Is there evidence to call Republicans the Christian party? That’s in the Bible - not! Evangelicals point to obvious Democrat sins. Do we ignore our Evangelical and Republican sins? Would Jesus say “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you legislated not to feed me. I was thirsty, and you legislated against clean drinking water. I was a stranger (or foreigner), and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked, and you legislated against helping. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t provide health care or prison reform.” Have Republicans and Evangelicals failed Jesus? Does the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) make us ashamed?
Labels: Matthew 25
Should Christians hate the government? That’s in the Bible - not! Government provides roads, schools, satellites, stadiums, defense, retirement, water treatment, sewage, trash disposal, research, ports, communications, mail, energy, disease control, health, consumer protection, clean air and water, work safety, weather service, unemployment, helps the poor, sick, elderly, provides police, scholarships, soil conservation, libraries, building codes, etc. God supports good government (Romans 13:1-7).
Labels: Romans 13
Where is the lion and lamb lying together? That’s in the Bible - not! Eternal peace is pictured by several predators and prey living together. Isaiah 11:6 actually says, "In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all." Isaiah 65:25 says, "The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Isn’t what the Bible actually says better?
Is Sunday the Christian Sabbath? That’s in the Bible - NOT! 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 describes a fundraiser for Jerusalem, not necessarily a collection at Sunday services. Acts 20:7 is a special farewell service, not necessarily a regular Sunday service. Romans 14:5-13 gives permission to worship on any day we choose. Hebrews 4:9 says that there remains a Sabbath rest still to come, referring to our eternal rest. Colossians 2:16 suggests that we should not allow others to judge us by mandating certain days. There is always a tendency to criticize people for the days they prefer. Christians are free to keep any rest day they choose, following the spirit of the law: one day in seven.
Is human nature intrinsically evil? That’s in the Bible — not! Didn’t Jesus say that people were evil and didn’t Paul describe the “natural man” as refusing the things of the Spirit of God (Matthew 7:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus was not describing human nature and Paul described a sensual, unspiritual person, not the nature with which humanity was created. For that we have to go to Genesis 1:26-31 which describes humanity’s creation in God’s image as “very good.” Adam and Eve were not created flawed, but had the ability to choose between good and evil, and they chose sin. Humans thus became faulty images of God, like an image in a broken mirror.
Does Christian marriage need a formal ceremony and a marriage certificate? That’s in the Bible — not! In Genesis 2:24 Adam and Eve were united as one flesh, but no formal ceremony was recorded. Malachi 2:14 supports a marriage covenant, without specifying what. Romans 13:1-2 encourages obedience to civil authorities, but some modern governments recognize informal marriages. In Bible times, marriage was by private arrangement, not by the church or the state. If modern non-traditional unions are closer to Bible marriages, why judge them by modern rather than Bible standards? On the other hand isn’t legal protection and a good reputation wise? Isn’t a church marriage good and like recapturing God’s blessing in the Garden of Eden?
Have you ever heard people say they prefer Christianity without the religion? That’s in the Bible — not! James 1:26-27 tells us the real story. “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” So, in the Bible, purity of religion is the goal. And it has nothing to do with the style of liturgy or the ways that we do church, but whether or not we control what we say, care for the needy and avoid corruption.
Have you ever heard someone say that Christmas is pagan? That’s in the Bible — not! Christmas was not generally observed until around the 300’s. Some Christians avoid it because of its pagan roots, but God only forbade evil pagan worship like child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21) and idolatry (Jeremiah 10:1-5). He did not forbid prayers, music or even using pagan dates for Christian worship (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16). Pagans used trees, but God did so first (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24; Proverbs 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4; Revelation 2:7; 22:14, 19). Christ’s birth is in the Bible (Luke 2). The angels celebrated that wonderful event and so can we.
Have you ever heard people preach about a future world leader called the Antichrist? That’s in the Bible — not! The word Antichrist is only found in the Bible four times (1 John 2:18; 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). Already many Antichrists have appeared. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. Someone claiming to be a prophet and yet not acknowledging the truth about Jesus, has the spirit of the Antichrist. Anyone denying that Jesus Christ came in a real body is a deceiver and an antichrist. Rather than support any theory about a single apocalyptic figure, these verses suggest the idea that there have been many anti- or against Christ.
Have you ever heard that dancing is a sin? That’s in the Bible — not! David danced before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:13-15). There is a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:3-5). When God promised to bless Israel he said they would again be happy and dance (Jeremiah 31:3-5). God turns our mourning into joyful dancing (Psalm 30:10-12). We are encouraged to praise his name with dancing (Psalm 149:2-4; 150:3-5). Obviously lewd dancing or dancing to worship false gods would inappropriate and sinful, but not all dancing is wrong. God encourages the right kind of dancing, like joyful and worshipful dancing.
Some Christians claim that taking care of the poor is for churches and individuals but not for governments. That’s in the Bible — not! God required Israel to collect a national tithe for the poor (Deuteronomy 26:12) as well as individual duty (Leviticus 19:19). God expects courts to treat rich and poor equally (Exodus 23:2-8; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; 10:17-19). The New Testament praises helping the poor (Acts 10:2-4, 31; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:9; 1 John 3:17). After Constantine, when Rome became Christian, they found many principles of righteous government from the entire Bible, including Psalm 72, which holds national leaders responsible to defend the poor and rescue the needy.
To be spirit-filled do you have to speak in tongues? That’s in the Bible — not! Let’s look at spirit-filled experiences in the Bible. Elizabeth prophesied to Mary (Luke 1:39-56). Bezalel was given craftsmanship (Exodus 31:3; 35:31). John was spirit-filled before birth (Luke 1:15). Zechariah prophesied (Luke 1:67-68). Jesus was led into the wilderness (Luke 4:1). The church spoke in known tongues (Acts 2:4). Seven deacons had wisdom (Acts 6:3-5). Stephen saw heaven (Acts 7:55). Saul preached (Acts 9:17-20). Barnabas brought many people to God (Acts 11:24). Paul had insight (Acts 13:9-10). Believers had joy (Acts 13:52). Many non-Christian religions speak in tongues. The fruit of the Spirit is the best evidence (Galatians 5:22-23): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Have you ever heard someone say that if baptism by immersion was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me? Yeah! Right! That’s in the Bible — not! People claim that the Bible proves Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch were immersed (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, & Acts 8:38-39), but it does not. Coming up out of the water could mean that they came up the bank out of ankle deep water. The Greek can also be translated as coming up away from the water. This is inconclusive and proves nothing. Was God was not interested in inspiring exact detail about baptism? Is the mode of baptism far less important to God than the fact of baptism?
Have you ever heard someone say that immersion is the only valid mode of baptism? That’s in the Bible — not! The word baptism literally means immersion. But, it’s used in several non-literal senses. It means wash in several places (Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38; Acts 22:16). It describes Israel walking through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). The Israelites were not literally immersed in the Red Sea, but figuratively. They walked through with dry feet, baptized into Moses without being literally dipped or immersed in any water. So, biblical use of the word baptism reveals that it can certainly be an immersion and also some other use of water such as a symbolic washing.
Have you ever met someone who proudly announced that they had never touched a drop of alcohol in their life? That’s in the Bible — not!
If used moderately, wine and beer were designed by God to be a blessing in the body of a normally healthy person. They may be enjoyed at worship feasts (Deuteronomy 14:24-26). Wine cheers God and men (Judges 9:13), gladdens the heart (Psalms 104:15), gladdens life (Ecclesiastes 10:19), makes the heart rejoice (Zechariah 10:7), and cheers up the depressed (Proverbs 31:6). It is to be imbibed with a cheerful heart (Ecclesiastes 9:7) and makes life merry (Ecclesiastes 10:19).The Bible does not ban moderate and responsible use of alcohol, only drunkenness. Instead of acting like Pharisees and inventing sins not found in the Bible, what if we took genuine sins seriously, like bearing false witness?
Is karma compatible with Christianity? That’s in the Bible - not! Karma is a version of salvation by good works, which contradicts the Christian teaching of salvation by grace. Karma is a form of cause and effect, teaching that the balance of our deeds determines our future in this life and the next. This contradicts a foundational teaching of Christianity, God’s forgiveness in Christ. Romans 6:23 says that sin brings death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 says God reconciled us to Himself through Christ, not counting our sins against us. John 3:16-18 says God gave His Son, so that everyone who believes will have eternal life. Karma is unforgiving. God forgives.
Many Protestants believe in sola scriptura, the Bible alone. That’s in the Bible - not! Every church has important traditions, well-reasoned doctrinal statements, and experiences of the Holy Spirit. A more accurate statement is prima scriptura, primarily the scriptures. When tradition, reason or experience are made equal to the Bible we are in danger of preaching another Gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). God has inspired Scripture to teach us what is true, right from wrong, and prepare and equip us (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Acts 17:10-12; Isaiah 8:20; 40:8). The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16:12-14) and faithful preachers expound the Bible (Acts 17:2; Acts 17:11; Romans 15:4; 1 Timothy 4:13).
Is apostolic succession true? That’s in the Bible - not! Right teaching is not automatically passed on by continuously consecutive ordinations (2 Timothy 2:2; 4:2-5; Titus 1:5; 2:15; 1 Timothy 5:19-22). Some church leaders will be false teachers. We should compare their dogmas with the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate written teaching authority (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:18-21). The church repeatedly overly focuses on human traditions, earthly reasoning and popular experiences. It wanders from the Bible to the right ditch of legalism and the left ditch of liberalism. Faithful believers are brought back to right doctrine by knowing their Bibles. The Bible reforms the church in a way that apostolic succession could not.
Are ex-cathedra dogmatic statements of popes infallible? That’s in the Bible - not! Matthew 16:18-19 does not call Peter the first pope or chief of the apostles. James chaired the first church council (Acts 15:1-23). Paul corrected Peter (Galatians 2:1-14). The church is built on the foundation of all the apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20) and Jesus is the chief. Peter was not alone in having the authority to loose and bind (Matthew 18:15-19). It was Peter who said not to be authoritarian, lording it over others (1 Peter 5:3). A heavy-handed way to coerce people is by claiming that your dogmatic statements are infallible. Is infallibility bullying? Does Infallibility deny the need for human leaders to repent of bad doctrines?
Do Catholics teach salvation by works? That’s in the Bible - not! Some Protestants falsely accuse the Roman Church of teaching salvation by works. We Protestants ought to repent of bearing false witness towards our Roman brothers and sisters. Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians believe what the Bible teaches on this. Let me explain. All major branches of Christianity, east and west, believe in salvation by faith. But, a saving faith is not a dead faith. What is a living faith? Jesus said that good trees produce good fruit. We can be identified by our actions (Matthew 7:15-20). James explains it plainly. A saving faith is evidenced by good works and faith without works is dead (James 2:17-26).
Is justification by faith that is alone, sola fide? That’s in the Bible - not! Luther added the word alone to Romans 3:28, believing it made the text clearer. The letter of James annoyed Luther. He called it an epistle of straw and removed it from the Bible among other books. James 2:14-26 says that faith is proven by action, good deeds, and we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Faith is dead without good works. Later theologians wrote, “We are justified by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone.” What makes faith not alone? Could it be works? Are Catholics and Protestants closer than we think?
Are apostolic succession, baptist succession, sabbatarianism, or restorationism reasons to declare any denomination the one true church? That’s in the Bible - not! The church is built upon the foundation of all the apostles (Ephesians 2:20). One of those apostles was Thomas who started churches in south western India. Those churches were separated for 1500 years and some remain independent to this day. Are they not part of the one true church? Thomas and Bartholomew also planted the Assyrian Church much of which remains independent. The church is not visibly one but invisibly one in Christ (Galatians 3:28; 1 Peter 3:8; Philippians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Colossians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 4:32).
Is financial success measured by having lots of money? That’s in the Bible - not! Throughout the Bible those who give are considered by God to be truly successful and those who focus on getting are miserable losers. Selflessness is success. Selfishness is the ultimate failure. The parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46) reveals eternal bliss for the charitable and hell for the greedy. The story of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4) shows that it is not the amount that gauges successful giving, but the percentage. There are two kinds of people, givers and takers. Givers are winners and takers are losers. True financial success is not gauged by what we accumulate, but by what we give.