Tag Archives: faith

Christian witness…

There is a lot of talk in Christian circles about being a good Christian witness.  This is based upon the idea that the world (made up of non-believers) is watching us, and we should outwardly show, in some way, shape, or form, what being a Christian is about.  Now, it is clear that scripture teaches us something similar, and that we are to be a people set apart in some ways; I would argue in spiritual ways and understanding.  Many times this idea gets twisted into a form of legalism, which is never good.

Apart from that, I was just recently ruminating on the fact that it isn’t just important that we present ourselves to the world in certain ways, but I honestly believe it is just as important, or perhaps more important, that we present ourselves to our fellow Christians as…well, fellow Christians.  When we present a life of faith and trust in God to our brothers and sisters in Christ, it strengthens our own walk, and it also heartens others.

I’ve been in different circumstances lately where a fellow Christian modeled this to me, and that in turn allows me to respond in kind.  Christians are indeed supposed to be a community, a fellowship of believers.  That does not always imply going to a church…but in a way it does, since every meeting of Christians, two or more, is indeed “church.”  I guess the point of this post is to say this; lets really let the Holy Spirit guide us in our dealings with fellow Christians, let’s yield to Him (for it is from Him that any truly good act comes, not ourselves) in our responses to each other, and not just in our responses to the world.  And yielding to the Spirit ensures that our response isn’t the fake “oh, look at me, aren’t I a good Christian” type of act.

Many are going through rough times right now, and I do believe that if we took the time to ponder the fact that we are now a part of an extended family with the same Father, and the same Brother, we may be a lot more inclined to respond the way scripture tells us too.  Weep when our siblings weep, rejoice when they rejoice, pray for them, listen to them.  Sometimes it isn’t the fun thing to do, or the easy thing, but with the guidance of the Spirit, it can bolster faith all around.  I also urge people to notice the “weep when they weep” command; we believers know that not everything is always sunshine and light, the rain does fall on the just and the unjust alike.  Laying guilt trips on people going through rough times isn’t the answer in the least, neither is bashing a believer who slips and sins.  It’s all about grace and  faith, folks, and helping to uphold that faith in us, and in our fellow believers, and sharing God’s grace with each other, not just the world.

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Feedback; Faith vs. Works

I recently had a reader ask about faith vs. works, and this is a very common question.  Often, the perceived conflict can come in another “vs.” form; Paul vs. James.  There is indeed a reason why many people have this question, it can indeed be confusing.

We have Paul on one hand who makes it absolutely clear that faith is a main component of salvation (Grace being the other), and works are not.  We cannot work our way to Heaven, nor can we work our way into God’s good graces.  It doesn’t function that way.  God’s grace is just that; it is unmerited favour; it is unearned favour.  Unearned is a clear word to use, as God gives His grace as a gift.  So if all of this is so clear, what’s the issue?

James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

That is the verse that throws a lot of people off.  There is a short answer to this question and a long answer.  Let’s do the long answer first.  The long answer starts with a few important facts.  First, James was the head of the church in Jerusalem, and was writing to Christians who were indeed Jewish.  James also came to faith after Christ resurrected.  If you read his story in scripture, James did not believe Jesus was the Son of God whilst He lived, but only after He was resurrected.  This means James would have been learning about the new covenant probably through the other apostles.  Scripture definitely reads as though James was more “clingy” to the old covenant system.

Paul, on the other hand, was specifically designated to be the apostle to the Gentiles.  His teaching, his letters were also labeled as scripture by the other apostles; this is a great honour and shows his teachings were held to the same level as the old testament.  He was taught his message by Jesus Himself after the resurrection.  We know Paul’s position on these issues to be airtight.  What does that mean for us as we read the scriptures in James that can seem a bit contradictory.  This means we need to interpret James through Paul, and not Paul through James.  This does not mean that James is completely wrong, it just means James needs to be put into context.

Paul taught about the New Covenant, and made himself abundantly clear about the role of faith, especially in books like Galatians, and Romans.  One of the things that James was apparently trying to get at was that if you are saved, if you have the transforming power of the Holy Spirit inside you, it will come out of you in such a way that others can tell.  We have a list of the fruit of the Spirit, so it is apparent that James isn’t wrong on this idea, but we must be very very careful in how we approach the idea lest we leave any room at all for legalism.

In James’ examples he’s careful to always include faith; why?  Because he knows, even if it seems he’s hedging a bit, that faith is where right action starts, and that is if faith where the righteousness comes in.  Any work that is really good is not of us, but of God; it is the Holy Spirit inside of us that pulls us toward righteousness.  In the examples that James gives, like Abraham, and Rahab, they started with faith; and it was their faith that God responded to, and that He considered righteousness.  James’ point is that they did not stop at that faith point, but continued on in action.  That has nothing to do with salvation.  Notice that James, rightly or wrongly, is discussing how we appear before other humans.  I can have true faith all day long, and God will know it regardless of physical action; but other humans can’t see “faith,” they can only see works.

One is saved by Christ, by grace and faith.  Our proper response to God’s grace is a faith response; to come to trust Christ utterly and completely for our salvation.  That brings me to the short answer to this question of faith vs. works.  James says to look at works, ok.  So, what does Jesus Himself tell us?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

The word there for “believe” is Pisteuo in the Greek; that ye faithe on Him whom He hath sent.  Christ leaves no room for a legalistic interpretation of James; the work of God is to faithe on Christ.  Period.

Now, if one has the Holy Spirit, and lives long enough, will the Holy Spirit work on him/her?  Absolutely.  It doesn’t always happen over night, but it does happen over time…sometimes a long time.  That process of sanctification should not be confused with salvation.  Once we place our faith in Christ by God’s grace, that is what saves us.  Walking and living our lives in faith with the help of the Holy Spirit is a part of the process too, but it is a different issue than salvation.

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Christian life…

I recently recalled a conversation that I had on a forum with an atheist/agnostic about Christians and how we live.  The subject came up in an odd context, but the resulting conversation surprised me.  It revolved around the idea of how Christians live life.  I was amused at the mental image this individual had of how I, as a Christian, would live my life and enjoy it, or rather, not enjoy it, according to them.

I have a feeling that there are misunderstandings out there because of specific teachings of certain denominations that tend towards legalism.  Yes, there are some denominations that preach that you can’t watch television, or movies rated over PG…that you can’t read a copy of Harry Potter, can’t wear makeup, can’t smoke, can’t drink, etc… etc…  However, that is a list that someone has decided on their own is proper, nowhere in the Bible does it prohibit such things.

My belief, which I feel is backed by scripture, is that a Christian is free in the Lord, as I’ve said before; freedom with responsibility, and that we should live by faith.  My partner in the conversation was quite surprised when I said that I felt my Christian faith enhanced my life, and that I did not feel I had a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” to live by.  I watch what I want on TV, some rated R movies are my favs, I read what I want to read, listen to whatever kind of music I like, play what kind of music I like on my guitars…I’m a woman, and wear makeup, pants, jeans usually, and converse sneakers when I’m not teaching.  I drink alcohol, but don’t get drunk, I write fiction, and used to enjoy a game of Magic: The Gathering back in the day, but prefer the XBox 360 now.

The Lord is not some cosmic killjoy.  Yes, I know that there are groups of Christians that cling to legalism that would have you believe that, but it isn’t true.  He came so that we “might have life, and might have it more abundantly.”  Now, are there certain things I stay away from because of my faith?  Absolutely.  There are also certain things I avoid because I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit.  There are also secular reasons to avoid certain things; some things, like certain kinds of music just annoy me, so I change stations when they come on.  There are psychological reasons for limitations on our viewing/listening habits as well, and health reasons to alter our behaviors.

The point is, is that coming to faith in Christ, and giving yourself and your life completely to Him isn’t going to “end your fun.”  By no means…in fact, the joy that one feels in everyday life is enhanced by faith such as that.  There are some Christians that feel called by the Holy Spirit to avoid any and all alcohol, and that means they should avoid it.  Some I’ve talked to have felt convicted to give up secular music, well, then they should.  You see, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what each of us needs and what we don’t need in our lives; what will make our lives more “happy.”  For some, they might not be able to handle limiting their alcohol intake, or perhaps their children might have a problem with it, so they should indeed avoid alcohol if called to.  That’s living by faith, not legalism; letting God guide us in our relationship with Him.

Now, the other aspect to this is to remember not to offend your brother/sister in Christ.  So, no matter who gets into my car (except my hubby), regardless of their religious beliefs, I turn my blaring radio down because I like to listen to bands such as Breaking Benjamin at high volume.  Ben likes to drop the occasional F-bomb, amongst other things, and I realize that might offend some people, so I shut the radio off or tune to a neutral station.

Christians are individuals who live individual lives; we are not all the same, and we certainly don’t all live the same way.  Will there be similar beliefs?  Yup.  Will we all hold to certain fundamental ideals of right and wrong, you know, the big ones, such as “thou shalt not murder,” sexual morality, not stealing etc…  Yup.  But that in no way detracts from out lives, unless someone contends that we have to go out and murder, pillage, and plunder in order to have fun… We also will slip and fall, and sin quite spectacularly, Christians are humans too.

Remember the two greatest commandments are to love God, and love our neighbors…yeah, the Lord is out to rain on our parade for sure…

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Don’t forget in the dark…

Doc Scott used to teach on this idea quite regularly, and it is a fundamental idea that is so important to grasp and to hold on to.  “Don’t forget in the dark what you learned in the light.”  It seems to be a simple phrase, and it is, but it is also very profound.

At some point in most people’s lives, usually early on, we are, on occasion, afraid of the dark.  What’s usually the remedy?  At first, it is to add light.  We can be setting in bed as children with the light on, perhaps reading a story before going to sleep and our rooms are completely safe to us.  We have our bed and our curtains, our toys are just where we left them.  We feel safe and comfortable with everything there and clearly visible.

Now, when the light is shut out and it’s time to go to sleep, we shift our perception of the room.  Nothing actually changes.  Nothing.  It is all still exactly the same; our bed is there, our toys, our curtains, etc…  but, we panic because we don’t remember what it was like with the light on, all we are experiencing is that darkness and the shadows that are now in the room.

Applying this to theology is easy.  We learn all of these great lessons and reassurances in our walk of faith.  We know how wonderful God is, we learn about grace, faith, peace, forgiveness…  While things are going good for us, we are indeed content and even happy with this knowledge; we feel safe and secure.  When the “light” gets switched off, we often forget these lessons.  When things start going down hill we start to feel uneasy.  When things hit rock bottom and we are setting in the proverbial dark, that’s when we need to remember those things we learned in the light.

God is wonderful, grace exists, faith is the answer, we are loved and not alone, etc…  Nothing about these fundamental facts have changed because of our rough times. Nothing.  Yes, it’s hard, it’s a struggle.  Life is a series of bright patches, and patches of darkness.  One of the tricks to getting through the dark patches is to hold on to those things that you know to be a fact “in the light.”

As we grow older, we begin to understand that just because our nightlight is shut off, doesn’t mean that our rocking horse suddenly becomes this horrible shadowy creature…it’s still just our friendly little rocking horse.  God does lead us through life from faith to faith, and He is maturing us as we go.  If it is utterly true that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, and we know this in good times, it is also as utterly true when we are going through horrible times as well.

What I really like about the phrase, “don’t forget in the dark what you learned in the light,” is that is it so easy to recall that you can usually bring it to mind when faced with awful situations, when you find yourself in that dark tunnel.  Now, again, it’s not an easy slogan to live by, it’s very hard, and I forget some of the stuff I learned in the light when I go through a tunnel, especially when it is a long one.  That’s one of the reasons I’m blogging about it today, and also to help remind everyone else out there going through one of these tunnels right now.

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What is Grace?…

As I’ve done before with concepts in Christianity such as the church and faith, I want to pause for just a bit and reflect on Grace.  Without grace, charis in the Greek, we humans would be in a situation that we literally could not get out of.

Our sinful nature is a fact…God’s righteousness is fact.  These two facts are why we so desperately need God’s grace.  The “simple” idea behind grace in this context is that it means “unmerited favor.”  Of course unmerited means that it is completely free; it is unearned, not worked for.

God’s grace is an awesome concept, but one that can kind of be skewed if one isn’t careful.  If anyone ever hears that this or that act bestows grace upon someone, then they cannot be talking about the unmerited favor of God, because of the nature of grace.

We also must acknowledge what brought God’s grace to us; Christ Himself.  John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Faith and grace fit together, because we are not saved by works.  Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

The fact is that we are all deserving of death due to our sinfulness, but God extends His grace via His Son so that we might have His unmerited favor.  We don’t work for it in any way, it is a gift freely given.  This idea is also there to keep us humble and to keep us from judging others…for what kind of boasting (save in Christ) can there be if we all acknowledge that we did absolutely nothing, performed no work, to merit God’s favor?

Another concept that is often connected to grace is “peace.”  I’ll go into that more in a different post, but it shows us that peace is possible within this concept of grace.  If the favor shown to us by God is not merited by works, by something we do, then it isn’t going to be snatched away if we slip and sin. It is always easy to find hope in Grace.

In Paul’s writings we can see how much he intimately connects the idea of grace with the gospel; take Galatians for example; Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Paul was furious that someone had come along and started laying legalism onto the Galatians, and the Galatians were apparently beginning to be swayed by it.  Yes, an understanding of God’s grace, His unmerited favor bestowed upon us is essential to the gospel message that it is by faith, not works that we are put into Christ, that we are “saved.”

Again, the idea of grace underlines the fact that it is not about who is a “good person” and who has done all of these “good works” under their own steam…it is all about Christ, and faith in Him that connects us to this grace of God.  We all know that there is no one good but God; next to His righteousness our own righteousness is nothing, is less than nothing.  It is that unmerited favor that we so desperately need because we cannot ever match His Righteousness on our own, it is literally impossible.  We also cannot ever merit His favor because of His nature of absolute righteousness and absolute justice.  Praise God that He is also absolutely merciful and He does indeed extend unmerited favor to us humans!

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This serves as another reminder that God’s grace is offered to us for His glory, not only because He loves us (which He most definitely does).  As we give thanks to God for His grace it is acknowledging the glory of what He has done for us, and continues to do for us, as well as acknowledging our need for Him, and our inability to get to Him on our own.  So, the next time you ponder God, His plan, His character, remember all of the implications of His Grace, especially when thanking and praising Him for the matchless gift of His unmerited favor…

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord!

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Thanksgiving…

One of the very few holidays I don’t find to be inane.  The idea of thanksgiving is so fundamental to the Christian faith, the holiday makes me think on that idea, and hence, I like it.

Once we have met Christ, and have come to have faith in Him, that’s all the reason we will ever need to be thankful…it is perpetual thanksgiving!  Of course there are other things in life to be thankful for, but they pale in comparison with the thanks felt toward Christ.

Some people are alone on the holiday, but that’s ok too; true thanksgiving is beyond family, or gathering together to eat large amounts of food…only to grumble about it (and each other) usually less than an hour later.  Being alone is sometimes something to be thankful for as well…though if one knows Christ, one is never truly alone at all.

I am thankful for everyone in my life, my family; those still living, and those gone on. I’m thankful for my friends, even (most of 😉 ) my college students, even you dear reader, even if I don’t know your name.  I’m thankful that even through things like sickness, there are lessons to be learned.  I’m thankful that I’ve got a full belly…that I have a car to drive, a keyboard to type on, a good book to read, that my guitar instructor knows how to give a good pep talk, that I have a favorite pair of shoes, and on it goes…everything good in life I thank God for!!

Psalm 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Revelation 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

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Jehovah-Tsidkenu; The LORD our Righteousness…

Jehovah-Tsidkenu is another of the revealed names of God.  As noted above, in the title it translates into “The LORD our Righteousness.”  This is one of His names that should bring utmost peace and comfort to believers; for we do not have to rely on our own righteousness, which is as filthy rags to God, God Himself is our Righteousness.

Anytime we are being accused, being reminded of our sin, either by other humans, Satan, ourselves, etc… all we really have to do is return to this name of God.  He is our Righteousness, and no one can ever take away or put down a righteousness like that.

The name comes from Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

This name ultimately points to Christ, who does indeed become our righteousness, and anyone in Him has His righteousness imputed to them.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

That is the only righteousness that counts for anything because it is a perfect righteousness.  This is why one must be in Christ to be reconciled to God, and we come to be apart of Christ by faithing in/on Him.

He is righteousness itself and He is the standard which we are called to meet; we cannot meet that standard on our own, which in turn is why we need Christ.

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

This is why faith in Christ (and Christ’s own faith) is so important.  Come judgment day those that have not faithed in Jesus do not have His righteousness accounted to them.  They must rely on their own righteousness, and that cannot stand before Righteousness itself; before a completely Holy and Perfect God.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians beating themselves up over some slip or sin. I do it all the time (yes, both sinning and beating myself up 😉 )…you start to question yourself, and realize what a wondrously adept sinner you really are, then that leads to questioning one’s salvation and it shouldn’t!  Why?  Because our righteousness does not come from ourselves, our righteousness is God Himself once we come to Him in faith!

Turn to this name to be reminded of that, and call out to God praising Him and thanking Him for being that Righteousness and providing us a means by His Grace to have that Righteousness accounted to us!  Thank God, literally, that I don’t have to present my sinful self to God without His righteousness being applied to me.  All believers, all faithers, in Christ have the exact same righteousness, and that is God Himself.

Other names of God I’ve blogged about thus far: Jehovah-Nissi, Jehovah-Shammah, Jehovah-Rohi, and Jehovah-Rapha.

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Why the Tree of Knowledge?

I’ve had several conversations with people lately surrounding the idea of the Tree of Knowledge.  Why was Adam given the choice, or opportunity to disobey God…or rather, to not have faith in God?

That answer is quite obvious; Adam had to be given some form, or kind, of choice in order to truly have free will.  It is plain that God does not want humans as robots, or else He could’ve very easily made Himself a bunch of automatons to populate the earth.  So, in order for there to be free will, there absolutely must be a choice available; The Tree of Knowledge was that choice.

Now, I in turn ask the question; Why was the Tree of Knowledge the choice?  Why didn’t God just say; “You see that tuft of purple grass…don’t step on it.”  Would that not have been a free will choice between obedience and faith or disobedience and a lack of faith?  So, why the Tree of Knowledge in particular?

We are not directly told…but just mull it over a bit.  Here’s my opinion; if we were going to fall, which God knew we were, we needed the choice to be the tree.  If we fell, in other words, something about the choice itself would aid us in the future to get back to God.  I believe the Tree served that function.

If the Tree itself provided us with an idea of Good vs. Evil, then that absolutely helps us find our way back to God.  For one simple example, The Moral Argument for God is basically derived from that very idea.  The fact that humans know there is right and wrong (even if we disagree on the details) gives evidence of God.  A true and meaningful sense of morality only makes logical sense if there is an absolute and objective source for that morality.

The Tree did not create that morality within us; God did…but perhaps the Tree let us tap into it.  If the choice had not been that tree, it may have been much much harder for us to return to God because we would not have recognized right from wrong internally.

We have to has that internal sense of right and wrong in order to recognize our sinful state, and that is the beginning of the realization of our need to “get right” with God (which can only be done ultimately through Christ, of course).

In short, I do believe that Adam was “funnelled” to the Tree if he was going to disobey in order to derive some benefit from it, even though that choice resulted in the fall.  On a side note, it is important to remember that everything revolves around faith.  It is faith, or a lack of it that results in sin.  So, beyond eating of the Tree, Adam and Eve lacked faith in God and what He had told them…that was the foundation of the sin right there, not just the “work” of eating the fruit, and only through faith do we get back to God.

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Fret not…

My husband, The ‘Shrink, seems to think this is a timely message, and so do I.  The stock market thinks it’s a roller coaster, and I personally know many fellow believers that are under attack, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, etc…  Here’s a link to a write-up of a sermon that Doc Scott, and Melissa Scott did/does on this very subject of not fretting: Fret not, Fret not, Fret not.

From the sermon, “This particular man, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down.” And this is something I want to highlight, because if you are in the fretting mode and feeling consumed by your circumstance, God is still ordering your way. He is establishing and making firm your footsteps. It means there is a possibility while you’re in God’s program, and on God’s path, you may fall. In fact I wish I could just retract the word “may” and just say you “will” fall, because we’re all born in Adam. We’re born that way and because of what Adam did we are perpetual fallers. But, “He shall not be utterly cast down.” Many of you have read the passage, “A bruised reed shall He not break,” and I look at that and say God cares for His creation. It matters to Him. Why are these instructions given to us? Because He knows the lot of those that are going to press in and follow after His program, tempted, tried, bruised, almost broken. This is meant for encouragement for anyone going this direction.

“For the LORD upholdeth (the translators added in italics) him with His hand.” God’s going to have me “underneath bottomless.” It means when I fall, and when you fall, God’s ever-present, merciful hands will be there to catch us. There is no place so low that it can be underneath bottomless. This whole picture tells me that God already sees and knows. There is not a particular instance in the life of a believer that God has not already covered in His word.”

Fret not.

For a related post see my, “A Call for Calm

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Publicans and Harlots; Tax collectors and Prostitutes…

Matthew 21:23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

Read it again, slower this time and really understand what the Lord is preaching here.  There are people sitting in the pews of churches, or watching preachers on TV, or listening to them on the radio that need to get this in their heads…as well as non-believers rejecting the gospel.

Do you know how many people are turned away from the church because of the self-righteousness of the members?  And, I’m not talking about those church goers that hearken to the Spirit, live a life of faith, recognize their own sin, but fight it with the help of the Holy Spirit, that teach faith and live it (yes, they are out there, and I’m privileged to know some).  I’m talking about the people that make up their own lists of sin and then try to make everyone live up to that.

Don’t dance, don’t play a musical instrument, don’t listen to Rock’n’Roll…don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t wear pants if you are a woman, even if they are made for a woman, don’t don’t don’t…don’t don’t.  Find me any one of those in the Bible, and that is but a small example.

Who is Christ talking to here?  The Chief Priests, and the Elders.  And what does He say to them?  In “American,” the cheating, mean, deceptive tax collectors (publicans) and the whores/hookers (harlots) are getting into Heaven before you Priests and Elders.  Why?

First, the Priests and Elders had tacked on all this man-made tradition to the actual law of God.  They had also made the very law of God about following the letter of the law, and not the spirit of the law.  Then, they lorded it over people, and acted “holier than thou.”  What was their most fatal flaw?  They failed to listen to God, who was teaching through John and through Christ.

Who listened and believed?  The Tax guys and the whores.  Why?  I have my guesses; they were under no delusion that they were “good people.”  They lived their lives amongst those that I’m sure reminded them of their sin daily…so, they knew instantly that they were sinners in need of saving…they knew that they could not get to God on their own through any amount of work.  They had to have faith, and trust, and they needed cleansing…and they knew it!

What’s the Greek word there for they “believed” him?  Pisteuo, they had faith in what John was teaching.  We all need to make sure that we are listening to Christ here, after all, look at the words He’s using and who He’s communicating with…can you imagine the reaction of the Priests?

And as far as any of my fellow Christians who look down their noses at people with a past…you should start by examining your own internal thoughts, and flaws…judge yourselves, that the logs out of your own eyes.  People struggle, people slip, people are a bunch of sinners, as am I. It’s no excuse to yield to unrighteousness, to wallow in sin, nor to call evil “good.” However, Christ has covered us and God has provided us a Help, a Comfort, and a Guide in the Holy Spirit…yield to Him; He will change you.

And for anyone who hasn’t yet commited their beings to Christ; take another look.  He’s it; He’s The Saviour that is able to cleanse us all from any level of sin; ANY level of sin.  Look to Christ; He never slips, never stumbles, never sins…He gave His life for us, and He is indeed Lord.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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