Archive for May, 2016

How Many Of God’s Commandments Must We Keep?

May 27, 2016

Many of you know the Bible emphasizes obedience to God’s commandments – as Jesus is only the source of “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9). Quite frequently someone will respond to the many scriptures teaching such by asking just how many commandments of God do we have to obey? Usually they are not asking because they want to know, but because they think their question proves we don’t have to obey God.

A good way to respond to this question is to ask how many commandments God expected the people to obey in Neh 1:9 – “But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.” How many commandments does Jesus expect us to keep based upon John 15:10? – “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” Or according to Josh 22:5? – “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Notice the following other passages (just in the book of Deuteronomy) which teach we are required to keep God’s commandments – 4:2, 4:40, 5:10, 31, 6:1, 6:;2, 7:9, 11, 8:1, 2, 8:6, 8:11, 10:13, 11:1, 8, 22, 28, 13:4, 18, 15:5, 19:9, 26:1;3, 26:17, 26:18, 27:1, 28:1, 28:9, 28:13, 28:15, 45, 30:8, 30:10, 16, 31:5. How many must we keep? Who dares argue with God in such manner?

Deut 5:29 puts it this way – “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”

Col 3:17 Teaches We Must Have Authority For Everything We Do

May 20, 2016

Colossians 3:17a reads “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Some Pentecostal types think the phrase “do something in the name of Jesus” means that we must we say the name Jesus when we do that something, but this verse shows that conclusion is absurd.

Thayer defines the meaning of the phrase as “to do a thing … by one’s command and authority, acting on his behalf, promoting his cause” (p.447). So Col 3:17 is saying that we must have authority from Christ for everything we do.

Many churches ignore this charge. They conduct their practices without regard for what Jesus teaches. For example they worship God according to their own whims, what they think is best, or what they think will draw the biggest crowd – instead of consulting the Bible to find out how God desires to be worshipped.

Some believers make fun of this truth that we must have authority for everything we do, but that doesn’t change what Col 3:17 says. Ask yourself before you go to bed tonight – am I (and the congregation I worship with) careful to only do what Jesus has instructed / authorized?

Does Galatians Teach We Are Not Under Any Law Today?

May 17, 2016

Gal 2:16 says “a man is not justified by the works of the law.” This verse has been used by a number of my religious debate opponents to say that we are not under any law today, and therefore obedience to God is not required for salvation.

But Gal 2:16 is not talking about any law. The whole context of the book has to do with the what the debate in Acts 15 was about – the Jewish Christians were saying Gentile converts had to be circumcised and “keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).

You can tell Galatians is talking about the law of Moses specifically by looking at several passages in the book. For example Gal 3:17 reads “the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” So the law being talked about in Galatians is not divine law in general, but the law that came 430 years after God’s covenant with (promise to) Abraham – which would of course be the law of Moses.

Gal 4:21-31 also lets us know the law under consideration in Galatians is the law of Moses in particular. The conclusion of Paul’s argument there is “Cast out the bondwoman” (verse 30), the bondwoman being identified as the law/covenant from “mount Sinai” in verses 22-26. The law of Moses is the law that came from Mt. Sinai, not just any law. The law of Moses then is the law that the book of Galatians is talking about.

Gal 3:19 also pinpoints the law under consideration in Galatians as the law of Moses (not just any law) when it says “Wherefore then serveth the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come …”  That would have to be the law of Moses as it is the only law that completed its purpose at the time of Jesus’ first coming.

So the point of Gal 2:16 is not that we are not under any divine law today, but that we are not under the law of Moses. Notice Gal 3:24-25 teaches we are not under the law, but I Cor 9:21 says we are “under the law to Christ.” This would mean we are under divine law today, but it is the New Testament law, not the Old Testament law – the law of Christ as opposed to the law of Moses. Quite a number of Bible passages teach that very thing – that we are not under the law of Moses today.

As a matter of fact, Gal 5:2-4 teaches that if we try to be justified by such law (of Moses), we lose our salvation. Notice I Cor 7:19 (“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”) confirms Paul was not teaching no law (works) are necessary to salvation, but circumcision and the law of Moses that circumcision represents. Circumcision is said to be nothing, but other commandments are said to be important. So that would mean the law of Moses is not binding anymore, but the law of Christ is.

When we talk about being justified by law, we are not talking about as the earning basis for our salvation (Rom 4:4); the death of Christ is that. We are simply talking about the fact that God expects us to keep His law, to be obedient to Him if we expect to be saved. James 2:24 confirms this as it reads “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” That is not saying faith and works supplant the necessity of the death of Christ to our salvation, but that faith and works are necessary conditions we must meet in order to be saved by the blood of Christ. That’s kind of like the fact that it was necessary for the Israelites to walk around the walls of Jericho thirteen times in Josh 6 in order for God to knock those walls down. God is the one who did it, but the Israelites had to walk. Similarly when it comes to our salvation, God is the one who saves (forgives) us, but we have to “trust and obey.” Mark 16:16a puts it this way – “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Heb 5:9 puts it this way – “he (talking about Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

If we believe God desires that we live a certain way, then it should be axiomatic that we are under divine law today. That’s what is meant by “law” – instructions from God about how He wants us to live. We see a simple but stern example of that right in Galatians, in chapter 5 verses 19-21. There Paul lists the works of the flesh and says “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Isn’t God saying there He wants us to abstain from said activities / sins? If yes, then that is equivalent to saying these verses represent law from God that we are expected to keep if we want to inherit the kingdom of God (i.e., go to heaven).

This past Sunday my SiriusXM radio program was on this same topic. If you would like to listen to a recording of it, go here:

The Methodist Creed Book Says “We Are Justfied By Faith Only”

May 13, 2016

The 1956 version of the Methodist Creed book reads “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” (pg.29). That stands in stark contrast to James 2:24 which reads “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Would you feel comfortable belonging to a church whose creed book contradicts the Bible is such a direct way?

Following are some more passages that teach we are saved by works and not by faith only:

Mark 16:16a “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”

Heb 5:9 “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”

Matt 7:21 “he that doeth the will of my Father … shall enter into … heaven”

Rev 22:14 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”

I Peter 1:22 “ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth”

II Cor 5:10 “every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”

Rom 2:6-10 God “will render to every man according to his deeds … continuance in well-doing … eternal life … them that … do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil … but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good”

I Pet 1:17 “Father … without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work

Rev 20:11-15 “they were judged every man according to their works

Phil 2:12 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

Acts 10:34-35 “he that … worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him”

II Thess 1:8-9 “them that … obey not the gospel … shall be punished”

The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches Says “Now It Is Different”

May 6, 2016

Page 22 of the “Standard Manual for Baptist Churches” says “It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.’ Now, it is different ….” (Edward T. Hiscox).

What we all should want to know is “what made it different?” The Bible hasn’t changed. Why isn’t baptism still the door into the church (Acts 2:38,41,47, I Cor 12:13)?

This illustrates one reason there is so much religious division (I Cor 1:10) today. Perhaps sometimes division occurs because people have come to different conclusion about what the Bible teaches, but for the most part so many different churches and doctrines exist today because of the attitude expressed in the Hiscox quote above. Their standard is different. Some take the Bible as their authority and stick by it, while others think it is okay to deviate from God’s word … because “now it is different.”

I recently heard my friend Rick Duggin give a good illustration after reading the above quote. Hiscox is right that there was no such thing as any denominations in the very beginning but let’s just imagine that there were. Suppose a few days after the 3000 were converted and added to God’s church in Acts 2:38,41,47, a Catholic priest convinced 600 of them to accept Catholic doctrine and join the Catholic church. Suppose a Methodist preacher then convinced another 600 of them to accept Methodist church doctrine and join the Methodist church. And a Presbyterian preacher convinced another 600 to join the Presbyterian church. And finally a Baptist preacher convinced 600 of them to accept Baptist doctrine and join the Baptist church. What would you call the 600 still left who were converted to the Lord and added to His church, and decided not to join any denomination?

Picture yourself as one of the 3000 in that day. Wouldn’t you have wanted to stay with Jesus’ original church instead of leaving them (the doctrine of Christ – II John 9) and joining one of the denominations (John 17:20-22, Eph 4:3)? If yes, why not choose to do that today? You can still be a member of that church that existed in the beginning before any denominations existed. Contact me if you would like to talk further about it.