I Am Jesus Christ Video Game

There will be a new video game released in a few months called I Am Jesus Christ.

The player gets to be Jesus and follow Christ’s life gathering disciples and doing miracles.

I watched the trailer for it and have to say I was impressed at how much Scripture was in it. It seems unclear whether the game is made out of respect or to minimize who Christ is. It will hit different people differently no doubt.

Controversy has surrounded the game ever since it was announced as in production. This is no surprise. Part of the reason people do things about Jesus is so the controversy will do the marketing.

Outraged Christians do more marketing for Satan than anyone else.

In the end, I don’t know. Life is weird. This game is weird. Would I spend any time playing it? No. Is it wrong if other people do? I don’t know. I’m not the judge.

Here’s the trailer, you can judge it for yourself.

What Does the Bible Say About God Hardening Hearts?

I read in Joshua how God hardened the hearts of Canaanites so they would fight Israel so Israel could whoop up on them. It got me to thinking: Does God ever harden anyone’s heart in the Bible other than an enemy of Israel?

Using the New King James Version, “harden” is used 38 times.

There are 29 mentions in the Old Testament:

12 uses in Exodus referring to Pharaoh’s heart

1 use in Exodus referring to Egyptians’ hearts so they would follow Israel into the parted sea and get wiped out.

1 use in Deuteronomy referring to Sihon king of Heshbon so Israel could kill him

1 use in Joshua referring to Canaanites so Israel could kill them

11 uses referring to people hardening their own heart and neck

2 uses in Job about inanimate objects being hardened (water into ice)

1 use in Isaiah referring to Israel so the promised judgment would come and God will not relent

There are 9 mentions in the New Testament:

2 uses referring to disciples personal hardening of themselves in not understanding Jesus’ ability to multiply bread

1 use in John quoting Isaiah in relation to Israel

1 use in Romans referring to Pharaoh

5 uses about personally hardening your own heart

Several things to note from this:


1. God hardening people is infrequent, not nearly as much as people hardening themselves. You are a way bigger threat to your heart than God is!

2. No references here deal with individual’s eternal salvation.

3. All references of God hardening people have to do with guaranteeing prophesied judgment. He will make sure what He said He’d do would happen. He will harden their already hardened heart to assure judgments He promised to do.

4. All references to God hardening people have to do with the nation of Israel, either in defeating their enemies, or having to go through judgments God said would come if they broke His covenant. Nothing they can do to avoid the downfall of their nation. Individuals during that time were still free to receive eternal salvation even if the nation went down. Individuals could follow God’s true prophets and individually be saved at any time. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But the nation? The nation is going down.

5. In case you missed it the first time: not one passage is referring to people’s eternal salvation!

If you are in hell, you are there because of the hardening you have done to your own heart.

Another word used in relation with hardening is “blinding.” In the Isaiah passage, God blinded and hardened Israel to receive the judgments He said would come if they broke His covenant. They broke it. Judgment is coming.

Verses referring to individual, eternal salvation do not say that God blinds people from being saved.

2 Corinthians 4:4 says the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers. The god of this age is Satan, the prince of the power of the air.

1 John 2:11 says the darkness of this sinful world has blinded people.

Nowhere does the Bible say that God hardens or blinds an individual to prevent them from being eternally saved. When God hardens people it has to do with covenant obligations and judgments dealing with Israel.

Many Proof Texts Offer No Proof

I know I’m too picky when it comes to how people talk about the Bible. I’m too cynical and skeptical, but I can’t stop because my cynicism and skepticism have served me well so far!

I was reading a book and saw this sentence about Jesus:

“His perfect life qualified Him to be our substitutionary sacrifice (Acts 2:36).”

As I’ve covered many times before, I have some questions about the biblical support of Substitutionary Atonement. It sounds more like Calvinistic Philosophy than biblical teaching to me.

Anytime I come across a statement about Substitutionary Atonement with a Scripture reference tacked on, I always look up the reference. What’s the author’s biblical support for it?

Presumably, if you list one reference, that’s the verse you think supports your statement the best. When I read the sentence above I looked up Acts 2:36 to see if it said anything remotely close to what the author said.

This is a bizarre one. Here’s Acts 2:36:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

I have no idea what this verse has to do with the author’s sentence. It is about Jesus, but other than that, I don’t know.

I’m used to references not saying what the author just said, but this one is out there! What does this have to do with the sentence?

Always look up references tacked on after statements trying to sound biblical. You’ll be shocked how often the verse has nothing to do with what was said.

I’m not harping on Substitutionary Atonement here either, this is just poor usage of Scripture. This is the kind of thing that burns people from listening to Christians. We just make stuff up and pretend the Bible agrees.

Make sure what you say is what the Bible says if you’re claiming to say what the Bible says. The best is to quote the Bible saying your point in its words. If your point has no Bible saying it, then your point might be wrong.

We are to rightly handle the word of truth. Let’s do that.

Kierkegaard and Laughing at Rich Churches

“I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, “If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me.” And I looked around and nobody was laughing.”
–Soren Kierkegaard

I haven’t read a ton of Kierkegaard, but what I have read is intriguing. He was a critic of Christianity, but from the inside and I believe he had a desire to help the situation. I think some of his doctrine is a little weird. His critiques of the church are spot on, however.

The church has lost sight of its ridiculousness in light of Jesus and the Apostles’ teaching on money. We’ve made peace with the world and used our richness to prove God’s blessing rather than seeing it as worldly conformity.

This will come up on Judgment Day guaranteed. It’s talked about way too much in the Bible for this not to be a big deal.

But alas, it’s just yelling into the void. We’re too comfortable and peaceable to really care.

Oh well, carry on. Just know that I’m laughing, Soren, I’m laughing.

The Humblest Man on the Face of the Earth

Numbers 12:3 has Moses say that he is the humblest man on the face of the earth. Instead of making a joke or using this verse to undermine Mosaic authorship, we should understand the verse.

Last post I pointed to some Bible dictionaries for a better understanding of the word “humble.” It means depressed, afflicted, miserable, disinterested in his own rights and thinking instead of the interests of others.

I also mentioned that this isn’t just Moses’ words, a view of himself, but knowing that all Scripture is God-breathed, this is God’s view of Moses. If God says Moses was the humblest man on the earth, then Moses was the humblest man on earth.

Which leads to another point: Moses isn’t just talking about himself. God is actually being prophetic here, I think.

Moses is a type of Christ. They are played off each other several times in the New Testament—the law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ, showing who the heads of the two covenants are.

Hebrews refers to Moses and Christ as well. Moses is a type of Christ.

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 says that God will raise up another prophet like Moses. Acts 3:20-24 says that other prophet is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christ will be like Moses.

So, let’s think about Moses and Christ. How was Christ like Moses?

Moses left the riches of Egypt to suffer with Israel; God left heaven to dwell with us.

Moses led a crooked and perverse generation; like Jesus who came unto His own and His own received Him not.

Moses’ authority was constantly questioned; Jesus’ authority was constantly questioned.

Moses’ own brother and sister questioned his authority; Jesus’ brothers questioned His authority.

Moses constantly interceded on behalf of people who came against him; Jesus did the same when He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The similarities are all over the place. That’s because Moses is a type of Christ.

Moses was the most afflicted and miserable person on the earth; so too was Christ, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He had no place to lay His head. He was rejected, afflicted, and bemoaned the crooked and perverse generation He was surrounded by.

When Moses said he was the most afflicted, miserable, depressed, meek, humble person on the face of the earth, it’s not him whining or bragging; it’s him picturing who Christ is.

And, lest we forget, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. He humbled Himself in the form of a servant and became obedient even unto death on the cross for the sake of others. He put aside His interests for ours.

As we follow Him, we do the same for those around us. We esteem others better than ourselves and serve them in love, even and especially those who misuse us.

I believe there are lots of cool things going on in this verse. Instead of dismissing it with jokes, we’d do well to consider what’s really going on.

How Can Moses Say He is the Most Humble Man on the Earth?

There’s a verse in the Bible that has confused me and many others. It’s Numbers 12:3:

Now the man Moses was very humble, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth

Usually we make jokes about it because, see, it was Moses who said he was more humble than anyone else on earth! Ha! That’s not very humble to say that! What a doof!

Unfortunately, some have used the verse to claim that Moses was not truly the author of the book of Numbers, or go even further to use it to cast doubt on the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible, going even further and casting doubt on whether we can trust anything the Bible says.

Leave it to people to drive any idea into the worst ditch possible.

So, instead of making jokes or using this verse to undermine scriptural authority, perhaps it would be best to find out what the verse means.

The word “humble” is the key word. Here are various definitions from Bible resources:

Strong’s Dictionary—“depressed (figuratively), in mind (gentle) or circumstances (needy): – humble, lowly, meek, poor`”

Gesenius Lexicon—afflicted, miserable.

Unger’s Dictionary—much enduring, disinterested—a withdrawal of himself, he puts the cause of his nation above his own interests. 

OK, wow, that gives some insight! Some translations go with “humble” while others go with “meek.” Meek is probably better. Most think humility means not talking about yourself in a proud way, which makes this verse read very weird. But the word is really referring to the fact that Moses was afflicted, miserable, depressed, and had given up on his own interests and lived for the interests of others.

The immediate context proves the case. These chapters in Numbers are all about Israel’s rebellion and whininess. They complain about everything and challenge Moses’ authority repeatedly. Chapter 12, where this verse is found, is about Aaron and Miriam challenging his authority. Lest you forget, Aaron and Miriam are Moses’ brother and sister!

Goodness.

He’s leading a miserable, rebellious people through a miserable wilderness, being challenged at every step, even by his own family. It’s hard to imagine a more depressed, afflicted, miserable place than that.

But despite the rebellion of the people; Moses repeatedly intercedes on their behalf. God says He’ll wipe out Israel and make a new nation out of Moses. Moses talks God out of that and instead asks God to forgive Israel.

Even here in Numbers 12, Miriam gets struck with leprosy for challenging Moses’ authority. But in 12:13 Moses says, “Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.”

Moses intercedes for his obnoxious sister. Incredible.

Moses has indeed put the interests of others before his own. He’s done it better than anyone else on the face of the planet.

And, lest we forget, these words are not just Moses’ ideas. All Scripture is given by inspiration. Therefore, saying Moses was the most afflicted man on the earth is coming from God’s mouth.

Which leads me to another point I will take up tomorrow.

Demon Worship is Real and You Might be Doing It!

Deuteronomy 32 contains a song that Moses taught to Israel before his death. It was supposed to encourage them to stay faithful to the Lord, and at the same time basically tells them that they aren’t going to.

When Israel gets in the Promised Land and the milk and honey run thick, they will become arrogant and forsake the Lord. Moses says in verse 16-17:

They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
To new gods, new arrivals
That your fathers did not fear.

Here is one of several places that says when people worship other gods they are actually worshipping demons. Leviticus 17:7 says Israel played the harlot by sacrificing to demons. 2 Chronicles 11:15 says they appointed priests for the high places and for worshipping demons. Psalm 106:37 says they sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons when they worshipped Molech.

When God says He is the only God; He really means it! There are no rivals to His throne.

At the same time, these false gods are not powerless figments of the imagination. False gods have demons behind them.

With all the perversions of Christianity and pagan religions out there, you can see that demons have been quite busy.

This isn’t just something that people in the “old days” did, this is the same thing going on today when people worship anyone other than God.

Paul talks about Gentiles sacrificing to demons, their false gods, in his day (1 Corinthians 10:20-21), and warns believers not to join in demon worship as it has no place with the worship of God.

And, again, lest we think this only applies to “other people,” Paul has this warning in 1 Timothy 4:1:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

This describes an apostasy where those who profess Christ, those who play church, will be seduced to follow doctrines with demons behind them.

In our day we can see this happening. People are chucking Scripture for the latest social constructed morality, the latest social justice cause, the latest fad sin we’re supposed to pretend is not only ok but actually virtuous.

Demons abound. They are not possessing people and making their heads spin while projectile vomiting. Nope. Instead they are in charge of publishing at “Christian” publications. They are editors. They are speakers, pastors, cool, hip church leaders.

“Test the spirits” is not a command for a simpler time. Satan is a liar and his lies and philosophies abound. You better have your head on straight and your mind constantly renewed by God’s word. If it were possible, even the elect would be sucked into it.

We are told to be on guard as we have an enemy roaming about. We are told that demons are real. Usually this devolves into spooky science fiction realms rather than biblical awareness.

Be careful what you’re worshipping and what you’re putting in your head. Demons want to eat you for lunch. Their main tactic is to get you to believe pretty much anything other than God.

Satan’s first attack was, “Did God really say that?” We are not ignorant of his devices. He’s still asking you that and quickly filling in your doubt with his lies that sound so appealing and yet have disastrous results.

What are you worshipping? If it isn’t God as revealed in the Scriptures, then you are worshipping a demon and his lies.

Doctrine Is All Wet

Right before Moses dies, he delivers a song for Israel to sing. It’s recorded in Deuteronomy 32. The second verse is cool:

Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.

His teaching, which could also be translated “doctrine,” is like rain, dew, raindrops, and showers. His doctrine is all wet! The rain and dew fall on the herb and the grass.

What effect does rain and dew have on herbs and grass? It makes them healthy and grow.

How cool is that?!

Many people criticize doctrine and teaching, they relegate it to the sidelines: if we get around to it, if after all our songs and skits and blather we might have a few minutes at the end to teach.

In the last days they will not endure sound doctrine/teaching.

The result is that there is no moisture, there is no dew to cause growth and health. The vines will wither and the grapes won’t grow. It’ll just be dead, brown, useless vegetation.

We need doctrine and teaching if we want to grow. Doctrine isn’t outdated, nor is it boring and irrelevant. It is the very source of our spiritual life.

Let the doctrine and teaching of scripture soak you thoroughly and grow, grow, grow!

Why Did it Take so Long for Israel to Conquer the Promised Land?

Israel took over the Promised Land rather slowly, in fact it took so long they kind of lost interest and never finished. Joshua died when there was still more to go. It took forever.

Ever wonder why it took so long? I found a verse that tells why and you’ll never guess what the reason for the slow progress was!

Was it because Israel needed rest? Nope.
Was it because God wanted to test them further? Nope.
Maybe they didn’t have enough faith? Nope.
Maybe it was too hot and not enough water? Nope.

Here’s the answer from Deuteronomy 7:22:

And the Lord your God will drive away these nations from you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, otherwise the wild animals would become too numerous for you.

I don’t know, I think that’s fantastic! God, like, totally thinks of everything!

If Israel had wiped out the bad guys quickly, there would have been dead bodies everywhere, which would have brought in mean, nasty meat eating animals everywhere.

Plus, while Israel was busy pursuing bad guys, much of the land would have sat idle with no one in it leaving shelter and provision for animals.

So, in order to keep the animals at bay, God had the whole process take time.

I don’t know, I think that’s so cool. I can’t even explain why. He just thinks of everything! Next time something is taking forever for you, maybe it’s because God is keeping animals from eating you. Could be, you never know!

Deuteronomy and Romans 9

Christians like to argue about Romans 9 and Calvinistic concepts of salvation. There are also other Christians who don’t like to argue about Romans 9 and Calvinistic concepts of salvation, but they have to because the other Christians who like to argue about Romans 9 and Calvinistic concepts of salvation won’t stop talking.

So, alas, here we are. I was reading Deuteronomy 6-7 and was thinking about Israel based on what these chapters cover. Israel was chosen to be God’s people (Deuteronomy 7:6). The reason they were chosen goes back to Deuteronomy 6:10—God swore to their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would create a nation from them and give them the Promised Land.

The reason God needed a people was because back in Genesis 3 God told the serpent that a seed of the woman would crush his head. A human was going to defeat Satan, therefore the human needed to come from somewhere, some human family. Abraham would be the father of that family. Israel would exist because of the promise made to Abraham.

God reiterates in Deuteronomy 9:5 that Israel’s success is not because they are righteous and awesome, but because God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Much of the beginning of Deuteronomy is recounting the deliverance from Egypt, the rebellion in the wilderness due to their refusal to take the land in faithful obedience from the start, and then looking forward to eventual conquest in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.

What does this have to do with Romans 9 and Calvinist stuff? We’re getting there. Probably. This is why it’s hard to understand these subjects because the Bible is a big book and you have to have an attention span, yo.

Romans 9-11 is largely about Israel. God choosing Jacob to be the father of the 12 sons who would be the 12 tribes of Israel. It talks of hardening Pharaoh’s heart so God could deliver His people. In other words, it’s reiterating what Deuteronomy is talking about.

Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, wilderness wandering, and possession of the Promised Land are physical pictures of the spiritual reality of salvation.

We are all born in slavery to sin and the Devil, we are members of the kingdom of darkness.

In salvation the believer is delivered from this slavery, yet is left to wander and struggle and sometimes rebel and fail because although we are saved, we still have a flesh and we’re still in a fallen world with sin, we are sinners surrounded by sinners. We keep moving ahead with the Lord to a better time coming.

The Promised Land is the full realization of salvation; it’s when everyone is delivered from sin, living in eternity with the Lord, having been made like Him when we see Him as He is.

This whole thing with Israel happened because of a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our salvation is because God made a promise with Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

God chose Israel because of promise to Abraham. But simply being born to Abraham didn’t guarantee anything. Not all who are of Israel are of Israel (Romans 9:6).

For instance, Joshua and Caleb were the only two people from the original generation of freed from slavery Israel that made it into the Promised Land. They did so because they had faith. In order to be part of the chosen people, you need faith.

In a general sense, all Jewish people were part of the chosen genetic race of Israel. But in a spiritual sense true Israel were those who had faith.

God has chosen a people to be part of the Body of Christ. This group was chosen, promised, and guaranteed before the foundation of the world. If you want to be part of that chosen people, then believe!

The one part of Romans 9-11 that speaks of individual salvation is in Romans 10. For example, verse 9, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Or verse 13, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:16 says it all boils down to obeying the Gospel. Romans 10:18-21 goes on to say that both Moses and Isaiah talked about another people who were promised entry. These were a chosen people promised to Christ.

God chooses a people. If you want to be part of the people, whether Old Testament Israel or the New Testament Body of Christ/Church, then you believe and obey what God has revealed.

The Bible is a big book. Romans 9-11 quotes the Old Testament a lot. In order to understand those chapters a good grasp of the OT is necessary. That’s my bit of it I’ve been chewing on. Hope it helps.

Humility and Thinking of Yourself Less

I’ve heard this quote many times, not always in these exact words, but definitely the sentiment:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Oooooh. Deeeeep.

The quote is fine and probably true. The problem is that it’s not entirely helpful. It defines what humility is, but it doesn’t address how you get there.

If thinking of myself less is what humility is, how do I know if myself is thinking of myself less or not?! Knowing if you’re thinking of yourself less means you must think about yourself and how much you are thinking of you!

In order to pull off this definition, which I do think is essentially true, you have to run into something that makes you think less of yourself. Something else has to take over your self-obsessed brain. Something bigger and better must capture your thoughts.

Death does this quite nicely. Sitting beside a hospital bed watching your dad die has a way of making you forget about you for a bit.

I remember walking out of the hospital after he died. Cars were driving around. Horns were honking. People were bustling about. Don’t they know my dad died? Shouldn’t they stop and show some respect?

Nope. Life rushed on. Soon enough I was back to my life. My dad’s death affected me tremendously, I dare say it changed me. But the shift off me to my dad fell away within weeks of his death, if not days.

Getting married and having kids helped me think of myself less. I now had other people to think of. My choices didn’t just affect me. What I wanted fell to the wayside as I provided for them.

This was frequently annoying! Sometimes it was even tough, not knowing where the money was going to come from to provide all these needs. I sacrificed and gave up my rights so my kids could eat. On top of that, they usually had no idea and complained about what was for dinner. Oh well, it’s part of the gig.

And, let’s be honest, I got enough of my stuff during that time too. Plus all my kids are out of the house now. My selfish desires are still there and since they’ve been kept down for so long, boy howdy, don’t touch my ice cream! I’ve been waiting for 21 years to have my own ice cream no one can touch.

Some people lose themselves in a cause or goals. These can help you think less of yourself, but often your causes and goals are extensions of your selfish desires, your need for praise and accomplishment. And if by chance those causes and goals are achieved, then what? Successful people are often the emptiest people and most in need of attention grabbing causes and goals. They can’t stop. It’s like a drug.

What will make us think of ourselves less? The answer is: Jesus Christ. He’s the answer. When you see yourself before Your Creator and Savior, when you see yourself before the throne of God, before His all-powerful, all-glorious being, you lose yourself.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is only gained through learning. Only humble people learn. The fear of God is truly what wisdom is and it is also the thing which will make you humble.

The conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commandments. His commandments are wisdom. You won’t keep His commandments unless you fear him. You can tell your fear of God by how much of His Word you are doing.

This is also your barometer for your humility. It’s not how little am I thinking of myself, but rather how much am I fearing God and doing what He says?

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This hearing is not just that your ears work, but doing what God says. Faith is complete trust in another to the point of obeying them. You don’t listen to who you don’t trust.

Humility isn’t beating yourself up and ripping yourself to shreds. Humility is thinking of yourself less, but this is only possible if you have someone else to think of more. The only someone big enough to make you stop thinking about you for a lifetime is God.

James Strong of Strong’s Concordance Fame

One of the resources I have found most valuable in my studies of the Bible is Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Plus I have also found many other resources that are keyed to the Strong’s Numbers.

It got me to thinking: who was the guy who did all that work?

That must have taken a lifetime to number all the Greek and Hebrew words and then compile all appearances of them in the Bible BY HAND! As far as I knew, Strong’s Concordance has been around for quite some time.

So, I did a little searching on the old internet and found out that Strong’s Concordance was first published in 1890, so indeed it was all compiled by hand. I can’t even imagine how this was done and to this point have not found anything telling me how it was done.

But, get this, although compiling all Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible (8674 Hebrew roots and 5523 Greek roots), which would have taken me the better part of my life, Mr. James Strong did quite a few other things! Here are a few:

— mayor of Long Island

— projected and built the Flushing Railroad

— president of the Flushing Railroad

— president of Troy University

— wrote manuals of Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldean grammar

— part of the committee for the English Revised Version of the Bible

— authored a number of other books, was a professor, and taught Greek and Hebrew. He also started out as a medical student.

I’m a complete loser.

Jesus Super Ad

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. I don’t care about either team. I’m tired of hearing about Patrick Mahomes and how he throws the ball sidearm sometimes. I was doing that in fourth grade. Lit up the playground. No big deal. And Philadelphia? Please. Even Philadelphia doesn’t like Philadelphia.

But just when you think the Super Bowl will lack the Super, there are entertaining commercials we are told.

I’m not really sure why the commercials get hyped so much. Especially now when our society punishes creativity and humor and everyone has to espouse the same weird morality. It just gets old and nauseating.

But just when you the Super Bowl commercials lack the Super, there is going to be a Jesus commercial this year!

Oh, that should be super.

A Michigan creative agency is behind the multi-million dollar “He Gets Us” campaign that is airing two ads Sunday, Feb. 12. But instead of advertising a product, the short black and white videos carry a Christian message.

The founder of Hobby Lobby has put much money behind the campaign. Along with others:

A group of 75 wealthy donors funded the effort, which kicked off with a $100 million budget last year, according to McKendry. It hit $300 million this year with the goal of eventually becoming a $1 billion campaign.

Before you go thinking this is all about money though, rest assured, it’s merely trying to promote Jesus.

The campaign aims to “raise the respect and relevancy of Jesus” in the United States, and he hopes it encourages Christians to “reflect Jesus better in their life.”

Great. All attempts to make Jesus relevant typically just make Him worldly. Relevancy makes me cringe. It appears to be a moralistic message divorced from the Gospel and the identification with the crucifixion, burial, and being raised up with Christ to newness of life. Don’t need all that repent, believe the Gospel, and be born again stuff, just social justice, act better, moralistic deism.

However, in an effort to respond graciously, and maybe like the apostle Paul, “Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached,” I will attempt to go along with it.

If nothing else, it will prevent some more evil satanic indoctrination taking place in that ad spot. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Shouldn’t this money have been given to the poor?” like Judas would ask! Well, they addressed that issue too.

McKendry acknowledged critics have asked why millions of dollars are being directed to advertising instead of helping people. But he believes “He Gets Us” will create “an army of people” who will raise more money than what’s being spent on the campaign.

Ah, so rest assured, they’ll make more money. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Sigh.

Free Salvation Has a Cost

It’s time once again for Pet Peeve Corner!

I don’t know why it’s in a corner. That’s just where I put it.

Anyway, I was surfing the interwebs and came across this statement:

“Everything has gone up in price except salvation. It is still a free gift paid in full by Jesus.”

These sorts of pithy statement always annoy me even if they might be truish. It’s not that it’s false, it’s just that it’s not entirely giving the full story.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That’s Romans 6:23, which is in the Bible. Eternal life is a free gift. Other verses in Romans 5 speak of salvation being a gift, the righteousness, justification, grace, and the whole deal are part of the free gift offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am not arguing that point.

What I am arguing is that the gift has no cost!

Wait, what now? How can it be free and yet have a cost?

Good question, one you should ask Jesus because He very clearly said you should count the cost if you want to follow Him. Luke 14:27-32 talks about the cost, how the one who follows Christ has to deny self and pick up his cross.

A builder building a building needs to count the cost lest he fall short of completing the project and look dumb. A king going to war has to count the cost lest he mess up his kingdom.

Following Christ has a cost.

So how can there be a cost if salvation is free?

Several years ago there was a show something about Makeover, where this team would come in and build a gigantic house for a poor family or a family that had tragedy strike them. It was a nice gesture and somewhat entertaining.

Now that the show has been off the air, you can look up these houses on the internet and find out that often these families could not afford to live in these free houses! There was property tax raises as these houses were drastically improved, often the nicest house in the neighborhood driving up the neighbor’s taxes too, plus utilities went up to heat and electrify these mansions. And, as we all know, new things get old and fall apart. The happy façade of the new house soon became broken and they had no money to upkeep all the new gizmos.

The house was free. The cost was high to have that free house.

Now, this is not exactly equivalent, but it gives a good idea.

Yes, salvation is free. But if it’s free, why do so many reject it? Because the cost is high. Hebrews 11 is all about faith and how this great cloud of witnesses suffered because they had faith. You’ll be the next one in that line.

No, you do not earn your salvation or work for it. You receive it as the gift it is. But before taking the free gift, understand the cost that comes with it. The Gospel will mess with your life. You will give up your old sense of fun. You will probably ruin relationships. Standing for truth and righteousness will have a cost.

There is a reason why most don’t take the free gift: it costs too much.

I dare say the cost is getting higher in our world. Persecution is becoming an increasing possibility, one all Christians should consider as inevitable. It’s coming. Is it worth it to you?

Even if there’s no major persecution, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer for it to some degree. It’s inevitable. Is it worth it?

Count the cost of the free gift. It aint getting cheaper.

The Only Real Response to Fake People

So, you’ve discovered that Christians are fake. You might have even left the church over their fakeness.

It’s a good thing that you were able to discern their fakeness, but what do you do with it now? Is leaving them the answer?

It might appear that way, and depending on how terrible the fake is (many awful things have been done under the name of Christianity), maybe you should have.

But, from what I’ve heard, most people who leave the church because it’s fake simply want to experience life outside of mom and dad’s Christianity, which is also a fine thing.

It means you are growing up.

My dad was a good guy, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen more and more some of his problems, his people pleasing, and various other character flaws that didn’t serve others including me all that well.

My mother had issues. She was far from a perfect Christian. She had many character flaws that hurt me and others.

The churches my mom and dad went to had tons of people in them with character flaws. None of them were perfect either. They did things that hurt others and me.

When I left my parent’s house for college I did not go to church for several years. I was pretty tired of church and church people. It wasn’t just fake, it was devastating to me. The church was not kind to my family.

But I read the Bible. I started to read the actual words of God and study them for understanding. I concluded that my parents and others in the church did not have perfect doctrine. I felt a call to get back in the church.

I could sit on the sidelines and judge, or use my supposed wisdom and get in there and try to help. So I changed my major and pursued pastoral ministry.

I was a pastor for 21 years and was hurt by a very long list of people in the church. I saw fake like you wouldn’t believe and got hurt by many fake people.

The pain was real. The pain was pretty much the only real thing I’ve gotten out of church in my entire lifetime of being in it.

But I can’t leave it.

Because behind the pain and the fake there are genuine believers. There is a fellowship of believers, a new family, a like-mindedness, a love and compassion that I have not found anywhere else.

Someone once told me due to my pain experienced in the church that I should “leave the church and follow Christ.”

I found that funny, because it’s because I am following Christ that I am still in the church.

It’s the only reason I’m still there. I have not gotten rich off the church. In fact, in many ways I have sacrificed to be in it. Even after 21 years of real pain as a pastor, I started going to another church after resigning because the church is important.

Yes, there are fake people there and you will get hurt there. You will, no doubt about it. That’s what people do. I am a people. You are a people. But we need each other. I can’t just hate my mom and dad and church people and everyone who wasn’t better. I’d be all alone if I did that. It’s no answer because I’m left with me who is also not perfect!

We need each other to grow in Christ. To become less like our fake selves and more like the real, true Jesus Christ.

God knows you. He knows you intimately. He knows your thoughts. He knows your past. He knows your fake and everyone’s fake that is around you.

What do you think God does with His knowledge of your sin and fake and weakness? Do you think He leaves you? Do you think He gives up on you and takes off to find someone who isn’t so fake?

God knows you. He has every right to leave you, especially after all the things you’ve taken from Him with no gratitude. You’ve taken Him for granted. You’ve sinned against Him, pushed against Him with all your fleshly might.

He will never leave you or forsake you.

He loves you. Love is the answer.

Yes, people are fake and they will hurt you.

People were fake and hurt Jesus Christ. One of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot, played his part. He turned out to be fake and hurt Jesus immensely.

What was Jesus’ response? He called Judas his friend and asked His Father to forgive Him.

God loves you. He has shown you how to best deal with fake people. You are a fake person before Him. He is all truth. We are liars, we are fake pretenders. He doesn’t leave you when He learns who you are. He knows our frame, He knows we are made of dust. He knows everything about us. He formed you in your momma’s womb!

He doesn’t leave. He still loves. He’s willing to forgive.

So, you’ve discovered fake people around you. You’ve had bad experiences with people. What will you do with that? Find another group of people? Stay all by yourself in isolation?

Or will you be like your Father in heaven and forgive people, hang in there with them, love them and show them mercy and grace because that is exactly what you need from them?

Love is the answer. God is love. God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You’ve found the church to be filled with fake people. You can leave them and conclude you’re better, or you can be like Jesus Christ and lay down your life for them, show them love, grace, forgiveness, and compassion.

This is what Christ has done for you. This is what your soul is crying out for. All the other places you’re looking will not answer your deepest need.

When you come to Christ you put an end to your fake and then you become more and more forgiving and loving to the fake people around you.

You’re not better. I’m not better. We’re all fighting the same battle. Christ gives the victory. Will you let Him win you?

Are Fake Christians Your Problem?

So, you’ve discovered Christianity is fake. Nice job. Welcome to the club.

Now what? What’s the alternative plan? What thing in this world is going to not be fake enough for you?

Let me guess: it’ll be the one thing you wanted to do all along anyway!

Yes, yes, I know, everyone in church is fake. Here’s an insight for you: you are the fake someone else left the church over.

What if you were part of the fake problem?

1 John 2:19 says that “they went out from us, but they were not really of us.”

John said there were certain fake people in the church (if you knew the Bible you would know there were fake people in the church, this isn’t rocket science, God told ya!) who eventually left the church. The fact that they left shows they weren’t ever part of it.

So, dear friend who left the church because the people were fake, the fact that you left the church shows that you were one of the fake ones.

Make sure you get that. I’m not trying to be rude, I’m pointing out Scripture.

As long as other people are your excuse, as long as other people are the problem, you will remain in your sin and ultimately be unfulfilled.

Oh, I know, you’ll enjoy your sin for a season. It will seem nice for a while, not being shackled to rules and whatnot, being able to sleep in on Sunday mornings, etc. But you’ll be empty.

You’ll be empty and yet tell people you are fulfilled. You’ll be fake, just like you were when you were in the church. New game; same rules.

You are your problem.

Yes, there are bad people out there who do bad things, and yes some of those bad people are in churches doing those bad things. I know the church. I‘m well aware.

But no matter what evil thing I or anyone else does in the church or as a Christian, it does not take care of your soul.

Where will you go? Jesus asked Peter that question. Many fake disciples left Jesus (another passage letting you know there are fake people around Christianity) and Jesus asked Peter if he would leave to.

Peter’s beautiful answer was, “Where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

So, I ask you the same question: where will you go? Where is this bastion of non-fake you dream of?

Socialism? Environmentalism? Science? Politics? Business? Meditation?

Good luck with that. You’ll soon find loads of fake there too if you pay attention, which I encourage you to do. You were smart enough to find fake among Christians. That’s a good start. Use that same skepticism and you’ll find the fake everywhere.

Take care of the fake in you, because if you don’t, wherever you go for non-fake you will ruin by bringing your fake into it. Do you really believe in your new group and cause? Or is it just the thing you’re playing that isn’t Christianity?

I know, you bought all the books on meditation and you’ve read and studied and analyzed your new fake life. You’ve invested in it and let everyone know by your talk and your dress what your new fake group is.

It’s nice that you found a group that will support you in your fake. It’s nice you’ve found a group that says your particular batch of sins you enjoy are actually ok.

But what happens when that fake burns you?

Because it will.

If fake bothers you that much, I assume you’re most bothered by your own fake.

If you’re not bothered by your own fake, then stop using fakeness as your reason for leaving people. It apparently doesn’t bother you that much.

No one else is your problem. Others may not have helped as they could have, some legitimately harmed you. I’m not excusing any of that. It’s real stuff.

But real stuff requires real answers and it requires a real you.

You are right to be bothered by fake. Now do fake you.

Yes, Christians are Fake: Nice Job, Sherlock

Deconstructing your faith is a new thing in Christianity, or at least that’s the new name for it. People who grew up in the church, or at least attended church for a while, realize church people are fake and then they take off.

“Christianity is false. Look at all the pretenders.”

I’ve heard this charge by many who have “left the faith.”

Let me say this:
You have no idea.

I was born in a pastor’s family and was a pastor. I’ve been intimately involved in church since my birth. I know Christians. I know many things about many Christians.

Here are two things I know from this experience:

1. Those who think Christians are fake, typically have no clue what they are talking about.

2. If they had a clue, they would realize the fakeness was way more than their shallow observation admits.

Most pastors I have known are fake. Most church leaders are fake. Most Christians are fake. They are pretending. They are putting on a show.

My wife and I went to Las Vegas a couple years ago, mostly because we were in the area and were curious what it was like. We spent all of five hours in Vegas.

It looks glamorous and shiny and spectacular. Caesar’s Palace with its stone façade and statues were not stone! They were plastic! The fakeness was everywhere. The whole place was fake.

Vegas is a place where people who have left the church because it’s “fake” go for real fun.

The local church is the Las Vegas of the Body of Christ.

Many are playing the part; few are actually a part of the Body. Instead of stone, it’s plastic.

Try doing 20+ years of pastoral work actually paying attention to the same group of people and I guarantee you will see the fake. You might even realize at some point you are part of the fake.

So, yeah, there’s plenty of fake in Christianity. I dare say there’s way more than the casual observer has any clue of.

Congrats for figuring it out.

Now what?

You going to go into worldliness? Going to go after money and fashion? Or perhaps go the other way and forsake money and capitalism and try frugal simplicity for realness? What’s going to be your non-fake life to replace the fake one? What part will you play next?

How is that going to be more real? What happens when the leaders of your new movement have moral failings and actually are antithetical to the supposed cause they pump up? Where are you going to find these sinless, perfect, un-fake people to follow?

And, pray tell, how are you going to guarantee you’re not going to be fake? Do you really hate Christianity, or are you just playing the Christianity-hater part that is so cool in the world right now? Do you know the reality of what it is you think is fake?

You can’t know the fakeness of Christianity until you know the actual realness of it.

Of all the people I’ve heard denounce Christianity because it’s fake, very few have any lengthy knowledge of the Bible.

Because, see, here’s a thing you should know: The Bible says most of Christianity is fake!

So, the fact that you’ve deduced this is something I could have told you from the Bible. If you had listened to the Bible in your supposed “time in Christianity,” you would know enough to not put your trust in people, but in Christ alone.

Why? Because people are fake. The heart is deceitful. And if you think others are fake, wait until the Holy Spirit gets to work in you to point out your fakeness.

Then you’ll be brought to your knees and have what the Bible refers to as a “broken and contrite spirit.” Humility, the actual basis upon which grace, forgiveness, and salvation take root.

Yeah, Christianity is fake. You have no idea how fake it is until you know your own fake. As you turn from Christ and the fake of churchiness, you’ll flee further and further into other fakeness.

Yes, the Church is fake and Christians are fake, but Jesus Christ is as real as it gets.

When you get done playing your new fakeness, don’t forget to come back to the Truth. He’s waiting for you to get done playing games and finding excuses and blaming fake people.

He’s still there. Still waiting.

Is Worship a Purpose of the Church Gathering?

OK, so, here’s a theory.

I hear Christians say that one of the purposes of church, the gathering of believers, is for worship. What if I said, “Chapter and verse?” Prove from Scripture that one of the purposes of church is worship.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, I am saying that it aint easy! Not nearly as easy as we think it is! Who wouldn’t say a purpose for church is worship? Like, we all know that. Duh.

Right, and those things that “we all know” are my favorite things to analyze.

When you look up the word “worship” in a concordance, one of the first things you’ll notice is that it’s primarily used in the Old Testament.

Another thing you’ll notice is that Paul rarely uses the term.

“Worship” is used 188 times in the KJV; 115 in the OT and 73 in the NT; 9 in the Pauline Epistles including Hebrews.

Let’s just look at Paul’s usages for brevity:

Romans 1:25—heathen scum people worship and serve creation rather than the Creator.

1 Corinthians 14:25—when an unbeliever comes before the spiritual gift of prophecy, he might see his heart and fall down and worship God—this takes place in a church gathering.

Philippians 3:3—we worship in the Spirit not in fleshly demonstrations.

Colossians 2:18—false teachers will lead you to worship angels

Colossians 2:23—will-worship is spoken of in terms of outward, external rule keeping that looks religious.

2 Thessalonians 2:4—antichrist will exalt himself above God and will seek the worship intended for God for himself.

Hebrews 1:6—angels will worship God

Hebrews 10:2—speaks of the worshippers of the Old Covenant in relation to their repeated sacrifices

Hebrews 11:21—Jacob worshipped leaning on his staff blessing Joseph’s kids

These are the Pauline usages of worship. There is only one that talks about worshipping in a church service and that is one heathen scum guy responding to seeing his heart through the use of prophecy.

There is also a word translated in the KJV as “service” that can be translated “worship.” Most famous is in Romans 12:2—your reasonable service, which is not done in church but as a way of life.

Romans 9:4 also uses “service” in relation to Israel being given the service of God, or the worship of God. All the rules and regulations as spelled out in the OT about how the Israelites should worship God. No other nation was given these detailed instructions.

The same word is used in Hebrews 9:1 and 9:6, both in relation to the OT rules about sacrifices and how to worship God.

Which brings this back to the famous conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well.

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

–John 4:20-23

I believe this is one of the most important passages if you want to understand worship in the New Covenant! Jesus is clearly saying that worship is not in a place. Worship is not done in a church building. You don’t have to go to a tabernacle or temple. You worship where the Spirit is.

Where is the Spirit? The Spirit indwells the believer, thus no matter where the believer is the Spirit is also there. This then CLEARLY means that I worship everywhere.

This also means that by default, if I as a believer with the Holy Spirit am in church I can indeed worship in church. But no one should ever think that I can only worship in church!

This is the main reason why you will never find any passage in the New Testament telling you that worship is a main point of the church gathering! Because if it said that, then you’d be tempted to think you have to be in that place to worship!

This was true in the Old Covenant because God dwelt in the temple, so you went to the temple to worship. But if God is in you, then you don’t have to go anywhere to worship!

So, yeah, I would not say that one of the purposes of the church gathering is for worship, mostly because the Bible never says that.

Prove me wrong! I’m interested if there are any verses that say worship is for the church gathering or that the church gathering is for worship. Let me know what I’m missing!

Were Sacrifices Offered In Place of the One Sacrificing?

This year one of my goals is to read the MacArthur Study Bible. Every word.

If you’ve never seen a MacArthur Study Bible, well, let me just tell you: there are a lot of words. I mean, the Bible itself has a lot of words. MacArthur has a lot of words too. When you combine the two, you get a lot of words.

On top of that, many of the words (all of MacArthur’s) are in little tiny font that is printed very lightly and my bad eyes already want to surrender. But I’m tough. I’m persevering, so far. Of course, we’re only a month into the year!

I like much of what MacArthur says, but I do not like his Calvinism. In fact, his Calvinism seems to refute much else of what he says. It’s so illogical and it really troubles me because he’s so good otherwise.

So, as I’m reading his notes, I’m conscious of his Calvinist interpretations, and expecting much humor in seeing how his note does not mean what the verse he’s noting said!

Well, today I found my first example of John’s Calvinistic note disagreeing with a verse he put the note on! Woot woot.

It’s in Leviticus 1:4, which says, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”

Here is MacArthur’s note on Leviticus 1:4 particularly on the words “for him,” “This was a substitutionary sacrifice that prefigured the ultimate sacrifice—Jesus Christ.”

OK, so on one hand this is fine. Obviously OT sacrifices prefigured Christ’s sacrifice, no problem there. However, the idea that the animal died “for” the sacrificer means substitutionary death is where I have a problem.

Substitutionary Atonement is Calvinism. Substitutionary means that Christ dies as a substitute for the sinner, Christ died in the exact place of the sinner. If you think this is what happened, then you have to conclude the L of the Calvinist TULIP: Limited Atonement—that Christ only died for the elect.

Limited Atonement is the weakest point of Calvinism and is contradicted by many verses, as I’ve covered here many times before.

If Christ died in the exact place of each saved person, then He could not have died in the exact place of non-believers. If Christ died in the exact place of everyone, then all would be saved. Therefore, Christ only died for the elect—Limited Atonement.

So, although his comment seems innocent, it hinges on the meaning of the word “for.” I’m no expert on Hebrew, but I do remember reading once that “for” in the Greek when used in reference to Christ dying for us does not mean “in place of,” but rather “on behalf of.” That’s how the actual Greek word is understood. Nowhere is it used to be “in place of” as this is an invention of Calvinism which was invented much later than the Greek language (See Vincent’s Word Studies on Romans 5:6, Christ died for the ungodly).

So, knowing that, I decided I would look up Leviticus 1:4 and the Hebrew word “for” and see if Hebrew uses the word as “in place of” or “on behalf of.”

Guess what?

Go on, guess.

Ha.

Here is the definition as given by Brown, Driver, and Briggs, the preeminent Hebrew Lexicon for the word “for:”

upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against

The actual definition of the word never refers to in the place of, but rather on behalf of. Somehow I knew that would be the case!

Now, of course, the Calvinist, never one to let the Bible interfere with their doctrine, will tell you it means the same thing. But it doesn’t.

And, now that Calvinism is widespread and academic, there are now new dictionaries of Bible words that will no doubt define “for” as “in the place of.” Which is why you should be careful about your Bible dictionaries, translations, and study Bibles as many are now produced by theological camps.

Stick with the old trusted and proven resources in these areas.

Christ dying on behalf of every person who has ever lived is akin to what the Bible says. Christ dying in the specific place of a certain people, the elect, because no one whom Christ died in the specific place of could be unsaved, is what Calvinism says.

The Bible and Calvinism do not say the same thing.

Thank you. Now I will return to squinting at little tiny font.

Another Example of Sloppy Children’s Ministry

I saw this on the Interwebs the other day. It’s funny because those are two male lions. Contrary to the contemporary gender social construct, two males can’t have babies.

Presumably this was taken from someone’s Sunday School curriculum or story book. Someone no doubt edited it. They probably have a degree in some biblical something or other.

I know it’s funny and probably not a big deal, but this is the kind of thing, not this picture specifically but this sort of sloppiness in Christianity, that may contribute to so many kids leaving the faith when they are older.

I know, I know, it’s just a dumb picture and most kids don’t know what female lions are supposed to look like. I know.

But still, Christians are sloppy with teaching kids the Bible.

One reason for this is that generally we put people who don’t know enough to teach adults in charge of teaching kids. Our standards are pretty low.

For most churches you teach kids if you have kids, whether you’re saved or knowledgeable.

It’s stuff like this that made me say in a post a few weeks ago that I’m glad I never listened in Sunday School, so much stuff I don’t have to unlearn because of that.

Although kids may not be paying attention to the lessons you are teaching, they do remember the lies and the manipulation and the stupid stuff.

It’s easy to teach kids because they don’t listen and they typically don’t know enough to point out where the teacher is wrong.

But as an adult who hears what kids are taught, I’m pretty much sickened by it. To the extent I think most churches would be better off not doing kids’ ministry of any sort. They are doing more harm than good.

So, anyway, I know, it’s just a dumb picture, but it’s illustrative of our sloppiness we use in teaching kids because we know they’re too dumb to catch our mistakes.

Be better. Give kids the best you’ve got. Some day they will appreciate it and, if nothing else, you’ll be one less reason for them to leave the faith.

%d bloggers like this: