Copyright© 2013 πίστις
Other Believers are the most judgmental and critical people I know. Offended yet? Then do not read any further.
I will say that being so quick to judge does not apply to all Believers, some are not this way. Yet many of us are unfortunately very quick to judge and in an unbiblical way. Many are as well quick to jump on the actions of others and be critical of them.
Read this excerpt from an article I found, it’s an eye opener:
This past Thursday evening, I was reading a discipleship book to my children. At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions. One question was: “What negative characteristic turns people off about Christians?” As I posed this question to my children my boys responded by saying, “When Christians judge other people.” WOW! Honestly, I was taken aback by this response because my boys are eleven and nine. I wondered, “How could they know this so early in their Christian maturity?” I concluded that it is an intuitive. Even young Christians can sniff out inappropriate judgment.
It goes without saying that unbelievers pounce all over Christian hypocrisy and judgment. A Hindu professor once found out that a man in his class was a Christian. The professor said to this student, “If you Christians were like Jesus Christ, India would be at your feet tomorrow.” A learned Muslim who recently became a Christian said, “If Christians were truly Christians—like Christ—there would be no Islam.”1 A USA Today poll shows 72% of unchurched Americans agree that a God exists, but the same percentage says, “the church is full of hypocrites.” 44% say Christians get on their nerves.2 People flat-out don’t like Christians. Yet, when is the last time you heard someone say, “Man, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists get on my nerves!” It doesn’t happen, does it? People show respect and honor to these religions. Now it’s easy to object, “This just isn’t fair. The media has turned Christians into cultural punching bags.” Yet, we must ask, “Have we brought some of this pain upon ourselves?” If we’re honest and humble, we would probably have to say, “Yes, guilty as charged.” Read the full article here: Lord, Save Me From Your Followers!
Have you ever been on the receiving end of this type of judgment or criticism? It hurts…and makes one think twice about trusting others. The one place, the body of Christ where this should not be…it is rampant. It is also readily apparent to the outside world that “Christians” tend to shoot their own wounded…this is disgraceful.
I find it ironic that many people in the secular world despite not knowing Jesus have a better attitude and are more willing to display understanding and forgiveness than many of my own brothers and sisters in the Lord. Far too many Believers seem to look on forgiveness as condoning another’s actions; this could not be further from the truth. Forgiveness means to forgive, it does not mean that you condone the actions of another.
Evangelism is very important, one of the most important things in the Church today after worship and glorification of the Lord.
Yet I see an even more urgent need in today’s Church; Believers need to stop being so judgmental of one another and be much quicker to forgive and to understand…not to mention help one another. There is this misguided notion in today’s Church of guilt by association. Rather than help a fellow brother or sister, many will walk away so as not to look guilty themselves. This is of course ridiculous…whom did Jesus spend so much time with? Who was it that rejected Christ Himself and was lovingly restored?
This may upset some; today’s Church is beset by legalism. Rules and the observation of them are more important that people are. Again…I’m NOT saying all are this way, but many are. This is not to say that we in the Church should condone the sins of others, but at the same time what value is there in turning our collective back on someone caught in a sin? Who among us has not sinned?
This is a Church-wide problem and one that is steadfastly denied by many. Not many will stand up and say anything about it; instead it is swept under the rug and ignored. The average (I mean no insult here) Joe will simply leave the Church and not come back. That of course is just another mark against that person.
I mentioned previously the importance of evangelism, while this is an important need and commanded by the Lord Himself…of even more importance is the how the outside world views the Church. How can I say this you might be thinking; if the secular world views Believers (the Church) as a bunch of back-biting, judgmental, “throw their own to the wolves” kind of people…then when we try to evangelize them why on earth would they want to join us? Would you want to?
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible by both the secular world and Believers as well. It does not mean to never judge, we are told by Christ Himself to make judgments. The problem is not in Believers making a judgment it is how that judgment is made.
John 7:24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment
John 8:7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
Many Believers when making judgments fall into error as in John 8:7…instead of judging the actions of another brother or sister, they judge that person’s actions and they judge the person as well. This is throwing stones…we are to judge a brother or sisters actions, we are not to judge the person. Judging the action only is a righteous judgment. The other part of a righteous judgment is judging by God’s standards, not our own. This refers back to Matthew 7:1-2, in the same way you judge others, so shall you be judged by Christ Himself…scary thought is it not? Be careful how you judge.
1 Samuel 16:7 …For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
No Believer should judge another person…we do not know the heart of that individual and why they did what they did. Only the Lord knows that. People do tend to look at the outward appearance or the action itself. Do you know what that person has been through? The pain they have suffered? The trials they have gone through? You may think you do…you do not.
How about the cross-dresser, the homeless man, or the one who reeks of alcohol? Many would like to escort these people to the door. Are they not supposed to be treated with respect and shown the love of Christ? How are they to possibly come to know the Lord if they are shunned because they are not in their Sunday best? We maybe will speak to these people on the street, but please do not show up in our churches because you are not welcome. Really? Is this loving your neighbor as yourself?
How many Believers do you suppose come to church in their Sunday best; both in clothing and attitude…afraid to ever confide in anyone the truth of what is in their lives for fear of being ostracized from the very people that should help them? It is not only the secular world that sees what goes on in the Church…many IN the church see it as well.
In this time of the Church being fractured in so many ways; gay pastors, the teaching of Chrislam, accepting many other religions views of reaching heaven apart from Christ as legitimate, “tickle my ears” teaching…unity in the body of Christ should be of utmost importance.
Love your neighbor as yourself, mercy trumps judgment.
This is a research paper I did for my Biblical Literature class. I think it’s also a good teaching opportunity on a debated topic. I may use it in a sermon or to teach a Sunday School class as well. Enjoy!
Throughout the Old Testament, the Angel of the LORD appears in various places to various people. The appearance of the Angel almost always preceded a major turn of events in Old Testament stories. We see this “Angel” in the book of Judges frequently. The identity of the Angel has long been debated. Some say this is just simply a messenger sent from God, but others argue this is a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Both sides have presented suggested evidence to support their theories. Most of the claims are based on grammatical usage in the text. Does the Bible ever directly tell us who the Angel is? What does the Biblical evidence say about the Angel?
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, άγγελος. This means “messenger” or “one who is sent” (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 299). We know that Jesus was sent directly by God as seen in John 8:29. It is important to note that the Angel of the LORD doesn’t speak in third person, as other messengers seem to do. The Angel speaks in first person as if he is God. Judges 2:1a is an example this: “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.” The Angel is talking as God and not just for God. This happens time and time again throughout the Old Testament. The Hebrew for angel and messenger is used 213 times in the Old Testament. The phrase for “Angel of the LORD” is used 48 times in 45 verses in the Bible. We also see people giving the Angel reverence that usually only God receives. For example, in Joshua 5:14-15 we find Joshua fall “facedown” and taking off his sandals before the Angel. (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 300-301). This would imply that the Angel is more than just a messenger if Joshua is responding in worship to him.
In Genesis 18, Abraham gets three visitors. The text describes one of the three as “the LORD.” The other two are believed to just be angels. However, the text indicates that one of the men is God himself, a theophany (Pak, “BIB 110 Lecture Notes”, 22). If these people saw God face-to-face, why did they not die like God suggested in Exodus 33:20? The answer is simple. Either the Angel is not God or God came in the form of the Son (pre-incarnate). That would make this a Christophany in the Old Testament.
Daniel 3:25 also seems to have an appearance of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man in the fiery furnace after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was thrown in for not worshipping the image of gold. When Nebuchadnezzar sees the fourth man he exclaims, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” It is after that the Nebuchadnezzar seems to recognize the God of Israel as at least legitimate because he addresses the three men as “servants of the Most High God.”
Finally, we go to Exodus to look at the Angel appearing to Moses. In Exodus 3, the Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush. The Angel actually says this in verse 6 which seems to be a clear hint of the Angel’s identity: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (“Fire Bible”, 410).
The case against the Angel being Divinity doesn’t seem to be as strong. Again, the scholars that say the Angel was only a representative of God use grammar and other linguistic evidence, and custom in the text to support their theory. The main argument is that saying the Angel is deity creates a problem for monotheists, such as the Jewish audience of the Old Testament (López, “Identifying the Angel of the LORD in the Book of Judges…” 15). However, we see the Godhead at work from the beginning. The claim is that the text clearly distinguishes the Angel from Yahweh.
This research project has further confirmed what I already had a strong belief in. The appearances of the Angel of the LORD are indeed pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. The Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this. I even believe that God told us exactly who the Angel is on more than one occasion. There are a few Christophanies in the New Testament, too. Even though none of them are described as “the Angel of the LORD,” Jesus is the one who appears. Take the example of Saul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to Saul, later known as Paul, in the same dramatic way that the Angel of the LORD reveals himself in the Old Testament (Newman, “Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children…”, 155). Christ’s appearance to Saul also brings about a major turn of events just like the Angel of the LORD did in the Old Testament. The people the Angel appears to also fall in worship when they realize who he is as well. Other angels told the people to not worship them. Along with the textual evidence, the Angel’s claims and messages indicate that the Angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God had a plan from the very beginning and he has always used the Son to fulfill the plan.
“I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit… (Isaiah 57:15, NAS).”
The last two posts discussed the topic of humility and forgiving self. That brings us to the subject of forgiving others, be it minor infractions or heinous crimes committed against us. It is completely astonishing how people can walk for many years claiming the grace of God, but never forgive that one person in their life they deem “unworthy” of forgiveness When you begin to see through new spiritual spectacles, your heart will begin to melt for the offender as God’s heart melted for His offenders – you and I. It does not mean a person (or group of people) was justified in their actions; it means that you are now able to extend mercy and grace as Christ extended it to you.
Mercy is not being given something you do deserve (punishment for a crime). Grace, on the other hand, is receiving something you don’t deserve (a pardon). Like the woman in Matthew, the more forgiveness (love) you begin to realize you have been extended from God that you do not deserve, the more forgiveness you will begin to pour out to those who equally do not deserve it.
Isaiah 57:15 listed above is clear. God abides in two places: I dwell on a high and holy place (heaven), and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit (the one humbled before God). When you lower yourself, you will then be lifted up where Christ resides in the heavenly realm. One cannot be lifted by God lest they first lower themselves. You must see yourself from God’s standpoint. When you see yourself as better than someone, you have lifted yourself and you will have to be lowered; either by your own hand or the hand of the Almighty. The choice is yours. It’s simple mathematics.
Let’s say though that no one offended or harmed you personally. Maybe they just have a different skin color, nationality, speech, style, amount of money (less or more), etc. All over the world there are nations against nations because they don’t believe the same way. Do you think yourself better than a Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Indian, Catholic, Baptist, etc? My Hispanic friends tell me that there is rivalry between Latinos: Spaniards, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and others. What about African Americans where the lighter skinned people think themselves better than darker skinned or vice versa? I believe it’s called colorism. Of course there is the ever common white against black. The list of prejudices is a bottomless pit. If you think yourself better than anyone, it is pride and God cannot grant you grace.
It’s time to understand the without forgiving others, you cannot be forgiven and without humility, we cannot forgive. They are inseparable. Then with this understanding, we need to learn how to forgive as Christ forgave wicked mankind. Then the next step is to purpose to apply it to everyone in your life. These aren’t my rules, but those of your Creator and the One who loves you beyond measure. There is nothing He commands from us that isn’t first for us.
“YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE, YOU who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, YOU ARE CONDEMNING YOURSELF, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1, NAS).
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS, THEN YOUR FATHER WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS” (Matthew 6:14-15, NAS).
I hope you’ll come back next week for part IV as we continue to explore the subject of forgiveness that can only come from humility.
Peace and blessings,
Alexys V. Wolf
By Neil Anderson
By Neil Anderson
- The Shield Of Faith (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
- The Helmet Of Salvation (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
- The Must Read Interview with Satan! (vineoflifenews.com)
- The Full Armor Of God (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
- Bible Notes: God’s Armor for Us (finalwakeupcall.wordpress.com)
I’m currently writing a paper for a Biblical Literature class I’m taking. The topic is Christophany (the appearance of pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament). This is a very interesting topic. I should have it done and posted on here within a couple of weeks. Hang tight!
Copyright© πίστις 2013
Me: Do you acknowledge Jesus as being truly God?
Satan: Of course I do as do the demons, it is only foolish humans that do not.
Me: So why do you think so many people refuse to acknowledge Christ as Lord?
Satan: Because they want to live any way they choose doing what they want when they want to, works for me! It makes my job easier.
Me: Did you really temp Jesus?
Satan: Of course I did! If Jesus would have accepted my offer of all the kingdoms of the earth being His to rule we would not be having this conversation because I would have won!
Me: How do you figure the earth and its’ kingdoms are yours to give?
Satan: When Adam disobeyed God his dominion over all the earth passed to me. You did notice that Jesus did not say I was wrong when I offered Him MY kingdoms right?
Me: Did Jesus truly die on the cross?
Satan: Yup He sure did, I was there and had a hand in that…one of my finer moments.
Me: But then on the third day Jesus rose from the dead…
Satan: Oh…yes that was a really bad day for me. He was not supposed to come back to life that really upset me. I’m still angry about that day.
Me: Lets talk about the people of this world. Why do you temp people so much with so many evil things?
Satan: HA…don’t make me laugh! Have you not read James? That miserable cretin got the picture right away.
Me: Explain please…
Satan: People believe (at least those that believe I exist) that temptation originates with me. It does not it originates with the people I tempt! I only encourage all those foul thoughts that are already there in their minds.
Me: So we are to blame for the temptations that overtake us?
Satan: Precisely…that is why most of the world is mine! I just encourage all those bad thoughts, those actions that people know they really should not do.
Me: What are your thoughts about prayer?
Satan: I HATE prayer! Then people don’t listen to my “suggestions” so easily. So don’t pray people and do not read the Bible.
Me: So you DO believe the word of God is real and powerful.
Satan: Ummm yeah unfortunately I have to. People have been using that book against me for a long time. The Apostle Paul did lots of damage and he used to be on my side!
Me: So the Pharisees were your children?
Satan: That’s what Jesus said.
Me: So what about those who do not even believe you are real?
Satan: That is one of my finest works! I deceive and lure people to their deaths…permanent separation from God Himself and they do not even believe I exist…I love it!
Me: But the Bible says you are real…
Satan: True it does, but people have to actually read the Bible and then believe what they read. I deceive people into NOT believing what the Bible says. And then they argue over what is real and what is not…I whole-heartedly encourage this!
Me: So do your deceptions also work on Believers?
Satan: Oh my yes! Many believers in God do not want to acknowledge that true evil exists…after all a loving God would not permit that now would He…
Me: So you are evil then?
Satan: No no…of course I’m not! I just give people what they want! You only have one life to live after all!
Me: True…but the question is where are we going to live our eternal life?
Satan: With me! It will be one big party with friends!
Me: Oh come now Satan, you know that is not true! According to the word of God hell is anything but a party, it is a place of eternal suffering.
Satan: People don’t believe that.
Me: But it is true nonetheless. Why don’t you give your life to Christ and have your sins forgiven and be set free?
Satan: NEVER!! This interview is over!
This is of course not real, but the principles of this interview are. Satan is a master of deception even among people who DO believe in Christ. So many do not believe in Satan because they are blinded by the fact that God DOES allow evil. I did not say God causes evil, but it IS allowed…for now. You have only to look around you at the world in general to see that this is true.
So you have two choices: believe that there really is no God because of the rampant evil in this world…or you believe that God is real in which case you MUST believe that God allows evil things in the world. If God be God, and He is all-powerful, then it only stands to reason that evil IS allowed. Evil in this world was and is brought about by the sin of man…so no one should be blaming God for it!
The rightful ruler of this world has allowed it to be ruled by Satan…for a time. If you read your Bible you know this. But that time is fast drawing to a close. We live in the end of the End Times. It will not be long before the return of Jesus Christ to this world once more.
So where do you stand? Have you given your heart and soul to Jesus, or are you still serving Satan? You cannot have it both ways you know. Your Father is God Himself, or your father is Satan…choose this day whom you will serve! Not making a choice IS making a choice. You will NOT have a second chance after death as some teach! If you die today without having accepted Christ, your fate is sealed…hell for all eternity.
There are no scare tactics here as I and many others have been accused of but rather simple facts. You cannot serve two masters, and God will not be mocked! You serve Him, or you serve your father the devil…Satan.
No matter what sins you have committed, you CAN be saved! Do NOT wait until you are “better” to except Jesus. This is another lie fostered by the father of lies Satan! Jesus will accept you as you are; no matter what you have done if you come to Him truly repentant of the things you have done. If you have lived 70 years as a wantonly evil person…God will accept you as His child provided you come to Him and repent of what you have done and ask His forgiveness! Hitler himself had he dropped to his knees and earnestly prayed for forgiveness would now be in heaven…that may offend some of you but it is the truth!
No fancy words are needed, just pray…tell the Lord you are sorry for your sins and ask for forgiveness. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today! Accept that Jesus death on the cross was enough to pay for your sins. Place your trust in Him, not yourself or your works that are of no value without first trusting in ONLY Jesus to save you. If you hear His voice calling, do not wait another moment! Commit your life to the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, meaning that you change your life and live the way that God wants you to no longer living the sinful life you once did.
Yes it really is that simple. God will give you the strength to change! True change comes from within, the power of Christ within you once you have accepted Him.
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He (Jesus) is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
by Neil Anderson
So your life is falling apart. You lost something. You lost your job, or you lost your wife in a divorce, or you lost your father, mother, son, or daughter because they died, or you lost your health. So now you’re in pain, and not the kind that an aspirin can help you with. You’re in the kind of pain that makes you realize you need help–from God.
Well I’m here to tell you some things you’ve probably never heard before about becoming a Christian. You want God’s help, so you’re ready to ask Jesus Christ into your life, but you probably don’t realize what you’re in for. It’s not like you’re buying a gold fish for yourself, throwing him into a bowl of water, and feeding him once a day. Yes Jesus can help you, but remember, He’s the One Who created you. He’s the One Who created the whole world, and more than the world He created the sun and the whole solar system. And more than the solar system, He created the whole galaxy. And more than the galaxy, He created the whole universe. He created quarks, and black holes, and oceans, and mountains, and atoms, and electrons, and clouds, and comets. When you invite Him into your life, yes, you get His help, but along with the power to help you, you get the rest of His power too. He will willingly walk with you through your pain, if you’re brave enough to willingly walk with Him.
Another thing about Him: His standards are impossibly high, and you’ll never live up to those standards. Like all of us, you realize you’ve failed in your life. At one time or another, maybe very recently, you’ve lied, or you’ve stolen, or you’ve lusted, or you’ve broken a promise. Other religions try to teach you how to live, but with Christ, God provides you with life. God of course knows about your sins. So God provided His Son Jesus, to die for those sins, on your behalf. Jesus is life. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
You have access to that life, to eternal life, to new life. You have access to Jesus Christ. You can not only experience God’s presence while walking in your pain, but you can experience God’s presence forever. You can live, with Him, in heaven. In fact, God says. If you don’t want to live with Me in heaven, it will have to be over My dead body–the dead body of My Son. If you accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, if you accept Jesus Christ into your life, if you ask Jesus Christ into your heart, to be your savior, and your Lord, and your friend, then you’ll receive God’s presence in this life, and in eternity.
To accept Him now as your personal Lord and savior simply say the prayer,
Jesus, I’m a sinner. I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins and I thank you for doing that. I believe you rose again and that you are the Son of God. Please come into my life and into my heart. Be my Lord and my Savior.
The words aren’t magical, what’s important is you opened your heart to invite Jesus into your life. And that’s the beginning.
Now find yourself a bible and read it. (I recommend these bible reading plans on the YouVersion App) Don’t worry about how much you read. Just be sure to read a little from the Old and New Testaments each day. It’s taken me as long as four years to read through the whole Bible.
Find yourself a church that teaches through the entire Bible and attend it. Hang out with other Christians–you’ll be blessed.
Pray, every day.
Tell others about Jesus.
If you have questions, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.