Maria Yeager

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Bible Study – The New Testament and Evangelical Beliefs – Part 4

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Extremism

The idea for this blog came last weekend after I read an article that was shared on Facebook. I was disturbed by what I read, but I wanted to confirm the information first, so in the last few days, I have been researching. Then yesterday, the horrible shooting of Republicans in Virginia occurred. As I watched the events play out on television, my heart hurt. What in the world has happened to this country?

Personally, I strongly condemn what this guy did yesterday. Violence should never be condoned in any circumstance no matter how much you disagree with another individual or group. My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of this horrendous attack on innocent civilians.

There is so much hate right now in the United States. In my lifetime, I have never seen so much hate, and it saddens me greatly.  For me, I have seen the hate from both sides – Democrats and Republicans. We are ALL guilty of it.

This morning, I was extremely disturbed to see that some of the far-right were quick to point out all of the anti-Trump rhetoric as the cause of this guy actions. I had posted a funny meme about Trump on my page about a week ago (and BTW, it did not promote violence of any kind), and last night, I received some harsh words about it by a far-right individual. She blamed this shooting on anti-Trump rhetoric from the left. I reminded her of the time Trump encouraged his followers to beat up people at one of his rallies in my attempt to show her that hate is coming from both sides.

I am glad that I delayed writing this blog because this will show that hate is prevalent on both sides, not just one. Both the far-right and the far-left concern me greatly. One example of the far-left crossing the line is the Kathy Griffin incident. I was completely disgusted by what she did and do not condone it in any way. I state this fact so that readers will understand that I am against all forms of extremism. Since Trump took office, I realized that I am definitely a moderate, and I really feel like the majority of Americans fall into this group. But today, I want to specifically address the issues with the far-right.

The article that I referred to above referenced some quotes by Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Dave Daubenmire. I have to admit that I had never heard of Dave Daubenmire, so I looked him up and found his website. A former coach turned pastor, he is the founder of Pass the Salt Ministries. I decided to look through his blogs and videos and was dumbfounded by what I read. Below I give actual quotes from him followed by my responses:

“The virus known as multiculturalism is eating away in an attempt to exterminate the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon protestants).”

Here, it appears as if Mr. Daubenmire is promoting division, racism and hate. Clearly he doesn’t want different cultures to intermingle. Jesus does not teach us to do this. In fact, Jesus himself said: “Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

“We may pick apart Trump, but look at who hates him still. The left, Democrats, satanists.”

Again, he is promoting hate against a particular group of people. He cannot speak for the entire group. He is judging a large group of people based on the actions of a few. Jesus said: “Do not judge lest ye be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Matthew 7:1-2

“As Christian men, we are called to take the Kingdom of God by force…so when we just sit back and pray, without action, what good is it?”

There are a couple of problems here. First, I know of nowhere in the Bible where it says that we, as Christians, need to take the Kingdom of God by force. In fact, by saying this, he is coming dangerously close to radical Christian extremism. The far right opposes radical Islamic extremism because suicide bombers will kill anyone who is not Muslim. But here, Daubenmire is promoting violence in order to convert people to Christianity. This is a dangerous line to cross and is not in line with what is in the Bible. Jesus said: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31 Note that he didn’t say to “love your Christian neighbor” or “love your Republican neighbor”. He said to love your neighbor. This means everyone…ALL people. The second problem is that he basically said that prayer doesn’t work! “…if we just sit back and pray, without action, what good is it?” He clearly doesn’t believe in the power of prayer. As it is written in the book of James: “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

“The only thing that is going to save Western civilization is a more aggressive Christianity.”

Again, Daubenmire is suggesting forceful conversion. This again is coming dangerously close to the line of Christian extremism.

“Trump has dealt a huge blow to the religion of environmentalism…He is taking care of American taxpayers, not environmental globalists. Not the religion of nature. He is taking care of people because PEOPLE are God’s greatest creation, not “Mother Earth”.

One verse in Revelation clearly discounts Daubenmire’s statement here: “The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:18  Everything here on earth is God’s creation. It all belongs to God and we have absolutely no right to destroy it.

“Those who care the most are harsh…when you love someone, you do the hard thing for them. That means telling them the truth, so they can correct their ways.”

If you read this statement alone, it doesn’t seem too bad. But taken in context with Daubenmire’s extreme views, it becomes problematic. When I read this, it immediately reminded me of an eerily similar statement that someone in the church of Scientology said to a member on Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath. I just recently told someone that the thinking of some of the people on the far-right seems almost cult-like. Then I read above statement which, sadly, solidified my concerns. Another example of a cult-like statement by Daubenmire is below:

“Wake up, get your kids out of public schools, and realize this battle is between God and Satan…”

One of the ways cults operate is through isolation. It is really important to remember this and be able to identify it when confronted with this kind of rhetoric.

“The tolerant crowd believes you should tolerate all beliefs, except if it’s a belief they don’t agree with. They only want tolerated what they believe.”

Um, yeah. All you have to do is go back and re-read all of Daubenmire’s statements above. Hypocrisy? Yes!

“Jesus is the least tolerant person to have ever lived.”

Nonsense. Let’s not forget about the woman who was about to be stoned for committing adultery: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7  Remember, Jesus interacted with the sinners. As he said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32 I would say that is pretty tolerant.

Now I am probably going to really step on some toes as I am going to address some of Franklin Graham’s comments.

Graham said that there’s “no question” God is supporting Trump.

Listen…God doesn’t support sin. Jesus never said it was OK to insult people on a daily basis by calling them names. Jesus never said that it was OK for Trump to lie. Jesus never said it was OK for Trump to say all those vulgar things about women. Jesus doesn’t condone sin! I’ve heard the argument that King David, although he sinned, was a “man after God’s own heart”. Yes, that is true, but some on the far-right seem to forget that David REPENTED. The concept of repentance is missing. God even used Paul for good after all the bad things that he did…but again, he REPENTED. Donald Trump continues to lie. He continues to call people names. Remember what Jesus said: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:19-20

“No president in my lifetime…can I remember…speaking about God as Donald Trump does.”

First, the only time I have ever heard Trump talk about God is when he is at some kind of Christian event. Second, speaking about God means nothing. Again, “you will know them by their fruits”. Also Jesus said the following: “So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:28

“I want the school boards of America in the hands of evangelical Christians within the next 4-6 years…And it can happen and that will have a huge impact because so many school districts are now controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians, and I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.”

First of all, this kind of statement promotes hate. Some people will read this and think it is OK to go out and hurt gays and lesbians, just like what we saw in Orlando. That is NEVER OK, just like what happened yesterday in Virginia is NEVER OK. Second, when I read this statement by Franklin Graham, I thought about Ellen Degeneres. I watch her show because I find her incredibly funny. I thought about the tremendous amount of good that she does on her show. She gives people who are struggling so much help and makes them smile…each and every day. I do not understand how the far-right thinks that someone like this is evil. I don’t believe it is that simple. It’s not black and white. Remember, Jesus said: “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Jesus called us to love one another. We are not the judge. No one knows who is doomed to hell, not even Franklin Graham. He is just a man…he is not God. Neither is Dave Daubenmire. Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God with all your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself…not just Christians, but everyone…even the sinners. It is not up for us to judge. Our understanding is limited…we do not see things as God sees them.

I hope that this blog will demonstrate that some on the far-right are spewing hate and are just as guilty as those on the far-left. This idea that the shooting was entirely based on anti-Trump rhetoric is simply not true. We have to remember that this guy does not represent all Democrats, and just as much hate is coming from the far-right Christians that are spreading “facts” about Christianity that are not biblically based and which borders on Christian extremism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once Saved, Always Saved? Part 2

 

This question is certainly a hot topic of debate. After writing my previous post on this same topic, I was contacted by a friend of mine who didn’t agree that our salvation can be lost. She talked with her pastor about this issue since my post made her think a little more about this subject. His explanation was good. He said that if someone turns against God after becoming a Christian, they were never Christian. There is truth to this statement. According to 1 John 2:19:

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

I am glad that my friend enlightened me in this way. That makes a little more sense to me. However, I was still troubled by a few things.

First of all, God gave us free will. If, once we are saved, we are always saved, then doesn’t that take away our free will? Also, the way that some preachers are passing on the message of “once saved, always saved” sounds to me like they are saying that sin isn’t a factor since our works have nothing to do with our salvation. I do know of people who truly believe that you don’t have to do anything except to say “Jesus is my Savior”. They truly believe that they can lie, steal, cheat, or do whatever they want, but as long as they say “Jesus is my Savior”, they are guaranteed salvation because salvation is a gift, and our works have nothing to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe that our salvation is a gift and that Jesus died on the cross to save us. There is no doubt in my mind. What I worry about is that people are getting an incomplete and twisted message. I believe the error occurs when one or two passages in the Bible are the main focus, and the rest of the Bible is ignored. Let me explain further.

There are many passages in the Bible that point to the fact that you can turn away from God and possibly lose your salvation. First and foremost is a passage that I referred to in my last post:

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” 2 Peter 2: 20

Peter also refers to Proverbs in making his point:

“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:22

As per the book of Hebrews:

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift….if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 6:4-6

“We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:14

“See that no one is…godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.” Hebrews 12:16-17

As per the book of Timothy:

“If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.” 2 Timothy 2:12

From 1 John 2:

“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF IT DOES, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24

But the one that stands out most to me is from 2 John:

“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9.

As far as the teaching of current pastors regarding the fact that our actions (works) have nothing to do with our salvation, the most important passage comes from James:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14

“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not be faith alone.” James 2:24

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

There are also many different places in the Bible where Jesus Himself states that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. One such verse can be found in the gospel of John:

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:21

Another one can be found in 1 John 3:

“Those who obey His command live in Him, and He in them.” 1 John 3:24

Now, regarding the idea that people can just say “Jesus is my Savior” and still lie, steal, cheat, etc., the Bible specifically warns against this behavior. In fact, the warning are stern:

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessolonians 2:8-10.

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22

So, here is my opinion on this subject. Based on the above scripture, I believe that if you are a true Christian and endure to the end, staying true to God’s Word, you cannot lose your salvation. As it says in John 10:28, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.” 

Is it possible to be a true Christian and then turn away from God? Yes, I believe it is possible based on the above scripture. If it wasn’t possible, why would there be so many warnings? Remember, Judas was once an apostle but then later betrayed Jesus. Is that because he was never a true Christian? Was it because he was Christian and then turned his back on God? We will never know as only God knows what is truly in someone’s heart and soul.

As far as being a true Christian, I believe that actions will show what it truly in someone’s heart. I do not believe that you can say the words “Jesus is my Savior” and you are guaranteed to enter heaven while continuing to live in sin. I believe that you have to truly give your life over to God, truly believe in your heart that Jesus died for us, and live by His commandments. I think that so many people want to believe that actions don’t matter because it’s easier that way. I also believe that people are being led astray by focusing on one, two or three verses in the Bible. If you truly want to learn the teachings of God, you must read and accept all of it, not just some of it. The Bible can easily be twisted into what you want it to say if you only focus on a few verses. I challenge all who read this post to open up a Bible and read it – not just the gospels, not just the New Testament. Read all of it. Only then will you have the true knowledge of what it takes to be a true Christian.

And that’s my opinion 🙂

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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