But Lord, I don’t want to quit church!

Have you ever been fully devoted to your religion?  Did you love going to church, mass, mosque or to temple?  Were you in love with the personal elevation that your commitment provided?

Did God begin to tug at your heart and say, “Let it go”?

And then did you reply as did Peter, “Not so, Lord!”?  . . . But eventually you surrendered to Him?

If you once depended on the acceptance that you received from others at church, and the purpose that your obedience to your religion gave you, and if you have walked away . . .  then you are a rare specimen whom I’d like to meet (leave a comment below!), just like Suzette once did.

Suzette left a comment on one of my blog posts this summer, and from there an email correspondence began.  Two weeks later, in August 2017, despite the fact that our homes are 1,200 miles apart, we were able to meet in person!  While traveling to a family wedding, my three teenagers and I needed to wait around the Sacramento airport for a few hours before my husband’s arrival.  Turns out it was Suzette’s day off of work.  As my kids sat and stared at their phones, I got to meet my new sister in Christ and fellowship with her amidst all the Baggage Claim carousels.  🙂

Despite the groovy Gododoincidence that allowed us to meet face-to-face, what has actually bonded our friendship is our shared experience with being die-hard legalists.

We didn’t burn out, we were pulled out of Church by God’s direction.

Having been set free for ten years now, I have come to realize that people like Suzette and I are unique.  It seems that most people tire of their Churchianity slowly, like the fire from a candle that has been burning for hours and slowly extinguishes itself.

Suzette and I, on the other hand, were more like a firework that was sparkling and alive one minute, and then completely gone the next.  As a Bible Study leader once told me, “Oh!  You were a modern-day-Pharisee.  That’s pretty rare!”

Of course, that wasn’t true.  Nobody has ever come close to the ambitious zeal of the Pharisees.

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:20)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Suzette and I loved church.  Why?  It gave us an outlet for our religious pride!

We loved how much “better” we were compared to those lesser folks who didn’t work as hard.  We loved how good we were at obeying all of the rules.  We loved how important we were in the eyes of others.  We were convinced that we were “serving God,” and we loved that!  It’s gross, isn’t it!?  That is what the sin of religious pride feels like, and it sickens me to remember those times.  Obvioulsy we were totally deceived and in error, but nonetheless, the fact remains:  church energized us.

If you are in the same boat, and if God is tugging at your heart to quit church . . . please follow His leading.  Don’t be afraid.  If the Lord is leading you that way, say, Yes, Lord!

Jesus wants to set you free from the bondage of religion.  He wants to be your God, instead of church being your god.  Trust Him!  You won’t be disappointed.

You will no longer be wandering in the wilderness of Sinai; He will bring you into the New Covenant.  He will lead you right through the door which is Jesus Christ Himself, and He will plant you by the green pastures and still waters of the Promised Land of Rest.

Allow your legalism to kill you.  Whether it’s the rules of your denomination or the 613 Mosaic Laws themselves, allow the Law to kill you.

Paul said, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19

Believe the truth that you are completely forgiven, and that He now loves and accepts you on the basis of you being a new creation in Christ.

Allow the Law to kill you so that you might die to the Law and begin living in a close relationship with your God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And if you’d like to hear more on this topic, please check out my blog:  Outside of Churchianity.

 

 

Grace Given to Me — my personal testimony — Part 1

Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.   (2 Timothy 1:8-10)

In 1990, when I was 21 years old, I began getting my hair cut by Rick. He was this tall, bulky, motorcycle-gang-looking guy who worked alone in his studio. An entire wall – from the floor to the top of the ceiling – was covered with Christian bumper stickers. You would sit there during your haircut with all of these witty sayings staring you in the face. Things like, “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter.”

As he cut my hair, Rick would monologue about the exploits he used to have with women in the back room of his salon in the days when he was still a heathen sinner. Embarrassed by his stories, and wanting to change the subject, I once asked him, “Soooo, Rick, what’s the deal with all of these bumper stickers?”

It worked. He began to talk about something completely different.

He explained that the wall of bumper stickers was there to proclaim the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth for a reason, Rick said.  He died on the cross and rose from the dead to offer salvation: something I could accept or reject.

Rick opened a door, and asked me to walk through. He made it clear that I had a decision to make: was I willing to believe in the gospel?

I was a Roman Catholic.  My Mom was Italian; all four of her grandparents were born in Italy.  (Irish Catholics may be devout, but Italian Catholics are proud.)  I didn’t see any need to believe in this message because I was already on good terms with God.

Plus, my favorite grandmother had recently passed away; she didn’t believe in this gospel, so if I did I would have to forsake the chance of ever seeing her again. In fact, I would have to forsake all of my family and friends!

No, it was impossible; I could not believe.

“I’m sorry, Rick, but there is no way I can believe what you are telling me.  If I did, then I’d be admitting that everyone I love is going to hell.”

Rick replied, “You can only make the decision to save yourself, Lisa; you can’t save anyone else.”

That seemed logical.  I thought to myself, “what if this is true? Am I going to reject Jesus Christ, am I going to reject heaven, just because everyone else does?”

I grew up surrounded by Catholics and Jews; I had barely any prior experience with Christianity. Rick was the first person to ever preach the gospel to me, and his message was in total opposition to my own beliefs.

The way I imagined God was that He created the heavens and the earth, and then withdrew into His isolated heavenly realm to watch us all from above. Left on our own, we had obviously messed things up; we had generated a problematic world of pollution and poverty. I figured that God was disappointed, but as a good and loving Father, He forgave us for our mistakes. I certainly didn’t believe in hell, or even in the existence of evil. As God’s children, we were basically good at heart. Everything would be okay in the end since we would all end up in heaven living together happily ever after.

By my sophomore year of college, I had given up the attempt to be Catholic.  During my junior year of college, a series of events led me to admit I was not “okay.”  I actually had faults.  My happy childhood was useless to protect me from my own inner inadequacies.  And it was during my senior year of college, that I met Rick the hairdresser.  Even though I rejected the gospel message that he presented to me, I was nonetheless intrigued. I was recovering from a phase of depression, and was open to new ideas.

In order to get to that place, God used three special people to call me to the Savior:  Molly, Willie and Byron.  Each of these Christians planted seeds in my heart that God watered.

The first one was Molly.  She was the first Christian I ever met.  It was 1989, and I was a junior at FSU.  She became my closest friend that year, but her closest friend was Jesus. Her obvious relationship with Jesus Christ was strange and intriguing to me.

Before long I met a flaming Pentecostal named Willie.

Willie was a blind man working on his Master’s degree in Theology. I was hired by FSU’s Department of Blind Student Services to type his papers as he dictated them to me. We developed a father-daughter friendship, and it became his personal mission to save me. He insisted that I ask Jesus into my heart.

I was like, “Sure, no problem.”

So I got into the habit of asking Jesus into my heart every morning. In the morning Jesus came in (I assumed), but by the evening, it was quite obvious that He was gone.

Willie gave me my first Bible. It was a tiny green Gideon’s pocket Bible, and he suggested that I begin with the Psalms and Proverbs.

Like an obedient child, I said again, “Sure, no problem.”

I noticed that Proverbs divided people into groups: the ‘foolish and the wise,’ ‘the wicked and the righteous.’ This was a brand-new idea to me, because I had always imagined that God saw all of us as equals.

A verse from the Psalms said: “Lord, cleanse me from my hidden faults.”

This one jumped out at me. What hidden faults?

In my astonishment I asked God, “What does this mean? Do I have any hidden faults that I need to be cleansed from?”

It had never crossed my mind that God saw me as a person with faults. All of my mother’s hard work was in vain: although she brought us to Confession every three weeks in order to get forgiven by the priest, I had never personally embraced the Catholic teaching on venial and mortal sins.

Consequently, seeing this verse in the book of Psalms about having “hidden faults” made a pretty big impression on me.

While working at the Department of Blind Student Services I went through an atheist phase.  I felt uncomfortable and unsettled living this way.  And three months later, God used Willie Davis, the blind man, to share a Bible verse with me that helped me see clearly.

I was back to believing in God.

In the summer of 1990, I worked at FSU as an Orientation Leader with this boy named Byron. Whenever we had a free moment, Byron would preach to us that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins.

Meanwhile, God had begun to answer my prayer from the Psalms, “reveal to me my hidden faults.”  Byron’s preaching, therefore, was getting through my thick skull.

I returned to Tallahassee for my senior year of college deeply humiliated by a series of personal failures.  I often prayed for death. I lived as a hermit for many months, brooding over my misery.

However, my feelings of hopelessness diminished with time, and I eventually decided to stop blaming everyone else for my problems. I resolved to accept responsibility for myself. As I began my last semester of college, I reentered society.

I was intrigued one morning by a newspaper article about New Age philosophy. It described how the power that moves an ocean wave is the same force that gives flight to a butterfly. I did something unusual and cut out the article for safekeeping.

Butterflies were on my mind, so when I saw a yellow one the next day while on a solitary walk, I intently observed him. He was the picture of happiness. He flew around performing all sorts of loops and rolls, truly delighting in the joy of flight.

Turning towards home, I walked slowly in order to keep an eye on him, eventually realizing that the butterfly was following me. He followed me all the way across campus, along my course home. Twenty minutes later he was still behind me! Past the library, I crossed a two-lane street; however, the butterfly refused to cross.

“C’mon little guy! Come on over! …No? …All righty then.”

I walked back over to his side of the street. He then led me in a direction that was perpendicular to my intended course.

We walked past two student dormitories – Landis Hall and Broward Hall – then arrived together at a spot on the edge of campus where, across the street, stood three buildings: on the left was a bar named “The Phyrst,” in the middle was a candy store named “The Sweet Shop,” and to the right was a United Methodist Church that was basically an outreach ministry to the college students.

The yellow butterfly then flew across the street. I followed. He flew to the right, towards the church. There was a sign on the lawn in front indicating that tomorrow’s service was at 10:00 am. The butterfly flew diagonally across the church’s sign. He then, literally, disappeared from sight.

I stood there on the church’s front lawn waiting for him to reappear. I waited for minutes, looking and searching, but he was gone. I got the message, though. The following morning, I was in church promptly at 10:00 am.

When my Italian mother later found out that I was attending a Protestant church, she did not take it lightly. She was upset and angry, and argued vehemently that the Catholic Church is the only true church.

“It is only at Mass that you can receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist,” she said.

“What? …Wait, you actually believe that, Mom?”

“Yes,” she answered, “I have faith.”

I was sorry to be letting her down, but I liked this church and the new ‘crowd’ that accepted me. Plus, it was an eye-opening cultural experience to observe the guilt issues of these Christians.  I had never seen anything like this before in my life.  After a Saturday night of drinking and revelry at some fraternity party, they were plagued with sorrow on Sunday morning – often tearfully answering the ‘altar call’ at the end of the service in order to rededicate themselves to the Lord.

I was witnessing first-hand the cycle of “repentance, obedience, failure; repentance, obedience, failure,” that defines the life of many evangelical Christians.

It was at this time that I began to get my hair cut by Rick. He was known as the best hairdresser on campus and a master of ‘big hair,’ a popular style on the East Coast in those days. When you left his salon, your hair would be poufed out to five times its original volume.

On the day that Rick preached the gospel to me, the blinders on my eyes were pulled back ever so slightly; God gave me a glimpse of my unbelief: an important reality to accept. Though I rejected God’s offer of salvation that day, He did not give up on me. I don’t think He ever gives up on anyone.

Rick the hairdresser gave me two cassette tapes of sermons by his pastor at Calvary Chapel Tallahassee. I listened to those messages over and over again during those last months of my senior year, and I even went to Ricks’ church a couple of times. Since I’d soon be graduating, he encouraged me to check out Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

I graduated in May of 1991, then moved back into my parents’ home in South Florida so that I could be with my sister, who had also recently moved back home. After a summer of heavy partying, we were both ready for a change. She enrolled in Nursing School, and I turned my course towards Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (CCFL).

I decided that I belonged there. God had clearly revealed to me my hidden faults, and I believed that going to church would help me to improve. I still didn’t believe a word of that “you gotta saved and born-again” stuff, though.

One of the worship leaders there at CCFL reminded me of my mom. They looked so much alike that, from a distance, I could imagine my mother as the one on stage singing about Jesus! It was an incredible sight!

Introducing myself to her after the service, I related this to her and said how delightful this was for me in light of the fact that my mother was not even saved. A few others were standing near us and this lady announced, “C’mon guys, we need to pray for her mother’s salvation!” We gathered in a circle, and as we grasped hands to pray I told them, “Actually… I’m not saved either.” So, the group prayed for my salvation as well as my mom’s.

Several Sundays later, September 1, 1991, Bob Coy taught on the first of the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Though I had never committed adultery or murder, I had clearly disobeyed the First Commandment. God alone is the one to be worshiped, and did I worship Him? No. My whole life revolved around me. I worshipped myself! The weight of my sin and guilt grew heavier and heavier with each moment, for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)

Realizing that my sin deserved punishment, I was prepared to accept the gospel (the word gospel means good news or glad tidings). Paul says in Romans that the gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” God brought salvation to me that morning.

God removed the blinders on my eyes so I could ‘see’ the choice I had to make: on my left was Jesus Christ and His offer to me of eternal life, and on my right, was an eternal hell. I understood that I justly deserved to go to hell, and that God would not have been unfair to send me there. Which would I choose?

Grace Given to Me — my personal testimony — Part 2

I chose Jesus. This was a private moment between God and me; all I did was respond to the offer that He presented.  Responding to the gospel is described in the Bible as the “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2). It is not a “work;” it’s the acceptance of a gift.

When I received the free gift of Jesus, I passed out of death and darkness because Jesus is “the life.” (John 14:6) He gave me His life, and His life saved me.

If you want to receive salvation, you simply need to believe in this message of grace and decide to trust in the good news. Tell God that you trust that Jesus died for the forgiveness of your sins; that you believe He paid the debt that you owe. Tell Him that you accept the free gift of the Holy Spirit; that you need His life to save you. Thank Him for the gift of eternal life.

It was 1991, and I had become a brand-new creation. Once a foreign concept, I now understood that to be born-again was real! This was proven to me the day after my salvation.

I worked with my mother at a law office, and in the hallway, I noticed the obituary of the lawyer’s father posted on a door. The article related how he had attained great wealth, success, and fame.

Suddenly, I began to cry. My heart ached with sadness over this lost man.

My reaction surprised me; it was as if someone else were living inside of me and giving me a new way to view the world. That was exactly the case.

I had received the Spirit of Jesus; I now had access to His mind. God’s view of success was radically different from my own: true success is finding the grace and peace of God, and has nothing to do with fame and wealth.

A few months later, my parents called a family meeting in order to discuss my strange new behaviors. They were disturbed that I was going to church four times a week, reading the Bible at the kitchen table, and worst of all, they were angry that I got baptized in the Atlantic Ocean, a very offensive thing to them in light of the fact that I had already been baptized as an infant.

The family meeting gave me the opportunity that I was looking for to tell them that I had accepted Jesus and was born again!

They did not share in my enthusiasm. As they saw it, I had joined a cult. I was a fundamentalist, a term I had never heard before.

“What’s a fundamentalist, Mom?”

She answered, “It is someone who takes the Bible literally.”

“Oh!” I said, “Then it must be a good thing to be a fundamentalist!”

My mother set up an appointment for me to meet with our Parish Priest. I explained to him that I found God, and had become a new person.

He said, “No, you found God and received the Holy Spirit when you underwent Confirmation at age 13. You are welcome to come back home whenever you are ready. Once you realize the mistake you’ve made, the doors of the Catholic Church will always be open for you.”

Of course our Catholic priest was wrong; I had found the true God. To illustrate His reality in my life, here is a diary entry from December 9, 1991, just three months after my salvation.

 Dear Diary, 

God gave me understanding today as I was taking a shower. Thank You, Jesus, my God. My wonderful, loving God! I didn’t even ask for this – but I needed it. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for knowing my needs. God revealed to me the fall of man. 

Before sin, Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God. They had a perfect relationship. That is why and how God created us to be. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace and happiness. Then Satan came along, stealing God’s serpent to speak through and tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin.

“No, God’s word is that we can’t do that.”

Satan said, “Oh, c’mon, you believe God’s word? Would he really punish you? He’s God. Did he really say that? C’mon, do what I say and you will know what evil is. Your eyes will be opened. You will know all things.”

O.K., they said. They were tempted and they followed and they sinned against their father’s word. God was grieved – he was hurt. Now they could see good and evil. Now they were unclean, unworthy of God.

God could not change what happened. He created us with the free will to choose him or to reject him. Adam and Eve chose to reject God. So the punishment for sin is death. Sin would have to lead to death. Sin had to be killed.

As Adam and Eve procreated, all their children were born as they were – separated from God by their sin. Nothing they could do could change that fact. We are born ungodly creatures. We are born as children of the devil. Our bodies are destined to death. Sin is contained inside our flesh and our soul. But God desires and yearns for his creation.

God does not want any of us to perish. But when he saw how sinful we had become, he sent a great flood and wiped out most everyone. That didn’t work. Then he sent us the 10 commandments and the Law spoken through prophets. It was written down and called Scripture. But the law couldn’t save us or take away our sinful flesh. God told us that he would send us a son. He said a child would be born by a virgin.

This child was born and he claimed to be God himself. But his words were rejected. He was hated and eventually was killed. The blood He shed on that cross fulfilled God’s word. That blood took away our sins. God rose from the dead and therefore overcame death. Satan was defeated, forever. But since we are sinful, we must now turn from our sin and accept God.

If we don’t believe that God’s blood was shed on the cross as a sacrifice to us, then how can we be saved? If we don’t believe, we are still living in sin. We remain as simply a creation that has rejected God.

When we come to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and that God rose him from death, then we become God’s adopted child and heirs to his kingdom.

How are we saved? All one has to do to be saved and to have eternal life in Jesus Christ is to truly believe that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins. That takes a leap of faith. Believing that is all you have to do. Then, to secure your salvation he sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of you.

Once you have the Holy Spirit – you are saved and you know it. You may not realize it is the Holy Spirit at first, but you will feel a rebirth. You are no longer the same person. You have been made whiter than snow on the inside. God now can see us and have a relationship with us. Because, when God looks at you, he sees the pure blood of Jesus. You are now justified. You have been born-again.

All you have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus was sent from God to die for us, and that he was raised from his death. You believe by faith, and you are saved through God’s grace. Ask God for the faith to believe. Ask God to reveal your sin to you.

God, help me to understand salvation. I want to share it with everyone. Lord, I want to be with you in heaven. I desire to love you, God. I want to obey. (End of diary entry.)

Meanwhile, my church was teaching me to walk away from Christ. This was actually a popular teaching at CCFL:  that maturity in Christ is the ability to walk on your own.

One of the female deacons could see that I was fully depending on the Lord, and that He was working in and through me. So, she set me straight.

She told me, “Yes, God is holding your hand now, but as you grow in the faith He will let go of your hand and teach you to walk on your own.”

One day I would be on my own? God would eventually push me away from Him? How deflating and discouraging it was to hear her say those words! But, she was popular, and well respected, so I trusted her; I believed her.

I allowed this falsehood to begin to permeate my thinking. In fact, I began to like it.

My prideful nature began to assert itself.

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other…” (Gal 5:17, ESV)

I didn’t want to struggle with sin; I wanted to be perfect and holy. I didn’t want to have to wait around for God to continue leading me; I wanted to take control. Sure, I had read the verse that says “God would be faithful to complete the work in me that He had begun,” but I wanted to be faithful to complete the work myself.

“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Gal 3:3, NIV) …Apparently, yes; I was that foolish.

Fifteen months after getting saved, in January of 1993, I moved across the country to California in order to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College. I was thrilled to be in an environment where I could commit myself 100% to works-based-sanctification.

“Sure, positionally you are sanctified,” we were often told, “but practically you are not.”

I lost sight of my closeness to Jesus as I focused my eyes fixedly on myself and worked tirelessly to accomplish my sanctification.

One of my roommates complained to the Dorm Dean about me. My behavior made her feel uncomfortable. Well, sorry, but I was not going to change for HER. I had a mighty God to please!

I continued with my 5:30 a.m. quiet times, attended all of the prayer meetings, wrote the best papers that Pastor Larry Taylor had ever seen, fasted once a week, went street witnessing in L.A. every Friday night, did the hospital ministry, the phone hot-line ministry, the Junior High ministry, wore baggy clothes, and taught Sunday School.

Without acknowledging that I was in a competition with the other students, I did realize that I was at the top of the food chain: after all, I had been asked to come on staff and manage the front office. I was practically in full-time ministry, thank you very much.

Despite my efforts to be godly, I continued to struggle with the temptation to binge on junk food. This bizarre behavior had confounded me for eight long years; it was painfully obvious that there was nothing I could do to change myself. And then one day­­, I said a very sincere prayer: “God, I am completely fed up with this. Could you please give me a new sin to struggle with?”

As it turns out, God said ‘yes.’

This event should have proven to me that my efforts to ‘sanctify myself’ were futile. We cannot conquer our own sins, but the Lord God can choose to change our hearts. And on this day, He chose to deliver me.

For years, it had been like walking down a long, dark alley with a scary man following me. The fear of that man had been with me for eight years. In the months to come, I would occasionally turn my head to check for him, worried that he was still there lurking in the darkness, but he was really gone. As I said, I had begged God to give me a new sin to struggle with, and He did. But that is an entirely different story.

 

Grace Given To Me – my personal testimony – Part 3

I worked full-time in the front office of the Bible College, and attended classes part-time. One day in December of 1993, a brand-new student from Virginia Beach was brought to the front office to check in. He was fresh out of the Navy – mustache and all – and had been serving as a deep-sea diver.

“Stay away from him,” I thought. “He’s my age; he’s cute, and a bit nerdy too! I could really like him.” I was committed to my college classes, however, so I tried to avoid him as much as possible.

A year later, in November of ’94, I had reached the ripe old age of 25, and I was finally ready for a serious relationship. So, when Christopher asked me to eat lunch with him in the school cafeteria, I said yes.

This was the beginning of our “courtship” as we called it. We agreed that our purpose was to discover if we would make good marriage partners. Christopher then began to read book after book on the proper methods of Christian dating, advice for newly married couples, etc.

We went to Chuck Smith’s church – “Big Calvary” – on our first official date. Chris drove us to Costa Mesa in his ugly black Dodge truck that had a three-foot-long bumper sticker on the back window stating, “Jesus said: “Unless you repent, you shall perish!”

After church, Chris sat me down to discuss the message. “OK now, did he say anything that was wrong?” Wrong! Wrong? Isn’t that against the rules? We’re not allowed to disagree with Papa Chuck!

Five months later, in May of 1995, Christopher asked me to marry him. The next day, he broke off our engagement.

Chris wasn’t sure if he was in the center of God’s will. We were constantly told that it was essential to find God’s perfect will for our life; otherwise we would be living in sin and disobedience. Christopher had prayed and waited and fasted and listened and… He had not heard from God.

Feeling distressed, Chris sought advice from a pastor who taught at our school, David Hocking. Pastor Hocking said that as long as I was a believer, Chris was free to marry me. He recommended a book, Decision Making & the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by G. Friesen.

Chris found the book in the school library, devoured it, and his life was changed! We became reengaged! This had all happened in one day. Man, was my head spinning!

Christopher was now set free from a huge weight; he was released from the pressure to live up to an unattainable standard. I did not grasp or comprehend the matter, so I just brushed it under some rug in my mind.

We graduated in June of 1995 and were married several months later. Since we were such “committed Christians,” of course we had our first kiss at our wedding, and forbade dancing and alcohol at our reception.

After our honeymoon, Chris joined me on staff at the Bible College. With a close-up view of the pastors, Christopher began to witness instances of hypocrisy and abuse of power. He was repelled. His attitude toward the “rules” became even more relaxed. He acted out with a variety of antics, such as burping on the staff walkie-talkies, listening to secular music at home, and quitting his daily Bible reading.

Meanwhile, I was uptight and uneasy and wondered, “Why is my husband so “ungodly” all of a sudden? How could he be doing this to me!? What must everyone think!?”

In December of 1996, we moved to Colorado. My family had been living there for four years, and I wanted to raise our kids near them. I was five months pregnant by this time, planned to become a stay-at-home mom, and knew I would depend on the support (and free babysitting) of my mom.

Once in Colorado, our church home became Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel (RMCC), the church that our Bible College pastor, Larry Taylor, had planted. Over the next five years my husband continued to experience a growing hatred for all things ‘church,’ and I was growing more and more frustrated…would he ever repent!? He was not doing anything that a Christian should do!

Overwhelmed with bitterness, I would often secretly cry my eyes out behind closed doors, …but at times I was not able to hide my resentment. Chris would look into my eyes and detect my true feelings. He’d call me on it, which cut like a knife.

I began to think, “What kind of a Christian has a heart as wicked as mine?”

One Sunday morning we walked into the church foyer of RMCC and Christopher said to me, “I hate this place.”

For years I had been waiting for him to repent of his backsliding and to return to a life of obedience to God. But when he spoke those words, it finally dawned on me that he would never change.

It was 2002, we had three small children, and Chris had given up on church. I continued to take the kids to church without him, but often came home in a bitter mood. In fact, my attitude overall was quite sour.

In time, God was able to reveal to me that something was wrong with this picture. If I was the one attending church, reading my Bible, striving to live a holy life, praying and serving God, why was it that Christopher was the one bearing the fruit of the Spirit? He was kind and affectionate, and I was totally critical and hateful!

It became obvious that my devotion to church was coming between Christopher and me. In fact, church also seemed to be hindering my peace with God. I got the impression that He wanted me to quit church too. But I had huge doubts. Was the Lord truly telling me that it was time to let go?

I struggled and prayed for months, one day deciding to call my church, Village 7 Presbyterian, in order to ask for godly counsel. The elder told me that I should definitely continue attending church without my husband. He contended Chris’s absence from church was evidence that he wasn’t bearing fruit for God and, therefore, wasn’t saved. Thankfully, I didn’t buy into that nonsense: Christopher had rejected religion, not God.

It may seem incredible that God would want me to quit church. Yet His urging was so strong – His hand was so heavy on my heart – that this struggle can best be described with the following analogy: I am lying flat on the floor in the foyer of my church, having a temper tantrum because I don’t want to leave; I am digging my fingernails into the carpet in order to prevent myself from being dragged away. I am clinging and grasping to no avail — someone has a hold of my feet and is gently pulling me out of the church building: that person is the Lord Himself.

After two years of attending church without my husband, I finally released my idols, lifted my hands in surrender, and said yes to the Lord. I quit church.

Once He had me all to Himself, Jesus began to reveal Himself to me again. I began to experience that glorious JOY that only the Lord can give. His presence satisfied and calmed my restless spirit.

This is what I had been missing! Him!

For years I was devoted to being a good Christian. My relationship with God required constant work. Yet it was only when I gave up that I discovered the truth: I HAVE fellowship with Him – and always will – because He dwells inside of me.

Next, God brought ladies into my life who also did not go to church. We’d meet at parks for play dates with all of our kids, and we would end up having the most amazing conversations.

We’d depart saying to each other, “It’s been nice having church with you!”

God showed me that I wasn’t “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” after all (Hebrews 10:25).  We don’t go to church; we are the church.

God leads us by our desires, and He gave me a voracious desire to understand why Christopher hated church. Over the three years that I searched for an answer, I read books such as: Pagan Christianity, Why Men Hate Church, Wild at Heart, and Psychoheresy.

During these years I would look forward to going to church on Christmas Eve. At least we did that as a family! But one year, Chris was not in the mood to go. In fact, he wanted to go out and buy some whiskey.

The Lord had been teaching me that He does not look on the outer man, but at a person’s heart. After a difficult inner struggle, I decided to trust in the Lord’s wisdom. I walked over to Chris and gave him a hug.

Speaking from my heart I said, “Okay, we don’t have to go to the Christmas Eve service; go and buy your whiskey. I love you just the way you are. You’re real. And I’m happy that you are not one of those fake, smiling Mr. Christian Nice-Guys who say things like “praise the Lord, brother!”

By 2006, when our youngest was four years old, the Lord had stripped me of most of the rules and laws that I had seen as mandatory for a Christian…. except for one: 1 John 1:9.

I was still holding on tenaciously to it: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In order to get forgiven for a sin, a Christian HAD to quote 1 John 1:9, right!?

But then one day in early 2007 while listening to AM radio, I heard this guy named Bob George – founder of the radio ministry People to People – give a different interpretation of this verse. Bob said that John was speaking to the Gnostics when he wrote verse nine. That got my attention!

I sat down and read the book of 1 John…and then read it again. It was totally clear. John obviously switches audiences as he writes, and in the famous 1 John 1:9 verse he is not addressing believers.

This had a huge implication: if the issue of forgiveness was truly over, then I no longer had to ask him to forgive me for my daily sins. He had already forgiven me!

I finally understood why John called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And when He said, “It is finished,” before dying on the cross, He meant what He said. The work was finished! The sin of the world had been taken away! Thank you, Jesus! “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

Next, I decided to read Bob George’s book Classic Christianity. This book is a classic that should be read by every Christian. It was there that I learned about legalism, or as Bob calls it “Galatianism.”

Sitting on our couch, tears streamed down my face as I read the chapter on Galatianism. I knew I had found my answer, and yes, Christopher agreed: it was legalism that had caused him to hate church.

After three years of reading books and sharing my discoveries with Chris and hearing him say, “No, Lisa, that’s not it,” I was so thankful to find what I was looking for. Chris and I are both thankful to God.

I found out that Bob George’s ministry had church plants in various parts of the country. I wondered if they had anything in Colorado.  The reply I received from my email said, “We have a church in Denver being led by Aaron Budjen.”

Aaron Budjen!?  I was quite familiar with him!  It just so happened that I had been listening to Aaron’s radio program – Living God Ministries – since it aired directly after People to People. His teaching had intrigued me because of its similarity to what Bob George teaches.

Next, I requested to be put on Aaron’s mailing list, and in June 2007, I learned that he held Bible Studies at the library one mile from my house!!  I could not have been more thrilled.

Attending his Bible Studies in my local library’s meeting room, confirmed to me this revolutionary notion of being “a forgiven person.” I learned many other truths from Aaron, such as God’s purpose for giving the commandments to Moses and how to describe the fullness of the gospel. I also learned the meaning of law versus grace, the truth about spiritual warfare, and that “the will of God” is actually a Last Will and Testament.

The New Testament, or the New Covenant, is the good news of God’s “Will” to us believers. Aaron Budjen often encouraged us to discover all that we had been given through our inheritance in Christ Jesus, and as I grew in the knowledge of the many spiritual gifts of salvation, my heart began to change.

It is an awe-inspiring thing to be aware of the fact that God Himself is changing my heart. Though the circumstances and the situations of my life have remained the same, my reactions have become different. It was not my knowledge of good and evil and attempting to obey a commandment that changed me… it was all Him.

We read in Romans that the Law was given so that transgressions would increase, and in 1 Corinthians that the power of sin is the law, but what do these things mean? Aaron explains that the Law was given to Moses (a total of 613 commandments) in order to show us our need for His mercy.

To quote Aaron: “When it comes to the Law, or any law, the value of it is the degree to which it can be used to condemn a person to the point of despair. Only then will they turn to God for His mercy. So, the more legalistic, the more effective it can be.” (Nov. 2012)

Check out the Free Radio Archive section of Aaron’s website: www.livinggodministries.net

After about four years of listening to these messages on a regular basis, and attending his Bible Study on a weekly basis, I finally grasped the root cause of my sin.

Aaron teaches that we all have deep-rooted needs for love and acceptance and purpose and meaning. We look to the world or to religion to have these needs met: that is what leads to sin. As we learn that only God can meet our needs – since He created us for that reason – our sin will be reduced.

Once I understood that God meets my needs, my growth in Christ took off. My need for others to like me and accept me dissipated, and I began to share the fullness of the gospel with them.

God is able to teach me because I am no longer trying to be a Christian in my own strength. I am resting in Him – the Lord of the Sabbath!

He taught me what it means to pray continually, to be thankful in every circumstance, and to rejoice always. This is a perfect summary of our life in Christ: I talk to Him throughout the day, which reminds me to be thankful, and being thankful causes my spirit to rejoice!

The Law told me that I had to love my God with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. But I found that commandment impossible to obey. God understands that; He intended the Law to lead me to HIM. He is a person and He wants me to hear Him, to go to Him, to lean on Him, to depend on Him. Now God is able to work in and through me, and I find that I love Him and desire Him with all of my heart!

It is only by doing ‘nothing’ that we succeed! It is only in resting, in choosing not to work, that we discover the meaning of ‘walking in the spirit.’

There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

 THE END

 

 

Discussing Aaron Budjen’s Forgiveness series — Part 3

At our gathering this past Sunday evening to discuss the 3rd message in the Forgiveness series — The Resistance to Forgiveness — it was agreed by all that an understanding of the complete forgiveness of sins has allowed us to leave the bondage of religion and enter into a loving relationship with our God.  On the contrary, as Aaron says at minute 3:11…

“If you are not loved by your God, if you are not accepted by your God, then you have no alternative, but to turn to the world to meet the deepest needs that you have to be loved, to be accepted, to have a sense of purpose in your life.”

We begin each meeting by listening to one of Aaron’s “Radio Archive” programs.  We then enjoy each other’s company and true fellowship as we talk about how the message relates to our personal lives in Christ.

Among other things, we talked about the amazing fact that the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Christ — dwells in our mortal bodies.  Since we are already forgiven, we can never commit a sin that would cause God’s Spirit to leave.  THIS is the basis of our relationship with Him:  His continual presence in our daily lives.

Does the Bible really teach that we are already forgiven?  Past, present and future?  Aaron’s message, “The Resistance to Forgiveness,” covers many of the Bible verses that confirm to us that, yes, as believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven people.

  • Ephesians 1:7, In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.

 

  • Colossians 1:13-14, For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins

 

  • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit

 

  • 1 John 2:12, I am writing to you little children because your sins have been forgiven you for His namesake

 

  • Colossians 2:13-14, When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us and He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross.

 

  • Romans 5: 8-10, 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Did God create sin and evil?

Did God create sin and evil?

A homeschooled teenage girl asked me this question last week:  she basically said, “I would never want to say that God is at fault for all of the sin and evil in the world, yet as the Creator of this world, why isn’t He the One to blame?” 

I was the substitute teacher in her Government class (part of a large homeschool co-op that meets two days a week.)  I wanted to begin the class with a discussion before I played the DVD that the teacher had provided for me.  I began by asking them, “What is government?”  “And why do we need to be governed?”  “What is wrong with us humans anyway?  Animals don’t need to be governed!”

We never got to the DVD.  Teenagers have a lot of questions!  These teens in particular are searching for answers, they want to know why God is doing things the way He is.

I have found that with a correct understanding of the gospel, all of our questions can be answered.

Why is God doing things this way?  Simply put, He is doing things this way, because the end result will be an eternity of love and communion spent with His dearly beloved children.  He is doing things this way, because He has made us so much greater than the animals and even all of the angelic host; He will know us and we will know Him.  What He has done is that He has made us his FRIENDS.

– – –  and just pause for a minute to consider being best friends with the One who made 150 billion galaxies –  –  –

Why is there sin and evil in this world?  First, you must consider the unique design of Adam and Eve.  God made them alive.  He breathed life into them.   He gave them “the breath of life.”  He created the animals to also contain the “breath of life,” but it is a totally different set of Hebrew words compared with the Genesis 2:7 “breath of life” that the first man and woman received.

Second, you must acknowledge that the life that was contained within the breast of Adam and Eve was the very life of God Himself.  Since Adam and Eve were created to contain the Spirit of God within their body (Genesis 2:7), they had the capacity to have a close, personal, deep friendship with their God.

And, third, you must realize that ‘the law of sin and death’ caused Adam and Eve to die when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When they died, when their life was lost – through their sin and unbelief – they were no longer able to live according to their unique design.  From then on, mankind became capable of committing tremendous evil.

Think about it, Cain murdered his brother Able.  Yikes!  Talk about starting things off on the wrong foot.

That first murder reveals that humanity was no longer able to function in the way that we were designed.  By Genesis chapter 6, about a 1,000 years after creation….

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Genesis 6:5

Because after Adam and Eve sinned and died, every child of theirs was born in the image of Adam:  sinful and dead (Genesis 5:3).  Unlike Adam and Eve, humans are no longer born “in the image of God.”  We are born in the image of death, of emptiness, of sinfulness.

Why did God allow this to happen?  Why did He create a world where evil could exist?

Could He not have done things differently?

Well, yeah, but that would require us to be made like the animals.

Animals are perfect because they are governed by instinct.  God wanted us to be His friends; animals, however, do not have the capacity to be friends with a holy God who dwells in unapproachable light.  He wants to be with us, to be near us, to be as close to us as our very breath.

Since the day of Pentecost – since the day that the Holy Spirit was given back to believers – we do have the capacity to fellowship and interact with the holy God who dwells in unapproachable light . . . because when we believe in the gospel, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us.  Born sinful, dead and empty, we become forgiven, alive and filled!

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. Colossians 2:13 (NET Bible)

He has made His home within our bodies.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the Bride of Christ.  We are His beloved.

Sin, suffering and evil exist because men refuse to trust God; they rely on themselves instead.  Men refuse to believe in the gospel; they would rather believe in lies and fantasies.  Sin, suffering and evil exist because, without the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us, we are all dysfunctional.

To explore this topic more and learn why humans are so inclined towards sin and evil, check out these 27-minute audio messages by Aaron Budjen: The Lamp of God and The Image of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussing Aaron Budjen’s Forgiveness series — Part 2

Do you want to know God better?  Do you want to become a stronger and healthier Christian?  If so, please consider this advice:  An Aaron a day keeps the devil away.

Sorry.  I know that was cheesy.

But the fact is, and I say this from personal experience, listening to one of Aaron’s audio Bible studies each day will cause you to grow in an understanding of your God and of the world He has created.  Aaron will help rid your mind of the misconceptions and deceptions that are keeping you from knowing your God better.

Paul described this process in the following way in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

True pastors like Aaron are shepherds – they shepherd the sheep and lead them closer to the True Shepherd.  The word pastor comes from the Old French word pastor, pastur, meaning “herdsman, shepherd.”  And, of course, “shepherd” comes from sheep herder.

Anyway, the point is:  please access Aaron’s online FREE Radio Archive and listen to his Bible studies; each one is 27-minutes long.  You will be provided with all the nutrition you need to grow healthy and strong in Jesus Christ.

————————————————————————

This past Sunday night, 13 people gathered at Christopher and my home to listen to and discuss Aaron’s 2nd message in his Forgiveness series.  You can find it here.

Aaron’s main points in this 2nd program in his ‘Forgiveness’ series are:

  • Are you still trying to get all of the sin out of your life?
  • If so, your life of “repentance and obedience” tells God that His resurrection has no meaning to you.
  • Aaron quotes 1 Corinthians 15:17, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
  • This verse implies that because Christ has been raised from the dead, you are no longer in your sins.
  • He then quotes, 1 John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.” (NASB)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  (NASB)
  • What is salvation? Aaron does not believe that forgiveness alone provides salvation.
  • To understand why humanity needs salvation, we must fully grasp what happened in the beginning of creation.
  • Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (NKJV)
  • Human beings were created to contain the “breath of life.”
  • Aaron tells us that in the Hebrew language the words for ‘breath of life’ are better translated “the breath of lives.”
  • “…This is the divine life of God; His very spirit that defines all life.  It was His Spirit that was breathed within humanity.” (Aaron Budjen; Minute 11:30)
  • Adam and Eve had LIFE! But when they ate from the wrong tree, that life left them, and they died.
  • Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (NASB)
  • The original Hebrew for “in the day” is “muwth tal muwth.” Aaron says that this means, “in that day, absolutely, without exception, without question, in that moment you will die if you eat from the wrong tree.  For in the day that you eat of it, in that day, you will surely die.”  Death = the absence of life.
  • “In the day that you eat from the wrong tree, the Holy Spirit that has been given to you will be withdrawn; you will lose the Holy Spirit.” (Min 14:45)
  • The bad news is described in Genesis chapter 3, the good news is described through the gospel.  The gospel is the solution to the bad news.
  • The gospel:  The bad news is sin and death.  The good news is forgiveness and the restoration of life.
  • Jesus has already died, and He died for the sins of the world.
  • “If you didn’t have forgiveness… it would cause the Holy Spirit to leave.”
  • You will live in a state of confusion if you do not understand the forgiveness that you already have.

 

 

Discussing Aaron Budjen’s ‘Forgiveness’ series – Part 1

I have been a part of Aaron Budjen’s Sunday evening Bible Studies for the past 10 years. Not a day goes by that I do not thank God for this tremendous blessing.  For the past 2 ½ years, however, we have been meeting without Aaron.  (Circumstances in his family forced him to cancel his involvement.)

There are 17 or 18 people in the group with an average of 10 who attend each meeting. Without our beloved pastor there to teach us in person, we choose a series from his ‘Free Radio Archive’ and gather together on a biweekly basis in a home to listen to the chosen message.  We then spend an hour and a half discussing the topic, munching on popcorn and enjoying true fellowship.

Last night we started his “Understanding Forgiveness” series.  There were 9 of us gathered in a pleasant mountain home under the protection of Cooper, the fun-loving family dog.  It was an enjoyable evening to say the least!

Some of the key points of this 1st program in Aaron’s ‘Forgiveness’ series are:

“When people believe that the death of Jesus was not adequate to deal with the entire sin of humanity, then the only alternative that they have is to believe that sin is not so evil, so that you can . . . deal with it in another context.” (Aaron’s words, minute 15:50)

1 Corinthians 15:17, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

“Because He has been resurrected you are no longer in your sins.” (Minute 21:40)

“There is no forgiveness that you can appropriate; there is no forgiveness that you can acquire; there is no forgiveness that you can legitimately ask for. To ask for forgiveness is a total rejection of the forgiveness that you have already been given.” (Minute 22:00)

The main point that Aaron gets across is that apologizing to God – “asking for forgiveness” – is not a biblical way to get your sins forgiven.  The only BIBLICAL way to get your sins forgiven is to trust in what Jesus Christ already did through dying on the cross. There is no other sacrifice for sin!  (If 1 John 1:9 comes to mind, stay tuned, I will be discussing that in a future blog on this ‘Forgiveness’ topic.)

Embracing the complete forgiveness of sins is revolutionary to your Christian life.  When God leads you to this truth, when He opens your eyes so that you can see reality, when He removes the blinders that you had grown so accustomed to . . . you enter the Promised Land of Rest.  Your heart is finally at perfect peace with your God and you begin to experience growth in ways that make each and every day an exciting adventure with the Living God of the Universe.

And gathering together with like-minded brothers and sisters to rejoice together in the grace in which we stand is about as good as it gets in this dark and fallen world!  Last night, as we talked and shared and vented and laughed, I once again got to experience how God “knits our hearts together in love.” (Colossians 2:2)  In HIS love.

Although I have been born-again of the Spirit for 26 years, only the past 10 years have seen real fellowship with God and with my brothers and sisters.  It is because I now live in reality, and because my Christian fellowship is now based on the truth regarding Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Because of the fact that we walk in the light of the Living God, joy and peace and love can abound!

And to Suzette and Lise:  though I have just recently met you both through my blog site; I have also felt that ‘knitting of our hearts together in love’ through the mutual faith that we share.

Thank You for Your love, Lord Jesus!  Thank You for dying on the cross to forgive all of my sins!  Past, present and future!  And thank You for your resurrection from the dead so that you could offer to me salvation — so that I could receive your LIFE!

Carol, yup; as the t-shirt you were wearing last night stated:  life is good.  🙂

Jesus taught the Old Covenant

Jesus Christ taught the Old Covenant when He was here on earth.

When He was here on earth as the “Son of God” — which just means that God, who dwells in unapproachable light, reduced Himself and put on human flesh . . .

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

. . . Okay, sorry, for the digression . . .

All right, when He was here on earth, Jesus the Son of God, taught the Old Covenant.  The Old Covenant is the ‘contract’ He entered into with the nation of Israel consisting of 613 commandments which they were to obey perfectly.  Jesus Christ taught and explained this covenant to its fullest degree. Why?

Because the New Covenant did not go into effect until after He died.

“In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.”  Hebrews 9:16-18

So, we can see from Hebrews 9:16-18 that the New Covenant did not go into effect until after His death and resurrection.

Therefore, while He was living His 33 years as a human on this earth,  the Old Covenant was still in effect, and THAT is the covenant that He taught.  His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (recorded in Matthew 5, 6, 7) is the epitome of His teaching; kind of like His Mission Statement.  Check it out if you haven’t read it recently.

In His Sermon on the Mount He told the crowd gathered around Him that if they wanted to be judged according to their works, their deeds, according to a system of good and evil, a system of right and wrong, then they would have to be PERFECT.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48

Jesus taught this way in order to finally — once and for all — end the argument that began in the Garden of Eden.  God said that He created mankind to live according to the Law of Life; Satan countered that mankind would be better off living according to the Law of Good versus Evil. (Genesis 2 and 3)

2,500 years later, roughly, God gave the Law to Moses, and the nation of Israel willingly and whole-heartedly entered into this covenant with God.

And then, 1,500 years after the ratification of the Old Covenant, Jesus Christ came to earth to fulfill the Law — to meet the demands of the Law.  He did this as an act of mercy since there was no way that we could possibly meet the demands ourselves.

When you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you are reading the final and full explanation of the Law of Moses.  It’s not just, “Hey, let’s read these books to learn more about Jesus.”  But instead, “Hey, let’s seek and embrace and grasp the complete magnification of the Law, of the Old Covenant.”

There is so much confusion in the Christian world.  There are so many contradictions being espoused.  There is barely any clarity.  It doesn’t make sense to people.

Understanding that Jesus taught the Old Covenant is crucial to making sense of your Christian life.  The New Testament begins with the Book of Acts, not Matthew.

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.  Hebrews 8:13

For more on this topic, please listen to this excellent series in the Sermon on the Mount produced by Living God Ministries . . .

And have a good day living in the New Covenant.