July 15, 2014

I attend a small church that believes in total abstinence.

I once was told, by a senior member, that if he saw someone enter a bar, or see them have a drink, he would doubt their salvation!

This idea is not new in this church. It has been taught so long that somewhere in the past the symbol, that God gave us, for the blood of Jesus, was changed from wine to grape juice! No one seems to understand that if God gave us wine as a symbol it would be wrong to change it! It shows a great lack of faith, to imply that God somehow did not understand that a drunk would someday be tempted to return to alcoholism if they participated in Communion.

I understand how this could have come about. Too much alcohol can certainly destroy anyone’s life and it can be the cause of many problems for those who are close to the drunk. However, the basic cause of the problem is the person, not the drink. The person cares more about themselves than others. To be as plain as I can, the person cares more about getting drunk, than he, or she cares about what it does to others.

It seems that we tend to blame inanimate objects for the sins of man. If that were true, then we could remove the everything that causes sin and therefore we could no longer sin.

There are many verses in the Bible that imply too much alcohol will lead to problems, but there is only one verse that states someone should not drink at all. Proverbs 31:4 (NIV) says, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel– not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer”. The next verse explains why, (Prov 31:5 NIV) lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

I am a child of God and a Christian, however I am not a king. We have only one King and that is Jesus. Compare Proverbs 31:4&5 to Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, and Luke 22:18 and you will understand who the verse applies to and why it does.

By now I think that you believe I am advocating drinking, however what I personally have determined to be proper as to drinking I will keep to myself. (Rom 14:22 NIV) “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” It is proper that both sides of the issue keep their views to themselves. However, those who have determined that it is wrong to drink, have not kept their views to themselves and have confused many.

If you are one that thinks it is wrong to drink, then consider Communion. God chose wine to represent the blood of Jesus. In fully fermented wine all of the yeast, the symbol of sin, is destroyed. There was no grape juice before refrigeration or pasteurization, so it was not possible for grape juice to be the proper symbol of Communion. God chose bread without yeast (sin) and wine, where all of the yeast (sin) was destroyed, to represent the body and blood of Jesus. He did not just choose at random.

Then consider the first miracle of Jesus. He made somewhere between 120 to 180 gallons of wine for a party where the guests had already drank everything in site!

If you have not changed your mind yet, then consider the Tithing banquet. (Deu 14:26 NIV) “Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” This was a banquet to celebrate and understand how good the Lord had been to each and every person that attended, and God Himself attended!

I have not revealed my own beliefs about drinking. I have only pointed out some verses that do not condemn the practice. If you believe God made a mistake, when He directed Scripture be written (Deu 14:26, John 2:1-11) then keep it to yourself (Rom 14:22).


July 8, 2014

I have been studying the Bible for myself for about 30 years now. I do not accept what someone else says about anything, unless I study what others claim for myself. That is true, not for just the Bible, but for almost everything that I encounter in this life. Because of this trait of mine, I see many things different from those around me. I was just going over, in my own mind, the differences between my understanding of Scripture and the generally accepted understanding of parts of it. I find that so much different that it amazed even me! Let me list some of the ways that seem different, even opposed to the commonly accepted views.

I know that most who read the posts that I write tend to disagree with my views, but if you test what I say, using the Word of God as the ultimate authority, I believe you will end up agreeing with me.

First, iron does not sharpen iron. This verse is quoted by those who want others to believe that man can sharpen man, but it is God that sharpens us, not man. The understanding of the verse is based on whether or not it is possible to sharpen iron with iron. If it is possible, then man can sharpen man, but if it is not possible, then man cannot sharpen man. Because, I am a man, I cannot teach you this. The best that I can do is to suggest that you try it and if you are not willing to actually attempt it, then please do not try to pass yourself off as an expert on something that you have not tried for yourself. Do not try to argue with me, as I have attempted it, so I know it cannot be done, and even knowing this I attempted to teach others this basic fact. Yes, I know it was not the brightest move on my part. I have never claimed to be a mental heavyweight.

Second, this Country is not a gift of God, but was formed in rebellion to Him. You only have to apply Romans 13:1 to the founding Fathers to understand this. This is a Country where men choose men to lead them. Does no one see that it is God that should lead us? Can we choose both God and man to lead us? Isn’t that being double minded? No man can see the future, so this is a Country where the blind lead the blind.

Third, it is not possible to Tithe. The Tithe that is taught in most churches is twisted, in order to fleece the flock. Those who do not study Scripture for themselves may believe that money strengthens the Church, when just the opposite is true. Scripture says that we cannot serve both money and God. Does it make any sense to believe we need money to serve God? That idea comes from the world, not from God. If you disagree then study Tithing for yourself and you will find that it was a wonderful party two out of three years and it demonstrated to the Israelites how much God had given to them and that He even gave His ten percent to them to enjoy.

Fourth, money is the God of this world. Many would agree with this statement and yet their actions do not agree. Most of the problems of this world can be traced back to money. Yet, we still seem to think that money can solve most of our problems! Think about it. What problem do you see and do you think it can be solved with enough money? Let’s consider the advancement of the Church. God says that you cannot serve both money and Him, but the Church, as it is today, cannot exist without money! Most would say that if the Church had more money it could build larger buildings, advertise itself more, feed the poor; well you name your favorite way that you think the Church can be advanced and consider money. If money is a god, an idol, and it is, because one cannot serve both god and God, then how could more of an idol better serve the real God? Does no one grasp that is declaring God has little power without money?

Fifth, is public prayer. God says do not pray in public (Mat 6:5&6), but we seem to think that He did not mean it, so we pray in public all the time. We pray in church services, before sports events, at the opening of meetings, and many other events and yet God said do not do this! Do we know more than God?

Sixth, women in church. Because Paul does not allow women to speak in church (1Cor 14:34) and he does not allow women to have authority over men (1Tim 2:12) we have the idea that God does not permit such things. God appointed Deborah as the leader of Israel (Jud 4:4 and Rom 13:1). So, it seems clear that God does not agree with Paul! I believe God is right and so I have no problem with women speaking in church, or having authority over me.

Well, I could go on and on, but I think you see that my view of many subjects is not the popular interpretations of them. Because I know that iron cannot sharpen iron, I know that you cannot understand my views by reading what I write. However, you can realize there might be a problem with much of what you have been taught. After all, you have been taught by men and iron cannot sharpen iron. I am not teaching (only because I really cannot), I am only trying to get others to search Scripture for themselves and see what God says, because it is not always what man says.

Sometimes I think that I am trying to circumvent Proverbs 27:17, because I know that if I could, I would. However, God is right, I would only taint Scripture. He reserves the right to teach for Himself and that is how it should be: who really knows God, but God? Therefore, who is really qualified to teach about God, but God?


July 2, 2014

Mat 27:46 (NIV) “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

That verse used to bother me. As it says in the Book of John (8:28, 12:49, &14:31), Jesus did, and said, only what God told him to do and say, and yet God abandoned him! It surprised me, just as it must have surprised Jesus!

I thought to myself, how could anything surprise Jesus and how could God forsake him when he had done and said only what God had commanded! Well, the answer to my amazement only came with more understanding of Scripture.

One must understand death, to understand Matthew 27:46.

There are two deaths. Physical death and spiritual death, as taught in Scripture. Death is separation, not loss of life, as it seems to those who do not understand. The first death is a physical death: total separation from the world and everything in it. The second death is a spiritual death: total separation from God and everything in Him. Those who are lost will spend eternity separated from our Father and those who are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus will spend eternity with God. No one looses their life: as most understand death. Life is the breath of God (Gen 2:7) and therefore permanent. Man does not have the power to give back to God, what God has given: even though the lost will desire to do.

It is said, that if you want to understand someone, then put yourself in their shoes, think as they think. Well, try to think as they think, as it is not possible, but it seems possible to understand why someone does, what they do, if you can see the situation as they do.

When I try to view things as I think Jesus did, on the cross, it seems to me that Jesus would have been temporally confused. He had done and said, only what our Father wanted him to, even to the point of death, and yet God abandoned him!

Jesus knew that, if we were to have any chance that we could be saved, he must die in our place. It seems to me that Jesus thought that he must die the first death for us. However, that is not the death that Jesus died, that we no longer must die. Everyone still must die the first death, but not everyone the second death. It was the second death that Jesus died in our place.

I am probably stepping out of line here, as I usually do, but it seems to me that Jesus did not understand that he had to die the second death, and it came as a surprise, when God abandoned him.

That is not to say that God abandoned Jesus forever, but it probably seemed forever, for both God and Jesus. Jesus had no sin of his own and therefore sin did not stand in the way of a reuniting with God and Jesus knew that he would always be with his Father. However, just for a second, it seems as though he was confused, and yet he did not loose his faith.