Thoughts on Actions – 2017

Well, I’ve been trying over the past several years to write an article for Believe Better Ministries on the subject of Actions. I feel as though I’ve been blocked. I don’t know if I have the words to bring this subject to bare. I’ve prayed over it and still do not feel led to write a full paper on the subject. So, I’m going to give my thoughts and leave it at that. (Quick side note: I think the reason I’ve been stopped from writing is due to it being very, very hard not to become legalistic when putting forth this subject. So I pray for a grace filled message.)

My main thought, when I’ve written things down about actions, is we’re not meant to be stagnant, passive followers, sitting in pews. We are meant for so much more! So many believers think the meeting of the Church involves going to a building, sitting in a pew (or chair), singing some songs, listening to a message, drinking a little grape juice and eating a cracker, giving a little money, and then going home. This is NOT the meeting of the Believers! If this was the way our meetings were to be conducted in this day and age why do I even need to go? Can I not accomplish all of this from my sofa? My couch is way more comfortable to sit in than any pew (or for that matter any chair) I’ve ever sat in in any Church Meeting Hall, I can easily buy grape juice (or wine if I wanted) and crackers, I can listen to KLove or some other Christian music network (heck I could pull it up on Pandora if I wanted), I can watch any of a number of different speakers on TV or listen on radio for a message, I can give money over the home or straight through the internet, and in the end I’ve accomplished about the same thing.

Are either of these a true form of a meeting of the Church? No! Again, I say no! We are called to service. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, gave us an example (John 13:12-17). Jesus was among us as a servant and said the greatest in His Church (the believers) would be the one who served (Luke 22:24-27). We are to be ready to act! I like how the ESV translates the first half of Luke 12:35: “Stay dressed for action”! we are to be ready. The type of readiness is the same as a soldier.

The literal translation of the phrase is “gird up your loins”. This girding of the loins was what a soldier would do before putting on his chest plate. He would take a strip of tough cloth and tightly wrap it around his waist preparing himself for action, for combat. This is what the Lord Jesus was saying. Let alone His brother, James, who gave us “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26b) Why? Does this mean we need to follow the legalist? No! It simply means this: You can see the fruit!

As those who follow Christ, we have invited God into our hearts and He is faithful and indwells us. So, since we have the Holy Spirit living in us – conforming us to the image of the Son (see Romans 8), helping us to put off the old self and to put on the new self (see Colossians) – there should be fruit. Now, here is where this topic gets sticky and this is where my words fail me. I would never tell you to judge someone else, lest we forget what the Lord Jesus said about removing the log from our own eye before removing the speck from our brother’s eye.

I am not saying we need to apply these principles to others. I am saying we need to do these ourselves and let the Lord deal with everyone else. Remember this Christian life is all about a relationship with the Almighty. He teaches His children what they need when they need it. You may not see fruit in someone else’s life, but you also don’t know about the rocks their roots have been fighting with.

I think I should leave it at that. We need to be more active in our faith. The things we say we need to do. Having said this I also want to remind you, take this to heart for yourself, don’t push it on others or judge others for what you don’t really know. The lord is working in their lives just as He is in yours and in mine.

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Episode 0 – Believe Something Better Podcast

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This is a simultaneous release of this episode in audio and video. If you would like to watch this episode please feel free to click here.

This is the first episode of the Believe Something Better Podcast. It is an introduction to myself (Ray “RB” May IV) and my beliefs. It is also an introduction to the show itself. You can read the thought on relationships here.

We also look forward to hearing from you! If you would like to get in touch with us you can send us an e-mail here. Thank you for listening!

If you would like more information about the Willamette Bible Chapel click here.
More info on the Plymouth Brethren here.
More info on the Open Brethren here.

Just a side note it’s fitting this first episode is posted on my (RB’s) birthday.

Epistle to the 21st Century Church

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Epistle to the 21st Century Church

A letter written to the Church sent from a servant of the LORD Jesus Christ; who is His Son.

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

First let me tell you that if any one of you, my Brethren, find any fault, error or wrong thing in this letter discard it immediately for it is not of the LORD. But if you find that my writings are good and in harmony with the Word of God than heed them.

Now, Brethren, we have fallen away from the things that are of Christ and turned to the things of men. If any of you cannot quote to me John 3:16 than you must be a new believer; and for the new believer I will quote it here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 (KJV)

Brethren think clearly, there is no qualifier presented, not even in the verses following. Do you believe me? Look it up for yourself. The Apostle Paul knew this and wrote of it in his Epistle to the Church at Ephesus. In this letter Paul told them (and through this letter us) that they were saved by grace alone not by works of the Law (Eph 2:8–9).

Brethren, if in His Word God tells us that no works gain our salvation why have we placed ourselves under the Law again? Such things the Jews tried to do before, and the Apostles spoke very clearly about this. The leaders of the churches – the Priests, Pastors and Elders – are supposed to be knowledgeable of the Word of God, why do they then not lead you to understanding of how you have become saved?

Peter, the Apostle who led the other Apostles, spoke on this when it was brought before him. He rebuked them asking why they were placing a yoke upon the Gentiles that no Jew has ever been able to bear. He then reminded them that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved (Acts 15:7–11).

This rebuke was meant for all men who placed the Law on the believer – the Christian. Brethren if my salvation rested on my own shoulders and I died tomorrow I world go to Hell because I am not worthy. I am a decrepit servant who does not even deserve to work for his Master let alone be given grace by Him, but yet I am saved by the blood of Christ. I pray that my words will be heard by you that you will no longer carry a yoke on your shoulders.

Even Paul, who could count himself perfect, did not count his works as salvation, but counted them as loss for the sake of Christ. In his Epistles to the Philippians he said that if anyone has the ability to have confidence in their flesh Paul does. Then he lists his qualifications but follows this list saying that none of them can help him because these qualities are worthless when compared to knowing Christ Jesus (Phil 3:2–8). Paul’s qualifications are impressive, even amazing, he could count himself blameless before the Law. Again I say to you he still counted these qualities as worthless!

Paul was very clear on this in his exhortations to the churches and men that he had left behind him on his missionary journeys. He preached the gospel of grace and he wanted all men to know that anyone who tried to put the Law over them should not be listened to. He went so far as to curse anyone (including himself and angels) who preached a gospel contrary to what Paul preached (Gal 1:8). Because when it comes down to the end anyone who preaches contrary to Paul is saying God’s way is not good enough. So are you willing to say that God’s plan is not good enough?

God told Paul that His grace was sufficient enough (2Cor 12:9) and if His grace was sufficient enough for Paul who was the foremost (or greatest) of sinners (1Tim 1:15) than why is His grace insufficient for you? But I do exhort you as Paul did that we should not sin against God. For just as Jesus told the Adulterous Woman “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11) we must strive to do the same and bear fruit. For what is faith? Faith is not just sitting on your hands doing nothing but faith is believing in something, and belief is a word of action. Just as James said faith without action is dead (Jas 2:26). So in our faith must we have action that goes along with it.

What is this action? It is the love that we are commanded to perform. We are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39). If you truly love other as yourself than how will you sin against God? This is the truth and heart of the Gospel: Not following the Law (for the Law itself places a curse on the person who does not complete all items in the Law – Deut 27:26; Gal 3:10), but rather following the love. Our example in this is our God, Himself. He gave Himself – all of Himself – so that we could be with Him; offering Himself as sacrifice so that He could give limitless grace to us. That is our example on how to love and how to live.

So do not forget that you are not under the Law, but also don’t forget that this does not allow you to be lawless. So I end this letter to the Body of Christ with Christ’s own words which He sent to Ephesus: “Return to your first love” (Rev 2:4-5).

Finally brothers do not forget to take care of one another in love, not just spiritually but if there is a physical need take care of this need as well. My prayers are with you always and may the Lord Jesus the Son of God and the Christ rain down his peace on your heads.

A New Year’s Thought – 2016

2016 is upon us. A lot has happened to me over this last year. I have changed some goals in my life and made some important new ones, but really my thoughts at the New Year always turn to the past. I said the same thing last year. “Is the year really over?” I think to myself. Yes it is and I should glorify God in that not complain how fast the time is starting to go. Time speeds up as you get older because so much more of it is already in the past, but the Lord knows this and takes us through it.

We should be looking forward to His glorious return! That is where our eyes should be fixed. Maybe this year, maybe this very month or maybe, even, today He will return. This is where our focus should be. Otherwise the Lord said that the day shall come as a thief in the night. To that end I want to keep my focus not only on the future but on God. I want every iota of my focus on God throughout the whole day, every day.

A friend of mine challenged me with something that is apparently going around the Christian Blogosphere: “The 365 Prayer Challenge”. (For 2016 that will have to be “The 366 Prayer Challenge”.) The challenge is one that no blogger would misunderstand write 365 (or 366 this year) prayers out. One for each day. At the end of the year post them in either a PDF or some other downloadable format, or straight to the blog. This challenge is to keep your focus on God throughout the whole year of 2016.

I want to do it. I want to keep my focus on God 24/7/366 for the year of 2016. I am also challenging you out there in the Blogosphere and Podosphere. Write down a prayer every day, there is no length requirements, just pray. I will be posting mine as a PDF attached to my New Year’s thought for 2017.

Let’s make 2016 the year of Prayer!

Christmas Thought – 2015

Today is the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Christmas really is a weird time. It was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church to bring in all the pagans who were already practicing a festival on that day. So as we all know Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas day. It really is as good a day to celebrate as any other, arbitrary, day.

But putting aside all this for a second I look at Christmas for Christmas’ sake. What is the purpose of Christmas? In all honesty I grew up in a household that, although Christian, did not celebrate Christmas. (No, we were not JWs.) So as something that I do celebrate now with my wife and daughter, I have to ask that question. In today’s Christianity what purpose does Christmas have?

Sadly, for a lot of people, it means they go to church (for the first time since Easter) hear all about the virgin birth and (maybe) a gospel message, then they go home. Later on Christmas day they open presents they’ve been worked all year to buy. In this hypothetical person’s life consumerism has obviously taken the lead in Christmas. Is this what Christmas is about? Blatant and unabated consumerism? For others it is all about balancing out their imaginary scales of right and wrong, the scales of karma, if you will. Volunteering, baking, helping others, giving gifts (consumerism again), and spending time (read putting up with) family top the list of things that add positive karma.

Is any of that Christmas? Pastors over the years have come up with many great sermons as to the “Biblical Christmas” or the “Message of Christmas” but I ask you to find in the Bible where it actually talks about Christmas. Yes the “Christmas Story” is there at or near the beginning of three of the four Gospels, but that is missing the point. The Bible is silent on all of our holidays.

Christmas’ purpose? We can read in Matthew of His birth and the visit of the wise men (which was not on the day of His birth). We can read another account of His birth and the visit of the shepherds (which disproves a winter date) in Luke. But these do not readily point out the purpose of Christmas. I think the Gospel that has a “Christmas Story” that points out its purpose the best is John’s Gospel. In the prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1–18) John gives a summary of the whole Gospel.

John shows us how God came to earth to take away the sin of the world and allow believers to become children of God. Some have said that the Gospel of John does not have a Christmas story, much like the Gospel of Mark. I, however, think it has one of the most complete Christmas stories, without having to read the whole Gospel through to figure it out. It even mentions His birth (“And the Word became flesh” verse 14).

We briefly touched on its purpose, but really Christmas has no meaning without the cross and resurrection. Jesus could have come all the same way He did and without the cross and resurrection it would mean nothing. That is what I am remembering this Christmas season and I hope you will too. As you spend time with family and give and receive gifts I pray you will remember Christmas’ purpose. That all the sin of the whole world was taken away once and for all and whoever believes in Jesus as their savior will have eternal life.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Life Changes

Well I’ve been silent recently and I apologize for that. I have been putting a lot of time in on other projects. The biggest thing that has happened here this month is my wife and I are now parents. We welcomed our little girl, Sophia, into our family on the 6th. We are so excited, there aren’t even words to express what we both feel about her.

This has led to the Psalm that I posted earlier this week and I have a new Thought in the works to express some of what I’ve been feeling and learning. This should be up tomorrow or sometime soon this week.

Really though what I have been up to has been working on the Epistle of Jude. I have been running it through edits and writing notes. As I am part of the Editorial Team over at Breath of God Ministries I have been putting a lot of time in on that book. I also wrote a commentary on the book that I will be coming out with shortly, but has been used to make study notes for the Breath of God Study Bible. You can read all about what we have done on their post about the project. The next thing to tackle on that front will be Ruth. You can find more information on their website.

My goals for the next few weeks are

  1. Finish my Thought that I have already started.
  2. Put the Commentary on Jude through its last few rounds of editing, then Post it here
  3. Continue working on the Gospel of John
  4. Work on Ruth

I hope that you will appreciate what I have to say regarding Jude and what I have been learning.

RB

A New Year’s Thought – 2015

With the beginning of the New Year two things always crop up in my mind and that is the past and the future. There are two ways that I tend to look at the past. It is either with regret for the things I’ve done wrong or with fondness over the happy memories. I am a journaler so I’ve been taking a look back through this past year. It flew by! I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this last year. But really the Lord took care of me and brought me through it. He also brought a verse to mind as I reviewed this last year.

That verse is Philippians 3:13: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” (English Standard Version).

Forgetting what lies behind. That is something powerful. As I looked into this verse I’ve seen many arguments of the sort that “Our actions define who we are so shouldn’t we hold onto the past?” I feel as though it is more of a letting go of the past so we don’t regret, fret or worry over what we’ve done wrong because it is covered by Christ’s blood.

I came across a metaphor about this. You can think of yourself like a piece of paper. All your sins (before repentance) are written on you. Then you are washed in Christ’s blood. What happens? Does it change you from being a piece of paper? No but it does blot out all the writing that was on you. Even if we are to try and write another sin on the blood covered paper does it show up? No it too is covered by the blood.

The other reason that we are to forget the past is because we have something amazing to look forward to. That is the Second Coming of Christ. How are we to keep a watch for Christ’s return if we are busy holding onto the past.

On Condemnation

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On Condemnation

By Ray B. May IV

There is a lot that can be said on the subject of condemnation. My point is this: If you are a Christian then you are not under condemnation and should therefore not condemn others, but relate to others in the same way God chooses to relate to us: with grace and love. There are many points of view that differ from mine but I will hope to give you a concise understanding of my point. If you disagree with me, that does not bother me and it will not change my belief. I hope that you, as I will, will be able to prove from scripture that your belief is correct. For the purpose of this paper “Christian” is defined as one who believes in Christ as their savior, regardless of denomination, orthodoxy or other differences in belief; “Condemnation” as judgment passed on a person(s) and legalistic “rules to salvation” ideas/methodologies; “Grace” as the free gift God gives us that we may have a relationship with Him. In this paper you may have arguments with my definitions, but, again, this is a paper of my point of view.

What is condemnation? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. The answer hits closer to your heart than you think. Condemnation is judgment and judgment comes from the idea that we can find justice. Justice is something that we only want for others, because we want others to live up to the rules when we know we can’t. As Christians we are called to “forgive those who trespass against us,” not to judge (and therefore condemn). Jesus even says “Do not judge.” Point blank are His words and there are no other qualifications for His next words go on to say that “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” This is the way Jesus speaks of condemnation and judgment. Sadly His followers – Christians or the Followers of the Christ – do not say the same thing about condemnation and judgment.

One of the next questions we must answer is, sadly, a hard question for us (believers) to even hear. This question is: “Who do Christians condemn?” The answer – and it hurts my heart to write it – is everyone. Every person on the face of this planet is in some way condemned by the current church. We, Christians (and yes, I am including myself here), even condemn and judge each other. I have noted through conversations with others that we evangelize to non-Christians, but judge and condemn other Christians. A close friend summed up the idea: “We bring people to Christ so we can judge and condemn them.” Is this not backwards? We do not condemn non-Christians very strongly because they do not have the knowledge of our beliefs. But when it comes to Christians, they know and therefore they need to be judged. Does that make sense? Not only did Jesus tell us not to judge, but He told us what His mission on Earth was. In John 3:17 Jesus says that He did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it. Let us think about this verse logically. First let us look at “the world might be saved.” What did He have to save us from? The verse tells us: “to condemn,” this is condemnation. So what did He come to save us from? Condemnation, so then why do we condemn each other? or anyone else?

In the next verse (3:18) Jesus says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned,” (John 3:18 ESV). This simple phrase should stop condemnation in its tracks. For those who believe in Him (Christians) there is no condemnation. Paul agrees and told us in Romans – specifically Romans 8:1 – that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. The full verse reads: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV). So if there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ” then what reason do we have to condemn? I cannot speak to an exact reason for it is different for each person and each denomination. For the most part it comes from a legalistic idea from which we approach all things. Paul speaks over and over of the gospel (good news) of grace. A gospel that defeats the idea that there can be a legalistic point of view applied to the teachings of Jesus. Think of the thief hanging on a cross next to Jesus’ own. “Remember me,” was all he said. Jesus responded with: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus did not apply legalistic rules but in fact rebuked the Pharisees and broke down their legalistic ideas.

So if we are not to apply a form of legalism to ourselves or others, how are we supposed to relate with one another and the world around us? The answer is the same way God relates with us: grace. Grace is how we are supposed to relate to everyone. If this is how we are supposed to relate to one another than what is grace? Paul in his letter to the Romans explains grace very thoroughly. If legalism is a set of rules that we must follow then grace is the exact opposite. Grace takes those rules and breaks them all up and throws them away. There is a glorious metaphor way back in Exodus chapter thirty-two when Moses has just received the Ten Commandments for the first time. Moses has just come down from the mountain and has the two tablets. He sees what the Israelites are doing and throws the tablets at the ground destroying them. This metaphor can be seen in the cross. Christ on the cross, body broken and utterly destroyed freed us from the condemnation of a legalistic system. That is grace. Grace is the free gift God gives us that we may have a relationship with Him.

Our definition may make a few more questions arise. One major question is: Where does this grace come from? The answer usually leaves people unsure of God, Himself. This is because the answer is grace completely and totally comes from God. Then what about the Ten Commandments? That is a picture. It is a picture of God’s character. The Law (the first five books of the Bible) is a statement of what holiness is. It gives us a very clear definition of holiness and it points out that we (human beings) do not measure up. If no one measures up to this definition of holiness except God then the cross was the only answer. In the blood sacrifice on the cross a Holy God is able to forgive his wretchedly sinful creation. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians points out that grace comes from God alone: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV.

This answers another question often asked as well. Why Grace? The answer to this takes us back through the information we have already trodden. We look at the Law and the fact that no one can measure up to the Law. Even Paul, himself, who was able to count himself blameless before the Law could not measure up. Paul said to the Philippians: “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ,” Philippians 3:4-7 ESV. Paul couldn’t even measure up. That is the “why” God sent His Son and gave us grace.

So if we have grace then do we not also have freedom? Paul seems to think so. He tells the Galatian churches of this freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery,” Galatians 5:1 ESV. Christ has set us free! But the question is: Free from what? The answer is we are set free from the legalistic system of condemnation and judgment. This takes us back to the point made in John 3:17. As I have stated before, Christ’s mission on Earth was to save us from condemnation. Salvation is freedom; freedom from an otherwise endless cycle of condemnation and judgment. The Law did not breed freedom and love in the hearts of mankind, but condemnation, judgment and fear. This is not freedom, but slavery and Paul tells to not submit to a yoke of slavery.

Those who argue against me will no doubt say: What about Sin? If a person is completely free in Christ what is to stop them from sinning? The answer is harder to swallow than anything else I have yet stated: Love. Paul says that the entire Law is fulfilled in the phrase “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you truly love someone (be it God or man) would you do those things against them? The answer is no, of course not! Would you cheat on your spouse? For couples who love one another the answer always is no. In the same vein what is the most common reason people give for adultery? “There wasn’t any love in our relationship anymore.” It is hard to truly love others.

“Love is so messy and rules are just easier.” My opponents say. Do we have to love? Yes we do! We are brothers and sisters in Christ, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ; any way it is stated it all comes back to love. Love frees us from condemnation because love does not use condemnation. God – who is the perfect embodiment of love because He is love (1 John 4:8) – sent His Son to Earth, suffered through human life and gave His life completely and totally on the cross. Why? So we could be saved and live eternally with Him. Love does not condemn. What does love do then? It convicts our conscience so that we do not want to sin. If someone loved me that much (as much as God) my life goal would be to make them happy in every way possible. Conviction reminds us of God’s love. Conviction does not make us feel guilty but reminds us of the calling on our lives. Conviction is bred out of love. Conviction makes us want to change our lives for the better, where as condemnation just makes us feel guilty. Conviction comes from love, where as condemnation comes from judgment. This is why we must love. (That is apart from Jesus’ words in John 13:34.)

In conclusion every Christian will tell you condemnation is wrong and we are not to do it to others. At the same time they tell you it is wrong, though, they will be doing it to the other people around them. Some Christians do not even realize that they are condemning others, or passing judgment on those they love. If we are to pass upon ourselves a list of rules – even ones that are not necessarily found in the Law – then all we do is put ourselves under the Law and condemnation, yet again. If we are going to judge others then we will be judged in that way. God tells us that we are to forgive others. Finally it is very important for us to remember that condemnation only brings us pain and fear. Is that what our relationship with God is supposed to be? Is that the way that the God, who is love, wants us to relate to Him? No He wants us to love Him, others and ourselves. The entire Bible is laced with the idea, especially, though, the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. Look up Matthew 22:36-40, Galatians 5:14, John 13:34 and 1 John 4:7-8 to get a small taste. Read though the Word and look for God’s love. You will see it on every page. That is His purpose for us: Love!

Am I saved?

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Can I really answer this question with certainty? I feel no one can tell you if you are or aren’t saved. The only person who knows whether you are saved is you. It has been important for me to remember that being saved means that I have a close personal relationship with a being far greater than myself. Just as I said in my last paper: God is love. I want to point out that God is love and He loves us. That is what being saved means.

What does it take to be saved? and am I saved? These are important questions to my faith. If you think about it how can I have faith if I can’t answer these questions? It shakes the foundations of my belief, it shakes the foundations of every belief. Why believe if you are not saved, or made better by that belief? If you cannot answer this question about your beliefs maybe you should be the one writing this article. I know there are different beliefs than mine that have vastly different views on a surety after death. Mine, however, are the ones that I know and the ones that have touched my heart, so mine are the ones that I will be figuring out.

To answer our question I need to find out what the Bible says on the matter of Salvation. This take us back to my last article I wrote, and a major verse that I brought out in that article:

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

John 3:17 KJV

I still hold onto my view that this is a better verse for our times than 3:16, but what does it say? God sent Jesus to save the world, and later Jesus tells us what the work of God is:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.’”

John 6:29 KJV

God sent His Son to save the world, and His work is that we would believe in the one He sent. In his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul sums up the point that Jesus said.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Romans 10:9 KJV

If I believe my God to be the only one, and if I believe the Bible is His unchanging Word, then I can make the conclusion that I am saved. Not everyone can make this conclusion (for their own reasons); not everyone can make the primary leap of faith (that there is one god who is triune – a trinity; three in one). Not everyone can make the second leap of faith either (that the Bible is the true Word of God).

It is not for me to decide what is right for others. All I can do is follow my own heart. This is also key to my salvation. For I have made the conclusion that I am saved, but what does it mean to be saved? If you are, were or know a Christian person you probably know or have hear the term “Walk with God” or “Christian Walk.” This is used all over the New Testament to refer to the way that someone lives (i.e. their walk). Some Christians today call it the “Christian Life” rather than walk.

But, once you have truly made the leap of faith (to become saved) then you must walk the walk. What is the walk? To love, it is that simple. You must love. I quoted 1 John 4:7-8 in my last article which says that Christians must “love one another.” Also the Christian is charged to love his neighbor. It does not say “If your neighbor is a Christian then love him as yourself,” but rather:

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31b KJV

And if our walk is to love than it is also to have a relationship with God. And a second time I make my end with this verse; but if we love then 1 John 4:7 tells us we will know God:

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.”

1 John 4:7 KJV (emphasis added)

Am I a Watered Down Christian?

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This possibility scares me beyond anything else out there! But I have had to look it in the eye. Am I? Am I someone who is not willing to stand up for their beliefs? I have thought a lot of things over lately and I am writing out a letter to the church (only a format, not really going to send a letter) about what my beliefs are and I have to ask myself. Have I watered down the gospel? Or merely misunderstood Jesus’ teachings?

I have always thought grace and love were the number one call of the Christian. Am I wrong? I have friends who are gay and I know most Christians would condemn them for being so. But I don’t. I love them. I love how accepting they are. Is this wrong of me? I have always been a fervent believer in the love the sinner hate the sin, but is this wrong? I am not the type to go from person to person handing out tracts or sharing the gospel with people.

Every friend I have – be they Christian or non-Christian – knows that I am a believer and I am a Christian, but have I fallen away? Have I misinterpreted God’s word? Have I watered down my testimony for fear of sharing the Bible with people? Have I fled discomfort and settled into a lukewarm state that will bring about no fruit?

I am scared.

Scared of the possibility that I have. Scared that I have given up on my friends.

I have always thought of the Gospel (which means Good News) preached of grace and love for one another. John 3:16 is the most quoted verse but 3:17 seems to be a better verse for our times. Most people who live in the U.S. know that Jesus came and died, but do they know why?

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:17 (KJV)

I can’t tell you how important this verse is to me. Jesus came not to condemn us! He came to save us. My friends who are gay should I condemn them? According to this verse I shouldn’t, but according to Christianity I should. Why has Christ and Christianity differed? What is wrong with those who follow Christ? Why do they then condemn the world when the founder of their religion did not? Why do Christians not follow Christ?

I was told today by someone that they “Hate organized religion.” I have to agree with this person. I do not believe in a religion. I believe in a Savior! The Gospels don’t speak of religion. They only speak of Jesus and his teachings. 1 John 4:7&8 points this out:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:7&8 (KJV)

Why do we then believe that we can condemn people? We even condemn each other! We condemn this Christian for being part of this denomination and that Christian for not believing in this “Biblical Principle”. What Biblical Principle allows those who are not God to condemn anyone? Just as I pointed out before in John 3:17 God doesn’t even condemn us why do we?

I am rambling now. That is all I have to say for now.