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Poco a Poco

There are many that say they want to follow Jesus, but few that do. It is not necessarily for lack of desire, but lack of understanding. Isaiah 28:9-10 KJV Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. [10] For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:. This verse reminds me of my Spanish textbook which I had for my first two semesters of college. Poco a poco in English translates to little by little. Knowledge and understanding rarely happen spontaneously. To gain these we need to attend a local congregation and read the Holy Bible daily. And if so we learn precept upon precept or little by little. A little daily.

Proverbs 9:10 KJV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

What did Jesus say about fearing the Lord? Matthew 10:28 KJV And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

How did Jesus in a few words describe being Holy? Matthew 5:48 KJV Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The Bible tells us much about the Heavenly Father in it’s teachings. We know he is kind to both the just and the unjust. Matthew 5:45 KJV That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

So above all else if we wish to follow Jesus we desire to be the children of God. Jesus was his only begotten son. What did God the Father say about being his children? 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 KJV Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive you, [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We seperate ourselves by believing Jesus is Christ and by being baptized by immersion in water in his name. We further seperate ourselves by not touching the unclean thing. The unclean thing is Sin. We should not let sin dirty are hands nor our feet. The dirt we let in or touch contaminates our hearts and minds and our very spirits as well. Don’t let your feet carry you to sin and don’t use your hands to exercise it.

But what is the unclean thing. We must learn to discern between good and evil and right and wrong. Jesus tells us the two great commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 KJV Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

These verses through further study should lead us to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 which are excellent examples of how to love God and how to love your neighbor. 

Study may also lead you to Luke 6:31 KJV And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  This is popularly known as the Golden Rule.

There are many verses which encompass the law and help us discern between right and wrong, between good and evil, between the clean and unclean. I’ll leave you with a few, but please remember this short article is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Our heart can guide us if we let God dwell there. See James 4:8 KJV Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. And 1 John 3:20-21 KJV For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. [21] Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

There is a catch all verse designed to help us determine if something is sin. James 4:17 KJV Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Touch not the unclean thing and Jehovah has already told us, he will be our Father.

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The Children Are Free

It is my opinion that another law which has changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament is the tithe. It has been said that a man should tithe ten percent of all his gain to the Lord. I did look for a specific verse which says ten percent of all, but the figure seems to be drawn from a conglomeration of verses. There is Jacob’s vow to pay ten percent in Genesis 28 and various tithes and associated rules are discussed in Leviticus 27.

There has been much debate not only over whether to tithe, but how much to tithe. 

The Lord liveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give ; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

So it is my opinion we don’t need to give anything at all unless our heart is moved to do so. The tithe requirement simply no longer applies. When discussing tribute, Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 17:24-26 KJV And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? [25] He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? [26] Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. [27] Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

I think we can apply the children being free of trubute to tithing as well. Certain churches use 1 Cor. 16 and the gathering of offerings for the saints on the first day of the week as New Testament authority for passing the offering plate. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 KJV Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. [2] Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

This was a specific instruction to the Church at Corinth and apparently Galatia, for these churches to have the offering ready so that Paul or others could take it to Jerusalem for distribution.

Today offerings rarely go to the saints at Jerusalem. The majority of offerings go to the preacher’s salary and building expenses such as electric, air-conditioning, heat, and mortgage if applicable. These are not necessarily unreasonable things, but be aware of where your offering is going.

Give as your heart desires and your spirit advises. Research charities and worthy causes and give to them directly if you are moved to do so, but remember on Sundays and always – the children are free!

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A Rose

There is a saying that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Biblical scholars in an attempt to divide the word, supposedly for ease of study, have created divisions for the law of God, but seem to forget it is all the law of God. Sacrificial law, Mosaic law, Holydays, Old, New, any and all of the laws in the Holy Bible are or were the law of God.

It reminds me of people on television calling the second temple, Herod’s Temple. He may indeed have given money for its restoration or renovation, but it was still the Temple of God not Herod’s Temple.

A recent article in my Church of Christ bulletin concluded, “So does Moses’ law contain any authority for us today? No, because it has been abolished. Moses has been overshadowed and now we serve the perfect Savior and the Son of the living God(Matt. 17:1 ff, Col. 3:17)”. If you truly serve Jesus and his father, Jehovah, then you can’t simply disregard and abolish the law given to Moses. 

Are you like the above author having trouble discerning which laws of God to follow? You are not alone. Many preachers don’t even seem to know. There is indeed a transition from the Old to the New and it can be confusing. Andy Brewer, the author of the above article, entitled, That Which Is Abolished, writes “The law that Moses received and gave to the people was one that governed their lives civilly, socially, physically, internationally, and spiritually. But the Old Testament itself spoke of a time when that law would be taken out of the way and replaced by something that would be better and eternal (Jer. 31:31 ff).” Does Jeremiah say the law would be taken out of the way? Jeremiah 31:31-33 KJV 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: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord : [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord , I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

So we see the New Covenant although new is still based on the laws of God. It is a closer walk with God with his law being written on our hearts. We find a similar comment to the verses in Jeremiah in Hebrews 8:8-11 KJV For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: [9] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. [10] For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: [11] And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Although I am yet a sinner, I think I have come to know the Lord and understand the New Covenant which is the New Testament.

I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. John 3:16. I have been baptized by immersion in water in the name of Jesus. Mark 16:16 Now, how do I know what laws to keep? We keep those things we write on our heart and we intentionally abolish those things we choose not to keep and follow.

Thus let the Lord write in your heart as he has written on mine:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Matthew 22:37-40 KJV Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Exodus 20:2-17 KJV I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. [3] Thou shalt have no other gods before me. [4] Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: [5] Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; [6] And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. [7] Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: [11] For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is , and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. [12] Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. [13] Thou shalt not kill. [14] Thou shalt not commit adultery. [15] Thou shalt not steal. [16] Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. [17] Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for sin, hence animal sacrifice for sin is no longer required. 

The dietary laws ended with Peter’s dream opening salvation to the Gentiles. Call not unclean what the Lord has cleansed, either food or person. Paul also told us that anything eaten with thanksgiving is sanctified by the prayer. The only remaining dietary requirement is do not eat food sacrificed to idols.

For me this is the law of Jesus, the new covenant of the New Testament, which he raised as a banner, tagging it to the cross, so that all may see it and live as he did walking sinless before the Lord.

In fact, Jesus strengthened and explained Mosaic law, teaching us the only reason for divorce was adultery (Matthew 5:32) and that all things should be tempered with mercy and grace (Matthew 23:23). Have not a hardened heart such as eye for an eye, but after breaking up the fallow ground of your heart, let God write his laws upon your heart and mind and walk in them. 

It shouldn’t require restating, but you will find God’s good and acceptable law in both the Old and New Testament, in Holy Days, in the Patriarical, in the Mosaic, etc. Jesus teachings unify and clarify the law of God we are to follow.

Be wary of the laws of man which are added by some to the Holy Bible. Take note of 1 John 1:9 which provides a path to Heaven under Jesus’ atoning blood after baptism.

A Rose may smell as sweet, but truth and beauty are not all in the smelling. We use all our senses, physical and spiritual, in discerning the Truth.

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Termites at the Foundation

This Sunday morning, as is more often the case, I was handed two publications with disheartening articles. One was “Seek the Old Paths” with a cover article about how miracles have ended. The other, a publication of the Church of Christ I attend, featuring an article asserting that the law of Moses is dead.

I have come to the point where I don’t even finish the articles. You see, I believe in miracles and I believe in the law. I believe God tells churches how to perform miracles in James 5:14-15 KJV. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

I believe Jesus said we could do miracles even greater than he did. Jesus said in John 14:12 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Yet denominational teaching of the Church of Christ is that miracles ended either with Jesus’ arrival on Earth or the completion of the New Testament. Why do I sit an hour and listen to your disbelief and ignorance? It is said, Do not abstain from the assembly (Admittedly I do not have perfect attendance). Yet, these articles and sermons are attacks on true faith. You speak of the providence of God as if it is a mystery and claim you believe in the power of God, but don’t believe God performs miracles today?

The papers you pass out would serve better if they had been left as trees, instead your disbelief and lack of understanding eat away at the foundation of my faith and others that may believe. Miracles do still happen, but most miracles I believe are reserved for those that believe. There is an example of this in Acts 14:9-10 KJV. The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

I’ll touch on another denominational termite eating away at faith in my next post, A Rose. If Christ abolished the law of Moses then why are nine commandments still good and valid, but not Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy? If you truly believe Christ abolished the law, have you become an anarchist? Christ told us He came to fulfill the law and the prophets in Matthew 5:17 KJV, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

If we forget our first schoolmaster because of lack of practice, it may be time for a refresher course.

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Comfortable

In many cases comfortable equals lukewarm. Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16 KJV I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

As we sit in our padded pews in our comfortable air conditioned churches listening to comfortable words from hired sheperds, Christ’s words ring in my ears.

Lukewarm may be comfortable, but it is also a death knell. We must read the Bible on our own and be unafraid to correct the errant hireling. I believe this is one of the main reasons we are commanded not to abstain from the assembly.

It also brings to mind Jesus’ warning in John 10:12-13 KJV But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Do we get what we pay for? Should I have to go to the Church of Christ for baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to another denomination for healing and miracles, to the Catholic’s for confession, to the Messianic Jews to observe the Sabbath, or all the way to Russia for a holy kiss?

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A Convenient Season

Baptism is not only important, it is essential. But baptism has two parts. It requires an evangelist who understands baptism, one who can explain it to the unsaved, and the seeker of God and God’s forgiveness who will ultimately be baptized.

The problem – many evangelists and preachers don’t understand baptism. There is a segment on the 700 Club called Bring it On, where they answer questions that viewers send in. Recently Pat Robertson answered a question on the necessity of baptism. He claimed it was not a crucial element of salvation and cited 1 Corinthians 1:16-17 KJV where Paul said, And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 

First I would say we follow Jesus not Paul. What did Jesus do? John 4:2 KJV (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,). So we see Jesus’ example was not only to be baptized, but to baptize others. Secondly, Pat Robertson’s answer shows ignorance of Paul’s own ministry. Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8, Acts 19:5 all show people being baptized in response to Paul’s testimony and Paul’s own baptism in Acts 22:16.

What is the responsibility of the evangelist? It is found in Matthew 28:19-20 KJV Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

It is also known as the Great Commission. Before one can seek baptism or immersion in water by another in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one must be taught properly what is baptism and why is it necessary.

Baptism is immersion in water by another in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost or in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission or forgiveness of sins. It requires understanding of the triune nature of the Godhead and especially that Jesus is Christ, that died on the cross for our sins, whom was resurrected from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in power. It requires an understanding of sin and a desire by the baptism seeker to remove from his or her sin and walk in God’s commandment.

What is the part of the seeker? The seeker must understand that Jesus is Christ and desire to follow after him. He or she must be repentant. Without proper understanding of these things baptism is not necessary. The age of understanding varies from person to person. If someone is mentally handicapped or senile, I believe allowances can be made for their level of understanding. For instance there is no need to baptize infants without comprehension of Jesus and sin, but I do not believe the mentally challenged should be denied baptism if they have faith in Jesus and a basic understanding of right and wrong.

The evangelist himself does not need to perform the baptism. To my understanding anyone can baptize another, even an unbaptized believer. Hence two new believers could take turns baptizing each other.

Author’s Note: For convenience sake I did not cite scriptures for all the requirements of baptism, although I have cited them in other articles. If you have any questions please ask them via comments and I will be happy to answer them.

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You Say

You say follow the law of Jesus, not the law of Moses.

I say wasn’t Moses a servant of Jesus, teaching us the Master’s ways?

You say water baptism isn’t necessary to salvation because Paul didn’t baptize everyone he evangelized. If it was so crucial, Paul would have made baptism more of a priority.

I say do you follow Paul or do you follow Jesus, whom taught his disciples to baptize?

You say I don’t need to keep the Sabbath?

I say is that because you don’t want to keep the Sabbath yourself or because you cannot discern the truth? Why are only 9 commandments still valid?

You say it’s okay to vow or swear?

I say what did Jesus say.

You say what is the truth? 

I say, Come and See. Come and See the Holy Bible King James Version. Come and see what Jesus said. It’s even available in braille.

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