad was ordained by a large, mainstream Christian denomination. My maternal grandfather was one of three clergymen who founded yet another large, mainstream Christian denomination. Because I loved and respected them both, I gained much eternal value from them both. But was my trust in them and in other like-minded "men of God" too complete? Here's what Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) said about that:
> "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination."
This is what God has to say about it:
> "Thus saith the Lord; 'Cursed be the man that trusteth in man...'" —Jeremiah 17:5
It was after I had retired from a rewarding secular career that a critical fact finally registered with me: "Human Nature is the Sin Nature." I was shocked…and embarrassed! For Christian believers and every other human being, "doing what comes naturally" comes all too naturally. Because human nature is the Sin nature, Christians are instructed in God's written word to crucify it. Remember? What comes naturally for us is captured in a well-intended, but dangerously misguided religious cliché, "Follow your heart." The Old Testament is clearly a record of God's effort to teach the Hebrews why and how to THINK rationally—to use their minds, instead of their hearts, for making choices:
> "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things] and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9
In a nutshell, God's entire Old Testament message is justly characterized like this: "Okay guys, these are the boundaries for your behavior. Stay within these boundaries to enjoy my blessings and my protection. Step one foot outside these boundaries and you're on your own. Step back inside with plans to stay and you can, again, enjoy my blessings and my protection." The Gospels record Jesus' modeling of – and confirmation of – that mindset for us: He never once permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. Want to be like Jesus? That's how: Use your MIND for sound reasoning. Reserve your HEART for love and compassion:
> "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5
> "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND…" —Paul, at Romans 12:2
> "God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste."
Neither my parents, nor my grandparents, nor any of my pastors or other religious mentors intentionally imposed the "filters" on me that been imposed on them by others whom they had loved and respected. But in defaulting, albeit sincerely, to a given "what 'we' believe" franchise, they effectively restricted my ability to comprehend what God's written word really says…until I finally grew up and started learning how to exercise personal accountability for gaining the original truth.
Every church/denomination owns a "What 'We' Believe" franchise. All seminaries teach it, their graduates preach it and those who warm their pews buy it. Let the buyer beware.
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Post a comment or question or just read what others are saying: www.DYPK.org/apps/blog.
Short Entry, 08/17/2015
Did Paul intend the following message as a warning to LAYMEN? or to their PREACHERS and TEACHERS?
"...You ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you...a model for you to follow...For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'IF A MAN WILL NOT
WORK, HE SHALL NOT EAT.'..." —2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 (NIV)
Click here to share YOUR thoughts on that.
TC0002, 07/16/2015; Title: "Has the Gospel Message 'Evolved'?"
Click HERE to ask a question or to post a comment about it.
Why do Atheists believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Why do Muslims believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Why do Buddhists and Hindus and Jews believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons—Why do they believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Why do Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Episcopalians believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Why do you believe what you believe about the Bible and Christianity? Do you teach others?
Quick! How many different children's party games can you recall? Ever play the one called "Gossip?" If so, the following description of it will amuse you all over again. If you are not yet familiar with it you may catch up on loads of fun and gain some valuable human nature insight, to boot. Read on for a brief description of the fascinating children's party game called "Gossip."
With the children lined up single-file, an adult leader explains the game's simple rules and its two objectives. She might say, "The important thing is (A) to listen very carefully, so that you'll be able (B) to whisper the message, accurately, to the next person in line. Then, from the last player in line, we'll learn how well you've all listened and how accurately you've delivered the original message, as a team." After reading a short written message, the first player gives it back to the game leader and the game begins.
More players mean longer games. Longer games always yield hilarious distortions of the original messages. Please remember that—and this, too: Throughout most of the 2,000 years since Jesus walked here, literacy was the exception. Today, literacy is the norm. Still, though, the uninformed trust their preachers for interpretation of scripture, as if they can't read with understanding. The people they trust with all their hearts, their preachers, trust denominational theologians, "experts." The theologians of each denomination hold one another accountable to their respectively franchised "what ‘we' believe" platforms. What could have possibly gone wrong with that scenario over a period of 2,000 years? Suffice it to say that Lucifer is ecstatic. The gates of Hell have observably prevailed against the visible church.
You may know that there are shocking contrasts in the interpretation of critical scriptures even among mainstream denominations. Seems our professionals, the religious elite, have been playing multiple separate games of "Gossip" for 2,000 years. Those long games have predictably distorted God's original message, even in our mainstream denominations. That's no surprise, of course, but there's great news: We still have God's original message—in writing! Shouldn't we throw out all the new stuff? Some of it is hilarious. It's true! The Gospel message has "evolved!"
> "Today's new time religions masquerade, successfully, as old time religion."
Our religious teachers often seek to bedazzle us. Assertively, they utter things like, "What this scripture means is…" And when they wish to project exceptional spiritual credibility they say things like, "God showed me that this scripture means…" Uninformed believers nod faithfully in blind agreement.
Often, when a discerning parishioner questions an interpretation of Scripture, a self-serving teacher will respond cleverly (like a politician) with something like, "In matters like this, dear sister, you just have to have faith."
That's an awful lot of faith to invest in other human beings; don't you think? To invest that much Faith Equity(SM) in God and his sensibly interpreted written word would be the smart thing to do. But these are those last days, when people will not endure sound doctrine. Popular doctrines somehow feel more spiritual...and they're more comfortable and convenient, too, you know. It's just that human nature (i.e.: the Sin nature) is like water; consistently and predictably it follows the course of least resistance. That profound insight prompted the apostle, Paul, to write his bombshell messages about using our minds – instead of our hearts – when it comes to rightly dividing of the word of truth:
> "Change the way you think!" —Paul, at Romans 12:2, sensibly paraphrased
> "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5
> "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." —Paul, at 1 Thessalonians 5:21
> "God has given us the spirit of a sound mind." —Paul, at 2 Timothy 1:7, sensibly paraphrased
The prophet, Jeremiah, was even acquainted with the folly of thinking with one's feelings:
> "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? " —Jeremiah 17:9
You can do this! Your own literacy and intellect can get you the original truth. The written message of truth is actually rather simple and easy to understand—for those who will learn to study God's written word as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. Those who would have you believe it is too complex and difficult to understand seek to preserve their own employment / income security. For multiple centuries, members of the clergy were delighted that parishioners couldn't read.
The lofty, intellectual, Pharisee-like theology and all that "deeper meaning" stuff can surely wait long enough for us to put an end to the 2,000-year games of Bible "Gossip." We can do that by getting the very basic critical stuff straight, first. (One of my favorite quotes is from Vince Lombardi: "Gentlemen, this is a football.")
There are critical differences between sincere Believers and fruitful Disciples. The visible church has done a respectable job of making Believers…
Many, including clergy, may not consciously know why they believe whatever they believe about the Bible and Christianity. It is likely that most have passively subordinated their personal understanding to one of the theologically elite societies, each of whom claims a divine monopoly on scriptural interpretation. Observably, many of the uninformed have simply defaulted to the doctrine to which they were respectively first introduced; e.g.: "Momma was a saint! Her religion's gott'a be the right religion!" Sad.
In 2006, I organized a group of multi-denominational friends for some serious Bible study. Jointly and severally, we have been prompted to reexamine our own respective beliefs on several important Bible topics. In the process of following through on that objective, we have gained compassion for others who will feel compelled to embark on their own active (as opposed to passive) searches for original truth. Might that include you?
Each must acquire truth, for himself. Active searching for truth is effective. Passive searching is more comfortable, but it can only yield confirmation of denominational dogma. While denominational theologies may feature elements of Bible truth, their foundations are typically constructed of collections of derivative works. This series can help you learn WHY and HOW to search effectively and efficiently for God's original truth.
You are literate. You are intelligent. You have no rational reason to think the religious elite have a greater ability to interpret the really important parts of God's word for you. Yes, many of them have studied for "deeper meaning" and we should honor and respect them for that. But, if they are fellow servants of God they will be delighted to learn that you have decided to begin a new study of critical scripture, this time as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means.
My multi-denominational Bible study colleagues and I have discovered that much of what we had respectively been taught in our various church experiences is simply not true. Some of it is dangerous. Our teachers were educated and sincere, just like yours. So were their teachers…and their teachers…and their teachers! We were disappointed to learn that they all gained most of their understanding from others. Those you trust, who do they trust?
"Gossip." Gotta stop that game. But don't make up your mind about any of this until you've done what those more-noble Bereans did, at Acts 17:11.
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Post a comment, a question or just read what others are saying: www.DYPK.org/apps/blog.
TC0001, 06/18/2015; Title: "Weapons of Mass Deception(SM)"
Fully convinced for decades that I was Scripturally Conservative, I was fortunate to begin discovering (through prayerful private research and study) that my allegiance had been to Doctrinal Conservatism. I wasn't alone: Most other believers who think themselves Scripturally Conservative are also Doctrinally Conservative. Big difference. Consequential.
If you're familiar with U.S. Constitutional Conservatism, you'll find it relatively easy to grasp the concept of Scriptural Conservatism. "Relatively easy" is the operative phrase there, though. That's because Doctrinal Conservatism is based on the presumption that the doctrines of a given Denomination are foundational. "Foundational," in this context, means to be in full alignment and agreement with the original texts of the Old and New Testament scriptures...and with what Jesus and the 1st-Century Apostles taught. Your continued study will reveal, conclusively I think, that much (if not most) of what masquerades, today, as "old time religion" is actually quite new. (I plan to address that in my July 16th article, "Has the Gospel Message Evolved?")
At least four (4) major Weapons of Mass Deception(SM) have invaded the visible Christian church and are thriving even within the ranks of mainstream Denominational Doctrine. How and why can they continue to thrive? "In church" (or In seminary, if you're a clergyman) you've learned WHAT to study…to confirm Denominational Doctrine. To become Scripturally Conservative, you must start learning HOW to study…to discover the original truth of God's word. True, that'll be easier said than done. Worth your time and effort, though. Passivity hasn't worked. It won't. Your decision must be a conscious one. Here's some initial help for those who'll really want to learn how to do that: www.DYPK.org/how-to-study.
> "God's gift of a sound mind is a terrible thing to waste." —yours truly
Informed observers have concluded that our handsomely-funded U.S. public school systems wallow in the mire of miserable mediocrity or even complete failure largely because they teach their students WHAT to think, but not HOW to think. All this because human nature is "the sin nature." Like water moving downhill, human nature predictably follows the course of least resistance. We've learned how to manage the forces of resistance to the natural flow of water to our benefit. Isn't it time that we learn to manage the resistance to the sinful flow of human nature—to the benefit of our human institutions? Wouldn't that be to the ultimate benefit of those who'll continue to blindly trust those institutions to dispense truth?
The problem is that the observable mission of the visible Christian church has, for centuries, been "to get people 'saved' and 'in church'." The great commission has NOTHING to do with filling church buildings with Believers, but with making Disciples of those who've heard and believed the Gospel message. Big, BIG differences. So who's making Disciples? Like it or not, that cannot be done from a pulpit...or from any other podium. Not convinced? Try "teaching" a group of young children how to ride bikes! It's not a "teaching" assignment, but a COACHING assignment. So where are the coaches? And who's training the coaches...?
Keep in mind that the Thessalonian and the Berean Jews of Acts 17:11 were highly skeptical of the 1st-Century Gospel message, but their responses were remarkably different. The Bereans proved themselves to be the adults in the room. That's why Paul called them "more noble." (You may want to read that scripture in several Bible versions.) Will yours be a Berean-styled response?
religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every
case gotten at second hand, and without examination." —Samuel Clemens,
I'll help you to identify each of those Four (4) Weapons of Mass Deception(SM) as the series continues. Meanwhile, layman or clergy, I am compelled to remind you that your resolve to intelligently resist the ongoing damage of human nature must be a conscious one.
I'm in. You?
—T. C. Newsome
PS: Post a comment, a question or just read what others are saying: www.DYPK.org/apps/blog.
Humility's a quality that few of us possess.
A lot like chasing butterflies—but without a net!
For once one thinks, "I've got it, now!" one has the thing much less.
Our Lord has set it up that way so we will not forget
That it's a thing not to be sought, but rather to possess.
Preserves the soul's tranquility; yields patience through hard trial.
Like dynamite with unlit fuse, one's enemies confess
Humility's an awesome power that's clothed as something mild.
Humility can hide great strength and steer the proud amiss:
When they perceive the meek as weak and leverage that for gain
Surprises are in store for them to rob them of their bliss.
(The weapons formed against the meek are always formed in vain.)
Our Lord has shown us how and why we all must find restraints,
Although we know we've gained great power once Jesus dwells within.
The Bible tells of some who failed but later were called saints
For they had learned the consequence and conquered prideful sin.
That state of mind that pleases God and benefits us all
Eludes the ones who seek the gifts that edify themselves
And rests on those who seek it not, but see themselves "on call"
To do small, selfless things that others leave on shelves.
A few of those whom I have met while following my road
Who demonstrate humility are giants in my sight.
Most of them do not perceive the value of their role
In prompting me to emulate their mindsets and their plight.
—T. C. Newsome
[Click HERE to see the meme at Facebook...including the comments thread.]