Works, that’s a funny sounding word when you just say it out loud.
This little word can have a variety of meanings.
A computer “works,” meaning it operates.
A municipality has public “works,” the infrastructure, built to support the smooth operation of a community.
A person “works,” meaning they put forth labor to produce something.
A religious person might perform good “works” or good “deeds,” meaning they are performing a religious activity or action for the purpose of pleasing God.
The Go-To Word!
When we have that debate about God’s requirement that a person must be baptized to be saved, it is often to this word, “works,” the argument turns. The anti-baptists say, “Man cannot be saved by works.”
I can’t argue with that statement.
They are correct because the Bible teaches, “Man cannot be saved by works.”
Surprisingly, both the anti-baptism folks and the folks who believe that baptism is indeed necessary for salvation agree on this point. We cannot be saved by works… so, what’s the problem?
The problem is we have not defined the meaning of the word, “works.”
What is a “work?”
Well, it depends on the “word use.” You know how the word is being used. This depends heavily on the context of where and how the word is being used.
If we are using the word “work” to refer to a “good deed” someone does in order to gain favor with God, that’s a different “word use” than if we say, “We are working FOR God” as God commands us to do.
Is Prayer a Work?
For example, when Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We don’t consider his instructions to mean we are to perform some kind of good deeds kind of work. We see his instructions and we are obligated to obey, to the best of our ability. In this case we might say to a friend, “I have really been working in prayer for you.” Click here to read the rest of this post.
John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
This passage of scripture is used by the evangelical church to demonstrate that a person becomes a Christian when they accept Christ for the first time. A popular metaphorical formula was developed, probably in the 60’s to help people remember this plan of salvation. It reads like this: “Believe + Receive = Become.” In other words, if you believe in Christ and you receive Christ, you become a Christian. The problem is, this formula is wrong.
Grammar 101 – Verbs
The verb is not “become,” it is “gave.” When you believe and receive, God gives you something. He gives you the “right” to become. We don’t “become” anything upon our decision to receive the message with an open heart. While it may be true that God gives us a new gift, the “right to become his child,” this is not yet salvation!
The problem with this form of teaching lies in the conclusion it offers. The conclusion the Evangelical world presents is that a person is saved when they receive Christ. This is wrong; dangerously wrong.
The Wrong Path
When a person is taught they become a Christian when they first believe and receive, it sets them on a false path to Heaven. Just think about it. If I follow this unbiblical practice and believe I am saved at the time of my acceptance there is no point in a variety of other commands Jesus gave his disciples which always precede the forgiveness of sins. Because I believe I am already a Christian, what is the point of confession, repentance and baptism, all of which precede the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, when we look at those issues in the Bible.
Following this incomplete pattern does not lead to salvation. Yet this pattern is presented, practice and promoted, with vigor, by most Evangelicals today. It bears a striking resemblance to a pattern Jesus identified in his own ministry. Take a look. Click here to read the rest of this post.
Editor’s Note: This is the audio from the first lesson about The Biblical Plan of Salvation . You may view the entire video series starting HERE.
You know, many people believe the United States is still a Christian nation.
But, I’ll bet you didn’t know Christianity is a dead religion! Yes. You heard that correctly. Christianity is a dead religion. And believe it or not, that’s a good thing! Now, that statement might surprise you. But, what if I told you that in three minutes from now, you will not only agree with that statement but you may actually be excited about what this could mean for your own personal walk with God?
Intrigued? Lets go!
Origins of the Bible
As you might know, the original Bible texts were written in Hebrew and Greek.
In the fourth century, a fellow named Jerome, translated the Bible into the Latin language. The Latin translation of the Bible is called the Vulgate.
Latin, in Jerome’s time, was the common language of the Roman Empire. Latin is such a precise language that it’s still valuable today. The medical community, the legal system and many other disciplines use Latin words and phrases.
It’s even on our money “e pluribus unum,” which means, out of many we are one. Even though Latin is such a powerful useful language, every scholar will confidently tell you “Latin is a dead language!”
Obviously, this does not mean Latin is no longer used. It means, the language stopped growing nearly two thousand years ago. People stopped speaking it. Today, no one speaks Latin as their native language. All the words, the phrases, the idioms, figures of speech… it all got locked down. Nothing new was created.
As a result, the latin language became sort of an ancient linguistic boundary stone which can’t be moved. Words and phrases that existed back then, mean exactly the same thing today and they will mean exactly the same thing a thousand years for now. The grammar of Latin is so well established that there is no confusion as to meanings or definitions.
So, Latin is a dead language and that’s a good thing because… when your doctor uses a Latin phrase as he communicates with your pharmacist, the meaning is clear and you are safe!
Hopefully you see where I’m going with this.
Dead Things Don’t Move!
The same principal is true regarding the Christian religion! When God gave us the Bible, He locked it down! The teachings, practices and doctrines of the Christian religion were clearly established and they will never change. Just as Latin is a dead language, Christianity is a dead religion. It is locked down!
Now notice, I did not say, Christianity is dead. No way! Christianity is alive and well and thriving in many places. But unlike Latin, which hasn’t changed, modern Christianity has been the victim of massive and destructive changes in its teachings, doctrines and practices.
The Bible teaches us that Satan counterfeits Christianity. Over the years, he has been tragically effective.
Think about this. There are thousands and thousands of churches in the United States. There are hundreds of denominations, claiming to follow the Bible, but they all teach different things! How can this be? If Christian doctrines, practices and teachings were locked down 2000 years ago how would something change? Well, careless people changed it!
Denominations: Not in the Bible!
One group of Christians wanted to do something one way, another group wanted to do things another way and over time, factions developed. In essence, these probably well meaning folks ignored the “locked down” teachings which the Apostles established, and made changes to religious practices for a variety of reasons. Take a look at this scripture from First Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Christianity is no longer “perfectly united in mind in thought.” It has given way to a wide variety of factions. Today, we call these factions denominations.
Do you know that the concept of a Christian denomination is nowhere to be found in the Bible? In fact, when you consider the passage we just looked at, factions go against what the Bible teaches.
The Bible speaks of only one church, the Lord’s church… and that church historically follows the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Over the centuries, a wide range of unbiblical religious traditions have taken root. Some of these traditions are actually treated with the same authority as the Bible.
What would Christianity look like if we stripped away 2000 years of candle wax and man made traditions? I can tell you from personal experience, it is “blow away” amazing and wildly different from modern evangelical Christianity!
Bible Names for Bible Things
Let’s be honest. If we are not practicing Christianity as described in the Bible, are we truly a Christian? Would you call someone a real plumber who does not install or fix pipes according to proper plumbing codes? Would you call someone a carpenter if they have never been taught how to work with wood?
Why would we call someone a Christian if they are not following or obeying the original Biblical teachings or plans? Well, the truth is, we shouldn’t and in reality, we don’t! We’ve created new names like Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal or Catholic. Have you ever wondered what happened to just being a Christian?
In today’s religious world, people rarely check out what the Bible says or question what their Priest or Pastor has taught them. Folks blindly follow religious practices and traditions which seem absolutely right, feel right and even seem to have solid Biblical basis; but in fact are small and sometimes large distortions of what the Bible actually teaches.
Satan holds people so close to the truth, it’s extremely difficult to detect his lies. Think about it. In order for a counterfeit to be effective, it must look and feel exactly like the real thing, right?
Lame counterfeits convince nobody!
Today, millions of people are fooled by a counterfeit form of Christianity. This fake is so close to the truth, so emotionally confirming and so full of joy, few people bother to check back to the boundary stone of the Bible to test, compare and challenge their beliefs. We have become like ostriches with our heads in the sand.
Compounding the problem is a pervasive worldly attitude in the church which says, “Everyone’s opinions or preferences are equally valid so it does not matter how you worship God. Everybody is just fine. It doesn’t matter.”
How can that be acceptable if we are not doing what God has asked us to do? Can we practice a counterfeit form of Christianity and not have some consequence? This is a huge problem! If what I am saying is true, this counterfeiting is the most dangerous lie in modern history because of it’s eternal consequences.
You know, counterfeiting currency is a huge problem and the US government takes great strides to prevent it and make it harder for people to produce fake money.
What if I gave you a $100.00 bill? I’d be your best friend, right? But then you took it to the bank and found out it was fake! Only an expert was able to spot the difference.
Now, what if I gave you a $100.00 bill that was beautifully drawn with a green crayon… that would be lame and you would never believe it. No, in order to be believable, a counterfeit needs to be very, very convincing. This is Satan’s main method of operation. He is a liar and his craft is counterfeiting!
Many sincere, God fearing, God loving, well intentioned folks accept this counterfeit form of Christianity and as a result are on that road… that broad road, which leads to destruction because they have never been equipped with the information you are about to receive and so been able to carefully examine the scriptures to discover the truth for themselves. They can’t distinguish the real from the fake.
Nothing has changed in 2000 years.
Think about it. If the Bible is God’s word and that word presents a simple, clear, plan of salvation, shouldn’t we still be following that plan, even after 2000 years? Frankly, I know of no modern denomination which holds to and teaches this Biblical plan of salvation.
Honestly, this really should come as no surprise. Remember, Jesus said we should be looking for a narrow road, not that wide road that everybody else is on. You are about to see just how narrow the road really is and it will absolutely shock you!
In the next few videos, I want to show you this Biblical plan of salvation… a plan that is so simple and so easy to understand that even a child can understand it. Yet, believe it or not, it is absolutely missed… or rejected… by even our best Biblical scholars.
It’s a Biblical secret that’s hiding in plain sight which you can easily learn and follow, if you have a heart that is willing to listen. Jesus said, we must have the heart of a child! And, as you may know, it’s the heart of a child that the teachers and scholars of Jesus day were missing. It’s no different today.
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Not suitable for a “mature” audience! A kid can explain it.
Well, thanks for watching. I have a lot more to share with you but, at this point, I’ve gotta provide a warning. The material you are about to see is so controversial and so challenging, it would be really detrimental to your spiritual well being if you don’t approach this with the right heart. The apostle Peter said it would be better for you not to know what you are about to learn than to learn it and not obey it.
In all likelihood, as you watch the next few videos, you are going to discover that you are doing some religious things wrong or have fallen victim to Satan’s counterfeit. How will you respond if you discover you are wrong? Will you get mad? Will you debate? Will you be apathetic? Or will you have that child-like heart that says, “I am open to the possibility that I could be wrong.”
And, if you decide that you have been wrong, understand something really amazing and wonderful…
God Brought You Here
It is God who has brought you to this point in your spiritual journey. It is no accident that you discovered this video. It is God who has patiently, gently led you to this exact time in your life, when you can hear something you have never heard before and as a result, experience a relationship with Him, which you have never known because you did not have the information you are about to learn.
If you made a sincere decision to follow Christ, even many years ago, do you think God is finished teaching you new things? Do you still have a soft enough heart, which will humbly respond to His Spirit calling you to make radical new changes? What do you have to loose? If you truly love God don’t you think He wants you to take it higher?
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, if you feel like you are being hammered by trial after trial in your life and it seems like God is absolutely absent… these lessons may provide a critical missing piece of the puzzle and give you the hope that you really can have “life to the full”. You don’t have to continue living in spiritual frustration.
Just Let the Scriptures Speak.
What we are about to do is let the scriptures speak. What you are about to see is not my opinion or some religious organizations opinion. We will use the scriptures and the scriptures only and let them be our guide. We will use logic and reason as we pursue this “secret hidden in plain sight.”
Let me present my case and you decide if it makes sense. As always, it is up to you to carefully evaluate and pray about the things you learn. It has always been and will always be your relationship with God and your decision as to how you will follow him. So, if we are using the Bible and praying for insight, why would God not honor our request to grow and learn more about His mysterious ways?
I believe it is possible to return to a form of Christianity as described in the Bible by simply following the plan which was established 2000 years ago. That Plan has never changed. Your denominational minister or pastor does not follow or understand this plan, and even if they did, they can not teach it.
They must do what the hierarchy of their denomination tells them to do or they will lose their position. Frankly, given the choice between losing my position or following God’s will, I will always choose God’s will as revealed in the Bible. Somehow, I think God has a really special way of blessing people who are willing to obey His word with all their heart especially when the risk is great.
Don’t you see? God is tapping you on the shoulder. It’s time to do something great! He is laying an opportunity at your door-step which may just be the answer you have been looking for. Are you ready?
I pray that you are open, humble and ready to learn some amazing OLD things.
Be prepared to take your life with God to a level you never thought possible. In the next video, let’s prepare a great foundation for our lessons. Let’s do the important, and just a little bit tedious work of establishing some basic grammar.
I promise you, even a lesson on grammar may be quite eye opening!
Well, buckle-up and let’s get growing… and by the way… Welcome to a Faith that Obeys!
Today’s lesson is something which has been on my heart for years. I have shared the Biblical Plan of Salvation with many religious leaders, pastors and elders over the years. They are pretty quick to reject it. The one common factor in each case was their lack of willingness to listen to me… to hear me out.
Several years ago, I was amazed when I discovered that the Bible actually talks about this condition quite a bit so I thought I might share that lesson with you today.
Have you ever considered the critical emphasis, the Bible places on our ability or our willingness to “listen?”
From the opening accounts of Genesis where Adam and Eve listened to… but chose not to obey God’s commands, to the very end of the ages where the angel of Revelation tells us, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches;” there is an extraordinary and unmistakeable emphasis placed on our need to constantly listen for God’s direction and commands.
Regarding God’s directions, sometimes the message comes from the most unexpected place. This is why we must always be on our toes… carefully listening. Once, God’s direction came from from a burning bush. Once it came by way of a gentle whisper. Once, it happened all over Pharaoh in the form ten plagues. Godly advice even came from Jethro, Moses father-in-law, who was a pagan priest of Median, not a Jew.
Sometimes Godly direction or prompting comes through that patient small voice of a neighbor, close relative or even a child. God’s message might come to us in a variety of ways but the only reliable verification of what we hear are the scriptures themselves. Not every prompting which seems to come from God is from God. And, we must always carefully test the message.
The only way we can ever be sure is by carefully evaluating what we hear by exposing it to the light of scripture. While God providing direction might come from a variety of sources… God’s commands… which must be obeyed… will ONLY come from the Bible.
We must carefully listen for both God’s direction and commands. Let me present a few passages of scripture and consider just how critical listening is, EVEN for salvation. Click here to read the rest of this post.
Everyone agrees; it is a serious thing to misquote scripture. Jer 14:14 and Deu 18:20 tells us about that! However, scripture is often misused and misquoted. There are a handful of favorites. How about, “Money is the root of all evil?” That’s a misquote. The Bible actually says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Money itself is not the problem, the problem is greed. (1 Timothy 6:10)
Misusing or misquoting the Bible is commonplace. It can be excused when coming from an atheist and frankly, an atheist using the bible as his source of authority when arguing about a religious matters ought to be excused. Misquoting the bible can be understood when when it comes from a believer who is not really familiar with the scriptures. But misquoting the bible should never be tolerated when it comes from some of our greatest and most trusted biblical scholars!
A Stunning Revelation
Recently, in the course of my regular, daily Bible study, I was absolutely stunned when I realized how pervasive, entrenched and completely accepted one particular misquote has become. Entire denominations have been built around this misquote. Yet, when I stopped to really think about it, I was left flabbergasted. How could a biblical error so obvious be so missed and even accepted by some of our best biblical scholars?
Let me give you a bit of perspective and let’s see if you are not as shocked as I was when this dawned on me. When a scripture is misquoted, by definition this means the misquote is not from God. It is a twisting of the truth. We should never tolerate or accept that, right? This particular misquote leads people astray. This misquote is vigorously protected and defended, sometimes with great emotion. It is wildly popular. It is used in nearly every church. It has stood the test of time. It has been lauded and embraced by some of the greatest bible teachers and preachers in history. Many prominent scholars claim it as an infallible doctrine of holy writ… but, they are wrong. Do I have your attention?
The web site is coming together nicely. I have forums up and running and organized the way I hope helps folks find things easily. I just got a new Google Voice Number which is 304-607-2386 or 304-607-AFTO and I have added that to the contacts page… which is also new. Just by clicking the phone number above, you can now leave a voice mail comment or suggestion.
On the Contacts Page, you will find links to just about every imaginable avenue with which you may contact AFTO. You can email us, snail mail us, drop us a voice mail, get involved in The Forums and more. I am even looking for like-minded contributors. You’ll find all that info on the Contact Page.
I have reworked the Podcast Page and it is looking pretty spiffy. On that page, you can find links to subscribe to the Podcast through iTunes, Android, Google Play,Stitcher, Email or a plain ol’ RSS feed, so you can subscribe from any of your favorite Podcatcher Apps. Podcasting is such an under-estimated technology. The fact that AFTO is on the same playing field as CNN, The New York Times, Grace to You and a multitude of other media and religious organizations just boggles my mind! Podcasting and Blogging both give the average Joe a soapbox to the world. Amazing!
I have two new Podcasts I am working on. The first one is “How to Argue” and the second one is “Defining Grammar.” Those are working titles and will probably change. I am not currently working on any new video’s just yet, but you will notice that I mention… in the last video about baptism, called, “Faith Alone – The Grammar,” that we are about to discuss the most prominent scriptures used by the Evangelical Community in their position. That’s the next video. (I just got a haircut so I need to let it grow back in just a bit so matches the other videos before I go back into the studio.) Speaking of editorial issues…
I have been alerted to a error in a couple of the AFTO videos. I called the word “and” a preposition. How did I do that? I know it’s a conjunction! I even correctly call it a “coordinating conjunction” right after one of the incidences. This means, I need to go back to the original videos, re-record that brief section, then edit, crunch and upload the fixed copy back to the server. Why do we always spot typos and mis-speaks after the thing has gone to press? I guess that’s why God gave us second editions.
By the way, does it ever bother you that the Bible you read every day just might be a second edition printing? Just asking.
I am not suggesting the kind of heart ripping, character trashing, irrational, sort of emotional argument like cranky lover’s have. Let’s start an argument like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle or Jesus might have had. Let’s start one of those amazing arguments which ultimately leads us both down a path toward deeper, richer discoveries of truth, beauty and wisdom… a grand argument of enlightenment!
Remember how Jesus did it? An issue was raised and all he needed to do was ask one question to get the rolling ball halted in its tracks.
“But what about you… who do YOU say I am?”
“Whose inscription is on this coin?”
“Tell me, John’s baptism… was it from God or from men?”
A Cleverly Crafted Question
Wow! A good presupposition can sure crumble under the scrutiny of a clever question! In fact, really good arguments may be more about crafting the question than presenting your position! A carefully crafted, sharpened to a fine point question… at just the right time… makes us think… makes us reconsider… and if we’re humble enough, makes us surrender our weaker positions.
Let’s have the kind of argument which so strongly embraces our shared quest of drawing closer to our mysterious and majestic God, that it forms a bond between us… so strong; nothing will ever tear us apart! Let’s forge such an indomitable relationship that the rusty ol’ gates of that ancient abyss will rattle with fear! Click here to read the rest of this post.
“A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”
With this statement, Frank Herbert launches his fantastic, now quintessential epic science fiction series, “Dune.”
For me, no other tale paints such an on-target caricature of modern society, with all of it’s delicate and intricate interplays between, religion, politics, economics and the sinful heart of mankind. Herbert’s universe is boiling over with intrigue, plans within plans, amazing beauty, wild imagination, heroes and villains… lot’s of villains… lords, leviathans, and love.
But, at the heart of it all… at its core… lies humanity’s ultimate contest; the battle with a fallen human nature, scraping and cunning to get all it can get and all for itself. Even the noblest of heroes in Herbert’s story, are not immune to the affects of this corruption.
As I write this, I am not unaware that I live in a world similar, in many ways, to the Dune universe. We all share the impact of that ultimate human tragedy; man’s inhumanity to man, the result of our sin stricken hearts.
“A Faith that Obeys” steps into this fray with a tiny hope that together, we might bring some logic, reason, understanding and wisdom to a world missing the greatest gift ever given it, The Plan… a detailed map out of the mess. We have held The Plan in our hands for nearly 2000 years but sadly, it is ignored, twisted, misconstrued and flouted as a path to self serving riches.
Never has such gross negligence been laid upon the back of such a priceless yet humble gift.
Beginnings are a very delicate time. They lay the foundation for all which will come after. They build upon cherished history and the wisdom of those giants who have come before us. My prayer is that for all I am about to do… all I am about to undertake, the foundation I build will be strong enough to endure, supple enough to permit remodeling and beautiful enough to attract a wonderful person like you to join us in these lively discussions.
Together, we will bend space and time. We will build bridges and repair ancient foundations. We will agree. We will disagree. We will find truth. We will humbly challenge error… including our own!
In our quest to discover and celebrate The Plan, let’s agree to be unified that Jesus is the Christ, The Messiah and our diligent seeking will always be done in such a way as to honor Him and respect one another.