The Grace Escape From Religious Bondage

There are thousands of religions to choose from and new ones are always forthcoming. But they aren’t really new at all because they keep revolving around the same basic design: What must we do to become more acceptable, forgiven and pleasing to God.

For each question asked, there are usually thousands of different answers representing each brand of belief … and unfortunately the Christian religion is no exception. After all, just look at the huge number of church denominations which came into existence largely due to anger, disputes, dissensions and factions—which are defined as works of the flesh in Galatians chapter five. The system as a whole is often nothing more than social clubs requiring preexisting conditions in order to join their government approved and tax-exempt earthly institution, filled with legal precedent and human tradition.

Inside of these walls we’ll find the self-righteous piously sitting in “pews” that smell like filthy rags (the Greek word for that is P-U). On the flip side, there are the dismayed parishioners who live in fear that they will perish. Even the baptized will feel as if they are drowning in being able to live up to whatever required standard is being presented to them. Yet they always seem to fall short and will feel the need for another do-over as they seek to reassure themselves.

Religion says: Do your best to obey the stone tablet commandments.

The gospel: Jesus did what the law could not do and He fulfilled it for you (Romans 8).

Religion says: We need the glory of those written commandments to help reduce sin.

The gospel: The Mosaic ministry caused sin to increase and no longer has any glory at all as it ended and was replaced with a more glorious ministry of the Spirit (Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 3).

Religion says: We need certain laws and rules to guide us and show us how to live.

The gospel: The Holy Spirit is our guide and His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness (John 16; Galatians 5; Titus 2).

Religion says: Salvation is a gift. On the other hand, Jesus taught us to obey all of the commandments in order to inherit eternal life.

The gospel: Although the law was holy and good, it was weak, useless and powerless. Jesus became the end of the law for righteousness to all who would believe (Romans 8, Romans 10; Hebrews 7).

Religion says: You’re forgiven for your sins … unless you commit another sin.

The gospel: You have been forgiven forever, by the blood of Jesus, shed once for all (Colossians 2; Ephesians 4; Hebrews 8-10).

Religion says: You’re saved by grace but are sanctified and made holy by behavior improvements.

The gospel: You’ve already been declared as holy and sanctified through the finished work of Jesus and we boast of nothing in ourselves (1 Corinthians 1; 1 Corinthians 6; Hebrews 10).

Religion says: The Holy Spirit is always with you, but He also comes and goes frequently.

The gospel: The work upon you is finished. He never leaves. He lives in you. He works in you. His anointing abides in you. (Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 3; Philippians 2; 2 Timothy 1; 1 John 2:27).

Religion says: We are identified as sinners and it’s now about what we do to work at becoming more like Jesus.

The gospel: As Jesus is, so now also are we in this world … having received an inheritance and were gifted with His righteousness as partakers of the divine nature. (Ephesians 1; Colossians 1; 1 Peter 1; 2 Peter 1; 1 John 4).

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

When Sermons Become Snares: The Sabbath

What do you get when you mix Old Covenant law and commandments with New Covenant grace? The Apostle Paul had some choice words for this, which varies by Bible translation. He referred to it as fruitless discussion— empty words—meaningless conversation (see 1 Timothy 1:5-7). He was addressing those who had swerved and turned aside from a pure heart of love and a sincere faith, while desiring to become teachers of the Mosaic law … “even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

Unfortunately, this is the basis for most church sermons today. Mix in a little Jesus and a few New Testament verses out of context and people won’t even realize the pieces don’t fit the picture puzzle they are trying to create. There are many examples on the broad road of sermons that erroneously try mixing various Jewish commandments into the message of the gospel, but let’s look at just one sample as we take a rest stop on the subject of the Sabbath.

The weekly Sabbath was always from 6 p.m. Friday evening until 6 p.m. Saturday evening (it has never been on Sunday). The Sabbath was considered as a day of rest to be set aside (sanctified) and treated as holy. It was a commandment given to the Jewish people within the law which came through Moses. It wasn’t given to Gentiles born outside of the Jewish race, and (thankfully) it was never meant to be applied or followed in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ—we aren’t called to keep any of that law which could only result in death, increased sin, and condemnation—in other words, falling short of the requirement.

Today’s proponents of a Sabbath observance will encourage some sort of recognition of this day in our lives but they will vastly vary on how it should be applied. Why is this? Because they are making it up as they go. As with any old covenant law, the rules and guidelines are hand-picked and constantly changing. These “covenant clashers” are clueless as to why the sabbaths were given to Israel under the law. Yes, I said sabbaths (plural). If you think this was simply a weekly observance, you’d better dig deeper into the Mosaic law … and don’t forget to integrate the new moon into it. An Internet search on that topic alone will make your head spin.

The Sabbath sermons will entice and lure you into something that looks and sounds like rest, and you may find yourself saying, “Oh, how I needed to hear this message!” But when you decide to take a bite to see what it tastes like, you’ll discover a hook that is nothing more than a modernized version of an impossible, obsolete covenant which originated from a law that was weak and useless, unable to provide the rest or life that a person is seeking (Galatians 3:21 & Hebrews 7:18). The list of rules found within this type of dubious, doctrinal mixture of the old and new covenants always fluctuates from one brand of religion to the next. Oh sure, they’ll quote the Bible verses to fit their theology until the cows come home (including “red letter” verses), but they miss the context of the gospel and the power of the finished work of the cross of Jesus.

“Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Religion loves to spew out the headlines when it comes to the articles of law and commandments. But your sermon forgot to tell you there were something like 39 other commandments, rules and statutes attached to that one. The specifics from the law they are advocating for you to follow are mainly left to your imagination. They’ll tell you to “surrender” every area of your life … but you’ll spend years in misery trying to figure out what that means and how to do it … without ever achieving that plateau.

The Jews couldn’t find rest by trying to abide by any of that law … including the Sabbath … which had requirements leading to the exact opposite of what was advertised. The preparation for the sabbaths alone was exhausting … not to mention the pressure of making sure they didn’t cross a line on that special day which could end up getting them stoned to death for something as simple as picking-up sticks (Numbers 15:32-36). The true sabbath commandments were as hard as stone, they didn’t bend with graceful flexibility.

Here’s where we should be:

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

The entire law was a shadow, Christ is the substance! Come out from among the shadows and into the light. Your rest is found in Jesus Christ, not through observing a day that is set apart here and there with your own made-up rules. You (you!) have been set apart—sanctified—in Him! He did it for you!

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).

This isn’t a billboard for advertising a specific Sabbath day, it’s a revelation of entering true, spiritual rest by faith for those Jewish people (Hebrews) who had formerly been under a system of works. They could now rest from trying to attain righteousness by the works of the law.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus was speaking to Jewish people burdened by a religious system unable to provide them with rest. There is no spiritual or emotional rest in abiding by the Jewish Sabbath or a modernized version of it. That commandment (like all the others from that law) was meant to point those people to something new and better—Jesus Christ and the glorious ministry of his Spirit. It results in pure love, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Hey, we can all use some regular intervals of physical downtime and recreation, but our true peace and rest is eternally found in the Person of Jesus Christ—every minute of each day, regardless of what we’re doing. Jesus Christ is your life and He has become your Sabbath.

Take a permanent breather.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

God is No Longer in the Forgiveness Business

Take another look at the title of this article. What was your first reactionary thought? Someone who has been duped by traditional, legalistic or mixed-covenant doctrines might go into a panic, while someone else begins to scream accusations of heresy.

Here is what a predominately law-based Christianity has neglected to tell you: There is no longer the need for God to keep extending another act of forgiveness to each individual over and over again. One who has realized the plenitude of grace and truth found through Jesus Christ will recognize this as the very foundation upon which the good news gospel is built. God already did everything for us through the work of Jesus Christ—a finished work. It’s called faith.

Religious entrepreneurs have developed a product we’ll call “frequent forgiveness” that hungry people are craving, and unfortunately, business is booming. Hallowed church institutions have messaged a hollowed gospel, building their business upon the premise that forgiveness from God is something that people need to keep seeking more of throughout their entire lives.

The religious “covenant” being made with you through a typical church membership states in no uncertain terms you are still identified as a sinner with an evil heart who needs to keep chasing after more and more of God’s forgiveness whenever you make a mistake, commit a sinful action, or have a tainted thought. Other than “the moment” when you confess to God you’ve committed another act of spiritual treason, you’ll never be quite sure exactly where you stand with God at any given time.

It’s hardly a prescription for acquiring blessed assurance. But it has ensured Church Incorporated of repeated patronage from “customers” who feel the need to keep coming back for more of something they think has been used up or dissolved. Sadly, they remain uninformed as believers in Christ that they have been made the righteousness of God and have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13, 3:13; 1 John 2:12).

Priests under the Mosaic law were always standing as they prepared to issue a temporary atonement of forgiveness which required repeated blood sacrifices. But Jesus shed his blood by offering one (1) sacrifice and then sat down! See the contrast? A priest doesn’t sit when he is getting ready to extend another act of forgiveness. If that were to occur, more blood would have to be spilled. He isn’t shedding any more blood! (see Hebrews 9:25-26).

“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).

God was reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Therefore, the message is simple … God did all that was necessary in reconciling the world to himself, therefore, be reconciled to God. Confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead. Trust in the completed work He did on your behalf (Romans 8:3-4).

Blending a combination of the Old and New Covenants together usually gets our thinking mixed-up and turned inside out. I find myself constantly untangling many confusing doctrines and mindsets I was taught over the years, but let’s not get this backwards. For example, consider this possibility: God didn’t forgive you when you chose to believe—because there is no blood involved with that—it’s actually the other way around.

Although it may have surpassed our understanding at the time, we chose to believe once our heart realized God has already chosen to forgive unconditionally through one bloody sacrifice, thereby receiving the gift already offered and resulting in salvation, bringing God’s life and righteousness within us.

With the Old Covenant set aside and out of the way, and the New Covenant now established, the message from the traveling apostles to the Jews was to proclaim the forgiveness of sins:

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

Ka-boom! Jewish minds were being blown. Proclaiming forgiveness as already completed? Simply believing in the work of Jesus brings eternal life and freedom? This was new, this was different and better, lighter and easier. But for many people then and now, it just sounds too good to be true.

To be clear, this is not meant to declare a universal salvation. Although we often identify them together, forgiveness and salvation are not synonymous. Forgiveness will not benefit us if we are still dead in the sinful state of Adam which we once inherited. We receive the forgiveness that brought redemption by believing in the Son in order to have spiritual life.

Both believers and unbelievers struggle with sin (verb) in this fallen world. The difference between these two groups of people isn’t a question of who is forgiven, but who has been made alive and who continues to abide in spiritual death. Don’t remain in a state of unbelief—a sinful condition— where you will be judged according to your deeds (John 8:24). God has so graciously offered his very life that will empower you. Live that life and rest in him.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

Written on Our Hearts

I had been a Christian believer for 23 years before I had the message of grace radically permeate my entire being and begin to change the way I had been seeing the Scriptures. It was both exciting and shocking as I began to wonder how I could have missed seeing so much and why I never heard some of these foundational truths about the gospel within the church walls.

Much of what we’ve been taught inside the Christian religion is based upon false assumptions. One of these misleading tenets which becomes a repetitious talking point is that God has written His laws upon our heart. It’s a true statement, but the misunderstanding comes with inaccurately concluding that it was referring to the commandments from the Old Covenant—such as “the Ten Commandments” or whatever rules and statutes we selectively choose from a very long list. Picking and choosing which Old Testament laws should be applied to the message of Jesus is commonplace in denominational Christianity—albeit a common mistake.

A prophecy about the New Covenant is announced in Jeremiah 31:33 where he states in part, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” The writer of Hebrews looks back on this passage from Jeremiah in Hebrews 8:10: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts.”

Notice the bold highlights. Did the New Testament writer misquote Jeremiah with the word laws instead of law? That would be an obvious typo and considered unacceptable … something to be corrected. But it wasn’t changed for a reason. In fact, it was repeated in the tenth chapter of Hebrews.

Jeremiah and the Israelites would have only been familiar with something known as the Law (singular). Although it was made up of over 600 commands and statutes, they were all bundled together in the same package and absolutely nothing could be added to it or taken away from it (see Deuteronomy 4:2 & 12:32). Therefore, they did not refer to it as the laws but the Law. Like many New Testament writings from Paul and other apostles, the writer of Hebrews was revealing something not previously seen or understood.

Notice what the Hebrews writer stated leading up to this in chapter 7 and the first part of chapter 8:

  1. A new High Priest meant a “change” of law (a removal and replacement). Jesus became High Priest and this occurred “after the law.”
  2. The former commandment was set aside because it was weak and useless.
  3. God required perfection through the law, yet the law made nothing perfect.
  4. Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant. The first covenant depended upon the people where fault was found (no guarantee).
  5. A better covenant has been established upon better promises.
  6. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to seek a second.

Notice in Hebrews 8:9 that the New Covenant would not be like the first one when God took the Israelites out of Egypt. Did you catch that? A covenant that is very different and unlike the first one. An arrangement where sins would no longer be remembered by God nor counted against us … yes, nothing like the first covenant where the law was given to bring a reminder of sins, leaving the people in the bondage of a sin consciousness.

Why would God write something on our hearts that brings a reminder of sins followed by condemnation, when He said sins would be remembered no more and that we are no longer under that ministry of condemnation?

Why would God write something on our hearts that the Apostle Paul explained was the ministry of death and condemnation? Although it was holy, righteous and good, it brought death instead of life.

Why would God write something on our hearts that did not reduce sin, but caused sin to increase? The law was not of faith … Jesus became the end of the law for all that believe … people under the law of Moses were redeemed from the curse of the law and were set free from the law.

Why would God write Old Covenant laws on our hearts after grace and truth have been revealed and realized through Jesus Christ? The truth is—He hasn’t.

The New Covenant “laws” now contained within our hearts and minds are reflected upon in the writings of the apostles … such as the law of faith, the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2), and love—which is the fulfillment of the law. The Holy Spirit within us brings a reminder of the gift of God’s righteousness, empowering us to gracefully bear His fruit apart from the law (see Romans 3:21 and Galatians 5:18 & 5:22-23). Jesus is the fulfillment of the old law given to Israel. He is the New Covenant and we’ve been invited to abide in Him as He abides in us. It’s the difference between the law of the Spirit of life compared to the law of sin and death. Choose life. It’s better.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

You Are Not the Light of the World

Church denominations have done a lousy job at helping believers in Christ to understand their identity in Him. There are few Christians sitting among the Sunday pews who have been taught they have become the righteousness of God. Instead they identify themselves as sinners. They have failed to understand the new nature which has been gifted in exchange for the old.

If believers could just begin living from the awareness that they have been made into a new creation and are already identified as saints who have favor with God and are spiritually alive, holy, perfected, justified, sanctified, cleansed, anointed, reconciled … if only we could see this truth within ourselves—victorious living would be abundantly manifested. These attributes are not earned through our efforts, they came through the blood of Jesus and were born of God within us. Sadly, well-meaning wolves have taken the good news gospel and turned it into the Christian religion—a self-improvement program they call “repentance.”

However, there are several seemingly positive identifiers religion will cloak upon Christians … but unfortunately, they are taken out of context and it leaves believers in a state of confusion or misunderstanding. While a works-based religion will ignore the identity of God’s righteousness mentioned above, one of the false ID’s they use to describe believers is that we are “the light of the world.” I’ve even heard a very popular teacher of grace make this statement.

I’m not sure why it seems so easy to turn the Scriptures inside out and to get many of these things a bit backwards, but some of it has to do with missing the context of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant inside all of those Bible books, chapters and verses. The only time the Bible refers to people as being the “light of the world” is when Jesus used the phrase during the Sermon on the Mount:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).

During this entire sermon in chapters 5-7 from the book of Matthew, Jesus was speaking to Jewish people who were under the law of Moses … not to future Christians who would have no relationship with the Mosaic law. There are many references in the books of the Law about lamps, lights and lampstands. Since the Old Covenant began, Israel had been a light in a world of darkness, but it was more like a lighthouse in a far-off distance that the rest of the world (Gentiles) were not invited into (see Ephesians 2:11-13).

As Jesus stated, that light was based upon their works—not upon the work of Christ and His grace. It was a light that could easily be hidden even within their own house (the house of Israel). The Jews under the law were also identified as the salt of the earth (through what was known as a “covenant of salt”), but the salt lost its taste and could not be restored because the people failed the covenant by their inability to keep the works of the law. It would have to be thrown out—the covenant … not the people.

The bottom line:

Nowhere else in New Covenant writings are we identified as the light of the world. That’s because Jesus wasn’t speaking about you and me when He made the statement … and that’s because the light of the world is Jesus Christ Himself. This is communicated over and over in the New Testament and you can view the list of just a few passages below for your own study. You and I abide in the light of Christ, we are sons of light, and we are light “in the Lord.” We may reflect the light, but He is identified as the light—not us. There is no pressure on you to work at shining “your” light. Thank God, Jesus is the light of the world. Reflect His light as the Spirit of God works in and through you.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon


Shedding light on the light of the world:

John 1:4-5: Jesus is the light.

John 1:6-9: John the Baptist was not identified as the light (nor are we).

John 8:12 & 9:5: Jesus declared He was the light of the world.

John 12:35-36 & 12:46: Jesus is the light.

Ephesians 5:8: We are light in the Lord (it’s His light, we’re in Him).

Colossians 1:12: Inheritance as saints in Light.

1 Thessalonians 5:5: Sons of light.

1 Peter 2:9: Called from darkness into His marvelous light.

1 John 2:10: We abide in the light (of Christ).

Psalm 27:1: The Lord is our light and our salvation.

Your Sins Are Not “Covered” by the Blood of Jesus

One of the keys to success in business is to provide a product or service that results in people wanting more.  In other words, repeat business.  The religious business—within what I refer to as Church Incorporated—has used this approach ruthlessly when it comes to forgiveness from God.  Sinful actions aren’t exactly in short supply, and even those calling themselves Christian believers are habitually seeking additional assurance as to where they stand with God in order to ensure they are truly forgiven for whatever sins, shortcomings and failures they’ve committed.

The religious business has ensured themselves of repeat “customers” who have been convinced they need to constantly be seeking a renewed forgiveness from God.  People look for new ways towards establishing self-improvement, more dedication, trying harder, tithing, another sin confession, another water baptism, and serving more at the church building—all while attempting to commit to rules and commandments they can’t begin to consistently keep.

Those who consider themselves to be in charge of this forgiveness business might tell their clientele the blood of Jesus has covered their sins … until they commit another sin.  Any wrong thought or action will require the seeking of yet another renewed forgiveness from God.  Sound familiar in your own life?  You’re not alone.  This is the same hopeless and burdensome path the Israelites were traveling within the Mosaic Law under the Old Covenant.  It’s why they needed a Savior.

The Jews performed daily animal sacrifices which brought a temporary forgiveness.  The blood of the animals would provide an atonement—which means a covering—but it could not permanently remove the sins … the stain of sin was still there.  The people could not rest in forgiveness under that covenant, which served only to bring a reminder of sins, while leaving them in a state of a sin consciousness resulting in a chronic state of guilt and condemnation.  This system was not the ultimate will of God.  It was never what He desired, but it was merely a shadow of the real solution.

The solution to the problem?  Jesus came to do the will of God by offering a sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  A very different, better and brand-new covenant would replace the Old, where He would take away the first covenant in order to establish a second covenant (see Hebrews 10:1-10).  The result would be the forgiveness of sins for the world … all of them … past, present, and future.  The shedding of His blood would not cover sins, but take them away, once for all.  I repeat, once for all.

The work was finished with the issue of sin coming between God and man ever again.  How do we know?  Jesus did what no other priest under the law could ever do … He sat down.  The work was never done for priests under the first covenant, because there was always the need to seek another act of forgiveness from God for any sins that occurred since the last sacrifice.  Unlike us today, they were unable to rest in a forgiveness that wasn’t going to last any longer than the next time they fell short of perfection.

God has done all He is going to do about forgiveness of sins.  If this not true, then the cross didn’t work.  The writer of Hebrews concluded this: “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18).  When forgiveness is complete, the offerings stop.  God is not “offering” more forgiveness than what has already been given at the cross.  If more forgiveness for sins is still required, Jesus would need to offer Himself again and again—just like the Old Covenant high priest would do under the law (Hebrews 9:24-26).  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness that can be provided.  Jesus isn’t shedding any more blood!  Yes!  Woo hoo!

Is Jesus described as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of believers?  No, the sins of the world! (John 1:29).  He has extended mercy and forgiveness for sins, not just for us as believers, but the entire world (1 John 2:2).  God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting trespasses against them (1 Corinthians 5:19).

This doesn’t mean everyone is saved.  It doesn’t mean everyone has been made the righteousness of God.  It doesn’t mean people weren’t born into sin as it was inherited through Adam.  God’s act of forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ will not benefit the individual if they remain spiritually dead.  “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).

When one confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and believes in their heart God has raised Him from the dead, they receive Life—the life of God abiding in them as a new creation in Christ Jesus.  In Him, the believer is no longer identified as a sinner born in the image of Adam, but as a child of God receiving an inheritance through a will (covenant) that was established by God Himself (because He could swear by no one greater).  This isn’t about seeking forgiveness from God, it’s about receiving what has already been finished.  It results in salvation and a new identity for you as the righteousness of God in Him (see Romans 10:9-13).  One confession.  “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).

It’s time to rest easy in Him and the forgiveness God has already gifted.  No one walking this earth should ever have to wonder if they are forgiven by God for each and every mistake that has been made.  It’s really very simple … we receive and benefit from this gift by simply believing in Jesus Christ.  Believing that what He already did was more than enough. Since all have fallen short of perfection, the only thing that can keep you from eternal life and getting to know Him is unbelief.

The gospel is not about your dedication to God, but His dedication to you.  It’s not about you giving your life to Him, but Him giving His life to you.  Let’s stop selling the blood of Jesus at a discount by continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of the truth— the truth of Jesus—and the power of the cross and resurrection.  Grace will empower us to live in a way that reflects the light of Jesus Christ.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

The New Covenant In A Nutshell

It’s hard to fathom that the majority of us have never (or seldom) heard a teaching in church about the New Covenant and what it means for us today. How is it possible that so many have glossed over such a foundational truth within the Scriptures? Frequently, ministers are teaching what was handed down to them—erroneously mixing portions of the Old Covenant and New Covenant together, while others will try to persuade you the New Covenant hasn’t even begun. Don’t be overwhelmed with theologians who specialize in complicating something that is meant to be simple enough for a child to understand.

Below are just a few vital keys to begin unlocking what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us by establishing a new and everlasting covenant. Understanding this foundational truth will help align our thinking correctly when reading the Bible. This is a small sampling of headlines as it relates to separating the Old Covenant from the New.

For further Bible references and more details on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, look for this book available only on Amazon in paperback or eBook for Kindle:

“Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee” (by Michael C. Kapler).

Find It Here On Amazon

  1. The Old Covenant containing the Mosaic Law was provided to the nation of Israel, not to us Gentiles born outside of the Jewish race (over 99% of the world). That law consisted of a package containing 613 commandments, rules and statutes, including the “Ten Commandments” (the tablets of the covenant).


  1. God did not establish the law to aid Israel towards living an improved moral lifestyle, but rather it was given to show them they could not live up to the required standard it demanded. Sin was not reduced under the commands, it increased. But where sin increased (under the Old), grace abounded much more (under the New).


  1. The New Covenant did not begin with the birth of Jesus, but rather after His death. Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law. His ministry on earth was primarily aimed only at the Jewish people who were under that law while the Old Covenant was still in place. When Jesus told them to repent, this meant they would need a change of mind and begin to think differently. In other words, the Jews would need to stop seeking righteousness through the works of the law because the law was not of faith. He came to redeem them from the curse of the law—meaning to purchase away from a ransom.


  1. Jesus would often elevate and magnify the law and commandments … not to encourage the Jews to try harder at keeping it, but to show them their inability do it. They would always fall short of the requirement—which was to do all of it perfectly. They needed a Savior who could bring them into a state or condition of perfection with one sacrifice.


  1. The Old Covenant came to an end and was replaced with a New Covenant, where both Jews and Gentiles would be invited and brought together as one. The law itself states that parts of the law could never be eliminated while other parts kept—nothing could be removed or added. The entire package would either need to remain in place … or all of it would have to be brought to an end.


  1. The New Covenant was not made with you or me, but rather God established it with Himself—between Father and Son—because He could swear by no one greater. Therefore, it can’t fail because Jesus is the guarantee of this better covenant. He is now the mediator of a New Covenant which has brought the day of salvation, and it has been established upon better promises. We now live in that day. The Old was weak and useless, and has become obsolete.


  1. Under the Old, Jewish people would unsuccessfully seek to establish their own righteousness by giving it their best effort to keep the law of works which came through Moses. The only one to succeed was Jesus. Now under the New, the righteousness of God is gifted to us by faith, apart from the works of the law.


  1. No law within the Law is able to impart life. The commandments written in stone brought bondage and are referred to by the Apostle Paul as the ministry of death and condemnation. That’s why all of it came to an end and was replaced by the permanent and more glorious ministry of the Spirit. His life abiding within will allow us to bear His fruit, free from law.


  1. Since God declared the New Covenant would not be like the Old, there cannot be two very different covenants in place at the same time. “He takes away the first in order to establish the second” (covenant).


  1. The Old brought a reminder of sins, resulting in condemnation and a sin consciousness. Many sacrifices brought only a temporary covering of sin. Under the New, one sacrifice has removed and taken away sin once and for all, where God remembers sins no more, and is not counting our trespasses against us.


Good News: In Christ, you are now declared righteous, holy, redeemed, justified, forgiven & sanctified!

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).


“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).


“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39)


“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).


“…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Fallen From Grace—It’s Not What You’ve Heard

Imagine we’re playing a game called Bible Jeopardy and the answer to the question is “fallen from grace.” Your task is to come up with the correct question for that answer. A typical response from your average Bible-believing church-goer might be something like, “What happens when someone is caught in the act of sinning?” Thus, the typical assumption: one who falls into the snare of sin has fallen from grace.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, we should all be able to agree that sin is bad, it hurts people, it can cause pain and emotional distress to the accused, and to those around them. It deceives by looking appealing, but profits nothing. Therefore, it’s best to avoid sin for the good of everyone involved. It’s simply no longer a part of who we are in Christ. However, repeated sinning has nothing to do with having fallen from grace.

The mindset of thinking that sin separates one from grace can be traced back to many church dogmas which have created tenets based upon the mistake of taking portions of the Old Covenant (before the cross) and mixing them with ingredients from the everlasting New Covenant which was established by Jesus Christ. This erroneous practice is not limited to church ideology—I saw a local newscast recently that described a politician as having “fallen from grace” because they dropped out of the race for office due to accusations of past sexual misconduct. Taking Bible verses out of context is not a very exclusive club.

The phrase appears in the Bible once, in the fifth chapter of Galatians. The Apostle Paul had just spent the entire letter encouraging these believers to avoid being deceived by the Judaizers who came along to oppose the message of grace they had received from Paul and others. A Judaizer is defined as: to live like a Jew, follow Jewish customs, or live by Jewish law (see Galatians 2:14). The Galatians had been bewitched by these who taught a different gospel which appeared to mix law and grace … a common practice within much of Christianity today. In other words, this group of Jews had a problem with Gentiles receiving salvation freely and were seeking to induce them into Jewish customs found in the Mosaic law. For example, they taught that circumcision would be required in order to be saved or justified.

Armed with that small amount of information, it’s difficult to jump quickly from the beginning of Galatians to the end, because there is so much in-between that Paul brings to light regarding the contrast between works and grace. The book of Galatians can begin to look like one big Bible verse when you see all of it in context. But here is the passage as it relates to our subject:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:1-4).

One is not defined as having fallen from grace because of a sin problem, it’s because they begin to trust in something other than Christ alone. Instead of Jesus plus nothing, it evolves into Jesus “plus whatever I do.” It may be through various commands from the old covenant law, or it may be through modern-day religious rules or ceremonial practices which do not bring life. Grace is the Person of Jesus Christ. Grace was given to those with a sin problem, grace is not taken away because of a sin problem. Otherwise, it’s not really grace.

We’ve been empowered to reign in life and can now reckon ourselves dead to sin by grace through faith alone. But the law of works has no connection to faith (Galatians 3:12). All it could do is bring a curse. Why? Because it was required to be kept perfectly, and if you broke one commandment under that system, you were guilty of breaking all of it. And as Paul stated, you cannot pick and choose which commands to follow—you would be obligated to keep the whole thing because it was all put together in one package that God would not allow to be broken up.

Paul proceeded to explain our position as believers being led by the Spirit, not by a written code as was the case under the previous covenant with the law which came through Moses. When we’re led by the Spirit, we have no connection to that law (Galatians 5:18). Something that is often ignored or forgotten is that we (non-Jewish) Gentiles were never under the law … never! The fruit of the Spirit can only occur in our lives apart from the law (Galatians 5:23). Being disconnected from the law is what allows people of all races to be joined as one in Christ. His life has been eternally dedicated to you, not the other way around. Trust and believe that what Jesus accomplished through the cross and resurrection is more than enough, and don’t fall from grace by trying to add something to a work that Jesus declared is finished.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

The Second Coming of Jesus: Avoiding the Bait to Debate

Let me preface by saying I’m not here to give my opinion about the second coming of Jesus or the end times that you have heard so many others talk about. In fact, it is not my purpose to lure or convince you into subscribing to a particular persuasion at all—so relax.

The return of Jesus Christ … I’ve heard theologians and other Christian believers refer to it as “one of the most important and most frequently mentioned doctrines of the New Testament.” I once read a bold opinion from a “prophecy expert” that one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers either to the rapture of the church or to Christ’s coming to reign over the world. The problem with such a claim is that it’s nearly impossible to verify this because there are so many Scriptural interpretations that one will be forced to assume are referencing a “rapture” or a physical return of Jesus. In other words, once you are convinced or persuaded by the doctrine or the theory, you’ll begin to interpret Bible passages through that particular lens and the numbers become skewed.

Usually the opinions formulated about end times events will be based upon trying to apply a wide variety of “verses” and passages from the entire Bible to fit our predetermined viewpoints. Context can easily get lost, and this is not limited to second coming theology, but it’s often true regarding many mindsets about the Bible.

Here are just a few popular persuasions out of many thousands to consider:

  1. Jesus will return suddenly with little or no warning and believers will disappear or be taken away (raptured), followed by a great tribulation for 7 years.
  2. There will be a tribulation, but believers won’t be raptured until half-way through.
  3. There will be a rapture after the tribulation, but unbelievers will be taken.
  4. Jesus already returned … or prophecies and tribulation have already occurred in the first century church.
  5. There is no rapture, Scriptures have been misinterpreted or it’s more symbolic.
  6. You’re not sure about anything, but eschatology (the study of end times) causes confusion and fear in you—something from which God is not the source.

Therefore, you could be considered a futurist, preterist, partial preterist, historicist, idealist or none of the above. Add more subjects into the mix to include a millennium, judgement, and hell, and throw them into a blender for an even hotter debate. We could quarrel for centuries over something that is as clear as a London fog, woo hoo! Oh wait, we already have.

For those consumed with discussing (or arguing) their opinions on how the end of the world will play out, I’m exhorting you to stop wasting your time. I know that sounds a little rough, and I’m aware that this subject is practically an addiction for some who will be offended by what I just suggested. Therefore, I’m not intending to be critical of what people passionately believe, so please, hear me out all the way until the end.

As a child growing up in the 1970’s, I became consumed with the “second coming” topic. There was a movement at that time where bookstores were filled with a smorgasbord of end times material to feed upon with a wide variety of very different conclusions. I formed some pretty solid opinions that I carried with me for many years and I wasn’t afraid to dump them on anyone who would listen. And this was a Bible subject where almost anyone would listen, regardless of where they stood with faith. Understandably, people are intrigued and fascinated with the prospect that the world could suddenly end. Post something on social media about the finished work of forgiveness that came through the blood of Jesus, and it won’t get nearly the response about a post that a fresh news headline might be another sign of the end times. Over the years I’ve heard it said, “Your newspaper and your Bible are saying exactly the same thing.” Wow. Sounds intriguing, right?

More than twenty years after becoming a believer in Christ, as I began to discover and grow in the message of God’s abundant grace and His gift of righteousness, my opinions on the subject of the end times began to melt away. I’m not saying they changed—they just sort of disappeared. Why? I’ve often wondered the same thing, but I can say with confidence it had to do with the Spirit of God, as He overwhelmed me with revelation and a fresh understanding about the first coming of Jesus Christ. It consumes me daily with peace and joy. The gospel of grace completely engulfed my previous view on many things as I began to see and grasp the Word of God through a completely different perspective. This is why I don’t engage on this particular topic of the end times any longer. Frankly, some of the beliefs and theories just doesn’t always mesh or reconcile with the grace and truth that are realized in Jesus Christ … And that should raise enough concern to reconsider at least some predetermined theology.

The real problem: Many believers in Christ have fallen into a trap by focusing more on the second coming of Jesus than they have on the first coming. To a certain degree, it has parallels to legalistic roots which are always seeking something new and better from God, rather than resting in something God has already done. We’ve been programmed this way by those who pass onto others what was handed down to them, usually coming from hollow religious sources. Regardless of the Bible subject, we often continue to seek what has already been given. This is why I’ve placed the topic on the shelf in order to focus more upon proclaiming the gospel, while being immersed in the growth of knowing Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 2:2 & Philippians 3:8-11). I understand we ultimately look forward to being free from a world of suffering, but this will certainly occur for each believer in Christ, notwithstanding the end of the world as we may think we know it.

Of course, we are free to express our opinions and beliefs. But do we really want to spend our time debating on something nobody is likely to fully know or understand in this life? Even within the very same study Bible, we can find any number of very different possibilities or unique scenarios being offered by contributors about the end times. The list of topics within the topic for us to agree or disagree are nearly endless, and I believe it usually profits little or nothing.

When Jesus said He was coming “soon” in the book of Revelation, what did that mean exactly? And more than twenty centuries later, when someone uses the phrase “Jesus is coming soon,” what are they specifically suggesting, and how does it compare to what Jesus said in Revelation? More than 2,000 years after the cross, are we really convinced this is the time of a second coming? Has all of history really been building-up for this event to occur in our earthly lifetime? If the apostles believed a return of Christ was imminent (“soon”), is it not possible it could be another 2,000 years before the event would occur … or much longer? Is it possible something already happened during their generation? Are some (supposed) end times Bible passages really referring to something else? Is the book of Revelation a revealing about what will happen or what has happened? I’m not seeking answers to these questions, I simply state them to show the division and uncertainty.

Let’s be honest. We really don’t know with any precision or certainty, do we? In a passage many will assume refers to a rapture, Paul called it a mystery (see 1 Corinthian 15:51-52). He didn’t say it was a mystery revealed as he did on other occasions when he looked back on the “first coming.” He said it’s a mystery. Many of the (once) respected and popular prophecy books I read earlier in life have already been proven wrong. No problem, oh look, here comes another book or blog that has been revised with new evaluations on the subject. We may think we see signs going on around us that point to the end of the world as we know it. It might be so, or maybe not. That’s why I’m encouraging grace-filled believers to go and share the good news about what Jesus accomplished for the human race the first time He came. Focus on that.

I’m amazed and saddened at how believers and church folks will lose fellowship with one another over the result of their disagreements on this subject. We begin to develop an assumption that our passionate points of view represent absolute truth. Here’s a revelation to ponder: Our opinions about the end of the world or a second coming won’t change how things will actually turn out. But there is something we can know and the Bible is very clear about it: God’s love was demonstrated for us by Christ dying in our place and He revealed the gift of righteousness, apart from works. The New Covenant has been established. He has fulfilled all of the Law, the Prophets and Psalms that were written about Him (see Luke 24:44). It’s a finished work. Christ in you Gentiles … This is a mystery that has been revealed (see Colossians 1:27 & Ephesians 1:9). Believe it, receive it, and let’s continue with having that conversation.

For more about avoiding the trap of religious bondage which leads to fear, and to gain a better understanding of what Jesus accomplished through the cross, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Find It Here On Amazon

“Those ‘Hyper-Grace’ People Just Want Their Ears Tickled”

You’ve struggled for much of your life with trying to follow and apply many inconsistent, if not impossible church doctrines and burdensome Bible teaching. Lord knows you tried your heart out. All of those struggles with the ups and downs while attempting to maintain your spiritual performance, not to mention the arm wrestling matches that had you going back and forth between guilt and grace—it was just too exhausting.

Then you discovered the true meaning of unconditional love, the message of unlimited grace, and a forgiveness from God that has already been dispensed through the blood of Jesus Christ. It was the good news message of faith and peace that seemed absent from all of those sermons which you had been exposed to over the years. Finally, eternal assurance, relief and rest had been found through simply believing that Jesus did it all on your behalf through a finished work at the cross … it was something to believe in that was much bigger than yourself or your good and bad behavior.

And then … THUD! It happened. Concerned church people felt the obligation to spy out this newfound liberty you have been so excited to talk about. They begin the attempt to slowly let the air out of your tires by cautioning that this unbalanced message of “hyper-grace” is a dangerous doctrine, if it’s applied without the checks and balances of law and commandments. They’ll begin to spout all kinds of “verses” out of context in the attempt to remove the gospel seed that God had planted so passionately, and so carefully within your heart. One of those passages frequently used in their endeavor to throw you overboard into the sea of double-mindedness is from 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NASB):

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (bold added by author).

In traditional Christian legalistic circles, those who feel appointed as members of the jury will try to convict those “unbalanced” grace-bibbers by suggesting that the Apostle Paul was warning Timothy about those taking grace to an overly abundant extreme, which they believe will cause sin to increase. (Pssst … here’s a little-known secret … it’s the law and commandments that caused sin to increase—not grace).

Of course, when it comes to warning people about a risky doctrine of a grace overflow, Paul didn’t say anything of the kind to Timothy, but Scripture does reveal to us exactly who and what he was referencing … and it’s the precise opposite of what the jury has led people to believe. They have missed some key evidence.

Paul was coming to the end of his second letter to Tim—his child in the faith. He was wrapping-up the correspondence by reminding him of something he stated at the very beginning of his first letter. This is where Paul revealed the real culprits who would swerve from sound doctrines to teaching strange doctrines.  Let’s take a look in 1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB):

“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” (bold added by author).

Notice how the passages from both letters used the word “myths.” It’s the same Greek word in both epistles (Strong’s G3454). It is defined as a fable, a tale, a fictitious fabrication.  And who is Paul pointing the finger at when he admonishes Timothy to instruct these teachers to knock it off? It’s those who would attempt to become teachers of the law of works. That approach simply won’t sync inside of a new and better covenant, where the law was put to an end because it was weak and useless in regards to redemption, righteousness, and sanctification (see Hebrews 7:18-19). In the first chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul continued by saying the law which came through Moses was good if used properly. That is … even though the law was given to Israel, it’s meant to show humankind that everyone has fallen short of the requirement, and this was designed to point people to the truth that Jesus is the only way to God. But notice Paul’s clarification that the law isn’t meant for believers in Christ who have been gifted with God’s righteousness, established in love from a pure heart and a sincere faith.

Conclusion: It wasn’t the gift of abounding grace Paul was warning about when it came to people wanting their ears tickled with strange doctrines from teachers in order to suit their own desires. It was the law of works, also known as the flesh (see Galatians 3:1-5). It’s rooted in the barren tree of fruitless discussion, and it comes from those who are generally clueless about what they are saying as they try to teach a mixed message of law and grace. Stay away from that confusing concoction, because you are not under law, you are under grace and it can’t be both (see Romans 6:14). Grace removes our efforts from the equation and puts Jesus on center stage where He belongs. It takes away the boasting from those trying to establish their own right-standing with God as they needlessly work to make themselves more acceptable, more forgiven, more sanctified, etc. In other words, their ears itch for someone to tell them what they need to “do” to in order to become what God has already made them to “be.”

I’ve known or heard of numerous pastors who had formerly preached a mixed message of old and new covenant confusion, and had very successful attendance records at their church. Then they joyfully discovered the true revelation of New Covenant grace (or “hyper-grace” as it’s often called by religious legalists), and these pastors transitioned to teaching the truth of the gospel of grace and faith-based righteousness. God bless these ministers who are very much in the minority. Now get this … In just about every instance, their church attendance gradually began to shrink as they were accused of a love and grace message that was “out of balance” with the flock’s perceived understanding of Bible teaching, and their misunderstanding of the gospel. Many of these sheep will flock to the church down the road where that pastor will be more than happy to quench their hunger and thirst for strange doctrines, myths and fables, and a modernized version of the Mosaic law. Don’t be surprised, Paul told Timothy this would happen.

“Cross” Reference Bonus Coverage:

“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:10-16 ESV). (bold added by author).

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon