Posted by: forfreedomalone | 21/10/2019

Just a humble, little comma.

A Bible teacher once said that you cannot know what the words of God mean if you don’t know what the words of God are. He wasn’t meaning that you need to read the Bible, but that we are responsible for paying attention to what we are reading and to how it is translated.

Naturally, it is not within the remit of all to undertake in- depth study of the original language and the translations, but there are a few simple examples which can give us a pointer as to how we misunderstand some of what the Bible says.

Isaiah 9:6 is a good example.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” This is a well known verse, quoted every Christmas in services around the world, but, if you listen, or read, carefully you will find that there is a variation and this variation is caused by the simple omission of a tiny little comma.

The NLT, NIV, ESV, CSB, NASB, RSB and Vulgate versions all contort the meaning by its omission. The NET version goes one better and omits the comma and then translates the Hebrew into a statement to support its opinion, rather than providing a direct translation of what it says.

In all the above versions the missing comma is between the words, “Wonderful” and “Counsellor”. His name is not called, “Wonderful counsellor” {and most definitely not “Extraordinary Strategist”}, it is Wonderful and it is Counsellor. The child who will be born has five names here listed, not four.

At first glance this may seen to be a rather odd conclusion, as “Wonderful” isn’t really a name you would think to give to anyone, other than as an adjective attached to whatever it is they are wonderful at, such as counselling. But this is not what the Bible says about the one called “Wonderful”, as we will see if we read Judges chapter 13. Here we read of a man and woman of the tribe of Dan who did not have children. The Angel of the LORD came to her and told her they would have a son who are to be raised a Nazairite*. She told her husband and he went to the Lord, humbly, to ask how this boy should be raised in a manner pleasing to God. In response to Manoah’s question the same man who appeared to his wife, telling her of the coming child, appears to Manoah also. Manoah asks the man his name and the response is intriguing. The man says, “Why do you ask my name, seeing as it is Wonderful?”.

The Hebrew means “wonderful” or “incomprehensible”. “Name” as we have discovered before, in Hebrew, means “reputation” more than just a sound to which a person responds as a personal identifier. The reputation of this Angel of the LORD is beyond comprehending, it is truly wonderful. This is the ‘name’ which will be given to the son born to the people of Israel. But the simple lack of a comma removes the wonder of it and allows for the diabolical conclusion that it means “Extraordinary Strategist”. Punctuation matters and it can change everything.

John, chapter three, provided another example. This time the offending objects are inverted commas placed in the wrong spot. They open at verse 10 and close at verse 21 in all translations I have ever seen, made clearer yet by “red letter” versions. However, study will show that Jesus stops speaking at verse 15. The inverted commas not being closed until 6 verses later make Jesus say things John said.

Punctuation can change everything in a sentence as “The Panda who dined” has often taught.
“The Panda eats shoots and leaves”, has one meaning.
“The Panda eats shoots, and leaves”, has a quite different one.
“The Panda eats, shoots, and leaves” has yet another meaning and it is all down to the humble comma and where it is placed. Consider carefully, as you read, whether the punctuation is giving you the true meaning of what you are reading before you conclude you understand what it says, for, after all, “You cannot know what the words of God mean, if you don’t know what the words of God are” and without proper punctuation, you don’t.

* A Nazirite was a holy man, one set aside for God, who was under a vow, either for a time or, in this case, for life. The details can be found in Numbers. This is totally different to a Nazorean, which refers to one who comes from Nazareth.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 29/09/2019

Speak, but do it with love.

Perhaps one of the hardest commandments we are given, I think, is, “speak the truth, in love”.

Have you ever thought, really thought, about what that might mean? Many people think it means something like, “I see what is happening here, that is, I see the truth and as I love you I must tell you about it”. On one level there could be truth in that, but on another level that is not what it is talking about.

For many the ‘truth’ of a situation is what THEY are seeing, how THEY are understanding it and how it makes THEM feel; rather than how what the other person says, does, or believes affects themselves. The fact that you have a habit of picking your nose at the table may disgust me and make me want to go elsewhere to eat, but to tell you this is not love, it is self centred. It is about making ME feel more comfortable, not about making your life better. If you are eating alone and no one will go near you, but you have no idea why, telling you is love, because it is concerned for your well being.

But how to you tell someone such a thing?
This is where love really comes in. If you are the kind of person who cannot express yourself well, or must be angry before saying anything of consequence, you will never speak truth in love. The ‘truth’ you feel needs to be spoke must fester within you until it erupts and as a result you will harm, not help, you will hurt and damage, not built up, protect and set free. I know several people who need to be angry, or truly enraged, before they will express deep opinions or feelings and every time they do they destroy others, or part of the relationship they have with others. They feel much better for having released something which was festering deep inside them, but they have done more damage than if they had remained silent. They have also destroyed the channel of communication, as no one want to open themselves up to rage, even if it does contain truth which could be helpful. The delivery is self centred and destructive.

Equally, I know people who will never speak, on any subject, saying that it is none of their business and, as a result of their silence, do great damage, because they had a chance to rescue someone from danger by speaking truth, in love and walked away from that opportunity. They destroy communication because those who may be looking for the guidance of truth know they will not receive it and so will not open themselves up to the cold wall of silence.

There are also those who see truth around every corner and need to tell the other about it. Although they may be right about a lot of it, they don’t know how to pick the important things to address and so destroy others and the conduit of communication by appearing to nit-pick continually.

Truth is often the difficult element to define. Picking your nose at the table is something which is easily seen and defined as truth, you do it, we can all see you do and it cannot be denied. But what about attitudes, tones of voice, hidden agendas and the like? They are often our interpretation rather than actual fact. They are often arrived at by us assessing a situation based upon what WE would be doing or intending if we had instigated it. What is the truth of this situation?

Repeated patterns often reveal truth. Is this something which happens regularly? Or is it a one off? Is the result of this behaviour almost always the same? Does the person nearly always suffer in the same way? These pointers can help us define the truth in a situation, but nothing beats prayer. The request for insight to allow us to know the truth and then HOW to speak the truth in love will be the best way to know.

Once we have something to say we need to be fully submitted to the Lord before we say it. If there is anything of OUR agenda in it we need to step back and say nothing. Speaking truth, in love, is a rare occurrence, it is more common to erupt or remain silent. But if we truly love our brothers and sisters, we need to master the art, because when we do we will save them from a great deal of pain and suffering….if they will listen to us….and, conversely, they us. Truth, delivered in love, is the perfect formula for it being received; any other way and it will most likely be rejected.

IF we really love one another, as our Lord instructed us to, let us learn how to speak truth, but to speak it in love and to learn to hear love when it is spoken to us, with truth.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 27/09/2019

We will be first.

Did you know that to love it is also necessary to hate; to accept it is also necessary to reject?

True love does NOT accept the unacceptable, it rejects it utterly. Love which does not hate what is not love, is not, itself, love.

When we say “God is love” and mean that there is no anger, wrath, punishment or rejection in him, we have altered the very nature and character of God and made him false.

Love, which is truly love, hates sin and evil, rebellion and disobedience, it will pour out wrath on them and destroy them in every place they are found, be it in heaven or in the human heart. Only true love will do this, because only true love knows the damage they do and only true love, loves truly enough to destroy that which came to destroy those love, loves.
It is first upon the objects of true love that wrath, punishments and discipline are poured out, for the purpose of cleansing, refining and purifying. Only when the object of true love is cleansed can love flow, truly, in both directions.

If you have believed the story that God will never discipline or punish you, you have, albeit innocently, believed that he does not love you, despite being told that he does. It is not love to allow the object of love to do as it pleases, rebelling against the instructions of the Master of its soul and believing it will only be blessed for its behaviour. The full force of this reality will fall upon the people of God in the near future and those who will not listen to the warning will wonder what hit them.

If we will not be purified in partnership and co-operation with the fire of God, the same fire will fall upon us to destroy us. If we will not fall on the rock and be broken, that same rock will fall on us and crush us utterly.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 21/09/2019

Pampering will kill you.

I am often told I am very direct and that I should be more gentle in my words. This is an interesting comparison and one which can only be made if you have not actually heard me speak. ‘Direct’ and ‘harsh’ do not automatically go together. ‘Direct’ and ‘gentle’ are not automatic opposites.

Am I direct?Well, it depends upon to whom you compare me. In comparison to some; those who would pander to the ego, speak only smooth and pampering words, yes I am. However, compared to others, I am not. I have yet to call anyone “a pit of vipers” or “whitewashed tombs”.

Beware those who speak in smooth and flattering words, who pamper you with their tongues, “for such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites; by smooth and flattering words, deceiving the hearts of the simple-minded and naive”. I know a preacher who goes so far as to tell people that Jesus came to pamper you and you should just let him do that. My Bible tells me that he came as a refiner’s fire, to purify me, hone me, shape me and mould me into his own image, not deceive me with flattering words.

You see, when you listen to people who flatter you, who constantly tell you how wonderful you are, how perfect you are, how powerful you are (in the Lord, of course!), who tell you that “it is finished”, that “you have the mind of Christ” or that you just need to “rest in Christ”, that God’s grace is poured out upon you and he loves you no matter what, that all you need to do is “proclaim” this or “declare” that so that your life can be all you dreamed it could be, you are listening to lying words. You are setting your head in the lion’s mouth and you will find you are bitten. There is no truth in anything they say, although it may be said doused in syrup, it is lies nonetheless.

We need and, if we have a heart after God, want, the truth, spoken in love. The truth is direct, but it does not intentionally hurt. It is straight to the point, so that vision is clear, but it has no agenda but the benefit of the other. Truth wants to see all set free in Christ; flatterers actually don’t care about you they care about themselves, because they want to be seen as kind, gentle and loving people; but their tongues are forked.

The word which comes from God is sharper than any two-edged sword; it does not call evil, good or darkness, light. The Bible has a great deal to say about flattery, about smooth words which hide truth; here are a few:-

A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.

Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart.

A lying tongue hates its victims and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue.

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets”

His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

We are not talking about a kind word or a compliment, but about constant, continual, pampering with words. Many today seek this and believe it to be godly teaching; they are deceived. Seek the truth, spoken directly, but with love and you will find you are freer and able to mature faster than when you are tied to lies which keep you bound, blinded and bewitched.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 21/09/2019

Fruit, not testimonies or declaration of belief.

Many people seem to think that the most powerful evidence of a person’s relationship with God is their testimony. I don’t know how often I am told of how godly and amazing a person is, based upon the story they told about who they were and who they are now; yet the listener, who is in awe, does not know this person, nor has been witness to the change in this person. they just believe what they are told. Many think that when a person says they are a believer then everything which follows therefrom must, by default, be godly. After all, who lies about believing and, naturally, believing leads to godly living. No??

Neither of these ‘pieces of evidence’ are Scriptural.
People lie. Even the demons believe.

Paul gave ‘his testimony’ unwillingly. But the evidence of the change in him was the fruit. It is by their fruit which you shall know them, not by their long stories of how dreadful they were and how wonderful they are now; nor by protestations of their belief.

Fruit, church, fruit! Fruit is what you are seeking and if there is no fruit, according to the Scriptural evidence, there is no fruit and so there is no reason to believe them.

You do not know what I was like 30 years ago, so anything I tell you is utterly unreliable. If I proclaim to be a believer, as does one of whom I was recently told, and then “loves to celebrate Halloween” I am a liar and the truth is not in me. In order to be one of God’s people all the passions of the flesh need to be crucified, not glorified.

In case we are unsure what they are, Paul helps us by listing them. “Fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, faction, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like”.

This is what the Greek says about each of the words the translators chose.
FORNICATION…illicit sexual union…from the Greek word which gives us pornography. This is sex outside of the marriage union.
IMPURITY….physical and/or moral uncleanness. LICENTIOUSNESS….unbridled lust; basically, taking anything to excess. IDOLATRY…the placing of anything or anyone before God.
SORCERY…..the use of drugs and, by extension, magic. The Greek word is pharmakeia, which gives us pharmacy in English.
ENMITY….reasons for opposition.
STRIFE……wrangling and quarreling.
JEALOUSY…..excitement of mind and emotions, jealousy ( as in suspension of a spouse), zeal in any sense.
ANGER….bursts of rage or other passionate emotions.
SELFISHNESS….a desire to put one’s self first, to ally with a party and divisive spirits.
DISSENSION….creating division.
FACTIONS….creating or siding with sects, divisions, denominations or parties. The Greek is the word from which we get heresy.
ENVY….spite, ill-will.
DRUNKENNESS……intoxication from any source. The Greek is the first part of methamphetamine. It is not limited to alcohol and the use of Greek in pharmaceutical names, like pharmaceutical itself, indicate the drug nature of the problem.
CAROUSING……revelling, letting loose the control on emotions and actions. This comes from; but is not limited to; a very specific event of drunken orgies in honour of Baccus.
AND THE LIKE……you fill in the blanks.

This is how the world behaves in full or part, this is the fruit of the world. Fruit is produced season after season, not once in a while; not by mistake, but deliberately. If we see this kind of fruit in others they are not of God, never mind what they say. If we see them in ourselves we need to go before God and repent, because it is only by repentance that we can let go of them and be endowed with the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot produce apples, by nature, so long as our roots are from a pear tree.

Judge by the fruit, not by any other evidence and you will rarely find you have put your faith in someone who is false. Judge yourself by your fruit and you will have a barometer of where you are placing your faith.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 11/09/2019

Wake up, or I will come against you!

Several conversations over the past week have highlighted to me a situation which has concerned me for some years. It is a situation which has long infected the world but is more recent in the church. The issue is self deception.

There is a spirit of deception abroad in the world, but it has been at work there since the beginning. Today, however, it has slithered its way into the church and that concerns me more. God’s people are being deceived as never before in history and, what is worse they are deceiving themselves. This is all a result of not doing as God told us to do and separating ourselves from the world. By integrating into the world and the world into us there is now very little difference. The enormous problem with this situation is that the times and the seasons Jesus told us to watch for are going to be missed by millions who are deceived; in effect blinded, from the truth.

There are several good examples of what is happening on the deception front, but the fact that God ‘s people are being deceived should worry us desperately. The Americans have a President who lies so often that the institutes who have set about counting them say they have difficulty keeping up. Media and institutions around the world are all in agreement about his lying; the fact of the lies, the number of them and the effects of them; but the tendency of media to exaggerate stories to make money has played into his strategy of saying everything they say is ‘fake’ and, in effect, lies itself. So a liar has twisted truth and lies around and millions are deceived and worse, deceiving themselves, by refusing to believe the plain facts, because the people providing the facts have been branded as liars by a liar.

The diversity, inclusion, politically correct movement had deceived nations into believing that if we just force people to behave in ways they approve of we will rid the world of ‘isms’ and ‘ists’. The evil heart of man has never been changed by law and never will be. A hater will hate all the more when you force him to act other than his heart dictates.

In the church, the people are deceived into believing that the spirit which is leading their services is the Spirit of God, when it clearly is no such thing. Every rule of order is being broken, attitudes do not line up with those of our Lord and Saviour and teaching is more and more digressing from the Word. The church has long since left teetering along the narrow path and is dancing along the wide one with the rest of the world.

None of these things should surprise us and nor should, any, in and of themselves, concern us. It is all what we were told would happen. God is in control of it all. Donald Trump is, without a doubt, the man God chose to rule over the USA. Accepting every lunatic notion which passes through the heart of evil man and making it the latest law, is absolutely God’s plan. Having the church indistinguishable from the world was God’s intention from the beginning. The questions we need to ask ourselves are we seeing God’s plans playing out and do we understand what he is doing?

If you allow yourself to be deceived, or worse, deceive yourself you will be blind to what is happening in our day and why. You will be one of the congregation of the Church of Sardis, suddenly shocked out of your apathy by the arrival of a thief. Indeed, we do not know the day or the hour when he will arrive, but we are to be watching, preparing, anticipating his sudden appearing. Deception blinds and turns apathetic those who are victims of it. As Jesus himself said to the church in Sardis “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. WAKE UP and strengthen what remains, but is about to die…..If you will not wake up, I will come as a thief and you will not know at what hour I WILL COME AGAINST you”

For those who are asleep, deceived by the ways and wiles of the world he will come, suddenly and unexpectedly, AGAINST them. Not FOR them. Do not be deceived because the word calls those who are deceived, evil. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Why does it say that? It says that those who are deceived are evil because their own hearts are hearts of deceivers and they are simply following the lusts of their own hearts. We do not serve God by saying, “God is in charge, Jesus is coming” and being utterly ignorant of what is going on around us. We do not serve God by being aware of every nuance of worldly opinion and action and being terrified. We serve God by being aware, being ready and being educated. It is for his Bride he is coming but do not be deceived, that is NOT everyone who ever said, “Lord, Lord”; it is ONLY for those who are overcoming evil and the evil of today which is blinding believers, so they are not overcoming it, is deception.

Church, WAKE UP!

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 06/09/2019

Starving sheep, take heart.

When I first went to a North American church I was astonished at the amount of deafness which seems to affect the people. They shouted at one another and the preacher yelled at everyone. Weren’t hearing aids available in this part of the world? Was there a congenital problem affecting so many people?

In the years since that first, ear shattering, encounter, it seems the problem with deafness is getting worse. Music is louder than a 1970’s disco, preachers yell and foam at the mouth and everyone thinks this is normal. I have never once taught in a church or auditorium when I have not been asked to “Speak up!”. I will not do it.

Scots are, from most of the country at least, soft spoken. We do not need to yell at one another and, I find, that raising your voice just makes people accustomed to higher volume, so in time, they want it louder yet. I know someone whose first action after switching on the television is to turn up the volume. They do it every time they switch it on, so it is only when it is so loud that they get a start when the thing fires up and sound is produced, that they turn it down, in order to start the practice all over again next time.
Christians have become accustomed to this with the spread of the American church and its ways. The occasion on which I had to stay in the carpark for what they called, “the worship service” was in Scotland! Complaint was treated with derision and one person was told that “My god LOVES it”…which god would that be exactly? MY God, when he is interacting with HIS people to teach and call back to him, is not found in the thunder, hurricane or earthquake, he is a still, small voice, who speaks truth with love and is gentle of spirit.

God does not raise his voice to his children. He speaks softly and gently, but do not be deceived that his soft, gentle voice, will not carry correction and warning of impending punishment. His punishment will be found in the thunderous shaking, but his warning will precede it and be soft and gentle.
We have no recorded incidence of Jesus shouting at the people he was teaching, he was never harsh with his disciples He was patient and kind and loving, but when Peter was the one used to tempt him, he was swift and to the point is his rebuke, “Get thee behind me, hasatan!”.

The juggernaut of false teaching has careered through the years, as people have sought to “find themselves”, in Ashrams in the ’50’s; to bring to the world, love, free and for all, in the ’60’s; to reject all the standards and methods of their parents in the ’70’s and ’80’s and now, today, we have a kind of anarchy which no one seems to understand. All the spirits, gathered by seeking truth from the world, have become the spirits which have infected the church and are teaching truth to God’s people. This truth is not Truth at all, but deception. The world has infected the church because the church would not set herself apart from it. Worldly wisdom has replaced godly wisdom, worldly values, replaced godly values and worldly solutions and replaced godly solutions.

God’s sheep are starving, they are thirsty and they have nowhere to lie down. They are muddly and tired, they need a good shepherd to come and take care of them, but the Shepherd says, “My sheep know my voice and they come to me when I call them”. The sheep have for so long been deafened by the din, lead astray and starved that they are weak and wandering, unable to hear his still, small, call. He is saying today, “I will rescue my sheep and I will feed them. I will lead them by still waters where they may quench their thirst and I will feed them in green pastures. They will have lush warm lands to lie down in and rest in peace. My sheep will know my voice and they will come to me when they hear me. But from the shepherds, I will demand an answer, “What have you done with my sheep? Why have you listened to the voices of demons and followed false spirits? You have lead them into idolatry and fornication, you have taught them to worship self instead of me; this is why they cannot hear my voice any longer! Be men, stand up and answer me!”

In that day when I question the shepherds few will stand, many will fall and I will not rescue them. The sheep who have worshipped and followed the evil shepherds, who have not even listened to hear my voice will fall with them, but my sheep who have longed for me to come, I will rescue. They are mine and I will care for them. In the day when I come to my flock I will rescue her and feed her, I will heal her wounds and I will give her rest. They cannot move on with me until they are cleaned and feed on good food.
But woe to the shepherds”, says the Lord.

If you are a sheep, tired, fed up of fast food and sweet rubbish, longing to see your Lord and Saviour come to lead you to good pastures, take heart; he is coming. Incline your ear and listen for his whispering call. He is not far off, he will not tarry, he will come.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 28/08/2019

On your bike!

Having turned from our path in the kingdom of this world, having been cleansed by baptism in water and in the Spirit, we now embark on a whole new life. We are, to utilise a well used phrase, born again. We get to begin all over again with a clean slate. However, we still have a problem, we remain human.

We are not presented with a package deal; everything we will require for the rest of our lives all handed to us, with our dry clothes and a Gideon’s New Testament. This new life has to be lived, just as the old one had to be, step by step.

Many people believe, because they are being taught it is so, that they DO have a package deal; that all is complete and all they have to do is wait for either the death of this body, or Jesus’ return, to whisk them off to eternal bliss. What a waste of a new opportunity!

I liken the new life to riding a bike. We arrive at the gates of a mansion on a vast estate and the gatekeeper gives us all brand new bikes. The problem is, none of us can ride a bike. What to do? Many will sit and admire their new bike, many will walk it around a bit but they aren’t too keen on getting on the thing. Some will straddle it and walk, but as they have no balance they can’t pedal it. However, a few will have a go at using the pedals. This will, invariably, involve falling off, scraping their knees and, possibly, scratching the paintwork of the cycle.

For many, sitting on the grassy bank watching, this will be enough to convince them that they have the rights of it and admiring their lovely, unscratched cycle is the better plan. Some who were straddling their machines will conclude that those pedals are dangerous things, not to be used under any circumstances. But for some others, they will wonder if there might be a way to make this thing work.

It is perfectly possible that many, who were willing to risk all by using the pedals, will, ultimately, get the thing going and manage to stay on. But, if they come to understand that co-operation will pay dividends, they may organise themselves to help another balance until they get going and then catch them when they need a rest. Supporting one another in this manner will eventually enable everyone, who is giving this a bash, the chance to master the process and become a cyclist.

You see, there are a few important points to being a cyclist.

1. No one who is given a bike for the first time is a cyclist.
2. Cycling takes time to learn.
3. Cycling requires balance.
4. Balance is achieved after much wobbling about, over correcting and falling off. This is normal.
5. Co-operation with like minded, patient and compassionate people will pay dividends faster than going it alone.
6. One has to be willing to risk it to learn to cycle. You WILL fall; you WILL get hurt.
7. Your bike WILL get scratched and possibly bashed. That’s okay.

In the end, the ones who get to explore the farthest reaches of the estate and find their way to the Mansion for tea are those who get on their bikes and learn to ride them.

Life in The Kingdom is JUST like that. Go for it. Do NOT sit down and marvel at the gift you have been given; use it. Help one another; it may be your turn to crash next, so be kind. Ask for help when you need it, but be willing to graciously give it when someone else needs it. Never be ashamed of falling off, but always be willing to get back on.

NEVER throw away the bike.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 27/08/2019

To whom was it written?

I am doing a series of teachings on John 3:16 on my facebook page and this is the latest.

The word “Gospel” as in “The Gospel of Mark” only occurs in one of the first four books of the NT and it is with Mark. Matthew, Luke and John were never considered as Gospels by their writers. Gospel means “good news” and they all contain good news, but not all in the same way.

Matthew was written for new, Jewish, believers. It tells of what Jesus said on the subject of living in the Kingdom of God. It was written to those who had entered the Kingdom and now needed instructions on how to live in it. This is NOT a book to give non-believers as they will become TOTALLY confused. None of the instructions in it are for them, none apply to them. Mature believers don’t need this book as they should already be living as established citizens of the Kingdom, but new believers need this book very much.

Mark is about what Jesus did, rather than what he said. It is a full action book which is gripping and packed to the gunwales with ‘doing’. This is also a book of living in the Kingdom, but in quite a different way to Matthew.

Luke is about what he said, like Matthew. It is full, not of action, but of words, of teaching.

But John is different altogether. 
John was written for mature believers and absolutely NOT for those seeking, unbelieving, or, new to the faith…..why? …..because it is about love and God’s love can ONLY be understood when you are already in his Kingdom. It has no meaning beyond humanistic meaning when you are outside of it. To use John as an evangelistic tool is to twist God’s word and to give the impression; as the church has been doing for hundreds of years; that the gospel begins and ends with God’s love. It doesn’t it beings and ends with his righteousness.

John is about who Jesus WAS, not what he said or did. John uses the imperfect tense more than any other writer of so-called Gospels. John is telling his readers, “Keep going. You have begun, but it isn’t finished yet. You believed, you repented, but you need to keep repenting (not for the things already repented of, of course.). This is a walk, brothers and sisters, KEEP walking. You are now in the Kingdom, you have understood His love, but remain in it. Pick up those weary legs and walk on, until the end”.

He was combating false teaching, he was urging his readers to never give up or grow weary. His whole point was to encourage those who, through long years, were weary. NOT to entice in those who were outside.

If we take John 3:16 and make it something Jesus said, (he didn’t, John did. Jesus stopped speaking at the end of verse 15) and we make it “the gospel in a nutshell”, we have created a gospel which focuses on the cross and not the resurrection and ascension. We deny people the key to the Kingdom, which is repentance, not love. Love is a benefit of being IN the Kingdom, not the key to getting in.

Jesus spoke to a non-believer by the name of Nicodemus and told him how he could experience new life. He had to begin again. Turn from the route he was taking, be baptised in the water and the Spirit and begin again in a new Kingdom. “How on earth is that possible?” asked Nicodemus. “By looking at the serpent on the pole” replied Jesus. Nicodemus knew EXACTLY what Jesus was talking about. He understood 100%; which most modern believers don’t. Jesus was saying, “Look at the one who will be pierced for you and REPENT”. You can read about it in Number 21.

Then John adds a footnote; so to speak; to this reply and says, “In the same manner as that brass serpent, God; on one occasion; held up his only natural Son. The serpent required repentance to be effective, so does the Son. Those who then continue on the path of belief in what that Son did, until the end, will inherit eternal life. This is how God showed his agape (self-sacrificial love) for the whole cosmos.”

John is indeed a letter of love, but it is ONLY for those who already are walking the path of forgiveness, mercy and grace. ONLY they can understand the love of God and only they will find, knowing that love keeps changing them. It is NOT for the non-believer because it has no power to change him when it is not preceded by turning.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 15/08/2019

I had been asked so many questions regarding my last post, on Fro Freedom Alone on Facebook, that I have removed it and will start again, attempting to answer the questions as I go.

The question was, “Where in the Bible will you find a quote telling you about the “unconditional love of God”?” and the answer was, “You won’t”.
There is no verse which tells us that God’s love is unconditional. Love, by any definition, is not unconditional. Love, if it is love, always has conditions, otherwise, it is licence, in effect abuse, and no longer love.

It is not love to let a child do whatever comes into its head. It is not love to allow someone to behave in ways which are destructive to them and others. It is not love to always sanction whatever the object of your love wants. This concept of love has grown, over a number of decades, and it started in the USA. That is a fact, it is not a prejudice. It is as unemotional as saying, pasta comes from China and adding emotion to that statement will only lead to more deception.

It matters not to us whether this twisting of the meaning of love and the addition of the concept that this twisted love is unconditional, came from American or the moon, the fact is it came and, knowing from where it came, gives us an alert to watch for more of the same. It is simply a fact that the American Gospel teaches the unconditional love of God and the Bible does not.

God said he loved his people yet he brought trouble and destruction on them, in degrees which are very hard to imagine, when they turned from him, disobeying his commands and worshipping idols. Deuteronomy and Ezekiel among others clearly describe the horrors which God will visit on the Israelites if they turn from him. They did and they have reaped what they have sown; when they turn back they will reap a different harvest, but his love was never unconditional. We are in no different a boat. If you sow the wind you will reap the whirlwind, be you Jew or Gentile, synagogue or church. What arrogance to think that the Almighty God will love us, who call ourselves his church, when we recreate him in the image of our imaginations, disobey his clear commands and live unholy lives? The Israelites were given to us as an example…not just an example of how God loves, but also of how God judges and punishes; of the standard he expects from his people; of the consequences of obeying him and disobeying him; of the false teachings which lead his people astray and of how to return to him. We don’t have a clue about this example or how it helps us because few are reading the Bible from cover to cover and few are teaching the verses in context. This is another modern, American, approach. A complete lack of understanding of what Paul was doing when he quoted one verse has lead to the picking of a verse here and another there and, in time, the cohesive wholeness has been lost.

When you tell people that God’s love is unconditional you are totally twisting God’s character. He will receive back his repentant children, that is why he made a way for them to come back; he will heal and deliver those who turn and obey, but to say he loves unconditionally is to tell people that he will love you in your sin. He cannot do that. He HATES sin, he will ultimately destroy it, it will be wiped out of existence, his son died to remove it from us, how on earth can he love us when we live in it? It is utterly impossible. Unless you understand that God’s love involves discipline, punishment, correction and repentance.

God’s love is a combination of his blessings and his curses. When you redefine his love as being his blessings you twist it and set people up to believe that they will never come under his curses. In fact, the American Gospel teaches that Jesus took all the curses and, therefore, we who believe he is the son of God are freed from them. This is more twisting. Galatians says that it is those who are of faith who will be blessed, like Abraham. Those who are of faith like Abraham, who will be blessed; faith, which is belief backed up by action. Action without belief is “works of the law”, belief without actions is dead. People who have the kind of faith of Abraham, who live in obedience to God, trusting him no matter what he tells them to do and no matter how hopeless the situation seems, will be blessed, just like Abraham. Paul is using typical Hebraic teaching. He leads you in a certain path, but all the time painting a picture of the parallel path of which he never speaks. If you have faith like Abraham…belief backed up by action…you will be blessed; BUT, if you either have no faith but lots of action, or lots of faith without any action, you will not be blessed. Jesus took the curses of the faithful, but he did not take the curses of the unfaithful. Faith needs action. Faith and action need to be a way of life. The way of life leads to eternal blessing because you are walking in “The Way” of “The Life of God”.

The teaching that God’s love is unconditional has the knock-on effects of removing the vital emphasis on repentance, the understanding of God’s judgement on sin and the unrepentant sinner. Without repentance there is no possibility of a relationship with God and, therefore, no possibility of being a recipient of his blessings. His blessings are not for everyone, they are reserved for his faithful children; faithful means faithful to him, not to our ideas of him, it involves complete obedience and exclusive worship of him, of walking in the paths of righteousness, of walking in “The Way”.

Repentance does not mean, as so many say, “changing your mind”, it means “changing your ways”. Of course, changing your ways begins with changing your mind, but changing your mind is only the first step. I have taught it as changing your mind, but when I realised that so many didn’t understand that as a first step, but as a destination, I stopped. Changing our ways is the only way to be in right relationship with God. However, changing anything begins with a change of heart.

If you say you believe in Jesus but are living in the world you will see few of God’s blessings. Do you still watch television programmes and films portraying sex, violence and other ungodly practices? Do you talk like the people of the world you know? Is “Oh my God!” your favoured expression of shock or surprise?” Do you turn a blind eye to brothers and sisters going off course because it is none of your business? None of us are perfect, despite what the American Gospel proclaims and we need one another to help us all on our walk. We need to keep one another on tract, so that we are in line to receive God’s blessings, which are as conditional as his love. Telling you they are unconditional is not keeping you on track it is leading you off it.

Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: