I want to list some things that make me a little bit sad today. No, they aren’t directly related to the UCG mess, and many will cut across some boundaries.
I think it sad when:
- Young people talk about when the older ones die so that the artificial boundaries are knocked down between people who believe 95% of the same things.
- A church organization stops sending volunteers to Legacy Institute in Thailand because the school won’t become part of its particular church organization.
- Church organizations become more worried about branding the sheep than the well-being of the flock.
- Church organizations look down their noses at other church organizations over contrived and unbiblical doctrines.
- Individuals from two different organizations end up at the same place for the NTBMO, but they remain separate though they are observing the same thing.
- Leaders get kicked out for putting an emphasis on evangelism.
- Leaders are censured for speaking to “other groups” who mostly believe the same things as the leader.
- Members are castigated for daring to think.
- Members are punished, shunned or looked down upon for visiting “other groups” who are in at least 95% agreement in beliefs.
- Pastors stop listening.
- Members lose heart.
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Those things can make any one more than a little bit sad … unless they've hardened their heart and seared their conscience.
I agree 100%!! It makes me pray "Thy Kingdom Come!!" Once again, man has proven he is incapable of governing himself. When we are most blessed, we turn and devour one another. CRAZY!!
Bob Thiel has already found a way to criticize COGaWA in his latest post: "…those now in COGaWA have shown that they are serious about focusing on doing the work of Matthew 24:14"
Actually, if you look at LCG's mission statement, which says: "To preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14; Matthew 24:14; Ezekiel 3 and 33), and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12) to all nations as a witness.", one finds a statement that HWA argued against his entire ministry (Because, there is only ONE gospel of the KOG which is the primary message of the Church, not a dual gospel ABOUT Jesus Christ.)
In this respect, COGaWA's statement of mission, which reads: "The mission of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association is drawn from Christ’s promise that His Church would preach a specific “gospel” (good news) message, continuing the theme of all inspired Scripture: “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14)." – is actually closer to what the Church historically believed when under the leadership of HWA.
Thus, doctrinally COGaWA is more closely aligned (so far) with Mr. Armstrong's doctrinal teachings in respect to the mission described in Matt 24:14, than what LCG currently publishes as its "mission". I would think this would give Dr. Bob a pause to reconsider.
Please quote others accurately rather than piecemeal. Bob Thiel's words were "Neither UCG nor those now in COGaWA have shown that they are serious about focusing on doing the work of Matthew 24:14." Very different from what you above put in quote marks.
However, the fact is that the Bible teaches good news (gospel) about the Kingdom of God and about the salvation which is made possible through the sacrifice and grace of Jesus Christ. Just do a concordance search on 'gospel'.
The Living Church of God is NOT just mouthing what Mr Armstrong taught but rather trying to proclaim the full message of the Bible. That God was willing to offer His Son on our behalf and that salvation is available through Jesus Christ is wonderful news which must be proclaimed.
The question I'd like to ask is if you can have a kingdom without a king. I know HWA knocked the idea of a Gospel about Christ, but AFAIK, he still acknowledged that Jesus Christ was the Passover Lamb and the soon coming King. If you want, Jesus is the lynch pin, and it all falls apart without Him.
When I was in the Church I couldn't figure what in the world to do with Jesus, if we were saved by how well we kept the commandments then what in the world did we need Jesus for. It wasn't until I left the Church that I understood it was what Jesus did on the cross that we can be saved and have any hope of ever obeying him out of love not out of duty. That is the only way we won't become self righteous and take credit for our own salvation.
I think the COG's have it all backwards.
Yes there are some very sad things happening among the COG groups of today. I noticed that LCG has been mentioned and "Paris" said this: "That God was willing to offer His Son on our behalf and that salvation is available through Jesus Christ is wonderful news which must be proclaimed."
How true this statement is but it does not lay to rest the seemingly errors in the LCG statement of beliefs–which have caused some to be confused on what the gospel really is. in LCG's statement of beliefs it says this –the first sentence under "THE GOSPEL"–look it up and read it for yourself; "The Gospel of Christ is the "Good News" of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice,"—
I was reading something (do not even remeber the article or what)a couple of years ago on the http://www.mtcogsm.com web site that was explaining how this was never the true gospel of Christ and that Christ never preached this nor was it his gospel. I searched the scriptures for myself and could not ever find such a statement and it does seem that this is a false statement. HWA certainly never claimed this. I then began to give a little more attention to their beliefs stated and found what appears to be several false cliams.
Has anyone else note any of this or am I just decieved myself? How can they have a "denominational" HQ–if the COG is not denominational? certainly some confusing things here that I do not understand.
Anonymous wrote: "When I was in the Church I couldn't figure what in the world to do with Jesus, if we were saved by how well we kept the commandments then what in the world did we need Jesus for….
"I think the COG's have it all backwards."
Sorry, but that's never what I was taught. Keeping the commandments does not save you, will not save you and cannot save you. I grew up in the Church, and I understood that even then.
To put it another way: If you truly kept the commandments, why would you need to be saved in the first place?
Well, my KJV has plenty of references to the "Gospel of the Kingdom", but it also has Mk 1:1; Mt 26:12-14; and Paul preaching the death and resurrection of Jesus "according to my Gospel" (2Ti 2:8).
Furthermore, Peter preached "the Gospel" to the Gentiles (Ac 15:7). What did he say to them (Ac 10:34-48)? Does he once mention the "Kingdom"?
If you preach the Kingdom of God but exclude Jesus' life, death and resurrection, then you are preaching only half the Gospel and are just as guilty as the Protestants for not preaching the entire message.
Jesus said He was the door. He said no one can come to the Father except through Him. In other words, without Jesus, you don't make it into the Kingdom, so any message about it is rather moot if you don't describe how to get there.
Jane you wrote,
How can [LCG] have a "denominational" HQ–if the COG is not denominational?"
The word denomination basically means 'an organized group of religious congregations' (Heritage Dict.)The LCG is an organized group which has many congregations which identify under a common name; Living Church of God. It is therefore a denomination. The church's headquarters are in Charlotte and can be called the denominational headquarters; a term which is readily understood by the public.
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book Of Law. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, the righteous will live by faith. Gal 3:10-11 (If a person chooses to rely on the law for salvation they must keep all over 600 of them perfectly not just part of them) either they all were fulfilled (not done away with) or none.
Anonymous wrote: "…either they all were fulfilled (not done away with) or none."
People that say that really are saying it's been done away. If murder is wrong, then that means there is a law to back it up. If stealing is wrong, then that means there is a law to back it up. If sinners are punished, then that means they had to have broken a law.
If the Law does not exist, is not in force or means nothing, then no one is a sinner, and therefore no one needs a Savior.
Paris's point is well-taken. COG's in general have been in denial (or misunderstanding) about what a "denomination" is for decades.
Tell pastors about this, and they try to define "denomination" as Catholic or Protestant. Not really – as even the Catholics have a Roman/Eastern divide.
There is a huge difference in done away with and fulfilled….fulfilled means satisfied not thrown away, done away means discarded. The law existed as a measuring stick to prove the point we needed a savior, because humans could never keep the law perfect enough, otherwise we wouldn't have needed a savior.
There is only one command still in place that covers it all….."Love God and love your neighbor" There is no situation that commandment does not cover…. "Love does no harm to it's neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" Rom 13:10…. It goes way beyond the Ten Commandments and you are doing out of love for God and not duty.
I'm sad too. Last Sabbath was particularly sad when members hugged each other knowing they would not be meeting together again as a group.
Thank you for trying to help me. But I think you may also miss the point of implied Scripture, John.
you say; "What did he say to them (Ac 10:34-48)? Does he once mention the "Kingdom"?"
What was the message Peter was referring to in V.37 if it was not the Gospel Christ began preaching in Gallilee? Was it not the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD? Would this not fulfill his statement about the Gospel in Acts 15?
When you read in Acts 8 about Phillip preaching the kingdom of God AND the name of Jesus,(V.12) do you also read into scripture that this included into the gospel or is it something that goes along WITH the gospel?
As for denominations –HWA said the COG is not a denomination—so LCG cannot claim to be teaching the same thing as he did if they claim they ARe a denonmination. how can you have it both ways? sometimes the dictionary definition does not give us the true biblical definition.
How does "ONE" body become a denomination like the protestants who differ in beliefs–where is the COG this–proven from scripture?
@Anonymous: No, there is no difference. You are still saying it is of null effect. It makes no difference whether or not you call it "fulfilled" because the effect is the same as doing away with it.
"There is only one command still in place that covers it all"
Well, that's not what Jesus says.
"17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
"18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
"19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
You cannot break one of the least of commandments if they have no effect.
John wrote . . .
"Young people talk about when the older ones die so that the artificial boundaries are knocked down between people who believe 95% of the same things."
I admit I'm guilty of this. I often feel as if many of the older generation of CoG are stuck in the past and that the Church as a whole will remain stagnant until this generation passes and a newer generation, one who isn't tainted with so much anger and divisiveness, is able to continue the church on a brighter path.
I like the way you describe them as "artificial boundaries" and point out that we all believe 95% of the same things. I'm ready to let go of the CoG's baggage from HWA's death, the many (continuing) splits, and the spiritual betrayal experieced by so many members. I'm prepared to rip through the veil of our artificial boundaries and unite as a people, as an ecclesia, even as a denomination if necessary. I'm tired of the sense of separation and isolation that I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling that way.
Now where is there a group or a leader to follow down the path to unification? Where is there even a leader to follow next Sabbath day? I don't know, but I hope He/They turn up sooner than later.
@Jane: The LCG site says, "The Living Church of God, with its denominational world headquarters in the United States of America, has members in many countries around the world and fulfills a threefold mission: 1. To preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God…." It then later says, "The Gospel of Christ is the "Good News" of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice, and of the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God."
"Kingdom of God" is mentioned right off the bat, and then "Kingdom and government of God" is mention yet again.
I have shown you examples where sometimes Christ is preached, and that is considered the Gospel, while sometimes the Kingdom is preached as the Gospel. They are both parts of the Gospel.
Again, can you have a Kingdom without a King?
"But I think you may also miss the point of implied Scripture, John.
you say; 'What did he say to them (Ac 10:34-48)? Does he once mention the "Kingdom"?"
What was the message Peter was referring to in V.37 if it was not the Gospel Christ began preaching in Gallilee? Was it not the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD? Would this not fulfill his statement about the Gospel in Acts 15?"
Peter never gets that far. He only begins to tell of the future Kingdom of God. He does not once actually mention it! In fact, his last words just prior to the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit were about the "remission of sins".
"Gospel" means "good news". Is it not "good news" that your sins are forgiven? Is it not "good news" that you can live for an eternity? Is it not "good news" that Jesus will keep mankind from blowing themselves up? Is it not "good news" that Jesus will return and rule? Is it not "good news" that He will turn His Kingdom over to His Father in the very end?
If you leave any of this out, it waters down the message.
The definition of fulfill according to the dictionary….. to satisfy something, to be good enough or of the type necessary to meet a standard of requirement.
Definition of do away with……to get rid of, abolish or stop. The word is what it is as you stated in verse 17 & 18.
Anonymous wrote: "When I was in the Church I couldn't figure what in the world to do with Jesus, if we were saved by how well we kept the commandments then what in the world did we need Jesus for…."
John responds, "Sorry, but that's never what I was taught. Keeping the commandments does not save you, will not save you and cannot save you. I grew up in the Church, and I understood that even then."
I'm happy you understood that, John. I grew up in WCG from the age of 3 (mid 40's now), extremely active in church & YOU, went to Ambassador for 4 years, spoke regularly, etc. and there was no doubt that there was at minimum confusion about commandment keeping.
There still is. Look at the comments above about what "the Gospel" is. If people can't figure out the Gospel is about Jesus Christ saving sinners, something is BAD wrong. The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ. Without Him there's N-O-T-H-I-N-G!
I actually started looking into United Church again at one point after leaving. I signed up to receive the Good News magazine and I think it was the first one I received actually said, the Bible is a book of law.
I need to look that one up to be fair to the author and his quote, but the bottom line it was enough of a revelation to ask myself, do I want to return to my salvation-earning vomit again?
How myopic can one get? Yes Bible has law in it (the first 5 books are called The Law), but it's about a relationship, a marriage relationship between God and His people.
How many marriages are ruled by law? Mine's not. I don't need the law to tell me whether I'm loving my wife or not. I now listen to her needs. The law only tells me when I've erred. If the marriage were ruled day-to-day by law and rules (and believe me I've tried making it that way for years), my wife would be miserable (and she was).
The focus is the relationship (although at times I still err back to rules) and the graciousness, love, compassion and mercy make the marriage and both of us much more fulfilled.
If you need the law to rule your life, then maybe you don't have a relationship with the Savior of the Universe.
I THINK IT SAD THAT MY MINISTER RESIGNED BEFORE HE FINISHED COUNSELING ME FOR BAPTISM.
@Anonymous: Then, please use it that way. Jesus came to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law by paying the penalty for our sins. That means the Law is still in force, but our sins have been forgiven.
Due to the confusion in the CG's of the right Gospel message, the environment cannot be a spiritually healthy one.
I do appreciate the noticeable move some of the CG's have had toward the clear message of the Bible, the true Gospel message: Jesus came for the spiritually sick and sinners. Anyone will tell you that in order to get better you must get away from the thing making you sick or be immunized. Jesus is the best immunization a person can have.
Some Evangelicals describe the Gospel message difference this way. Yes, Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God while He was here and prior to His death, burial and resurrection. That was the chief message because Jesus had not died and had not been resurrected yet, although He clearly pointed people to Himself as Savior. Afterward the message emphasis changed to emphasize what Jesus Christ did for us (read Paul's writings), and the emphasis will change again during the tribulation to the coming Kingdom of God.
I heard this from David Jeremiah. I'm not sure if it's reality or not, but it's interesting.
@John, just curious, if you belief in Jesus plus the law for salvation, how do you explain the verse in Rom 10:3?…. For they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone?…. If it's truly fulfilled how can it still be in force? that would mean would mean it hadn't been fulfilled at all; just Jesus added to it. Which makes it a Law plus Jesus gospel. I find that nowhere in the Bible.
Anonymous wrote: "Jesus came for the spiritually sick and sinners. Anyone will tell you that in order to get better you must get away from the thing making you sick or be immunized. Jesus is the best immunization a person can have."
I would honestly agree with that. I think most of my Protestant friends could even tell you it is sin that makes you sick. The breaking point for some, though, seems to be the realization that in order to get better, you have to stop sinning!
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." ~1Jn 3:4
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." ~1Jn 5:3
Anonymous wrote: "John, just curious, if you belief in Jesus plus the law for salvation…"
I don't. I've stated that 3 times in the past week (probably more like 4 days). Next question, please.
Regarding the "gospel" controversy. This whole thing could very well be explained by how one interprets of
Gospel of Christ can mean two very different things.
It can imply the possessive, i.e. the Gospel Christ spoke, Christ's Gospel, et al.
It can also imply the topic, i.e. the Gospel about Christ.
Christ's Gospel was purely about the Kingdom of God. He did not preach a gospel of His removal of our sins, etc. However, that is a gospel ("good news") in its own right and has to be preached WITH the Gospel of (about) the Kingdom. There's really -very little confusion- about what the gospel is and all that's going on here is an argument about semantics, it would seem.
As far as God's Law goes, @Anonymous, do a study on that word fulfill. It is rather accurately used to mean "Bring to the fullest meaning" in context. Christ brought the law to the fullest meaning, including spiritual intent and not just the letter. He also fulfilled (paid) our debt for breaking the law. But paying the debt does not free us from having to keep the law.
Without law, there is no sin. (I'd quote the verse, but at work and on lunch and don't have time for an indepth sources-cited essay) Paul told Timothy that ALL scripture is inspired (lit. "God-breathed") and profitable for doctrine and reproof–that was before there was such a thing as the New Testament. And if we no longer have to keep the law at all, then that means every part of it is no longer needed–we can rape, pillage, kill, steal, committ adultery and general be as evil as we want. After all, if there is no need to keep the law, we don't have to.
And of course Peter (or was it John?) said that anyone who does not keep the law does not love God.
The law itself and it alone cannot make you righteous. Righteousness comes from Christ. But that doesn't mean "You now have a free-pass to sin as you like." (Read Romans 6-8 fully)
Plus there's the whole thing about Christ saying that nothing will pass from the law until ALL is fulfilled (at the end of the end).
Christ gave us two commandments that he said "All the law and the Prophets hang on" (paraphrased): Love God, and Love your Neighbor. How do you love God and your neighbor? The Bible–The Law and The Prophets–tell you -how- to do this, not using man's definition, but God's definition of love.
At least that's what I read in the Bible.
"I'm happy you understood that, John. I grew up in WCG from the age of 3 (mid 40's now), extremely active in church & YOU, went to Ambassador for 4 years, spoke regularly, etc. and there was no doubt that there was at minimum confusion about commandment keeping."
Anonymous, you are confusing a judgmental legalism which did indeed exist within the WCG with the idea that we were saved by law keeping.
Don't let the two confuse you. I grew up in WCG from the age of 2 until 27, now I'm 46, and I always knew the churches official teaching was that law keeping did not save us. Of course, even with that knowledge, legalism creeps in.
Look at many protestant churches that teach the law is done away and we're saved by grace. Some teach that playing cards is a sin, wearing shorts is a sin, going to the movies is a sin, etc. Talk about legalism.
@ Andrew… If one follows the Law of Love God and Love Neighbor, there won't be any rape, murder, adultery and evil because love means putting others well being first, that address's issues that even the law doesn't. It's really not as complicated as men try to make.
@Anonymous: And if one obeyed the Ten Commandments there wouldn't be any rape, murder, adultery and evil!
The point is we human beings are unable to keep either one, the Ten or the Law of Love. It took Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our inability to obey.
We are sinners saved by grace.
The problem exists when one insists on mixing obedience with attaining salvation. The, "What must I do to be saved attitude." as opposed to "What does Christ want me to do now that I'm saved by his Grace."
@Anonymous 3:00 PM
And how do you know it is loving your neighbor? As Paul says, he would not know what sin is were it not for the Law.
Scripture tells us what it is to love God and love our neighbor and how to do it, based on God's definition (the true definition) of love. Which means it can only be done to the fullest extent by -keeping God's Law-. If you love your neighbor you won't commit sins against him. Which also means you will not commit sins against God if you love Him.
You're right. It's not complicated in the least. That's really as simple as it gets down to.
Anonymous wrote: "The problem exists when one insists on mixing obedience with attaining salvation. The, 'What must I do to be saved attitude.' as opposed to 'What does Christ want me to do now that I'm saved by his Grace'"
If someone is trying to "attain salvation", then you are correct that there is a problem. However, as to what Jesus wants me to do, He said it Himself:
"17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
Salvation is needed because all of us have sinned and earned the death penalty. When a convicted killer is "saved" from execution by a pardon, he isn't free to go out and kill again. He is still required to keep the law.
@John: Which is why I said "mixing obedience with "attaining" salvation.
I specifically added the word "attaining" for this reason.
Obedience to God has nothing whatsoever to do with attaining salvation.
I agree 100% with verse 17. The mix up is when one thinks that verse 17 is saying "if you keep the commandments, you will enter into life". That is not what he is saying. He's saying, "if you desire God's free gift of eternal life, then keep the commandments."
The keeping of the commandments don't earn us salvation, but the keeping of the commandments is what God expects of us. He knows we won't keep them perfectly, but he wants us to desire to (heart to obey) obey them.
That's why I said that mixing obedience with attaining salvation is where the problem lies.
If one mixes the two concepts, the truth will never be understood. Obedience is what God wants us to do, he sent Jesus because we can't, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
We should strive to have the heart to obey.
@Anonymous: Speaking of "mixing", I'm no longer sure which anonymous is which. 🙂
Which is also why I believe faith is another big component of our lives as Christians during this age. Having concrete irrefutable proof would remove the aspect of it being something we -want- to do and having the heart for and turning it into something we just "have" to do.
One thing I've noticed about God's statement in
"O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!"
He's not saying, oh, if they'd just obey me.
He wanted Israel to want to obey him from the heart.
This is why he said he'd place his laws in our hearts and in our minds. Heb. 10
He knew that we would still sin, but his desire IMO was that we would want to try obey even though we are weak and wretched. (remember Paul)
It isn't perfect obedience on our part that God is looking for (though I'm sure he'd like that) it's the desire to obey, it's the "want to" that he's looking for and not the "have to".
@John, you could call this the anonymous blog. Thanks to everyone for being respectful!
Andrew Giddens said, "Christ's Gospel was purely about the Kingdom of God. He did not preach a gospel of His removal of our sins, etc."
Then explain, Luke 5:20-21, 24; 7:47-49; 24:47 just to name a few.
Mr. Giddens wrote: "As far as God's Law goes, @Anonymous, do a study on that word fulfill."
I did that study years ago and it was very enlightening. The law of Moses gave the outward parameters of the law; it's form or shadow. Jesus fulfilled that form with the heart, spirit and life (remember He said He was the *life*). He made things broader, fuller and deeper. Love therefore cannot be portrayed adequately through the law, but can be seen vividly through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Heb 7:11-19). I decided to embrace the heart, spirit and life instead of the shadow.
If a loved one showed up at the airport and I fell down and hugged their shadow, that would be a bit looney. The law, Sabbaths, etc are all definitely shadows according to Colossians.
As for keeping the law or not. Christians don't have to worry about that because we should not be focused on that. When Christians focus on Jesus some will be convinced to keep the 7th day Sabbath and some will respond that every day is a worship day for Jesus Christ. The 7th dayer's need to rest and focus on Jesus that day. The others need to rest and focus on Jesus every day. Focus on Jesus! If truly focused on Him, the other things will work out, believe me. I've experienced it. He convicts me of sin when I've done wrong. If I don't change, He corrects me.
I've said or asked this over and over again in these posts, what is your focus? If it's the law, you're focused on the wrong thing. Yes, the law still exists, but its for sinners (which is me when I screw up)! But I don't focus on that or I'll despair, beat myself up, doubt my salvation, question the adequecy of Jesus's sacrifice, etc.
If you want to see if people are "mixing in" works with grace for their salvation, ask them to explain the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22! The mixers will tell you straight up Jesus told the man to keep the commandments to enter into life. Then they reason that the path to eternal life is commandment keeping. WRONG!! DEAD WRONG!
That path of commandment keeping is there and available to anyone. The problem is NO ONE (except Jesus) can go that path and that's why Jesus told the prideful, arrogant, "kept all these things from my youth" rich young ruler what He did. What an arrogant snob that guy was! "Good teacher" he says. Jesus said it correctly, Dude, NO ONE is good (implying "not even you").
Jesus let this arrogant "law keeping" guy continue the path of his perfection, and then *BAM* shows him his idolatry. If he didn't repent, hell opened up and swallowed him because deep in his heart his commandment keeping failed him. He couldn't even keep the F-I-R-S-T commandment. The guy is an IDIOT to think he could. I know he was an idiot because I was an idiot, too.
And you know why he's so deceived? Because he thought he knew Jesus. Jesus was a good teacher and he recognized that and he thought knowing this good teacher Jesus plus his very good commandment keeping would get him in. We'll walk this path to eternal life together he thought.
W-R-O-N-G! He didn't know Jesus as Savior, but only as teacher; messenger boy; companion! This arrogant ruler's trust was in himself and his "buddy" who was his teacher, not his Savior.
I hope to God, someone reading this sees their failures and idolatry in trying to keep the law to perform well for God. It won't save you. It sounds good, but it's a farce, a mirage, a deception. Jesus saves and Jesus alone.
Anonymous wrote: "The mixers will tell you straight up Jesus told the man to keep the commandments to enter into life. Then they reason that the path to eternal life is commandment keeping. WRONG!! DEAD WRONG!"
Actually, yes it is. If you are not willing to keep the Law, then you have not repented and are not saved. You MUST repent, which means to turn around and stop sinning, which means you stop breaking the Law. Jesus' words were plain, pure and simple to understand. You want life? Keep the commandments. You want death? Keep on sinning and trample Jesus' blood under your feet. That's what you're doing when you do not repent. You are treating Jesus' sacrifice as a light thing.
John@ 10:36 PM Quite good. it seems some of these anonymous's are a little stubborn on this subject. Hope you don't mind if I comment a bit on this to them.
Anonymous said “I did that study years ago and it was very enlightening. The law of Moses gave the outward parameters of the law; it's form or shadow. Jesus fulfilled that form with the heart, spirit and life (remember He said He was the *life*). He made things broader, fuller and deeper.”
With all due respect, you still need much study—because you obviously do not understand the concepts of the Scriptures you use. Yes, Jesus said He was the life—that would be in the context of John 14:6—but he also said this in John 6:63-64 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe."–(NKJ) It also says in Heb 5:9 “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”— Those who did not believe also did not obey—and what are the words (Christ’s) that are spirit that led one toward salvation—the receiving of the Holy Spirit that is the down payment on eternal life—that they had to obey? Paul said this; Rom 7:12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. V.14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
Christ said (note these words of life) John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, (Plural) you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments (Exactly the same as Christ’s commandments-look it up in the concordance) and abide in His love.” If you do not have the Holy Spirit, you will not have salvation—it is that simple! If you are not willing to keep the Ten Commandments, you will not receive the Holy Spirit! (Acts 5:32)
You also said; “Love therefore cannot be portrayed adequately through the law, but can be seen vividly through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Heb 7:11-19). I decided to embrace the heart, spirit and life instead of the shadow.”
Christ is the personification of the Law. Here again are some words of life you need to really think about the next time you decide to do a study, and I do not mean this offensively. Luke 11:42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew’s rendition of this calls this the weightier matters of the law: God is Love (1John 4:8,16) and His commandments are commandments of love, first to God then to man— Rom 13:9-10 “For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” 1 Tim 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,”– I Jn 2:4-5 “He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
I have updated and reposted to my website an article called THE TEN COMMANDMENTS that should be of some assistance in understanding this a little better for all of those who do not seem to grasp the truth on this subject. Your welcome to download a copy if you desire too. Thanks John.
In Christian love,
The editor for http://www.mtcogsm.com
Anonymous: You're right. I phrased it badly by saying purely. Yes, He did speak about His role as saviour, but what He primarily taught and what His gospel was, was about the Kingdom. That was what He had been called to preach about and what His messages were about.
Going on, if the law was the form, and Christ came and filled it with substance, you still cannot ignore the form in favor of the substance. To use your analogy, that would be like not hugging a loved one, but simply taking their heart out to embrace it. You have to take the package and not just choose to ignore the form that Christ -gave substance to-.
Also, that's a lot of hate at the young ruler. What makes you think he was arrogant and snotty and so forth? Christ looked at him and loved him–this man's heart was mostly in the right place of wanting to do good and knowing what else to do. But he lacked in an area and Christ very concisely told him what it was. We do not know what became of him after that–just that it made him sorrowful. But something tells me that wasn't the end of the story for the man we barely read about in the gospels.
Many people have said many times that the commandment keeping itself is not what gets you salvation, or what makes you good. That is not the focus anyone here is saying.
But to that token, keeping the commandments are clearly outlined by Christ and the apostles. James said it best "Faith without works is dead." These are the rules that Christ told us to live by to enter into His life.
Think of it as a sport. Football, soccer, baseball, whatever. The rules (law and commandments) define the sport and how to play (your life). Break the rules, face consequences (thrown out, fines, penalties, etc). Play by the rules, things go fine. But playing by the rules doesn't mean that you automatically win. You have to play the game (life) -well- and practice. And part of playing it well is knowing the rules (the law) to play (live) by.
The rules are rules and guidelines. They do nothing by themselves. But Christ's sacrifice does not take those rules away. As you said, Christ gave substance and life to them. Why? That we might be able to keep them.
Jesus was asked if only a few people were going to be saved.
"He said to them, 'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to'" (Luke 13:24, NIV).
"But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'" (Luke 13:27, NIV).
The evildoers–that is, those who do evil (those who break God's laws)–will end up weeping and gnashing their teeth. They will fully deserve it, too.
There is ALWAYS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, something wrong with the heads and thinking of EVERYONE who hates God's good laws. Otherwise, they would absolutely love God's laws, which show the right way to live. The Ten Commandments show how to love both God and other people. Those who hate God's laws hate God and other people.
I have been around long enough to see the attitude and behavior of those who hate God's laws–including many supposedly religious people–and it is NEVER good, no matter how cleverly they try to word and explain their hatred of good and their love of evil.
Behavior – Feelings – Thoughts – Heart.
Which one are you going to work on changing?
Can you focus on behavior (i.e. obedience) and get results? Absolutely. There's lots of evidence of that all around us: diets, programs, software to get us to change our behavior and start keeping the commandments. The Bible speaks much about behavior and much about right and wrong behavior.
How about feelings, can you focus on feelings and get good behavior? Probably. I'm not the expert in this area, but I know when I feel good, I'm more likely to respond nicely to someone who is in need and less likely to sin.
How about thoughts? Can they change behavior into obeying? Absolutely! We hear much about the power of positive thinking. The Bible even speaks much about how a man's thoughts directs his behavior.
But the key is the heart. We can focus all we want to on the other three. Even the world has thousands and thousands of programs to "fix" our behavior – they focus on changing the behavior through behavior modification, feelings and positive thinking. The point is they fail miserably.
Fix the heart and you've solved all four of the issues: behavior/obedience, feelings, thoughts and heart.
To illustrate this let's take one example from the law – adultery. Jesus taught that the spirit of that law was lust.
To change my bad lustful behavior, I can focus on the behavior. Personal example: 15 years ago I had a problem with pornography. I focused on behavior modification by buying Internet software and other outward fixes to fix the outward problem of looking at porn on the Internet. It worked, somewhat for a while. The problem however kept returning through work arounds, through lust of women when I wasn't on the Internet, through how I felt at the time (I noticed when I was depressed or rejected I tended to turn to porn because it was a pleasurable out).
The point is the Internet software didn't fix the problem. My evil, lustful and adulterous heart found a way around the Internet software.
However when Jesus took hold of my heart there was change. I actually started to think differently, feel differently and act differently. My thoughts became thoughts of pleasing my Lord and Savior. I still remember someone sending me a picture of a young 20-something girl without her top on, posing seductively for the camera. I actually felt compassion and felt sorry for this girl. My heart hurt for her – I had never felt that way or that deeply in my heart for a naked young woman. It drove me to immediately turn off the computer and pray for this girl.
All this happened while involved in a Protestant Church! Protestant Churches aren't the answer folks and neither are Churches of God. The answer is Jesus!
Israel had the law. The law focuses on behavior. The law never changed Israel's heart. Only Jesus can change the heart. If you think only the Churches of God keep the law, your sadly mistaken. Christians keep the spirit of the law because their heart is changed. And I'm not miserable anymore. I rejoice in Jesus – He changed me, healed my heart and healed my marriage.
So when I aruge about religious things, I'm not taking the side of the law and rules. That may or may not correct the behavior. All too often it makes people into Pharisees. I'm taking the side of the heart where Jesus is. That will result in righteous behavior.
Anonymous wrote: "Israel had the law. The law focuses on behavior. The law never changed Israel's heart. Only Jesus can change the heart."
Yes, you are correct, but you don't take it far enough. He changes the heart (and the mind) by writing the Law on it.
"If you think only the Churches of God keep the law, your sadly mistaken."
From what I've seen, only the COGs understand the entire package. Even then, some of them don't get it, either.
"Christians keep the spirit of the law because their heart is changed."
A Christian is someone who follows Jesus the Christ. A Christian is a "disciple", which is more than just a "student". A disciple tries to imitate the master, or in this case the Master. Jesus kept the Sabbath and holy days. Most "Christians" do not because they are not real disciples of Jesus, and therefore they are not really Christians.
See Anonymous comment at 8:09 AM Jan 7th, 2011 under "COG Writer Has 2 UCG Reports"