Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Remaking of Jesus


The “remaking” of Jesus is not just some harmless campaign to make God's Word (the Bible) more palatable for those who are looking for “meaning” or for “purpose” in their lives. It is a concise, direct and planned attack on Christianity and on the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. This attack is taking place in our churches, our colleges and even in Congress.

How many times have you heard someone remark, “My God will not send me to hell...” or “God is love...” and this is frequently followed up by some disparaging remark about those parts of God's Word that some find offensive, such as the fact that there are consequences for sin, or that there will be a time when all are judged? Romans 1:20 tells us, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” We also know that without God, we are unworthy and we are all sinners. Only through His grace are we given salvation, Psalm 14:1 “.. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:2 “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” Psalm 14:3 “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” God reminds us that we all will come short of perfection without His grace, Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and the consequences of sin are death. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Does ignoring these facts make them untrue? Many falsely believe that Jesus' loving nature renders him incapable of eternally damning anyone. Our society doesn't want to ever deal with the consequences of their choices...now or ever. But, that is flawed logic because like it or not, all are accountable.

So, how is it that so many “Christians” don't seem to understand that God is not a little cherub, with wings and a bow, floating around in space? Could it be that they don't take the time to study His Word, are not familiar with His Word and therefore don't KNOW? Are pastors today teaching ALL of the Bible? Will those sitting in the pews in those churches be held accountable for what they do not know? The answer to the last three questions is YES! Every person will answer for their actions and choices, and they will answer to the God who created the universe, and all that is.

Many people are aware that the phrase, “Separation of church and state” do not appear anywhere in the Constitution of the United States of America. But, many believe it does. Recently, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was quoted as saying, “...we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of 'the word'. The Word. Isn't it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers everything. The Word.”

Pelosi was speaking about how it is our responsibility to provide for those in need or those “deemed” in need and that we should do so by taking from others (taxing, regulatory legislation, etc.) and giving to others. She says her “favorite” scripture is, “The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'to minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.' “ I'm not sure which Bible Pelosi is studying but it certainly is NOT the same version as the one I've studied! That saying appears nowhere in the Old Testament, nor the New Testament. How many people have heard her say this and never knew of her deception? If we don't know the truth, how can we know the truth from a lie or deception? We cannot.

The “remaking” of Jesus includes the Ecumenical Movement which is the precursor to the New World Religion. Many mainstream denominations and their leaders are embracing this “interfaith doctrine” with zealousness. They believe that we all are “God's children” (we have that option, to be sure), for the higher good of everyone, we should show “unity” and join with those of all religions because, after all “we worship the same god.” This is a blatant lie.

This movement is endorsed by many so-called Christians. Ecumenicity or ecumenism is the practice of promoting cooperation or better understanding among different religions. Christians are warned about false prophets, doctrines, and the best protection we have to keep from being misled is to know God's Word. Does God tell us to hold hands with those who worship Allah? What about Buddha? How are we to share the good news if we are busy building bridges to other faiths?

Many “progressives” in this country have claimed and continue to claim that Jesus was a “liberal.” Modern society has often painted Jesus as a very “soft,” even effeminate person. Jesus teaches us to be followers of peace and to turn the other cheek when we are reviled or insulted (Matt 5:9, 38-39). Peacemaker and pacifist are not the same.

Anything Jesus taught was totally consistent with the laws which God had already established including the laws against theft, envy and covetousness (Exodus 20:15, 17). These are destroyers of the soul.

God's word tells us we should help the whole person, not distribute handouts. Unless we provide charity as the Gospel directs, we are only sending a person to a hopeless future. Is it possible to be a faithful Christian and still follow the principles of the modern Democratic Party? This is not to suggest that there are not genuine Christians who happen to be Democrats. The Democratic Party has lost the Christian vote because it doesn't stand for Godly principles. How can we give our allegiance to Christ and at the same time follow an organization which openly promotes homosexuality, abortion and many other policies that openly defy God's Word. According to II John 2:9 to support these is to be a partaker of them. Another good question may be how can we attend a church that openly puts those same people in a leadership position? This compromises the entire congregation of that establishment.

In no way is this an endorsement of the Republican Party. It is true that the GOP has more consistently addressed issues that concern Christians. Disregarding the poor can never be excused. Caring for the poor and needy is the most frequently repeated command in the Bible. How we address this issue displays our faith – whether it is genuine or not (James 2:14-17). If we neglect the poor, God will not accept our worship (Amos 5:21-24). He will not hear our prayers (Proverbs 21:13), and we will ultimately be judged severely (Amos 6:4-7).

Poverty can never be defeated through human means, political or otherwise. There are government programs that have helped people during hard times and have helped make lives better. But, in some cases, these programs have proven to be nothing more than political grandstanding. Caring for the needy is the work of God, and God's work must be done in God's way.

Some have misinterpreted Jesus' compassion for the poor to be a form of Socialism or even Communism. The truth is, however, that private property and free enterprise have a biblical basis. It is good to remember that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all wealthy men, made rich by the blessing of God (Genesis 13:12, 26:14, 33:5). This can also be seen by those in the Old Testament such as Joseph (Genesis 41:57), Solomon (1 Kings 3:13), Daniel (Daniel 6:28), and many others.

If Jesus were, as some teach, indiscriminately opposed to wealth and prosperity, it seems that He neglected to read His own Scriptures.

The Hebrew Scriptures Jesus believed and cherished taught that from the beginning God gave man property to tend and care for (Genesis 1:26, 2:15). The Ten Commandments reinforces these property rights by settling strict laws against theft and covetousness (Exodus 20:15, 17). God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant (Psalm 35:27), rewards hard work and ingenuity (Proverbs 10:4) and declares that to enjoy the fruits of our labors is a gift from Him (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 5:19). Jesus' future millennial reign will be a time in which every person will sit down on their own property under their own “vine and fig tree” (Micah 4:14).

Jesus was not poor, and He did not uphold poverty as an ideal. Unbiblical ideas about money (equating poverty with humility and spirituality) has kept countless believers from the fruitful, benevolent lives God desires for all of us. No matter about the pious cliches, there is nothing humble nor spiritual about watching those you love go hungry or cold. Prosperity is more than money. That is why it is important to not only help the poor but also teach them how to help themselves. As we all have heard, give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. This is the practical approach that is the center of Biblical welfare and charity toward others.

God did not set up a welfare state for His people. It was a free market economy in which people could make as much money as they wanted to, provided they did it within the framework of God's covenants (Deuteronomy 8:18). Their tax system was not a wealth redistribution scheme. The Bible gives us examples of how excessive taxation can have disastrous results. The breakup of the Kingdom of Israel into the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah following the death of Solomon is a good example of this. It is directly attributed to heavy taxation (1 Kings 12:4, Nehemiah 5:4, II Kings 23:35). For His covenant people, God established what we would call a flat tax system. An equal percentage was required of every Israelite, rich or poor.

God's primary means of financial provision is the avenue of work (Ephesians 6:5-7, II Thessalonians 3:10) and ancient Israel was no exception. A study of the harvesting of crops shows us that what wasn't gathered by the farmer was left for those less fortunate. They would come pick up the remainder for their families (Leviticus 19:9, 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-22). All forms of welfare required responsibilities from the person or persons who received it.

Today, the same principles we saw in the Old Testament remain. We must remember that need, in and of itself, does not move God. God is moved when we step out in faith to receive His provision. He wants us to depend upon Him for everything. The church's primary mission is to win the lost and to make disciples and all programs including charity are aimed toward this goal. We must be good stewards of the financial resources that God gives us.

There are many needs in this lost world. None of us can do it all but we all can do something. Jesus' words are still true for His followers in today's world: “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8. “To whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48 We will be held accountable for how we respond to the hungry, the sick, those in prison and those who are lost. “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. For I was hungry, and ye fed me not...In as much as you did not do it for the least of these, you did it not for me...” Matthew 25:41-46.

We have great opportunities to glorify our Heavenly Father today. We can feed the hungry, reach out to those in prison, speak for victims of persecution and oppression, defend unborn children and do good wherever and whenever we have the opportunity. By doing this, the name of Jesus will be glorified. Labels such as “conservative” and “liberal” or “progressive” will lose their significance. But we must know God's Word, we must be ready to give an account for our faith at any time. We must get the wonderful message of God's love to those lost in this world for our time grows short.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16).

My work can also be found at http://www.raptureready.com

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