Should We Try to Keep the Ten Commandments?

Traditional Christian church tenants that are constantly mixing law and grace have led to a mixed message that lacks consistency when it comes to sound doctrine.  Unfortunately, this has become the rule and not the exception among the religious wolves.  Their members become unsuspecting prey, not realizing they are being held as hostages, all in the name of what they falsely assume to be absolute truth.

The confusion between law and grace stems from mixing portions of the (obsolete) Old Covenant law of works, and pouring it into the same blender with the grace found in the current New Covenant of Jesus Christ.  This causes a clash or conflict, due to attempting to combine two separate and very different covenants together.

There are numerous questions that we can ask a particular member of the flock in order to confirm whether or not they are a legalistic victim.  Here’s one from the top of the list: “Do you think we should attempt to live by and keep the Ten Commandments?”  Hostages and victims of the Christian religion will shout and scream accusations of heresy, blasphemy, and apostasy for anyone who might answer “no” to that question.  Why?  Because sadly, they haven’t been made aware of why the law was given to Israel, and why God replaced all of the law and commandments from a temporary covenant, with a better and permanent arrangement (or covenant) which has been established upon better promises.  While ignorantly pointing judgmental fingers with accusations of hyper-grace, their desire to be teachers of “some” of the law exposes them as ministers who do not understand what they are talking about (see Timothy 1:6-7).  The law was not made for the righteous in Christ Jesus.

Covenant clashing ministers will sound the alarm that we grace renegades are suggesting to go ahead and commit whatever sins you want.  This is not at all what we’re saying, but they can’t help to make this misguided assumption because of the legalistic mindset by which they filter everything through.  Just because we don’t attempt to keep the stone commandments doesn’t mean we’re breaking them or seeking to do so.

Don’t miss this: Here’s a key piece of information that probably got skimmed over during all of those Sunday sermons over the years: You can’t eliminate certain portions of the law while holding onto other parts.  All 613 commands and statues came together as a package that can never be broken up.  Nobody is permitted to add anything to the law or take away from it (See Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Joshua 1:7).  This includes the Ten Commandments, sacrificial laws, dietary laws, etc.  When you see a reference to the law in any part of the Scripture, it’s not referring to ceremonial practices only, but the moral statutes as well.

Ask a “Christian law advocate” if they are keeping all of the top 10.  Nobody (none) can honestly give an affirmative answer.  The typical response is something like, “I’m trying.”  According to the law itself (not to mention Jesus), that’s not good enough, no matter how sincere your effort may be.  Therefore, the law that came through Moses within the first covenant—all of it—had to come to an end in order for the New Covenant to take effect.  We can’t pick and choose what should be thrown out, while trying to keep other commands intact.  It all had to be thrown out and put aside in order for something new and better to take effect.  A complete change of law occurred when Jesus became the High Priest, which occurred “after the law” (see Hebrews 7).

Having said that, keep in mind the law was never given to us who are Gentiles, but it was given only to Israel—those born of the Jewish race.  We Gentiles weren’t invited into the previous covenant, and that old law is not part of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.  He would be the replacement!

Let’s look at some references frequently ignored or overlooked by covenant clashers.  Below are just a few samples of why we should no longer be trying to abide by a handwriting of requirements contained in any of the law that came through Moses.  Instead, we abide in the Spirit of Grace, who empowers us from within to live Godly lives (see Titus 2:11-12).  But Christ has already fulfilled the law on our behalf.  Refer to this list whenever temptation seeks to entice you back into a lifeless written code of human morality that is constantly changing and always falling short.

  • The law demands perfection, but makes nothing perfect (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 7:19).
  • The law was a yoke of bondage the Jews were unable to bear, and the church in Jerusalem agreed with the apostles not to thrust it upon the Gentiles (Acts 15:10).
  • We are justified and made righteous by faith, apart from the law (Romans 3:21, 28).
  • The law came not to reduce sin, but to increase sin (Romans 5:20).
  • We are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).
  • We are dead to the law and freed from the law (Romans 7:4, 6).
  • Sinful passions are aroused by the law and will bear fruit for death (Romans 7:5).
  • The commandment resulted in more sinning, not less. But apart from the law sin is dead (Romans 7: 7-10).
  • Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death to serve in the newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6, 8:2).
  • Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe (Romans 10:4).
  • The power of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).
  • The law, including the (10) commandments written on stone, is described as the ministry of death and condemnation … and no longer has glory (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
  • Pursuing the law of works is walking in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
  • The law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12).
  • Christ came to redeem from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10-13).
  • No law is able to provide us with life or righteousness (Galatians 3:21-22).
  • The law was a tutor to point people to a Savior, but now that faith has come, we are no longer under the tutor (Galatians 3:24-25).
  • The (10) Commandments given on Mt. Sinai gave birth to bondage or slavery (Galatians 3:24).
  • Abiding by any of the law leads to falling from grace (Galatians 5:3-4).
  • If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
  • The law does not produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Christ broke down the dividing wall—the law of commandments (Ephesians 2:14-16).
  • The law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 3:13-14).
  • The law is not made for the righteous in Christ (1 Timothy 1:5-9).
  • If the old law is still in place, Jesus is not a legitimate High Priest (Hebrews 7:12-14).
  • The former commandment (law) was set aside (abolished) because it was weak and useless (Hebrews 7:18-19).
  • Because it’s a package deal, whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it (Galatians 5:3; James 2:10).

Final thought:

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 2:21).

For more on the teachings of Jesus from a New Covenant perspective, and avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Find It Here On Amazon

The Deception of “The New Testament” Page

Bible Publishers have inserted a page into the most commonly read versions, and it has been a substantial contributor towards leading people into misunderstanding the gospel.  That page is found between the books of Malachi and Matthew, and it typically appears with these words: “The New Testament.”

Although found in-between the pages, it should not be considered a part of Scripture, and there is nothing to indicate this page is given by divine inspiration.  Why is this such a big deal and what has it done to bring doctrines of utter confusion about the good news of Jesus Christ?  People have jumped to the wrong conclusion that the New Covenant began with the birth of Jesus Christ, and this leads to a domino effect of misinterpreting much of what Jesus said, and to whom his words were meant for in any given situation.

The three English words of testament, covenant, and will are all translated in Scripture from the same Greek word, and are basically interchangeable with various combinations used inside of English Bible translations.  The book of Hebrews sums it up within these three verses:

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive” (Hebrews 9:15-17 ESV).

If you’ve ever been the beneficiary in someone’s will (covenant, testament), you know it didn’t go into effect until the death of the testator.  That’s also how it was with the will and testament (or covenant) of Jesus Christ, it began with His death, not His birth.  By His own words, Jesus came to minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  That was His purpose …to help them repent— that is, to have a change of mind by leaving behind the impossible works of the law which came through Moses, and turning to the alternative (Jesus).  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4). Unlike the first covenant, (non-Jewish) Gentiles would also be invited into this New Covenant.

My eyesight is terrible. I’ve worn glasses since I was in third grade.  I joke around now about how I can use my prescription to view the rings around Saturn.  One year I went to renew my driver’s license and looked into one of those viewers you put your face up against for the vision check.  I squinted to try to focus on the letters, “U C Z I P,” I said in a determined but unconfident tone.  The lady behind the counter replied, “Those are numbers on the screen.”  What a dirty trick!  My optometrist always used letters.  Armed with this new perspective, I refocused and oh yes, now that I knew what to look for, I could see those same characters the way they were meant to be seen.

And so it is with reading the Bible, including those four books known as the gospels, from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  If you’re attempting to view Old Covenant teaching with New Covenant lenses, or vice versa, you’ll end up with a blurred view and an inconsistent message that often leaves people needlessly hungering and thirsting for grace, truth, righteousness and peace.  Sadly, it often leads to believers thinking the following applies to them:

Sell everything you have and give it away.  Forgive or you won’t be forgiven.  Move mountains.  Never turn anyone away who wants to borrow, and don’t expect it to be paid back.  Cut off your hands, pluck out your eyes.  Pray the Lord’s Prayer.  Seek the kingdom and His righteousness.  “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  Carry your own cross.  Count the cost and pay the price.  Be a disciple of Jesus—hate your family.  You are salt that lost its flavor and needs to be thrown out.  You must confess all your sins to remain forgiven.  Only doers of the Mosaic law will be justified.  Righteousness and sanctification will (hopefully) occur gradually as you attempt to improve your behavior.

Those things are not meant to be directed at you to be applied to your life personally.  We’re in the everlasting New Covenant; meaning that we’re in the Person of Jesus Christ, gifted with His life.  His death and resurrection launched an eternal exposure to His unconditional love and forever forgiveness, where He took judgement upon Himself to set the captives free.  He finished the job.  You are free indeed.

For more on the teachings of Jesus from a New Covenant perspective, and avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Find It Here On Amazon

Pastor Claws is Coming to Town

Merry Christmas, but beware!  Tis always the season for legalistic wolves seeking their prey.

You better watch out
You better not slide
Prepare to doubt
I’m telling you why
Pastor Claws are bringing you down

They’ve got a rules list
While checking it twice;
You’ll find out keeping it means no dice
Pastor Claws are bringing you down

They see the money you’re keeping
The tithe must be taken!
Spouting Old Covenant rules and law
But it’s okay to eat bacon?

O’ you better watch out…
You better not slide
Prepare to doubt
I’m telling you why

Pastor Claws are gripping
Pastor Claws are ripping
Pastor Claws are bringing you down

For more about avoiding those pesky, legalistic Pastor Claws during the holidays and the rest of the year, get the book “Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.”  Find It Here On Amazon

Two Extremes: The Guilty & The Self-Righteous

I spent nearly twenty years in Christian radio broadcasting, which allowed me a somewhat unique view of the Christian church as a whole.  Within all of those many denominations representing thousands upon thousands of different doctrines, I was blessed to meet people with a wide array of backgrounds, and from all walks of life.  Regardless of their theology, I was fascinated with the passion many of these people had for Jesus Christ, and the love they showed to others.  Sometimes we may think certain church denominations are light years away from the true gospel message, but I came to realize there were still many within those religious labels who had a sincere desire to experience God in their daily lives.

Having said that, there is a common theme found within “Christianity Incorporated,” and it’s a sad state of affairs.  We often find two extremes within the church and unfortunately, it is the fabric of the culture. These two extremes are:

  1. Guilt and condemnation.
  2. Self-righteousness.

These two components are on the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum.  Churches are filled with people who seem to wallow around in the thick, muddy pond of guilt for their failures and shortcomings, unaware of God’s permanent forgiveness through the blood of Christ which was shed once, for all.  Much of it is based upon what they have been taught—a mishmash of legalistic tenets which dilutes the finished work of Christ by trying to place redemptive responsibility or progressive sanctification back onto the church member.  At the very least, they’ll receive warnings and threats that the status of their relationship with God is negatively being affected if they aren’t staying on the course of the vaguely defined “straight and narrow.”

In the condemnation camp, the pupil hasn’t been taught or clearly understood they have a new identity with the gift of God’s righteousness and holiness indwelling them; instead they’ve only heard they are a lousy sinner who should work harder at keeping the commandments written in stone, along with whatever additions and amendments have been included within their church statement.  Examples include: pray more; sacrifice more; do more; commit more; give your all—especially your money.  These victims will work at trying to follow a written code, which was identified by the Apostle Paul as the ministry of death and condemnation, rather than abiding in the ministry of the Spirit who dwells within.  What’s even more disheartening is that the people who are trapped inside of this bondage of guilt are often the ones doing the most!  But they soon discover it’s still never going to be enough.  It leaves them feeling unworthy and wondering where they stand with God.  They begin asking questions: Am I still saved?  Does God really love me?  Have I fallen from grace?

At the same time, there are those who have persuaded themselves they are living in a way that has kept them in God’s good favor through lifestyle changes, reducing their sin count, and (in their minds) improving their behavior to a higher level of morality.  Having these things occur in one’s life is not a bad thing at all, but it is a problem when we begin to believe it is what allows us to experience or maintain God’s acceptance and blessings.  Behavioral changes do not set you apart, only the blood of Jesus had the power to fully and completely sanctify, and that is a finished work.  It will be beneficial to know the difference between being sanctified and being sanctimonious.  Quite often, it is the self-righteous bunch that will warn about the dangers of excessive grace, and that teaching and proclaiming too much of it will give people a “license to sin.”  This hollow grace warning from well-meaning believers is not from God’s Spirit, but from a source of deep darkness.  Understand this: If grace has even the slightest chance of causing sin to increase, we should throw it out altogether and remove it completely.  Of course, this means we would have to fully eliminate Jesus from the picture as well, because grace was realized through Him.

Regardless of how good we think we’re living the Christian life, our position and relationship with God is always based upon His unconditional love and what Jesus did on our behalf.  You see, God’s standard is (and will always be) perfection.  We can all agree to admit we continue falling short of that, regardless of what has changed with our behavior improvements.  However, perfection has been found in us, not as the result of changes we’ve made in our lives, but because we’re in Christ, who is our life and our perfection.  We have nothing to boast about … nothing … except to boast in the Lord and what He has done to bring us forgiveness, righteousness, holiness, sanctification, peace and so much more.  These things belong to us “because as He is, so also are we in this world” (see 1 John 4:17).

Avoid jumping aboard the guilt train by understanding there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.  Why?  Because He removed the ministry of condemnation found in the law that came through Moses, and He accomplished for us what that old law was unable to do … give us life (see Romans 8).

On the flip side, stay away from the attitude the Pharisees had by thinking they performed in a way that elevated them to a higher spiritual stature.  It’s about the gift of God’s righteousness in you.  “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).  In Christ, we’ve been freed from law and delivered into grace.  There is no balance between these two extremes.

For more on the teachings of Jesus from a New Covenant perspective, and avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Find It Here On Amazon

Have You Carried Your Cross Lately?

If you’ve ever attended “Church Incorporated” for any length of time, at some point you were probably taught how you need to “count the cost” and “carry your cross.”  These words came from Jesus when He was speaking to certain Jewish followers and would-be disciples.  Most people have been taught to assume Jesus was also speaking to future generations of believers, including us today.

As we begin to shift our mindset to an entirely different paradigm, we begin to realize on many occasions that Jesus wasn’t providing instruction for us on how to achieve a higher spiritual stature, but He was attempting to show the Jewish people who were still under the Mosaic law how they would never be able to meet the required standard of perfection that the law demanded in that first covenant.  Jesus put it this way:

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (Luke 14:27-30).

In the Greek language, a disciple is simply a pupil or student, nothing more.  It meant becoming exactly like the teacher (see Luke 6:40).  But unlike what we’ve been taught through religious doctrines, this would not be accomplished through a person’s effort of good works and dedication.  Jesus isn’t encouraging these Jewish people under the law to pay the price and carry a cross, He was revealing they wouldn’t be able to afford the cost that only He could pay.  He is stating they may be able to start the project, but they would need to count the cost and realize they would never be able to say the words, “it is finished.”  The cost was too much for us to pay!  Ultimately, He was attempting to show those under the law that they would need to look to Him instead of themselves.

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).  That’s a biggie.  If you want to identify yourself as a true follower and disciple of Jesus in order to become more like Him through what you do, have you sold everything and given it away?  Probably not.  Why?  Either because you are being selective about the teachings of Jesus, or … and I hope we can go with this: You know in your heart of hearts He wasn’t speaking directly to you, but to those He was with prior to His suffering on the cross.  If this is not the case, we’re in trouble … but that wouldn’t be the gospel … which is always good news.

Did these people have any clue as to what Jesus was talking about by carrying their own cross?  Of course not.  They couldn’t even wrap their minds around Jesus rising from the dead, even though he stated it quite plainly.  In fact, right before Jesus said they would need to carry their own cross, He told them he would need to suffer, die and would rise again on the third day (see Luke chapter 9).  He said whoever wishes to save their life would lose it.  Nobody should try to save themselves and there is no need for us to do what Jesus did by suffering with our own cross.  Whereas Jesus carried the cross once and for all, you and I would’ve been required to do it daily, much like the repeated animal sacrifices which could not take away sin.

Everyone is undeserving of the title of disciple when it comes to being like Jesus and following His lead—which is defined by doing everything perfectly and actually carrying a cross that brings redemption.  The work He completed at His cross was more than enough.  Ask one-hundred pastors what it means to count the cost and carry your cross, and you’ll receive just as many different answers.  Here is a radical thought … suppose Jesus was not using mysterious hyperbole, but meant exactly what He said.  The vantage point we have by being positioned in a New Covenant allows us to see that Jesus wasn’t really encouraging or expecting us to carry a cross that only He could successfully endure.  We might be better off counting the cross (one), and grasping that Jesus carried the cost (all of it).

Here is the clincher on why we know Jesus was not speaking directly to us: There is nothing in new covenant writings from the apostles about us carrying our own cross in order to be a disciple of Jesus.  There is “the” cross that only Jesus would be able to bear, and He did for us what the law of commandments could not do, nor what we could not do for ourselves.  In fact, the word disciple never appears again after the book of Acts.  If being a direct disciple of Jesus was an integral part of our identity as a believer, surely one of the apostles would’ve mentioned it at least once or twice.  Do we carry a cross?  No.  Count the cost?  Yes, by realizing Jesus paid it all and there is nothing we can do to add to it.  “The now and the not yet” is theological mumbo jumbo—we can’t improve upon what is already finished.

For more on the teachings of Jesus from a New Covenant perspective, and avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Find It Here On Amazon

Danger: Bible Verses Ahead

We know that Bible publishers added chapters and verses to Scripture for reference purposes, and it is a convenient way to aid us in searching for specific passages. It’s understandable that most of us have been taught to memorize Scripture using these individual verses, but there may be a certain type of danger in doing this if the surrounding context is not being considered. This not only applies to the context in terms of chapters and verses, but even the context of the gospel itself. When we begin to gain a greater understanding of what the gospel of grace truly is, we can begin filtering the verses and passages as we see them through the proper lens of the New Covenant. A wise person once said, “The Bible can be dangerous to read … if you don’t understand the gospel.”

There are too many examples to cover in this short post, but here is one sample of “the verse problem.” I’ve had religious legalists throw this one at me while they erroneously tried to make their case that the Mosaic law is meant to be a part of the Christian life: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Romans 2:13).

Compare that to the following “verse” the Apostle Paul wrote just one chapter later: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).

Taken by themselves, these two verses appear to completely contradict one another. Which is it? Are we justified by our attempt at being a doer of the law, or is it by faith we are justified, apart from the works of the law? What may appear as a contradiction, is surrounded by the context of a landscape featuring beautiful scenery with a view that can be easily overlooked.

In the second chapter of Romans and most of the third chapter, Paul was exposing the hypocrisy of self-righteous people by explaining how the Mosaic law required those who were under it to obey everything without failing. Those (Jews) under the law would often judge others for the very things they didn’t uphold themselves, and it caused “God’s name to be blasphemed” among the (non-Jewish) Gentiles. The Jew was condemned by the law, and Gentiles without the law were also found guilty through their own conscience.

A “doer of the law” wasn’t a person giving it their best shot; it was someone who followed it to perfection. A doer of the law had never been found until Jesus came along, which is why Paul goes on to clarify the change found in the New Covenant … justification would have to arrive through a different source other than the law. All of us have fallen short of perfection, whether born from inside or outside of the Jewish race. Paul would take the rest of the book of Romans to reveal how deliverance from the law of works came through Jesus Christ, and brought us the gift of God’s righteousness. Let’s begin to see the magnitude of Paul’s explanation throughout the letter, instead of looking at verses as though they summed up an entire thought.

Many Christian religious doctrines are built upon the sandy foundation of “verse-ology”—the study of individual Bible verses that are frequently taken out of context and often jumbled together to fit a certain ideology or mindset they have assumed is based upon absolute truth. We can completely miss the bigger picture by falling back on the false assumption that all Scripture is meant to be applied directly to us as believers living under a new Covenant, who are in Christ Jesus. Even within the Psalms, we’ll read all kinds of things from those who were formerly under the old covenant law that do not apply to us today. Many of the passages from those writings are directly related to Christ Himself and are not always meant to be about us, but about Him.

The Bible is not one book, it’s made up of many books, and this Word of Truth should be rightly divided. Think of Bible verses as tiny little dots or pixels that make up a picture. If you get too close to the image, it will be blurry and distorted. As we step back for a clearer view, we’ll discover the entire Bible is really a picture of Jesus Christ. What are often considered as “topics” for discussion or sermon material in the religious realm, are actually things found and contained in the person of Jesus. Whether it be righteousness, grace, peace, life, forgiveness, the Word, the covenant, the kingdom … Jesus is the personification of these and much more. Any gospel discussion without the centerpiece of Christ and the finished work of the cross is just meaningless bloviating.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, and additional examples of Bible verses taken out of context, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here On Amazon

Selling Jesus To Earn A “Great Commission”

Have you ever felt guilty because you never entered the “mission field?” Were you made to feel as though you were an inferior Christian because others went on the special “missions” trip sponsored by your church denomination, but you stayed home?  You were told Jesus commanded you to go, and therefore, you experienced the sense of letting Him down.  Let’s take a moment to reconsider another piece of sacred ground as embraced by traditional Christianity … It’s called “The Great Commission.”

It’s another one of those phrases we hear so often, and without really stopping to think much about it, we assume it appears in Scripture.  But the phrase is nowhere to be found.  Of course, The Great Commission reference comes from the time and place where Jesus was giving some final instructions to the apostles, after His resurrection and before His ascension:

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

Doctrinal assumptions are found throughout many church teachings which suppose that when Jesus was speaking to the disciples or apostles, He was always speaking directly to us.  If we truly believed that everything Jesus spoke was meant to be applied to all future believers, countless contradictions would have been the result of the Scriptures.

In the case of The Great Commission, Jesus was speaking to the eleven apostles, and what He said was specifically meant for them.  An apostle means “a messenger sent forth.”  Jesus commissioned this specific group of guys.  Why?  Because they were actual witnesses!  They saw with their own eyes the resurrected Christ, along with others who joined them on the day of Pentecost (because Jesus appeared to many after He rose).  Paul was also called as a witness after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.  You and I are not identified as witnesses because we didn’t behold or observe this resurrection event (see Acts 10:40-43).

When Jesus told them to make disciples (learners) of the good news, the real revelation here is that He was sending these Jews to proclaim the message of salvation to the (previously) unclean Gentiles.  That’s right, non-Jewish people from any nation could come to God by faith in Christ … Previously, this would’ve been an unheard-of notion, considering God had made a covenant only with Israel when the law was in effect, and it was unlawful for Jews to even associate with Gentiles during the first covenant.

Jesus told those to whom He was speaking to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit.  He told them to go to all nations.  How many of us have done either of those?  He said to baptize believers.  For the sake of argument, we’ll assume He is referring to water baptism … so how many of us have been actively baptizing people on a regular basis?  I challenge you to ask your pastor if it’s okay for “regular” parishioners without formal “ministry training” to begin baptizing people during Sunday morning service.  You see, the minister will claim the commission was for all believers with no exceptions … they’ll say it’s not optional, but should be considered a command for us.  Yet most ministers will consider water baptism as part of their job, and may view others as unqualified or needing to be spiritually approved to perform this task … at the very least, don’t do it outside of their supervision or jurisdiction!  Sometimes baptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus isn’t enough unless it’s done under the name of a specific church denomination.

By the way, if baptizing people in water is a necessary ingredient for salvation, and was a command for the entire church to perform, why did Paul say Christ did not send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel? (see 1 Corinthians 1:17).  Paul said he thanked God that he only baptized a few people in Corinth, in order to avoid people saying they were baptized under any other name except Jesus Christ.

Finally, how many times do apostles in New Covenant writings specifically refer back to “The Great Commission” as a reminder and command for all believers to follow?  I think you’ll have a hard time finding it.  Why?  Because it was meant for those apostles to whom Jesus was speaking.  Paul asked if all were meant to be apostles (those sent forth).  The answer is no, because the body is made up of many different parts and we have different callings and gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31).  In Christ, we are simply prepared “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  Putting aside the old ministry of the written code, and living in the ministry of the Spirit in this New Covenant will cause people to come to us!

Bottom line: If each one of us as individuals are not “commanded” to preach the gospel to all nations, while baptizing people around the world, the religious crowd will wonder how in the world believers could be motivated to share the message of Jesus Christ.  From the legalistic paradigm where they abide, it’s difficult for them to understand the concept of living without the conditional command.  We now share the good news with those around us because it’s just that—good news.  We do it because of our love for others, and our love for God—Who first demonstrated His perfect and unconditional love for us.  We instinctively respond to that love in a routine, but unforced manner.  When people enter a relationship of the marriage covenant with another, usually they want to announce it to the world and have their friends and family celebrate with them.  It’s a natural thing to do, not a requirement.  If you are proclaiming a love for God, your spouse, or anyone else because you’re “commanded” to do so, that is not authentic love.

God bless those who feel called to share the gospel in different nations around the world, but remember this: Jesus did not commission the apostles to finish the job He started, He sent them to proclaim the work is finished.  This is the message of the New Covenant we should be proclaiming.  Simply encourage people to believe in this abundance of grace, wherever you live.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here on Amazon

Hey Holy Spirit! Come Back Here for A Minute?

As humans living in a fallen world, it’s more than likely we don’t fully realize the presence of God’s Spirit with us at all times. This has caused us to develop the dubious habit of thinking we need to invite God into our presence. Whether we’re praying solo or in a group setting, various catch phrases are used asking God to show up or to pour out a special anointing. It can practically become law for people. I understand some believe this is necessary in order for the Lord to manifest or fall in special ways, but once again religion has it backwards because we were the invitee—invited into His presence and He is always where you are. I believe as we become more aware of this reality, it may result in a greater outward manifestation of this power that already abides within us.

Although it provides a buffer while you are thinking about what to say, my exhortation is to stop asking God to come. This “invitation rule” can develop a frame of mind that leads one to think if God can come, He can also depart to some degree after the gathering is over. That’s not a good mindset to develop. Instead we should ask for a more significant realization that God has already provided his anointing that is not only upon us, but in us. In Philippians 1:6, Paul said that God has begun a good work in you—not upon you. The work “upon” you is a completed, perfected work. The work God will do “in” and through you isn’t to make you more righteous and holy than He has already made you to be through the blood of Christ, but to teach and guide you to live by faith … that is, trusting in Him instead of your own work.

For whatever reason, Christians often have a hard time digesting “Christ in you.” The King is already in our midst by his Spirit, He lives within us and He never leaves (see John 14:16). But an even more seemingly difficult concept to grasp is us being “in Christ.” In fact, there are far more references to us being in Christ in the New Testament. Why? Because God wants us to gain a greater understanding of how we’re always and fully enveloped by God’s presence, power, peace, and anointing. It’s an anointing that doesn’t land upon us from time to time, but always abides “in” us (1 John 2:27). The manifestation of ministry gifts will work through us “as the Spirit wills” (1 Corinthians 1:11). But don’t think for a minute that the anointing comes and goes.

Rather than looking for ten steps on how to invite the Holy Spirit into a room, first see if you can discover scriptural instruction on this practice from a New Covenant perspective. I think you’ll have a hard time finding it. God isn’t looking for a welcome mat at our doorstep, neither should we anxiously anticipate His RSVP every time we send out an invitation. Instead of telling God he is welcome to join us, we can simply say “thank you.” His response will be “you are welcome.”

As demonstrated through Jesus, God yearns to make the scene where religionists are less likely to be found. He has no boundaries and no limits. The notion that we need to create an acceptable atmosphere that is more conducive towards feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit is more of a mind game to convince ourselves of God’s response to us. Our intentions are good, but God’s presence won’t be found with any greater intensity in a prayer meeting taking place in a church building than it will in a bar down the street. The modern church world has us living in a mixed covenant culture, and empty religion has a way of creeping into our minds in the most unsuspecting ways. It becomes evident that our aim is off target when we are trying to do something to get a response from God, instead of resting in his response to us.

In the previous covenant, the Jews would go to the temple to seek more of God and His presence.  In this New Covenant, we are the temple!

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here on Amazon

The Forgiveness Business: What They Haven’t Told You

You may be among the many who have been taught throughout their lifetime to continually be asking and seeking God for more forgiveness.  Let’s put this in perspective, while seriously considering the murky details the religious business has thrust upon us, thereby leaving us in a foggy uncertainty and a lack of assurance.  Religious entrepreneurs have developed a product we’ll call “frequent forgiveness” that hungry people are craving, and unfortunately, business is booming.

Under the Old Covenant, Israel had many requirements and instructions within the Mosaic law that guided them towards receiving a renewed forgiveness from God on a daily and even a yearly basis. Most of us know a significant part of this included the sacrifice of innocent animals, because as we see in Hebrews 9:22: … “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.”

In the ninth and tenth chapters of Hebrews, the writer explains a significant contrast between the old way, with the blood of animals, compared to the new way through the sacrifice of Christ.  The cross is often referred to as a finished work, but man-made doctrines have nullified or at least weakened this truth of the gospel to a great extent. Whereas under the law, many sacrifices were required to cover the sins of the people, under the New Covenant, one sacrifice was required to completely take them away forever—not just cover them temporarily.  Our High Priest (Jesus) has an eternal ministry, unlike the priests under the law.

A key phrase in these two chapters of Hebrews is “once for all.”  This describes the work of Christ at the cross that removed the penalty of sin for all, through His one sacrifice.  It was impossible for the blood of animals to take away sins, and it left Israelites in a state of sin consciousness (guilt).  Unfortunately, many today are needlessly suffering with the same mindset.  Now for us who are “in Him,” we can live within a consciousness of righteousness, because this is how we are identified through the gift of life we’ve received.

Through the work of Jesus Christ, God has done all He is going to do about the need for forgiveness (for the whole world).  The package has been delivered once, on time, safe and sound, for all people.  All we do is receive it, and this is done by a simple act of the heart through believing.  Although it may be done out of ignorance and a lack of understanding, when we keep asking God to forgive us over and over, it’s a symptom of not trusting in what Jesus did on our behalf.  You and I can’t add to what He has already completed.

Must you forgive others in order to be forgiven?  No, Jesus said this to His disciples before the cross, while teaching the law with a message of hopelessness, meant to lead them towards seeking something better … Himself!  Only the blood of Christ could bring eternal forgiveness.  Coming to the understanding that you are already forgiven will now empower you to be able to forgive others, as the Apostle Paul explains after the cross: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  We forgive others, not to receive forgiveness, but because we’re forgiven.

If you believe it’s necessary to keep repeatedly asking God to forgive you for every wrong thought and action, then you’d better ask Him to send Jesus to die again, and then again after that.  If more forgiveness is needed, more blood would need to be spilled (see Hebrews 9:24-26).  But I suggest you go with option number 2: Trust in what Jesus did and that it was more than enough.  He brought to us what those crushing commandments and continuous confessions could not.  There are no more sacrifices on the way … It’s a finished work, you ARE forgiven.  Simply believe it, and walk in it.  Rest easy.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee By Michael C. Kapler. Purchase Here On Amazon

Escaping Religious Bondage

Those who have been born into captivity or have been held as slaves for most of their lives, may not be aware they are in bondage, because it is all they have ever known or remember.  Likewise, one who knows only physical blindness is unable to fully understand what it means to see.

The Jewish people were spiritually bound, blind, and bankrupt.  Early in His ministry, Jesus spoke to some of them who were abiding in their synagogue, as He referenced this prophecy from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

The key to experiencing spiritual freedom is to first understand you’ve been a slave.  Although the Israelites were delivered by God from the slavery of Egypt, they agreed to a covenant of law, where they would be held in spiritual bondage for centuries.  The purpose of the law wasn’t designed to make them “better” or more acceptable to God.  The Mosaic law was meant to show them their inability to abide by the works of that law.  God wasn’t trying to achieve “better” people, He was looking for perfection, and this would be found only in the Person of Jesus Christ.  This is where He placed us … in Him.

In Galatians chapter 4, Paul explained how the Law and (ten) commandments given on Mount Sinai brought spiritual slavery or bondage to Israel under that first covenant.  The New (or second) covenant that is now in effect has brought freedom, not only to Israel, but also to those of us Gentiles not born of the Jewish race.

Many people sitting inside of Christian churches each week have been under teaching that they have assumed is built entirely upon truth and accuracy.  They are often blinded to anything that may vary or differ from all of the religious talking points they’ve heard over the years that frequently contradict themselves.  This is usually built upon a sandy foundation that mixes and blends the Old and New Covenants together.  Although it’s usually taught that many of the Jewish laws and commands no longer apply, it wrongly assumes there is still an element of law still in place.  Misleading doctrinal assumptions are built upon the premise that everything Jesus spoke was meant for all future believers, when in fact, Jesus said He came only to minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Jesus had to help Israel begin to see they were slaves to a system that would never bring them what was required—perfection and righteousness.  Until they understood their position of hopelessness through works, faith would remain out of their reach, because the law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12).  They needed to be redeemed from the curse of the law—abiding by all of it perfectly.

In Christ, we’re no longer called slaves, but are considered friends with God, children who are a part of the family of God’s household, and there is nothing that can separate us from His unconditional love.  The blood of Jesus Christ has torn down the wall that once brought separation, and what was that wall?  The law of commandments (Ephesians 2: 14-16).  Both Jew and Gentile now abide in a new and better covenant, under the ministry of God’s Spirit.  The former ministry of the written code that came through Moses brought death and condemnation, but the Spirit gives life.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.  Purchase Here on Amazon