Category Archives: Uncategorized

Must We Live A Moral and Righteous Life?

(From  my book titled, “But What If I’m Right?”)

Chapter Ten: Must We Live A Moral and Righteous Life?

This wasn’t one of my intended chapter topics but it jumped in here when I wasn’t looking. Since I am a salvation guy and desire just as our Father God in heaven desires, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9 Without a doubt, I will get push-back from this chapter, but that is good, realizing that someone is truly interested in search of the truth Let’s examine who God‘s children really are, what it is to be a child of God. Since so many modern Christians dispel the Old Testament’s relevancy in today’s teachings, only New Testament evidence will be used. Before I segway into that, though, keep in mind one very important fact. Jesus, our Messiah Himself, taught from the Old Testament Jewish Bible, as also did the early disciples, Apostles, and teachers of the time as the New Testament hadn’t been written or recorded and therefore, not available to them.

“’You are the temple of the living God.’ As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:16b-18:1

After reading that above passage, need anything else ever be written to describe who we are in Christ? That is about as personal identity with our Lord and Savior as ever there was. Forget all that saving-grace, faith, and all that other stuff that says you are saved by simply receiving His grace. Read that again and absorb it into your heart. I promise, we will get to “saved by grace through faith,” but I want you to really focus on that above passage. Lest I be accused of taking Scripture out of context, get your Bible out and read all of chapter six, and into the first two verses of chapter seven. It means exactly what it says.

Let’s devour what is spoken. You are the temple of the most-high living God. He will dwell in you, and He will be your Father as He walks amongst us. Aren’t you just overwhelmed by that? Earlier in a previous letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote something reinforcing that passage above: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Cor 3:16

Christians may disagree with me on certain topics of the Bible but I have never been accused of false teaching because I always use Scripture as the ultimate authority. No, I am not pious nor arrogant, but I do try to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess 5:21 After all, it is all our responsibility to teach the truth at a higher standard that is Bible-sourced. Warning, though, get ready; many of you will accuse me of false teaching because what follows may fly in the face of what you have been taught, what you believe, and what you think the Bible says. I am a big boy and can take criticism, but I am confident that Scripture will back me up, and Scripture should always be the ultimate standard by which things are judged.

Are you ready? The New Testament says we are to be holy and righteous, set apart from the world’s ways. That is how we become children of God. That is why God will reside in us through the Holy Spirit. “Oh, no, Mr. Author! But what about grace? What about ‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’” Rom 10:9,10 Did not Paul write in that verse above that I wanted you to digest that we are to “not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.”

A real conundrum there. That sounds like we have to be obedient for something, but we are taught that Jesus did it all for us on the cross. “Now, Mr. Author, you’ve crossed the line; that sounds like works doctrine you’re trying to teach…” I trust that you grabbed your Bible and continued from that above passage into chapter seven. I’ll go there for you: “Therefore, having these promises (of becoming His sons and daughters), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness, in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 7:1 This is an order from Paul that he received by revelation from Jesus Christ. Perfecting holiness? Works? In the fear of God? Yes, I fear God and what His wrath will be; just read the Book of Revelation.

In plain English, translated and approved as accurate for over 400 years, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote for our receiving, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, looking carefully, lest anyone should fall short of the grace of God.” Heb 12:14 Again, feel free to read surrounding verses but without holiness no one will see the Lord. Have you grace teachers ever read that and wondered how to overcome the conflict?

Without a doubt, as children of God, we are to live in this world but not of it. We are to live in the spirit, not in the flesh, not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Clearly, you cannot be holy while fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.

Oh, boy; I have no doubt irritated a lot of people, but Satan does not want you irritated. He desires you to believe that the blood of Christ lets you do everything in the flesh. Satan has no power over the blood of Jesus! But, he has power in misleading people, just as he did in the Garden of Eden. Satan is “a liar and the father of lies,” Jn 8:44 and “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Cor 11:14,15 Do not be deceived.

Paul, the great grace teacher, wrote, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:24 Since you became a born again Christian, are you the same person you were prior to becoming a child of God? You shouldn’t be. Evidence of your truly born again state is that you are “a new creation; old things are passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 Frankly, if you have not repented and are doing the same things as before, you are probably not truly born again. The old things are passed away, dead. That doesn’t mean there are no struggles, falling back. We are sinful in nature. But don’t use that for an excuse to sin. Paul said he died daily to sin. That didn’t mean he sinned daily, but the urges and temptations were there.

My friends, God hates sin; it is separation from Him, and ultimately could lead you into the eternal fire in hell. That’s pretty blunt. Ever hear, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”? That, brethren, is not Biblical. In fact, that is a quote from Mahatma Ghandi’s 1929 auto-biography. Even a non-Christian Buddhist understands that God hates sin!

James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved (What? Approved? Some kind of moral testing here?), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Jas 1:12-15 That’s a pretty concise description of sin and the consequences. “Brings forth death.”

That, my friends, is spiritual death, separation from God. Hundreds of books have been written on both sides of this topic so this chapter can only touch the surface, but I will try to do so in depth quickly, using Scriptures to substantiate this important salvation issue. From early Christianity, this didn’t seem to be a problem, understanding what God desired His people to do. The Bible, from the very first chapter to its end, is filled with all kinds of rules and obligations.

Many of these obligations come with warnings from God regarding His kingdom and His desire that His people be obedient, repent when they sin or were disobedient, and when they break any of His laws, commandments, or ordinances. For many hundreds of years, the Bible was “hidden” from most ordinary people, either by the scarcity of manuscripts or by language barriers. The Church hierarchy, primarily the Catholic Church, carefully concealed the Bible from those regarded as unworthy of reading it. It was the Church’s for the dissemination and proclaiming its “truths” to its people. Without a doubt, this involuntary illiteracy of the Bible allowed much misinformation and many non-Biblical doctrinal practices to flourish.

Various early factions of Christianity knew God wanted His people to be holy, righteous, and set apart from the world, a “peculiar” people. The first time the word “Christian” shows up in the Bible is Acts 11:26. The Greek word Christianos simply means “follower of Christ.”  That sounds a bit vague in today’s vernacular, but it was understood that to be a follower of Christ, one was to be totally committed to Him, believing that He was the promised Messiah, the only one who can bring salvation. That is the simplest definition, to be totally in for Christ! Willing to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.” Matt 16:24 The “saved by grace” doctrine is one of the most contentious of all Bible understandings. For practical purposes, it began when Martin Luther, a Catholic, posted on church doors his famous 95 Theses, protesting many of the doctrinal practices such as indulgences (payment for absolving sins), purgatory, and the Catholic Church’s “works-for-salvation” doctrine.

This sparked the whole Protestant Reformation movement in the sixteenth century that continues through today. The key verses that poured gasoline onto the embers of the whole works controversy was Ephesians 2:8,9: “Ye are saved by grace through faith; it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (KJV) Many Protestant preachers proclaim it only requires faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, that the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ has fulfilled all for us. We cannot be good enough, do enough good deeds, live a good enough life, a wholesome life of obeying all man’s laws, to earn our way into the kingdom of God. I believe that to be true. Anything that puts us in charge of determining our own righteousness by earthly standards falls short of being in the presence of all God’s glory.

Jesus said,  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” Jn 14:6 Not through Buddha, not through Mohammad, not through Santa Claus, not through your own ways, but through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I believe that today’s mainstream Protestants have so much disdain for Catholics that they take their own doctrines to extremes and error in doing so. Where is the love they profess to preach so much? Aren’t we all supposed to be one Body of Christ, The Church, united through our faith in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior? “Hold fast that which is good….” 1 Thess 5:21b The controversy really begins with defining “works.” Let’s try to do that, keeping it simple, because this can get way too deep very quickly, with debates abounding. The word “works” in this passage means “deed, doing, labor, work.”2 That was simple; now comes the tricky part. The actions described as “works” are often lumped in with keeping the “Law.”

The “Law” is defined as “regulations (specific of Moses), principles.”3 The Law is typically known as the Mosaic Law, though there were God’s laws before Moses dating back to creation in the Garden of Eden. God told Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then later, Cain murdered his brother Able. The Law as typically understood by theologians consists of three divisions: the great universal moral law (The Ten Commandments), religious ceremonial law, and civil law. Some scholars include a fourth health law, but it is important to note that these classifications are man-distinguished, not God’s.

Briefly, I’ll break these down, keeping in mind we’re looking for an answer to the title of this chapter, “Must We Live a Moral and Righteous Life?” God planned from the beginning that the religious ceremonial laws would cease at the cross because Jesus the Messiah, the true Lamb of God, would be sacrificed for us. The animal sacrifices all pointed forward to Christ’s death on the cross, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” Heb 9:22 Up until the blood shed on the cross, the blood of animal sacrifices covered sins. Jesus is the substitutionary,  unblemished, perfect Lamb of God, that we may have a path to salvation. For us to offer animal sacrifices today would be a sacrilege, saying that Jesus did not die for our sins. “He (God) has delivered us from the power of darkness, and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son (Jesus) of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13,14 “He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Col 2:13b,14 These two verses should push aside any arguments contrary to what Jesus had done for us, including dissolving the requirements of keeping the ceremonial laws.

The Jews respect 613 laws that they must observe and atone to. About 100 of these are related to the blood sacrifices in the Law, although most Jews today have suspended the temple sacrifices until their Messiah returns and sits upon His throne before His new tabernacle. Most of the remaining laws are recognized as obedience to God and must be followed to this day by the Jews. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the ancient years around the time of Christ were essentially the religious law-leaders, interpreters of the law, and prosecutors, interpreting every jot and tittle of their laws, as well as intermixing many other ordinances and statutes. These included civil laws. We would know them today as guidelines to an organized society, like traffic laws, property laws, taxes, etc. Though we are not obligated to recognize these civil laws of Jewish substance, we are not to disregard any law that is relevant today that does not contradict the moral authority of God. In other words, if a state trooper pulls you over and tells you that you were doing 90-mph in a 55-mph speed zone, your plea to him that you are no longer under the Law will not carry any weight.

Are we saved by grace and therefore are no longer under the Law or commandments that will guide us to righteousness? And, through faith, can we live a sinful life because “faith is accounted for righteousness…to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works”? Rom 4:5b,6 The Bible says we are no longer under the Law.  It is a dangerous thing to pull a verse or two out of the Bible and say you have an “ah-HA!” moment. In the flesh, in our carnal bodies, Christians try to find Scripture verses that will justify and confirm their salvation so that they can continue living a sinful life in their flesh apart from God.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is deep in Christian theology and leaves opportunity for all kinds of interpretation. It does take diligence in study of it to decipher what Paul is actually saying as, on its surface, he seems to be all over the place. Rest assured; there are no contradictions. The Apostle Peter said, “As also our beloved Paul, according to wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Pet 3:16 Untaught and unstable people…. Simplified, Paul is enforcing that the new Christians in Rome were contending for their faith but were torn between keeping the traditional laws enforced by the Pharisees and Sadducees and trusting in faith. Through all the minutia, Paul enforces a necessity to commit to Jesus through faith, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with.” Rom 6:6 Paul does not say that we have a license to sin.

”Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it (your flesh) in your lusts. .What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? So now, present your members as slaves of righteousness to holiness, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:12-22

Sin is still death, whether under the law or under God’s gift of grace. To choose between faith over the Law does not mean sin is non-existent outside the Law, “for as many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law…” Rom 2:12 Paul is talking to Christians here.

“But Mr. Author, the Bible says, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Rom 3:23 Therefore, none of us are expected to be sinless.” Okay, that’s what your preacher told you. Incidentally, that is past tense: all have sinned, before you have received the Holy Spirit for a life lived by that Spirit so that you live in that Spirit.

Let’s look at what our Master said to an invalid at the Pool of Bethseda (Jn 15:15) and to the woman adulteress whom the people were ready to stone (Jn 8:11): “Go; sin no more.” Would Jesus tell them to do something that was impossible? Or, did Jesus have a brain cramp and say something He didn’t really mean? Or, did those commands of Jesus die on the cross? No, no, and no. We just like to hear our religious leaders convince us that sin is normal in today’s culture and that we should all just try our best. After all, we are saved by grace, not works. We flock to pastors who tell us we are okay with God in our present state. Jesus also said this: “Be perfect, just as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48 Again, is Jesus telling us to press toward something we can’t be? Preachers try to water that down by saying things like this, that “perfect” does not mean what it says because He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. They say, “perfect” simply means to be “complete.” Yes, the Strong’s Concordance does say that “complete” is one of the definitions. But being complete is the fullness of what you should be as a Christian, and that completion means you are a new creation in Christ, and that creation in His image is what? His image is perfect and complete. Here we have a problem. If someone reads the Bible without any outside influence like a Bible commentary or a preacher, and reads that Jesus said, “sin no more,” and “Be perfect, just as my Father in heaven is perfect,” is he/she not supposed to believe these mean what they say? If that’s true, he/she would have to question everything else he/she reads as potentially not meaning what it says.

No, I am not perfect; no one is. But that does not mean that we should not strive toward that perfection in Christ. The sanctification process is taking us to holiness in His image. “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Jas 1:2-4 Notice in that passage, perfect and complete are used together. Despite those who argue that Paul says grace covers everything through faith, Paul is consistent with his revelation of the effects of sin in one’s body. One of Paul’s mantras is to live in the Spirit of Christ, for “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to Spirit, things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom 8:5,6 “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Rom 8:10

“I say then, ‘Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’” Gal 5:16-21

Paul is clearly saying that if you do any of those things in this list of things contrary to living in the Spirit, you are destined for hell, unless you have a behavior modification, a Biblical-mandated repentance. Even most non-Christians have an internal moral compass to know that doing most of those things are wrong. Some things are just plain obvious! But many Christians think they get a free pass because they claim that believing in Jesus is enough; all things beyond that are “works.”

I personally witnessed a Sunday morning preacher teaching through Galatians 5:19-21, that the warning “will not enter the kingdom of God” was not a salvation message and many in the church applauded, “Amen!” Sadly, that is reflective of what is taught in many churches, and people in the congregations agree with it! If you hear a lie often enough, it transcends into a truth, a false truth, at that (an oxymoron there). What does that mean, then, that one will not enter the kingdom of God? That they won’t be able to golf with God at His country club, or what? Paul repeats similar warnings in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, Ephesians 5:3-5, Colossians 3:5,6. Does this sound like a guy who is saying grace allows all sins to be committed with no fear? Certainly not!

Many mainstream grace teachers promote that “grace” means “unmerited favor.” Again, I defer to the most respected Strong’s Concordance. Nowhere does it claim the word means “unmerited favor.” But it sounds great to all the wanna-do-whatever-I want Christians. Now this is what is in the Strong’s, this most respected reference, that charis means divine influence, among other meanings (unmerited is not included). Every place you read the word “grace” in the Bible, try substituting “divine influence” and you will begin to recognize and feel more power in His word. Also, in most places the word grace appears, it makes more sense when read in context to substitute divine influence. That is where our power in the Holy Spirit comes from, His divine influence. This is worth repeating for emphasis: God’s power He has given us in the gifts comes from His divine influence—power. A third time: divine influence! Hallelujah!

Throughout his writings, Paul warns: “Do not be deceived.” God knew there would be a stampede of deception, even amongst those Christians who are supposed to know better. The Moral Law is universally accepted as the Ten Commandments that most understand today. Nine of the ten are reaffirmed in the New Testament, the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath the only one absent. (There are those that argue that the Sabbath was never abolished and frankly, I find their reasoning defendable). So then, do we need to obey the Ten Commandments, or is that considered following the Law? I will answer that the way Jesus did.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“ Matt 22:37-40

Think about it. If you obey those two commandments alone, you will not be able to breech any of the other commandments! That’s very powerful and insightful of Jesus, but who would have expected less from the Son of God? Notice, too, that He doesn’t say the rest of the commandments are null and void. He even goes so far as to say that on those two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.

“By this we know that we love Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar., and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. He who says he abides in Him ought also to walk just as He walked.” 1 Jn 2:3-6

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1

So, how do we imitate Christ? By living unrighteously and unholy, by satisfying the lusts of the flesh? Walk just as He walked. “Abstain from all forms of evil.” 1 Thess 5:22 There is good news; the list of disqualifying sins does come with hope. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Cor 6:11

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as others.” Eph 2:1-3 The underlined emphasis above are all past tense words, that you are no longer doing those things now that you have the Spirit of God residing within you. If you are still doing those things, then maybe you need to do a personal soul-search. “Examine yourselves whether you are of the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, indeed, you are disqualified.” 2 Cor 13:5

Question for you, the reader: What do you think this means, “If you live in the Spirit, then you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”? There was a presumption, and a hope, that at least 50% of the readers of this book would be non-believing Christians because the theme of the book is that skeptics and non-believers should take a look at all the either-or decisions we all have to make during our lifetime; no in between, a choice of salvation in Christ Jesus, or the alternative, eternal existence in the torments of hell. That being said, I believe that even unbelievers are aware of what living in the Spirit, not in the flesh means. My personal survey of unbelievers has shown that living in the flesh means doing the things that satisfy us with things in the world, (contrary to God’s desires), but they choose not to give them up.

On the contrary, I have found that many Christians ignore the profound importance and depth of what it means to live in the Spirit of God because they believe they live under the blood of Jesus for all sins, past, present, and future. If that alone doesn’t give them the free will to choose to continue in sin and still go to heaven, then God’s gift of grace will be the secondary, or maybe even the primary assurance of eternal security, or so they think. Fact is, they, just like the unbelievers, don’t want to give up their lusts in the flesh. “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thess 4:7,8

Many people who don’t believe in God or the Bible look at so-called Christians in wonderment, recognizing that these “saints” are living no different than themselves, so where is the change that is supposed to take place within one’s self when he/she becomes a Christian? Paul said, “Shall we continue to sin then that grace may abound? Certainly not!” Rom 6:12 “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin.” Rom 6:12

I can’t take credit for this but a radio preacher said, “Be a Christian, not act like one.” Simple, yet very profound. We know that actors “act” in a character not of themselves, but when the role is done, they go back to whom they really are. Christians should always be a Christian, being an example of what God’s Word says.

To try to live righteously? Bah, humbug! Christ imputed all righteousness to believers! (I am being facetious, for sure.) Be careful not to put all your faith in one, or just a few verses, out of context. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of heaven? Do not be deceived.” The very last book of the Bible, Revelation, attributed to John about 30-40 years after the Apostle Paul died, says this: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev 21:8 That’s pretty harsh, and there is no mention of anyone doing those things will be rescued by grace.

“Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Jas 1:22 Step up to the plate, and do what the Bible says—these are commands from God!

Several years ago, a rubber wristband was promoted and worn by several Christians that had the inscription, “WWJD,” an acronym for “What Would Jesus Do?” Many thought it was corny, but what would Jesus do? The wristband was a simple reminder of the fact that God is in your very presence all the time; would Jesus approve of what you are doing, watching, or thinking? If you are a true Christian, we truly “have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor 2:16 Are you living like you have the mind of Christ? “…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….” Col 1:9b,10 Sounds pretty basic and simple to me; what would Jesus do?

“For the wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of me, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, in meekness and fear.” Rom 1:8

There it is, suppression of truth… Today, we don’t want to hear about the wrath of God—that’s Old Testament. Preachers and teachers of the “grace covers everything” teaching often defend their position: “Satan wants you to believe that grace does not cover everything and those who teach this don’t understand the power of the blood of Jesus.” Friends, I do know the power of the blood of Jesus. But I also know the deceptive powers of Satan, free will, and our natural desire to live in the flesh contrary to living in Christ Jesus and gravitate toward any religious philosophy that justifies our abhorrent, or less-than-Godly behavior.

Don’t think it is possible to live a holy, righteous life? Then you are denying that you have the mind of Christ, a new creation in His image. You also deny His very presence and divine influence within you. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 Jn 4:4 Now, the questions. If you do not believe in God and think that you are good enough by your own self-judgment and examination to get to heaven, if there is a heaven, then good luck to you, as we have already crossed that bridge and its consequences in chapter two.

If you, as a Christian, believe that the blood of Jesus, along with His grace, covers everything, and believe that a lifestyle of living in the flesh and living contrary to God’s holy Commandments are not disqualifiers for entering the kingdom of God (heaven), gosh, I hope you are right because I’m going to heaven right along with you then, too. But What If I’m Right? Both of us can’t be right. I don’t believe the Bible says that living under grace gives you the freedom to live contrary to God’s standards He has set before us, and sadly, you will have been deceived and will have your part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. On the other hand, I, along with other repentant and obedient believers, will be in heaven in the presence of our Almighty, Glorious Father God! You only get one shot at it; don’t blow it!

“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning, for it would have been better not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened according to the true proverb: ‘a dog returns to its own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” 2 Pet 2:20-22

If that describes you, there’s still time to confess your sins to God, repent, strive to live like Jesus did, and turn it back around. Is that “works”? So be it. Emphasis again, But What If I’m Right?

Will Catholics Go To Heaven?

Will You See Your Catholic Family Members or Friends in Heaven?
(Excerpts taken from the book of the same name, by John J. Briggle, 2018)

OPENING… I am not an apologist for Catholicism, yet, in an effort of full disclosure, I was raised Catholic and thought of myself as a Catholic forever. That’s just the teaching. So, after backsliding, living in the world, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh for many years, what next? Am I still a Catholic?

Today, I do not pigeon-hole my faith under any specific denomination—nope, not even Catholicism, or any other “-ism.” I am self-described as a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, Jesus-following, John 3:3, 5 Christian. Notice, I do not categorize myself as a Protestant nor a Catholic, nor any of the other off-shoots of those teachings. Religion is corrupt; Jesus is not.

This dissertation will only touch on the surface details, emphasis on major beliefs and doctrines.

Mainstream Protestants do not believe that Catholics are Christian, nor do they call them Christian. To me, that is puzzling, as they are followers of Jesus Christ, which is what the word Christian means. (The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Christianos—“followers of Christ”, Gr#5546, pg 99). Mainstream Protestants have an arrogant viewpoint of themselves, having captured the “truth” through teachings that essentially began in the early 16th century. Up until then?

Catholics teach that they are right and if you are not Catholic you will not go to heaven. Protestants think they are correct and any other way is the wrong way. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a better answer. Seventh Day Adventists, Messianic Jews, on and on. So, who is correct?

The Catholic population of the world is about 1.8 billion, or over 50% of the Christian population (if one considers Catholics as Christian). Hey, they all can’t be wrong, can they? One thing for certain is that we do not judge correctness or truth by consensus. If 51% of Christians say abortion is okay, the majority, therefore, concludes that the world should accept abortion as morally acceptable, right? Sadly, about 51% of Christians do believe abortion is morally acceptable and does not violate Biblical understanding. (The Bible is not a smorgasbord; we do not get to decide what we like and what we don’t like, and disregard the rest.) Repeating: truth is not measured by consensus; truth is measured solely by God’s Word. We know abortion is not okay.

The way the Catholic Church swept under the rug, and continues to do so, all those sexual predators and deviants is repulsive and inexcusable; there is no defense! All those priests and others? God will definitely judge them in His righteous manner. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.” Rom 12:19 (NASB) I have news for you, friends, there have been Protestant preachers who have been found guilty of many of the same kinds of acts. Man is a sinful creature and it is obvious that corruption is not exempt from the pulpit of any denomination.

Moving forward, if this sounds like total criticism of the Catholic church, you may find it a defense, but only to the point that it honors God and His unchanging Holy Word. The Catholic Church has been consistently strong throughout all the centuries regarding abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage, frankly, much stronger than the changing cultural attitudes within main-stream Protestantism. God’s Word has never changed; man is fickle and always changing.

As a Christian apologist (emphasis: Christian apologist, not Catholic), I hold firm that the Holy Bible is the authentic inspired Word of God, recorded in written form by over 40 writers. The Bible has survived every challenge of authenticity since its inception and I move forward believing it is the most trusted book ever compiled.

The Catholic Bible includes 14 additional books known as the Deuterocanonical books, or Apocrypha, but were also in the early King James Version for about 274 years until dropped in 1885. The Apocrypha books were never considered the inspired Word of God but do supplement the Holy Bible from a historical vantagepoint, especially the two books of the Maccabees. I have read all fourteen books and the Maccabees, filling in the 400 year gap between the writings of Malachi and Matthew, especially do provide insightful information on the Jewish state and their survival from the second century B.C. to the first coming of Jesus Christ.

This writing was inspired by a conversation I over-heard the other day that centered on Christian brethren who have friends and family members who are Catholic and are not “born again,” therefore, missing out on the kingdom of Heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an apologist for Catholicism, but there are severe misunderstandings about the world’s largest religious sect. Based upon the Word of Truth, the Holy Bible, there will be many so-called Protestants and so-called Catholics who will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. The insertion of “so-called” is necessary because many do not truly live according to their faith.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt 7:13, 14 There are many deceptions from the pulpit today and within all denominations of Christianity (which is why there are so many off-shoots; all thinking they have the correct translation, interpretation, or understanding).

This dissertation is going to focus on main-stream Protestantism and Catholicism, particularly the latter. Will Catholics go to heaven? According to Protestant teaching, works are not required, only faith in Jesus Christ. What that means is a debate for another time, but for simplification, most Christians agree on the following verse: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9, 10 Guess what, Martin Luther Protestants, Catholics believe that, too! Yes, they believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, was buried and rose from the dead! The same Jesus of Nazareth that Protestants believe in.

But, but, wait, it says that “by grace we are saved by faith; it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8, 9 According to Protestants, by their own criteria, that should not be a disqualifier for the Catholic, because they do have the pre-described faith that is the only thing many Protestants claim is required. Then the question arises, can one combine faith with works? “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Jas 2:26

Maybe this analogy fits: A man takes his family to the movie theater and the cashier says, “That’ll be $28 for all of you.” The dad gives the cashier two $20 bills and says, “Keep the change.” But sir, you only need $28 to get in….” Dad fulfills what is required to get in, then gives more. It wasn’t necessary to give any extra and the cashier did not say, “Well then, sir, none of you can get in because you gave too much.” Is God not going to let you into heaven because you did a little extra?

There is a real conundrum present here. Protestants claim faith is salvation, yet they disqualify Catholics for their faith with works, yet the Bible says faith without works is dead. Many Catholics and Protestants alike do not live according to their faith. Rem ember earlier when I included “so-called?” Works are the evidence of one’s faith, a changed lifestyle that includes love for others, taking care of the poor and the elderly, and living toward a holy and righteous life. You are supposed to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, living in the Spirit of God because the Holy Spirit is in you. “Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Cor 3:16 If the Holy Spirit is truly in you, you will be convicted in your thoughts, actions, and have an enriched desire to please God. Your responsibility is immense as being the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s something not too many Christians realize or remember that the early church was known as “katholikos,” (Greek) or “universal.” Look familiar? You guessed it: catholic (lower case “c.”) If one was an early Christian, he/she was probably thought of as a member of the catholic church (again, lower case “c”, universal church.). Except for smaller splinter offshoots, Catholics dominated the early church. The early Crusades were the then organized Catholic Church warring against invaders, first against Mohammad in the 7th century, into its regions, and beyond. If not for the Catholic Crusades that continued into the middle of the second century, much more of the world would be Muslim today. Catholicism dominated until the mid-16th century when the great Protestant Reformation period would begin with Martin Luther leading the way, followed by Andreas Karlstadt and Philip Melanchthon at Wittenberg, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and others followed to this date.

Thousands of books are written regarding the rivalry between the various denominations, who is right, who holds the key to salvation. The Holy Bible does not use descriptive words like Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Methodist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. Those are man’s creations, not God’s. God probably cringes at every categorized stereotype of the various factions of Christianity.

Martin Luther (a Catholic himself who never denounced his Catholic affiliation but was excommunicated, in 1517, tacked his famous 95 Theses on the doorways and lampposts in Rome and surrounding area, never declaring that Catholics wouldn’t go to heaven because they didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but instead appealing for debate on corruption within the Catholic Church, their doctrine of indulgences, and on many other topics like works as a means of salvation. Accordingly, I, too, am not defending many of the non-Biblical doctrines of Catholicism.

Catholicism established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Did you know that the three-in-one Holy Trinity was not officially endorsed by man until the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, by the Catholic Church? Up until then there was contention within the church. The word trinity is not in the Bible, an argument that Jehovah’s Witnesses and others use to support their doctrine. The word I prefer is Godhead, which does appear in the Holy Bible, and effectively establishes the three-in-one equality of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Yes, Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, too—they established it!

Enough of the brief history lesson. I do have one question for you to ponder, though. So, if most Christians were “Catholic” before the Protestant Reformation and were not focused on the “saved by grace” phenomenon, have they all been enduring the torments in hell all these years? Catholics, the universal church, were known as Christians from their beginning, but many Protestants nowadays say they are not Christians at all. How the definitions change….

“I (Jesus) did not come to save the righteous, but the sinner to righteousness.” Lk 5:32 The righteous already figure they have the way to salvation by their own pride and self-righteousness. The sinner, you and me, needs Jesus in their lives. Make sure your own house is in order before you begin to condemn others; “remove the plank from your own eye first, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:5

As Jesus uses us as His vessels here on earth, we do so according to His Holy Word, not by the doctrine of religious organizations. Do you think you are saved while Catholics are not? “Examine yourselves whether you are of the faith; test yourself. Do you not know that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, indeed, you are disqualified.” 1 Cor 13:5 Are you living in faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Are you submitting fully to your Master? With evidence of your faith in your actions and demeanor? Can you be obedient to God without it being “works”? If you “do” to please God, is that “works”? And if you “do works,” are you then disqualified from your faith? If by having saving-faith, then if you live your life as Jesus did, is that a “works” issue because you are “living a good life,” you are “doing,” and thus, disqualified?

Here’s where the “works doctrine” can get real goofy, and believe me, there are Christians who teach this: To try to do works for salvation is works doctrine; to try not to do works is works, to try to not to do to not do is works, to do not to do not to do not… Works! Here is my simple advice that I think you all understand: RELAX! You know the difference between right and wrong, you know what it means to be obedient to God, you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You know that you are saved by grace through faith, not of works, lest anyone gets all puffed up and boasts in his/her own accomplishments and self-righteousness. You are not saved by the denomination you worship under.

Can anyone tell me where the Bible says anything that would disqualify a Catholic from being born again? Worshipping and honoring false idols would be a major one, for certain. The Bible indicates anyone can come to Jesus and be born again. There are many Protestants who disqualify themselves from the kingdom of heaven by their own worshipping of false idols, living in the flesh, fulfilling the lusts, living a life contrary to God. Jesus challenged the Pharisees and other accusers when He drew the line in the sand: “Anyone who is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her.” Jn 8:7 Again, make sure your own house is in order before you self-legislate who is worthy of the kingdom of God.

Distinction: Legalism and the “law” are apart from works, though one may strive toward salvation through that legalism—that is in error. The whole salvation-by-works doctrine is totally misunderstood. It simply means one cannot do good deeds or simply be a good person doing good works to get into God’s heavenly kingdom.

One cannot “buy” his/her way into heaven. Many from the pulpit, yes, even Protestants, teach that the “more you give the church the greater blessings you will receive (thirty, sixty, hundredfold!), the better room and view you will have in the mansion God has prepared for you in heaven, or similar. Let no one convince you that God’s blessings can be bought; God’s grace, love and blessings are not for sale! One thing the Bible is very clear on is that we can’t do it on our own; we needed Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise from the grave.

Many churches lead people to salvation through a somewhat universal “Salvation Prayer,” or “Sinners’ Prayer.” This is not totally Biblical either, but many claim that once professed, this profession of faith saves that person for eternity no matter what they do. Catholics use the same prayer. So, what’s good for one is not good for another?

Jesus was very clear that he opposed hypocrites. Is voicing a salvation prayer all it takes to be saved, and it’s good for Protestants but not Catholics?

My mother, a staunch Catholic, very interestingly couldn’t wait to watch a Billy Graham Crusade on TV. I would ask, “Mom, what is the fascination?” Though Catholic, she recognized something different in the brief sermons from this Protestant evangelist. Billy Graham’s message was always short, powerful, and without a doubt was less substance-filled than your typical Sunday morning sermon, yet thousands marched from their seats to “give their life to the Lord.” My mother knew she was missing something from her upbringing, from her understanding of God and Jesus, but mostly from an indoctrination by the Catholic church.

It’s worth repeating again, I am not a Catholic apologist, so don’t categorize me as one defending their errors, scandals, and corruptions. Are Catholics Christians? They believe in the same Christ Jesus. They believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Trinity, three as One. They believe that Jesus was persecuted, crucified, died on the cross at Calvary, and rose from the dead. That’s what you believe, too, isn’t it? Are they going to heaven? Many will, many won’t, the same with all other denominations of the Christian faith. Hypocrites! So-called Christians. (There’s that phrase again.) Do Catholics acquire the required born again condition? Many do, many do not. Are Protestants born again? Many are, many are not.
Do an internet search of the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed, both Catholic originations. Both establish much of the Catholic doctrine that continues to this day. Compare it to what you believe. Does it sound like they are Christian? It’s what they practice that causes eyebrows to raise.

This is an important Scripture verse that many forget, that God enlarged hell and not heaven: “Therefore, Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure. Their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he who is jubilant shall descend into it.” Isaiah 5:14 As people are drawn further and further from our Lord and Savior, through deception or simply a desire to enjoy the lusts of this world, hell is awaiting, and there is plenty of room for those fallen from the grace of God.

Will God punish Catholics for their doctrinal errors such as honoring the Pope as “God on earth,” for indulgences, for their belief in purgatory, for their requirement of keeping the holy sacraments? I, my friends, cannot make that judgment; that is for He who created us and that judgment awaits us all! Catholics do not have to give up their Catholicism to be born again; that is not the error of their ways. What they must do is receive Jesus before all other names and call upon His name, putting no one as His equal. God is God of this earth, not the Pope. Jesus is where the power is, not in one’s favorite ordained saint. The Holy Bible is the authoritative Word of God; man can never assimilate His ways and change doctrine contrary to the original Word. The Pope with a board of Catholic Cardinals cannot change the Gospel message or any of its meaning. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Heb 13:8

Here is a real no-brainer: Jesus is Jesus is God is Jesus! He is not the Pope, Elijah, Mohammad, Buddha, Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Santa Claus, on and on. Jesus is the only one who rose from the dead, defying all natural laws. How was that possible? Because He is God, manifested in the flesh, super-natural in powers, and we should be so thankful that He did that for us!

Since the Bible is the authoritative THRUTH, we can definitively declare that the designation of a pope as leader of all Christians is man-made, not Biblical. The Bible talks about bishops, apostles, and deacons, and none of them were to have authority over anyone else, but to serve God in service in the church. Also, as emphasized before, the Pope is not God on earth and has no authority over other Christians. We worship and serve God directly. A pope is human, fallible, sinful. God is none of that!

Key point I want to make is this; rather than partake in persecution of your Catholic brethren, take a look at your own self first. “Examine yourselves whether you are of the faith. Test yourself.” 2 Cor 13:5 Are you honoring and glorifying God in the way you live? If Jesus was with your every step, would He approve of every action you take, every decision you make, and every word you speak? Would you cuss and swear like a drunken sailor if Jesus was at your side? Would you take that package of paper from your employer’s office when no one is looking?

As flawed human beings, including the Pope,  we all have idols, though many not apparent immediately to one’s heart. Every time the Pope goes on a world tour, many clamor to be present during his motorcade, lining the streets, worshipping and praising him as he moves by. They crowd the large, heavily-guarded plazas where he speaks, awaiting a special anointing as if they are one of the multitudes who followed Jesus nearly 2000 years ago. Interestingly, not just Catholics but Protestants, atheists, unbelievers, politicians who despise Christianity and pass laws censoring God’s Word, all cascade to be part of these extravaganzas. Many fall down as if touched by God’s fingertips, all because they are in the presence of the Pope. This, my friends, is the highest form of idol worship we have right now on earth.

To be fair, Evangelist Billy Graham attracted similar crowds for the “other” side of Christianity, for Protestants. Similarly, unbelievers, politicians, etc. all wanted what the Evangelist had to give. Neither the Pope, Evangelist Graham, nor any other human can give anything spiritual; it all comes from God!

This writing is intended to give hope to you and your Catholic friends or family members and ease your burden of their salvation. Encourage your Catholic friends to seek the truth that is in the Holy Bible. Don’t be afraid of them to discuss Jesus—they know who He is! Educate them to know that they can go directly to Jesus in prayer. They can go directly to Jesus to confess their sins, repent, and He will restore that which is lost. No intercessor is necessary; cut out the middle man! A personal relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ will enrich everyone’s spirit.

One last very important note: each individual is responsible for his/her own salvation; no one else can make that critical free-will decision, to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. When your loved ones die, their salvation is on them; their souls cannot be prayed out of purgatory nor hell. It’s too late, so let that also be a reminder to make sure our own house is in order before it’s too late.

In closing, if you do not know Jesus, I pray that you will decide this day to do so, develop a personal one-on-one relationship with Him, your Lord and Savior, the only way into heaven. You will become a “new creation in Christ, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 If you do not know how to do this, ask a good Christian friend, or go to my website at www.fortylessone.com. Above all, seek the truth, as only “the truth shall make you free.” Jn 8:32 The TRUTH will set you free, not a false sense of security under an umbrella coverage like Catholicism, nor any other denomination, for that matter. The TRUTH is in the Bible. Remember mostly, it’s not religion you are seeking but a true relationship with Jesus Christ. He is waiting. “Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6:2 Amen.

Read the Bible; study it diligently. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15

I love you all; share your love with others. A big Hallelujah and another AMEN!

Are You In The Right Group For Salvation?

“Believe in The Lord Jesus, And Ye Shall Be Saved.”(Acts 16:31) ; is that it? Modern day protestants more and more believe and preach that we need do nothing but “Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead…” (Rom 10:9, 10) to be saved. Is that true? And once one is saved, “I (Jesus) give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can pluck them from My hand….”Jn 10:28

If you are familiar with my writings, you know that I am not without an opinion, but for this writing, it’s your lucky day; I’m not going to present my opinion at all! Yea!!!

I do want to propose looking at this from a different angle, then you decide relevance to how this all ties together, if at all. Remember, my Scriptural motto is “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess 5:21 In other words, the Holy Scriptures will be presented, then you decide.

Mainstream preaching from many of the church pulpits today doesn’t focus much on sin, confession, repentance, and salvation, teaching that all of that was done by Jesus our Messiah when He went to the cross and died for our sins, and your salvation rests solely on “Ye are saved by grace through faith; it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8, 9 Nothing you can do can attain what only Jesus could have done. It’s all about grace.

What follows is what I want you to ponder.

Most present-day protestants of most denominations and non-denominations, all proclaiming to be Christians, claim to have the only truth that is the pathway to heaven and all God’s glory. But let’s consider what I established as the premise in the opening paragraphs of this writing, that once you believe in Jesus and receive His grace, you are His for eternity. Not my opinion; I said I wouldn’t inject it here.

These protestants often refer to any other belief system as a cult, anti-Jesus, certainly in error, even heretical. They profess sadness in those who are Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Messianic Jews, and others because they just don’t understand God’s saving grace.

Let’s examine, and remember that none of this is my opinion but just a presentation of some facts. Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, and Messianic Jews all believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Lord and Savior who died for their sins. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and Lord and Savior. They also all believe in God’s grace. Since they all believe in Christ as Savior, why do protestants object to including them in the family of Christianity? Why do they say none in this group will enter the kingdom of God’s Heaven? In fact, they are worse—heretics!

Understand, I am not referring to other doctrinal issues within these groups, but I am only focusing on the Scriptural passages that the majority of protestants claim are all anyone needs to do—believe, faith. These purported heretical groups believe and put their faith in God, the same God. For those who teach and preach Ephesians 2:8,9, are they not hypocrites when they don’t accept all the rest of the side differences? With the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who both have independent sources of doctrinal beliefs, the others interpret Scriptures from the same Bible and interpret what they believe the Scriptures truly say. Though Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own New World Translation that certainly slants toward their doctrinal evidence, much of the NWT retains the same translations from the King James Version and they interpret much of their doctrine from that KJV.

If all these groups “believe and have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” then it must be true that “No one can pluck them from My (Jesus) hand…” no matter what. True?  

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” 1 Jn 4:1, 2 All the recognized groups above confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, so, according to this passage, all are of the Spirit of God.

Beloved, I know you are awaiting my opinion but, “Ha, ha; not gonna happen.” Perhaps my point that goes outside an opinion is to do what the Scriptures say, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15

The very popular Oprah Winfrey has said on multiple occasions, “There are many ways to get into heaven.” As Christians, we believe there is only one way, but are we right? Protestants claim Catholics are wrong; Catholics believe protestants are wrong. Seventh Day Adventists and Messianic Jews think we are all wrong outside their teachings. SDA and Mormons believe that their prophets brought new revelation that is right.

So…, if one was a mainstream protestant who became a Catholic or one of the other groups, do they lose their salvation? If one confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and claims the grace of God, yet believes that God demands obedience to God and adherence to the Ten Commandments, is that a doctrine of works contrary to God’s grace, and he/she loses salvation because that is not what grace is understood to be?

Okay, now for my opinion, since you probably think I went off the deep end by even suggesting some of the above. And, you expect my opinion in here somewhere. Here it is (drum roll, please…). “Ha, ha; not gonna happen.” What do you think?

May the God of all grace, mercy, peace, and love bless you all abundantly. Love you all! Amen.

–John Briggle

Is The Modern Christian Music Genre Dangerous?

Is The Modern Christian Music Genre Dangerous?

Being a musician, I admire and worship along with some of the new Christian “praise and worship” songs, both on Christian radio and in the churches. Many talented artists have perhaps changed their music genre from where they were to where they are now. Maybe some of the artists are just taking advantage of the newfound popularity of Christian music. But if you have followed my writings, you know my Scriptural motto is “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess 5:21 As I sing along, I read the words and wonder if they truly do honor and praise the ONE who gave His life for us.

The Psalmist writes , “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, in all the lands. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.” Psa 100:1,2

Some of the words and phrases are a bit unbiblical and lacking substance, more of a feel-good message, but I do believe that they are written with best intentions. How do I “prove all things”? By comparing them with the Word of God. If a song doesn’t align with The Word, it doesn’t mean blasphemy has been committed, or that the Holy Ghost had been grieved. It may be ignorance, or something as stupid as needing a word to “rhyme.” Certainly, we must be careful of what we read and listen to. What goes in our hearts becomes part of us.

The old gospel hymns always seemed so real and heartfelt, though it wasn’t my style of listening music when I was a reckless heathen. Now, I have an appreciation for them more than ever.

As for my song-writing ability, I admit I never considered myself a songwriter at all. But since I became a born again Christian, I have yielded to the Holy Spirit; lyrics and music have poured out from my heart onto paper and the fingerboard of my guitar. Hallelujah!

One popular song that I do have an issue with, among a few, is one in which the hook lyrics repeated throughout are “reckless love of God.” Artistically, it is a marvelous song and I enjoy it. But we have to be careful what we hear. Is God’s love really reckless? Absolutely NOT! He knows exactly what He is doing! His love for us is very intentional, with His will and purpose—that is not reckless! Personally, I would have used a different word, maybe “wonderful” or “magnificent,” but maybe that is the word that grabs everyone. It makes me wonder what was going on in the writers life to come up with that word. Does he know the magnificent love of God? Discernment is always important.

Today’s Christian music is very popular and the musicians go on national high-energy tours, just like your favorite secular band. I have gone to several of these and the arena/stage production mirrors that of your favorite rock group. I must say that I am impressed. Some have criticized these tours as becoming too commercialized, too much about grossing the big bucks. The popular songs end up being played by the local church’s praise teams. Too much? Yes, there has been criticism.

These songs and Sunday morning church performances may be the drawing power to attract the younger generation in to church, to hear the preacher teach/preach the Word of God. That part is great, as long as the lyrics are in accordance with the Word of our Savior. Then, the power of the Word truly activates their inner-spirit to transform them by the renewing of their minds to become a “new creation in Christ,” born again Child of God. That may be the biggest shortfall, not in the worship portion of the service but in the subsequent message that lacks Biblical truth, distortion of what a new creation really is, absence of a repentance-salvation message, and what it means to live in the spirit, not in the carnality of our sinful flesh.

So, what is my point? Since the creation of man, music has been an important form of communication. Traditionalists may have issues with today’s Christian music, as they do other genres, but what is more important is the foundation of life—the living Word, the truth, that must live in us for eternal life. The message from the pulpit, that is what we must be concerned with using Biblical discernment. Pastors and ministers are held to a higher standard; there is a lot of responsibility in what they speak, but do not assume that just because they have the microphone that what they say is good food for your soul. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Amen.

 And what do you think?

Trouble In Today’s Churches

John’s Christian Rant: The Trouble With Today’s Churches

Too many of today’s churches are diminishing the Word of God, if they even teach the Word at all. The Apostle Peter warned that some would distort Scriptures, as he reinforced what he had apparently learned from Paul:  “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they also do the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Pet 3:16 The prophetic words of Peter are certainly describing today’s nature in many churches.

The word “gospel” means “good news,” and Jesus certainly is the good news spoken of in the New Testament, actually even going back into the Old Testament. Churches today diminish Jesus’ deity and what He accomplished on the cross for you and me.

Do you attend a church where the word “sin” is totally absent from any sermon? Where the mention of hell is only as a passing word when it appears in a Scriptural passage?  Where 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians  5:3-5, and other passages are never read and commented on as warnings? The Apostle Paul speaks throughout his letters about living in the spirit, not in the flesh. You can’t have it both ways as “these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Gal 5:17

I heard a preacher recently preach that the obvious warning of “…will not enter the kingdom of God” is not talking about heaven and hell, separation from God, but instead only an absence from this present-day “kingdom of heaven on earth” and His blessings here on earth. The Apostle Paul warned, “Do not be deceived!” I am not sure that God is happy with the aforementioned teaching….

Heaven and hell? (See my post on heaven and hell.) Does it exist? Not according to many teachings, and many modern churches don’t want to approach the topic; better to ignore and keep the flock blind from the truth.

I’m a “salvation” guy. I know what it was like when I was once destined to the eternal torments of hell! I love Jesus and thank Him so much every day for my role in the mission field He has planned for me. But salvation to many of the new modern churches, many with multiple thousands of members, means that heaven has come down to earth to give you whatever you want; salvation means healings, unlimited prosperity, new Cadillacs, no trials or tribulations, on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I am a prayer warrior and believe in supernatural healing that only comes from God and that God can and does answer prayers, but the emphasis is no longer on what Jesus has done for you and how you need to thank Him, worship Him, serve Him, and honor Him., but instead, what He can do for us. He doesn’t need to do anything for us; He already did it by shedding His cleansing blood on the cross, and giving us hope through His resurrection from the dead. “It is finished.”

Jesus Himself taught more on the dangers of falling into eternal hell than entering heaven. Please heed,  “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt 7:1314  Sadly, there will be many who don’t make the final judgment in good standing with our Lord. Not my opinion, but the Word of God.

Too many of today’s preachers in the churches don’t go near the “fear of the Lord” references in the Bible, the phrase found a minimum of fourteen times in Proverbs alone. When they do, it is often softened to, “fear means reverence….” While that may be true to a point, we have reverence knowing that God has all authority to judge our eternal destiny, and He can cast us into hell, into the “outer darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” OUCH! is an understatement. Strong’s #3373H, 3374H uses these words to define the word fear:  “fearful, afraid, dreadful, exceedingly fear.” I think we understand those words.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31 Doesn’t sound like reverence is meant there, and that’s New Testament!

Sin? One cannot be convicted by the Holy Spirit if they don’t know what sin is, and if they don’t think any sin is in their lives. Forget about what the Bible says about repentance; that, apparently isn’t necessary anymore, either, as it doesn’t seem to be necessary to mainstream teaching.

Despite denials, many of today’s sermons  are psychological feel-good messages lacking much depth of the true Word of God. True prophetic gifts from God are instead “taught” by church teachers who are “trained” in prophecy. The Bible says some have gifts of prophecy, proving they cannot be taught.  Those who “graduate” from these teachings prophecy “good news” over people, giving them emotional encouragement, and giving them hope. Encouragement is good, but call it what it is, encouragement from man, not from God.

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in  sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matt 7:15 There is a difference between praying over someone and for someone than prophesying over a person. Prayers are petitions to God for His glory to be revealed by answered prayers, at His will. If someone claims prophecy and it doesn’t come true, then guess what? That person is a false prophet; no excuses, no apologies allowed.

When one reads the Bible, it’s revealed that most of the prophetic messages were not good, but  instead, warnings, coming destruction, famine,  and so forth. The exceptions, though, are the 356 prophetic messages of a coming Messiah, Jesus Christ! Other than that, no where do we read prophetic messages like, “I see great wealth coming into your life,” “your cancer will be cured,” “your family will be reunited,” etc. Bummer, huh? Today’s trained prophets are instructed that if they do receive a negative message from God about someone,  don’t dare say it–we want POSITIVE predictions and reinforcement from our prophets, with our people! Important to repeat: PROPHETS CANNOT TRAINED!

When you read the Old Testament, did you see any references that Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, or any other of the prophets, major or minor, being told to go to a prophecy school before they received their prophecy credentials? No, I you don’t have to answer that. Don’t misunderstand me, there may be prophets today, but they are gifted from God, from a church church.

Another thing the modern churches do is try to emulate or copy “successful, growing churches.” God wants His churches to grow, but in truth, His truth, through His Word. Many churches begin their services with high-tech rock concerts, flashing lights, fog machines, and then suddenly the “Holy Ghost’s presence” becomes evident in feathers, glitter and gold dropping from the rafters, and fog pouring out from the floor.  Then comes the ceremony of begging for money, the “more you give, the greater your blessings, thirty, sixty,  hundredfold….” My friends, God’s blessings cannot be purchased nor bartered for; they are not for sale, but are poured upon us according to His will.

Churches need to sustain themselves, with gifting, or tithing from fellow members, and the preachers should receive compensation, see  1 Tim 5:17, 18. How much is not really clear in Scripture. Many new churches want to go back to being like the original Apostolic churches, yet they build gigantic buildings with gaudy amenities. My friends, Jesus traveled with nothing, the disciples sold all they had and went out on their missionary crusades, and their “churches” were tree groves, hillsides, shorelines, and primitive buildings where the Word of God was supreme.

Rant, rant, rant. Believe it or not, that’s all for now. Have I stirred up anything in your spirit?  Well, what do you think? It’s your turn to turn the table and let me know what you think. Looking forward to hearing from you. May the God of all grace, mercy, peace, and love bless you abundantly.

 

National Geographic NOT Most Influential Figures

It’s official; Jesus is no longer relevant and apparently never was!

Well, that certainly is not true in my mind, heart, spirit and soul, and I

Augustus Caesar
Evangelist John Briggle challenges National Geographic’s Most Influential list

know there are many millions of others who similarly agree with me, but the modern media has hit a new low.

National Geographic magazine has always been a well-respected magazine in the past, acclaimed for its intense documentaries and amazing photography on some challenging topics. Though I believe in the Biblical creation and its timeline, National Geographic produces spectacular images beyond our universe that they argue in favor of their secular “Big Bang Theory, evolution, and an existence without a god.

Walking through a grocery store the other day, I caught a glimpse of the cover of the latest special edition of National Geographic titled The Most Influential Figures Of Ancient History. My curiosity got the best of me as I picked up the magazine and scanned through the pages, looking for our beloved Jesus Christ to certainly being named and featured between the magazine’s covers. After all, this magazine recently found it relevant to publish a full featured article on the life and history of the beloved Mother Mary. Proof we are living in a broken world headed for destruction as Jesus was not found in the table of contents, and only a passing two short paragraphs on Christianity and its beginning.

Really? How can Jesus NOT be mentioned as the MOST influential of all time? Jesus the Christ is the Cornerstone of the largest of all religious faith groups known as Christianity that worldwide has an estimated four billion followers of the earth’s population. Have the editors gone mad, or is this simply some kind of publicity stunt? It did get me to pick it up and search to see who made the list and who did not.

This August 2016 edition is divided into four chapters, covering the time periods beginning with the kingdom of Mesopotamian through to Emperor Constantine’s reign. Jesus the Son of God clearly fits into this timeline. I won’t claim to be an ancient historian, but many of these names I have never heard of, and I suspect you, too, have never heard of some of them. Are any of these National Geographic super-people familiar to you? Ashoka, Gaozu, Hapshepsut, Trajan, Thutmose III? I have no doubt these people had importance in their time, but lasting impressions?

Others are familiar: Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Cyrus the Great, Darius II, Tutankhamen (I remember this name only because of Steve Martin’s “King Tut” song…), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar (he was the Roman ruler when Jesus was persecuted), and Constantine, along with others. How can you have a list of most influential people without including Moses or Abraham, of whom Jewish, Islam, and Christianity are footed? These two people alone have a powerful influence on at least three fourths of the world’s population today. And no Jesus…. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life. And he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Matt 3:36

Most influential people of ancient history without Jesus at the top of the list? Absurd; blasphemous! At least 14 epistles of the Bible’s New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul, who was transformed by the brilliant light of Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus, when Saul (Paul) was on his way to Jerusalem to exterminate all Christ-believers. You talk about influence and transformation, and some of the most powerful God-inspired writings! Yes, it was a travesty to leave Paul off the list, too! But Saul would not be Paul without Jesus of Nazareth. We who are believers would not be without Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

Certainly the editors of National Geographic know the indisputable worldwide influence of Jesus Christ back then in the ancient world, that continues to this day in so many people’s lives. Dare I say, Jesus has influenced the lives of atheists and agnostics, and humanists throughout history. So why would they not include Moses, Abraham, King David, Solomon, Paul, and Jesus? It is continued proof of a humanistic worldview that thinks of Jesus and Christianity as mythical, and all His followers as misled and misguided without assurance of the Truth in Jesus. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” 1 Cor 8:6

To be fair, Jesus was mentioned in this magazine, but only as a side note. Here it is, in its entirety:

“Christianity emerged in the far reaches of the Roman empire sometime around A.D. 26 or 27, when Jesus of Nazareth began His public ministry. Attracting large crowds throughout His native Galilee (in modern-day Israel), He preached a message of forgiveness, love, and renewal. He talked about fulfilling the Scriptures but stopped short of openly declaring Himself the ‘Messiah,’ the Savior of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew bible.

Jesus was arrested on charges of blasphemy and crucified around A.D. 30. The Bible tells that Jesus rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion. His followers called Him ‘the Christ,’ or ‘anointed one,’ and referred to themselves as Christians. They began to spread the Gospel, the ‘good tale,’ of His life and ministry.” National Geographic, August 2016, pg

Hey, I didn’t write that! There are so many things I want to say about those two short paragraphs but I think the bias is very obvious. And the “good tale”? Argh! Not only was the magazine in its entirety insulting to all believers, but it was equally insulting for them to think this side-note would appease us disciples of Jesus our Messiah! A double Argh!

Jesus not on the list… Our King of kings and Lord of all lords is humble and merciful, and He probably could care less about this omission. Assuredly, though, He does take notes and can revise those names who get entered into His Book of Life.

Here is one of the most obvious non-spiritual influences the life of Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, has had on people in His time that continues today: The calendar! Atheists, agnostics, unbelievers and believers recognize a distinction of history’s timeline, before Christ’s birth and His sacred birth, B.C. and A.D. History revisionists will argue that the break in the timeline is coincidental, but something powerful happened for the effectual rulers to decide to begin a new timeline, beginning with year one. The preceding years would count backwards from that beginning point. Before Christ and Anno Domini (Latin for “year of our Lord”). Powerful, ego-driven kings at any time could have made such a change based on their own birthdate, but an unexplainable inception occurred at this specific timeline of world history. Something very special and phenomenal happened at that time. Coincidence that the yearly timeline would change at the time of this manger-birthed baby? A King was born, One who is King of kings and Lord of all lords. The anticipated Messiah. It was known as the Julian Calendar back then and has since been revised as the Gregorian calendar we still use today.

Oh, yes, I know, there are those who claim the B.C. means Before Common (Era), and should be written as B.C.E. What was so “common” at that point to begin a radical change that occurred in their need to change their calendar? Is it then After Common Era, or A.C.E.? I have never seen that…. A.D. is still the most widely used for the years as they go by now. By the way, Before Common Era, or B.C.E. was first so-named not until 1881 by a Jewish authoress who conjectured that Before Christ wasn’t applicable because the Messiah (their Jewish Christ) has yet to arrive.

Back to the magazine…. I did pick it up and was tempted to buy it as it does make a great sermon topic. It wasn’t the $13.95 list price that dissuaded me, but the thought that their provocation was close to getting me to contribute to their humanistic worldview. No thanks. I already have my book that contains the most influential and powerful figures!

I welcome your comments, prayer requests, and please refer this site to others who may be seeking the truth in God. May the God of all grace stir your spirit, and I pray God’s blessings pour abundantly upon you. Amen.