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UPDATE: Since I posted this article, Jefferson Bethke and I have had a chance to talk by email and over the phone. I included some of our conversation in a follow up post. I hope you will be as encouraged by the exchange as I was.

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There’s a new You Tube video going viral and it’s about Jesus and religion.

Specifically how Jesus hates religion.

The video—which in a few days has gone from hundreds of views to thousands to millions—shows Jefferson Bethke, who lives in the Seattle area, delivering a well-crafted, sharply produced, spoken word poem. The point, according to Bethke, is “to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion.” In the past few days I’ve seen this video pop up all over Facebook. I’ve had people from my church say they like it. Some has asked me what I think. Others have told me there’s something off about the poem, but they can’t quite articulate what it is. I’ll try to explain what that is in a moment. But first watch the video for yourself.

Before I say anything else, let me say Jefferson Bethke seems like a sincere young man who wants people to know God’s scandalous grace. I’m sure he’s telling the truth when he says on his Facebook page: “I love Jesus, I’m addicted to grace, and I’m just a messed up dude trying to make Him famous.” If I met him face to face, I bet I’d like Jefferson and his honesty and passion. I bet I’d be encouraged by his story and his desire to free people from the snares of self-help, self-righteous religion.

And yet (you knew it was coming), amidst a lot of true things in this poem there is a lot that is unhelpful and misleading.

This video is the sort of thing that many younger Christians love. It sounds good, looks good, and feels good. But is it true? That’s the question we must always ask. And to answer that question, I want to go through this poem slowly, verse by verse. Not because I think this is the worst thing ever. It’s certainly not. Nor because I think this video will launch a worldwide revolution. I want to spend some time on this because Bethke perfectly captures the mood, and in my mind the confusion, of a lot of earnest, young Christians.

Verse 1

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion
What if I told you voting republican really wasn’t his mission
What if I told you republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian
And just because you call some people blind
Doesn’t automatically give you vision

Okay, so the line about Republicans is a cheap shot (if you vote GOP) or a prophetic stance (if you like Jim Wallis). While it’s true that “republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian” and in some parts of the country that may be a word churchgoers need to hear, I doubt that putting right-wingers in their place is the most pressing issue in Seattle.

More important is Bethke’s opening line: “Jesus came to abolish religion.” That’s the whole point of the poem. The argument—and most poems are arguing for something—rests on the sharp distinction between religion on one side and Jesus on the other. Whether this argument is fair depends on your definition of religion. Bethke sees religion as a man made attempt to earn God’s favor. Religion equals self-righteousness, moral preening, and hypocrisy. Religion is all law and no gospel. If that’s religion, then Jesus is certainly against it.

But that’s not what religion is. We can say that’s what is has become for some people or what we understand it to be. But words still matter and we shouldn’t just define them however we want. “Jesus hates religion” communicates something that “Jesus hates self-righteousness” doesn’t. To say that Jesus hates pride and hypocrisy is old news. To say he hates religion—now, that has a kick to it. People hear “religion” and think of rules, rituals, dogma, pastors, priests, institutions. People love Oprah and the Shack and “spiritual, not religious” bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.

The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion. This was the central point behind the book Ted Kluck and I wrote a few years ago.

The word “religion” occurs five times in English Standard Version of the Bible. It is, by itself, an entirely neutral word. Religion can refer to Judaism (Acts 26:5) or the Jewish-Christian faith (Acts 25:19). Religion can be bad when it is self-made (Col. 2:23) or fails to tame the tongue (James 1:26). But religion can also be good when it cares for widows and orphans and practices moral purity (James 1:27). Unless we define the word to suit our purposes, there is simply no biblical grounds for saying Jesus hated religion. What might be gained by using such language will, without a careful explanation and caveats, be outweighed by what is lost when we give the impression that religion is the alloy that corrupts a relationship with Jesus.

Verse 2

I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars
Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor
Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce
But in the old testament God actually calls religious people whores

These claims say very little because they try to say too much. Have there been religious wars in the last two thousand years? Yes. Have there also been wars over money, land, ego, women, slavery, democracy, freedom, communism, fascism, Nazism, terrorism and just about everything else you can imagine? Yes. Furthermore, if you want to blame conflict on religion, you can’t neatly excise Jesus from the equation. You may not like the Crusades, but many of the Crusaders thought they were sincerely fighting for Jesus by trying take back the Holy Land from the Muslims.

More to the point, Christians need to stop perpetuating the myth that we’ve basically been huge failures in the world. That may win us an audience with non-Christians, but it’s not true. We are sinners like everyone else, so our record is mixed. We’ve been stupid and selfish over the years. But we’ve also been the salt of the earth. The evangelical awakening in England in the eighteenth century is widely credited for preventing the sort of bloodbath that swept over France in the “enlightened” French Revolution. Christians (and conservatives in general) give more to charitable causes than their secular counterparts. Christians run countless shelters, pregnancy centers, rescue missions, and food pantries. Christians operate orphanages, staff clinics, dig wells, raise crops, teach children, and fight AIDS around the globe. While we can always do more and may be blind to the needs around us at times, there is no group of people on the planet that do more for the poor than Christians. If you know of a church with a dozen escalators and no money and no heart for the hurting, then blast that church. But we have to stop the self-flagellation and the slander that says Christians do nothing for the poor.

As for divorce, it is often (but not always) wrong. Even when it is wrong, there is forgiveness when people repent. Shame on any church that doesn’t think or demonstrate that there is room at the cross for unwed or divorced moms.

And about the harsh language in the Old Testament—it cuts both ways. All people in the Old Testament, and in the entire ancient near east for that matter, were religious people. Some of them were fakes and hypocrites and whores. Some were idolaters and adulterers. Some performed their rituals and went on to ignore the weightier matters of the law. And some of the religious people were God’s remnant, God’s holy people, and God’s friends. In both Testaments, God has no problem rebuking religious people and no problem loving them either.

Verse 3

Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice
Tend to ridicule God’s people, they did it to John The Baptist
They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it
Not realizing religions like spraying perfume on a casket
See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core
It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores
Like lets dress up the outside make look nice and neat
But it’s funny that’s what they use to do to mummies
While the corpse rots underneath

I’ve already said that I don’t think “religion” is the right term for what Bethke is talking about. But he has done a great job here of describing false religion. Jesus blasted the Pharisees for being “whitewashed tombs,” for looking beautiful on the outside and full of dead people’s bones on the inside, for appearing righteous but being full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matt. 23:27-28). It is possible for churches and churchgoers to have the reputation for being alive, but actually be dead (Rev. 3:1). Some churches claim to love grace, but all they give you is legalism. Bethke is hitting on a real problem.

Verse 4

Now I ain’t judgin, I’m just saying quit putting on a fake look
Cause there’s a problem
If people only know you’re a Christian by your Facebook
I mean in every other aspect of life, you know that logic’s unworthy
It’s like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey
You see this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography
See on Sunday I’d go to church, but Saturday getting faded
Acting if I was simply created just to have sex and get wasted
See I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness

I wish Bethke, and critics like him, would admit that they are “judgin.” He is evaluating Christianity. He is criticizing church as he sees it. The whole poem is a harsh judgment on religious people. Granted, judging is not the same as judgmentalism. After all, I’m judging this poem. So I don’t think what Bethke is doing is wrong. I just wish he wouldn’t try to claim the moral high ground.

Other than that, this is another good verse. Bethke tells his own story to prove that we can be real good at fooling everyone, including ourselves. We need to realize that there are plenty of people in many of our churches who seem to have it all together but don’t. They are kidding themselves and we should not encourage such self-deception.

Verse 5

Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean
It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
Because it doesn’t depend on me it depends on him
See because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan
He looked down and said I want, that, man
Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools
Don’t you see so much better than just following some rules
Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the Bible, and yes I believe in sin
But if Jesus came to your church would they actually let him in
See remember he was called a glutton, and a drunkard by religious men
But the Son of God never supports self righteousness not now, not then

There is much that is good and a few things that are confused in this verse. The church should be an ocean of grace. We don’t have to hide our sins before God. It doesn’t depend on us. We should love the church and the Bible and believe that sin exists. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus never supported self-righteousness. All of that is wonderfully and powerfully true.

But let me raise a few other points.

One, we have to remember that the purpose of a hospital is to help sick people get better. I’m sure Bethke would agree with that. But there is no indication in this poem that the grace that forgives is also the grace that transforms. Following Jesus is more than keeping rules, but it’s not less. In one sense, loving Jesus is also all about keeping rules (John 14:15, 21, 23-24). I’m not sure how the Jesus of John 14 fits in the world of Bethke’s poem.

Two, there is no inherent dignity in being broken. Jesus likes the honesty that acknowledges sin, hates it and turns away, but he does not love authenticity for its own sake. We have to be more careful with our language. When Paul boasted of his weakness, he was boasting of his suffering, his lack of impressiveness, and the trials he endured (1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 11:30; 12:9). He never boasted of his temptations or his sins—past or present. That’s not what he meant by weakness. Being broken is not the point, except to be forgiven and changed.

Three, as I’ve mentioned before, the religious leaders hated Jesus, first and foremost because they thought he was a blasphemer who dared to make himself equal with God (Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:66-71; and less clearly in John 18:19-24). It’s true that many of the religious elite found Jesus too free with his meals and his associations. They called him a “glutton and drunkard” (Luke 7:34), though he wasn’t either. But they also said John the Baptist “has a demon” (Luke 7:33). They were just as opposed to John’s asceticism as they were upset with Jesus’ liberty. More than hating grace, the Jewish leaders hated the truth about Christ and found ways to reject God’s messengers.

Verse 6

Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums
See one’s the work of God, but one’s a man made invention
See one is the cure, but the other’s the infection
See because religion says do, Jesus says done
Religion says slave, Jesus says son
Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see
And that’s why religion and Jesus are two different clans

I won’t repeat my initial comments about religion and Jesus and whether they are really “on opposite spectrums.” I don’t think they are. That point notwithstanding, Bethke speaks the truth in this section. The differences between slavery and sonship, bondage and freedom, blindness and sight are all biblical themes.

I think the line about “religion says do, Jesus says done” can be misleading. Too many people hear that as “relationship not rules” when we’ve already seen that Jesus wants us to do everything he has commanded (Matt. 28:20). But if “do” means “do this to earn my favor” then the contrast is very appropriate.

Verse 7

Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God searching for man
Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own
Not based on my merits but Jesus’s obedience alone
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face
He took what we all deserved, I guess that’s why you call it grace
And while being murdered he yelled
“Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you
And he absorbed all of your sin, and buried it in the tomb
Which is why I’m kneeling at the cross, saying come on there’s room
So for religion, no I hate it, in fact I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it

There is a lot to like with this final section. Great affirmation of Jesus active obedience. Great focus on the cross. Great invitation for sinners to come to Christ. I think Bethke understands justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. I would have liked to have heard something about the wrath of God being poured out on the cross as opposed to simply “absorb[ing] all of your sin.” But given Bethke’s previous video criticizing Love Wins, it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt. Similarly, I’m not sure it’s best to so emphasize that Jesus was thinking of us on the cross. The “joy set before” him in Hebrews 12:2 was the joy of being seated at God’s right hand, not the joy of being with us as Bethke advocates in another video. But these are smaller points that do not negate the strong message of grace and forgiveness.

Conclusion

I know I’ve typed a bunch of words about a You Tube video that no one may be talking about in a month. But, as I said at the beginning, there is so much helpful in this poem mixed with so much unhelpful—and all of it so common—that I felt it worth the effort to examine the theology in detail.

The strengths in this poem are the strengths I see in many young Christians—a passionate faith, a focus on Jesus, a love for grace, and a hatred for anything phony or self-righteous. The weaknesses here can be the weaknesses of my generation (and younger)—not enough talk of repentance and sanctification, a tendency to underestimate the importance of obedience in the Christian life, a one-dimensional view of grace, little awareness that our heavenly Father might ever discipline his children or be grieved by their continued transgression, and a penchant for sloganeering instead of careful nuance.

I know the internet is a big place, but a lot of people are connected to a lot of other people. So who knows, maybe Jefferson Bethke will read this blog. If you do, brother, I want you to know I love what you love in this poem. I watched you give your testimony and give thanks to God for his work in your life. I love the humble desire to be honest about your failings and point people to Christ. I love that you love the church and the Bible. I love that you want people to really get the gospel. You have important things to say and millions of people are listening. So make sure as a teacher you are extra careful and precise (James 3:1). If you haven’t received formal theological training, I encourage you to do so. Your ministry will be made stronger and richer and longer lasting. I encourage you to speak from the Bible before you speak from your own experience. I encourage you to love what Jesus loves without tearing down what he also loves and people are apt to misunderstand. I encourage you to dig deep into the whole counsel of God.

Thanks for reminding us about Jesus. But try to be more careful when talking about religion. After all, there is one religion whose aim is to worship, serve, know, proclaim, believe, obey, and organize around this Jesus. And without all those verbs, there’s not much Jesus left.


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Comments:


1,322 thoughts on “Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really”

  1. Stephen Haley says:

    You seem to not understand that God (even He never referred to himself as God, rather Elohim) and Jesus taught us to live a Honest and Righteous life. Nowhere is there any doctrine regarding going to church or praying. God told the prophet Amos He would turn His back on all the ceremony, prayer, hymns, psalms, etc for they were useless. All He wanted was a Honest and Righteous world.
    With Jesus being the son of God I can hardly believe that he would undermine his father and teach something other than what His father would want or asked the Jews to do, do you believe he would do something like that?
    Stephen

  2. Mike Gantt says:

    Stephen Haley,

    You are right about God’s interests. He eschews ritual and exults in righteousness.

  3. Phillip says:

    he said “he took what we deserved… i guess that’s why we call it grace”. This is a completely false statement. The reason we call it grace is because that’s what the people who made the language/word decided to call it. The reason we call it grace has nothing to do with Jesus being hung on the cross.

  4. Tracy says:

    I recently came across this but nonetheless took the time to read it. I find it disturbing how the author of this article quickly turned this video into what it wasn’t about in trying to pick it apart. The man behind the video spoke of the problems with religion, which there are many. Lets face it, religion is man created but you quickly turned the word “religion” into the word “Christian”. On top of that, referred to the word church as basically a bulding – church means the people, called ones, assembly etc. – ecclesia. I think this is also somewhat of what was being portrayed in this “video rant” if you will. All of the man-made rules that govern today’s people that simply want to know, Jesus. I think many people today are tired of hearing the words that simply get in the way of a human and a relationship with Christ. Hearing you need to do this to gain this, taking scripture out of context to feed their own purpose. Telling people they will not be blessed if they don’t give 10 percent of their income to a religious financial institution, because that is what most have become. Telling people to speak in “tongues”, when what they mean is babble incoherently because that is what happened in the bible. Some teach salvation through works, others condemn such a thing and reference it as sin pointing to Galatians 5. It just never ends it seems. All religions have names, all of them are part of some higher organization in the background and only money feeds them. All of which Jesus actually was teaching against. Are all of them guilty? No I am not saying that but in today’s world its a fair generalization. This video, to me, was a generalization. We are freed from bondage, Christ saw to that we will all agree I hope. I don’t believe everything he says is spot on, just as some of you may not as well. But some points he brings up truly do ring home. Yes I believe it is probably mostly offensive to pastors and priests and the like but I ask them to take a look at their own organizations from top to bottom and tell me this is the foundation Jesus was laying. Tell me He was out creating “memberships” – in the true form of that word don’t twist it. Tell me He was collecting money and rolling it up to a higher organization. Was Jesus creating a multitude of religions so they can all preach opposing viewpoints about the same subject matter? This is what I believe the video was about, all the “stuff” that gets in the way of a relationship with Christ. We all know there is “stuff” and its in abundance.

    I also get tired of hearing the bit, religion is not perfect but we try. No, religion tries to keep on being itself and tries even harder to get people to convert to its reasoning. They are concerned with numbers so they can tout it publicly which is not biblical either. A place of worship should be just that, can you imagine a place where a pastor or priest would give up their seat and allow someone from the audience to teach the gospel that Sunday? That is what is supposed to happen, pastors and priests are to teach the word so that everyone may be able to teach it – all over the world. They will trust to allow people to run out in the world and teach what they have taught but not in “their” congregation as if they own it. Jesus came from such a place, he taught and listened to others teach and corrected them when needed. You don’t need a degree to have a solid theological background. Besides, every religions’ theology is different. We are all called to jump all over false teaching but when does it ever happen? Be not afraid, yet we are…..in our own assemblies, because of the hierarchy created by man in religious organizations.

    My two cents on what I thought this video was about, if i could write worth a darn I would write a few chapters on this whole matter but as you can see, I don’t write well.

    Feel free to jump all over me, I deserve it as I have probably offended some. I do apologize for that, not for what I said because I stand behind what I say but because I am a terrible writer…..terrible. Most often I cant convey what I am really trying to say. Some are more gifted in that area, that’s why there are books right?

    Tracy

  5. Mike Gantt says:

    Tracy,

    Well said.

    Jesus came that we might have life. He did not come that we might have organized religion.

  6. @Tracy: I didn’t have a problem with your writing. I understood everything. You did make quite a few incorrect statements though.

    You mentioned how all organizations have structures and are fed by money and Jesus taught against all of them. That’s untrue. Jesus is actually the head of the church. True religion comes from Jesus.

    You mention how Jesus wanted his apostles to go out and make more disciples who would go on to spread the message. This is true, but even Paul appoints specific pastors/elders for specific local congregations. All believers are called to spread the gospel in their own way, but being a pastor is a job. You are right, there won’t be any pastors who ask other people in the congregation to come up and preach. And they shouldn’t. I mean, that’s their job. It’s what they study. If you were having a surgery, would you want your surgeon to invite someone from the hospital front desk to operate on you? I mean, that’s just ridiculous. Pastors are called to preach to “their” congregation (no, they don’t own it, they just “pastor” it) in order to send the congregation members out into the community and bring others to the Lord. For the record, there are churches where just random members get up and preach. I personally think that’s not supported scripturally. Not everyone is called to be a pastor.

    Behind all of this is a complete misunderstanding of what the word religion means. If everyone would stop overreacting and just look up what “religion” means, you’d know that Christianity is one of the many world religions. It basically just means worldview. The word is neither negative, nor positive. It’s just a category.

  7. Stephen Haley says:

    TO: Author: Heather Carrillo
    Comment: @Tracy: I didn’t have a problem with your writing. I understood everything. You did make quite a few incorrect statements though.
    You mentioned how all organizations have structures and are fed by money and Jesus taught against all of them. That’s untrue. Jesus is actually the head of the church. True religion comes from Jesus.
    “Head of which church? There are over 39,000 different ‘christian churches’ which all teach a different explanation of the bible. Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, ???????” (asked by Stephen)

    You mention how Jesus wanted his apostles to go out and make more disciples who would go on to spread the message. This is true, but even Paul appoints specific pastors/elders for specific local congregations.

    “Where did Jesus give Paul that authority? In the bible I’m asking. Or was this one mans own decision? Specifically where?”
    (asked by Stephen)

    All believers are called to spread the gospel in their own way, but being a pastor is a job. You are right, there won’t be any pastors who ask other people in the congregation to come up and preach. And they shouldn’t.

    “Why not? Who (not Jesus) gave him that sole authority did He?”
    (asked by Stephen)

    I mean, that’s their job. It’s what they study. If you were having a surgery, would you want your surgeon to invite someone from the hospital front desk to operate on you? I mean, that’s just ridiculous.

    “What’s ridiculous is to compare apples to oranges. Everyone can get the oldest text known to man, the Hebrew Word and read it and express his own understanding to others.”
    (asked by Stephen)

    Pastors are called to preach to “their” congregation (no, they don’t own it, they just “pastor” it) in order to send the congregation members out into the community and bring others to the Lord. For the record, there are churches where just random members get up and preach. I personally think that’s not supported scripturally. Not everyone is called to be a pastor.

    “Can you give any specific text for me to look at that would tell me that our creator and his son does not want the regular person to spread His word?”
    (asked by Stephen)

    Behind all of this is a complete misunderstanding of what the word religion means. If everyone would stop overreacting and just look up what “religion” means, you’d know that Christianity is one of the many world religions. It basically just means worldview. The word is neither negative, nor positive. It’s just a category.

    “Why so much stock in a word (religion) that is not in the oldest text known to man, the Hebrew Word. They don’t even refer to themselves as a religion, they call it the Jewish Faith. And their Hebrew Word is not called the bible by them, it’s simply the Word. You seem to use a lot of European and Western Culture words and statements to back up your belief where in fact these never existed during the time of Gods Chosen People nor during the time of Jesus. Explain?”
    (asked by Stephen)

    Stephen

  8. Stephen Haley says:

    Well in reference to Jesus coming to abolish “religion” I can only refer back to a post of mine that quoted the Hebrew Word (the oldest known text we have found) when God (as we call Him, He actually introduced Himself to Adam the first time they met as Hasheem or Haseem) spoke to the prophet Amos. God, told Amos he would turn His back on all the ceremony, offerings, etc. He just wanted a righteous and just world. No statement of a man made religion here that I see?
    Stephen

  9. @Stephen: There is only one true church. It’s split up currently into a bunch of denominations that more or less get along with one another. Sometimes it’s called the church invisible. It basically means everyone in the Christian religion. (“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent”Colossians 1:18)

    You asked where did Paul get the authority to appoint pastors. Well, I mean, he did it and related it in the bible, which was inspired by God. Sooo…I mean, yeah, I would think if he did it and talked about it in the word of God, he had pretty good authority. Also, the qualifications of one who is CALLED to be an elder are outlined in the word of God. Again, that is the authority.

    Exactly, Stephen! Anyone can get to an ancient text and teach “his own understanding” to others. Do you see the problem? Kind of like how the random guy off the street can cut you open and perform his own surgery. But not a good idea unless he’s called to be a surgeon.

    You asked where God doesn’t want every believer to spread His word….this is weird cause I said all believers WERE called to spread His word, but not all are called to be pastors. It’s pretty clear…in His word, that He inspired.

    Why do I use western culture words? Well, because I am a westerner. I mean, you can call it faith if you’d like. You can call it religion. You can call it whatever. I’m just saying that’s all it means. If Jesus hated worldviews, He would have an awfully hard time of it, since He had one Himself. He had the only one worth following actually.

    Yes, if the culture is offering empty words or ceremonies sure, that is unacceptable. But you realize you are implying that all church services are empty services. I would challenge you to look around a little more. You might find some congregations filled with the Spirit and the gospel, all around you.

  10. Stephen Haley says:

    TO: Author: Heather Carrillo
    Comment:
    @Stephen: There is only one true church. It’s split up currently into a bunch of denominations that more or less get along with one another. Sometimes it’s called the church invisible. It basically means everyone in the Christian religion. (“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent”Colossians 1:18)

    “Again, statements which I am not here to argue with but are only found through interpretation or extrapolation.
    Nowhere in the Word or the Christian Bible is it said, and actually not even implied. Christian in terms of a ‘church’ does not exist in any ancient text. It’s an European and Western Civilization creation IMHO.”

    You asked where did Paul get the authority to appoint pastors. Well, I mean, he did it and related it in the bible, which was inspired by God. Sooo…I mean, yeah, I would think if he did it and talked about it in the word of God, he had pretty good authority. Also, the qualifications of one who is CALLED to be an elder are outlined in the word of God. Again, that is the authority.

    “I’d really like to read a specific text that says ‘how someone is chosen to spread the word of God, by God, and
    thus those not ‘chosen’ are not to spread the word? God asked, Jesus asked us all to spread the Word.”

    Exactly, Stephen! Anyone can get to an ancient text and teach “his own understanding” to others. Do you see the problem? Kind of like how the random guy off the street can cut you open and perform his own surgery. But not a good idea unless he’s called to be a surgeon.

    “All teachings, world wide, are from ‘men’ reading ancient text and interpreting and extrapolating the text into
    ‘they’ believe is meant. So, what prevents each and every other person from doing the very same? Doesn’t seem to be any text supporting your statement as to who can and cannot read and interpret the ancient texts. I say this in total respect, just don’t agree.”

    You asked where God doesn’t want every believer to spread His word….this is weird cause I said all believers WERE called to spread His word, but not all are called to be pastors. It’s pretty clear…in His word, that He inspired.

    “Again, I’d like to see where in the ancient text, Word, christian bible it says how this selection is made by
    God, as to who may and may not be a preacher (which the term
    alone is misused anyway. Another man made term/word.”

    Why do I use western culture words? Well, because I am a westerner. I mean, you can call it faith if you’d like. You can call it religion. You can call it whatever. I’m just saying that’s all it means. If Jesus hated worldviews, He would have an awfully hard time of it, since He had one Himself. He had the only one worth following actually.

    “Quite frankly, I believe Jesus did in fact have a hard time with it and it cost him his life. Can’t get more ‘hard’ than that. I believe as when God hated what man had done on earth and he destroyed this place, Jesus also hated what man had done with this world. God promised that the earth would never be destroyed again by his hand, and only by his hand could this be done again, so Jesus could not have done the same, although I believe he was close to despairing on whether or not mankind would ever provide the righteous and just world his father desired us to create here.
    I also feel even today, God and Jesus are quite concerned as to how mankind has operated here on earth.”

    Yes, if the culture is offering empty words or ceremonies sure, that is unacceptable. But you realize you are implying that all church services are empty services. I would challenge you to look around a little more. You might find some congregations filled with the Spirit and the gospel, all around you.

    I was not making a judgement, God did that in his statement to Amos. I really don’t feel good to speak against his word. So, I’m guessing that he really only wants a righteous and just world and not all this man made religious ‘stuff’. He just wants us to live a righteous and just life and know and love him as our creator. Again IMHO.

    Stephen

  11. Brian says:

    great post Rev Kev. Here is as link to a more recent video which presents the perspective well I think.

    This one deserves to go viral!

  12. Blacksheep says:

    I do agree that religion is not what Jesus came here to preach, but i doubt that he hated it.

    The apostles set up the Church for the purpose of teaching the gospel of Jesus to the whole world, this has come to pass, i doubt that Jesus expected every one to believe his gospel.

    I don,t think Jesus was about every one going to Church but about every one living as he taught, he was the son of God so he knew.

    I believe if there was but one scripture that gives the necessary ingredients it would be this.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Jesus also said love thy enemies, he explained it in other ways, if they need help, then help them.

    How could any one do those things without the love of God in them?

    People in religious circles seem to forget that what Jesus taught is the only Gospel we have.

    And they will argue back and forth about what James said against what Paul said or talk about the disagreement Paul had with Peter.

    I have even heard people talk about Pauls gospel.

    The job of the Apostles was to preach the gospel of Jesus and they needed all of the help they could get, that being the reason for the church members.

    When you go to church and mingle with your Christian friends, you think what a fine bunch of people, but when you get on a religious thread and read all of the persecution and hate between people of different religions, you have to wonder, are there any one at all who believes what Jesus said?

    As far as Jefferson Bethke poem, no, he may be right on some things but It is what Jesus said and no one else that makes a Christian.

    I do not care about hating anything but i do not like religion.

  13. Blacksheep says:

    Heather, i looked the word Religion up in an old dictionary about 50 years ago, i believe it was early 1900 dictionary, it said that the word religion came from ritual.

    So i can see a little of both sides here, yes Jesus chose certain men to preach the Gospel, but what were they supposed to preach? most of Pauls letters are to a certain Person regarding the leading of the Church.

    So we can only assume that the leaders of the Churches did Preach Christ,s Gospel which does not at all look like religion to me but only an attitude which would have to come from the love of God.

    During Pauls early years the birth death and Resurrection is what Paul would have wanted the pastors to preach because they would not have had access to all of the gospel which according to the authorities on the subject was not yet written.

    I have been to many Churches and have yet to be in one that put the Gospel of Jesus first, yes they will praise his name but the gospel of Paul ( which much is not Gospel ) is always first or sometimes Peter and maybe they will mention the Gospel of our Lord.

    I am one of those wanta be Christians as the saying goes, yes i believe Jesus was the son of god and now sits at the right hand of God, so i do want to be one of his.

    But i do not want to be a make belief Christian, i don,t think i even need to explain that.

    Jesus said that his Gospel would be preached to all the world and then the end would come.

    Most Churches do preach a little of Christs Gospel, we get a little here and a little there even if the main purpose of the Church is to preach religion for their own benefit.

    And likewise even though the word of God being in the hands of the common people was fought against by religious leaders themselves, every one can now read it and do with it what they will.

  14. Mike Gantt says:

    Blacksheep makes a lot of sense.

  15. stephen says:

    Well there is no ‘one true religion’, it does not exist unless you follow Gods word and offer him a just and righteous world. Which is all He wants. Even Jesus does what His Father wants and does not stray outside of His Fathers wants/wishes/commandments. He is the Fathers Son and will forever be subject to His Fathers wishes. He is a good son. So, instead of touting this man made religion over that man made religion, I’d think it better to live a just and righteous life, if we can, and let our Heavenly father judge us according to our efforts. No religion, no religion, no religion has ever been spoken from the lips of our Heavenly Father or from His son’s lips, never.
    Stephen

  16. stephen says:

    To Heather
    Heather I still am interested in finding some passage in the ‘bible’ as you call it, that says the christian church is the church ‘chosen by God/Jesus’ as the one true religion. It does not exist except in extrapolation and in nothing else. It just doesn’t exist. You seem to not be interested in what God said to the sheepherder Amos, why? Is not Gods word the most important word we as humans can hear/read/accept?
    Stephen

  17. @Blacksheep: I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. Surely there are many people who have been hurt by other believers. Isn’t it great that we have a Savior who saves even the meanest of us?

    @Stephen Haley: Ok, so what exactly were the “offices” men were being selected for in 1 Timothy 3, if not for the church? Also, in Acts 20 there is a meeting where a sermon is preached and the communion is served. Also there are several references to women whose houses served as the church (building).
    Let me understand this better, you believe Jesus was put to death because he didn’t have a worldview? I mean, that’s not true you know. He was put to death because he HAD to be, or otherwise we would not have salvation.
    Please quote the place in Amos where God said “All church services everywhere do not glorify me.” I’ve read Amos a few times in my life, but this quote seems to slip my memory.

    @Stephen (not Haley?): There is one true religion, and it’s Christianity. Jesus says, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE light. NO ONE comes through to the Father, except through me.” There is only one way to God…through following Christ. Christianity means Christ follower. You dig? Out of sheer curiosity, what do you call the bible?

  18. stephen says:

    Heather, Heather, Heather:
    Your references are references by ‘men’ not our Heavenly Father or His Son Jesus. These were ‘men’ making decisions. If you put your faith in ‘man’ you will be forever saddened. If you put your faith in God you will be rewarded. It’s really simple.

    Communion is a man made term. Jesus did not call it ‘communion’ so why would we? Are we better than Jesus and able to coin a term to use as a bludgeoning tool on others that do not believe a particular vein of christianity? Jesus never said ‘communion’.

    No, Jesus did not have a world view, neither did God. They had a desire, a desire for the creations of our heavenly Father to live just and righteous lives and nothing else. That is supported by the ten simple rules He gave us called the 10 Commandments. Don’t you think that God would have include all the additional ‘christian’ views/rules/and such in these commandments if He indeed were to want them adhered to ‘man made christianity’?

    I have quoted Amos before, above, but here it goes again:
    **********************************************
    Consider anew God’s Word as proclaimed by a sheepherder turned prophet named Amos: “I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
    *******************************************

    Now you and I have a very obvious difference in what we run our lives by. I believe that my Heavenly Fathers word, the Hebrew text, the oldest text known to man, used solely as the script to be translated into all languages over the many thousands of years to be ‘God’s’ word. All ‘religions’ as we call them are based first on these documents. Christianity has coined the term ‘the old testament’. The Jews never called it that. They called it ‘The Word’. I am not a Jew, I am a believer in my heavenly Father and His son, Jesus, which I believe to be his ‘real-no kidding-flesh and blood son’ a separate being, Jesus is not God, Jesus talks about His Father, He would not be talking about Himself, that would be foolish and arrogant. Jesus was not arrogant. He has a father. His father is my Heavenly father. He loves and respects his father and protects his father from us. We must go through Jesus to get to the father. Jesus will not judge us, God will, yet Jesus will not let harm be done to his father, he loves his father.

    Christianity ‘a term that was created by men, not by God or Jesus’ is a moot point since it is not in the ‘Word’ or in any other verifiable historical text other than that which was written by what you call Christians somewhere between 70 and 140 years after Jesus death. The Word was written in first person and at the time the people talked to/with God. Not some 70 to 140 years later. You seem to put more stock in what ‘man’ says you should do/think/say/believe, than you do in what God says to you.

    You would do yourself wonders to read a word for word verbatim translation of the Hebrew ‘WORD’. You’ll be shocked, trust me.

    Did you know that the first time God spoke to Adam, God introduced Himself as “Haseem”? No you didn’t. And you probably don’t believe it either. But it’s there in black and white. What nationality does ‘Haseem’ sound like? Middle Eastern to me. Not European, American, South American, Russian, Australian, or any other group. Only from the Middle East. Go figure?

    We all want eternal happiness. I simply believe it is not in a man made church or in man made rules or regulations. I remember when as a small Catholic boy, if I ate meat on Friday, it was a sin I had to confess. Nowhere does God or Jesus ask that of us nor do they call it a sin. So, in my experience, including the coked up pope from the past, the pedophiles, the popes with mistresses, and on and on; there is no good reason to believe a man made religion over God. I WON’T DO IT. You seem comfortable with doing so. However that is your choice, your free will.
    Stephen

  19. Blacksheep says:

    Heather, i did not mean to give the impression that i was a victim, far from it, i am and always have been part of the problem like most every one else.

    And i also believe that we can learn much more by looking at some one who has experienced the good and bad things in life than we can by looking at some one who has just read about it.

    I may have saw the face of Christ in a few people, but it was not any one in Church.

  20. Blacksheep says:

    Heather I still am interested in finding some passage in the ‘bible’ as you call it, that says the christian church is the church ‘chosen by God/Jesus’ as the one true religion. It does not exist except in extrapolation and in nothing else. It just doesn’t exist. You seem to not be interested in what God said to the sheepherder Amos, why? Is not Gods word the most important word we as humans can hear/read/accept?
    ——————————————————

    Steven; i agree with you on most of what you wrote, you are right, I don,t think Christian is mentioned in the Bible but it does say no one can come to the father except through Christ, so being a follower of Christ what else would we be called? not arguing just asking.

  21. Jordan says:

    @Stephen

    “Jesus is not God, Jesus talks about His Father, He would not be talking about Himself, that would be foolish and arrogant.”

    …unless he is actually God

    Not sure how you came to the conclusion in the quote above. Jesus states his divinity multiple times in the Word.

    In John 8:58 Jesus says “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” He knew that the crowd would take this as a claim of divinity. He built the conversation up to this point on purpose into a forceful claim of divinity. Coupled with this claim is an attempt to stone him for blasphemy.

    In Matthew 26:65, Caiphas tears his clothes in response the blasphemy of Jesus claiming to be equal to God

    John 14:7-15 – a big claim by Jesus that he is God.

    7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

    8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

    These are just three examples from the Bible where Jesus claims his divinity, there are others.

    I’d like to see what verses you use to denounce the divinity of Jesus? The entire Bible is about Him.

  22. @Blacksheep: I agree that Christ is glorified in many Christian denominations.

  23. stephen says:

    I do not denounce Jesus of being a divine entity, and believe that he long existed before this world came into existence.
    (we use Christ incorrectly, you should say ‘the Christ’ since Christ is not Jesus’ name. It is Jesus of Nazareth, from the House of David, if memory serves me correctly.)
    I believe Jesus was with his Father, my Heavenly Father all along but not as a human being. Whatever God is, Jesus is, in form or existence. But I believe that God had a son all along and long before we arrived. He may have several children in whatever place of existence they are in. Who actually knows? I believe the first time Jesus became human here on earth to provide the task that that his Father sent him here to do, is when we began to know who Jesus is. I believe He was a ‘human being’ in every sense one can imagine. I also believe he had to be 100% human to fulfill the task he had, to save us from original sin and give us a chance to make it to everlasting happiness.
    It seems that many people do not remember that Jesus is Gods ‘son’. And the son, is forever obedient to the Father. It’s even a commandment ‘Honor thy father and mother’ for humans, which I believe Jesus was, a true human. Jesus in my opinion was not only Human, but a deity without doubt. I do though believe humans are reading text written by humans many years after Jesus’ death (70 to 140 years after his death) and unfortunately with humans we tend to write what we feel/want/desire and not too often the exact spoken word or truth. Then centuries later the christian bible gets re-written, then there is the first Counsel of Nicaea in 325 AD where all known documents that could be gathered and read were sorted out by ‘humans’ and those that they ‘liked’ were kept for the ‘newest edition of the bible’ and those that threatened the church were disposed of, by fire. Even the gospel by Mary was not allowed in the bible by Constantine, the church leader. Why was he afraid of Mary the mother of Jesus? Why did they create the illusion that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute when no evidence in historical documents ever say such? Because ‘men’ did not want a subordinate ‘woman’ to have a place in the church. Sounds suspicious already? Humans will always work the books to put themselves in the best light possible and others in the poorest light as possible. So I trust religious leaders very little, and trust God without exception.
    I have a simple rule. I’m a sinner. I try hard daily. But I am a sinner. I believe I try harder than I sin and hope I am correct but that is up to Gods Judgement and whether or not Jesus allows me to meet and greet God and be judged. I’m certain it will work out okay, but that’s my optimism and nothing else to support my feelings. My God is my heavenly father, I refer to him as my ‘dad’. Jesus is his son and came before me. He is my ‘big brother’ and that is how I speak to him. I feel more to be a member of a family than a religious follower and I believe following God/Jesus and living a good life is more important than the millions of arguments/discussions based on a man written bible. I do have more stock in the oldest scriptures than the newest ones because I hope thousands of years ago people would not be planning to use God as a whip to keep people in line like modern day churches have. But that’s my opinion.
    Stephen

  24. stephen says:

    Jordan,
    I forgot, the bible is not 100% about Jesus. The european and western world so called bible is actually one half the Hebrew Word and one half the latter day christian supplement added to it to form what you call the bible. Only the supplement deals with Jesus and it’s about his life and death and virtually nothing about his birth if you’ll look. Another oddly christian church question for you is: Why did the church create Dec 25 as Jesus birthday when it is not. I will gladly explain myself after your answer and this is not a trick question, it’s just basic fact. You might google it to get an idea as to why I distrust man made churches.
    Stephen

  25. @Stephen: If you do not believe Jesus is God, I have some really bad news for you. You aren’t saved.
    As for Christmas, that’s a silly argument. December 25th was only called “Jesus’s birthday” around the time of Emperor Constantine. He did this to compete with the pagan religion at the time. The bible never claims December 25th is Jesus’s actual date of birth, and all Christians know it isn’t really December 25th. Poor reason to “distrust churches” indeed.
    My guess is that you distrust churches because they preach the gospel and you don’t believe in the gospel.

  26. Jordan says:

    Actually 100% of the Bible is in fact about Jesus. He said so himself.

    It sounds like you don’t believe that the Bible is inspired by God though, so it probably won’t make a difference what I say using scripture.

    You say that the Bible has essentially been corrupted and/or was never really inspired by God at all. (please correct me if this is not your position) If that is the case, what exactly do you base anything you are saying on? Your feelings? Opinions? If you don’t believe that the Bible is legit, where are you getting all your information from? History? I’d wager you can’t trust any of these things completely because it is to easy to view them from a selfish perspective.

    As far as Dec 25, who cares? I think that by focusing on this one misses the entire point of Christmas, the birth of the King. It doesn’t matter what day it is, the only thing that matters is that Jesus, the Messiah was born to save us all.

  27. stephen says:

    I’m going to stick with my belief in ‘God’ (he actually introduced himself to adam as ‘Haseem’ (excuse my spelling) and referred to Himself as ‘Elohim or Elokim’ in the Hebrew Word. He also uses the plural of this word, meaning in our world as ‘GODS’ so it causes one to think he has subordinates or others that work with/for Him?
    I will also continue to believe that Jesus is the Son of God since Jesus Himself refers to ‘God’ as His Father. I can’t dispel what God and Jesus have said just because a man made church entity says so. I am a ‘literalist’ and believe my charge is to read and learn and to understand what I read, in my way. Which is our free will and was given to us so that we each might be judged on our own actions. Since God-Jesus gave us all the same rights and options I do not believe that only a man made church has the right to tell me what is right and or wrong. God made it simple in His 10 commandments. It’s unlikely anyone can read them and not understand fully how we are to live. And again I refer back to the prophet Amos and what he said God wanted. A just and righteous world and nothing else. It’s really simple but humans with their egos and arrogance do more harm than good in these matters. I believe that no matter how I am judged, I will be judged fairly and that is all I can count on. It’s up to me to be a good person and trust my maker to fulfill his promises and for His son Jesus to fulfill his promises to those that believe in Him. I can’t ask for anything else. The birth of Jesus is not the meaning of the New Testament, that is why I believe His actual birth is not noted. It’s His life and death for us that is important for us to know and appreciate and to, as my dad used to say, “Your life is the greatest gift you will ever have. How you repay God for your gift of life is how you live your life.” That’s what I try to follow. Even knowing I’ll fail many times and that I will still be forgiven if I believe. I took Jesus into my life to lead me through it and I know for a fact He is by my side. I have had too many unexplainable instances to believe anything else.
    God bless ya all.
    Stephen

  28. Jordan says:

    So the disagreement here is that you do not believe that Jesus and God are one and the same. Jesus claimed that he was God. I’m really not sure why you use some parts of the Bible to support your position and disregard others. This to me means that you don’t actually see the Bible as inspired by the Spirit of God, which it claims to be. (2 Timothy 3:16)

    To reject Jesus as God is to reject the gospel which is the hope of us all. The Bible does not talk about there being multiple Gods. There is only one. The link below has all of the references to one God.

    http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-oneness-unity-one-god.htm

    Do you see that your approach to this starts with your opinion then looks to the bible to pick and choose support for your opinion rather than the other way around. The bible is very clear about there being only 1 God, that Jesus is God, that he and the father are one…to see Jesus is to see God. He says this explicitly. This isn’t my opinion about it, this is what it says.

  29. @Stephen: You said, “we each might be judged on our own actions.” Thank God that’s not true! I just wish you could see it. If that were true we’d all be destined for hell. NO one would be saved. We’d have to be completely perfect to make it to heaven. By your own admission you aren’t perfect. You need a perfect sacrifice to justify you. You need someone perfectly spotless (remember the OT sacrifices for sins?). You need God Himself to die for you. Jesus did that because He is God. I hope He did it for you.

  30. Also, you say you have Jesus by your side. I’d say you should take a closer look. The bible says Satan sometimes disguises himself as an angel of light.

  31. stephen says:

    Jordan,
    First I do not pick and choose parts of anything. This site does not allow enough space to do post the entire set of scriptures, and I’m looking at your posts as well as others and see the picking and choosing in those posts. So, lets quit this picky/picky pick and choose that is going on. I don’t claim you are doing this on purpose but what I read seems to be pretty evident for all posters here. We reflect on what we have read and post accordingly. You call it picking and choosing I believe?

    I never said there were many gods. Did you actually read my post? I stated in the Hebrew Word, the oldest Aramic writings the world has, that God introduced himself as ‘Haseem’ (spelling?) and that God refers to himself as Elohim/Elokim (this is where man translated this word to mean GOD) and at other times refers to Elohim’s/Elokim’s, which does indeed mean plural. That is all I stated and I did so with a question mark on the sentence. It was a question not a statement of fact since none of us know all of the truths and are not supposed to know all of the truths. It’s called faith, faith in your God/Elohim/Elokim/Jesus.

    I also believe that the spiritual Jesus and the human Jesus were the same person(s) but were different in their actual make up. I believe the spiritual Jesus is a deity, but the human Jesus was really human, still the son of God, which I cannot understand why being the human/flesh and blood Son of God is a problem for many christians. Jesus is referred to as the Son of God many many times and I take it at face value. He is the Son of God. Why do we have a problem with this?

    Everything on this blog is of opinion. Even the New Testament is the writings of men and their opinions, as they saw it. You may have been there at the time of Jesus and seen things a bit different or maybe the very same, who knows. It would have been wonderful to walk within the crowd that followed Jesus. It would be amazing to have experienced.

    No one rejects Jesus, not even Muslims. No real believer in God rejects His son. They may view Him in different ways, which is okay since every religion, including the 35,000 plus different sects of christianity do. They all preach their vein of religion which is why I don’t and can’t trust one church over the others. They do not agree on everything so someone has to be right and the others have to be wrong. Who is it that is right, do you know which of the christian churches is right? Now when you answer that you do understand you are saying that all the other churches and belief systems are wrong. Do you have or were you given that power and authority by God/Jesus to determine which man made church is the only church that God/Jesus will listen to? I don’t believe you were but I’m guessing.

    Heather,
    If you do not believe that we are all judged on our own actions here on earth then I’m not sure what type of christian or belief system you have. We were all given a free will and were told in the bible that we would be judged on our actions. Where did you ever read that we would not be judged on our own actions? I would really like to see that, really. I trust the worst of persons on earth actually can have everlasting life if he/she believes in God/Jesus and accepts them as his/her savior/god. Even if they do horrible things I believe God gives each one a final chance to choose and then be judged and if need be punished either eternally or for a period of time that God/Jesus sees fit to have them forgive themselves, which is the hardest thing a person can do that has done evil. But God/Jesus can forgive all, it’s said so in the bible. God actually knows everything before it happens in my mind and so he is prepared to forgive you if you are really really really sorry for your sins. That’s my take.

    I already know Jesus died for me. It’s understood, I am thankful for it and hope to see ‘Dad and Big Brother’ when I pass from this earth, and I believe I will since I hold them in the very highest regard as my God and Savior.

    But I do not yet have the answer to the question:
    If you are so certain you know who is right and who is wrong, please tell me which religion (this includes all religions on this earth, and the 35,000 plus congregations that call themselves christians under different names/faiths) Please tell me which ONE is right so that we can know ALL OF THE OTHERS ARE WRONG IN GOD/JESUS’ EYES. Do that for me will you?

    This is the main reason why I believe what Amos the Prophet notes as Gods wishes in the Hebrew Word. God does not want a man made church, he wants only a Just and Righteous world. And Jesus, being Gods Son, I believe He wants the very same thing and nothing more.

    Follow the 10 commandments, try to live a good life, be sorry for ones sins, ask forgiveness sincerely, and God/Jesus will judge you fairly. What more can one ask for? No one human, no church can save you other than Jesus and God His father.

    Jesus walks with me, I have an angel as well. I don’t pray as I was taught in Catholic schools. I do as Amos noted and I talk to my Heavenly Father and Jesus as family because I am a child of God and I believe that my Heavenly Father prefers me to speak to him and to his son Jesus with the understanding I and all of His creations (humans) are his children.

    For me it’s simple because I live the way I think, and yes, I am still a sinner. But a sinner that also tries to do good, think good, act good, tries to set an example, helps the poor and sick, and basically just tries to do more good than bad, but still nothing more than a poor sinner. It’s all any of us have here on earth in my opinion.
    Stephen

  32. @Stephen: YOU are picking and choosing. You ignore the places where Jesus says He is God.

    The New Testament is the word of God, not men.

    Uhm, I like all Christians, believe you aren’t judged by what you do on earth. If that were true, we’d all be in hell. All of us. Right now. We’re judged by what Jesus did for us. Jesus lived the way we can’t, and became the sacrifice for all the sins we could never atone for. Thank God I’m not judged for what I do. I would never be clean of my sins if that were true.

    Sure, I can answer that. All those churches who believe in a few key points of doctrine (one of which is the deity of Christ a.k.a. that He IS God) are true churches. Those are the right ones. The rest are wrong. Other things include belief in God and the bible (Old and New Testaments) being His inspired word.

    Wow, my heart is so sad for you that you think you have to work your way to heaven. See, it’s weird because you say, “Only God saves you,” which I agree with. But then you say, “Your works will get you to heaven.” Whatever you have with you isn’t Jesus. You really need to think more about this because this is your eternal life you are talking about, Stephen.

  33. stephen says:

    As I thought, you are a confused christian. If you do not believe that your actions here on earth are going to be judged in the end times then you have no reason to live a good righteous life. You can go out and murder, plunder, rape, whatever you desire and it will not come back to you when you die? Surely you must be mistaken or misspoken? You really don’t believe your actions here on earth will not be judged? I am sorry that you don’t feel God or Jesus cannot or will not forgive you of your sins. The catholic church taught this for centuries, it was called going to confession to be forgiven for your sins.

    You must not have read very clearly or very much of my post. I acknowledged that we all post based on what we have read and learned and that there is not enough space here to post every word of the Hebrew Word and the New Testament. We all reference scriptures, even I do, but you prefer to point a christian finger at people and ‘judge’ them. This is not allowed by Jesus or His father God. ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ Do you remember this from your bible? Is that not a sin?

    I know we will meet one day, hopefully in Heaven, whatever that may actually be and we will both be enlightened by God and his son Jesus and we will be blessed by the Holy Spirit for our good deeds here on earth. At that time we can both rejoice in being near our creator/savior and be happy for eternity, and be friends as children of God.

    I hold no ill feelings towards anyone posting here or elsewhere. I just have a clear understanding of what God/Jesus expects of me and am trying to fulfill their expectations by living a good life by doing more good than harm.

    Stephen

  34. Blacksheep says:

    Heather, i really do believe that and i believe that is because Gods word which in this case Christs word was to be preached and nothing is going to stop it, not me or anyone else.

    That is why i said that His word would be preached in spite of some Churches, not that i believe there would be very many Churches deliberately trying to deceive anyone except by not rightly dividing the word of God.

    But at the same time when any Church goes exactly the opposite of what Jesus said to do or not do it gives me cause to wonder if it is a Church of God at all, these are the ones i would not hesitate to call nothing but religious institutions.

    I believe there is no doubt that although there have been many who would want us to think that the word of God has been changed
    and even tried to change it, it has not been changed.

    Even Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees that in so many words, that they were making a ritual, religion out of something that was not intended to be a ritual, for instance the washing of the hands.

    Or the washing of the feet as a ritual, it is something that is not needed in our day because we do not walk for miles in sandals to preach the gospel, things that were done out of necessity of the times does not mean that we need to make a ritual of it.

    Also Jesus said not to let your left hand know what your right hand does when you give alms, in other words do not count what you give, but you better not give a check or you will be reminded at the end of the year of how much you gave or did not give, in a statement from the Church, give cash then you or no one else will know unless you keep track of it.

    There are so many things they do or don,t do that is the opposite of the teaching of Jesus, and believe me when i say that if i can see it any one can see it.

    It is not what any one says about it except Jesus who is Christ and Christ is of the Godhead, the trinity.

    As i have already said, we will not know the Gospel of Jesus if all that the Churches teach is from the letters of Paul, the only thing we would know is about the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and how a Church should be run and how the Church members who were there to serve the Church were to behave.

    In some Churches every one in the Church are members, they are preaching to the quire, not spreading the Gospel, which shows they need to hear it.

  35. Blacksheep says:

    Heather and Stephen.
    I think we could argue all day about if Jesus was God or not, there are scriptures that will back up both beliefs.

    Personally i believe that Jesus indicated more times than not that he was not God.

    Mat 20:23
    And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

    In view of all of the scriptures where Jesus refers to God as his father it is confusion to me that some one would accuse some one of not being saved if they do not believe that Jesus is God.

    Mary was the mother of Jesus, if Jesus was God that would make Mary the mother of God, and in fact Mary would be God, because she would be before God.

    Jesus did not worship his mother, there is no scripture
    that she nor his brethren even followed him until after his death,
    in fact the scriptures indicate the opposite.

    I certainly believe in the trinity and i would say that Jesus was God in the flesh and the Holy spirit was in him, it indicates there are three and these three are one, maybe meaning the same mind, but not the same person

    The only thing that bothers me about calling Jesus God is the idea that it would actually make his mother the real God.

    Now, i want to make it clear that i do not know anything except That Christ is Lord, i only believe based on what i read.

    I have not met any one who believe exactly the same as some one else when having a private conversation with them, every one is different, but anyone who believes in Jesus and his Gospel are my brethren whether they like it or not.

  36. stephen says:

    Have no problems with anything you say. I just like to learn. To learn regarding man made religions requires delving into the different main stream ones and getting into conversations with various individuals to read and understand what and why they believe this or that. Many times if not most of the time when a question is raised that causes discomfort to answer, or more times than not you are told ‘it’s just the way it is. you are either a believer or not.” I feel that I’m being told ‘I don’t know. But don’t want you to know I don’t know, and I’m going to hell in a hand basket because I don’t believe church ‘X’.
    That is not Gods/Jesus’ way. He just want you to believe honestly and sincerely in his greatness and mercy on us poor old humans. He knew when he made us we were going to disappoint him, but made us anyway because many of us will please him as well.
    I still refer back to what God tells Amos the sheep herder and believe it to be more important than any modern day man made religion. So I try to follow the lead of Amos.
    I respect all others ideas and beliefs and only ask the same. We can’t all be right but I believe in many ways we will one day find we were all wrong. It’s a mystery, something we are not to understand fully, it’s faith.
    Stephen

  37. Blacksheep says:

    Stephen, i think only of the gospel Jesus preached, but you make a good point.

    And i believe you are right, i believe we will most likely find we know nothing.

  38. stephen says:

    That’s all fine and good. But you need to remember that the Hebrew Word, the ‘old testament’ is what all religions are based on, to begin with. From Genesis and forward. Only the christian churches reference the ‘new testament’, which is also okay. To each it’s own as long as we all live a good and honest and righteous life, we’ll be fine I hope.
    Looking forward to knowing more, when I pass. If I go before you, I’ll save you a seat!
    Stephen

  39. @Blacksheep: The second person of the trinity (who we know as Jesus) existed long before Mary. In fact, He existed from the beginning…because He is God. Mary was a vehicle used to bring God incarnate into the world.

    @Stephen: It doesn’t matter if you are good and honest. That won’t save you. Even “living righteously” won’t. Only a belief in Jesus as God will. If Jesus wasn’t God, His death won’t make up for your sins or my sins, and neither one of us will be saving anyone seats in heaven because we won’t be going there.

  40. stephen says:

    Heather,
    I’m lost as to your comment to Blacksheep. No one is making any kind of issue out of Mary, the mother of Jesus here on earth as a Human. What gives?

    As to you post to me:
    Then Heather, you do not care what God says in the Old Testament? What God told Amos the Shepperd? Well I do. I will take and trust Gods word over yours and live by His word and believe my savior is Jesus, and continue to not care about all the many man made churches/religions/belief systems that exist in this world and how they each believe ‘their’ way (just like you Heather) is the only way or you’ll go to ‘hell’!

    What a poor example of what you call a christian, yet such an excellent example of what I call the problem with man made churches.
    My best to you.
    Stephen

  41. @Stephen: Blacksheep made this comment, “Mary was the mother of Jesus, if Jesus was God that would make Mary the mother of God, and in fact Mary would be God, because she would be before God.” I was responding to that.

    Of course I care what God said to Amos. Unlike you, I believe the ENTIRE bible to be the word of God and not JUST Amos. So, I read Amos in light of all of the rest of God’s Word. I don’t just camp on a passage or two that I like.
    I don’t believe MY way is the only way. I believe Jesus is the only way. And when I say Jesus, I mean God. If you don’t believe Jesus is God (and you say you don’t) you aren’t on the way to heaven. I’m not excited about this. I find it terrifying. That is why I’m trying to draw out the danger you are in because I hope to warn you. I’m actually doing my duty AS a Christian because I’d rather NOT see you lost.

  42. Blacksheep says:

    @Blacksheep: The second person of the trinity (who we know as Jesus) existed long before Mary.
    —————————————————————-
    Yes, the same spirit that was Jesus existed from the beginning but Mary was here before Jesus. at any rate Mary could not be the mother of God since God was already here.

  43. Blacksheep says:

    Christians do not live by the old covenant, both Jews and Christians are to live by the new covenant.

    We do not have to explain to some one else just what we believe or if we believe in God or not because he says that every one will know.

    Jer 31:31
    Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

    Jer 31:34
    And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

    Hebrewa ch 8 and 9 explain that Jesus became the high priest and he sacrificed himself instead of animals.

    It says every one will know me, we do know him because we know his son who became the high priest and died for us.

    As far as our actions are concerned, i don,t know if the mark of the beast is literal or not but if it is and there is a lot of indications that it may be, maybe we will find out that we do have to make a choice if the mark of the beast comes upon us and that is where our actions are most important.

  44. Jordan says:

    @Heather: Amen!

    @Stephen: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.””

    There is only one way, Stephen, and it is Jesus. While many churches disagree on many things, any church where the Spirit of God is moving will clearly articulate that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Additionally, there is nothing we can do on our own to get there, it is purely through His actions that we are saved. Once we are saved, the reason we should strive to live righteously is that we are already made righteous through Jesus. If you are a believer in Christ, all of your sins, even the ones you haven’t done yet are already forgiven!!! This is what justification is. It’s as if you never even sinned at all! None of this has to do with your effort to be a “better” person, only what Jesus did for us on the cross. If you believe that you can earn your way to heaven, you do not understand grace or the gospel. I know that you have an issue with religion and churches and you have good reason to feel this way but at the end of the day, this is the model that Jesus told us to follow. It’s messy, people are sinful, but Jesus is still working in the hearts of His people and he is the one leading the Church, which transcends any building or denomination. He is our King!

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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