Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Zeal

VIEWPOINT



Pursuing something you believe with a great deal of zeal does not mean you are on the right path.

FACT


From the Oxford Dictionary on Google:

zeal    /zeel/

noun: zeal

great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.
    "his zeal for privatization"


BLUE VIEWPOINT



Zeal - for what?

Zeal is the amount of energy and enthusiasm with which we pursue something. As humans, we probably put more zeal into cleaning our favorite car for a date than we do picking up dog droppings in the yard. We put more zeal into projects that we enjoy than those we do not. And, when we are working on enjoyable projects, we try to make sure we are doing them to the best of our ability, or at least well enough to be able to appreciate the final product.

With the favorite car, we would probably not go out and wipe it down with a dirty or muddy rag and leave it at that. We would make sure that we use the right product for the job and have a method for doing the job that has a proven way to achieve the results we seek. Right? I mean, it's unlikely that we would use the best grade of 80-grit sandpaper available to shine our car. We would check with some experts to see the right way to make the paint on our car shine brightly, zealously use the products and techniques they recommend, and proceed to get the job done right.

Our Christianity is the most important project in our lives

Without trying to get too gooey, there is only one reason to become a Christian - Salvation. No, we're not going to get into a deep discussion about the sacrifice of Christ once for all sinners, our need to recognize our sinful state, and then seriously repent and forsake the sinful life. For the sake of this discussion, let's just leave that as something we Christians agree on, see as necessary and move on. Using the same reasoning as above, we would go to the source of instructions that would help us to achieve the best results for our project - Salvation. What source is that?

The way to Salvation

Believe it or not, the answers often to that question are very different depending on the opinion of the different people you ask.

First, some say, "There is nothing you can do to gain Salvation! - Jesus will save everyone who believes."

Some say that we only have to accept Jesus' sacrifice and then we are saved and cannot lose it.

Some say we only have to follow certain rules and we can earn our way in.

Some say that we have to accept Jesus' sacrifice and then follow the rules to be saved.

Some say that we have to accept Jesus' sacrifice, repent, and then make sure you stay in the will of God so that you do not lose what you have gained.

Now, of all the different listed ways to believe, how do we know which is the right one? There is only one listed that agrees with the Instruction Book for how to polish our faith to its brightest shine.

How can we know?

There is only one Source that can lead us to Salvation. He died 2000 years ago, and is not walking among us today. At least, not physically. Now, many say that He lives among us in our hearts. I agree - sort of. He sent us what we have compiled into the Bible. He sent His Holy Spirit to live within us to guide us into all truth. These two gifts are all we really need, but then we do have to actively seek that Truth. All we have to do is read His Bible, know what it says, believe it, listen closely to what the Spirit says about following it, and we will all be OK, right?

If that's the case...

Then, why do Christians not all believe and act the same? There is only one Bible and one Holy Spirit. Supposedly, we are all listening to the same Spirit. Here it comes, "Well, our church listens to Him, but the others don't.", or "Our pastor studied and knows the Bible through and through, knows Hebrew and Greek, and he teaches the truth, so we are the right ones.", or even, "Those other churches are not Christian because they do (or don't) xxxx." (You fill in the xxxx for your church.) And all of them follow their faith with zeal! So, are they all going to be saved?

The real issues

There are two basic issues discussed in the Bible. What are they? Faith in God and obedience to God. No, I didn't leave Jesus out, He is God. Faith in God is the belief that He has a plan of Salvation and can save us in spite of ourselves. Obedience is following that plan according to His instructions. However, most churches will claim that there is only one of these that is important - faith - and that obedience to that plan is not required because - are you ready for it? - Jesus obeys for us.

Faith and Obedience - Simple right?

The Bible continually tells us that both faith and obedience are important (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

) and that we should do both with zeal. Today's pastors will tell you that those of long ago did not believe the good news and that is why it did them no good to hear it. Look at that verse again. See the word "obeyed"? Why doesn't that come into the discussion? What is the issue that constantly got the Israelites in trouble? Lack of faith? Nope - disobedience! The very same issue we have with Christianity today. OK - This question is going to be a toughie, so pay attention - "Who is right - the church pastors of today or the Bible?"

Why are they separated?

Now, before we get too deep into this, the two issues of faith and obedience are never mixed in today's modern churches. The Jews (non-Messianic) say that we must obey, and God will do the rest. The Catholics agree, changing who we are to obey and why, but try to mix faith in there, regardless of who that faith is in (the Pope, Mary, the saints, etc.). The Protestants, however, completely remove obedience because they claim that it will do us no good anyway.

They say that no works we do will matter in the end with God, so the law does not apply to us. Once we believe in Jesus, we supposedly cannot lose our salvation. That is true - if we believe in the whole Jesus (Judge, Jury, and Executioner), truly follow Him and do God's will (Matthew 7:21
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

) , and obey the gospel (Romans 16:19
19Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

, 2 Corinthians 2:9
9Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.

, 1 Thessalonians 1:8
8The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,

). You see in these verses the word obedience or references to it. But, if we have nothing to obey, at what do we aim the obedience?

Taking it to the mat - an example we can see

One simple real-world example of the principle of law and faith should suffice. Take this simple statement - "You will never get pulled over by a cop and commended for doing well if you stay at or under the speed limit." Well, is that true or false? In my experience, it is absolutely true. Let's compare that statement to those of the church about God's law - "Following the law will not help you get on God's good side." Pretty similar statements of the same concept. OK?

Same concept, same real world application

So, in both cases, following the law will not earn you any kudos. So, if these are both true, why don't people drive down a 35 MPH street at 80 all the time? Sure, you can say it is for safety, but some people don't think of that part and the real reason is that they do not want to get a ticket that they know they will get if caught. Now, Paul's Romans 6:14
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

statement about the law is true in the same way that if you do not speed, you will not be under the penalty of the law. Romans 6:14 says that if you do not break the law (sin (see 1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

) shall no longer be your master), then you are not under the law (do not owe the penalty for breaking the law) because you are under grace (if you truly repent and do not fall back under sin, you are saved by the grace of God).

But not according to most Protestant churches today

This is not what your pastor says, mind you. He says that if obeying the law will not save you, you don't have to follow it at all. In other words, if you demonstrate your faith with zeal, you can break the law with impunity. In our example, that means you can rip down Mill Plain Blvd. at 80 and should have no problems. But, in reality, does the speed limit law still apply to everyone who drives on that street even though obeying it does them no obvious good? YES! And, if you do not break it, you do not owe any penalty to the law (no longer under it). You are a free person! However, if you break it and are caught, you are now under the penalty of the law. Following the law kept you from going under the law, even if it did not earn you any reward.

The difference - the consequences

Now, the only difference between the speed laws of today's society and the laws of God is the nature of the penalty. If you speed, it costs money, goes on your record, costs more insurance, etc. With God's law, if you break it and do not truly repent, the penalty is death. Oh, you can ask forgiveness each time, zealously, but if you keep doing the same thing, you are really asking for permission to continue to sin (1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

) - not forgivness. That is what most pastors today are saying is approved action for their congregations. In fact, they are not even telling their congregations that they sin every week by spitting on God's only Holy day and by mixing their Christian worship with pagan holidays every year. Just because they don't know it is sin doesn't make them blameless. (Matthew 23:15
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

)

"Not only that, folks, you can never sin again!"

Some pastors also say that Jesus has paid for every sin we will ever commit. The technical term for the inanity of this concept is "Hogwash!" (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

). Notice the small identifying qualification of the one who will enter the kingdom of heaven - only he who does the will of the Father! Now, I realize this is very vague and theological, requiring a theological degree, Hebrew and Greek understanding, with the special insight available only to the studied, rich, famous, television personalities and authors of today's New Tolerant Covenant as reinterpreted by the Holy Spirit through them alone, but if you study that verse for a week or two, even you will start to get a glimmer of the Truth. You can get to the kingdom of heaven only by following the real Jesus - AND - obeying the will of God.

Faith or obedience, which is more important?

A recent discussion with my wife brought out something that few people recognize as a problem in today's Christian society. As you have probably guessed, a lot of our discussions revolve around faith and obedience to God. Yet, this problem is so key to our Salvation that we must take a stand for God's side or wind up on the broad path to destruction. Sometimes we have different viewpoints on the foundations of both faith and obedience, usually about which is required for us to be on God's side.

Know where you stand

On one hand, it is necessary to have a Biblical definition of these two concepts firmly in mind and heart before you begin a zealous pursuit of them. It is my position that both are necessary for us to attain eternal life.

Say it out loud, it may sound different

On the other hand, my wife feels that if someone really believes in Jesus and is doing everything they can to follow Him, it does not matter if they are obedient to God's plan as long as they have a strong faith and are zealous. She feels that even if they are not obedient, if they are zealous about their desires, it is enough to override any disobedience for them to be saved. In other words, it is the strength of their faith alone that overrides any other considerations about Salvation - even obedience to God. Rather than make some logical argument about it, say "If I really mean well, I can break God's commands." Remember 2 Samuel 6:7
The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

when Uzzah just tried to catch the ark of God. He had nothing but the best of motives, and performed his "task" with zeal, but it went against the instruction of the Lord God and cost him his life.

If we relate that idea to the speed law discussion above, is it OK to zealously do 80 in a 35 zone if you are almost late for work and will get fired for being late? Or maybe you are late for church. Is that considered a good reason? Enough to allow the law to be zealously broken if the reason is good? The difference may be that you might be willing to accept the consequences of the ticket or an accident. But, are you willing to spend eternity in hell for deliberately, zealously breaking God's law?

So what is the real issue here?

The main issues are faith and obedience, but there is an overlooked underlying issue that concerns the object and purpose of faith and obedience. Let's take a closer look at each.

Faith

Faith is a term used for describing belief in something or someone. Christians, by definition, claim to have faith in Christ. Many Christians claim that, because of their belief in Him, He has cancelled any requirement for them to obey any rules.

Now, what is Christ doing for us? No, really. Not what has He done for us, what is He doing for us? Think about it. He is interceding with the Father for us naturally sinful creatures who recognize and accept His gift so that we do not have to face the penalty of our sinfulness. But, is He telling us, "I've got your back. Don't change a thing, you're covered!"? If you say "Yes", then you are missing the whole point of Salvation. That is exactly where the Jews messed up:

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)

2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. (Hebrews 4:2)

Knowledge and context

In that first passage in Matthew, they were discussing the concept of marriage in the resurrection. The Jews had the mistaken impression that marriage will continue after the resurrection - something never stated or implied in the Scriptures. But, if you think that concept of error due to lack of Scriptural knowledge does not apply to everything in the Scriptures, then you are missing the point that Jesus is making.

Most of today's churches are zealously making up concepts that fly directly in the face of what is clearly stated in the Bible. Everything either ties together with the entire Bible story or it causes a contradiction. God does not contradict Himself. The interpretations of people often cause contradictions with the word of God.

"That's what it says, but not what it means!"

A great example is when a pastor reads the fourth commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy...". The first thing he says is, "That is only for the Israelites.", which is an interpretation. Yes, God only told this directly to the Israelites, but they are to be His example to the world (1 Corinthians 10:11
11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

). Example of what? Obedience and honor to the Father. That was the goal of Jesus and should be ours as well.

If you look at this and all the other commandments in the light of Ecclesiastes 12:13
13Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

and Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

, without interpreting anything but just reading the words, what is the meaning of these passages taken together? If you change any one of the three and make it mean something other than what it says, the other two become contradictory.

There is a catch

The bottom line is that Christ is following God's plan of redemption for the part of the human race that accepts His gift, show by their life that they understand it's value, and stays within the will of the Father. How do they show that they understand? Well, what does Christ say to people He forgave in His life? (John 5:14
14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."

, John 8:11
Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

)

Now, if you have a zealous faith and really, really believe in Jesus' ability to forgive you, is that it, or is there a "rest of the story"? Many (most?) Christians today feel that a zealous faith is the end of the story. They feel that this faith means they are now saved and are required to do nothing more and can never lose their salvation. Do you believe that true faith in Jesus means that the law no longer applies to you because your pastor said so? That means you no longer have to do what the law says, right? Your "faith alone" will save you.

Hold it...

Wait a minute. Hopefully, after all the reminders above, you remember the definition of sin from 1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

. If Jesus said to "sin no more" and sin is disobeying and breaking the law, then does your zealous faith nullify what Christ said? Does your faith allow you to sin against God? Christ is following God's plan and His plan has rules to follow. Ask yourself now - "Is that the Christ of my faith?" Is your Christ the Son of God, or a christ who does not require adherence to His Father's will. (hint: Matthew 7:21
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

)

Let's list some of them again

If you are following Christ zealously but still deliberately sinning, then are you following God's plan of Salvation and therefore following the real Christ? Does your zeal override God's plan? Sin means breaking God's law - ignoring God's only declared weekly holy day - the Sabbath , celebrating in the pagan ways of Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. Do you eat the animals that are God's garbage collectors of the world? These are all commands given by God to those people He claims as His, so those who do not follow them are denying His will and are not His obedient children. That means that you do not really have faith in His plan.

Are you zealous for the truth or are you just standing behind what your pastor said in the sermon? In most cases, they are definitely not the same thing. If you disagree, take a look at some of the other pages on this site and let us know what you think. Just please make sure that you send us some Biblical justifcation for your disagreement. No one wins in a discussions of just opinions.

Obedience

As you can see, any discussion of faith in Christ automatically includes obedience as a sign of true faith. (Matthew 5:16
16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

) However, obedience is another issue where all the denominations have this special dance or jig that allows them to ignore the commands of God and Christ. The question they always ask is, "Obedience to what? Christ only gave us two commandments - 'Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself'. We do that zealously!" OK, let's look at that.

Love God

"Love God above all things..." When your earthly father told you to do something as a child, did you obey? If you did not, what word referred to your actions? Disobedience. Was that a demonstration of your love (and honor as in the fifth commandment) for your father? If you answer "Yes!", then this discussion is over for us. However, if you say, "Well, that's different!", explain how so. If you say "No!", then you recognize that your disobedience was merely placing your wishes above those of your father. The same goes for how you treat the commandments of God. When you do what He says not to do because "everyone else is doing it" or "because you don't want to seem Jewish", are you "Loving God above all things"?

When you deliberately disobey God, you are saying that your will, or that of your pastor if he is allowing disobedience in the church body (remember 1 Corinthians chapter 5
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

), is more important than that of God. Of course, the sinful actions may be different that those decribed by Paul, but approved, unrestrained sinful actions of any kind have the same consequences. Usually, there is only one way that most pastors and congregations try to get away from that fact. They claim that the law of God does not apply to Gentiles.

So where did Paul get the idea that the Corinthians were wrong?

Paul was known as the apostle to the Gentiles. The Corinthians were in a Gentile church. They had broken a rule somewhere that "even the pagans do not tolerate". Well, it turns out that this rule can be found in - you guessed it - the Old Testament. You know, that book that the pastors say does not apply to the Gentiles because it was only given to the Israelites. Take a peek at Leviticus 18:7-8
7"'Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

8"'Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father.

. I included both verses because the wording shows that this was likely not his mother, but his stepmother. However, when your pastor says that the law does not apply to Gentiles, Paul seems to disagree.

Well, let's see. That is a teaching of those who refuse to submit to the rules of God, claiming that He only gave those rules to one rebellious people. That understanding is really saying that the same rules that prevent the Israelites from getting their "reward" will not prevent an even more rebellious people from getting that same "reward". I know, some call it a gift, but if it is not a gift to one rebellious people, how can you call it a gift for another that rebels even more?

Love your neighbor

Looking quickly at the second of the "two commandments" - "love your neighbor as yourselves." - we see the same problem. I know this is hard for many of you to believe, but when we accept Jesus, the Israelites and Jews are our neighbors and we live in the same household with them - even the ones that do not accept Jesus as their Messiah (Ephesians 2:19
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household,

). If you are members of God's household, how can you break His commandments? While few Christians would be "caught dead" doing what the Jews do, those same Christians claim that the Jews will not receive eternal life because they do not believe in Jesus.

However, when you actually speak to the Jews about this issue, you quickly learn they do believe in the coming of the Messiah. They believe that when He comes, He will arrive as a conquering Hero and fulfill the promises of the Father. Sound like Anyone you know? They just do not recognize the human Jesus as being that Messiah. When He returns, both Jews and Gentiles will worship the same Messiah.

There are requirements, though

There is one common condition though: all those who are accepted into eternal life will have to believe in the Messiah and "obey the gospel" (1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

). The gospel of the non-Messianic Jews does not include Jesus. The Jews are just as zealous for their belief as you are of yours, maybe even more so, but without the knowledge of Jesus being the Christ.

They have zeal, but zeal for what?

Their zealous faith is in the law and the promises of God to them directly as His people. Does that zeal make them right? Maybe - He did make covenants with them that did not involve us, some of which they did not honor. However, just believing strongly (zeal) in something does not make it Biblical or even correct. That goes for Christians as well. Believing strongly in a lie does not make you right - and it might even make you non-Christian, with all that entails.

As Peter said in 1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

, we must know and obey the gospel of God. Not the gospel of the Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Lutherans, Adventists, or any other self-separated denomination, all of whose gospels are different than that of Christ. Seek the gospel of the ecclesia that finds the truth in the Bible and sticks to that truth without diluting it with paganism.

Honestly, most churches are not even trying

Please understand, this is not a frivolous accusation. Virtually none of the current well-known denominations have kept the gospel without mixing in a great deal of paganism. (See the pages Christless Christianity?, Pagan Christianity?, and Denominations for examples and references.) We must know the true gospel of the ecclesia of Jesus - the only true "church" that does the will of the Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

). You will find some of the searchers for the truth mixed in with all the churches, but only because they cannot find one that does zealously seek, find, and declare the truth as written in the Bible.

Paul, in Romans 10:16
16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

"Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world."

19Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,

"I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
    I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."

20And Isaiah boldly says,

"I was found by those who did not seek me;
    I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."

21But concerning Israel he says,

"All day long I have held out my hands
    to a disobedient and obstinate people."

tells us that this gospel started back in the Old Testament. This message was included in God's requirement for obedience that the Israelites did not keep because of their lack of faith (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

). We must seek the only truth, find it, obey it, and have faith that if we stick with it, Christ will bring our salvation with Him (Hebrews 9:28
28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

). That waiting includes obedience added to our faith. Note that Hebrews 9:28 did not say, "to take away the sins of all" but "many". We need to make sure we are doing what the Israelites of old did not do, so that we are not zealously standing outside the door when He returns.







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