We Don’t Get Punished

From the book, ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Then there is the idea that we don’t have to do the Law because we don’t get punished right away. This is a typical attitude from Christians, which many don’t say aloud. Usually this objection comes up when speaking of the (perceived) small commands such as avoiding pork and shellfish. Because God does not seem to stand around and whack us upside the head with a stick when we don’t obey, some think that implies permission to sin.

11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11 NASB95)

But we really should make sure of our idea of punishment. Connection to actions is not always seen. We may not be immediately punished with a lightning bolt or by the ground opening up and swallowing us (Numbers 16:30). But that doesn’t mean we won’t suffer when we ignore His command. Many times suffering is slow in coming because God wants us to repent.

We have no idea of the effects of eating flesh that is not food. For instance, we don’t know for sure whether some of our diseases come from ingesting pork or shellfish on a regular basis. Science doesn’t know enough to figure it all out because it’s too complex.

Many effects of sin take a while to manifest, such as a pregnancy or disease from illicit sex. God is gracious in protecting us from some consequences of sin on some occasions. But should we continue to presume on, or cheapen, His grace this way?

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NASB95)

In addition, how does this idea of avoiding immediate punishment fit in with love? Is it part of love to say I can do what I want because I’m not being hit with a stick? Not really. Love means God gives us commands that are good for us. A loving response is to do whatever He asks, simply because He asks. He is the source of light and life and love, so when we do what He says we share in His goodness at the same time.

Verse for Today

3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:3-11 NASB95)

Where Are the People to Stand in the Gap?

From the book, ‘Whole Bible Christianity.’
I see a lot of people’s web sites that express all sorts of seemingly ‘loving’ statements like “Jesus is my bestest friend and goodest buddy.” But where are the people to stand in the gap? Will the people who call themselves after His Name cut and run at the first sign of trouble? If I am wrong, then I need help. But where is the help? Where is the Scripture? Where are the solid answers?

Has Christianity sunk so low that instead of boldly proclaiming the truth and suffering persecution for it we have turned into a bunch of whining crybabies who retreat behind our stained glass windows to suck our thumbs because somebody said something to ‘hurt our feelings?’

(Check out this article by Dave Daubenmire from a few years ago title ‘Good for Nothing Christianity’ for part of the inspiration behind these comments.

 

Fear of God

Another selection from ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Our one God has a scary side that we don’t talk much about anymore.
20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20 NASB95)

The Scriptures have many admonitions for His people (actually people everywhere) to “fear” Him. The Law was written down so that His people would learn fear of Him (Deuteronomy 4:10, 14:23, 17:19, 31:13). “Don’t be afraid” here means believers don’t have to fear destruction at His approach, but we should keep a little of it so “that the fear of Him remain(s) with you” (basically the same Hebrew word). Fear motivates even the most reluctant.

Jesus is not a pacifist. He was meek at His incarnation because that was what the Father wanted from Him at that time. When He comes back, it will not be with roses and chocolates. He will bring a sharp sword and a rod of iron (Revelation 19:14-16, 21). The Word will come back with His army, speaking God’s Word (the sword) and crushing resistance (rod of iron – Psalm 2:9). His rod and staff (the Word of God) will comfort His people (Psalm 23:4) and He will destroy iniquity (lawlessness). The Law will again go forth from Zion.

Lots of teachers try to soft-soap this concept. They tone down the terror part of fear and play up the ‘reverence’ and ‘respect’ aspects. All of these are part of the fear of God, but especially the terror part. Not a blind, unreasoning terror that overwhelms us. Just a healthy terror of knowing exactly what God can and will do to evildoers. “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

There is nothing wrong with being a little terrified of God. Usually it’s only people with faith who are capable of being terrified anyway. People with seared consciences aren’t generally afraid enough. A part of His being can and does terrify creation. If you’ve ever been in a fierce thunderstorm or an earthquake, the kind where you have to change your shorts afterwards, you know what I mean. It would behoove us to pay more attention to that part, in addition to expressing the reverence and respect He deserves.

Benefits of Whole Bible Christianity book

So what’s in ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ for you?

Freedom. Identity. Touching God. Fruit of the Spirit. Peace. Freedom will come when you realize that all of the Word is yours. God’s Word in your life will set boundaries which promote safety and security, while acting also as defenses against those who would make you give up His blessings. If you want to rest on Saturday as God commanded, you can do it and no one using church tradition or philosophies of men can take it from you. This is the true meaning of Colossians 2:16.

Your identity as a child in God’s household will be plain and rock solid, whether you go to a church or not. No one will be able to tell you that if you don’t go to church, or their church, you are not in the body of Christ. If you can’t attend, because they won’t let you due to your insistence on following the Word, or because of their hypocrisy, you can still enjoy intimacy with your Father and Messiah. Every time you choose not to eat pork or shellfish, you reinforce your identity as His son or daughter. Your identity is not tied up in a church or in Judaism, but in Him.

As you weave each of His commands into the fabric of your life the threads of intimacy between you and your Father will be many and real and ever stronger. Touching God, and God touching you, will be a daily occurrence. Fruit of the Spirit follows a whole Bible way of life, naturally popping out all over, because His Word resides in your new heart of flesh. The proof is in your pursuit of His ways. The end result of all this will be the peace of the presence of God. He is where His Word is; where people are worshiping Him in Spirit and truth.

The Messianic Movement

More from the book ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

The Messianic movement began within Judaism as a group of Jews who had realized that the long-awaited Messiah was in fact Jesus (people like Peter, James, and Paul). In a way, most practicing Jews have always been ‘messianic’ in that they look for God’s Messiah. The Messianic movement really goes back to the beginning with whoever trusted God and His Promise. But the modern Messianic movement accepts Jesus as the Messiah, and maintains Jewish heritage and practice (sort of).

There are factions within this group just as there are in Judaism. It had grown a lot since the ‘70’s, but seems to be shrinking in the last few years. This might be due to an emphasis on Jewish traditions and trying to be as ‘Jewish’ as possible. But it’s clear to me, in view of the large number of non-practicing Jews, that even Jews are not all that interested in Judaism, messianic or otherwise.

The Messianic movement had such great potential. Through some of the individuals and a couple of good organizations such as First Fruits of Zion, I learned much about the unity of God and the Word. Messianics had a chance to unite everyone in a type of whole Bible belief, but like the Pharisees in Judaism they traded it for bickering and chasing unbiblical doctrine for the sake of power and influence.

Instead of a return to the Bible as one faith and one law that applies to everyone, now they’ve got a race to see who can be more Jewish orthodox and hand out “divine invitations.” Instead of one God, many deny the deity of Jesus. Instead of one Body they’ve got two houses. It’s a mess, and they’ve drifted away from where they had such a bright future in terms of bringing back believers to the whole Bible. Idiots. And I say that in the best way possible, because I still like a bunch of them.

Judaism better?

From the book ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
A whole-Bible Christian holds a special place for the Jewish people in his or her heart. We bless the Jews in every way we can, from prayers to pocketbooks, because God asks us to bless them (Genesis 12:3). In fact, it is my firm belief that people who love Israel, and the Jewish people, love God. People who hate Israel hate God. The Satan hates Israel and keeps trying to destroy them because they are the physical representation of God’s kingdom on earth. The Satan’s people hate Israel just like the Satan does. So one of the ways we can tell believers from unbelievers is by the love, or hatred, of Israel…

Judaism, on the other hand, is a different subject than Israel or the Jewish people. Judaism is the collection of religious practice and tradition that Jewish people have gathered over a long history. It comes from rabbis, and its main point is to preserve Jewish identity.

Judaism includes the ‘oral law’ in two different versions, both called Talmud (to learn). Both versions are merely collections of rabbinical rulings and teachings. The oral law was likely included in the term “whole law” spoken of in the New Testament. Much of the struggle with the law in the NT was over customs and traditions rather than with God’s Word. It was definitely a big sore spot between Jesus and leaders of Judaism (Matthew 15:2-6; Mark 7:5-9)…

…There is a tendency in some circles to think that being Jewish or practicing Judaism is the same as following God. The idea seems to be that a Jewish person, or a person who practices Judaism(s), is either automatically doing what God requires or is somehow practicing biblical faith in a way superior to non-Jewish people or practices. This comes from thinking that Jews have historically followed God. Therefore, they must have a sort of ‘inside track’ that should be followed if we want to practice what we preach.

Sadly, the Scriptures tell a different story. In the pages of God’s Word, Judaism is generally known for stiff-necked, belligerent and hard-hearted idolatry (see for instance Nehemiah 9). Many Jews willfully disobey the spirit of the Law while looking at times like they follow every letter. Happily for us, there is also a remnant of Jewish people, such as the writers of the Word and people like Jesus or Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea, who really do follow their (our) God…

Paul and the Law

From the book ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

The letter from Paul to the assemblies of Galatia is right up there with difficult things that the untaught and unstable distort (2 Peter 3:16). Most of the time, this book is presented as a teaching against God’s Laws. But when we get into the book, and read carefully, we find that Paul is not telling us to ignore God’s Word, especially the Law. What he is doing is contrasting merit with grace through faith. The key verse says it all.

4You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4 NASB95)

Some of the Galatians were seeking to be justified by their own actions (or doing what was right in their own eyes), when they were already justified through the blood of the Lamb. Trading on one’s own merit renders the sacrifice of the Christ useless. Merit is the idea that we have earned something, like wages for work. Some try to trade their (perceived) merit for eternal life. This is a mistake because it’s just not worth it to God. If we can be justified on our own merit by circumcising a little piece of skin, then we should just go the whole way and cut it all off. Then we will be really, really justified!

In other words, Paul is saying that following Laws (especially circumcision, meaning to become a Jew) is not the way to gain a place in God’s kingdom. It is only by grace through faith that anybody – Jew or Gentile, circumcised or not – has a place at all. The Law is for living after salvation, not the means to get it.

Don’t have to follow the Law?

From the book ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

One of the first knee-jerk responses a whole Bible Christian will get when sharing these opinions with a group of standard Christians is, “We don’t have to follow the Law. It’s not a salvation issue.” My response is, “So let me get this straight. God is born into a human body, suffers in all ways as we do for around 30 years, dodges people trying to kill Him when He’s only a couple years old, gets to preaching about repentance and love only to be arrested on trumped up charges and executed in the most horrible, torturous fashion available at the time even though He was completely blameless. My question is did He have to?”

No, Jesus didn’t “have to” do those things. He did it because He loved us. If it could’ve been done any other way He’d of done it that way. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.” Whole Bible Christians echo our Messiah and say, “Not as I will, but as you will.” In all things. He loved us so much He left His glory in heaven shared with the Father and submitted to some miserable things in life. But He did it willingly, because of His gracious love.

Now, all you spiritual rocket scientists tell me again how “we don’t have to” copy our Messiah and do as our loving and gracious heavenly Father instructs. The Law is not a “salvation issue?” It’s not a tiny way to return the love our Father and Messiah lavish on us? Are you kidding me?