Tag Archive: salvation

new-image  Illegal immigration has become a volatile issue, especially in the U.S. Many have raised their voices passionately in their condemnation of illegal immigration, while others defend it just as fervently. The issues raised by the presence of illegal immigrants have generated heated debate among politicians, educators, co-workers, families, friends and most recently, a heated election. Sadly enough, the church has been drawn into the fray over illegal aliens as well, with Christians on both sides seeking to justify their positions based on their own personal beliefs.

So, what does the Bible say about those who enter a country illegally? What should be the Christian response to illegal aliens or illegal immigrants and toward those who condone illegal immigration? The first consideration is the law of the land. Those who illegally enter any country violate that nation’s laws as well as the laws of God. Believers are torn between showing compassion and mercy to the illegal aliens who seek help and not wanting to violate God’s word.

Sadly, we have brothers and sisters in Christ fighting over the issue of illegal immigration when the Bible is quite clear on what the Christian response should be: “The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9; see also 28:5; Psalm 5:4–5). When we condone criminal activity, we no longer “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). The Bible makes it clear that those who violate laws are sinning, as are those who support or assist them in breaking the laws (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–14; Titus 3:1–2). This principle applies to illegal immigrants and those who condone their continued violation of the law.

Peter’s reference to “those who do wrong” in 1 Peter 2:14 refers to lawbreakers. These are to be punished by the governing authorities. In Romans 13 Paul says that the government is in the best position to judge wrongdoers and find solutions to the problem of lawlessness. Government has the divine authority to deal with illegal immigrants who refuse to comply with the laws of the land. Now, the government authorities may or may not exercise their legal and divine right to enforce the laws, but that doesn’t change the fact that the church should not knowingly support illegal activity. To aid and abet illegal aliens—people who cross borders illegally—is sin. Regardless of emotional appeals and mitigating circumstances, the initial act of coming into a country illegally is sin.

At the same time, as Christians, we have to separate our attitude toward the act of entering the country illegally from our attitude toward illegal immigrants themselves. Illegal aliens are individuals for whom Jesus died. The first obligation of a Christian is to express Christlikeness in all our thoughts, words, and deeds (Romans 8:29). There is no room for hatred toward illegal aliens who seek work, refuge from danger and persecution, or a better life for themselves and their families. Christian compassion must be shown toward those who would risk their lives in a dangerous attempt to cross a border. Acts of hatred or violence toward illegal immigrants are never to be tolerated by those who name the name of Christ.

This remarkable Rabbi, of the 12th Century, appears to have nailed it. In fact, he may have pin pointed the time of the “Messiah’s return.” The last days may truly be upon us.

Judah Ben Samuel was a legendary and prolific German rabbi of the 12th  century who made some astonishing and specific predictions about the future of  Jerusalem and Israel that came true.

Judah Ben Samuel, also known as Judah he-Hasid (Judah the Pious), lived and  worked from the end of the 12th century until the beginning of the 13th century  in Regensburg, authoring a number of books in the German language.

Ludwig Schneider of   Israel Today magazine has translated some of his work into English over the  last few years, including “The Book of the Pious – Sefer Hasidim” and the “Book  of Calculations – Sefer Gematriyot.”

Following the Christian crusades to the Holy Land, between 1096-1270, a  regular correspondence developed between the Jews in the Holy Land and the  Christian West. Thus, for example, the rabbis in Worms and Regensburg in Germany  knew that Saladin’s Ayyubids had been ruling in the Holy Land since 1187.

At this time, Judah Ben Samuel published the results of his biblical  calculations (Gematria) and astrological observations and summarized as follows: “When the Ottomans (Turks) – who were already a power to be reckoned with on the  Bosporus in the time of Judah Ben Samuel – conquer Jerusalem they will rule over  Jerusalem for eight jubilees. Afterwards Jerusalem will become no-man’s land for  one jubilee, and then in the ninth jubilee it will once again come back into the  possession of the Jewish nation – which would signify the beginning of the  Messianic end time.”

One jubilee is 50 years (Leviticus 25). It is the 50th year after seven times  seven years, the year in which each person should regain ownership of his or her  land. Ben Samuel’s calculations were purely theoretical; there was absolutely no  sign at that time of their being fulfilled. He himself was not able to  experience their fulfillment, for it was only 300 years after his death that the  first of his predictions were to come true.

The Mamluks, who had been reigning in Jerusalem since 1250, were conquered in  1517 by the Ottoman Turks. They remained for eight jubilees (8 x 50 = 400  years), that is to say they were in Jerusalem for 400 years. Exactly 400 years  later, in 1917, the Ottoman Turks were conquered by the British. The League of  Nations conferred the Mandate for the Holy Land and Jerusalem to the British.  Thus, from 1917, under international law, Jerusalem was no-man’s land.

Then, when Israel captured Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967, exactly one  jubilee (50 years) after 1917, Jerusalem reverted to Jewish-Israeli ownership  once again. Thereby, according to the prophecies of Judah Ben Samuel, the  Messianic End Times began.

Many scholars have studied and made reference to Judah Ben Samuel’s writings  in an effort to understand how he reached his conclusions. Among those  referencing Ben Samuel were Rabbi Isaac Ben Solomon Luria, a mystic dealing with  the messianic world (Jerusalem, 1531-1572, Safed); Joseph Solomon Delmegido  (1591 Candia – 1655 Prague), a mathematician and astronomer (“Mazref  le-Chochma”), Azulai I (1724-1806), a famed bibliographer; Samuel David Luzzatto  (1800-1865), a Bible scholar; historian Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891); and Torah  scholar Jacob Epstein (1925-1993).

The secret of how Judah the Pious arrived at such accurate predictions has  less to do with the actual calculations than it does with the fact that he had  consecrated his life to God. His pupils Rabbi Isaac ben Moses (Vienna), Rabbi  Baruch ben Samuel (Mainz) and Rabbi Simcha (Speyer) testify that Ben Samuel was  a model of abstinence and selflessness and was awaiting with a burning desire  the coming of the Messiah.

Ben Samuel was often called “Light of Israel.” Even bishops came to him for  advice. If anyone asked him where his wisdom came from he would answer, “The  prophet Elijah, who will preceed the Messiah, appeared to me and revealed many  things to me and emphasized that the precondition for answered prayer is that it  is fueled by enthusiasm and joy for the greatness and holiness of God.”

But to recap the astonishing predictions: In AD 1217 this scholarly and pious  rabbi prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would rule over the holy city of  Jerusalem for eight Jubilees. Now, keep in mind, he made this prediction 300  years before the Ottoman Turks seized control of Jerusalem in 1517. If indeed  1217 and 1517 were jubilee years as Judah Ben Samuel believed, then his prophecy  was exactly right, because exactly 400 years after the Turks took control of  Jerusalem they were driven out of the city and the holy land in 1917 by the  Allied forces under the command of General George Allenby – on Hanukkah, by the  way.

But it gets more interesting still.

The rabbi also prophesied that during the ninth Jubilee Jerusalem would be a “no-man’s land.” This is exactly what happened from 1917 to 1967, due to the  fact that the Holy Land was placed under British Mandate in 1917 by the League  of Nations and literally “belonged” to no nation.

Even after Israel’s war of independence in 1948-49, Jerusalem was still  divided by a strip of land running right through the heart of the city, with  Jordan controlling the eastern part of the city and Israel controlling the  western part of the city. That strip of land was considered and even called “no-man’s land” by both the Israelis and the Jordanians.

It was not until the Six Day War in 1967 when the entire West Bank of the  Holy Land was conquered by the Israeli army that the whole city of Jerusalem  passed back into the possession of Israel. So once again the prophecy made by  the rabbi 750 years previously was fulfilled to the letter.

It certainly would be significant if both 1917 and 1967 were Jubilee years,  considering the significance of what happened in Jerusalem on those years. But  it gets even more interesting, because Judah Ben Samuel also prophesied that  during the 10th Jubilee Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the  Messianic “end times” would begin. If he’s right, the 10th Jubilee began in 1967  and will be concluded in 2017, the return of the “Messiah.”

“The Bible should be our standard for prophecy and interpretation of  prophetic events,” said Joseph Farah, editor and founder of WND, upon learning  of Judah Ben Samuel’s predictions in Israel  Today. “But one cannot ignore what this 12th-century rabbi said and wrote.  It’s well-documented. And I applaud   Israel Today for bringing it to light. The implications of these predictions  is staggering to say the least.”

The short answer to the question “why did God create us?” is “for His pleasure.”  Revelation  4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and  power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have  their being.” Colossians  1:16 reiterates the point: “All things were created by him and for him.”  Being created for God’s pleasure does not mean humanity was made to entertain  God or provide Him with amusement. God is a creative Being, and it gives Him  pleasure to create. God is a personal Being, and it gives Him pleasure to have  other beings He can have a genuine relationship with.

Being made in the  image and likeness of God (Genesis  1:27), human beings have the ability to know God and therefore love Him,  worship Him, serve Him, and fellowship with Him. God did not create human beings  because He needed them. As God, He needs nothing. In all eternity past, He felt  no loneliness, so He was not looking for a “friend.” He loves us, but this is  not the same as needing us. If we had never existed, God would still be God—the  unchanging One (Malachi  3:6). The I AM (Exodus 3:14)  was never dissatisfied with His own eternal existence. When He made the  universe, He did what pleased Himself, and since God is perfect, His action was  perfect. “It was very good” (Genesis  1:31).

Also, God did not create “peers” or beings equal to Himself.  Logically, He could not do so. If God were to create another being of equal  power, intelligence, and perfection, then He would cease to be the one true God  for the simple reason that there would be two gods—and that would be an  impossibility. “The LORD is God; besides him there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:35).  Anything that God creates must of necessity be lesser than He. The thing made  can never be greater than, or as great as, the One who made it.

Recognizing the complete sovereignty and holiness of God, we are amazed that He  would take man and crown him “with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5) and that He would condescend to call us  “friends” (John  15:14-15). Why did God create us? God created us for His pleasure and so  that we, as His creation, would have the pleasure of knowing Him.

Be Ye Separate

All of God’s creation desires and longs for His promises to be fulfilled in their lives. The worst heathen in this life desires heaven in the next life. What they fail to realize is that what most refer to as “the next life” is in reality just a continuation of this present life. The only difference is we live this life in the flesh. We will live the next life in the Spirit. If we are to have a Spiritual existence, then the life we live in the flesh must line up with the Word of God. Today many desire to live as they choose, acquiring all the things of the flesh, and when they die to go to heaven. Paul warned the Romans:

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Romans 8:12-13

If we are going to partake of God’s Spiritual existence, then we must mortify the deeds of the flesh. The word mortify means “to put to death, to render extinct, to be liberated from”. The deeds and desires of the flesh must be brought under the control of the Spirit. Paul gained the victory over the flesh, therefore, he could write:

“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.” Galatians 2:20

Paul was not living his life to please the flesh. Paul lived the Christ life, the overcoming life, the victorious life. If we are to claim the promises of God, we must be crucified with Christ. Christ is the Holy Spirit anointing. The desires and lusts of the flesh must be subjected to the Christ anointing. As Paul proclaimed, if we live after the flesh we shall die. Paul wrote to the Hebrews:

“Further more we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits, and live?” Hebrews 12:9

Those who do not subject themselves to the Father of spirits will never enter into eternal life. Those who desire to be part of God’s eternal promises must keep His commandments. The apostle James wrote:

“And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23

Abraham was the only man in the Bible called the Friend of God. He became God’s friend because he believed God. In other words, when God gave Abraham a commandment, he followed God’s directions in obedience. God informed Abraham to leave where he had lived for seventy-five years and go without question to a place God would show him. He was to leave family, friends, property: and go. Abraham went in faith, trusting God as he went.

God also promised Abraham a son when he was ninety-nine years old. Abraham believed God. Isaac was born to Abraham when he was one hundred years old. Because Abraham believed, God brought it to pass. Then God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac for a sacrifice. Abraham never questioned God. He took Isaac, loaded him down with wood, took his knife, and went to where God directed him:

“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” Genesis 22:9-10

God stopped Abraham before he thrust the knife through Isaac’s heart. One may ask, “How could Abraham even consider such a thing?” It was because Abraham believed God. Isaac was Abraham’s promised seed. Abraham’s posterity was through this son. Abraham not only knew God’s promise, he believed God to fulfill His promise. This is why Abraham told the young men who went with him,

“Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” Genesis 22:5

Abraham knew Isaac would return with him. How did Abraham know this? Paul disclosed Abraham’s heart in his letter to the Hebrews:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham had faith that if he had driven the knife through Isaac’s heart, God would raise him from the dead. Why did Abraham believe this? Because he believed God, and acted upon the faith he had in God. Abraham’s belief in God was his righteousness before God. We cannot attain to God’s righteousness without absolute faith and trust in God. By his faith and obedience, Abraham was called the Friend of God. Jesus made us this same promise. We, too, can become the friends of God. Jesus showed us the way to become His friend:

“Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:14-15

The only way we can become the friend of God is to be completely obedient to whatever the Lord commands. When we become totally obedient to God’s Word, we are no longer in the servant’s realm. Paul revealed:

“Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;” Galatians 4:1

Those who remain children will not inherit. Those who remain in the servants realm, likewise, will not inherit. God is not going to turn His kingdom over to those who are not totally obedient to His Word, His will, and His way. Those who rule and reign with Him will be His sons because they were first His obedient friends.

As Abraham learned, every promise comes with a commandment we must follow. The Holy Spirit gives us a commandment through the pen of the apostle Paul:

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” II Corinthians 6:16

Paul informs us we are the temple of the living God. Then Paul asks, “What agreement does the temple of God have with idols, false gods, and the gods of the flesh?” These can never produce life.

God promised, “I will dwell in you. He did not say He would dwell with us, but in us. We will become the abode of God. He also proclaimed I will walk in them. Again His words were not that He would walk with us, but that He would walk in us. To come to the place where God can dwell in us and walk in us requires total submission to the Spirit. As Paul disclosed to the churches at Galatia:

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”. Galatians 5:25

If Christ is our life, then He must become our walk. Paul continued with God’s commandment:

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” II Corinthians 6:17

If we are to be God’s people and be received by Him, we are commanded to do three things:

1   Come out from among them

2   Be ye separate

3   Touch not the unclean thing

God promises He will receive us if we accomplish these three things in our life. This sounds very simple, but how difficult are these steps? These three steps are not difficult at all for those who are totally sold out to Christ, whose total desire is to be the friend of God. These steps are only difficult for those who desire the things of the flesh, the things of the world, and to maintain their own identity instead of being identified with Christ. When our desires become His desires, when our walk becomes His walk, when our life becomes His life, then to accomplish these three things is a simple matter of obedience.

Be Ye Separate, Physically

What does God mean by our coming out from among them? When God commands us to come out from among them, it can only mean one thing. We are still among them. Among who? Israel was given us as an example. God explained to Israel what He meant by coming out from among them. God warned Israel before they ever entered into the promise land:

“And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against Me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Exodus 23:31-33

God’s promise to Israel was deliverance from the heathen nations, but God’s promise came with a commandment:

1  Israel was to make no covenant with the heathen

2  They were to come into no agreement with any of their gods

3  The heathen were not permitted to dwell in the land

God gave Israel a reason for all these commandments. God knew if Israel made covenants with the heathen, these covenants would entangle them with the heathens’ way of life. God also knew if Israel came into agreement with any of their idol gods, their worship would lead them away from His true worship. God also knew if Israel allowed the heathen to dwell among them, they would adopt the heathen ways. All these would become snares to His people. Paul related to the church at Corinth:

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” II Corinthians 4:4

The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which are not believers. They cannot see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. God knows if His people have any dealings with the heathen, they will be enticed with the things of this life. This is certainly evident in what is called “Christianity” today. God’s people desire the biggest cars, the grandest homes, the highest positions in the land. This is certainly true of the extravaganza displayed on the media as Christian television. Their painted up actors with their expensive costumes, expensive hair do’s, elegant stage props, etc, and their phony sincerity is displayed as Godliness. These look and act more like the world, than many of the lowliest worldly people. These certainly have not come out from among the heathen. They have become part of them, a mockery of everything God says we are to be. James warned:

“Ye adulterers and adulteress’, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4

Those who have become friends with the world have become God’s enemies. Yet God’s people continue to look like and act like the world. When the world views the nominal Christian they see no reason to change. God continued His warning to Israel:

“Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.” Exodus 34:15-16

God knows the end from the beginning. He knows if His people allow the heathen to dwell among them, they will go a whoring after the heathen gods. They will even allow their sons and daughters to marry the heathen, causing them to serve their heathen gods. Paul warned the Corinthians about being bonded together with the heathen:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14

We are not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers. This means in marriage, in business, and in government. This also includes the church we attend. Unbelievers have no place in the congregation. This does not mean unbelievers cannot visit the church to hear the Word of God, but the Word preached should be so convicting that the unbeliever will change. If they refuse to change, they will not choose to sit under the Word that convicts them and their ways.

Today many marriages are performed in the church where one or both are unbelievers. This is not to be. The church of God is for believers. When the church becomes part of yoking an unbeliever with an unbeliever, they have broken God’s commandment against unequal yoking. Before the believer gets to the altar, the believer should be counseled against being yoked to an unbeliever. The believer needs to be informed if this relationship continues, the church will have nothing to do with the breaking of God’s commandments.

Many who call themselves Christian are in business partnership with, or work for unbelievers. We must always remember, unbelievers are heathens. The heathen way of doing business is not God’s way. When the believer is unequally yoked with heathens, the believer is asked or required to do things that are an abomination to God. Once the yoking or bonding has taken place, there is always a tearing of the flesh to separate yourself from the heathen.

Paul asked, “What fellowship can righteousness have with unrighteousness? This is true in marriage, business, the government, and the church. The same is true with our families. There are unbelievers in every family. When a family member is an unbeliever, he or she is to be considered a heathen, and are to be treated accordingly. Jesus’ words concerning the family and its members was recorded by Luke:

“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:  For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Luke 12:51-53

Jesus came to lead mankind out of his darkness. Jesus brought division between those who choose to walk in the light and those who choose to remain in darkness. This is why Paul asked, “What communion hath light with darkness?”, II Corinthians 6:14. Jesus declared this division would cause three against two or two against three in the same household.

Many would say Christianity brings division, but most times it is not the Christian that separates, the heathen separate themselves from the believer. Jesus stated this division would be between son and father, mother and daughter, mother in law against daughter in law, etc. It is the heathen desiring the believer to do the things against God’s commands that causes the separation. Matthew recorded:

“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:36

When Jesus spoke this, He quoted the prophet Micah. This separation is not new. It has been from the beginning. Sin caused man to be separated from the garden. Sin caused Cain to be separated from all mankind. In the book of Genesis, God separated light from darkness. He is still in the same process today. Jesus made this separation very plain. Luke recorded:

“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26

The word hate is a very strong word and is used forty-one times in the New Testament. It is generally used in a negative form. We are commanded to honor father and mother. So to hate them would be a contradiction to God’s Word. The use of the word hate in Luke 14:26 has the meaning of “loving less”. Jesus also stated:

“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37

Those who desire to be worthy of Christ must come out from among them. If we hold our father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and our own life in higher esteem than our love for Christ, then we cannot be His disciple. Our God is a jealous God, and we can hold nothing or anyone, including family, above Him if we desire to be His disciples.

God informed Israel:

“Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.” Deuteronomy 23:6

We are not to seek the heathen’s peace or their prosperity. Yet the prosperity message still persists in the church today, teaching God’s people to desire the prosperity of the heathen. They also seek their peace by submitting to the heathen ways. Most who use the name of Christ do not let their light shine in the darkness. Light and dark cannot dwell together. Jesus warned all those who desire to walk in the light:

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” Luke 11:35

Those who do not come out from among the darkness will lose their light. Their witness will be that of Ichabod, “Thy glory has departed”.

Be Ye Separate, Mentally

We are admonished, “Be Ye Separate”. When God commands us to be separate, we must not only be separated physically from among them, we must also be separated mentally and spiritually. One may ask, “How do we separate ourselves mentally?” To separate mentally is to have a change of thinking. The apostle Paul wrote much about the changing of our mind. To the Romans he declared:

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7

Our carnal mind is God’s enemy because it cannot and will not be subject to the law of God. Without a change of mind we cannot serve God. Paul informed the Philippians what they had to do if they were to be pleasing in the sight of God:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5

We are to be of one mind with Christ Jesus the risen, glorified Christ. Many would say this is impossible to do. It is, as long as we are thinking with our carnal mind, but when we come into the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we have a change of mind. Paul declared this to the church at Corinth:

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” I Corinthians 2:16

When the anointing comes upon us, we are to submit to the power of the anointing. It is through our submitting, we attain to the mind of Christ. Too many today work up the emotion of their carnal mind and call it Spirit. When we receive and submit to the true anointing our mind will change. Our thoughts will no longer be in bondage to the carnal mind, nor its corrupting influence in our life. Paul explained to the Romans:

“Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” Romans 12:16

We are all to be of the same mind one toward another. In other words it is God’s desire for His whole body to begin to hear His voice, and be obedient to the mind of Christ. Paul warned the Romans “not to mind high things”. We are not to set our sights on worldly attainment, wealth, honor, or fame. We are to “condescend to men of low estate”. We are not to lift ourselves up above anyone. Paul explained to the church at Philippi:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

In this Scripture, Paul says we are to have “lowliness of mind”. We must put off the carnal mind and esteem others better than ourselves. To the church at Rome, Paul wrote:

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think: but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

We must separate ourselves from carnal pride. We are not to think more highly of ourselves then we ought to think.

We must come to the knowledge that without God we are nothing. Without His saving grace we are still in our sin and headed for eternal darkness. Without His anointing we are powerless to overcome all the frailties of the flesh. We cannot attain to Paul’s words with the old carnal mind. All the carnal mind desires is to lift up and satisfy the whims of the flesh.

We are to condescend to those of like minds. When we put on the mind of Christ, then we will think as Jesus thought. By Jesus’ own words we know His intent:

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

When the body of Christ attains to this way of thinking, then we have condescended to men of low estate. Men of low estate do not lift up self, but lift up Christ in every thought and action.

Paul also informed the Romans not to be “wise in their own conceits”. The word conceit means “our own opinion”. Many believe they are the recipient of all wisdom. These have only received the wisdom of the world. This is not the wisdom of God. The apostle James declared the virtue of Godly wisdom:

“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be in treated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17

1.  Godly wisdom is pure, not tainted by the flesh.

2. Godly wisdom is peaceable. It not only permeates peace in the individual, it also spreads peace to all who hear.

3.  God’s wisdom is gentle. The word gentle means “equitable and fair”.

4.  God’s wisdom is not one-sided.

5.  God’s wisdom will stand by itself. Nothing needs to be added or taken away.

6.  God’s wisdom is easily in treated.

7.  God’s wisdom is easy to be obeyed.

8.  There is great confidence in God’s wisdom because we know God would never mislead us.

9.  God’s wisdom is full of mercy.

10.  God’s wisdom contains virtue.

11. God’s wisdom is always kind toward those who receive it.

12. God’s wisdom is full of good fruits. Good fruit builds God’s character in His people.

13. God’s wisdom is without partiality.

14. God’s wisdom comes without hypocrisy.

As James declared:

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

Any, and all, who desire God’s wisdom can have it simply by asking for it, but they must bring themselves into a place Spiritually to receive. This of course takes a change of mind. God has promised we can receive His wisdom liberally and without partiality. Paul informed the Ephesians:

“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Ephesians 4:23

When our minds have been renewed and self has been brought into its proper place, God will begin to bring those of like mind together. Paul foresaw this time when God would begin to renew the thinking processes of His people:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

When we allow God to renew our minds we will not only know what is acceptable in His sight, we will also know His perfect will, and desire to attain His will. But first we must do away with all conformity to the world. We must be separated physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is God’s desire for His body. Paul explained this to the Romans:

“That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:6

Be Ye Separate, Spiritually

To be spiritually separate is only possible when our minds are separated from our worldly thinking, and we allow self to condescend to a low estate, and esteem all others better than ourselves. God is desiring a people who have come out from among them, and have been separated totally unto Him.

In order to do this we must also be separated spiritually. In other words our spiritual house must be in order. Everywhere Jesus went, the first thing He did was deal with the demonic realm before He ministered. Today there are two factions in the church:

1.  Those who are convinced the demonic realm does not exist, and

2.  Those who believe the devil has co-equal power with Jesus, and we have no power over the realm of darkness.

Both factions are operating their lives in error. The demonic realm does exist, and we have all power over the satanic realm. Jesus proclaimed after His resurrection:

“. . . All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” Matthew 28:18

Jesus was given all power in heaven (the Spiritual realm), and in earth (the flesh realm). Jesus did not say He was given all power on earth, He was given all power in earth. When we submit totally to the Holy Spirit anointing in our life, then we have all power to deal with the spirit of darkness; not only in our life, but in the lives of others.

When reading God’s Word, we must constantly deal with the little word ALL. The word ALL is the Greek word PAS and means “ALL, everything complete, whole, nothing missing, nothing to be added”. It means ALL. Jesus declared ALL power is given Him in the spiritual realm. To attain to this Spiritual power, we must first allow Him to have all power in our flesh realm. When the seventy Jesus sent out to preach the Kingdom message returned, they returned with joy, saying,

“. . . Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Luke 10:17-18

Our Father is still waiting to see His body deal with the satanic influence in their lives. Lightning is the symbol of the majesty of Christ being displayed in the earth. When this majesty became evident in the seventy, they returned with joy because the devils (demons) were subject to them through Jesus’ name.

If we are going to deal with the demonic realm, we must know our power and authority. Our power is in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and our authority is in the name of Jesus. When Jesus cast out a spirit of dumbness, the people accused Him of casting out devils by the name of Beelzebub, chief of the devils. Jesus asked the Pharisees:

“And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges.  But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the Kingdom of God is come upon you.” Luke 11:19-20

Jesus stated He cast out demons with the finger of God. The finger of God is the power of God made visible to man by the Spirit of God. Jesus revealed His power to cast out demons was by the Spirit of God. There is only one power able to deal with the spirit of darkness, and that is the Holy Spirit indwelling in our life. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, our authority is useless.

When Jesus was addressing His disciples concerning His coming Kingdom, John came to Him and said:

“Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us.” Luke 9:49

There was a man who was not a follower of Jesus casting out demons by using Jesus’ name. Our authority to deal with the demonic realm is in the name of Jesus. As the seventy declared, “. . . the devils are subject unto us through Thy name”. (Jesus’ name)

When we establish Jesus’ name as our authority and the Holy Spirit anointing as our power, the whole spiritual realm of darkness will be made subject to us. We will have all power over the spiritual realm when we allow Christ to have all power in our earth. Once His power and authority is established in our walk, then we can cleanse our home, our work place, and the area where we live.

We must be totally separated from any satanic influences in our life. When we do this we have been separated physically, mentally, and spiritually. We have become obedient to the commandment to come out from among them and be ye separate.

Touch Not the Unclean Thing

But this was not the end of God’s commandment to the church at Corinth. Paul recorded,

“. . . Touch not the unclean thing . . .” II Corinthians 6:17

The word unclean means “unclean in thought and life”. When God speaks of our uncleanness, He is referring to the way we think and the way we live. Paul directed the church at Corinth:

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 7:1

God has made many promises. If we are going to claim these promises, then we must cleanse ourselves from ALL filthiness of the flesh and filthiness of the spirit. There are many areas of the flesh those who call themselves Christian justify. One of these fleshly areas is the use of tobacco: smoking, chewing, dipping snuff, or any other form of its use. It is filthy, obnoxious, and injurious to the health of those who use it, and to those around them. God commands we are to be cleansed of its use.

Another filthiness of the flesh is the use of alcohol. This, too, harms the body, robs the purse, and causes all those who use it to do things they normally would not do. Yet we hear Christians say, “I have a drink sometimes to relax.” They get so relaxed they cannot move, think, or function. The All-wise Solomon wrote:

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1

Strong drink is a deceiver. It is not for the wise. Solomon continues his admonition:

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:” Proverbs 31:4

Wine is not for kings. God informed us we are kings and priests unto God. Strong drink is not for princes. Princes are the sons of kings. If we desire to be sons, then strong drink is not for us.Solomon informs us what strong drink is for:

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Proverbs 31:6

Strong drink is for those who are ready to perish. When God’s people partake of strong drink, they are ready to perish Spiritually. Those who desire to be partakers of our promise of eternal life have no business with strong drink.

We must be cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Anything that defiles the flesh affects the spirit. We cannot stand clean before God with filthy flesh. As Paul revealed to the Corinthians, we must perfect holiness in the fear of God, II Corinthians 7:7. This is not verbal holiness. Holiness comes from cleansed flesh and a cleansed spirit. The apostle James discloses:

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

The Holy Spirit inspired James to foretell God’s promise if we would draw nigh (near) to God. If we draw nigh to Him, He will draw nigh to us. The condition for fulfilling this promise is that we must cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. David, the Psalmist asked:

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” Psalm 24:3-4

Who is going to ascend into God’s holy hill, the Holy Mount of New Jerusalem? Only those who have cleansed their hands and have purified their hearts, only those who do not touch the unclean things of this life, or allow their thinking to be influenced by the degradations of the world will ascend to God’s holy hill.

James calls those who have not cleansed their hands, nor purified their hearts, double-minded. He warns:

“A double minded man is unstable in ALL his ways.” James 1:8

The phrase double minded means “divided in one’s thinking, in one’s loyalties, in one’s devotions, and in one’s worship.” God promised through the pen of Isaiah:

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3

The whole earth is seeking peace. They do not have peace because they are double minded. This is true of many of God’s people. They do not know peace because they are double minded, desiring both the treasures of this life and the blessing of God. They trust more in their bank account, than they do their Bible. They know more about the ways of the world, then they do about the ways of God. Their life is in turmoil because their hands are not clean. They have touched the unclean things. Their heart is not pure because it has been contaminated by the things of this life. Paul disclosed to Timothy:

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Titus 1:15

God’s people need to check out their thinking. Is it pure, or is it defiled? A double minded man cannot please God. The Psalmist’s prayer needs to be our prayer:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

We need to allow God to create a clean heart in us. Our thinking and our spiritual walk must be changed if we are to ascend unto His holy hill and be acceptable in His sight. God warns in the very first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

If we want to be blessed of the Lord, then we must not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. We must seek Godly counsel in everything we do. The ungodly must not influence our thinking in any way. We are not to stand in the way of sinners. The word stand means “to take a stand, or to remain unmovable”. Many of God’s people get involved in causes. They believe these are righteous causes. They picket, they march, they get thrown in jail. They justify such actions, but forget one simple fact. As God’s people we are supposed to bring glory to His name. All such actions bring reproach upon His name.

Jesus is our example. We need to ask ourselves, “Is this the way He acted?” How many causes did Jesus fight? When we fight causes, or take a stand against a cause, we get in the way of sinners. In so doing we become their judge. God is their judge, and if their ways do not please Him, He will bring His judgment, not ours.

We are also warned not to sit in the seat of the scornful. The word scornful means “to speak arrogantly, to boast, to mock, and scorn”. Many Christians believe they have the right to flaunt their righteousness and look down their long, pious noses at those who are less fortunate than themselves. When they flaunt their righteousness, they are flaunting their own self-righteousness, not the righteousness of God. As Isaiah proclaimed:

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

The self-righteous who sit in the seat of the scornful are as an unclean thing, and their righteousness is as filthy rags because they have touched the unclean thing. Their lives and their thinking has been defiled by the world. God has promised these will fade as a leaf and because of their iniquity they will be taken away like the wind.

Our God is looking for a separated people, those who have come out from among the world. He is looking for those who have separated themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually from the world. He is looking for those who will not touch the unclean things. To these our God has promised:

“. . . I will receive you . . . ” II Corinthians 6:17

The word receive means “to treat with favor”. God has promised if we meet the conditions He has set down for us in His Word, He would treat us with favor. Paul proclaimed to the church at Corinth:

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God in us.” II Corinthians 1:20

All God’s promises to us are yea (yes) and amen (so be it). The prophet Isaiah declared to God’s promised seed:

“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:” Isaiah 1:19

If we are willing and obedient, then God will receive us and treat us favorably, and we will eat the good of the land. God spoke through His servant Moses:

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2

This same promise is true today. If we hearken diligently unto the voice of God, and follow His commandments as He has laid them down in His Word, He will set us on high above all nations of the earth. As the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostle Peter:

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9

God promised all His blessings would be poured out upon this holy, separated people. He promises all His blessings will overtake us. In other words, we cannot get out-of-the-way of His blessings if we separate ourselves unto Him. Jesus asked the multitude:

“And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46

The Lord could ask the same question today to those who make up His church. Why bother calling Him, Lord, Lord, if we refuse to be willing and obedient to His Word?

Paul was inspired to write to the church at Corinth to come out from among them, to be separate, and touch not the unclean things. Then he continues:

“And (He) will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” II Corinthians 6:18

Again, we discover God’s beautiful promise to His people when His conditions are met. When, and only when, these conditions are met, will He be our Father. Only then will we become His sons and daughters. God is looking for, and will only accept a separated, sold out, overcoming people. These alone will make up His body and inhabit His Kingdom. Today is the Day of Preparation. Come out from among them and Be Ye Separate! Then our Father will receive you.

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

Jesus Is Alive and Active

Hebrews 10:10-14

Have you ever wondered what Jesus is doing, now that He has ascended to heaven? Our Scripture passage tells us that after offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Verse 13 might lead us to believe He is simply sitting up there waiting for the time when He comes back to rule and reign on earth. But when we consider other passages, we soon realize He is quite active on our behalf.

First of all, even though the Son is with the Father in heaven, He is also residing within every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent to be in us and with us (John 15:26; Rom. 8:9-10). Christ is actively working within you to shape your character and empower your obedience.

Next, Jesus lives to intercede for those who believe in Him (Heb. 7:25). He makes requests on our behalf and brings our prayers before the Father.

Then, we see in 1 John 2:1-2 that Jesus is our Advocate when we sin. Positioned between us and holy God, Christ declares our righteous standing because of His sacrifice and our faith in Him.

What’s more, Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-3). He is also arranging all the events necessary for His return.

Jesus is busy in heaven carrying out the Father’s will. And we, as His followers, should be doing the same thing. He saved us for the purpose of reflecting His life in our work, attitudes, words, and behavior. We are His body—His eyes, ears, voice, feet, and hands—pointing others to Him.

Since the  need to restore a marriage relationship can be for many different reasons, we  will look at underlying principles that the Bible sets forth for relationships  in general and then marriage in particular.

The place to start is with  the individual one-on-one relationship between a man or woman and the Lord Jesus  Christ. As born-again believers, the success of any relationship with others is  in direct correlation with the quality of our personal relationship with the  Lord Jesus Christ. When we are out of fellowship with the Lord due to sin or  mental attitudes that are contrary to divine viewpoint, we find that we are out  of sorts with ourselves, first, and that spills over to our relationships with  others. Therefore, restoring our relationship and fellowship with the Lord  through agreeing with His viewpoint and resting in the forgiveness that is ours  in Christ Jesus (1 John 1:9)  is the place we must begin.

The above presupposes that one has a  personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through the new birth. That is  being born again unto newness of life in accepting salvation through the gift of  eternal life given to us in Christ. If that step has not been taken in an  individual’s life, then biblical principles are not the first issue to be  addressed; one’s eternal salvation or redemption is. There are excellent resources available to help to guide one to repentance and acceptance of the gift of life in Christ.

For the born-again believer, forgiveness  is the position and privilege that we have in Christ, and because of that  forgiveness we are commanded to forgive others. “Be kind and compassionate to  one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). If we  are believers, we are forgiven “in Christ,” and “in Christ” we also forgive  others. No relationship can be restored without forgiveness. Forgiveness is a  choice we make based upon the reality of our own forgiven state.

For the  marriage relationship, the Bible has given us a very clear model that is  opposite to the world’s viewpoint. To restore a marriage relationship once  forgiveness has been given and received, applying God’s model will begin to  bring the two separate parties into a God-honoring union. This requires a choice  on the part of both parties. There is an old saying, “you cannot use what you do  not know.” Therefore, to learn God’s model for marriage we must look into God’s  Word.

God ordained the first marriage in the Garden of Eden between Adam  and Eve. When sin entered because of their disobedience, that perfect union was  destroyed. Subsequently, God told Eve that Adam would be her “head” to rule over  her (Genesis  3:16). (Compare 1  Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians  5:22; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:5-6.) This  “rule” has been overthrown by the modern liberal women’s movement and has  brought untold unhappiness to those who believe the “lie.” There is also the  human viewpoint that “all are equal.” In a way, that is true. We all have equal  access to salvation in Christ Jesus (Galatians  3:28). But to say that all in the world are equal in human opportunity,  abilities or even power is naïve. God had a purpose for placing wives under the  authority of their husbands. Because of sin, that rule has been both abused and  chaffed under, and the result has brought chaos to the home and family. However,  God does not let the husband off the hook. The husband is to “love his wife as  he loves his own body” (Ephesians  5:28). In fact, the greater part of the responsibility of the marriage model  is given to the husband. The woman is to obey her husband as unto the Lord;  however, husbands are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the church  and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians  5:25-29).

There is also a passage in 1 Corinthians 7 that lays down  some principles and practical, personal, Spirit-led, advice about marriage from  the Apostle Paul. This is all in accordance with the supposition that the  individuals are born-again believers. This passage speaks about adultery,  fornication, staying single and pure or—in order to avoid the pitfalls of  passion and fornication—to marry.

God’s marriage model works, but it  takes commitment on the part of both parties to create a relationship with a  balance of each individual’s obedience to God and walking in fellowship with the  Lord. It does not happen overnight. And, usually, if a marriage relationship has  broken down, there are issues that need to be forgiven and put behind in order  to move forward, and, again, that takes a choice and a commitment. Unwillingness  on the part of either party will mean no restoration. The overriding issue is  with each individual’s responsibility before the Lord and then coming together  before the Lord. Walking in forgiveness and fellowship would be a wonderful  place to start to put the pieces back together again.

The God Who Comforts

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Look up “comfort” in dictionary.com or another reference, and you will read a definition like this: “Something that promotes a state of ease or provides freedom from pain and anxiety.” But God’s Word has a different solution when consolation is needed: the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Greek, He is called parakletos, which means “he who stands at one’s side; he who comes to one’s aid.” Believers don’t have to seek outward remedies or distractions to ease their mind, because help is available within.

Even before the Spirit was sent to indwell believers (John 14:26; Eph. 3:16), scripture identified God as the one who comforts His people (Isaiah 40:1; 49:13). The Lord personally provides consolation and reassurance because no one knows our hurts the way He does.

I like this anonymous quotation: “When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock.” God lets us pass through hardship to make us stronger believers, wiser servants, and more humble people. But He stays right by our side through the entire experience, sustaining us and limiting the intensity and duration of our distress. The Holy Spirit’s reassuring whisper to our heart gives more comfort than the solace of family or the encouragement of friends.

People who fail to understand the true source of comfort try to escape their pain. They seek out pleasures, material wealth, or drugs and alcohol to soothe their heart. Only God can offer lasting relief from the crushing pressure of heartache. He even brings joy into periods of mourning.

The issue concerning any church and its practices should be “Is this biblical?”  If a teaching is Biblical (taken in context), it should be embraced. If it is  not, it should be rejected. God is more interested in whether a church is doing  His will and obeying His Word than whether it can trace a line of succession  back to Jesus’ apostles. Jesus was very concerned about abandoning the Word of  God to follow the traditions of men (Mark 7:7).  Traditions are not inherently invalid…there are some good and valuable  traditions. Again, the issue must be whether a doctrine, practice, or tradition  is Biblical. How then does the Roman Catholic Church compare with the teachings  of the Word of God?

Salvation: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that  salvation is by baptismal regeneration and is maintained through the Catholic  sacraments unless a willful act of sin is committed that breaks the state of  sanctifying grace. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace which is  received through simple faith (Ephesians  2:8-9), and that good works are the result of a change of the heart wrought  in salvation (Ephesians  2:10; 2  Corinthians 5:17) and the fruit of that new life in Christ (John  15).

Assurance of salvation: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that  salvation cannot be guaranteed or assured. 1 John 5:13 states that the letter of 1 John was written for the purpose of assuring  believers of the CERTAINTY of their salvation.

Good Works: The Roman  Catholic Church states that Christians are saved by meritorious works (beginning  with baptism) and that salvation is maintained by good works (receiving the  sacraments, confession of sin to a priest, etc.) The Bible states that  Christians are saved by grace through faith, totally apart from works (Titus 3:5; Ephesians  2:8-9; Galatians  3:10-11; Romans  3:19-24).

Baptism: In the New Testament baptism is ALWAYS practiced  AFTER saving faith in Christ. Baptism is not the means of salvation; it is faith  in the Gospel that saves (1  Corinthians 1:14-18; Romans  10:13-17). The Roman Catholic Church teaches baptismal regeneration of  infants, a practice never found in Scripture. The only possible hint of infant  baptism in the Bible that the Roman Catholic Church can point to is that the  whole household of the Philippian jailer was baptized in Acts 16:33. However, the context nowhere mentions  infants. Acts 16:31 declares that salvation is by faith. Paul spoke to all of the household in verse  32, and the whole household believed (verse 34). This passage only supports the  baptism of those who have already believed, not of infants.

Prayer: The  Roman Catholic Church teaches Catholics to not only pray to God, but also to  petition Mary and the saints for their prayers. Contrary to this, we are taught  in Scripture to only pray to God (Matthew 6:9Luke 18:1-7).

Priesthood: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there is a distinction  between the clergy and the “lay people,” whereas the New Testament teaches the  priesthood of all believers (1 Peter  2:9).

Sacraments: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a believer  is infused with grace upon reception of the sacraments. Such teaching is nowhere  found in Scripture.

Confession: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that  unless a believer is hindered, the only way to receive the forgiveness of sins  is by confessing them to a priest. Contrary to this, Scripture teaches that  confession of sins is to be made to God (1 John  1:9).

Mary: The Roman Catholic Church teaches, among other things,  that Mary is the Queen of Heaven, a perpetual virgin, and the co-redemptress who  ascended into heaven. In Scripture, she is portrayed as an obedient, believing  servant of God, who became the mother of Jesus. None of the other attributes  mentioned by the Roman Catholic Church have any basis in the Bible. The idea of  Mary being the co-redemptress and another mediator between God and man is not  only extra-biblical (found only outside of Scripture), but is also unbiblical  (contrary to Scripture). Acts 4:12 declares that Jesus is the only redeemer. 1 Timothy  2:5 proclaims that Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.

Many other examples could be given. These issues alone clearly identify the  Catholic Church as being unbiblical. Every Christian denomination has traditions  and practices that are not explicitly based on Scripture. That is why Scripture  must be the standard of Christian faith and practice. The Word of God is always  true and reliable. The same cannot be said of church tradition. Our guideline is  to be: “What does Scripture say?” (Romans 4:3Galatians  4:30; Acts 17:11).  2 Timothy  3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,  rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may  be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

To answer this question, we must first differentiate between  denominations within the body of Christ and non-Christian cults and false  religions. Presbyterians and Lutherans are examples of Christian denominations.  Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are examples of cults (groups claiming to be  Christian but denying one or more of the essentials of the Christian faith).  Islam and Buddhism are entirely separate religions.

The rise of  denominations within the Christian faith can be traced back to the Protestant  Reformation, the movement to “reform” the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th  century, out of which four major divisions or traditions of Protestantism would  emerge: Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, and Anglican. From these four, other  denominations grew over the centuries.

The Lutheran denomination was  named after Martin Luther and was based on his teachings. The Methodists got  their name because their founder, John Wesley, was famous for coming up with  “methods” for spiritual growth. Presbyterians are named for their view on church  leadership—the Greek word for elder is presbyteros. Baptists got their name  because they have always emphasized the importance of baptism. Each denomination  has a slightly different doctrine or emphasis from the others, such as the  method of baptism; the availability of the Lord’s Supper to all or just to those  whose testimonies can be verified by church leaders; the sovereignty of God vs.  free will in the matter of salvation; the future of Israel and the church;  pre-tribulation vs. post-tribulation rapture; the existence of the “sign” gifts  in the modern era, and so on. The point of these divisions is never Christ as  Lord and Savior, but rather honest differences of opinion by godly, albeit  flawed, people seeking to honor God and retain doctrinal purity according to  their consciences and their understanding of His Word.

Denominations  today are many and varied. The original “mainline” denominations mentioned above  have spawned numerous offshoots such as Assemblies of God, Christian and  Missionary Alliance, Nazarenes, Evangelical Free, independent Bible churches,  and others. Some denominations emphasize slight doctrinal differences, but more  often they simply offer different styles of worship to fit the differing tastes  and preferences of Christians. But make no mistake: as believers, we must be of  one mind on the essentials of the faith, but beyond that there is great deal of  latitude in how Christians should worship in a corporate setting. This latitude  is what causes so many different “flavors” of Christianity. A Presbyterian  church in Uganda will have a style of worship much different from a Presbyterian  church in Colorado, but their doctrinal stand will be, for the most part, the  same. Diversity is a good thing, but disunity is not. If two churches disagree  doctrinally, debate and dialogue over the Word may be called for. This type of  “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs  27:17) is beneficial to all. If they disagree on style and form, however, it  is fine for them to remain separate. This separation, though, does not lift the  responsibility Christians have to love one another (1 John  4:11-12) and ultimately be united as one in Christ (John  17:21-22).

The Downside of Christian  Denominations:

There seems to be at least two major problems  with denominationalism. First, nowhere in Scripture is there a mandate for  denominationalism; to the contrary the mandate is for union and connectivity.  Thus, the second problem is that history tells us that denominationalism is the  result of, or caused by, conflict and confrontation which leads to division and  separation. Jesus told us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. This  general principle can and should be applied to the church. We find an example of  this in the Corinthian church which was struggling with issues of division and  separation. There were those who thought that they should follow Paul and those  who thought they should follow the teaching of Apollos, 1 Corinthians 1:12,  “What I am saying is this: each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with  Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” This alone should tell you  what Paul thought of denominations or anything else that separates and divides  the body. But let’s look further; in verse 13, Paul asks very pointed questions,  “Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized  in Paul’s name?” This makes clear how Paul feels, he (Paul) is not the Christ,  he is not the one crucified and his message has never been one that divides the  church or would lead someone to worship Paul instead of Christ. Obviously,  according to Paul, there is only one church and one body of believers and  anything that is different weakens and destroys the church (see verse  17). He  makes this point stronger in 3:4 by saying that anyone who says they are of Paul  or of Apollos is carnal.

Some of the problems we are faced with today as  we look at denominationalism and its more recent history:

1.  Denominations are based on disagreements over the interpretation of Scripture.  An example would be the meaning and purpose of baptism. Is baptism a requirement  for salvation or is it symbolic of the salvation process? There are  denominations on both sides of this issue and have used the issue to separate  and form  denominations.

2. Disagreements over the interpretation of  Scripture are taken personally and become points of contention. This leads to  arguments which can and have done much to destroy the witness of church.

3. The church should be able to resolves its differences inside the body, but  once again history tells us that this doesn’t happen. Today the media uses our  differences against us to demonstrate that we are not unified in thought or  purpose.

4. Denominations are used by man out of self-interest. There  are denominations today that are in a state of self-destruction as they are  being led into apostasy by those who are promoting their personal  agendas.

5. The value of unity is found in the ability to pool our gifts  and resources to promote the Kingdom to a lost world. This runs contrary to  divisions caused by denominationalism.

What is a believer to do? Should  we ignore denominations, should we just not go to church and worship on our own  at home? The answer to both questions is no. What we should be seeking is a body  of believers where the Gospel of Christ is preached, where you as an individual  can have a personal relationship with the Lord, where you can join in Biblical  ministries that are spreading the Gospel and glorifying God. Church is important  and all believers need to belong to a body that fits the above criteria. We need  relationships that can only be found in the body of believers, we need the  support that only the church can offer, and we need to serve God in community as  well as individually. Pick a church on the basis of its relationship to Christ,  how well it is serving the community. Pick a church where the pastor is  preaching the Gospel without fear and is encouraged to do so. Christ and His  church is all about your relationship to Him and to each other. As believers,  there are certain basic doctrines that we must believe, but beyond that there is  latitude on how we can serve and worship; it is this latitude that is the only  good reason for denominations. This is diversity and not disunity. The first  allows us to be individuals in Christ, the latter divides and destroys.

“What is a Christian?”

A dictionary definition  of a Christian would be something similar to “a person professing belief in  Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.” While  this is a good starting point, like many dictionary definitions, it falls  somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be  a Christian. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter  4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch  (Acts 11:26) because their  behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally  means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of  Christ.”

Unfortunately over time, the word “Christian” has lost a great  deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has  high moral values but who may or may not be a true follower of Jesus Christ.  Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves  Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a “Christian”  nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a  good person does not make you a Christian. Going to church does not make you a  Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Being a  member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the  church does not make you a Christian.

The Bible teaches that the good  works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of  his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy  Spirit.” So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put  faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians  2:8 tells us that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith—and  this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

A true Christian is a  person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ,  including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the  third day. John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he  gave the right to become children of God.” The mark of a true Christian is love  for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:410). A true  Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has  been given new life in Jesus Christ.