Chapter 5 – False Doctrines
The church at Rome combined (joined) with the secular Roman Empire (Edict of Milan, 313) and through religious ecumenical councils (i.e Nicaea, Constantinople, Chalcedon, Ephesus) or synods, and the power of the state, engulfed much of the other independent churches that existed at the time. This became the Holy Roman Empire. This was a major shift in direction from being led of the Holy Spirit to being led of man – from being under God’s authority to being under man’s authority. A new foundation had been laid (Lk 6:49, 1 Cor 3:11). 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” At these religious councils, man came up with creeds and statements of faith to define what one must believe or do in order to be a follower of Christ. Theology was man’s requirement of doctrines we must believe and duties we must practice. The leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit was usurped by man. 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (also Ti 1:14).” The acknowledging of the truth is after godliness (Ti 1:1). The persecuted church became the persecuting church.
The Word became flesh and walked an example for all men to follow. You learn by practice and application of the truth to your life. If you want to know Jesus, then you must deny self, take up your cross and follow Him (Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34, 10:21, Lk 9:23). Another way of saying this is that if you want to know Jesus, then walk a mile in His shoes (as He walked). If you do not, then you are not worthy of Christ and cannot be His disciple (Mt 10:38, Lk 14:27). 1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” AND Colossians 2:6, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” AND 1 Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Walking this narrow way in Christ as led by the Holy Ghost is absolutely crucial for God’s purposes to be worked in you. Religious man simply comes up with a list of facts or belief statements that we must mentally accept and doctrines/ceremonies that we must agree to abide by. Jesus led by example and so will those men whom Christ appoints (raises up, 1 Cor 11:1, 1 Pt 5:3). Those who do not walk as Christ walked are not to be followed – they are irrelevant.
Over the course of time (centuries), the Roman Catholic church (Western Christianity) became filled with false doctrines and traditions such as: the use/worship of religious icons/images/relics/saints; transubstantiation (where the priest, through encantation, supposedly changes the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper into Christ’s actual body and blood in the mouth of the believer, Lev 17:10-14, 19:26); the Christianization of pagan celebrations and practices; the elevation of Christ’s earthly mother, Mary, to a goddess and savior prominence; Lording over the people (declaring the Pope as God on earth, Mk 10:42-45, Lk 22:25-27); infant baptism; huge earthly cathedrals filled with earthly riches; and many other false practices. The Orthodox church (Eastern Christianity) followed a similar course with a particular emphasis on icons and images (idolatry). Catholics and orthodoxy (later Luther/Protestantism) viewed tradition and scripture as equal or nearly equal.
Within the Catholic church, there were individuals that realized some of the error and tried to correct it. These were referred to as the Reformers. The problem was that they attempted to reform or make right a church that was built upon a wrong foundation. Whereas they attempted to change certain outward manifestations, the foundation was still corrupt and shifting. These Reformers were basically forced out of the Roman Catholic church and became the Protest-ants. At this point they should have forsaken all the doctrines and traditions of Catholicism and laid a right foundation in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” The problem is that they did not do this. They should have torn down all their religiosity and sought the Spirit and the Word. Rather, they tried to improve upon the corrupt doctrines and traditions of the Roman Catholic church while retaining many others. Many didn’t necessarily want to leave Rome, but rather tweek it a bit based upon some conviction.
The author once lived a very religious life, but disregarded the Lord’s commandments and sought self foremost (much like the other religious folks around him). It is very possible to be extremely religious yet not “know” God or walk in His ways (consider the religious Jews and what Jesus said of them, Mt 5:20, 12:34, 23:33). The Lord through His mercy brought the author to complete and sincere repentance. The author quickly understood (through the Spirit) that he must entirely tear down all the former religiosity and completely re-build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The Spirit led and unfolded God’s Word as the author yielded and obeyed. Had the author attempted to rebuild on the old foundation, all would have eventually come falling down (Lk 6:49). Luke 6:47-48, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” We must come, hear and do with regard to Christ, and not man – heareth and believeth on Jesus (Jn 5:24). The phrase, “I need to start going to church,” (as presently understood) may only lead to an encounter with religious man. You need to seek the Lord with all your heart, and then you will find Him. Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” AND Proverbs 8:17, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me (also Ps 145:18).”
The Protestants claim that the Bible is the inerrent Word of God, yet they ignor much of what Jesus, Peter, John and James said. The Protestants selectively favor portions of Paul’s teachings (Pauline doctrines) and intepret them in ways that favor the flesh. They stress God’s grace (as they define it) and presume an “unconditional love” while downplaying obedience to the Lord’s commands (see “A Conditional Gift” below).
You cannot walk in God’s requirement of love (Christ’s command of love) without being in obedience to the Lord’s commands. Jesus said it clearly: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” AND John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Do you see how Jesus set an example that we are to follow? John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do…” Therefore: John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Jesus kept the Father’s commands and we keep Jesus’ commands.
How can you love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and not obey His will? The opposite of the verse would be: if ye hate me, then do not keep my commandments (consider Ex 20:5-6). This is where Satan will lead – into transgression of God’s will – paths of hatred toward God. How can you say that you love God and then do that which opposes His will and dishonors God (consider this next time you sit in front of the television)? How can you walk in a love of darkness and yet say that you are in Christ’s light (Jn 3:19, 1 Jn 1:6)? Jesus made it clear that His followers are to love (walk in love) their fellow man and never kill or inflict harm upon another. Christ provided the example to follow. John wrote extensively about love and the fact that you cannot hate your brother. Yet even to this day, most Protestant churches continue to align with the state, support its wars, send their sons and daughters off to war, and hold political/worldly offices that make such decisions. Is this not a complete blindness or disregard for the truth? We must decide whose kingdom we are in – you cannot serve two. The following are the tenets (canon of love) of Christ’s gospel:
- Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
- Mark 12:31, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
- John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” AND John 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
Jesus said that everything that the law revealed and everything that the prophets had said and all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices pointed to this gospel of love. Matthew 22:40, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” AND Mark 12:33, “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In other words, God’s complete will for man is contained in these two great commandments! He that hath an ear to hear – let him hear and do (come to Christ, hear Christ, and do what Christ says, Lk 6:47-48). Jesus told a scribe that came to this understanding that he was not far from the kingdom of God (Mk 12:34).
Rather than forsaking the doctrines or teachings of the Roman Catholic church, the Protestants held-on to several great errors, namely: infant baptism; church-state unions; and Christians participating in warfare (the just war). Of these, we have yet to discuss infant baptism. Predominate religious thought that developed in the first millenium was that irregardless of maturity, comprehension, understanding and commitment, all men (including infants) would go straight to hell apart from water baptism. The ceremony itself (the act) became more important than the intent or purpose behind the ceremony. Therefore, one could not be baptized soon enough, even if they had no comprehension of what was taking place. Infants were baptized and sponsers would affirm (as a stand-in) for the infant it’s belief in Christ. The infant had no choice in what was taking place one way or the other – an empty ritual. This of course was a mockery of all that baptism in Christ is about (repentance followed by death to self, burial, and resurrection to new life/birth in obedience to Christ as Lord – a binding commitment). If the mere performance of an external act could save, then Christ died in vain. Infant baptism became the general practice within the false church and was a one time administered act for life whether or not you chose to actually be a believer or if you ever actually realized or comprehended what that meant.
Christ commanded to baptize those who believe and were instructed and taught His Word (Mk 16:16, Jn 7:38, 11:25-26, 12:44, 46, Acts 2:38, 41, 3:19-20, 10:43, Rm 10:10-11, Eph 1:13). Infant baptizers baptized those who do not believe and cannot be instructed or taught, nor believed Christ’s Word because they were infants. This is the opposite of God’s purposes – utterly contrary! This is a perfect example of the type of thing Jesus referred to when He asked: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition (Mt 15:3)?” Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Man wants to baptize upon physical birth, but Jesus said you must be “born again” of spiritual birth. Spiritual birth is not possible apart from understanding or God (Jn 1:12-13). How can someone of their own free will, surrender their life to Christ and obey His commands and thus follow if they do not even have the mental capacity to make such a decision (being an infant)? Once one was baptized in their infancy, they were never to be baptized again. So, such never really made a conscious (cognizant, mindful) decision in a contrite state (sincere, broken, humble, repentant, remorseful) to follow the Lord. Such never counted the cost or actually agreed to enter into covenant with Christ. Religious leaders told people what to do and the way they were to be – they served by compulsion.
This single issue of infant baptism has probably resulted in more persecution and deaths of true believers through the centuries than any other (and perhaps all others combined). Catholics and Protestants (approved by Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, item of note: Zwingli ultimately died while fighting Catholics in the battle of Kappel) put to death (murdered) thousands across Europe over the issue of infant baptism. Martin Luther and his colleagues met at Spever on the Reihn in 1529 and they passed a resolution: “Every Anabaptist, both male and female, shall be put to death by fire, sword or in some other way.” We are talking about the father of modern day Protestantism here. Those who actually practiced baptism upon faith or “believer’s baptism” (as all the accounts in scripture reveal) were considered heretics and deceivers. Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
Those who practiced baptism upon faith were often labeled “Anabaptist” which meant re-baptizers. This was because those who had been baptized as infants were later re-baptized upon true faith, understanding and commitment (having counted the cost of following Jesus, Lk 14:27-33). Through the influence (power and control) of the church (as dictated by Catholicism and Protestantism), the state passed laws prohibiting one from being baptized upon faith under threat of imprisonment, torture, death and the confiscation of all their property to the state (Lk 12:11-12). True baptism was considered illegal by religious man! True believers became a hunted and despised people. Those who claimed to love Jesus were prohibiting (greatly hindering) individuals from coming to Christ and obeying what Jesus said to do (Lk 11:52). The religious men doing the torturing and killing thought they were doing God a service by ridding the world of such supposed error (Jn 16:2). Heretics and deceivers they called them! These religious men walked in great darkness elevating their doctrines above God’s Word and the clear examples contained within God’s Word (namely Christ’s own baptism, Mt 3:13-16, Lk 3:21-22).
With time, some Protestant groups have grasped the truth regarding “baptism upon faith” (such as the Baptists and Church of Christ). However, most Protestants still practice infant baptism to this very day (i.e. Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalian and Lutherans), although some of these allow for (accommodate) baptism upon faith (as they define it) for the unbaptized and “reaffiramation, not re-baptism” for those who were baptized as infants. Even those Protestant groups that do not practice infant baptism will allow for an infant dedication. All of these Protestant groups (as well as Catholic and Orthodox) also still practice church/state alliances and support and participate in warfare. The “current” laws of America (and many other countries) prohibit them from persecuting those who hold different beliefs than themselves.
God’s Word does not dictate who (or the qualifications) can baptize. One thing is clear and that is God raises up the sincere and humble for the task. The religious man will be quick to claim and dictate such authority in a Nicolaitan Lordship (clergy/laity, Mk 10:42-43) type of way. Jesus used humble fishermen and a tax collector to do the baptizing (Jn 4:1-2). In reformation Europe, the Protestants were most disturbed that untrained/unordained (by them) men (Anabaptist) whom they did not prior approve or control were baptizing. Even so, thousands of lives were being forever and dramatically (substantively) changed by the simple childlike obedience of those whom God called – vessels for the Lord’s use. The fires were lit and Oh how the darkness hated their light. Those found in darkness set out to extinguish the flame – but, their quenching liquid was (much to their chagrin/sorrow) gasoline. Praise God, Praise the Lord Jesus! Psalms 2:4, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.”
The Lord’s Supper
Jesus commanded (this do in remembrance of me, Lk 22:19) that His church observe the partaking of the fruit of the vine (wine, Lk 22:18) and the bread in remembrance of Him. The broken bread was representative of Christ’s broken body given for us (Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:23-24). The wine was representative of Christ’s spilt blood given for us (Lk 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25). 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” The Roman Catholic church (and also Orthodox church and later the Lutheran church) teaches “transubstantiation (Eucharist, consubstantiation, change of substance),” which means the bread and wine to be administered become, upon consecration, the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, even though the external manifestations of the bread and wine—shape, color, flavor, and odor—remain. The Lord expressly said throughout His Word that His people could not eat blood (digest real blood, Gen 9:4, Lev 3:17, 7:26, 17:12, 19:26, Deut 12:16, 15:23, 1 Sam 14:33-34, Ez 33:25). Deuteronomy 12:23, “Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.” The Lord’s Supper is symbolic; for God does not have us violate His own Word. They say that only the Roman Catholic priest can consecrate these sacraments (through priestly encantations) in the Roman Catholic mass (or Orthodox priests in the liturgy). The Lord’s Word does not stipulate who can administer the Lord’s Supper, but only that one must examine oneself and not partake of it unworthily (1 Cor 11:28-29). A religious man will be quick to assume (take as one’s own) and dictate this for God. The false church martyred many true believers over this issue.
The true church does not eat the blood, but the blood is the life of Christ that was shed for man. The Lord’s blood covers those past sins that have been repented of by those who walk in faith. Romans 3:25, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” God forbear our injuries to His righteousness. The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation (2 Pt 3:15). We must make peace with God through Jesus Christ and be reconciled. All things must be restored to correct order. Man must willingly surrender and obey God’s will (walk in faith).
The Lord’s Supper is further to be understood as follows: Jesus is the bread which came down from heaven. Christ said: John 6:33, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” AND John 6:48, “I am that bread of life.” Jesus is also the Word of God made flesh (Jn 1:14). So, Jesus is the bread which is the Word of God. The Lord God (Jesus) told Israel: Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Therefore: man’s necessary bread is the Word of God which is Jesus. 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Christ further said: John 6:50, “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” So, man must live by this bread or Word to have life. John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Jesus lived a perfect example and then suffered man’s condemnation in order to bring reconciliation with God (mercy, forgiveness, life, Col 1:20). John 6:54-55, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” We must live by Christ’s every Word and then His blood covers our sins (forgiveness, 1 Jn 1:7). We are sanctified of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pt 1:2).
Consider Christ’s example: When tempted of the devil (in the flesh), Jesus replied: Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (also Lk 4:4).” This is what Jesus did! Christ’s disciples once tried to get Him to eat some food and He responded: John 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 6:35, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Consider how this verse goes with another of Christ’s statements: Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” To hunger for God’s truth (Word) and to seek righteousness is to have life. The Lord’s Supper is only to be understood through God’s Word and not man’s religious interpretations (doctrines and traditions – sacraments, etc.).
Protestant leaders such as Martin Luther (from whose activities the name “Protestant” came into being – Diet protestation) and John Calvin noticed the lack of morals (sinful behavior) of much of their flocks (they were drunkards, fornicators, violent, etc.). This should have been no surprise because their congregations were made up of individuals that had been baptized as infants and most were still unregenerate. After all, these individuals had never made a conscious and willing decision to follow Christ – perhaps they didn’t even understand or grasp their need (not repentant). They had just been raised and told that this is what they must do. There may have been religious form, but God requires a sincere broken and contrite heart (Ps 34:18, 51:17, Is 57:15, 66:2). True baptism produces godly fruit – not fruit/works of the flesh. Societal and family pressures and expectations along with fear of eternal punishment kept most in the church. Many think that heritage (Mt 3:9, Lk 3:8, Jn 8:39), sacrament and belonging to a certain group makes them children of God (Rm 2:28-29, Gal 3:7, 9). Galatians 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Notice that faith works by “love.” Those who practice love could never imprison, torture and kill another. Those who practice love could never participate in warfare or carry the sword (weapon for possible use to inflict harm upon others). Only those who practice “love” are in Christ Jesus. ALSO: Galatians 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” As we previously discussed, you must be “born again” to enter into the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3, 7, 2 Cor 5:17). This is a willing conscious decision – a forsaking of the darkness. Only those who are “born again” are in Christ Jesus and enter into the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5). Therefore: only those who are “born again” and practice “love” are in Christ Jesus. Does this not clearly separate the true from the false???
Luther and later Calvin, struggled to explain the immorality of “their” followers. They both essentially did this by building upon (and expanding) the teaching foundation laid a thousand years before by a man named Augustine. Augustine was the Bishop at Hippo (North Africa) and is credited with being the father of Western theology. Recall that theology is man’s attempt to define what one must believe and what one must practice to be a follower of Christ. The Word apart from the Spirit has no life (consider all the religious divisions in the world derived from the same Word). Such theology that laid the foundation for infant baptism was developed by Augustine and was based upon the inheritance of original sin. He taught that unbaptized infants would be eternally damned if they died. This was certainly a motivator for parents to offer up their infants to such practice. However, the Lord in His Word never taught such things, nor is there one example of such a baptism occuring in scripture. Augustine also taught the concept of the total depravity of man; that war is acceptable and holy under circumstances which could be broadly applied (known as the doctrine of a just war); that a Christian church/state can persecute heretics; that man has no free-will to choose to believe or not to believe (no wonder infant baptism was acceptable); that salvation is totally a matter of God with nothing required from man; that once saved, no man can be lost; and the concept of predestination. These concepts were foreign to God’s Word (scriptures must be selectively interpreted) and to the early church beliefs and practices.
Augustine taught believers may still sin, but those whom God elects persevere and finally achieve salvation, not by their merit or good works, but by the triumphant grace of God. This of course depends upon the notion of predestination. Please keep this in mind when you read “Sin and not Die?” below. This is the notion that Luther and Calvin carried forth – “that you can sin and not die” and under God’s grace?
Luther (1483-1546) was once an Augustinian monk (before becoming a Reformer) and resurrected many of Augustine’s old teachings and expanded upon them. Luther taught that we are totally incapable of doing any good by ourselves and that both the desire and power must come from God. He said (as did Augustine) that man was totally depraved and unable to even have faith in God (What about Noah and Abraham?). Therefore, those who exhibit faith have been given it arbitrarily by God (some yes and some no). Since one can only be saved by faith, then those who are given it are predestined to be saved. This is known as the doctrine of predestination. Luther approved of the use of violence, when necessary, to realize his objectives. He believed the church and state worked hand in hand like Old Testament Israel. He also taught and practiced transubstantiation (the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper actually become Christ’s body and blood in the mouth of the believer, Lev 17:10-14, 19:26).
The author has no bitterness or ill feelings toward Martin Luther, but must point out some very relevant facts (the Lord alone will judge all things righteously). Almost every religious history book exalts Martin Luther to a hero/savior status and leader of the Protestant church. He did do some very good and noteworthy things such as stand up against Roman Catholicism and the Pope (with his very life) in a very dark age. He translated the New Testament from Greek to German such that the common man had access to the scriptures. However, what most books never reveal about Martin Luther (or gloss over) is quite shocking. Luther practiced infant baptism, believed in church-state alliances, believed in and practiced consubstantiation, support warfare (his followers participated in war), Lorded over the people and demanded loyalty and devotion to his church and his doctrines, furthered Augustine’s doctrinal errors/theology, approved of persecuting fellow believers (which he deemed/judged heretics), plundering and killing Anabaptists (wrote polemics against them), and hated Jews (wrote a violent polemic against them B). A polemic is controversial; disputative; intended to maintain an opinion or system in opposition to others; as a polemic treatise, discourse, essay or book; polemic divinity.
Much of Martin Luther’s later years were filled with disappointment due to the overwhelming immorality of his church in which he wrote scathing articles against everyone and everything. No doubt, the immorality in his church was due to his notion that the gospel demands nothing but acceptance on the part of the individualA. This type theology always produces worldlings or those who continue to walk in darkness. The devils know of the gospel (accept its reality), believe, and tremble because they are in rebellion to it (Js 2:19). Luther believed and taught that Christians are saints and sinners simultaneouslyA. Can one really walk in the darkness, yet be in the light (Pv 4:19)? Isaiah 50:10, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” Can one live in the mud, yet claim to be clean? This presumption seemed to play well in Luther’s church, but certainly falls short of Christ’s Words and commandments. Scriptures reveal that we have no fellowship with Jesus if we walk in darkness and are not found in the truth (1 Jn 1:6). It is only when we walk in the light that the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7). Scriptures further reveal: “He that committeth sin is of the devil” and “whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God” (1 Jn 3:8, 10). If one is filthy dirty, yet merely claims to be clean while remaining in the mud, does God accept such as clean? Seems Luther’s doctrines had unresolved conflicts with God’s Word.
|Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”|
Man’s justice system will certainly not release a convicted (condemned) criminal (violater of divine law or commandments) if he is not willing to amend his ways, thus forsaking his criminal offences. Is man more just than God? Job 4:17, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” Is man more righteous than God? If man can rightly judge such matters, then cannot the Creator of man? Therefore Oh religious man, do not think that ye shall escape the fires of damnation if ye do not amend your ways and forsake your offenses. Jesus Christ did not come to be your minister (approver, cloak) of sin (Gal 2:17). God’s Words still ring so true today (but time is short): Ezekiel 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” If there is no turning (repentance) from your wicked ways, then you have no life in Christ. He that hath an ear, please hear.
Luther believed that sin is a permanent and pervasive feature in the churchA. Sin is only a permanent feature of those in rebellion to God and for this reason they shall be separated from God eternally. Those who have any hope of dwelling with God must forsake sin (transgression of God’s will) and surrender to the Lord in obedience to His Word (kept by the power of God through faith, 1 Pt 1:5). PLEASE UNDERSTAND: the devil labors to bring us to the opinion that we can sin against God and not die. Satan did such in Eden and he does such today. We have been given examples (for our benefit, as warnings) of what becomes of those who live ungodly (1 Cor 10:1-12, 2 Pt 1:4-6, Jude 1:7).
The author does not wish to make light of Luther, but the truth must be declared. The devil told man that he could sin against (transgress God’s clear commandment, Gen 2:17) and not die (ye shall not surely die, Gen 3:4). Luther’s doctrines concerning sin essentially reveal the same thing, only using Christ’s sacrifice as a justification. Did Jesus come to justify sin and endorse (give credence) the devil’s lie? Are Father and Son really thus divided? The Father and Son are in perfect agreement and those who shall dwell eternally with God must also be thus minded. The truth is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil – his great lie (1 Jn 3:8). Jesus said that he who practices sin is a servant to sin (Jn 8:34). Sin is transgression of God’s will or commandments. Only those that do the will of God shall enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt 7:21-23). Jesus was filled and led of the Holy Spirit and obeyed the will of the Father. Jesus said, “Come, follow Me.” Jesus never suggested His followers would be sinners and saints simultaneously. Jesus never said that sin would be a permanent and pervasive part of His church. This is not the gospel of Christ. How does “life” spring forth from rebellion and disobedience to the will of God? The answer is that it doesn’t and the Bible reveals this over and over to those who hear and see.
So, did Martin Luther’s works further or hinder the kingdom of God? Did he lead to God or further away? Only the Lord Jesus is qualified to judge. The same questions could be asked regarding the numerous Popes of Catholicism. This writing only examines the fruit and suggests one take heed. Even Luther grieved over the immorality of his disciples – this is visible, evident and manifested fruit. Do we simply explain away such unrighteous fruit as being normal and acceptable or do we look to Christ (rather than man). Lutherans might rightly be termed “followers of Luther” (his doctrines, intepretations and theology).
John Calvin1 (1509-1564) whom Protestant denominations in the Reformed tradition regard as a major formulator of their beliefs. Healso studied and applied the doctrines of Augustine and later expounded upon the notion of predestination (further than Luther did) through eternal security of the believer (once saved always saved) and perseverance of the saints. Calvinist doctrine lies within the Pauline and Augustinian theological tradition. Many modern Protestants are followers of Calvin and express his doctrines as T.U.L.I.P which stands for: Total depravity of man (man does not contribute to salvation???); Unconditional election (not based upon an individual’s deeds???); Limited atonement; Irresistable grace (when God calls, no one can resist???); and Perseverance of the saints (cannot lose salvation no matter what??? – Those predestined will obtain). Calvin (as did Martin Luther) denied that man was capable of free will after the Fall of Adam, but he went farther than Luther in elaborating a doctrine of predestination – that certain persons are elected by God to salvation, while others are rejected by him and consigned to eternal damnation. Calvin believed in the subjugation of the state to the church. He also agreed with Martin Luther concerning the meaning of the Lord’s Supper (that Christ is present “in, with, and under” the elements – Consubstantiation, the same philosophical assumptions as the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which it opposed).
Taking Calvin’s doctrines to their natural conclusion results in the notion that if man does not contribute in any way to his salvation, then nothing man does sustains his salvation. If God predestines those who are to be saved, then they will ultimately persevere. Therefore, the flesh reigns! Scripture reveals this to be in error: Romans 8:1, 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” To walk one way or the other is something that you must choose to do through some effort. Recall, that to be in Christ Jesus you must walk in faith, which worketh by love, and be a “born again” new creature.
Most modern day adherants to Calvinism downplay the doctrine of predestination, but rather affirm that man has a free-will. When you mix the doctrines of Calvin with man having a free-will then they become really confused (to be disconnected from the truth) – scriptures contradicting other scriptures. If man has a free-will, then those who walk in darkness do so by choice. If one once professed Christ and lived godly, yet now walk in darkness (by free-will choice), then how can they still be saved (in right standing before God)? A man’s choices reveal the nature of a man’s heart. That which one embraces and that which one forsakes tells the true story about one’s life (works/deeds). How does one who walks in darkness reflect the “born again” nature of Christ? How do those who walk in hate (persecuting or warring with others) have faith, which worketh by love?
Recall from the beginning of this writing that the false church does not “obey” the commandments of God. These false doctrines derived from the teachings of Augustine lead to the notion that obedience is not that important. Their banner is a misinterpretation of the verses: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” AND Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” When it comes right down to it, they consider “obedience” a work – something you must do.
When the Lord initially calls us, it is not based upon any personal merit (righteousness, works), but only by His mercy and grace (2 Tim 1:9). Jesus freely gave Himself for your undeserved benefit which could never have been otherwise earned. We must understand that God’s grace is the Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to the image of Christ (Php 2:13, Ti 3:5, Jn 3:21). 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (also Rm 8:29).” The Spirit works through your free-will surrender or faith (love, obedience, yieldedness, trust, devotion) toward God to produce “change” in you (dying to self). This is so that we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (the darkness, 2 Pt 1:4). Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” God’s grace saves us according to his mercy by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Ti 3:5-7). The Spirit works in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight (Heb 13:21). 1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself (something you do), even as he is pure.” Jesus said: “every one that is perfect shall be as his master (Lk 6:40).” Jesus further stated: “Be ye perfect (Mt 5:48). The Holy Ghost works in you such that ye can be perfect as your master – conformed to His will/image/nature. Therefore, our obedience is essential!!! (Note: the grace of God teaches = the Holy Spirit teaches, Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:13, 1 Cor 2:14-16, 1 Jn 2:27; God’s grace is His Spirit working in us). God’s grace is abundant through faith and love in Christ Jesus (1 Tim 1:14). God’s grace is for the humble (self denying, Zeph 2:3) and never for the proud (self exalting, 1 Pt 5:5-6).
If God’s grace is “only” unmerited favor, then why did Jesus have to come and die? The reason Jesus willingly died is that man transgressed God’s commandment (disobeyed) and the Lord demanded reparation (amends, satisfaction for injury). Jesus brought reparation by giving an equivalent for a wrong committed. Christ’s perfect life of obedience was the atoning sacrifice offered to God to assuage his wrath and render him propitious to sinners (disposed to be gracious or merciful; ready to forgive sins, Is 53:11) and allows the obligation of God to punish the crime to be canceled – resulting in satisfaction. Jesus suffered the just condemnation for man. Therefore, disobedience to God’s commandment required the sacrifice of God’s Son. Did the sacrifice of God’s Son allow for future disobedience to God’s commandments? The answer is an absolute NO! This would be confusion (Babylon) and God is not the author of such (1 Cor 14:33). Babylon is confusion and says that we are only saved by “grace” (defined as unmerited favor) and that Christ’s blood covers past, present and future transgressions of God’s will. We must understand Christ’s sacrifice holistically (emphasizing the importance of the whole and not just the parts). Jesus gave His life for us and His Spirit to us. We must respond by giving our life to Christ (as Lord) and obeying His Spirit. The Spirit leads us to do the will (commandments) of God (Mt 7:21). The Bible clearly reveals that “disobedience” to God always results in death and “obedience” to God results in life.
We understand that God sacrificed His Son for our underserved benefit (known as love, Jn 3:16) and commended His love while we were yet sinners (transgressing God’s will, enemies of God, Rm 5:8). In His great undeserved mercy, God made a narrow way where there was no way (Mt 7:13-14). Adam chose to disregard God and seek his flesh. Man must now choose to disregard the flesh and seek God. You choose and obey one path or the other. A path back to God has been laid and walked by the Lord’s example. Man must choose to walk the path back to God. Man obediently follows Christ as led by His Spirit on this path. This path will destroy the things of the flesh which oppose God. Therefore, prepare to lose your life for Christ’s and the gospel’s sake in order to find your life (Mk 8:35).
Before the coming of Christ, man labored through the flesh to fulfill the law. Jesus’ sacrifice provided for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, lead us and teach us (Acts 2:33). We no longer walk by the flesh, but by the Spirit (Rm 8:14). This requires an obedience to the direction provided. The Holy Ghost is leading us to conform to God’s will and this will challenge the flesh (which opposes God’s will). This is a lifetime walk of faith (learning, relationship, trials, tribulations, victories, trust, devotion, etc.). The condemnation is for those who still walk in the flesh. That is why the aforementioned verse reveals: Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” If God’s grace is simply the Lord not holding you accountable to your guilt, then nothing is being accomplished regarding your present condition – you are not being conformed to Christ’s image at all, but rather are justified as is. God hated sin from the beginning.
The Lord has not made peace with sin. Jesus came to turn away ungodliness (Rm 11:26); to deliver (turn away) from sin (Mt 1:21, 1 Jn 3:5, Ti 2:14, Gal 1:4); and to turn from darkness to light (Lk 1:79, Jn 8:12, 12:46, Acts 26:18, Eph 5:8, 1 Pt 2:9). Iniquities have brought separation between man and God such that the Lord hid His face (Is 59:2). Christ’s death did not bring a reconciliation whereby those in sin have prevailed to continue in sin. The Lord’s purposes are not to justify you in transgression against Him (sin, iniquity, rebellion, darkness, unbelief), but that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21). How could such division result in unity? That would be an endorsement of the devil’s lie. 2 Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 1 John 3:8, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The devil entices you to seek the lusts and desires of the flesh (to walk in darkness); this Jesus came to destroy in you such that you walk in the will of God.
Your love, surrender, obedience and trust in Christ (known as faith, belief or fear of God) justifies you before God. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” In other words: 1) Through Christ you have reconciliation with God (2 Cor 5:18-20, Eph 2:13-16, Col 1:20-23), and 2) through Christ, you have access by faith into grace (the Holy Spirit working God’s will in you). This is contingent (“IF”) on your continuing in the faith grounded and settled, and being not moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col 1:23). God labors in you to produce fruit (Jn 15:1-8). If no fruit is produced, then you are “separated” and gathered for the fire (Jn 15:2, 6, Mt 3:10, Lk 3:9). The Lord will gather His harvest one day (Mt 13:30, Mk 4:29, Rev 14:15). The harvest are those that God labored in to produce fruit (worked His grace in).
New and Old
Let us follow Christ’s Words: Matthew 13:52, “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” We will consider God’s requirement for obedience from the Old Testament and from the New Testament. The Lord said we must obey Him in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 11:22, “For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him.” AND Deuteronomy 13:4, “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him (also Lev 19:37, 20:8, 22:31, Deut 4:2, 20, 40, 5:10, 29, 32-33, 6:1-2, 4-6, 17, 25, 7:9, 11, 8:1-2, 6, 11, 10:12-13, 20, 11:1, 8, 13, 22, 26:18, 27:1, 10, 28:1, 9, 13, 15, 30:2, 8, 10, 16, 20, Josh 22:5).” Jesus said in His New Testament that we must obey Him: John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” AND John 14:23-24, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me (also Mt 7:27, Lk 11:28, Jn 8:31-32, 51-52, 14:15, 15:10, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:24, 5:2-3, Acts 5:32, Rm 2:8, 2 Thess 1:8, Heb 5:9, 1 Jn 2:3, 5, 17). Jesus set the example for us to follow by obeying the Father (Jn 6:38, 8:28-29, 55, 12:49, 14:31, 15:10). Now we follow the example: Hebrews 5:9, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Therefore: 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (compare with Acts 5:32).”
Here is another something old (from the Old Testament): Leviticus 19:1-2, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy (also Lev 20:7).” AND Deuteronomy 18:13, “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” Here is something new (from the New Testament): 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Jesus said it like this: Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Your probably confused and wondering how these biblical statements fit in with the Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvanistic doctrines of the “total depravity of man” which much of today’s false teaching is based upon? If we are totally depraved and cannot change, then how can we be holy or perfect in following Christ’s example? If God pretends that we are something that we are not, then why list any expectations? If you are predestined to be one thing or another (and your fate cannot be changed), then why have any commandments at all?
The Gates of Hell
Babylon does not obey God! The sole aim of this false church is to religiously corrupt man such that he does not obey God and is kept in a state of disobedience. Salvation (reconciliation, restoration, life) is not possible without obedience to the Lord. If man can be allured, deceived or compelled to seek the lusts and desires of his flesh then God’s will is transgressed. A fleshly religious man is a life built upon a shifting foundation that is destined for a great fall (Mt 7:26-27). If the harlot church can downplay obedience to God through whatever religious means (twisting of scripture, doctrines and traditions of man, etc.) then it prevails. Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Mt 16:18). This is because those that come to Christ, hear Christ, and do what Christ says (His commandments) have their foundation on an immovable rock (Lk 6:47-48). This is the Lord’s true church – they obey! The false church prevails through corruption of the truth, which is to deceive one not to “know” or “walk” in the truth; these do not do. Those who are “born again” have the Holy Spirit. Those who walk by the Spirit are taught all things (the truths Jesus said) by the Spirit (Jn 14:26). John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” A man cannot “know” or “understand” the truth any other way! Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Therefore: They that are led of the Spirit overcometh all things and they are the sons of God. They “know” the truth and “follow” in the truth and are founded upon a rock. The gates of hell shall not prevail upon them.
Babylon, the great whore wants man to obey her. Many of God’s true saints were martyred throughout the centuries because they would not obey Babylon. She demands obedience to her authority, doctrines, traditions, sacraments, priests, ancient writers, supposed succession, images, celebrations, etc. The harlot proclaims that salvation is found in her (membership, attendance, financial support, labor, devotion, etc.). Babylon intoxicates and deceives – it confuses! The Lord says: 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing (The Holy Spirit) which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” There is a personal responsibility here. We must received the Word with all readiness of mind (truly hear the Word), and search the scriptures daily, whether these things be so (Acts 17:11). The Spirit of truth and the Word of truth will always agree – they are One (Jn 1:14, 14:17, 15:26, 16:13, 17:17, Eph 1:13, Js 1:18). The Spirit leads us to apply the Word and “follow” Christ’s example. Jesus said: John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” You must live by Christ’s example and obey His commandments. 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” After that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13). Salvation is through sanctification of the Spirit (being set apart) and belief of the truth (2 Thess 2:13). You purify your soul in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren (1 Pt 1:22). So, you come to Christ, hear Christ, and do what Christ says and the result is sincere love for God and others. Therefore: 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Sincerely read God’s Word and determine how your religious life stacks up against it.
Sin and not die?
The teachings of Luther and Calvin still dominate most Protestant doctrines even today. These teachings downplay sin (transgression of the will of God) and always manifest as worldliness. The devil told man in Eden that he could seek his own will (eat of the forbidden tree) and ye shall not surely die (Gen 3:4). In other words, that man could sin against God and not die. The popular doctrines of total depravity of man, eternal security of the believer (once saved always saved) and grace re-defined as license for the flesh, all lead to the notion (or more importantly, the practice) that you can sin against God and not die – all under Christ’s supposed covering. Satan’s deception is to have you think you are serving God when you are not. The devil knows that sin separates one from God. So, the devil brings you to the opinion that you can sin against God and not die (in whatever religious way this is deemed acceptable). The church is full of tares and you must be led by God’s Spirit and not the precepts of man. True salvation is clearly contingent (dependent, conditional) upon new birth (born of water and of the Spirit, Jn 3:5) and walking in Christ’s light. The author has written about these things extensively and copies of these writings can be obtained free of charge from the address at the bottom of this article. These false doctrines downplay obedience to God and lift up the corrupt nature of the flesh. Mystery Babylon through its religious practices hinders (blinds) those individuals who sincerely desire to follow Christ (Lk 11:52). This is why the Lord says, Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Rev 18:4). This is Jesus calling whomsoever will out of the darkness. Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Those who believe in a literal intepretation of God’s Word with all due necessary obedience, will find that they will not be that welcomed in a Babylonian church. The Babylonian church is very religious and full of form, pomp, ceremony and protocol with much talk of God and Jesus, but it does not obey the Word of God (hypocritical). The false church has been leavened. Those who want to walk in sincere obedience to Christ’s commandments will be made uncomfortable and will be discouraged. Truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey (Is 59:15). You may even be lectured about the fact that we are under “grace,” and that Christ’s blood covers our past, present and future sins. How can one be forgiven of that which one has yet to commit? Is this not a mockery and great presumption? Wouldn’t this be an endorsement to walk in rebellion? – to continue in darkness? Does forgiveness have any meaning if you do not forsake the offense? God does not forgive such that you can continue to violate. Man’s logic and reasoning may bring him to a position that he can sin against God and not die, but this is Satan’s great lie that man “received” and “applied.” This is the great lie that corrupt man “follows.” For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor 3:19). Those who find God are the ones who have utterly forsaken the notion that they can sin against God and not die.
Those who have been redeemed through Christ’s blood have been delivered from sin and then forgiven (Col 1:14). 1 John 3:6, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him (also 1 Jn 3:8).” What you will essentially be told by the false church, in so many religious words, is that you can sin and not die. This is the gospel of Satan (Gen chap 3). Those who walk in the devil’s gospel produce corrupt fruit. You cannot walk in darkness and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” Those who let sin reign (under the presumed provision of God’s grace) obey the lust thereof. Therefore, they are the servants of sin. Christ said it very plainly: John 8:34, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” This means “present” and “future” sin. Do you want to stand before God’s Throne at the Judgment as a servant of sin? These are dead in their sins and the uncircumcision of their flesh (Col 2:13). Come out of Babylon and be not partakers of her sins (Rev 18:4).
The author’s strong advice and encouragement is to cast aside all these church doctrines (derived from the writings of men) and start reading God’s Word without preconceived notions. Pray that the Holy Spirit will unfold the truth and then be steadfast in study and quick to obey. The Lord will lead you to understand His truth if you sincerely seek to know it with an open heart. Never approach your study of the Bible to just confirm those doctrines you have been taught, otherwise you will blind yourself to the truth. God must be approached with the understanding of “Thy will be done” and never “my will be done.” You may be very surprised where the Spirit will lead you in God’s will (Lk 22:42). Be prepared to make great sacrifices. God’s Word will change you if you allow it to work in your heart: 1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” Beware, the religious Jews were so meticulous in the study of scripture, but did not even recognize God (in the flesh, Jn 1:14, 1 Jn 1:2) when He was in their midst. John 1:10-11, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Even worse, they killed Him out of envy (Lk 19:47, 20:19-20, 23:21-24, 24:20). They were: 2 Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They sought God based upon their will and not His. For God’s will to prevail in you, your will must die and this is the nature of the battle.
The more you study God’s Word the more one thing will become clear. To accomplish God’s will, you must die to self. Man must be restored to the way things were in the garden of Eden before the fall. Man was surrendered and obedient to God. It was only when man (with enticement from Satan) exalted self and sought his own self will (ate of the forbidden fruit) and thus transgressed God’s command (will) that things went horribly bad. Now it is only by walking in faith, which is surrender and obedience to God (as led of His Spirit), that man can please God (Rm 1:17). Everything else falls short. Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The Lord God shall have what He intended to have in man from the beginning – for His purposes will not be made void (Is 45:23, 55:11).
Much of man’s religion is very clever (to the point of devious) and in subtle ways has circumvented the “dying to self” and surrender and obedience to God. Self has been exalted and the Lord has become an unconditional love God to serve man. This must cause us to wonder (seriously ponder) who has actually been doing the leading in man’s religion. Satan leads in the flesh and the Holy Spirit leads in dying to the flesh and conforming to God’s will. Colossians 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” A “paradox;” we must die to have life. Mark 8:35, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it (also Mt 10:39, 16:25, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25).” AND Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” AND 1 John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” The gospel can only be understood when you put things into perspective – God’s perspective and not yours (self).
Ways of Thinking
The false church would most likely hold to the following logic: You are a Christian and you live your life. Therefore, the way you live is the Christian life. The true church would view this entirely different. Jesus is “the Life” (Jn 14:6, 1 Jn 5:11-13, Rm 5:10, Col 3:4). You must lose your life (die to self) for Christ’s sake (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25, Rm 6:6, 2 Cor 5:17, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3). Therefore, your life is found in Christ and this is to walk as He walked and obey His commandments. Christian life is to reflect Christ’s nature not the corrupt nature of the world. The false church views things from man’s perspective (man-centered). The true church must view things from God’s perspective (God-centered). A true believer realizes that everything he does relates to his relationship in Christ and must focus on the will of God. The false church would view status, membership and religiosity as being a Christian. A member in the false church could easily separate their daily life from their religious Sunday-go-to-meeting life. The false church demands “no obedience” because it says salvation and security are based solely upon “grace” (re-defined) – not behavior, obedience, love or devotion. They say that you can never please God by anything you do (faith? Heb 11:6), so there are no godly expectations. They say that for man to do anything (i.e. works) would take away from (lessen) the “finished” work of Christ on the cross. The false church essentially says: you can “not obey God” and “ye shall not surely die (Gen 3:4).” This is a great concern since this is the exact same thing that the devil told man in Eden that resulted in man’s fall.
John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” AND John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” To “believe” is to “follow” or walk under the direction of the Holy Ghost (who dwells within you). In other words, Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Man is under God’s original condemnation of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17).” Only through Christ, and walking in His Spirit shall one be free of the condemnation. Jesus saves! Christ gives life! Come to Jesus that you may have life (Jn 5:40).
A Conditional Gift
Jesus came with God’s mercy. Matthew 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mercy can only be offered to one who 1) acknowledges their wrong and 2) forsakes the offence(s) in question. Mercy cannot be realized in one who obstinately and presumptuously continues in the offence.
The conditional nature of God’s mercy and forgiveness can be illustrated in the following verses (just one example): Psalms 103:17-18, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them (also Ps 111:10, 147:11).” God’s mercy is only to those who “fear” Him. The fear of God is the same thing as faith toward God. This is your love (sacrifice of self for God’s benefit), surrender, obedience, devotion and trust in the Lord. This is the only acceptable thing you have to give the Lord (even so, you are not earning anything – you were already condemned apart from Jesus Christ). Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” Notice the “conditional” statement of “abiding is His covenant” and “doing His commandments (1 Jn 2:3, 29).” Those who do not keep God’s commandments do not walk in truth (1 Jn 2:4). To obey the Lord’s commandments is to fear God and depart from evil. None of this was changed in Christ’s testament. We enter into covenant with Jesus, are “born again” and show our love toward Him by keeping His commandments (Jn 14:15) – the two great commandments. So, God’s everlasting mercy is for those who walk in faith as obedient to their solemn agreement with Christ to do His commandments (1 Pt 1:22). In other words, Jesus is truly Lord of their lives (1 Pt 2:10). 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” Therefore: We must (a condition – made or granted on certain terms) love God and keep His commandments (1 Jn 5:2-3).
All unrighteousness is sin (1 Jn 5:17)! Unrighteousness is not conforming in heart and life to God’s commandments. Jesus said: Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” So, Sin = unrighteousness = not doing God’s commandments = not entering into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever is born of God (born again, new creature) sinneth not (1 Jn 5:18). Therefore: salvation is only through God’s grace, but is conditional to keeping Christ’s commandments. God’s grace made a way for “condemned sinners” to be reconciled back to God (Gen 2:17 and Rm 8:1-2). This is a very narrow way (Mt 7:13-14). This narrow way simply cannot be walked apart from obedience to God’s will. Those walking will understand this.
Did Jesus love us, and wash us from our sins in his own blood (Rev 1:5)? Then who shall continue in sin (the darkness) and count the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29)? The true church is most definitely not individuals that are both simultaneously sinners and saints as espoused by Martin Luther (father of the Protestant church). You are one or the other, but not both.
Here is an imperfect analogy: Suppose you are on a desolate island slowly starving to death. In the distance, God has provided another island with everything that you could possibly need – and its all free. The problem is that the two islands are separated by swift currents and undertows, razor sharp coral reefs, deep waters, sharks and various other obstacles. However, you do not know how to swim, nor navigate the obstacles, nor do you have the strength needed. It is an impossible journey for “self” to make alone. God sent His Son at great sacrifice to enable you to be worthy (through His pain and suffering, Is 53:10-12) to even receive this free gift. Jesus led the way and showed you just how to complete the course (written in great detail, Is 48:17). Jesus then said, “Come, follow Me.” The Lord then sent a Comforter (the Holy Spirit) to teach you how to swin, to empower you, and to remind you of what Jesus said and did. You realize that there is no possible way that you could do this on your own and that you are underserving of it. Jesus tells you to step out in faith trusting completely in Him. Through your surrender and obedience (dying to self will) you learn how to swim and more importantly, how to explicitly obey directions and just “follow.” Disobedience or seeking self-will along the way can be disasterous. There is only one way and Jesus is leading you in that way if you obediently follow. The gift is free and you could never earn it on your own. Even so, you must follow Christ to obtain the gift. No one will ever be able to say that they earned it or even deserved it. Those who obtain will know for sure that it was only through Jesus. Apart from Christ, there would have been no other island, much less a path to reach it.
1 John Calvin received a house and stipend from the government of Geneva. Under Calvin’s severe regime (theocracy in Geneva), nonconformists were persecuted and even put to death. Calvin approved the burning of Michael Servetus (although he recommended decapitation), whom he deemed to be a heretic, when the Unitarian was captured in the city. Calvin came up with the concept that that business success is an evidence of God’s grace. Many Protestant’s have thus come up with reasonings that success (as measured by the world’s standards) results from God’s blessings of a godly life, while failures reflect an ungodly life. Christ was deemed a criminal and put to death by both the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman state, yet His success in accomplishing the Father’s will was perfect.