Moses’ Seat

Our sixth guideline is to follow leaders only as they lead from the Word. When inquiring about the validity of the Law in a believer’s life, sooner or later this Scripture will pop up.

 

1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. (Matthew 23:1-3 NASB95)

 

On the surface, it looks like we should do everything the scribes and Pharisees say. But let’s look closer. Notice that the leaders “seated themselves.” This I think is a clear indication of usurping God’s authority. There’s no provision for Pharisees or Sadducees in the Law. Even if we could classify them under the term “elders,” Jesus says they’re hypocrites.

 

Jesus is teaching us to follow the leaders only as long as they follow Moses (the written Law). Deuteronomy 18:9 (NASB95) says not to imitate the “detestable things” of the nations. Paul says “imitate me as I imitate Christ” in 1 Corinthians 11:1 and “imitate God” in Ephesians 5:1. John says something similar.

 

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (3 John 11, ESV)

 

Why just the written Law, and not the oral? Because the written is the only standard that we can verify came from God. Some claim the oral law came directly from Moses, but there’s no evidence of this in the record. Plus, we can tell what comes from the Father because it glorifies the Father. If it doesn’t glorify God (and much of the Talmud and church tradition does not) then it’s from men and not from God. This claim is one of those power grabs from the Bible that some religious leaders do.

 

Many times in Israel’s past, the leaders led into idolatry and many horrible practices. Is Jesus saying we are required to follow leaders when they lead off the path? Emphatically not. When they take a left turn, we should keep on going straight. The church is routinely leading away from the Word now too; all we have to do is look at the results. We shouldn’t be blindly following those leaders either.

 

As long as the teaching fits in the framework and on the foundation that Moses laid down (Genesis through Deuteronomy) then we should follow. All other books that were added to the Bible had to pass this muster, and so should every other teaching that claims to be God’s. When a teacher departs from the Word, true believers should depart from the teacher.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 9 Follow Leaders Only as They Follow the Word

Fast Food

A comparison that occurred to me a few years ago is that churches have become like fast food franchises. They only serve certain food a certain way, they replicate only after themselves, and they have a rigid, top-down management structure. If you get tired of the same old food at one franchise, you have to go to another. A burger place doesn’t serve pizza, and a taco stand doesn’t serve burgers. If you want to change something, you can’t. It doesn’t matter how many complaint cards you fill out. The number of outlets is the most important thing to a franchise. The real concern for a franchise is making money. Yep, the more I think about it the more the current crop of churches looks a whole lot like a bunch of fast food stands.

Over 247 billion served.

Whence Cometh Whole Bible Christianity?

We didn’t set out to “create” whole Bible Christianity. We stumbled across it as we were searching through many existing church ideas and congregations for truth over the years. In some ways we were forced to whole Bible Christianity because in our search for truth we were rejected by the standard church on a regular basis. “If you’re not being ministered to here then you need to find a place where you can be ministered to” is a fairly common way to tell people to hit the road.

The love that many in the church preach lasted only as long as we agreed with the power structure. “Unconditional love” and “tolerance” are for those who don’t make waves or rock the boat with pesky questions like “Where does that teaching come from in the Bible” or “Why aren’t we doing what the Bible clearly says to do?”

At one time we thought the Messianic movement had a great chance of reaching a lot of disaffected people with the message of the whole Bible. Sadly they haven’t been up to the task. They have become so distracted by genetics, Judaism, language, divine invitations and the like that God’s Word is getting neglected as badly as in the church. In some ways they make the craziest people in the church look orthodox by comparison. Even the people closest to sticking with the whole Bible get lost in Jewish tradition.

So in a way it is the existing structure of church and Judaism that has led to our rediscovery of whole Bible Christianity. We don’t want a separate movement, but they do. We want access to God without intermediaries telling us their version of truth and chastising us if we deviate. In reaching for God we don’t want our hands slapped by people who see a threat to their power. We’re tired of getting our hooves torn off, being maimed and malnourished. It isn’t our fault that we’ve wandered away from dry and grassless desert hungering and thirsting after soul-satisfying food and drink. We’ve found green pastures beside still waters in whole Bible Christianity, and we ain’t goin’ back.

Fear of God part 2

If you’re going to worship a god, make sure He’s the God who can destroy all other gods. Don’t choose those wimpy gods who cannot see or hear and don’t even have the power to blow their own noses. If more people feared God, we might see more gentle treatment of each other. We might also see a greater interest in what He says.

 

“The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.” (Deuteronomy 19:20 NASB95)

 

My son tells me that there were a number of things he didn’t do when he was younger. He avoided them because he was genuinely afraid of what I’d do to him if he misbehaved. “My dad would kill me” was not such a bad motivation for avoiding certain behavior. Especially when there is a lack of understanding in the child, and the big issue is just to avoid harmful behavior. Of course I wasn’t ever going to actually kill (or even injure) him (shhhh!) but it didn’t hurt to be afraid of me at least a little. Enough for him to avoid straying into destructive actions.

 

I love my kids and do not want them to learn the hard way. I want them to avoid natural consequences. So I develop other, perhaps more immediate and painful, artificial consequences to help them learn how to make good choices. A swat on the butt as a reminder to obey Dad is much better than getting run over by a car. The getting run over thing tends to be a one-time only learning experience. God does the same for us.

 

7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)

 

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? (Lamentations 3:37–39, ESV)

 

God creates evil in the sense that there are bad things that happen if we don’t listen to Him. He does it because He loves us, and wants us to see the cost of moving away from Him before it’s too late. If a little bit of true terror will help me choose correctly, it is much better than learning too late that my choice was wrong. He wants us to fear Him above any person, teaching, or situation that might tempt us to abandon trust and obedience. It is not a blind fear that He wants, but it is still a fear that is tinged partly with terror as well as respect and reverence.

 

14I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14 KJV)

 

12“You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13“It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. (Isaiah 8:12-13 NASB95)

 

Fear of Him should override fear of anything else. If we are His kids, we do not fear destruction or rejection. But it’s good to be afraid of what He can and will do if we are not on His good side. If you are not His kid, you have every right to be terrified when He comes for you in judgment. One way or the other, sooner or later, fear of Him will impress itself on everyone. Better to feel it now and move closer to Him than to feel it when it’s too late.

 

From Whole Bible Christianity chapter 2 Fear

Take A Stand

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9–11, ESV)

 

So not only were the religious leaders of the Jews plotting to kill Jesus, they also wanted to remove the evidence that Jesus was really who He said He was. There might be just a teeny bit of a reason for killing Jesus in the fact that He claimed to be equal with God and maybe some blindness on the part of the leaders is expected. And Jesus asks the Father from the cross to forgive them because they “know not what they do.”

 

However, this is not the case with plotting to include Lazarus in the festivities. The only thing Lazarus did wrong was coming out of the grave when Jesus told him to. Nothing in the Law could be used to persecute him; they just decided to do it anyway. Probably because they thought of themselves as doing a favor for God. This shows how the Law was typically used and abused by people without love. The hearts of the leaders were filled with hate and jealousy, so the use of the Law was false. They used it in a false way to condemn Jesus, and just ditched it when it didn’t suit their purposes. Either way, the Law was not in their hearts. We get a pretty complete picture of this in these three references close together in John 12.

 

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19, ESV)

 

If love for God’s Word was in their hearts, they would’ve rejoiced that the world was going after Him. Instead, they were upset that no one wanted to listen to them. They were tweezed that they were losing “their place” (John 11:48). This explains why John the Baptist, though a priest, worked outside of the system in the desert.

 

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42–43, ESV)

 

The leaders used the fear of being put out of the synagogue (life revolved around it more then) to keep people in line with their perverted version of God’s Word. Some of the leaders had a chance at something different. At this point they chickened out, but hopefully later they realized the error of their ways. Sooner or later we have to take a stand. We can’t let the bullies who threaten us with cutting off fellowship in whatever form keep us from saying and doing what is right. People with hate in their hearts, who twist the Word for their own purposes, even if they are in leadership positions in the church, have to be opposed. Take your stand on the Word at all times no matter what the risk.

 

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1–4, ESV)

Where Is God?

A couple had two little boys, ages eight and ten, who were excessively mischievous. The two were always getting into trouble and their parents could be confident that if any mischief occurred in their town, their two young sons were involved in some capacity. The parents were at their wit’s end as to what to do about their sons’ behavior. They had heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children in the past, so they contacted him, and he agreed to give it his best shot.

 

He asked to see the boys individually, so the eight-year-old was sent to meet with him first. The clergyman sat the boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?” The boy made no response, so the clergyman repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God?” Again the boy made no attempt to answer, so the clergyman raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy’s face, “WHERE IS GOD?”

 

At that, the boy bolted from the room, ran directly home, and slammed himself in his closet. His older brother followed him into the closet and said, “What happened?” The younger brother replied, “We are in BIG trouble this time. God is missing and they think we did it!”

Judas, Compassionate Betrayer

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4–6, ESV)

Lots of people are trying to make Jesus into some kind of social worker concerned with redistribution of wealth like any good liberal. However, if you want a biblical picture of a liberal, look no further than Judas Iscariot.

It appears on the surface as if Judas is very compassionate. He is compassionate about the poor. He is compassionate about redistributing money and a fair share. But mostly he is compassionate about Judas. He is like today’s liberal politician or Christian – he is very compassionate about other people’s money. Mostly so he can get his cut. He looks at the pure nard perfume as a cash windfall, and wants to use compassion for the poor as a cover for getting his fingers on it. He tries to lay a guilt trip on Mary about the waste and the expense so he can slip a few coins into his own pocket, and makes himself look holier-than-thou in the process.

The bottom line is he is the one who is guilty of theft, betrayal and hypocrisy. Interesting how those tend to go together. He looks like a believer but underneath his whitewash the love of money drives him to steal and eventually sell out our Messiah Jesus. So many today are spiritual descendants of this man. On the surface they look holy and spout biblical one-liners like they really mean them. Yet they betray Jesus with every dollar pinched and every selfish agenda pushed. Hands are in the cookie jar or held out for a 30-piece “fair share” payoff while pious lips stridently preach concern for others. They have no intention of practicing what they preach. Secretly they sell Jesus out by trading His precious Word for the kingdoms of the world. And look good doing it too.

Funny how Jesus didn’t do anything about it at the time. He just kept feeding Judas rope until he had enough to hang himself.