Just Some Random Thoughts About The Bible

Category: Journey

Scripture

Remember that one teacher you had that would ask a question but not give you the answer? Something like, “Why is your reflection in a mirror backwards left to right but not up and down?” And then you and your friends would be thinking about it all day until you came up with theories and eventually (hopefully) the answer. How much more effective was that, than the teacher who just read everything out of a book? Chances are you still remember those questions you spent all day pondering, even today. Why did I bring that up? I’ll explain in a minute.

The topic of “Scripture” can sometimes be a little dry and dull, but I think it’s really important to look at because I believe that, more than any other reason, misunderstanding What is Scripture leads to a blind acceptance of whatever we’re taught. I say this because I’m guilty of it in my own life. I was taught that my Bible was the entire, infallible Word of God. It’s an “all or nothing” proposition; either accept every single word, or reject every single word. But why do we think this? 

I don’t want to get into some of the deep details of scripture and Bible history, like evaluating different translations or how we know if any of it is accurate. There are tons of articles that answer all of those questions; and I am very confident that what we hold today has been carefully handed down through the generations, and is extremely accurate and authentic. But whether every single word is divinely inspired is a completely different question, and that is what I’d like to talk about here.

I think the first place to start is asking, what is The Holy Bible as we know it today?

What we know as the “Old Testament” is more accurately defined as the original Hebrew Bible. We know from history, that in the time of Jesus the Jewish people accepted something very close to the 39 books we have in our Old Testament today. (If you want to dive deeper into this, look up the Hebrew Bible Canon and the Jewish historian, Josephus.) There are four parts: The Torah, or The Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy); Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther); Wisdom Books or The Writings (Job, Psalms, Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon/Song of Songs); and The Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).

With the exception of Esther, which was not yet considered canon at that time, these books are the books that Jesus and His Apostles considered “Scripture”. Anytime you see someone in the New Testament mention, “scripture”, these are the 39 books they would be referencing. When Jesus taught in the temple, these are the books He taught from. When His Apostles speak of verifying their claims in scripture, these are the books they are telling you to validate their words by. It is very important that we understand that as we evaluate the New Testament. Everything that Jesus said and everything His Apostles said have to be confirmed by what is written in “Scripture”; the 39 books that comprise our Old Testament.

I can’t reiterate the point above enough. One of the most important things we need to do is get rid of the notion that the books in the New Testament are “Scripture”. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that we need to throw away the New Testament! I believe the New Testament is very important to understanding Jesus and our salvation. I’m simply saying we need to change our wording to be more correct. Jesus never told us that the New Testament is Scripture. God never told anyone that the New Testament is Scripture. And none of the Apostles would have ever considered their own writings to be Scripture.

So where did this idea come from, that our current Holy Bible is the complete and inerrant Word of God? 

A lot of Christians tend to say something like, “the Holy Spirit decided!”, and then no more discussion is allowed. Some people who make this claim don’t even know why they make it, other than someone else told them! I understand; we are told that if we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit we will go to hell. That is the one unpardonable sin, right? Sadly, most of us don’t even know what “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” means, so in an effort to avoid committing the one great sin, we choose not to go any further. “The Holy Spirit picked the 27 books in our New Testament and the Holy Spirit said these are God-breathed and without error.” But that’s simply not accurate, and that answer is a bit of a cop out, specifically because it shuts down any further questions or investigation. I actually read on a prominent Christian website, “It was God, and God alone, who determined which books belonged in the Bible.” That’s not only false, but it’s really dangerous.

The actual answer is: the Catholic Church. This answer will bother some of you, I know this as I’ve actually received complaints from people when I make this point. But if we are going to base our eternal life on something, we owe it to ourselves to be honest with where our guide comes from. And that is from the Council of Laodicea in 363 AD. (For the OCD types, yes, there was the “Muratorian Canon” compiled in 170 AD, but it did not include a number of books in our current Bible.) There were 60 rulings that came out of the council in 363 AD, including rules about what was forbidden to eat during Lent (which I will discuss in a later post), specified what day the “Christian Sabbath” should be (see my rant on the fourth commandment), the importance of modesty, condemning astrology, and whether to minister to Jews. While the Sabbath ruling is not exactly insignificant, the most important decision was obviously which books would be considered “God’s Word” and remain in the New Testament, considering it’s the same list of books we use to this very day. 

The decision was made by 30 men. These men didn’t come together and pray about each book and then concur, “This one should stay.” The argued and negotiated and made deals. Think about that for a second. Some of the books you believe are divinely inspired by God are only in your Bible because someone made a deal to add it as long as one of the other books they wanted got added as well. 

Then how do we know that the New Testament is divinely inspired?

Unfortunately, we don’t. That’s probably not what you want to hear, but the entire point of this blog is to point out that we are supposed to question and confirm The Word, not just blindly accept everything we’ve been told. Fun fact: we are never told in Scripture that the New Testament is inspired by the Holy Spirit. None of the Old Testament prophets confirm this and, according to Amos 3:7, God does nothing without telling His prophets; Jesus never told us, nor did any of his Apostles. Now, you can choose to believe that the New Testament is inspired if you’d like, but the interesting fact is: It doesn’t matter! Yes, you read that right. It doesn’t matter if the books of the New Testament are inspired. We can validate New Testament writings with what we know is the inspired Word of God: the Old Testament. That is our calling; what we are required by God to do, to search out what is written and make sure it is in alignment with what is in the Law and the Prophets.

So, remember that teacher I mentioned at the beginning of this post? What if that is what God has done with the Bible? Those who search through it, question it, and prove it, will believe it and know it forever. Those who read it on blind faith will be like the seed that fell on the rocky soil.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let’s follow other gods (whom you have not known) and let’s serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

God’s Chosen People

This one will be a little short, but it’s worth mentioning for much of the other topics to make sense. Who are God’s chosen people? If you said “The Jews”, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, if you do a quick Google search, that’s the answer you’ll get. However, that’s not entirely correct. 

If you click on one of the links from your search, you may find someone who points out that the Jews are God’s chosen people by using this scripture: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6) The problem here is that God was not speaking to “the Jews”, He was speaking to the the people who left Egypt. That was the Israelites and all of those who left Egypt with them. 

You might be thinking this is just semantics; Israelites, Jews, same thing. But it’s actually not just a different word but the same meaning. Later on I want to discuss why Jesus came. (Spoilers: He didn’t come for the Jews, only to be rejected by them, like many people believe.) He came for “the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) The lost sheep of Israel are not the Jews. 

In order to fully understand the Word and God’s purpose and plan, it’s important that we have the right understanding… even if it sounds like semantics.

Jews Reject Jesus

Perhaps you’ve heard this before… God wanted the Jewish people to be His bride, but they rejected Jesus, so God chose the Church to be His bride instead. Where does this idea come from?

Let’s do a quick little history… Jesus was crucified, then rose again, then He met with His disciples and gave them some instructions, and then He disappeared. This puts us in the book of Acts in the New Testament. This is where we begin to see the ministry of the Apostles. At this point in their ministry, they are primarily speaking to the Jews. Now we’re told the Jews rejected Jesus, so let’s take a look and see what is happening through the first several chapters of Acts…

  • 2:41 – 3000 Jews believed
  • 2:47 – added to their numbers day by day
  • 4:4 – 5000 Jews believed
  • 5:14 – large numbers believed
  • 6:1 – increasing in numbers
  • 6:7 – increased greatly, including “many of the priests”
  • 9:31 – increasing
  • 9:35 – all of Lydda and Sharon believed
  • 9:42 – many in Joppa believed

Acts 10:34 is interesting because this is where Peter has a dream, and he realizes that God is telling Him to go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. From that dream, we can reason that Peter had been solely focused on evangelizing the Jews, and a majority of the believers mentioned in the first nine chapters would have been Jewish. (Verse 45 confirms this as well.) And then in Acts 11:1-18, the Jews confront Peter over the facts that he ate with the Gentiles and is teaching them as well, but Peter explains his vision and the Jews believe and “glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has also granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’”

That doesn’t sound like the Jews are rejecting Jesus or the Apostles at all. We’re also told that the Jews are angry, and jealous of the Gentiles, but we don’t see this either. But we’re only about half way through Acts, so let’s keep reading.

In Acts 13:44 something interesting happens: Paul begins to teach, and the Jews reject what he is teaching. Notice this! The Jews didn’t reject what Peter taught, they rejected what Paul taught. Also Interesting, in earlier instances where the Apostles face resistance, it’s from the religious leaders, not the Jewish people. But in this case, Paul says the Jews rejected him. Then in verse 46 Paul says, “since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” Paul says that he is going to teach to the Gentiles because the Jews are rejecting his message. In Acts 17:5 Paul says the Jews were jealous of the Gentiles. That’s a curious statement to make. What would the Jews be jealous of, if they were rejecting what Paul was teaching them? Lastly we jump over to Acts 18:6, and we see Paul say this again after they reject him, “From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” This is a stark contrast from what we saw with Peter in chapter 11. Peter says that God instructed him to go to the Gentiles and teach; Paul says that he is going to go to the Gentiles because the Jews are rejecting his teachings.

Despite what I was told in church, I’m not seeing that the Jews rejected Jesus. Acts and the Apostles seem to tell us quite the opposite. I only see that the Jews rejected Paul. There’s a common theme here; Paul seems to introduce a lot of ideas and traditions that none of the Apostles ever talked about. I don’t want to use the word “contradiction” here, but let’s just say that Paul’s experiences are unique to anything the Apostles ever record. At best it’s at least curious.

Paul

This topic is huge! There is way too much information to try to cram it all into a single post, so I’m going to hit you with the basics, and then I am dedicating an entire section of this site to the topic. Reading this may blow your mind, maybe frustrate you, anger you… it all depends on whether you’re ready to hear what I have to say, or can read this with an open mind. (If you haven’t read my post about scripture yet,  you may want to start there; otherwise you might have a hard time with this one.)

So what do we know about Paul?

Paul was originally a Pharisee called Saul, who was persecuting the early followers of Jesus. In Acts 22 we see that he was present for Stephen’s stoning; and not just present but approving. Then, according to Paul, he was on a journey to persecute some more followers of Jesus and was struck down and blinded by a bright light. Paul says that Jesus Himself appeared to him, and he spent three years alone with Jesus in the wilderness, and then he began his missionary journey. We know that Paul went to a great number of places and spoke to people of all different walks of life, from the poor to kings. Paul wrote a majority of the books that make up our New Testament. And almost every part of how the church operates is from Paul’s instructions; from the Catholic church to evangelical mega churches, small house churches, and even the false religions like Mormons and Jehovahs Witness.

What is the controversy surrounding Paul?

I think the biggest issue that comes up with Paul is that he seems to say “the law” is done away with, which contradicts what Jesus said. There are two different schools of thought on that. The first is that he does indeed say the law is done away with, and that was a special revelation from Jesus on the road to Damascus. The second is that Paul doesn’t teach we are to do away with the law but, as Peter said, his letters are confusing and so people misunderstand. I actually think this is typical of Paul’s teachings. Almost everything he teaches seems to be capable of being spun two different ways. He even says that he does this on occasion. This in and of itself is not really a problem that would cause concern, but as I’ve said before, it is at least curious. However, once you realize who the real Paul is, it doesn’t matter what side of the argument you are on. 

So who is the real Paul?

Put simply, Paul is a false apostle, which was prophesied in both the Old Testament and by Jesus. Some of you might be shocked by this statement. Perhaps you’ve never heard this argument before. Others might immediately get defensive because Paul is so integral to your church system that you cannot accept it. This is why I wrote the first piece about testing everything. You have two options right now: You can blindly accept that Paul is a true apostle and all of his words are inspired because the church says so; Or you can look at what Scripture says, test Paul against Scripture, and decide for yourself. If you choose the first option, I wish you well, but just know that by not even investigating Paul you are going against instructions from God. 

How do we know Paul is a false apostle?

I’ll start with Paul’s conversion. Paul says that he was on the road to Damascus to persecute more followers of “the Way”. A bright light appears, blinding him, and he is told to go into the city and wait for instruction (Acts 9:3). Then Paul spends time alone with Jesus and gets a special revelation that was only given to Paul (Galatians 1:11-12), and then he is told he is to go to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).

Let’s pause here and look at some of the details.

1. Paul claims that he met the resurrected Jesus in the wilderness (I will discuss why this is a problem in a different post later), and Jesus gave him a special revelation that was only given to him, and God told him to go to the Gentiles.

None of of the people who started “the Way”, the entire movement that Paul was trying to stop, had all the information. Only Paul has the entire story. In fact, Jesus instructed his disciples go out to the entire world and preach the Gospel with only partial information! Doesn’t that seem odd? Also, Peter says God told him to go to the Gentiles. Was Peter wrong or was Paul wrong?

2. Paul says Ananias can confirm his story.

Who was Ananias? No one ever spoke to Ananias except for Paul, so the only proof we have that Ananias was a witness to Paul’s conversion is… Paul’s word.

Let’s move on.

3. Paul says he was called to go to the Gentiles at his conversion, but Paul also said that he is turning to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected him. (Acts 13:46 and 18:6)

4. The New Testament has two timelines for Paul’s conversion. Luke records one timeline in Acts 9, and Paul shares a different timeline in Galatians 1. 

We know that Luke was a scribe, writing down all that was told to him. Did Paul tell him the wrong thing, or did Luke write it down wrong? How do we reconcile this if we are supposed to believe both are infallible and inspired?

I think if we had to pick one of the two, we would probably want to go with Paul’s own account, as told to the Galatians. That is, he went to Arabia for an unspecified time (Galatians 1:17), then to Damascus for three years (Galatians 1:18), then to Jerusalem, Syria, and Cilicia for an unspecified time. Then after 14 years he went to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1). A minimum of 17 years from conversion to the council in Jerusalem, according to Paul. 

Why does this matter?

If we take Paul’s account of his conversion timeline as fact, and we know that the council in Jerusalem was in 49 or 50 AD, this puts his conversion around 33 AD at the latest. (It could have been earlier because we don’t know how long he spent in Arabia, Syria, or Cilicia.) Paul says that he was in Jerusalem and fell into a trance and he had a conversation with Jesus. “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing nearby and approving, and watching over the cloaks of those who were killing him.’” (Acts 22:19-20) Stephen was stoned in 36 AD… at least three years after Paul says he was converted.

That’s interesting to say the least.

There is one other major piece of evidence I would like to present that shows Paul to be a false apostle: Paul’s own words. “You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me.” (2 Timothy 1:15)

How is this evidence that Paul was a false apostle? On its own, it isn’t. But now let’s take a look at Revelation 2 and 3. If you don’t know, these are seven letters that John wrote to seven churches in Asia, transcribed from what Jesus told him to write.

Message to Ephesus

2 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

² ‘I know your deeds and your labor and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people, and you have put those who call themselves apostles to the test, and they are not, and you found them to be false; ³ and you have perseverance and have endured on account of My name, and have not become weary. ⁴ But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ⁵ Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and I will remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. ⁶ But you have this, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. ⁷ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’

Revelation 2:1-7

Let’s stop here for a second. “You have put those who call themselves apostles to the test, and they are not, and you found them to be false.” Who is Jesus talking about? Are we to believe this is just a coincidence that Paul claims to be an apostle, went to Ephesus, and later complained to Timothy that they turned away from him… all while Jesus commends them for turning away a false apostle?

While you think on that, let’s read a bit more.

Message to Smyrna

⁸ “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

⁹ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the slander by those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. ¹⁰ Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. ¹¹ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Message to Pergamum

¹² “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

¹³ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold firmly to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. ¹⁴ But I have a few things against you, because you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. ¹⁵ So you too, have some who in the same way hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. ¹⁶ Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will wage war against them with the sword of My mouth. ¹⁷ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Message to Thyatira

¹⁸ “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like burnished bronze, says this:

¹⁹ ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith, and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. ²⁰ But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. ²¹ I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. ²² Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ²³ And I will kill her children with plague, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. ²⁴ But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. ²⁵ Nevertheless what you have, hold firmly until I come. ²⁶ The one who overcomes, and the one who keeps My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations; ²⁷ and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are shattered, as I also have received authority from My Father; ²⁸ and I will give him the morning star. ²⁹ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Sardis

3 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and yet you are dead. ² Be constantly alert, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ³ So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Then if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. ⁴ But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ⁵ The one who overcomes will be clothed the same way, in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ⁶ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Philadelphia

⁷ “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

⁸ ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have followed My word, and have not denied My name. ⁹ Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. ¹⁰ Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. ¹¹ I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. ¹² The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ¹³ The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Laodicea

¹⁴ “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Origin of the creation of God, says this:

¹⁵ ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ¹⁶ So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. ¹⁷ Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, ¹⁸ I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to apply to your eyes so that you may see. ¹⁹ Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ²⁰ Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ²¹ The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. ²² The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Revelation 2:8-3:22

Do you see anything missing in any of those letters? Let me give you a hint…

As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:9)

Paul is Jesus’ own special messenger (Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Timothy 2:7), someone He gave a special revelation not revealed to anyone else, even His own 12 (Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:2-3 and 9, Colossians 1:25-26; 1 Timothy 1:11). And Paul tells the Galatians that if anyone doesn’t believe Paul, they are cursed. If all of this is accurate, particularly the last statement, then why didn’t Jesus rebuke any of the churches for turning away from Paul? Based on Galatians 1:9, how could Jesus not rebuke the churches in Asia?

Take a look at a small sampling of comments I have received from random people for suggesting Paul is a false apostle:

  • If you claim the apostle handpicked by our Lord to spread the gospel was a liar, then indeed I would have to seriously question whether or not you are a believer. 
  • Rejecting Paul is rejecting Christ’s apostle, it’s rejecting a part of Christ himself.
  • To reject the teachings of Paul is to reject the word of God and that’s very dangerous.

If random people on the internet are rebuking me for rejecting Paul’s teachings, how in the world could Jesus not have rebuked the churches in Asia for rejecting Paul… assuming Paul was everything he claimed to be? It would be impossible! On the flip side, if Jesus doesn’t rebuke the churches in Asia for rejecting Paul, then Jesus can’t really rebuke us for rejecting Paul, right?

Let’s say you were around in 30 AD and you wanted, more than anything, to put an end to Jesus’ followers. You have full permission and authority to persecute, harm, and kill any of the followers at will. But you notice that your efforts are not slowing down the movement at all. This is very common, persecution typically increases the will of the persecuted. So what would you do? Perhaps you would infiltrate the movement, diminish the strength of the leaders, tell confusing stories, and disintegrate the truth from the inside. This is precisely what Paul did. Fortunately for us, the churches in Asia figured him out, and cast him aside… leaving an example for us to follow.

10 Commandments

I hope I can show you something interesting about each of the 10 Commandments. I’ll start with the reason for their existence. Each of the commandments were given for the making of a civilization, but each commandment is as relevant and beneficial to the individual as it is to the society that follows it. Consider that each of these rules were given roughly six thousand years ago, and yet they are as relevant today as they were then. None of the commandments only applied “at the time”, or in those specific circumstances, or to a specific people. They are simple, clear and concise, and not too difficult to follow. How amazing and overlooked these are. 

Jesus tells us that the entire law hangs on two things: loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and loving your neighbor as yourself. The last six commandments are automatic if you love your neighbor as yourself. The first four are automatic if you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. In fact, Jesus said you will keep all 10 if you love Him, so keeping them all should be automatic if you love God with all your heart. 

The first commandment may not be what you think it is. That’s because you’ve been taught there are 10 commandments, when actually God gave Moses 10 statements. So the typical Christian church skips over the first statement and then splits the second into two in order to keep the number at 10!

1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

This first statement is really important, and the tendency to start the 10 Commandments off with the next one, allows us to overlook this one. He is God. The following commands are from God; there is no authority higher than His, and no law greater than His. By this statement we know that these instructions come from the one true source of morality. Not what we think is just and right, but what God thinks is just and right.

God also points out that He took the Hebrew people out of bondage. God wants man to be free, and man cannot be free without morality. This is significant, particularly today when morality has become taboo.

2. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

The Church split this one commandment into two, however when you read it in it’s entirety, it doesn’t make sense as two separate commands. “You shall have no other gods before me”, is the same statement as, “Do not worship idols”, and, “I am a jealous God.” 

I think the very end of this commandment is completely overlooked. He says He will show favor “to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” It’s synonymous: loving God and keeping His commandments. We are told this when He gives us His commandments, and we’re told this the last time He walked this earth. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Yet the commandments are so often ignored by people who claim to follow Jesus today. Jesus said he will tell many that claim to know Him, “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” What laws do you think Jesus is referring to?

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

This might be the most misunderstood commandment of the 10. Often we’re told not to say things like, “Oh my God.” But if you look at the last part of this command, clearly that cannot be what God is suggesting. If it is, I don’t think there will be very many people in the Kingdom… who hasn’t slipped and said, “Oh my God” once or twice? Yet here God tells us He will never forgive us for taking His name in vain. How could God not forgive something that could be done so accidental?

The problem is in how we translate the original language; the word is actually more like, “carry”. If you use God’s name to do things that are not of God, He will not forgive you. 

Why is this so important to God? Using God’s name for something that is not of God causes more damage to God’s reputation than anything else man can possibly do. The most common argument against God has been because of evil things man has done “in God’s name.” Doing evil in God’s name is not something done accidental, it is deliberate and intentional, and God will not tolerate it.

Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31) Are there two sins that God will not forgive? Or is this command and blasphemy against the Spirit the same law?

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male slave or your female slave, or your cattle, or your resident who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; for that reason the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

If the third commandment is the most misunderstood, the fourth is the most ignored. The fourth commandment is significant because it is a reminder to His people, not a new law. The Sabbath is a day that has been set apart since the creation of the earth. And, like all the other commandments, this is a commandment for us, not for Him. We don’t remember the Sabbath for God; we rest because we need it, it is a gift from God. And sadly we ignore it. Think about how it feels when you give someone a gift for their birthday or Christmas, and they never use it. I imagine that is how God feels every time we ignore the Sabbath.

This is the commandment that the Church has neglected to follow, and in fact has taught its people to ignore. The Council of Laodicea in 363 AD (see also the post on Scripture) officially declared Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” day, with the intention of separating the Church from the Jews, but as a result, separating the Church from God. This was established by the Catholic church almost two thousand years ago, and every church and every denomination since has followed this blatant disrespect for God’s command… God’s gift! The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. God picked the day. God was specific. God set this one day aside at the completion of His creation, and it has been set aside ever since. Jesus said, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19) 

5. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

This one is interesting… God tells us to love Him, love our neighbor, and love the stranger, but He doesn’t command us to love our parents! Surprising, right? God tells us to honor our parents. He never commands us to honor anyone else!

Why is honoring parents such a big deal to God? The commandments God gave us aren’t just rules for us to follow, but they were rules designed to make the nation of Israel successful and prosper. A nation who does not honor its parents, is a nation that quickly descends into chaos. Parents today don’t seek honor from their children, they seek approval. They will do anything to make their children happy and get their children to like them. And as a result, we have children who have no respect for their elders, that are turning into adults who have no respect for authority, including God.

6. You shall not murder.

This commandment is often misinterpreted to justify a belief against killing animals or capital punishment. It is also misused by people who oppose God and the Bible to show that God contradicts Himself, because He says to not kill and then commands the Israelites to kill their enemy. God never tells us not to kill, He says not to murder. What’s the difference? Murder is an immoral killing. Killing a bug or an animal is not murder. Killing a murderer is not murder. 

It’s interesting because three commands earlier, we are instructed to not use God’s name in vain, and with this commandment people use God’s words in vain in order to justify something they want you to believe.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

Adultery threatens the building block of a prosperous nation, which is family. The commandment directly links to the fifth commandment and the eighth commandment. If a husband or wife doesn’t honor their spouse, the children won’t see why they should honor their parent either. And adultery is stealing something that belongs to someone else.

8. You shall not steal.

Stealing encompasses way more than just taking someone’s property. Stealing one’s reputation by lying, slander, gossiping, and dare we say… cancelling? Humiliation steals a person’s dignity. Deceiving or tricking someone is considered “stealing knowledge” in the original Hebrew language. And plagiarism is is stealing someone else’s words.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Some people have argued this is referring to testifying in court, but the language would have stated “in court” if that was what God meant. God is telling us not to lie, because a society that has contempt for truth cannot survive. I fear we are living in a time period in which the truth is no longer respected over “feelings”. And if your cause is good enough, it is okay to lie in order to promote it.

I’m reminded of a church I once attended that would have a “bunko night” for the women in the church. They encouraged the women to invite their friends and tell them it was a game night, not church. This would bring people into the church who normally would never step foot in a church. The church was tricking people into coming to church! The cause was well and good, but they were lying.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

God never says we are not to be jealous or envious. He says not to covet. Covet means to desire something to the point of wanting to take it from someone. For example, you can want a house like your neighbor’s house, but you can’t lust for his specific house. You could want a beautiful wife, but you can’t desire his beautiful wife. 

Notice how all of the commandments are linked together. The second ensures you follow the rest. If you follow the ninth, you will obey the third. You won’t disobey the seventh, if you obey the last one. If you ignore the sixth, you’re ignoring the eighth. No person or society has ever compiled a clearer, more concise, and more encompassing list of rules than the 10 commandments. It would be hard to imagine that man came up with something this unique and amazing.

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