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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!!
Well, my last blog, Judgement vs. Discernment, did quite well, so I thought I would continue with my examination of scripture and some of the beliefs of evangelicals regarding money.
Today, I have read so many posts on Twitter about how Trump is so great because the stock market is booming. Let’s delve into this a little deeper.
The first thing that came to my mind as I read these posts is what Jesus said: “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Yes, I agree that it is a good thing that the stock market is up and that a lot of people are making a lot of money. However, I also know a little bit about the stock market, and I know that there is no way it is going to stay up this high. It is way too high, and eventually it will drop. What is Trump going to say when it falls? Will he blame it on the Democrats? Of course he will because Trump never, ever takes responsibility for anything.
Now, let’s look at scripture:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
It’s funny how God works. He definitely works in mysterious ways.
During this past year, I have been so disturbed by what I have witnessed regarding the evangelical population and their support of Donald Trump. I have written my thoughts on both Facebook and Twitter, and some people understand what I am saying, but a lot of people don’t, and those that don’t are usually evangelicals. I moved during the holidays, so I stopped posting on these sites. However, I am still deeply troubled.
Last Sunday, I attended church, and the sermon was about the gifts that God has given to us. We were asked to consider what God has laid on our hearts to do with our lives. Immediately, writing came to mind, and I knew that God had laid this issue of the evangelicals’ support of Trump on my heart. The next day, I saw Martin Luther King’s quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I knew it was time to once again address this issue through my writing.
Why do evangelicals support Trump – a man who lies on average 5 times per day, doesn’t welcome the stranger (his immigration policies), doesn’t help the poor (Puerto Rico is still without power), calls people names, attacks people on Twitter constantly, is neck-deep in adulterous activity, and who doesn’t have a humble bone in his body? Why are evangelicals saying that God put Trump in office? Why do they support this man when everything he does is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Let’s look at this closely.
Some (not all) evangelicals are quick to point the finger at the left using the terms “snowflakes”, “libtards”, “evil”, etc. They have attacked Barack Obama every chance they get saying that he “was the worst President in history”. But when the left points out all the immoral and unethical behavior of Trump, some evangelicals are quick to defend him, saying “Do not judge lest ye be judged.”
Merriam Webster defines hypocrisy as “behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.” The above example is clear hypocrisy. Jesus warns us about this in Matthew 23:
“Woe to you, scribes ad Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.” Matthew 23:27
Jesus is saying that many will “look” righteous, such like some evangelicals today, but inside, nothing is there except evil. This means that someone can “say” Jesus is their Savior, but they haven’t really truly accepted Jesus in their heart. Words without action mean nothing to God. Jesus even warned us about this:
“On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'” Matthew 7:22-23
I have heard evangelicals say that actions don’t matter. All that matters is that you say that Jesus is your Savior. This is a serious misunderstanding of scripture.
Yes, you must put your faith and trust in Jesus. However, as I already pointed out, actions do matter because your actions tell others what is truly in your heart. You can tell if someone has truly accepted Jesus by the way they act. Jesus said:
“By their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:20
This means that by a person’s actions, you will be able to tell if the person is good or evil. You will be able to tell if a person is ruled by God or by Satan.
Is this judgement? I like to describe it as discernment. Jesus is teaching us in this passage how to discern between good and evil. In another passage, Jesus tells us to “judge with right judgement”:
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” John 7:24
We are meant to call out evil. We are meant to do our best to stay away from sin. By ignoring the immoral and unethical actions of Trump, we are ignoring Jesus’ command to “judge with right judgement”. We are ignoring Jesus’ direction to identify evil through their “fruits”. We are meant to discern between good and evil, and Jesus taught us how to do this.
Now, as for the claim that “God supports Trump” and “God put Trump in office” – let’s delve more deeply into scripture. Many evangelicals equate Trump to King David. There is one huge difference between King David and Trump. King David repented.
Now some will say that Trump has repented. This is not true. How do I know? First, look at the above verse: “By their fruits you will know them”. Trump’s “fruits” (actions) are antithetical to Jesus Christ’s teachings. Second, Trump himself has admitted that he never asks for forgiveness because he feels that he has no reason to ask for forgiveness. So, in essence, he feels like he has no sin. What does scripture say about this?
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10
So, we know for certain that Trump has not repented and he is not in the light. He is in darkness.
Can a man who hasn’t repented and is in darkness still do the work of God? Does God still support him? Let’s look at scripture:
“Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!…Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 5:20, 24
“It will save you from the way of evil, from those who speak perversely, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil.” Proverbs 2:12-14
“Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist.” 1 John 2:4
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
“For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
The light of Christ and the darkness of Satan do not work together. They are separate. God does not use evil to do His will. He uses sinners who have repented by the power of grace, but he does not use those who are still in complete darkness – those who haven’t repented. In fact, those in darkness do not come to the light as Jesus tells us in the gospel of John:
“And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 2:19-21
In conclusion, there is a difference between judging someone and discerning between good and evil. We MUST call out evil when we see it according to Jesus’ instructions. If we turn a blind eye to the immorality and evil behavior of Trump or anyone for that matter, we will move to a society of complete immorality and lawlessness. The Bible warns us about lawlessness:
“Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness…Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” 1 John 3:4-8
Have you ever gone through something horrible and thought “Why me?” Have you ever wondered why God allows us to walk through the “valley of death”?
I’ve certainly been there. And I’m quite sure you have too.
But I have also learned that no matter what we go through, somehow good always seems to come from it. One example in my life is my ordeal with adenomyosis. While I cried my way through some of the most painful nights of my life, I questioned why God was putting me through it. But today, I can look back and see why He put me through it – to help other women who are suffering through adenomyosis today. I have written one book on the subject and am working on a second book. I sell about one book per day, and I get constant “thank you” messages from women desperate to find help for this terrible medical disorder.
As many of my readers know, I don’t like Trump. Since Trump took office, I have heard over and over again from some on the far-right that “God put Trump in office”. I don’t believe this. Why? Because God gave us free will. He doesn’t dictate what we are to do in this life. He invites us to follow Him, but He doesn’t dictate. If he put Trump into office, then He also put Obama in office, and those on the far-right aren’t going to like that much…haha! Also, if God puts someone in office, why would we have elections? The truth is that we, the American people, voted Trump into office, and God ALLOWED it to happen.
Now, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. But what I have witnessed this year personally is that those on the far-right are not nearly as Christian as they say. I see a lot of people (not all, but some) point their fingers at the left and calling them evil. However, the behavior of these same far-righters is not at all Christian. In fact, some of these far-righters turn around and do exactly what they tell others not to do. Hypocrisy has become blatantly clear in some on the far-right.
So, what if God allowed Trump to get into office in order to shine a light onto the hypocrisy in the far-right evangelical movement? What if He allowed Trump to become President in order to show the hypocrisy and non-Christian behavior in the Republican party? Like I said, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. What I do know is that God works in mysterious ways, and many times, he will use something meant to hurt us for good. After all, in the Bible, it says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
I used to be Republican, but I am now just completely embarrassed and disgusted by the Republicans. What I now see is some on the far-right that loves to point fingers at other while acting in a non-Christian manner. I see white-washed tombs. Jesus said “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” This means some love to talk all about Jesus but they live in continual sin, and this is hypocritical. These people are all talk, but there is nothing Christian inside them. That’s why I have always said that words aren’t enough. You have to truly believe in Jesus in your heart, and your actions will follow. If you truly believe in Jesus, you will turn away from sin…not to say that you won’t ever sin again (we are all human), but you won’t live in continual sin.
I don’t agree with some of what the Democrats believe, but I now see that the Democrats actually act on helping the poor and welcoming the stranger. The Democratic party welcomes immigrants and is outraged when Trump and his administration didn’t adequately respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico. The Democrats are ACTING in a Christian manner regarding these issues. Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” meaning that by ACTIONS, you will know them. I see more Christian actions this year from Democrats than Republicans.
For me, God opened my eyes this year. He opened my eyes to hypocrisy. I now understand the meaning of “white-washed tombs”. I now know that I can’t vote for a candidate based only on one issue – by doing that, we can end up in the situation we are in today. I have learned that pro-life addresses life at ALL stages, not just the unborn. Those who voted for Trump based solely on the abortion issue are knee-deep in hypocrisy as well. Why? Because they fight for the unborn, but once they are born (and many will have disabilities because a lot of abortions are done because of medical issues), they want to take healthcare away, specifically by cutting coverage for pre-existing conditions. So, we bring these children into the world, but the Republicans don’t want to take care of them once they get here. See the hypocrisy?
I think we should look back on this rough year and listen to what God is trying to show us. I listened and learned. Will you?
To Christians Who Support Donald Trump:
Why do you support this man?
Do you not realize that by supporting him and not calling him out on his bad behavior hurts Christianity?
People who are watching, including children, are witnessing hypocrisy. Is this really what you want to teach your children? Do you not realize that others are leaving the church because of the hypocrisy?
I don’t understand. Being a Christian myself, I am befuddled as how to someone who is a true Christian can support this man. A lot of people are confused. Please explain it to us.
Explain how you can look past the remarks that were made on the bus when Trump said that he “grabs them by the p****. Jesus tells us to follow the commandments. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is one of them. Trump was a married man. He even said he “tried to **** her”, referring to Nancy O’Dell who was also married. This behavior is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us.
Explain how you seem to be able to look past all the lies Trump has told since he has been in office. He has lied over 1000 times since he took office, starting with the size of the crowds at the inauguration. Here are some other Trump statements that have been proven false:
Trump: “And I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”
Truth: Nixon beat him by a wide margin. Trump was on the cover 11 times, and Nixon was on it 55 times.
Trump: “So, look, when President Obama was there [Chicago] two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.”
Truth: On the day that Obama made this speech, there were no gun homicide victims in Chicago.
Trump: “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.”
Truth: 746 people were detained. The Delta outage occurred two days later.
Trump: “The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!”
Truth: The New York Times never apologized.
Trump: “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”
Truth: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush won by bigger margins in the Electoral College.
Trump: “You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”
Truth: There was no terror attack in Sweden that night. The next day, confusion set in as no one knew what Trump was talking about.
Trump: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Truth: There was no evidence that Trump Tower was ever wiretapped.
Trump: “On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.”
Truth: The cost cuts were already planned before Trump ever became President.
Trump: “I like Steve [Bannon], but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.”
Truth: Trump knew Steve Bannon since 2011.
Trump: “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”
Truth: The FBI was investigating Russian interference into the election before Trump ever took office (before Clinton’s loss).
Trump: On June 27, 2017, Trump, referring to CNN, said,“Ratings way down!”
Truth: At the time, CNN’s ratings were at a five-year high.
Trump: On July 17, 2017, Trump said, “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever.”
Truth: Clinton, Carter, Truman and FDR had all signed more bills than Trump at the same point.
Trump: “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem”
Truth: The NFL never made this demand.
These are just a few of over 1000 lies that Trump has told. Jesus told us that Satan is the father of lies:
“You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” John 8:44
So how do you justify Trump’s lies?
How about his lack of concern for others who are different? What about the botched immigration mess that occurred not long after he took office? All those poor people in distress because they couldn’t get back in the country? What about all the people in Puerto Rico who suffered without the basic necessities of life, having to wait a full week before Trump took any action to help them?
Let’s think about this. In the Bible, it says:
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:34
“Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'” Acts 10:34
How do you justify the hate that Trump spreads? What about the horrible comments that he made after the Charolottesville attacks? What about all the name-calling on his Twitter feed? Here are just a few examples:
“The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!”
“With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have “tanked,” in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”
“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?”
“…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”
There are so many more including the constant attacks on the media and on anyone who disagrees with him.
Where in the Bible does it say that it’s OK to call people names? Where does it say that it’s OK to verbally attack anyone that disagrees or has a different opinion or view? Can’t find it? That’s because it isn’t in the Bible. Jesus said:
“ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
How do you justify all this behavior? Why would you say that Trump is a true Christian and that his behavior is OK with God? How can you say that? Have you read the Bible?
Please explain it to us.
I recently saw a post by Franklin Graham that said he was thankful that Trump was in office because he tells the truth. Truth?? Franklin Graham, hate to tell you this, but Trump has nothing to do with the truth. The fact is that Trump is the antithesis of Christianity. As Jesus told us, “Satan is the father of lies”. Trump has lied more than 1000 times since taking office.
That’s the truth.
In a previous post, I talked about judgement. I explained that only God can judge, and man cannot. Today, I would like to look at a few Bible passages that delve into this topic even further.
How many times have you heard someone claim that only their religion is going to heaven? How many times have you heard someone say that an entire class of people are going to hell? I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard it quite a bit. There are many different religions/groups that actually believe that their way is the only way to heaven. But there are passages in the Bible that refute this line of thinking. Let’s look at a few:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
Let’s look at that again:
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”
It should be clear from that statement that those who are saved ARE NOT only from one religion or any one specific group of people. Let’s look at another passage:
“He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” John 11:51-52
As you can see in that verse, the children of God are “scattered”. It says in this passage that Jesus would die “not only for that nation”.
Do you need more proof? Here’s more:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters…” Isaiah 56:4-5
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6-7
“I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.” Ezekiel 34:12-13
We have to remember that God is love. His love knows no bounds. He knows our hearts and souls, and no human being can claim to have that ability. No human being can possibly know even a tiny amount of what God knows. Anyone, including well-known preachers, cannot determine which human beings are going to heaven or hell. If a preacher does this, he/she is trying to play God, and that is sacrilege. This is why the statement “Do not judge lest ye be judged” is in the Bible. It is a stark reminder that only God knows all and ONLY HE can make the judgement as to whether or not someone is saved.
It’s not about race, denomination, or any other belief system….it’s about what is in your heart and soul, and your actions reflect what is truly in your heart. In short, any person in any race, religion or any other belief system has an opportunity to enter heaven. EVERYONE is a creation of God, and it’s up to each of us to choose. It’s up to us to listen to the good shepherd.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5
Today, I want to address what my counselor refers to as “dichotomous thinking” or “black-and-white thinking”. This means that a person’s beliefs are absolute – there are no “gray areas”. Today, I talked to my counselor about Trump and how everything seems to be all-or-nothing with him. For example, he says that he’s drawn the biggest crowds ever at a certain event. Then he turns around and attacks someone saying that person is the worst ever. Nothing is ever in the middle. Nothing is ever mediocre in his mind. This is called “dichotomous thinking”.
I’ve seen this kind of thinking before…probably everyone has at one point.
I would like to look at a few examples of this kind of thinking in Christianity and how it does not fall in line with what Jesus taught us. Many years ago, I took part in a discussion about how people get to heaven. This group insisted that the only way to heaven was to accept Jesus as their Savior. I asked the question, “What if a person lives somewhere that is desolate and never heard of Jesus? Say he is a really good person…lived a Christ-like life…but never accepted Jesus because he never heard of him?” Someone immediately responded: “He’s going to hell. Period. He didn’t accept Jesus.” That answer just tore at my soul. If God is love, then how could He turn His back on someone who never heard of Jesus?
During the last year of my marriage, my now ex-husband insisted that he was going to heaven. Period. No ifs, ands or butts. I don’t know where he came up with this…I suspect it was either his family or his mistress (he was having an affair at the time that I wasn’t aware of). When I suggested that Jesus was the judge and not us, he told me that I was wrong. Completely wrong. Later, after I found out about the affair and confronted him, I told him that he was breaking a commandment….a clear commandment that Jesus specifically addresses in the New Testament. His response was “that sounds too judgemental to me”.
Now there are several issues here. In the first case, “dichotomous thinking” is very clear. Besides the fact that we are not the judge (see What is True Christianity, Part I, where I address that issue in detail), biblically, the person’s insistence that the man in question was going to hell can be rebutted. A few verses in John address both situations above. Let’s look at the first situation. Meditate on the following verse:
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause'”.” John 15:22-24
Think about that for a minute. “If I had not come…they would not have sin.” Jesus makes it clear in that passage that if a person didn’t know about Him, they would not be held to the same standard as Christians who do know about Him.
Now, let’s look at the second situation where my ex did know about Jesus.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.'” John 15:22-24
As you can see, once you know about Jesus, you are held to a higher standard. Jesus expects us to turn our back on sin, not wallow in it. These two situations also show how dichotomous thinking can get people in trouble. There ARE gray areas in life.
Once we TRULY accept Jesus, our hearts and souls will change and we will not continue to live in sin. This is not to say that we won’t make mistakes…we will as we are human. But God’s mercy is not to be abused. God’s mercy does not mean that we can continue to live waist deep in sin. If you have proclaimed Jesus as your Savior but still are immersed in constant sin, you truly haven’t accepted Him. Examine your heart and soul and see if you have TRULY allowed Jesus into your heart.
Today, I would like to talk about all the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Wow, the pictures on the news are just awful and heartbreaking. I’m sure most of you have seen the picture of the nursing home residents as they sat in water up to their waists. There was some suspicion that the picture was fake, but Snopes.com has confirmed this picture and story to be true. Thankfully, these elderly victims of Hurricane Harvey have been rescued and are now clean, dry and safe in a new location.
I was completely dismayed when I read a news article this morning that Joel Osteen, the leader of Lakewood Church in Houston, did NOT open the doors of his facility to refugees. This mega church can hold over 16,000 people. I was furious, but I wanted to get the entire true story before writing this blog. I once again checked Snopes.com.
The truth of this story is reported as a “Mixture” of true and false per Snopes. It is true that he did not open his church doors immediately citing flooding in the building. However, many different people went to the church to take pictures, and there was no flooding seen in and around the church. In addition, the police and other emergency personnel had not received any calls for help in that general area. Was there flooding in the building? We will never know for sure, but according to pictures, videos and reports from emergency personnel, there is no reason to think there was any problem at Lakewood Church.
Because Mr. Osteen didn’t open the doors to his church, he was hammered on social media. Hundreds of people went on the attack asking why a Christian preacher like himself wouldn’t open doors to the needy. Snopes attempted to contact the church, but as of the writing of this blog, there has been no response. Then things changed. This morning, days after the hurricane first hit and AFTER people spoke up about this issue, Joel Osteen sent out a message via his website that they would be opening the doors to Harvey refugees.
What took him so long? In my opinion, he only opened his doors because he was pressured by the public into doing so. That’s what it looks like to me. Am I impressed that Mr. Osteen opened the doors to his mega church this morning? Nope. I am thankful, but I am not impressed. Too little, too late.
We as Christians are supposed to help those in need. The Bible addresses this over and over again:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:38
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Proverbs 3:27
“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13
“Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
There are so many other verses just like these in the Bible – these are just a few. The lesson here is that Joel Osteen, in the spirit of true Christianity, should have opened the doors of Lakewood Church immediately…not waiting days and after mounting public pressure.
I point this out because, as I said in the first blog of this series, I see a section of so-called Christianity that is being misled. Is Mr. Osteen a terrible Christian? I can’t say that. Like I said yesterday, we are not the judge. We don’t know Mr. Osteen’s heart – only God knows that. But I can point out instances where pastors don’t live up to true Christian values that are taught to us by God. Watch for behavioral patterns in these pastors. If they say something or act in a way that is inconsistent with biblical teaching, question it. Satan is very sly and will use tactics that many people will miss. This is why it is so important to pick up the Bible and read it yourself. Get immersed in God’s Word. Know the truth. Then and only then will you be able to see the real truth in others. Remember, too, that false prophets are out there. Meditate on this verse:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ – do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24