Today, I am going to take a little break from Matthew and jump to the book of James. It is only a few pages long but it is full of direction on how we must be “doers” and not just “hearers”. I think we need to take a good hard look at this little section of the Bible today.
Again, I hear many evangelicals say that actions don’t matter – all that matters is grace, and that if we confess “Jesus is our Savior” with our mouths, that is enough to get into heaven. Now let me make this very clear – we DO need to accept Jesus as our Savior. We DO need grace to get into heaven. By all means! But the point I am trying to make is that actions are also important, and that the teaching that we are to get into heaven by grace alone….without any work on our part….is incorrect.
In my search for answers, I found James to be quite enlightening. Many people focus on the gospels which are so important, but if you go further into the New Testament- into the letters of Paul, John, James, etc., it really clarifies things. This is where it clarified for me that actions do in fact matter.
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” James 1:22
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. But let’s keep going:
“But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who ACT – they will be blessed in their doing.” James 1:25
These passages clearly refute the beliefs of some evangelicals who say that our works on this earth don’t matter, and all that matters is grace. These passages also directly apply to those evangelical preachers who turn a blind eye to Trump’s immoral behavior. They are not “doing”…they are not standing up and saying that Trump’s behavior is unacceptable.
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10-11
Let’s think about that for a moment. Some of the evangelicals and even other Christians constantly speak out against abortion. But these same people are quiet about Trump. Some even give Trump a “mulligan” for his adulterous affair with Stormy Daniels. Now, read the above passage again. Clearly James is telling us that this kind of behavior is wrong. We have to call out ALL sin, not just the sin that “fits” into our little box. You can’t pick and choose.
Going on, James clearly states that faith without works is dead:
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17
Then James makes a statement that should make everyone think long and hard. He states that even the demons believe that God is real….and they shudder:
“Even the demons believe – and shudder.” James 2:20
Then he goes on to reiterate that works are a part of accepting Jesus fully:
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” James 2:24-26
Now, as we read the next verse, let’s think about the evangelical preachers who are giving Trump a “mulligan” and who teach that we don’t have to act or to follow the Ten Commandments:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
Kind of scary, huh?
Now think about the obvious hypocrisy that we are witnessing in some evangelicals today. Remember, they jumped all over Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, but now these same evangelicals are mysteriously quiet about Trump. Also, a recent poll showed that during the Clinton administration, the percentage of evangelicals that said that moral behavior of a President wasn’t important was in the 20s. Today, under Trump, that number is in the 70s. What happened? Is it hypocrisy, or do the rules change depending on whether you are a Republican or Democrat?
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of PARTIALITY or HYPOCRISY.” James 3:17
James is very clear. These teachings and behaviors of evangelicals who still support Trump are not in line with true Christianity. My hope is that they will read this, pray about it, and return to the only path that leads us to Jesus.
I implore preachers like Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, Andrew Wommack and others to rethink what they are teaching and to call out Trump on his immoral behavior.
I will close with this:
“Anyone then who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin.” James 4:17
Have a wonderful weekend! God bless!
This weekend, I have been talking with some people on Franklin Graham’s Twitter feed. Graham’s support of Trump has been a big part of the discussion. So today, I want to once again look at Trump’s behavior and policies in relation to what Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew.
I will start with Matthew 15:
…”Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Matthew 15:11
Think about Trump’s Twitter feed. In a previous blog, I listed some of the names that he has called people – Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Liddle Bob Corker, Crooked Hillary. Someone on Graham’s Twitter feed says he just “tells it like it is”. Calling people names is “telling it like it is”? Jesus never said it was OK to call people names.
The New York Times published a comprehensive list of all the insults that Trump has lodged at people in the past year. It is pages long. In addition, it is known that Trump lies an average of five times per day. The New York Times also has a comprehensive list of all the lies Trump has told since taking office – over 2,000 proven untruths. Let’s also remember that Jesus tells us that Satan is the “father of lies.”
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.” Matthew 15:18-20
Let’s remember what Trump said about women on that bus. Let’s also recall the multiple affairs that he had while he was married. Jesus has made it very clear what defiles a man, and Trump’s behavior falls into that category.
Now let’s remember that Trump admitted that he does not ask for forgiveness. This means he has not repented. You can’t be forgiven if you don’t repent. Therefore, Trump is not in good standing with God. He will never be in good standing with God until he repents.
Let’s look at Matthew 18:4:
“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Is Trump humble? Absolutely not. He is the opposite of humility. How many times have we seen Trump boast himself up as “the greatest President ever” or “how lucky are you that I ran for the Presidency?” or “We had the largest crowd ever”, etc. This is truly the least humble man that I have seen/heard in my 52 years on this earth.
Next, let’s look at Matthew 19:21-26:
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”
Instead of Trump giving up his possessions (billions), he gives a tax break to the upper 1% of the country. The middle class will eventually pay for this. He travels almost every weekend to Mar-a-Lago to play golf and spends millions on the tax-payers’ backs. He wants to throw poor people out of the country, he failed to help the poor people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane, and now they are looking at cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Those on these federal programs are generally those with the least money, and this administration is looking to make it even harder for them. In addition, we see some in his administration that are using tax-payer money for extravagant flights and vacations. This behavior is the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to do in the above passage.
Matthew 13:22 says it nicely: “As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of WEALTH choke the word, and it yields nothing.”
Jesus tells us in the gospels that a person cannot serve both God and money. He goes further in the above passage saying that a person may hear the Word, but the Word is choked out of him because of the lure of wealth. Trump falls into this category. We see him pray in public, but the lure of his wealth causes him to ignore what Jesus says. Remember also the passage that I talked about in a previous blog – some who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, this goes back to ACTION. We must ACT on God’s Word, not just say the words. Just because Trump prays in public does not mean he is a true Christian.
The final passage I would like to discuss is Matthew 12:25. This weekend, some evangelicals said to me (and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this) that God uses imperfect people to do His will, and they give the example of King David. Yes, that is true. None of us are perfect. However, there is a difference, and that difference is repentance. King David repented. St. Paul repented. We KNOW that Trump has NOT repented because he said so. These evangelicals don’t seem to comprehend the difference. Keep this in mind as you read the following verse:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” Matthew 12:25-26
Jesus is basically saying here that He cannot use evil to advance the kingdom of God, and Satan cannot use a good person to promote evil. A kingdom divided against itself will fall. So, the idea that God will use Trump, a non-repentant, sinful man to do His will is nonsense. God only uses those who truly repent of their sins, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and lives according to His Word by following the commandments and all that is taught in the Bible.
Hope everyone has a great week! God bless!
Today, I will continue to look at New Testament passages and how Jesus calls us to action. He doesn’t want us to just say “Jesus is my Savior”. He wants us to act on those words. Let’s start with Matthew 7: 24-27:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and ACTS on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not ACT on the will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!”
It is very clear in this passage that God is calling us to do more than to just listen to His word. He is calling us to ACTION. Again, it is very easy to say the words, “Jesus is my Savior”, but it is an entirely different thing to actually ACT on those words. Recall in a previous post in this Bible study where Jesus said that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Take that with the above verse, and it becomes very clear that God expects us to act. Words without action just simply isn’t going to cut it.
Let’s look again at those evangelical preachers that say we don’t have to follow the commandments and/or say that our actions don’t matter. Again, Jesus refutes this in Matthew 15:3:
“And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”
And again in Matthew 16:27:
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been DONE.”
And again in Matthew 19:17-19:
“If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus has made it very clear what we need to do to enter into eternal life. Any preacher who claims that it is easy to get into heaven and/or says that we do not have to follow the commandments and that our actions in this world don’t matter is a false prophet.
As we get further and further into the New Testament, you will see that there are many, many more times, including in the letters that the disciples wrote after the gospels, where it is very clear that we must follow the commandments. This is why I ask people to open up the Bible and read it instead of relying on a preacher to tell them what is in the Bible.
Hope everyone is having an awesome day! God Bless!
Well, today I was going to continue to examine evangelical beliefs and how they compare to the teachings of Jesus. But something happened. I heard Trump speak at CPAC, and one statement that he made stood out. I want to start with this since a majority of evangelicals support Trump.
The statement that he made goes against what Jesus taught us in the gospels. He said that if other nations are nice to us, we will be nice to them. If other nations are mean to us, we will return the favor. This is basically saying, “an eye for an eye”. Let’s remember that Jesus taught us otherwise:
“You have heard that is was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Matthew 5:38-41
So, basically, even though Trump wants to APPEAR as a good Christian, his own words don’t align with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
On that topic, I saw Mike Pence at the Olympics. I saw how he didn’t acknowledge the North Koreans. Yes, this regime has done some awful things. However, if you look at the above verse (Matthew 5:38-41), did Pence do the right thing according to the Bible? Not necessarily. Let me share this passage (spoken by Jesus), and think about how Pence ignored the North Koreans:
“And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:47
That’s not an easy one to follow, but Jesus did say it. This is what He taught. I have also heard some evangelicals and even other Christians in other religions say that they want a “purer” church…one in which members are only people who believe exactly as they do. This thought process also goes against biblical teaching as evidenced in the above passage (Matthew 5:47).
Let’s look at how some of the evangelicals pray around Trump. Have you seen the pictures of the evangelicals as they lay their hands on Trump as they pray? Have you heard evangelicals say that this man is a wonderful Christian because he prays like this? Let’s look at what Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew:
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them, for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Jesus is teaching us here that just because someone tries to APPEAR good and righteous doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good and righteous. Beware of appearances.
Next, let’s take a look at the tweets that Trump puts out on a daily basis. How many times have you seen Trump call people names? Let’s look at some specific examples:
- “Cryin Chuck Schumer”
- “Lyin Ted Cruz”
- “Crooked Hillary”
- “Little Rocket Man”
- “Crazy Bernie Sanders”
- “Dicky Durbin”
- “Liddle Bob Corker”
- “Psycho Joe” (Scarborough)
- “Sneaky Diane Feinstein”
- “Jeff Flake(y)”
- “Dumbest man on television” (Don Lemon)
- “Pocahontas” (Elizabeth Warren)
- “Sleepy Eyes” (Chuck Todd)
- “Mentally deranged author” (Michael Wolff)
Then there are the constant insults that he uses over and over again on many different issues: “fake news”, “obstructionists”, “incompetent”, “clueless”, “dummy”, “false”, “phony”, “horrible”, “disaster”, etc.
Many people who support Trump, including some evangelicals, say that they like this because Trump is just “telling it like it is.” But is this the right thing to do according to the Bible? Let’s take a look:
“…for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37
“…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:17
I think it is very clear in these verses that Trump’s insults and “telling it like it is” is not the right thing to do.
Let me finish today by sharing the following passage. Again, this emphasizes the need to ACT in our attempt to become more Christ-like…not just say the words:
“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50
Have a great day and God bless!
I have decided to do an in-depth bible study of the New Testament regarding current Christian beliefs in the United States today. I think this is desperately needed these days. This series of blogs will probably end up in a book at some point. I really want to see exactly what Jesus taught us along with what the disciples said about following Christ.
The reason I decided to do this is because I am seeing a movement in this country, particularly among the evangelicals, where the belief is that you are saved purely through grace. I have heard evangelicals say many times in the past few years that “we are not saved through works”. They go on to say that it makes no difference what we do in this world. All that matters is that we believe that Jesus is our Savior. Some evangelicals, such as Andrew Wommack, go on to actually say that we are no longer under the law (the Ten Commandments). Today, as a result of these beliefs, we have a group of evangelical Christians that support Trump even though he has admitted that he never asks for forgiveness and leads a highly immoral life.
I have read the New Testament many times, and I believe these evangelicals are only partly right in their beliefs. Yes, we need grace to be able to enter into heaven because we are all sinners. That point is very clear in the Bible. But I think they have gone astray in their belief that our actions have no impact on are ability to get into heaven. From what I have read in the Bible, there are many, many passages that counter this belief. And I believe that this false belief system is why we are seeing the division and hypocrisy in the Christian faith today. I feel compelled to do this because I don’t want to see people led astray through these evangelical beliefs that aren’t quite correct. I am afraid that what I am seeing today will lead people to leave the church. So I want to delve deeply in what is actually said in the Bible as opposed to the erroneous teachings of some evangelical preachers. This is what I am going to focus on in this multi-part bible study.
Today, I am going to start in the gospel of Matthew.
Let’s look at Matthew 5:19.
“Therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus is telling us here that He expects us to act…to work at being righteous. So let’s apply that to today. The idea that we don’t have to do anything – that actions don’t matter – is debunked in this passage. We have to work every single day to do what is right. Now, as far as the President who leads an immoral life, Jesus clearly says that if a person’s righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees, he/she will not enter heaven. Trump’s “righteousness” clearly does not exceed that of the Pharisees.
The next section in Matthew addresses the Ten Commandments. Instead of saying that we don’t need to follow them, Jesus actually made them stricter!! The following is just one example:
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’…but I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement.”Matthew 5: 21-22
So yes, we must follow the Ten Commandments. Andrew Wommack is clearly wrong in his teaching. In addition, as you can see, Jesus is once again calling us to action.
I encourage you to read Matthew 5 and pray about it. You will see how Jesus is telling us that we must follow the commandments with even stricter rules.
Moving on to Matthew 7 – Jesus never said that it would be easy to get into heaven as per the following passage:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
Think about this. If being saved was as easy as saying “Jesus is my Savior” without any requirement to follow the law or to do good works or to work toward righteousness, it would be fairly easy to get into heaven. If that was the case, the above passage, which Jesus said himself, would be a lie. But we know it’s not a lie because Jesus said it; therefore, the belief that actions don’t matter is the lie.
The final passage today is Matthew 7:21. As I read this passage for the millionth time, something hit me. Something I had never seen before.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Read that again.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
In order for someone to call Jesus ‘Lord, Lord’, they have obviously said that they have accepted him as Lord and Savior. Jesus is saying here that not everyone that says “Jesus is my Savior” will enter the kingdom of heaven! Think about that. It is only those who do the will of the Father. He is saying that those who will enter heaven will not be the ones who say the words but the ones who ACT on those words. This is where I think some evangelicals are missing the mark. They SEE someone who SAYS the words, and even if his/her actions don’t match up with his/her words (for example, Donald Trump), they still believe that person is saved. This passage refutes that belief. Jesus is clearly saying that it comes down to actions, not words. Anyone can say “Jesus is my Savior” but the real test of what they truly believe will show in their actions or their lack of actions. Jesus has more to say about this which I will address in a future blog.
Have a great day. God bless!
I am really beginning to lose faith in humanity.
I am so incredibly depressed.
The past year has been awful.
All I see is evil.
Adults acting like children.
An American President who spends most of his time attacking other people on Twitter.
Some “Christians” who justify the immoral behavior of our President.
It appears to me that sin is no longer considered sin.
We aren’t allowed to speak up about anything; otherwise someone will attack us and call us names.
What happened to free speech?
Why are we constantly attacked?
I see evil people everywhere.
People that hate…so many of them.
What happened to the America I knew?
A place where people can speak up without getting attacked?
A place where people had compassion and empathy for others?
I feel so alone.
I feel like curling up in bed and just giving up.
Then I turn on the television.
Yet another mass shooting.
Sigh. Not again!
As I watch the coverage, tears stream down my face.
Beautiful and innocent children gunned down.
I see the horror on the faces of the teenagers.
I hear their desperation.
I feel their pain.
I just want to reach out to those students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and hug them.
I want to be able to tell them that everything is going to be alright.
But I don’t know if things will be alright.
I don’t recognize America anymore.
It is a place where money is more important than the lives of children.
It is a place where sin is no longer called sin.
It is a place of corruption.
Evil has taken over this country.
My heart is breaking into a million pieces.
My soul aches for these poor kids.
But then, something amazing happens.
These kids aren’t just fading into the background.
Instead, they are fighting.
They are fighting hard.
They are demanding changes to gun laws.
They are demanding action to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill individuals.
They are demanding action, and they are LOUD.
Because of their heroic actions, Congress, the President and even the NRA are taking notice.
Because of the passionate actions of these TEENAGERS, the ADULTS look foolish.
They look foolish for not taking steps to stop mass shootings.
The Florida legislature looks extraordinarily foolish for voting against the assault weapons ban just days after this horrible mass shooting IN THEIR OWN STATE.
The corruption is glaringly evident.
Thanks to these amazing kids, this corruption has been thrust into the spotlight for all to see.
These TEENAGERS schooled the ADULTS!
And it’s about time!
I feel better this morning.
I am not as depressed about the state of our country.
Because our children will be the ones that will save America.
The adults have a lot to learn.
There is hope.
And the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School taught me that.
Their actions make the adults look like a bunch of spoiled and corrupt children.
And it’s time for the adults to realize that.
Their passionate actions in the face of horrendous tragedy is truly heroic.
These students are making a bigger difference than they even realize.
To this amazing group of kids, I would just like to say:
I cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing for this country!!
Your heroic actions will go down in history!!