New Audiobook!

We’ve now produced an audiobook for Whole Bible Christianity. It is available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. I narrated it myself and it sounds very good. I did the narration because I don’t think anyone else could’ve really given the project the right tone except the guy who wrote it. It’s about 16 hours long but I don’t know what the pricing will be. Just check with Amazon under Whole Bible Christianity when you want a complete reference for Whole Bible Christianity to listen to in your car or while you are trying to go to sleep!



Bible Contradictions

Many, many times I hear about contradictions in the Bible. Supposedly there are hundreds of them. This contradiction argument has become a common standard attack by people who don’t believe in God and don’t want to believe in God. The statement is made as if the list of contradictions by itself is reason not to trust the Bible or believe in God. And I have one thing to say about it: There are no contradictions in the Bible.

If you look up the word “contradiction” in the dictionary, you’ll get something like the following from the online Merriam Webster.

  1. Act or an instance of contradicting.
  2. A proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something.
  3. A statement or phrase whose parts contradict each other; a contradiction in terms.
  4. A logical incongruity.
  5. A situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.

As you can see, a contradiction is a statement that has both a truth and a falsehood. This would be something like “the sun rises in the east and rises in the west.” One is true, the other is false. They can’t both be true. There are three main categories of Bible contradictions claimed by unbelievers. One can be classified as text or copyist errors. A second is due to perception, and a third is in simple refusal to accept.

A large portion of the contradictions that are alleged to occur in most Bible denier’s lists are not contradictions at all. They are, at most, copying mistakes or grammar differences or other minor variations in the text. After all, the Bible was written down over a period of about 2,000 years by dozens of authors in many different styles. There’s bound to be a few blips here and there.

An example of this is the difference between 1 Kings 4:26 (Solomon had 40,000 stalls for horses) and 2 Chronicles 9:25 (4,000 stalls for horses). To a thinking person, this is obviously a minor discrepancy due to a copyist error. Or there might be another explanation. But there is no teaching affected by this error. It is not a contradiction, it is a text mistake. There might be a contradiction if you expect the text to be completely letter perfect. In this case though, the contradiction is in the expectation of perfection. Most of the items on unbeliever checklists consist of these types of contradictions that are not really contradictions. I can say without qualification that there is not a single teaching or meaningful statement anywhere in the remarkable document from God that is a true contradiction.

The second category of so-called contradictions is in the difference between what the Bible says and what people perceive or think it says. For instance, a favorite contradiction is manufactured between a God of Love and the facts that He destroyed people in the flood or used Israel to wipe out a tribe or people group. The perception is that a loving God would not destroy people. The perception is wrong on several levels.

For the flood example, God didn’t destroy man for about 1,600 years. He gave them time to change their ways. Not only did they not change their ways but got to where “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The antediluvians were just rotten to the core and made themselves unredeemable. They willingly turned into trash; so God cleansed the corruption from the earth. A similar principle was in effect when Israel was commanded to “take out the trash.” The tribes or nations that were removed had gotten so bad they even burned their kids in fires to appease their gods. Plus they wouldn’t repent though God in His grace gave them ample opportunity. People descended into abhorrent behavior and God took care of the problem. Unbelievers who claim a better sense of love or justice than is shown in the Bible are sitting in judgment on God’s actions and His Word with a perception of prejudice and deliberate misunderstanding.

The third category of contradictions is from simply rejecting what God says and who He is. This attitude is really the driving force behind alleging some contradictions. First they reject God and then they hunt around looking for confirmation of their rejection. They magnify tiny manuscript differences either real or perceived into huge roadblocks to belief. They mock and criticize because they decided to hate God before they ever start looking for a contradiction. Unbelievers reject God as master and Lord, so naturally contradictions proceed from their rejection. Make no mistake: so-called contradictions in the Bible are only contradictions in the heads of the deniers and unbelievers.

Some unbelievers gleefully point out the contradictions between the behavior or teachings of people/organizations and the Bible. They are correct. There are a lot of contradictions between people who say they follow the Bible and the Bible. However, this does not disprove the Bible, or give me any problems with the Bible text. There have always been pretenders throughout history. Behavior shows what is believed in the heart.

Now let’s take a look at what I think are the real contradictions in the rejection of the Bible and God. At the top of my list is the contradiction between atheists who say they have love greater than God’s and yet reject the God who is the source of love. They claim to love (when it suits them) but then turn around and hate God. This is a classic example of a contradiction that should go under the dictionary definition. Look up atheist in the dictionary and it should say, “See contradiction.”

Second on my list of unbeliever contradictions is between their rejection of God and the miracle of creation. I look at any part of creation and see a complex system that could not have sprung up out of nothing. There had to be a Creator, and not only a creator but a wise and all-knowing one to boot. Everything, though marred by entropy resulting from sin, is marvelously intricate and interdependent. There is no way a thinking person could miss it. Yet the unbelievers and atheists come up with all sorts of contradictory theories to explain.

Speaking of contradictory theories, the third contradiction on the God-hating hit parade is evolution. There is not a single bit of evidence for it anywhere. Unbelievers claim to be rational, thinking people, but evolution is the epitome of the opposite. Circular reasoning, science denying and flat-out lies are the order of the day for this contradiction. Built on hoaxes and sustained by government spending and regulation, evolution destroys morality and vilifies the life and hope that only God offers. It mocks God, pedals death as a good thing, and steals credit that belongs only to the Author of Life.

A fourth contradiction is the claim that the unbeliever has morality without needing to embrace God. Yet all of their alleged morality comes from God. He is the one who establishes morality. There is not a single instance of an unbeliever morality code that doesn’t steal from God. His Law was first; all others are weak copies at best. His ultimate example of morality was in the giving of His only begotten Son to save us from our sinful condition.

Jesus mirrors everything about God, especially in His cooperation with the Father in the sacrifice He made. Along with the sovereignty of God this is what the unbelievers are rejecting. It boggles the mind that anyone would refuse the gift of grace, love and mercy wrapped up in the torturous death of the Son of God, the effects of which are freely offered to hate-filled people. But reject it they do.

Talk about contradictions. Atheists and other unbelievers are selling nothing; everything came from nothing and will return to nothing. There is no hope in their religion, and it is a religion despite their denials. Their god or idol is themselves. They have no means of changing what they are and they stay lost in hate. Hate is not a feeling but the refusal to do what is good and right and truly loving. You cannot love and reject the God of love.

Hedonism or narcissism is what the unbelievers are really selling. Then, in the contradiction of all contradictions, they expect us to buy what they are selling. Believers are supposed to ditch the cleansing of God’s Word and the life and hope for a better future for one of nothingness where you are your own inadequate god. Get real.



Rebuilding the Tower

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.



God is Going to Live With Us!

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!



New Series On Romans

One of the things that has turned us off of the Messianic movement is the inability of many to explain Paul’s writings in context with the Law. Few can do it, if at all. So much of the Bible in general has been so covered over with traditions of men and deliberate misinterpretation, that even if a believer manages to work his way through to the understanding of the Law as a valid lifestyle and discipleship method Paul’s writings still seem to contradict (although we know instinctively that they don’t).

Usually the Messianic person will simply revert to throwing out Paul’s writings. A big tool for doing this is to claim that there must’ve been a (lost) Hebrew New Testament that was translated into Greek and in so doing much of the meaning was corrupted by the time we translate to English. So the easy answer for this crowd is to declare the Greek null and void.

Somewhere along the way this nutcase crowd decides to throw out the virgin birth of Jesus along with the claims that Jesus is God. Next this crowd just moves to throw out the whole New Testament. What the heck. It’s all mistranslated anyway, right? Anything they can’t understand or explain must be the fault of the text! Much of the throwing starts with Paul’s writings because they cannot explain properly what he is talking about.

So we decided to do some videos with our own explanations. It’s not that hard, really. All you have to do is read the text. The plain meaning is right there in front of us. It’s not the text that’s the problem. It is either an agenda or a fault in our own understanding. The message is repeated enough throughout the Word (including Paul’s writings) that it is extremely easy to figure out the meaning. If we are going to throw anything out it should be the traditions of men that clutter up the text in the first place.

First in the series is Romans chapters 1 through 4, just put up on our Youtube channel. It’s about an hour. Three future videos will cover four chapters each and hopefully end up at about an hour each.

There is a list of time marks in the description so you can jump to particular parts if you want. There are also links to other videos from us explaining different words or concepts further. We hope this series (along with other videos such as our Book of Galatians effort) will help the seeker of truth figure out how to explain their faith easily and biblically to the many (many, many, many) skeptics he or she will encounter.


A Whole Bible Look at the Book of Galatians

Just posted. New video looking at the book of Galatians using mostly just the book itself in simple, plain language. It’s a little long (1 and a quarter hours), but there is an outline in the notes with time marks so you can skip to particular sections as needed. We show you how easy it is to understand the book the way Paul intended, in keeping with the teachings of the whole of the Word. Three times Paul gives us the subject: 2:6; 3:11; and 5:4. Tutors and guardians are explained, as well as “under the law” and “works of the law.”


Freedom from Sabbath Keeping

Hey All,

Just spent a few days writing a new article which is a point-by-point response to an article by Ray Comfort that he titled Freedom From Sabbath Keeping. It took a while, because the article is filled with a lot of, shall we say, less than biblical information.

Ray is a good guy as far as I know, and has a lot of good teaching. I have quoted from him, and use some of his material in my conversations with atheists. However, there are a number of areas where he falls short of biblical truth, and a bunch of them are in this article. So I went through it and inserted my comments directly into his text. I included Bible verses and commentary all with a whole Bible perspective. You’ll find a nicely organized selection of responses to what are also typical Christian arguments against observing the Sabbath. Why people would reject a day off from God is beyond me, but they do. So this article should help you with standard Christian objections to observing the whole of the Word, not just the Sabbath.

An excerpt from Point by Point through the Ray Comfort article Freedom from Sabbath Keeping. His words are in red, my comments are in square brackets and in blue (on the web page they are just in a different font).

Let’s briefly look at their arguments. First, nowhere does the Fourth Commandment say that we are to “worship” on the Sabbath Day. [True. Worship was every day. The act of resting on the Sabbath is worship. Worship has taken on an inadequate meaning in the intervening centuries, and it used to be that worship included sacrifices. But worship has always been obedience at its root.] It commands that we rest on that day: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). [Notice that he does not answer the issue he raises: why does the church not “rest” on the Sabbath?] Sabbath-keepers worship on the Saturday. [No. Sabbath keepers might MEET on Saturday, but worship is obedience and for every day.] Do they know where the word “Saturday” comes from? It’s from the Latin word “Saturnus–Saturn + Old English dæg day.” Obviously Saturday is from the pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn (astrology). [In spite of the attempt at sarcasm, I can agree here. However, Saturday is also the seventh day, and therefore the Sabbath. The name of the day is not important. But the Sabbath is.

And another excerpt.

The Scriptures tell us that at one point, the Apostles especially gathered to discuss the attitude of the Christian to the Law of Moses. [This is biblically incorrect. The council in Acts 15 met mainly to discuss salvation by circumcision (verse 1). This was proved to be wrong. Salvation was coming to Gentiles without circumcision and by grace through faith just as Abraham and JUST AS THE JEWS (who had the Law). Verse 5 also asks a question about following the Law, which was answered in verse 21 (Moses is read in the synagogue every Sabbath.) This meant 1) Moses is read. 2) Moses is read in the synagogue where all believers met at the time. 3) They met every Sabbath.] Acts 15:10-11, 24-29 was God’s opportunity to make His will clear to His children. [Biblically incorrect. God had been making His will clear to His children for a long, long time.] All He had to do to save millions from damnation was say, “Remember to keep the Sabbath holy,” and millions of Christ-centered, God-loving, Bible-believing Christians would have gladly kept it. [Not so. He already said many times to remember the Sabbath, and just about as many times was ignored. He is still being ignored today as is evidenced by this article by Ray. Many Christians do not want to obey God’s commands. Mostly because we do not want an objective, absolute standard. We want to give ourselves permission to sin.

Enjoy the article.

Hating Religion

It seems fashionable nowadays to talk about hating religion but loving Jesus. One young man (Jefferson Bethke) has even made a career out of it, starting with a youtube video of a rap song he created titled ‘Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.’ It has over 27,546,644 views, so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Others are writing books, like the

book by Alex Himaya. He’s a pastor of a church that has grown from 120 to over 5,500 people in eight years (by his own testimony), so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Um. No. Neither are correct, at least from a biblical standpoint.

Why? Because they only offer two choices – religion or no religion for one thing. For another, they confuse (as many people do) Bible teachings. They are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They both define religion as “following rules,” when they should distinguish between God’s rules (the Law) and man’s rules.

There is good religion and bad religion. Bad religion defined correctly is man reaching for God or trying to get to God on man’s own terms. I prefer to call this “man’s traditions.” Good religion is following God’s rules written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit in love. We can call this “God’s traditions.” Also known as The New Covenant.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV)

Man’s traditions can include some of the Bible, but frequently are way outside what God requires. God’s traditions, however, are always good. We can follow His rules or laws with confidence that they are living oracles, a light to our path, a guide to eternal life, and in every way huge blessings and a beneficial lifestyle.

It is true that God hates man’s efforts, in his own knowledge and pride, to connect with Him. From fig leaves in the Garden to works righteousness by following some laws (even His), He has always discouraged man’s efforts to buy a stairway to heaven. The opposite is to use the free stairway of His Word, the stair steps of His Laws, statues, commands, and charge, a ticket to which has been secured by the blood of His Son our Messiah. Even repentance is a command.

Just because people have a big church (which in my opinion isn’t biblical) or a lot of views on youtube, that doesn’t make them right. Popularity to me is suspicious, because generally people don’t like the truth. Truth is too uncomfortable. Ear tickling is more fun. When the popular kids are poking at you for following His laws, remember that they are only using part of the Bible. We need to fill them in on true religion. God’s religion. The New Covenant. The Law written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit. God’s traditions followed in love.


Temptation to Give Up His Law

Accepting the whole of God’s Word as a lifestyle and discipleship method has its drawbacks. On the one hand I’ve got everything I need to pursue His living oracles and achieve perfection as Jesus directs in Matthew 5:48. In fact, since “perfect” means mature or lacking in nothing, then I am already perfect. On the other hand I find myself falling short on a regular basis. On any given hour or day or week I’ll do 98% of what I think God requires, working hard at trying not to do what I think is okay and instead doing what He thinks is okay. I wear my tassels. I rest on Sabbath. Pork is a distant memory. I don’t react in anger when insulted or cut off in traffic. Or at least not as angry as I used to be.

But there’s that 2% (my wife or kids might say it’s a little higher than that) where I blow it. I have patience 29 times out of 30, but at the 30th I falter and lose it. (It used to be perhaps 15 out of 30, but the improvement doesn’t seem to matter.) Or I might have to do a little work on the Sabbath. I get closer to actually living out the perfection for which God equips me day by day and minute by minute, only to fold at the weakest bluff from the enemy at the oddest times. It’s like dialing a phone number that is a hundred digits long only to enter the wrong value on the last one.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:21–23, ESV)

This is, I think, one of the things that make people re-interpret the Word to downplay the importance of most of the Law. His Law looks like a mountain that is hard to climb, and one misstep will send you into the abyss. The temptation is to comfort ourselves with the “nobody’s perfect” mantra and not even try. We change His Word to mean something different so we don’t really look like we’re not doing what He says. After all,” the enemy whispers, “why try if you can never get it right? Just give up and do what you want. Jesus covers all your sins, so you’ll be fine.” It’s definitely tempting to reduce the standard so it doesn’t challenge me as much. I start to reason that the usual church teaching of “we can’t be perfect” is very attractive. I almost succumb at times to the siren song.

In athletics, we practice and practice and practice. We might lose a game, but the following day we are right back at practice trying to correct mistakes and get better for the next game. We study hard for an employment test, or certification, and if we don’t pass we go back to studying and take the test again. A musician learns her instrument, conditions her body to form the notes in time and arrange them so they make an appealing song. If the song does not come together right away she keeps trying until her thoughts and feelings flow out as she wishes.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. (1 Corinthians 9:25–26, ESV)

The athlete has everything he needs for athleticism (arms, legs, brain). He is “perfect” in the physical sense. He doesn’t need more arms or legs. Or more brains. He has everything he needs to get the job done. Same with a job seeker or musician. Does he hit every single pitch? Catch every pass? Throw right on the mark every time? Does the musician write hit songs with every stroke of the pencil, or a job seeker pass an employment test the first time? No, they don’t. But they don’t give up or stop trying. Why is a walk with God any different?

An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5, ESV)

How come a life with Him and His Law as the center is the only place where we get a steady diet of people telling us we “can’t be perfect?” The coach or band director or employer who wouldn’t accept less than perfect practice goes to church and calmly buys the idea that in his walk with God he won’t ever measure up? Can you imagine a coach who tells the pole vault athlete “You’ll never get over the rail?” A teacher of music who tells the student “You’ll never play that note perfect?” How frustrating that would be! How depressing! How much like slavery!

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. (Galatians 4:3, ESV)

We wouldn’t put up with it in the fields of athletics or music or anywhere else, but the church gets away with it on a regular basis. And directly against what the Bible teaches, too. No wonder the church has the same suicide, divorce, and drug use rates as those outside the church. Whole Bible Christians try to avoid the two extremes of making up tons of new laws or deciding that the blood of Jesus covers everything so I can do whatever I want.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11–12, ESV)

When I falter, or am less than 100% doing what God wants, it’s because I do it on my own. It’s not that I lack something, or cannot be perfect. God has given me all I need. I have a new heart of flesh, the Holy Spirit, and His Word. I am perfect (complete, mature), though I don’t do everything perfectly. When I choose my own way, I don’t have to go very far down that path before I realize that I don’t want to keep going, either. I may have made a misstep, but God has granted me grace to try, try again, as opposed to sitting on my hands afraid to do anything or become better. Temporarily I might feel bad that I chose to go my own way, but as long as the bad feelings move me to repentance and renewed effort they don’t have to be permanent. I don’t have to get rid of the Law to help me feel better. It’s the other way around. Practice, practice, practice. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though I choose wrongly on occasion, His Word will perfect me.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4–6, ESV)


In Peter’s Place, What Would I Say?

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21–23, ESV)

I was thinking about this event today, and I wondered what I would say had I been in Peter’s place. Pete was motivated by a desire to protect Jesus from the authorities, not quite realizing yet the full extent of who Jesus was and why He was going to have to suffer. Peter’s motives were perhaps “good,” but they were wrong. So wrong in fact that Jesus rebuked the person behind the statement (Satan) who had motivated the response of “This shall never happen to you.” Not only does this show that motives, even if we would classify them as “good,” can still be wrong, but it shows us that motive alone is not enough. We need to be in line with God’s will in order for even “good” motives to be actually good.

The thing that really got me with this situation though is that, knowing what I know now, what would I have said? Could I have looked into the eyes of the most humble, loving man ever and said, “If you don’t die I cannot live?” Would I have been able to say to God almighty that, “We need to get you to Jerusalem when it is time so that your miserable death can save the whole world?” Knowing that He is my Lord and Savior, God in the flesh, perfect and without shadow of turning in every way, could I have encouraged Him to suffer a vastly painful, torturous and ignominious death at the hands of murderers in exchange for my ugly, pitiful, sin-filled life? Would I have had the faith to trust and obey God’s will in this matter?

I don’t know. Jesus had to die, but woe to the people who did it, and woe to those who refuse to accept what He did. I thank Him every day and in every way I can think of for His sacrifice by reading every Word from Him and putting it everywhere in my life. He asks so little of me. Living the whole of His Word is such a small thing to do for a God who died such a huge death for me.