The Great Easter Verse Hunt

The Great Easter Verse Hunt

Most Bible-professing Protestants are probably quite shocked to eventually discover that “Easter” isn’t even in the Bible. The word is never found in any of the more modern, dependable, strictly literal translations. It actually only occurs once in the King James Version (Acts 12:4), wherein it is a 1611 substitution – not translation – for the original Greek word, “pascha;” a word which that very same version correctly translates as “Passover,” in every other one of the 28 places wherein it occurs in the N.T.

Pascha... "Easter" or "Passover"?

Pascha… “Easter” or “Passover”?

Additionally, that same text (Acts 12:1-4) states that this was during the “days of unleavened bread” (vs. 3), a Jewish celebration intimately linked with the Passover. King Herod, in an effort to please the Jews (vs. 3), was waiting until after “pascha” to kill the apostle Peter. In his attempts to persecute the Lord’s church and please the antagonistic Jewish leadership, Herod was certainly not delaying Peter’s execution in support of a Christian celebration, but was instead honoring the Jewish celebration of “pascha” (Passover), by waiting until it was over to present Peter to the otherwise-occupied Jewish celebrants of “pascha,” “Passover” – not “Easter.”

Even the New King James translators corrected the older, 1611 version’s “Easter” error, by correctly placing the word “Passover” back in Acts 12:4. Hence, “Easter” is not legitimately ever found in God’s word anywhere, and hence, cannot be religiously celebrated “by faith,” according to those very same scriptures: “So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God…for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 10:17 & 14:23b).

Although one cannot legitimately find “Easter” in the Bible, if one delves into secular history, they will soon find that many of today’s “Easter” celebrations are of pagan origin. As one internet resource reported: “Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. …After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex.” Hence, the very popular fertility symbols of eggs, bunnies, and yes, what would’ve been the absolute darling of Darwin’s deluded and God-denying evolutionary dreams: the genetically-confused and corrupted crossover critter: the egg-laying bunny. He, which millions of Biblically-unaware Protestants unknowingly purchase, perpetuate, and participate in distributing likenesses of each spring, in what is a lot more of a celebration of an idolatrous, non-existent, pagan fertility false goddess than it is of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, as so very few Protestants are apparently additionally aware, as stated above, the early Constantinic Catholic Church was responsible for seeking to re-create this then-pagan celebration of the false fertility goddess into its own image, centuries after Christ and His apostles lived and delivered God’s divinely-inspired commands as to how we are to remember the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Such Easter/Ishtar facts are easily obtainable from countless encyclopedic resources, but obviously not from God’s Word, as “Easter” and its modern-day celebratory events simply do not exist therein. And if so, where are the “book, chapter, and verse” references wherein Jesus commanded His disciples to have Easter Sunrise services and Easter egg hunts “in remembrance” of Him? Where are the “book, chapter, and verse” references wherein the apostles commanded, or the first century church participated in, such remembrances of His death, burial, and resurrection? No, these modern-day “Easter” festivities are only, simply, truly, and every inch and iota, nothing more than the “doctrines and commandments of men,” which make any religious practice thereof, therefore totally and completely vain and useless before God (Mk. 7:5-13).

Jesus very clearly told His disciples (John 8:31-47), precisely how He wanted them to remember Him instead (Luke 22:14-20); which is exactly what His one New Testament church specifically comes together to do, “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) just as the Scriptures instruct. This, in accordance with Christ’s commandment, simply because they love Him alone, and above everyone, and everything else, on earth (John 14:15-24; Matthew 10:34-39, 22:37).

We must remember that God does not change (Mal. 3:6). We must remember the very first and foremost of His Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6). Do we recall what God did to those such as Jeroboam, who sought to substitute worship he had devised in his own heart for that which the Lord had specifically commanded in His word (See I Kings 12:25-13:10, 33-34)? Do we remember what the Lord did to King Solomon for his idolatry (I Kings 11:4-11), and what He further did to His own people who dragged pagan deities’ worthless and man-made idols and worship into His Holy Temple (See II Chronicles 33:1-11)? Do we remember the Apostle Paul’s experience in Ephesus with the followers of Diana/Artemis, the first-century pagan false goddess of fertility in Acts 19? And so, these examples beg the question: “What is the difference between what people did in those biblical instances, and what those do today who seek to drag the idolatrous and unbiblical man-made traditions originating in the worship of the pagan false goddess ‘Ishtar/Easter/Eastre’ into their churches – even in ignorance (Acts 17:30)?” While there’s nothing any more wrong with giving a child a chocolate bunny to eat than a chocolate likeness of a cartoon character or fairy tale creation, the problem arises when religious organizations seek to attach religious significance to such unscriptural events as Easter, Easter Sunrise Services, and Easter Egg Hunts – a proverbial landslide of which will most likely be announced by the denominations all around us in the local papers this week.

We desperately need to let our Bible-professing Protestant friends and neighbors who claim to want to honor God’s Word, know that “Easter” as they may understand and celebrate it, simply isn’t in the word of God, because it was apparently never in the mind of God for anyone to celebrate as a Christian holiday (II Timothy 3:16-4:4). In fact, “Easter” has absolutely nothing in common with how the Savior Himself exclusively commanded His disciples to specifically remember Him (Luke 22:14-20; 6:46). Instead, “Easter” is ultimately, intimately, purely and exclusively the product of corruptly combined paganism, Catholicism, and commercialism; a vain event invented in minds of mere men (Matthew 15:7-9) instead of in the mind of almighty God.

But please don’t take my word for it – just try to legitimately find “Easter” in God’s Word instead. You’ll find that it’s harder to locate than a real-life, living, breathing, and legitimately egg-laying bunny – or than a sinner being saved, forgiven, and added to Christ’s one New Testament church, simply by saying a prayer and ‘welcoming Jesus into their heart’ in that same Bible. Simply put: Taint there anywhere!’

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Es bastante común  en nuestra generación escuchar a las personas hablar acerca de los milagros. Escuchamos este termino ser utilizado; en películas, las noticias, en conversaciones todos los días y por supuesto en las Iglesias. De tiempo en tiempo se escucha el término en la radio por ejemplo; cuando el corredor de una maratón se calló, pero se puso de pie siguió corriendo y ganó la carrera… ¡Fue un Milagro!.

 Es bastante común  en nuestra generación escuchar a las personas hablar acerca de los milagros.

Es bastante común en nuestra generación escuchar a las personas hablar acerca de los milagros.

Cuando las personas en la actualidad hablan acerca de los milagros,  en sus círculos tienen en mente algunos eventos de carácter rutinario pero ellos se refieren a estos eventos como “milagros” aun cuando estos no tengan ningún tipo de conexión con eventos religiosos. De hecho algunos se refieren al nacimiento de un niño como un evento “milagroso”, sin embargo esto es un evento de todos los días y de cada momento al rededor del mundo. Es muy probable que las personas no comprendan realmente qué constituye un verdadero milagro y cuales son los términos en que esta palabra es empleada. 
  La Biblia enseña “Si alguno habla, hable conforme a las palabras de Dios…” (1Pedro 4:11). El diccionario Webster’s define el término milagro: (1) como un evento remarcable y (2) una maravilla.  Aunque este diccionario que es altamente respetado define “milagro” de esta manera, la definición bíblica va mucho mas allá de estas lineas. Si todo evento remarcable fuera un milagro, entonces la palabra como tal perdería su verdadero significado. No todo evento extraño y peculiar puede ser contenido en la categoría de  un milagro. 
La primera vez que podemos observar la palabra milagro es en Exodo 7:9 y es usada en referencia a Moises y Aarón de pie frente a faraón. Mientras avanzamos en el A.T usted y yo notamos que de muchas y diversas maneras el Señor obró a travez de milagros.  Al llegar al N.T hay tres palabras que necesitan nuestra atención: “Milagro”, “señales”, “maravillas”.
En algunos lugares en el N.T leemos de milagros tomando lugar. En algunas ocaciones dos de estas palabras aparecen en el mismo versículo, como cuando Felipe iba haciendo “milagros y Señales” en la ciudad de Samaria (Hechos 8:13). Anterior a eso muchas “señales y maravillas” eran hechas por mano de los apóstoles (Hechos 2:43). En adición a esto otros pasajes emplean los términos en el mismo contexto (Hechos 2:22, Hebreos 2:4). 
La palabra milagro procede de la palabra griega “dunamis” y que es definida como “poder”, indicando un origen super-natural. Un milagro entonces es un evento que trasciende por completo a lo que puede ser el orden natural de las cosas y por lo tanto es obrado con poder, no por casualidad pero con PODER.  Otra definición sostiene lo anterior. “Un milagro es un acto inusual, que trasciende el alcance natural de las cosas, y eventos que probaban la compañía de Dios para el hombre que obraba ese milagro” (Thayer’s word no.4595 en e-Sword).  Decir que algo era una señal era dar a entender qué Dios estaba demostrando su aprobación para con el individuo que obra el milagro. Las “Señales” lo que hacían eran apuntar a algo. La intención no estaba en la Señal misma fuera el centro de atención sino a lo que esta apuntaba. En el caso del siglo primero, las señales apuntaban a que el mensaje que estos hombres portaban era verdadero, debía ser escuchado y obedecido por causa de las señales que eran hechas por tal individuo (Hechos 8:6). 
¿Que acerca de la palabra “maravilla”?. En el N.T más de 50 veces la palabra Griega hace su aparición “Teras” que es traducida como “maravilla”. ¿Que significa esta palabra?. Una maravilla es algo raro, diferente que está causando la admiración absoluta de alguien.  Una señal apela al entendimiento de la persona, mientras que “maravilla” apela a la imaginación, apela precisamente a la respuesta del hombre frente la demostración del poder de Dios. 
La intención de estas lineas no es aún entrar en detalle sobre el tema de los milagros sino, solamente referirnos al uso moderno de esta palabra. El que una persona sane después de una gripe, ¡No es un acto sobrenatural!, o el que un carro no golpeo el mío por la mañana tampoco constituye una obra sobrenatural. Hay que comprender que los tres terminas usados (Milagro, Señales y Maravillas) es Dios obrando. En nuestros días escuchamos a hermanos decir: ¡Qué Dios se manifieste en la salud de mi esposo!  la pregunta siguiente es; ¿Como lo hará?…la conclusión obligatoria aquí, debe de ser de una forma milagrosa. Si es a través de la medicina entonces no es Dios manifestándose, es la medicina del hombre actuando, ¡No es un milagro!. Por supuesto todo lo debemos a Dios y nos debemos a él sin embargo el uso moderno de la palabra “milagro” ha sido tremendamente abusado, aún cuando no se mencione la palabra como tal,  el concepto ha sido mal utilizado y mal empleado. Deseamos que continue con nosotros en este estudio tan emocionante que ha de continuar. 
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Who is My Neighbor

“Who is My Neighbor?”

The question comes to us from Luke 10:29. A lawyer of the Jews had asked the Lord what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. It was a good question and one which we should all be interested in knowing the answer to. The Lord’s answer to this question was two-fold: “Love God with all your heart,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (cf. Luke 10:25-28) These two commandments condensed all of the Old Testament Law down into two basic principles; everything else simply expounded on the how of the fulfilment. Thus, Jesus told the lawyer, even as He tells us, “Do this and live.” (Luke 10:28b)

If you want to make it into heaven, God requires that you put Him first in your life. Additionally, He also requires that you treat your neighbor well.

Do you have the mindset of how can I serve?

Do you have the mindset of how can I serve?

It is unfortunate that most people totally fail in these two necessary requirements for eternal life. This assessment is one taught by Jesus Himself, who said in a different place, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14; NKJV)

The lawyer probably recognized that there were people in his life that he was not loving as he should. And so we read, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29)

The lawyer’s question was essentially his way of clarifying: Who do I have to love? Or, put another way, who am I allowed to not love? Are there people who are sufficiently different from me that I am allowed not to love them? Who will God allow me to dislike and mistreat, or at least just ignore indifferently?

The lawyer should have known better. The commandment concerning love for neighbors, found in Leviticus 19:18, is not the only place where God mentions properly treating one’s neighbors. If one turns back to the Ten Commandments, wherein God lays down some basic principles concerning the conduct He expected of His people, we read, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:16, 17; NKJV)

God hatred of lying lips is a foundational principle in understanding the morality God expects of His people (cf. Proverbs 12:22). When God says not to bear false witness against a neighbor, He is not giving permission to lie to strangers. Likewise, when God told His people not to covet their neighbor’s ox, He wasn’t saying that coveting became alright so long as you didn’t know the individual in question. Rather, we might more properly understand that God is teaching us that there is a brotherhood of man. All men are to be considered as neighbors, and all men are to be treated as neighbors.

We have those neighbors that live down the road from us, and then there are those neighbors that live across the globe. From God’s perspective, enthroned above the world, there’s not that much distance separating any of us. We should be treating all of them well, loving them as ourselves.

In point of fact, God wasn’t too vague about any of this. He told the Israelites, “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.” (Deuteronomy 24:14; NKJV) Whether a foreigner, or a kinsman, God expected the same treatment of both from His people, who were called by His name, and who were striving to live according to His standards.

When God says, Love your neighbors, Jesus explained, He meant you even need to love your enemies. (cf. Matthew 5:44) Because, we conclude, our enemies are neighbors also.

All men are to be treated as if they were your neighbors, because, from God’s perspective, they are. You may not have met them yet, but that doesn’t matter. Your neighbors are anyone you happen to run across in your foray through life.

You are not supposed to lie to your neighbor, which means you are not supposed to lie to anyone. You are not supposed to covet your neighbor’s property, which means you are not supposed to covet anyone’s property. You are to love your neighbor, which means you are to love everyone. Simply put, there is no one whom God gives us permission not to love and treat as well as possible.



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Lessons on Current Events

Lessons on Current Events

The news has been filled with alleged stories of the behavior of a proposed judicial appointment. This is not an article dealing with any political view about this matter. It is simply an attempt to call to our attention to impact that our behaviour has on those in our society. There are some valuable lessons to be learned by every Christian.

The lesson about associations. Judgments are readily made about people based on the company they keep. While the Bible often teaches the importance of fleeing from those who do evil, we fail to heed heaven’s advice. The first psalm describes the blessedness of those who do not walk or stand with the ungodly and sinners. One does not have to be engaged in evil actions for his influence to be destroyed simply because he was in the presence of evil.

The lesson about drinking and other sins. From the first drink there is a lessening of inhibitions which otherwise regulate our lives. Think about places where drinking prevails. Why do bars need “musclemen” who can remove trouble-makers? Has alcohol ever led sports’ fans into anger, cursing and destruction of property? Do not forget the account in Esther when a drunken king with his drinking friends demanded that Vashti become an object of their lascivious hearts.

Do not look on the wine...

Do not look on the wine…

The lesson about drinking not excusing bad behaviour. Our society tends to excuse wrong behaviour by “justifying” it—“Well, he was drunk when it happened.” Doing one evil cannot “justify” the doing of another evil.

The wise man Solomon wrote this in Proverbs 23.

The Bible question. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?”

The Bible answer. “Those who linger long at the wine. Those who go in search of mixed wine.”

The Bible directive. “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.”

The Bible description of the results of drinking. “At last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your heart will utter perverse things.”

The Bible description of the addictive nature of drinking. You will not remember what happens and you will say, “When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

There are choices we make which can destroy us and our influence. We need to be wise and use divine directives in the choices we make about behavior. Remember, “It is always right to do right, and it is always wrong to do wrong!”

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“You…you… LEGALIST!!”

“You…you… LEGALIST!!”

I remember the first time I was called a legalist. It was not a compliment. In fact, it was the response given after I had shown what the Bible commands on a particular subject. The exact words were, “I think it’s sad that you’re such a legalist.” Since then, there have been many times the term “legalist” has been thrown my way, usually in discussions on topics such as social drinking (Prov. 23:29-35; 1 Thess. 5:6-8), baptism being necessary for salvation (Mark 16:15-16), instrumental music in New Testament worship (Eph. 5:19; Prov. 30:6), divorce (Matt. 19:9), withdrawing of fellowship (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:14-15), and denominationalism (1 Cor. 1:10-13; John 17:20-23; Phil. 2:1-2). Perhaps you know what I’m talking about, because the same has happened to you. Is this something that we should be concerned about? Is being known as a “legalist” something to be avoided, or is it something to strive for?

Interestingly, one of the dictionary’s definitions of “legalism” is “strict adherance to the law.” Strict adherance to the law.  In other words, obeying the law.  Guess we now know legalism gets its legal root word from, don’t we?

Obeying the law.  Strict adherance to the law.  Is that a terrible thing?  In religious circles, it seems to be…but is it really?  Let’s think about this concept outside of religion for a second.

Do you make a point to stop your car at every red light?  You do?  Why?  “Because the law says so,” you say.

Guess what?  You’re a legalist.

Do you make it a point every April to pay your taxes?  You do?  Why?  “Because if I don’t I’m breaking the law.”

I hate to break this to you, but you’re a legalist.

When you’re at work, do you strive to do your job?  Let me clarify.  When you’re on the clock, do you do your best to do what your employer tells you to do?  You do?

Hmph.  You legalist.

Teachers, you assign your students papers to write in class, right?  Do you share with them the writing guidelines you expect them to adhere to while writing that paper in the syllabus?  Sure you do.  If they decide to turn in a five-page paper that has two-inch margins instead of the twelve-page paper with one-inch margins that you asked for, do you dock them points?  You do?

Why are you being so legalistic?

Here’s the thing.  Outside of religion, I have never in my life heard or seen anyone have a problem with being a legalist when it comes to the law of the land…

…Scratch that.  Yes I have.  In fact, I see them on the news every night.  They’re called criminals.

Plus, now that I think about it, I guess I could add people who are continually being fired from their jobs because they don’t want to do what their boss tells them to that list.

Let’s add the students who are flunking out of school because they want to do their own thing instead of doing what their instructors tell them to do in their classes.

Do you get the point?  In the secular world, legalism is a good thing.  Legalism is what keeps us free men, as a matter of fact.  Legalism keeps us out of jail.  Legalism keeps our records clean.  Legalism plays a big role in keeping us employed with food on our tables.  Without a legalistic mindset, that goal of wanting to strictly follow the rules, none of us would have ever received an A in our lives at school.

So why is legalism such a dirty word in religious circles?  Should not strict adherence to God’s laws be a noble goal for every Christian?

Ask any professed Christian if they want to follow God, and they’ll say, “Sure!”  Ask them if they want to obey God, and they’ll reply, “You bet!” without hesitation.

Now, ask them if they think they’re legalists.  Most if not all will recoil in disgust.  Why?

Perhaps harkening back to the great insight and wisdom of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride gives us the answer…

Legalism?  Legalist?

Legalism? Legalist?

We’ve allowed the religious culture of our day to take a term which literally means obedience and turn it into a dirty word that we practically consider an insult right up there with any vulgarity that is thrown at us.  Why?

Is it because we don’t have the right idea about the role of obedience in the plan of salvation?  Yes, we’re saved by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8a)…but did you know that God’s grace “instructs” us to do certain things (Tit. 2:11-12)?

What happens if we purposefully disobey what God’s grace instructs us to do?  The Bible says we “insult the spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:26-31).

No wonder Paul rhetorically asked, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Yes, we’re saved through faith as well, and Paul did clarify by adding, “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8b-9).  Jesus did say, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10…but the Bible also says that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-26).  In other words, true faith is OBEDIENT trust and loyal compliance with the requirements of God’s will.

In other words, living faithfully requires one to be a legalist when it comes to God’s Word.

If one defines “religious legalism” the same way one defines “secular legalism,” then religious legalism simply means “strict adherence to God’s law.”  Now, read your Bible with that in mind and you’ll be amazed at how many legalists you find within its pages.  Here are a few examples…

God told Isaac that he would bless him by keeping his promise to Abraham “because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5).

Sounds like Abraham was a legalist.

One of the last things Moses said to Israel was, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you…So you shall observe to do just as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left…Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deut. 4:2; 5:32; 12:32).

Sounds like Moses was a legalist.

The apostle Paul asked, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16) He also told the Corinthians to “learn not to exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

Sounds like Paul was a legalist.

Were they wrong?  Can any professed Christian honestly say they were?

I doubt that any of us can honestly commend disobedience to God’s commandments. After all, the apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

Wow, it sounds like even John was a legalist.

Christian, do you love God?  Of course you’re going to say you do…but does God think you do?

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments…”

What about what came out of the mouth of Christ directly?  Consider the following statements Jesus himself made…

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)

“”Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…” (John 14:21)

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)

Wow, looks like even Jesus was a legalist…

Let’s raise the stakes a bit.  Christian, is Jesus your Lord and Master?  Of course!

With that in mind, let him ask of you this question…

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”  (Luke 6:46)

Obviously, God wants us to obey His commands. We should strive to do so to the absolute best of our ability in order to avoid the eternal punishment which awaits those who do not obey him (2 Thess. 1:7-9).  When we do that, we are saved…and it’s not because of what we did (Eph. 2:9).  That’s one way religious legalism is defined, you know.  Salvation by meritorious works.  There are two problems with that.

First, no matter how much we obey God we could never “earn” salvation through obedience because we’ve all still sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  That’s why we need God’s grace (which, incidentally, requires obedience, as seen above.)

Second, again, the word legalism by itself simply means “strict adherence to the law.”  Thus, Christian legalism is “strict aderence to GOD’S law.”  When you look at it that way, then anyone who lovingly uses the word of God to help us obey his commandments is blessing us with one of the greatest acts of love and friendship that any human being could bestow upon another.

And yet, why do some in the church ridicule the one who speaks the truth in love in order to help others grow closer to Christ in all aspects (Eph. 4:15) as being a shallow thinker, narrow-minded, and a legalist?  Why is legalism associated with the Pharisees?  That last one is really puzzling to me, considering that Christ never actually condemned the Pharisees for keeping the laws of God in the Old Testament.  In fact, he recommended to his Jewish listeners that they do what the Pharisees tell them to do since they “sit in Moses’ seat” (Matt. 23:2-3a), i.e., teach the commandments found in the Old Testament.  Rather, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for hypocrisy (“For they preach, but do not practice” – Matt. 23:3b) and ADDING to God’s Word (Matt. 15:1-9), something which the Old Testament specifically forbade (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6).  In other words, he commended them for TEACHING legalism (“strict adherence to God’s laws”) while condemning them for not actually being legalistic (“strictly adhering to God’s laws”) themselves.  So the people who call you “a legalistic Pharisee” for simply promoting doing waht the Bible says to do have it all backwards, don’t they?

In truth, this kind of name-calling more often than not serves as an attempt to justify departures from sound doctrine and recent introductions into the church which have no scriptural authority. Men and women who stand up for what God’s word says have always been persecuted in various ways, and unkind and unwarranted accusations such as legalist are just a few of Satan’s many arrows that he throws in attempts to wound and bring down God’s faithful.

My friends, God does not want us to be lukewarm in our service to him (Rev. 3:15-16). He wants our obedience to ALL of his commands. The church today is in great need of more legalists like Abraham, Moses, John, Paul, and Jesus. We need more people who will strive to strictly adhere to ALL of his commands, and not just some of them.  We especially need men and women who are “obedient from the heart” (Rom. 6:17).

That last one is most important.  Jesus condemned a Pharisee who, while being a proper legalist in the sense that he kept all of God’s commands, lacked a heart of humble, penitent sorrow (Luke 18:9-14).  None of us have nor ever will attain perfection (1 John 1:8).  There will always be a need for us to plea for the mercy of God, no matter how strictly we strive to obey him…because in some ways we will always need to improve.  What will help us to always improve, and thus continue to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness (1 John 1:7-9), is a strong desire from our heart to obey him.

Jesus said to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37), and defined that love as obedience (John 14:15).  When we obey from the heart, we will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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