Good news. We have now published a Kindle version of our book Whole Bible Christianity. If you are a Kindle reader, just look for the title and download the reduced price eBook today!
Good news. We have now published a Kindle version of our book Whole Bible Christianity. If you are a Kindle reader, just look for the title and download the reduced price eBook today!
The rock band Queen had a song I liked called “One Vision.” It’s got a nice sentiment involving one voice, one heart, one vision, one race and so on. They express the desire of a lot of people that either we are presently “one” and just need to realize it for paradise on earth to be established, or that we need to become “one” so people can make a paradise. “If we could just realize that we are all one then all the problems would be solved” to summarize. It’s a nice thought, and I long for it too. It’s going to happen hopefully soon.
Trouble is it’s not going to happen the way most people envision.
This sentiment is not a new one. About 4,500 years ago the people of the earth had one language and a large group settled in the land of Shinar. This group decided to build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens to make a name. They wanted to stay “one” and avoid being “dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11). Their desire was to take the oneness of all the people of the time and presumably make a paradise on earth. Sound familiar?
In Genesis 11 we read that “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.” He was impressed, from our perspective. “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” This might be puzzling to some. Why would God have a problem with unity?
The implication was (and is) they wanted to be one without God. He knows this is impossible, because our natures, without Him, tend towards destruction. He is the source of light, life and love and anyone that wants to be apart from that cannot establish it. He is love; anything less is hate. The very idea of existence without the Source is repugnant to Him. He knows it means death. All that nice sentiment and wishful thinking from musicians, movie stars and politicians will not work without God. God knows it and gives us the choice – if you really want it come to Him.
God said, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand on another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city (Genesis 11:7-8).
The tower the ancients built we now call the Tower of Babel. All talk of oneness without the presence of God is just so much babble. It’s not just words either. It’s also the way we think. For all the talk of unity and oneness we remain scattered because our thoughts drive us away from each other. Without God to gather us together on His principles and character we will never be able to have one flesh, one bone or one true religion. Oneness will continue to elude us as long as we exclude the author of all things pure and clear. There’s no way we will experience love and oneness and paradise without the person who connects us all together in goodness and holiness.
Jesus the Christ was killed as the ultimate expression both of God’s love and human hate. We had the chance at paradise, brotherhood and all those nice things in the songs. We blew it at the Tower, and we blew it at the cross. We’re going to blow it again if we don’t accept Him, His ways, and His Spirit. He’s coming again to establish paradise. Paradise is in, around and through Him and His love. Reject the Christ and you reject all hope of oneness. There is no other way to build it. Believe God and follow what He says. Dedicate ourselves to build His kingdom or keep trying in vain to rebuild our own tower. We’ve got one more chance. The time is now.
Reading through the biblical account of the Tabernacle caused me to ponder a number of issues. I mean, to be honest, it can be quite boring trying to visualize while reading all of the details. I have difficulty placing all of the sockets, clasps, curtains and boards together into a coherent picture of what the Tent looked like. The initial preparations were extensive, but Israel also had to keep things going with many offerings and sacrifices. I’m glad my English Standard Version Study Bible has a picture and some helpful notes or I’d still be lost in the details.
It’s also difficult to see the relevance. Even if someone tells me that all of the parts and pieces, as well as the finished product and continuing handling instructions, represent some aspect of Jesus or His ministry, it still boggles the mind to try and see the connections. How does reading all of the details of the construction, transport and use of the Tabernacle apply to me today? Why are all of these somewhat tedious instructions included in the Word in the first place? I can see how the ministry of Jesus is represented, at least partially, but doesn’t having Jesus sort of make the Tabernacle unnecessary? So why include the details in the Bible? Was Moses bored and just kept writing because he had nothing else to do? Or maybe he wrote the instructions in case he died and the Tabernacle wasn’t finished?
A side thought was that I wonder if the inclusion of the instructions was for the future? What if Israel decided that instead of a Temple they could build a Tabernacle? A tent would be something portable they could set up easily and move if there was a problem with the building site for a temple.
As I pondered these issues it dawned on me before I completely zoned out that God was coming to live in Israel and the Tabernacle was one of the things they had to do to get ready. God is coming to live with us! How cool is that? For over 2,000 years at that time believers were separated from Him, wandering in the proverbial desert as the unbelievers built cities and kingdoms and seemed to have their way unendingly. Now He is reversing that separation and making a home within the nation of Israel. What excitement! What a monumental change! What a nerve-wracking event!
I know how my wife gets when we are expecting company. Everything must be cleaned and put in order. She makes me change my clothes and I have to put on my best jeans. If the company is really important I even have to shower. All the food is chosen with care with an eye towards what the guests might like. Any decorations are carefully assembled and placed or hung. Etiquette is reviewed and the children rehearsed in it. We want to make our company welcome and comfortable so they want to come and eventually come back.
So it is with the Tabernacle. God is coming to live with us! The people are getting ready for company and for a very special and unique company at that. Everything must be just so. Each item in the Tent needs special care and must be constructed with the utmost skill and talent given to the best craftsmen and finest artisans we have. Every stitch, every hammer blow, every forging, the tanning of all the skins and each and every thread simply has to be as beautiful and perfect as we can manage. So now when I read the instructions I don’t get a sense of an onerous God demanding slavery to useless details. I get a sense of the excitement we have when a special visitor is coming to our home.
Another connection to the Tabernacle popped into my head before I dozed off. You probably remember the verses where Jesus tells us that he is going to prepare a place for us. I wondered if perhaps He is as excited to prepare a place for us as we would be for Him.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3, ESV)
I don’t think He is building a tent, but still the idea is that He is also preparing for us to come and live with Him. Currently we are living in a tent (our body) that is not our permanent home. Living in a tent shows us that this place and our current circumstances are only temporary. The permanent home for believers is with God. When we are there we won’t be moving around like many of us do now.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:1–3, ESV)
In the meantime God lives with us in our tent. The blood of our Messiah, His only begotten Son, makes this possible. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God cleanses us so that God can come and live with us here and now. Jesus has made us clean. He has granted us forgiveness for sin and prepares a permanent home for us. He continues to forgive us our sins to maintain our relationship in this tent.
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:14, ESV)
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:5, ESV)
Israel did not earn a right for God to dwell with them, He just granted it. It was His desire and only within His power that we be reconciled. We cannot earn any of His regard but He has given it to us anyway. This is what we call grace. So how do we prepare and keep this dwelling, knowing it is the residence of God? Do we take it all for granted? Do we presume on His graciousness, living out our own will? Or do we keep the preparations of our tabernacle going, finding and living His will? In view of the preparations for the Tabernacle, how do we regard the gift of God tearing the veil of the Holy of Holies and allowing unfettered access to His glory?
We can’t earn access to His presence; He just gave it to us. But we can make our dwelling holy by continually following His instructions for living. Like priests we can partake of the sacrifices as we consume the body and blood of the Messiah, which is every word He speaks. His Words are the showbread of life, and living them out we offer incense that is unlike any other.
God is living with us!
Just a note to let you know that we’ve posted a new article to the website titled Read the Word Publicly. We advocate reading large portions of the first five books of the Bible and the first five of the New Testament. We use an annual reading schedule that is popular in synagogues called the Parasha or Portion, except we modify it with New Testament readings. It takes a while in our meetings to read eight or ten chapters, but in a lot of ways it is much better than preaching.
The article is about eight pages and covers a number of reasons for why we think this should be a widespread practice among people who genuinely follow Jesus. Click on this link or copy and paste into your browser.
Oh yeah. The new Manna for Whole Bible Christians reading schedule booklet ready for printing is also posted on the site at
Baltimore Sun October 23, 2017
Article: Churches merge, close: “We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past”
The quote above is from Reverend Daniel Webster, canon for evangelism and media for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. He’s studied the trend of churches closing and merging for 20 years. The article presents his point of view, as well as documenting the decline in church attendance which occasions the closing and merging.
Jonathan Pitts, the writer of the article, offers Mr. Webster’s opinion of one of the most important factors in declining church numbers.
While it’s hard to pinpoint a single most important factor, Webster says, it’s impossible to ignore the repeal of most of the old state blue laws, regulations that had long placed restrictions on commercial activity on Sundays, starting in the mid-20th century.
Today’s faith leaders must compete with everything from youth soccer and pro football games to shopping at the mall.
Mr. Pitts doesn’t really spend much time on causes. He just assumes that competition from the world is the cause and details a number of church’s efforts to merge or close.
However, I do not agree that competition from the world is the cause of church closings and mergers.The world has always been in hostile competition with the Kingdom of God. Believers have been in a fight since the Garden of Eden with those who oppose God and His plans. Perhaps you’ll be surprised at my opinion that the church has also been in hostile competition with the Kingdom. The church (in general) and the world are not much different from each other. Churches claim to follow Jesus, but when we compare their beliefs and practices with the Bible we can see that they don’t have much in common. On the other hand, compare churches with the world and we can see that the real merging has already taken place.
Just because the church has some trappings that look Christian, does not mean a church is automatically part of the Kingdom of God or the body of believers. Much of what the church has done is to merge some stories and tradition borrowed from the Bible with self-seeking behavior. Way back in 325 A. D. when the Roman emperor Constantine took a fancy to some of the Christian concepts the merger with the world got a big boost. For centuries the visible church has been in a tug-of-war with the world sometimes holding to God’s Word better than at other times. But in modern times it has mostly been tugged in the wrong direction.
The church merged with the world a long time ago, and the loss of some people or buildings is not the biggest hurt. It is the loss of God’s Spirit due the refusal to do what God says that has really sunk the church. Churches might be shrinking or merging, but the body of Christ has been steady and growing because we hold tight to the Word of God, living and teaching it to all who would listen.
I don’t even agree that “we no longer live in Christendom.” Believers have never lived in Christendom. We are salted throughout the world, and even throughout the church or churches. A church member is not the same thing as a believer although there are believers who might be church members. The world has always been hostile to God and the body of believers, and we’ve never had a Christendom. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we no longer live in Churchdom.
Just put a new article up on the website titled Law, Restated. It’s about the imaginary restriction some people put on the Law that it is not restated in the New Testament. Therefore it is not something we “have” to do. I beg to differ. In the article we look at the many ways the Law is stated and restated in different forms throughout the Old Testament. Then we’re ready to look in the New and see if the Law is there. The conclusion is that yes, the Law is restated in the New Testament.
So now what?
Jesus meets a demon possessed man near a herd of pigs in the country of the Gadarenes or Gerasenes as recorded for us in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. He commands the demons, who call themselves Legion, to leave the man, and Legion’s last request is that Jesus allow them to go into the nearby pigs. Granting Legion’s request, they leave the man and enter the herd of about 2,000 which immediately rushes downhill and drowns itself in the Sea of Galilee.
Whenever I read these accounts, one of the first things that puzzles me is that the people ask Jesus to leave the area. Why, I wonder, would they send away such a powerful miracle worker, one who had returned one of their brothers to them? Why would they not rejoice that a local travel hazard was removed? What if the demons left that man and infected others?
Some teachers say that the expense of the pigs was a factor. Jesus had just cost someone (or maybe several someone’s) a lot of money. Others say that these people weren’t supposed to be growing pigs for market because pork was not to be eaten according to the Mosaic Law. I get that these were possibilities, and perhaps they can stay in the mix for explaining the incident. But they just are not that satisfactory to me. Wouldn’t the loss of the pigs be worth removing a hazard like a man who could break chains and attack people? I’d think so. Were the citizens Jews, who would care about the Law, or were they gentiles, who wouldn’t? The ESV study Bible says that they were Gentiles, but there must’ve been some Jews around too. And Jews aren’t exactly known for always sticking with all of the Law anyway.
I was able to make a great deal of progress understanding this situation as I read further in Mark and got to the rich young man of Mark 10, and the question on the authority of Jesus in Mark 11. Now how, you may ask, did I connect the people of Gennesaret unwilling to allow Jesus to stay in the area with a rich man unwilling to give up his riches and the unwillingness of the chief priests to answer Jesus about whether the baptism of John was from heaven or from man? I’m glad you asked that. (You might be guessing at the same conclusion as I because of the way I phrased the question.)
The chief priests could not answer a simple question, because they refused to acknowledge that the authority of Jesus was from God. If they did it would mean that their authority was from man, and they would have had to give up their cushy positions. The rich man knew that Jesus was a “good teacher,” but not so much that he was willing to suffer economic harm to follow Him. The Gennesaret people knew Jesus was at the very least a holy man of God, but were not willing to suffer further economic harm in order for Him to have stayed in the area.
In other words, none of these people wanted to go all the way. They saw the miracles done by Jesus, acknowledged His power and authority, recognized that He was from God, but didn’t take the next step of risking everything to follow Him.
In modern times we find the same sorts of attitudes. We hear people saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” all the time, in song and prayer and sermons. We see regular attendance at a church service, with many an “Amen” during the preaching. There are bumper stickers and hats and T-shirts proclaiming that the wearers “know Jesus.” Mega-churches abound, pastors have carved out positions with nice paychecks claiming to speak for God, and television stars rake in the bucks while hawking their latest books and trinkets.
Very few will see the Kingdom of God because the ticket into the Kingdom costs a lot more than simply raising a hand and “going forward.” Faith is putting your money where your mouth is, like the rich young man refused to do. It is the willingness to give up possibly everything you have to follow Him, like the people of Gennesaret could have done. It is submitting your will to His, and giving everything to welcome Him into your heart unlike the chief priests, Pharisees, and other religious leaders then and now.
Jesus obviously had authority from God because He did what God told Him to do and taught what God wanted Him to teach. Everything Jesus did or said was right from the written Word, and could easily be checked if one wanted to do so. But we don’t want. We fear to give up our position, our money, our reputations or our lives because the short term suffering is not worth the long term gain.
Like Frank Sinatra or Cain, we want to do it our way. We want to retain parts of the world system and try to merge them into the Kingdom. We say “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,” not realizing that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We want to patch the garment with unshrunk cloth because we don’t want the work of making it right. We try to fit new wine and old wineskins together when they are just not compatible.
We refuse to accept a message from the Christ because it will cause us too much trouble and might wreck the nice little corner of the world we have made for ourselves. It might cause us some discomfort. It might make us change. It might make us realize that even with the talisman of the name of Jesus we are still far short of what God requires of us.
Publishing a book is not an easy task. Traditional publishers want you to get a literary agent and won’t accept manuscripts if you don’t. A literary agent can be good or bad, but mostly they are limited by their own perspective on what will sell. What sells is frequently not really connected with the Bible or good Bible teaching but more likely something based on feelings only loosely connected with the Bible. If you write a book, as I think I have, that is not only biblical but comes from an unexpected direction then you are pretty much out of luck with traditional publishing. You won’t even get a second look.
Another huge problem in publishing is the Christian bookstore. My wife and I are getting ready to take another trip to see family in San Diego. So I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to buy some copies of my book and take them around to the bookstores there and see if they would like to carry some copies. I started researching on the web to find the stores and got a shock. One chain calling themselves Family Christian had just closed (something like 240 stores) after filing for bankruptcy a couple years previous. Another chain calling themselves Lifeway tells me on their website that they don’t accept Product that is self-published. The “Product” must come from a traditional publisher or a literary agent. A third option I remembered in San Diego was the Evangelical Bible Bookstore which was famous for a long time because they carried a lot of serious theology books, were very knowledgeable and helpful, and discounted their books. To my surprise they had gone the way of many independents and closed their doors too after 40 years in business.
Locally, the three or four independent Christian bookstores we used to have are also out of business. The only stores around here are a Barnes and Noble (not exactly a Christian hotspot) and a couple of church bookstores. We used to have a Borders also, but they bit the dust some years ago. You would think we could maybe try the church bookstores and see if they would carry our book. But the problem with the church bookstores is if you have a book that is not “church friendly,” such as our book Whole Bible Christianity, or you are not one of their own famous people or pastors, you are not going to get a fair hearing from them. They only carry stuff with which they agree, usually written by their own people.
The church bookstore does okay because the overhead is paid by the church, and they don’t have to meet sales goals. They are present just to push the publications and music of the particular church or denomination. Catholic bookstores sell Catholic books, Calvary Chapel sells books by Chuck Smith or others of their pastors, Christian Science sells their own teachings, and so on. Since Whole Bible Christianity just teaches the Bible, and we don’t push a particular church teaching, we are out of luck.
So why is the Christian bookstore (or even just bookstores in general) disappearing from the landscape? Many people jump to blame the internet, and Amazon in particular. They have a point. Amazon has a tremendous selection, fast shipping, discounted prices, and are open 24/7. But did the rise of Amazon kill the bookstore, or did Amazon and others like them come into existence because the bookstore wasn’t getting the job done in the first place? Did Amazon kill the bookstore, or did the bookstore help create Amazon?
In my estimation, Amazon or the internet in general has not killed the bookstore. It is also not the main factor hammering the traditional publisher either (traditional publisher sales, Christian and otherwise, are also slumping). Two things I think are doing it. One is the lack of vision; the ability to discern what people need and would want, or if you will, the ability to tell the difference between a good product and a bad one. The second is the church itself.
Publishers and bookstores have to make money. Printing is expensive, and carrying space in stores costs money. If a publisher prints a bunch of copies of a book and they don’t sell, it can get costly. A bookstore has limited space, so if a book doesn’t sell it is a double whammy because the space could’ve been used by a book that did sell. So the industry is forced to gear all of their decisions around what will sell. If they make a mistake it can get real expensive real quick. So the nature of the market causes them to be super cautious. The publishers use literary agents to sift the writers material, which helps a little, but the literary agents work off of commission and tend to be extra cautious also. They have reputations to protect too, because if they keep recommending books that bomb then they will not be able to continue in the field. Everything is driven by money, which is not necessarily a bad thing (costs have to be paid somehow) but it tends to make people in the industry want to find the guaranteed “sure thing” and stay away from stuff they simply don’t have the vision, skill, imagination or judgment to evaluate properly.
A couple of cases in point. The first Harry Potter book was universally turned down by every publisher by the account of J. K. Rowling. A book called The Shack which has become a multi-million bestseller (although I think it is a piece of trash) was also turned down by everyone. Many more examples could be listed, but I think you get it. People in the book industry have purposefully become dumber than a sack full of hammers, too afraid to take a chance because of the dollars involved and reputations that could suffer.
The same problem afflicts the Christian book industry. But another problem serves to double the damage, and that is the church. I will go out on a limb here and say that the church doesn’t teach the Bible anymore. They just teach opinions about the Bible. Pastors, priests and rabbis have (in general) made themselves into champion ear-ticklers. They have convinced themselves that no one wants the truth, because the truth may not fill the pew or the offering plate. The lure of a bigger paycheck, a mega-church or a spot on late night talk shows is too strong for most of them.
Obviously, the Bible is the champion bestseller in history, so why would we back away from teaching it? Money and ego, again. It is easier to write and sell a book catering to the latest fad or to sentiment than it is to take the time to learn and teach the Bible or anything from it. You also don’t (seemingly or immediately) get very far with Bible teachings because those require humility to learn and teach.
Fortunately, God doesn’t need the world’s systems (including the worldly church) to get His Word out. One way or another He gets the job done. His Spirit is causing all sorts of people all over the world to wake up and embrace the pure, plain, soul-saving teachings of the Lord of Life. We may or may not be able to sell a single book, but His work goes on and on for eternity. His holy, just and life giving will is being done, and you can come along for the ride if you want. A bookstore could find that the difference between bankruptcy and success lies in the radical marketing concept of the Book that beats all others. Publishers would see fewer reverses if they would just commit to serving up the meat of the Word instead of the bland, nutrition-less saccharine they insist on providing at the present time. If we submit to His Word we find that judgment for finding what really matters comes roaring back.
The bookstore, the publisher, and the church/synagogue are sowing the seeds of their own demise. Blame Amazon if you want and it makes you feel better. But you might want to look in the mirror instead.
So I was catching up on the news this morning and ran across an article titled 50 Christian Statues Defaced and Decapitated in Germany (Heatstreet by way of The Drudge Report 12/15/16). My first reaction was “Huh? Christian statues?” My next reaction was, “This is supposed to be bad news?”
Vandalism is not good, but why do we have “Christian” statues? I mean, there are statues, and then there are “Christian” things, but not Christian statues. God specifically tells believers not to have statues. So you would think we wouldn’t have “Christian” statues in the first place, or the destruction of them would be good news.
I hate to say it because of all the wrong things about Islam, but this is one of the very few things that Muslims have right. They really detest images such as statues or idols. This they borrow from the Law of Moses, and you would think the real “Christian” thing would be to do the same. Most Muslims stick to their laws, however twisted, way better than “Christians” ever thought to do themselves with their Law. But Christianity has become so watered down that God’s Word is just a distant echo in many of the sound rooms of church.
If we were as loyal and zealous about our true God as Muslims are about their false one the world would be a much different and better place. Our young people would be trained up to know the Word of God instead of the words of American Idol. If we stuck to the Christian law (actually the Law of Christ, Moses or God) then we wouldn’t have any such thing as “Christian” statues, we wouldn’t be losing kids to the strictures of Islam, and we wouldn’t be losing families to adultery and divorce. Among the many things that are wrong about Islam, they’ve got a point about the mushy “Christians.”
Our book Whole Bible Christianity has finally been published! It is on Amazon at this link:
There is a Look Inside feature, you can flip between the front and back cover, and it is only $19.50. If you would prefer, we will have the entire text on a web page when we update our website so you can read it online.
The book has about 800 direct quotes from the Word, around 1,500 entries in the Scripture Index, and is about 340 pages. One of the many uses of the book is as a handbook for whole Bible Christians everywhere who need a reference to help counter attacks against a whole Bible lifestyle. Chapter 7 deals with a bunch of the objections to following God’s living oracles, and chapter 8 has a list of blessings from doing what Jesus says.
Let us know what you think, and make sure to post a review on Amazon if you would be so kind.