We No Longer Live in Christendom

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.

Shalom

Bruce

Whole Bible Christianity, The Book

Our book Whole Bible Christianity has finally been published! It is on Amazon at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997501413/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1DQVER67Q2HMX&coliid=I1RPTLB6JQO1FI

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.

Shalom
Bruce

The Arian Heresy

Arius was a guy who lived around 300 A. D. and came up with the notion that Jesus was created. He was a bishop in the “church” who challenged the teaching common at the time that Jesus was God in the flesh. Arius thought that Jesus had the nature of God, but wasn’t God. According to Arius Jesus was created first, then God created everything else through Jesus. In his opinion, Jesus was in every way just like God, but wasn’t God. A church council had to be convened to formalize the doctrine of Jesus as God in order to answer this heretical nutball.

There is no Scriptural backup for this doctrine, at all. In fact, any Scripture that teaches the opposite, that Jesus is God, is explained away by Arians acknowledging that indeed Jesus is in every way “like God” but just isn’t God. In other words, to Arians if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has the nature of a duck, and does things only a duck could do, it isn’t a duck.

The proselytes of Arius in modern times come in slightly different forms and use various arguments to try and prove that Jesus isn’t God, but the arguments still have the same logical holes. Some, like the post on this blog by Timothy titled Yahweh and Yahshua, start off “just wanting to ask questions” but really want to shove their pet doctrine down people’s throats. Why, I have no idea. Well, wait a minute. I do have an idea. What Arius and his acolytes really want to do is tear down the Word.

This is how we recognize false doctrine. When you drill down to the heart of whatever it is they are trying to push you see that the basic idea is to destroy the integrity of the Word. They want to make it to where the Bible cannot be trusted to mean what it says. If they can destroy the integrity of the Word, then they accomplish two things: one is that the suckers that buy the doctrine stop following the Word; two is that we have to start listening to the pusher of the false doctrine. Because if we can’t trust the Word, we would have to trust the guy destroying the Word to tell us what it means. That way, the pusher of false doctrine gets the authority of God and becomes the Big Guy In Charge.

The logical holes in the Arian heresy are big enough to drive a truck through.
1) Jesus accepts worship (Matthew 14:33; 28:9). We are only to worship God.
2) Jesus forgives sins against God (Mark 2:1-13). Only God can forgive sins against God.
3) Jesus was crucified for “making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18; Philippians 2:6)
4) Jesus has the nature of God (Colossians 1:19), meaning He is “after the kind” of God.
5) Jesus would have to be related to both parties to be the kinsman redeemer.
6) Jesus was born of a virgin (the seed of the woman); He didn’t have the nature of Adam.
7) If Jesus was created, why would He have to be born?
8) Jesus claims to be God (Revelation 1:8, compare to Revelation 22:12-13).

These are just some of the major biblical arguments against the Arians. Apparently many of the Arians just can’t get past the idea that God could be born in human form; that He would allow Himself to be crucified; and that a perfect God would or could take on the sins of the world. So because they have a hard time understanding these perfectly clear Scriptural teachings, they make up an explanation that isn’t in the Bible. Then they have to twist and torque the plain meaning of the Word in order to back up their confusion.

Remember, though, the main purpose of doctrines such as this are to tear down the Word of God and make believers doubt. Then they can grab authority for themselves to “properly interpret” the Word. If you get some time, read through the previous post by Timothy. You will see he contradicts himself (saying that Jesus “loses his divinity” on the cross then later saying that Jesus didn’t lose his divinity for instance), confuses Scripture with opinion, and backtracks on a regular basis. A few minutes with people such as Timothy will get you going in circles in a hurry. Stick with the plain meaning of the Word, read it and do it, and you can’t go wrong.

Shalom
Bruce

Reading Omens

Genesis 24 has the account of Abraham’s servant searching for a bride for Isaac. Abraham instructs the servant to go to the “land of my kindred” and makes him swear not to get Isaac’s wife from the Canaanites. The servant gets to the land of Abraham’s extended family and stops by a well outside the city to get some water for his camels. He prays that God would help him identify Isaac’s bride as the one who would not only give him water but also his camels.

Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Genesis 24:14, ESV)

So Rebekah shows up and does what the servant was hoping. Turns out she was also from Abraham’s kindred. He gives her gifts, meets the family, and with everyone’s agreement goes back and presents Isaac with his bride. So this means we should all learn to read omens, right? No. God tells us not to read omens.

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. (Leviticus 19:26, ESV)

But many people (who should know better) do just that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “If (such and so) happens, then that means God wants me to do (such and so).” This is what we call “reading omens.” We express uncertainty when things happen to impede the direction we want to go, then we wonder if “God is telling me not to do that” (or to do it). First, if God doesn’t want something to happen, it won’t happen. If He does want something to happen, it will. Second, it is the enemy who is ineffective. The deceiver can’t stop you if God is moving you, and can’t get you going if God is saying wait. Satan would be the one to throw all kinds of dumb omens at you to try and get you to stop doing what God wants or start doing what the enemy wants. I think that is one of the reasons God says not to read omens. Just stick with His Word and you can’t go wrong.

Did Abraham’s servant read omens? No. He prayed a specific prayer with a specific qualification. If a girl would not only give him water but also offer to draw water for the camels it would indicate the condition of her heart. She would be a generous person, soft of heart and concerned for others. Drawing water was probably hard, because one would have to dip a container into a hole or spring then pour it out for the camels to drink. And 10 camels drink a lot of water. In addition to the “sign” that the servant was looking for, the family (and the girl) would have to agree. So the servant wasn’t just throwing out a random request just to see if God would miraculously jump through hoops for his gratification.

The servant also had a specific, God given task. He wasn’t just trying to figure out if he should go to the local high school dance. I remember a trip a long time ago where it just seemed everything was going wrong. One thing after another happened to delay us. A strap broke on the car-top carrier (a big container for luggage). We forgot something. A belt broke on the car engine before we left. Things like that. At one point my wife asked me if I thought God was telling us not to go. I thought about it for a minute then said, “No. If God didn’t want us to go, we would not be going. These nagging attacks are from the enemy most likely.” So we went. It was an enjoyable trip.

Believers are not to read omens. God has given us a large amount of guidance through His Word. We strengthen our ability to sense when He is talking to us by reading His Word and doing everything He says. We practice hearing with the small things in His Word which teaches us how to recognize His voice when He speaks directly to us. Abraham’s servant didn’t need omens, and neither do we.

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:9–14, ESV)

Shalom

Judging with Righteous Judgement Pt. 5 – How To Spot a False Prophet

It’s very simple to spot a false prophet. The Bible gives us excellent instructions. All we’ve got to do is read and we’ll figure it out in an instant. Not only must he be 100% correct if he prophesies about the future, he must not direct other people away from God or God’s Word.
“But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” (Jeremiah 23:14–15, ESV)
Jeremiah is not just speaking of prophets of a particular location, but to all those who do the same things.

 

A false prophet talks about following the Bible but doesn’t follow the whole book. He is a part-Bible expert, like his father, the father of lies. He picks and chooses what Scripture he preaches, and is even pickier about which Scripture he follows. He wants people to follow himself rather than God.
“To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isaiah 8:20, ESV)
“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV)

 

The false prophet takes the Law into his own hands to misuse it for his own gain. He allows and encourages sexual immorality including divorce and homosexuality (the teachings of Balaam). He is more concerned about self-defined acceptance, tolerance, and unconditional love than God’s definition of holy love and grace or His command to repent.

 

A true prophet will speak according to the entirety of God’s Word. One of the ways we know Jesus was a true prophet, and The Prophet whom Moses said would come, is that He spoke the words of God given to Moses. All other prophets of God do the same. A simple test is, do they follow all of God’s Law or not?
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18–19, ESV)

 

A false prophet glorifies himself rather than God. God is glorified when His Word is taught, lived, and defended.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:18, ESV)”
The minister sent by God is one who speaks all of God’s words without fail and without compromise.

 

A false prophet speaks visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says “all will be well” and “no disasters will befall” those who despise the word of the Lord and follow their own heart instead of God’s heart.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16–17, ESV)

 

A true prophet of God will warn of departure from God’s word. He will speak the words of God, the first one of which is REPENT.
“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” (Jeremiah 23:21–22, ESV)

 

A false prophet tells people to go after other gods, either in the form of idols or self-image. Going after other god’s means to obey something or someone other than God. God tests us with many false prophets, and there are many today teaching that we don’t have to listen to all of the words of God. The true prophet says that we shall keep God’s commandments and obey His voice, serve Him and hold fast to Him.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:1–4, ESV)

 

Do not fail the test.
Shalom

A New Definition of Cult

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 10 A New Definition of Cult

Cults are traditionally defined by somebody’s opinion of orthodoxy. The dictionary definition of orthodox is “conforming to the approved form of any doctrine.” In other words, orthodox means accepted opinion. Orthodoxy can include the Bible, but usually includes a lot of men’s opinions too. If a person or group is lacking in any of the ‘orthodox’ or accepted doctrine or dogma, then in the opinion of the ‘orthodox’ they must be a cult or part of one. With respect to Dr. Walter Martin, I propose a better definition of orthodox, and of a cult or cultist.

My definition of a cult or cult member is a group or a person who at most gives only lip service to God. This takes into account all those who smugly wrap themselves in church or synagogue doctrine, yet have no intention of anything more than lip synching the Word of God. It includes anyone who is in a ‘religion’ and denies the whole truth of the Word. It also gathers up all those part-Bible people who sit in judgment on the Word, picking and choosing what part of it they want to follow. Throw in all those people with doctrines that are used to separate us from abiding in His living oracles too.