Our First Whole Bible Video

Hey there groovy guys and groovy girls, what’s happening? We are pleased to announce our first video title The New Covenant. It is the beginning of a lot of videos using material in our book Whole Bible Christianity. Take a look. Give us your comments. Share it. We’re sure it’s going to shake things up here and there.

Shalom

I’d Rather Be a Dog In Heaven than a Lion In Hell

From the book Whole Bible Christianity by Bruce Bertram, Chapter 10 section ‘Our True Identity’

Balancing the Word causes identity problems. Most Christians reject whole Bible beliefs because of the Law, and many Jewish people won’t accept us because of Jesus. So are we Christians or Jews? I don’t think we have to decide. “Whole Bible” can apply anywhere, anytime. You can be a whole Bible Lutheran, a whole Bible Baptist, and even a whole Bible Jew. Just remember His Word comes first. Nothing should get between you and Him.

Of course, in trying to live out the whole of the Word we are not going to be able to maintain any sort of sectarianism (dividing into sects) for long. The name Christian simply means “partisan of the Christ,” which is what we are. Lots of people wear the name but there are many degrees of partisanship. It depends on actual obedience. Some partisans don’t know any better because of false teaching. Some know better and don’t care. But just because many Christians (or Jews) have dragged His name through the mud doesn’t make the name invalid.

Okay, I’m a partisan of the Christ, but what kind? There are many combinations heavy on words and light on biblical living. So many people want to use His name and claim His blessings without actually living His Word. Accepting the whole of the Word as a valid lifestyle and discipleship method makes me distinct from most of them. So almost by default, I’m a “whole Bible Christian.”

We don’t really need a name, but a short hand way to refer to ourselves is simpler for those with short attention spans. Many labels have been co-opted by people for whom hypocrisy is an art form, and I’m sure this will get the same treatment. Lots of partisans of the Christ want to think of themselves as whole Bible because they “believe” it.

One lady told me she was whole Bible but “not like you.” What she meant was that she “believed” the whole Bible, but she didn’t follow the feasts or many other parts of the Law. Ye-e-ah. That’s like a Pharisee who “believed” the Old Testament (the Tanakh) and crucified Jesus. This is a clear example of one thing this whole book is about – Christians who “believe” but don’t follow. Believing without acting doesn’t make sense. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). Seems to me we are either whole Bible or not. That word “whole” nails it down pretty well. There is no end to some people’s hypocrisy, but whole Bible Christians are dedicated to returning God’s love by living out the whole of His Word. In every detail and every part of our lives.

In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus resists a little giving help to a Gentile woman (Mark calls her a Syrophoenician in Mark 7:26, a part of the Canaanites) asking healing for her daughter. This is where Jesus says that it is not right to give the children’s bread to dogs. Jews at the time generally referred to Gentiles as dogs. She has an amazing response, saying that “even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She doesn’t argue the point, but humbly accepts the fact that she wasn’t first in line for help. Jesus is so impressed with her faith He tells her the demon has left her daughter. Her faith was shown by her humble submission and obedience.

At first it might seem off-putting that Jesus would regard her (or me) as a dog. But I think this was more of a statement of where He was focusing His work at that time (“to the Jew first and also to the Gentile”) rather than a judgment against either the lady or me. Although Canaanites were historically pretty “doggy” too (Ephesians 2:12, Hebrews 11:6). Those who by nature do what God requires, even if non-Jewish, belong to Him because of their faith, and aren’t dogs at all. But even if it’s true that my identity (in the eyes of some) is that of a dog in the kingdom, I’m okay with it. He made me and can assign me any place He chooses. I’d much rather be a dog in heaven than a lion in hell!

The material in this book is not for the purpose of creating yet another separate group or doing away with existing groups. It may (and probably will) happen that we cannot fellowship with existing groups. Those of us who believe and practice the whole of God’s Word might have to find solace in meeting separately like the first century believers, but that is not our desire. Our desire is to be one Body. If you have to split because of the Word, remember you are not alone. God scatters His people like salt among the unbelievers, whether they have nothing to do with a church or attend religiously.

He wants us to be like priests, after the order of Melchizedek, representing His interests wherever we are. We are one Body with one faith and one God, and we don’t need to create a unity or identity for ourselves. Our identity is in the Messiah Jesus, our root and head and life force. All we need to do is maintain or preserve that unity in a bond of peace.

1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB95)

Shalom

Do What Jesus Did

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 9 Whole Bible Instruction section titled “Do What Jesus Did”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–7, ESV)

Guideline four here might be a little more obvious if we realize that the word “put” is the same word as “test.” Literally, “test God with a test.” And testing is exactly what we think it is. We do not make God prove Himself with tests of our own making. This is what the deceiver was trying to get Jesus to do by throwing Himself off of the Temple. Testing like this includes a lack of belief and even outright disobedience. The Satan quoted parts of Scripture (he’s skilled at part-Bible doctrine) and Jesus responds with the missing sections.

16“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah. 17“You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. (Deuteronomy 6:16-17 NASB95)

Israel “tested” God at Massah (a word that means “test”) by moaning and complaining about the lack of water, and faulting God for failing to provide. They were questioning whether God was present, and disobedience followed. Instead, they should’ve had patience and trusted that God would not have led them to that place without providing water.

7He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7 NASB95)

In effect, they were saying that God couldn’t or wouldn’t follow through. That implied either He was too dumb to know they needed water or was deliberately messing with them. They were saying that God did something wrong on purpose. They made up a fault in God and were using that to remove Him from the throne and put themselves in His place. Testing God in this way is nothing more than high-handed disobedience, and shows we do not trust God’s Word. When we test Him with a test of our own making, it is because we are afraid He won’t live up to His Word. Or that we want to use a perceived failure of the test for an excuse to go our own way.

A different kind of test is laid out for us in Malachi. This testing is approved by God.

10“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10 NASB95)

The testing mentioned here is within the bounds of obedience, as in “obey the Lord, and in so doing test Him and see that His Word is true. He will deliver as He promised.” We don’t test God by disobedience; we test Him by trusting His Word and obeying it.

When we decide on our own to switch the Sabbath to another day, this is also testing God with a test. He doesn’t immediately (or apparently) zap us, so we think we’re okay. Then we go on to break other laws. If we eat bacon and don’t drop dead we keep eating. We presume on His grace, making it cheaper. Then we compound our sin by sharing the results of the test with others. We encourage them to test Him in a sinful way also. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Either we stick with the whole of His Word, carefully and exactly, as Jesus did, or we test Him to justify our own knowledge and pride. I think I’ll pick the testing of obedience, myself.

Shalom

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

Religious leaders demand a sign (Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16) from Jesus. They wanted a “sign” because Moses used some. The Prophet that was to come, which Moses spoke about, was supposed to be like him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). So they reasoned that if Jesus were the Prophet He would use similar signs. They should’ve reasoned that the Prophet would be humble and hold to God’s Law completely. This would in fact be more “like Moses.” Remember that Israel wanted signs from Moses too, but were never satisfied with them. They were not really interested in signs, ever. Except maybe as a substitute for TV.

 

Signs don’t do anything to convert anybody. They sure didn’t work with Israel, nor do they work now. How can a sign do anything for those who refuse to see? Worse, who see and refuse to obey? It’s like a fireworks show where everybody oohs and ahhs. But the end of the show is also the end of the impact.

 

Jesus skillfully goes to the heart of the matter. First, He says they couldn’t properly interpret or obey a sign from God anyway. This is a biblical equivalent of “blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other” as my dad used to say. Second, He said that only the sign of Jonah would be given (Matthew 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29). Make a note for yourself here that the people of Nineveh repented at the mere preaching of Jonah. He didn’t use any signs.

 

Of course, signs were on display all around the leaders. Jesus was healing, casting out demons and raising people from the dead left and right. However, they refused to act on the signs. They were like children sitting in the market place, singing to each other in the wisdom of the world. They wanted Him to dance to their music. But Jesus doesn’t dance like that for beans.
31“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32“They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35“Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (Luke 7:31-35 NASB95)

 

Jesus wasn’t going to give them the dog and pony show they wanted (Matthew 11:16; Luke 7:32). His wisdom, especially in the proper use of the Law, was proven by all of His actions. If the leaders really wanted confirmation that Jesus was the Prophet there was plenty of evidence to go around. The refusal to jump when they said jump went a long way towards His arrest and false conviction. No, signs have about as much chance of making hard-hearted people “see” as the United States Marine Band playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” has of making deaf people hear.

 

Doing a miracle is related to asking for a sign. People want their senses stimulated with signs and miracles, but this is not the same as a softened heart. Is it better to do miracles, or just do what God says? The false prophet (coming soon to a government near you) will do all sorts of miracles to get people to worship the beast. He will be very successful, for a while, because there are those who want any miracle except the miracle of changing a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

 

According to Jesus, many people who merely do miracles (or “signs”) will not enter His Kingdom. The person acting on His Word will (this could include miracles, properly done).
22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ 24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:22-24 NASB95)

 

The one who performs a miracle, but is “lawless,” will have to depart. The one who did no miracles but does the will of God gets to enter. Later, Jesus will tell Thomas that a person who does not see, yet believes (acts on His Word) is more blessed than the one needing a sign.
27Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:27-29 NASB95)

 

A miracle or sign is a piece of cake. What’s really hard is taking the small steps of obedience to God on a daily basis, even when no one is looking.

 

Shalom

 

From the book, Whole Bible Christianity

Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 1 – Losing Friends

I lost another friend recently. He decided after reading my book “Whole Bible Christianity,” which is full of righteous judgment or application of the Law, and a couple of emails about the practical applications, that he wasn’t a happy camper.

 

“I enjoy talking with you about Scripture; it is an entertaining, learning, and intellectual exercise. But I do not agree with your conclusions or your applications. I especially do not agree with your analysis regarding the church, others, or anything outside of Scripture.”

 

He hasn’t emailed me back after I responded to this and other things at the end of February. There wasn’t a single biblical argument he made in rebuttal, either to the book or my applications, so he just decided to call me a few names and cut it off.

 

This was after, of course, he lectured me extensively on “love,” especially on its unconditional aspects where God is concerned. I’m sure you can appreciate the irony. I disagreed with his version, which consisted pretty much of sentiment only, and argued for the Bible version, consisting of doing what God says. As with any clique, the church version lasts only as long as you push whatever agenda (doctrine, tradition, whatever) that particular church pushes. This explains his departure. So much for the church version of love. That kind of love believers don’t need. I much prefer God’s version, which keeps me a part of His household no matter what mistakes I make.

 

It wasn’t like I didn’t have abundant Scriptural proof of what I was saying. There are over 800 verses written out and hundreds of references for other verses too. It was just that he didn’t like it. That’s going to happen a lot when we are dealing with Bible subjects, and especially how they are used in righteous judgment for daily living. Law is love, and love is Law. Many people do not like the Law precisely because it is objective and clear. They want to keep doing what they are doing, and believing what they are believing. This makes their love suspect. The Law just gets in the way.

 

So one of the things we need to realize as we apply the Bible with righteous judgment, as Jesus tells us, is that we are going to lose friends. But if we are not losing “friends” then there is a good possibility that we are not really applying His Words at all, let alone with righteous judgment.

 

There is a war going on which God didn’t start. But He’s the one who is going to finish it. I have not picked the battle, but I HAVE picked which side I’m on.

Distractions Part Five, A Split God

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB95)

 

We have to talk about God being One because a main tool used to distract from, eliminate or severely prune the Law is to cast it as a different message from another God. It’s as if Jesus and the Father were two separate gods kind of at loggerheads with each other. If a person wants to dodge the Law he can pretend it came from someone who either changed His mind or didn’t mean what He said in the first place. We also have to talk about this because there is a big group of people who advocate for the Law in a believer’s life yet deny the deity of Jesus.

 

You may already accept that God and Jesus are one, but you may not realize exactly what it means. The church tends to skip over that part. For instance, if God and Jesus are one, then Jesus gave the Law at Sinai. So when He tells us in Matthew 28 to teach the disciples “all I commanded,” it includes the Law that He “filled up full” or fulfilled.

 

guernica

 

A cubist painting looks like it has been cut up and put back together out of order. You know, the nose is where the ear is supposed to be, and the eyes are not lined up. Every part is out of place (Like Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” pictured above). The picture of God painted by the modern church now looks sort of cubist. God is variously described as a fierce, distant and unfriendly god, or a buddy from out of town who winks at sin. He’s either a god of cloud and flame and lightening, or a pacifist hippie flower child who spouts one-liners about peace and love.

 

We use artistic license like cubism to interpret the patterns in the Word and make a picture that doesn’t even resemble the original. One pattern is for Jews and another is for the church. This part is for me and that part is for you. There are “old” and “new” god models. The old god is supposed to be a severe, demanding god of bloody sacrifices and death. The new god is a sweet guy who looks the other way when we sin. The old god beat us up with rules we couldn’t obey and restricts what we eat. The new god came to change all the stuff the old god gave us, and died so we could eat a ham sandwich. We have created, as Dr. Michael Brown says, a “worldly, cultural Christianity” with a “Jesus who radically empowers us” rather that a “Jesus who radically changes us.” I agree with him that “that’s why we have ‘Christian’ lingerie models and ‘Christian’ rappers who frequent strip clubs.”

 

The picture of God is critical to faith. When we paint Him as capricious, powerful and judgmental, giving us laws we could never obey, we can’t trust Him or do what He says. On the other hand when we paint Him with the color of sentiment (without justice or holiness) our false picture might let us do what we want even if it kills us. But it isn’t love.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity a draft of which is available to read at www.wholebible.com/Whole_Bible_Christianity.htm

Adam and the Covenant

Hosea tells us that Adam disobeyed the same covenant as Israel (or vice versa).

 

6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. (Hosea 6:6-7 ESV)

 

The word “covenant” has a broader meaning than a specific agreement such as the one at Sinai. There is a built in covenant between God and any created being that assumes a continued reliance on the Creator. He gives life and we continue in that life by abiding in His Word. Normality is to be in God’s Word. Perversity is to be outside of it. A person is created by the Word of God and it is implied that we will stay in that Word because it is life. When we get right down to it there is no sense in departing from the Author of Life. Israel and Adam dealt faithlessly with that Word. Neither was showing steadfast love because neither obeyed the living oracles. That is why Hosea says that they are the same covenant. A covenant of life.

 

In my opinion the “knowledge of God” mentioned by Hosea is a direct poke at the choice of Adam, because he chose the tree of knowledge over the tree of life (God’s Word). It seems obvious that God’s Word, whether we want to call it a covenant, or promise, or Ten Suggestions, has always been around. Whatever Word He gives us, from “don’t eat that fruit” to “love others as yourself” and everything in between, is part of “the covenant,” because it is all His Word. And all of His Word is binding on His creation all the time, no matter what. To ignore His Word is to be faithless.

 

When the Law was delivered at Mount Sinai, contrary to standard church teaching, existing Law got written down. It was a condition of His residing with Israel. There were some additions and clarifications, probably due to changing physical circumstance. But by and large, it was the same Law that has always been around. In the midst of the flood of evil threatening to engulf the world, God placed His Ark of the Covenant with the “living oracles” in Israel. Then He set up shop in Israel Himself, as a beacon of life for all men.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity, a draft of which can be viewed at www.wholebible.com/Whole_Bible_Christianity.htm.

The Promise is the Unity

It’s easy to say the Bible is written around the unifying theme of Jesus, but it might be a little difficult to see exactly where He is sometimes. Words are used such as “promise” and “covenant” (essentially a promise too). But sometimes even those key words are absent such as in Genesis 3:15 when God promises (without using that word) a descendant who will crush the head of the serpent. Abraham was “promised” (using the word “covenant” instead) that this descendant would be from a child born to Sarah, who would “bless the nations.” Later on Isaac was called the “son of the promise” by Paul in places such as Romans 9:9 and that thought is tied with the “seed of Eve” all through the Bible. David was included in the promise. God said he would have a son who would sit on his throne in a kingdom that would last forever. This promised son and blessing was part of the gospel (good news) preached to Israel at Sinai (Hebrews 4:2). The Law was part of the promise because it lays out behavior expected by God as He takes up residence according to the promise. He took up residence in Israel and expected certain actions, and as He takes up residence now in believers those expectations have not changed.

 

If the Bible really is “one faith” (chapter 4) delivered to “one body” (chapter 3) by “one God” and “one Lord” (chapter 2) as Paul says in Ephesians 4 then the next question is “Why aren’t we (the church) following it?” If the New Covenant is the Law written on a heart of flesh, then it seems some biblical practices are being ignored by those who are supposed to have this covenant as their operating document. If the Bible really is one continuous, unified message (and it is) with no breaks or stops and starts or new bodies created then the next step is to grab hold and put it into every area of life. Not just as a novelty or for some chuckles once in a while but hungering and thirsting for it as if His Word was a treasure hidden in a field or a pearl of great price. I know I’m mixing metaphors but you get my drift.

 

All the books of the Bible were written by people who understood the continuity of this promise from God and included continuous revelation from God as to how this promise would be realized. All the believers throughout the ages who accepted God’s Word looked forward to the delivery of the promise and its full implementation. The first century church lived all of it. When we throw out parts of the Word, whether we dismiss them as merely “civil” or “ceremonial” shadows or “fulfill” them and terminate them, we destroy the unity and continuity of His living oracles. The promise (or promises since there are other parts to the promise) cannot be seen, hoped for, or realized as well as it could. Like a guitar with a string missing, or a violin without a bow, if we remove any part of His Word the gospel and the promises of God are reduced to a limited discordant series of feel-good proverbs lacking the power to move us as they are intended.

Start of the Church

I was raised thinking that the church started at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The story I was told was that God finally got fed up with Israel and switched His program to the Gentiles. As if the Gentiles were so wonderful or more receptive or better behaved or something. Translations of the Bible reinforce this story because they pretty much universally use the English word “church” in the New Testament but not in the Old.

 

The word the translators (and pastors, priests, and rabbis) think is associated with the church is the Greek word we transliterate ekklesia (ἐκκλησία a-klay-see-uh Strong’s number 1577). This word simply means “assembly” or “congregation.” The Hebrew words for assembly or congregation are qahal (6951) and edah. They mean the same thing as ekklesia, and in fact the Greek Septuagint uses ekklesia about 52 times. Sometimes the assembly is formal, such as when kings called Israel together, and sometimes is was an informal family gathering. But ekklesia is not translated “church” in the OT in any of the English translations I consulted.

 

There’s simply no reason to make an arbitrary distinction for the assembly between the OT and the NT. God’s assembly has been gathering for a long time. The plan of God is continuous, without interruption, and didn’t start in Acts 2. It might’ve gotten a kick in the pants, but the congregation has always been around. The “assembly” that Jesus said He would build (Matthew 16:18) has a foundation that was started in the Garden and goes on into the future as a kingdom that never ends.

Temple Not Destroyed Part Two

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. (Haggai 1:9–10, ESV)

 

One of the side effects of claiming that “the old Mosaic economy of sacred priests, sacred buildings, sacred rituals, and sacred objects has been forever destroyed by the cross of Jesus Christ” (as Frank Viola says in the book pagan Christianity) is that we ignore His house while “each of us busies himself with his own house.” We should be embarrassed that we have no Temple. We make money offerings at huge stadiums built for stupid sporting events having some slight benefit for the body but nothing for the soul. Mega-churches haul in millions of dollars and spend them on campuses and monuments to pride like huge meeting halls or TV ministries. Comfortable theater seating for thousands and huge TV’s for seeing the star or pastor are used for preaching a false gospel of freedom in Christ which then gives license to ignore God’s Word.

 

God’s house in the meantime is dust. We hide behind the claim of not knowing where to build, but we put no resources into finding the site. Many churches are “divesting” themselves of investment in Israel when we should be putting everything we’ve got there. Some cheesy pagan temple for a hateful and unjust moon god stops us in our tracks from tearing the unclean thing down and building God’s house. A temple will be built once again (according to Ezekiel) but shame on us that we put more effort into our own comfortable houses and none into His. Shame on us.

 

There were times when the Temple fell out of use. Other times it didn’t get a lot of respect, and was defiled by idols and idol worship. After a long while of this kind of treatment God’s glory finally departed according to Ezekiel. Yet standing or not, filled with idols or neglected God has never stopped trying to get people into His “house.”

 

The Temple is a picture of the heart of a nation as well as the heart of an individual. As the heart of the nation it reminds us of lost intimacy with Him and how quickly we forget or take for granted all that He is and has. Though the copy was destroyed the picture still stands as an example of heartless lip service and false belief that the mere presence of an object grants protection from lawlessness. As the heart of the individual the copy of God’s abode shows us the glorious possibilities if we embrace His presence and take Him into our hearts as we did (somewhat briefly) with the freshly completed building built by Solomon.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 5 What About the Temple?