“I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law. Truly I tell you, until everything is accomplished the Law and the Prophets will remain.”– Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” – Jesus (Mark 13:31)
“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who teaches others to break the least of these commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:19-20)
“Put into practice these words of mine and then you will be wise.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:24)
“Unless your righteousness and obedience to the Law and Prophets surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:20)
“By their fruit you will recognize the good tree from the bad. For false prophets—those who claim to speak for my Father—will come to you. They will appear as innocent as sheep, but inwardly they seek to devour you. Watch out for such men, for they like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect. They have the most important seats in the places of worship and are honored at banquets. They make a show with their lengthy prayers. These false prophets will be punished most severely.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:18-20, 15) (Mark 12:38-40)
“Offer the gifts Moses commanded as a testimony to your faithfulness.” – Jesus (Matthew 8:4)
“If anyone will not welcome you and listen when you say to them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’, then shake the dust off your feet when you leave their home, town, or place of worship. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for those who reject your words.” – Jesus (Matthew 10:14-15)
“All the Prophets and the Law prophesied until the coming of John. If you are willing to accept the words of the Prophets and the Law, John is the Elijah who was to come.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:13-14)
“David did what was not lawful and yet I desire mercy, not sacrifice, for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:4,7) (John 12:47)
“Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish.” – Jesus (Matthew 12:40)
“The one who hears the words of my Father and understands, produces a crop.” – Jesus (Matthew 13:23)
“Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven brings out new treasures and old.” – Jesus (Matthew 13: 52)
“You nullify the word of God (Matthew 15:6), for you have let go of the commandments of God in order to hold onto the traditions of men.” – Jesus (Mark 7:9)
“As spoken by the prophets, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come and you did not recognize him. – Jesus (Matthew 17:11-12) Yes, it has happened just as it was written about him.” – Jesus (Mark 9:13)
“You must obey the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees who sit in Moses’ seat. Do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach and teach.” – Jesus (Matthew 23:2-3)
“Practice the law and practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” – Jesus (Matthew 23:23)
“All the Scripture must be fulfilled. All this has taken place so that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” – Jesus (Matthew 26:54, 56)
“Consecrated bread is lawful only for the priests to eat, but the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” – Jesus (Mark 2:27)
“When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, others quickly fall away.” – Jesus (Mark 4:17)
“Anyone who teaches one of these little ones who believe in me to sin is in danger of being cast into hell where the fire never goes out.” – Jesus (Mark 9:42-44)
“What did Moses command you? How do you read it?” – Jesus (Mark 10:3)
“You know the commandments. Now come and follow me.” – Jesus (Mark 10:21)
“It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.'” – Jesus (Mark 11:17)
“The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.” – Jesus (Mark 14:21)
“The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,” Jesus says. “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free.”
And yet, can we name one person Jesus set free from prison?
When his cousin John the Baptist was arrested, you might think Jesus would have appealed to Rome for his cousin’s release. Jesus did not. If Jesus refused to liberate a member of his own extended family, then what are we to make of his claim to set free prisoners and those captured and enslaved? Could it be that Jesus spoke of a different form of captivity?
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus says, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” The Apostle Paul writes, “We should no longer be slaves to sin. Our old self was crucified with Jesus so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Therefore, you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Now just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness.”
The disciple Peter offers a final word on the matter of slavery and sin: “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
There is a deeper division in this country: one not seen since before the Civil War. Then the issue of slavery also divided the Church, congregations — and eventually the nation. Then, as now, some in the Church refused to teach, preach, or accept certain parts of God’s word.
I suspect many in the South believed then — as many do in churches across the world today — that their position on slavery was in accordance with God’s will: something to be celebrated. I suspect both North and South believed then — as many do now — that they were on the “right side of history.”
But by God’s providence only one side was proven right with regards to the issue of slavery.
Only when Special Order 191 fell into the hands of The Army of the Potomac, did General George McClellan learn,, that General Lee had crossed the Potomac and invaded Maryland. If not for this bit of luck, The Army of Northern Virginia might have outflanked McClellan’s men and marched on Washington. Had that happened, President Abraham Lincoln might have been forced to settle the issue of slavery in favor of the South in order to bring an end to hostilities. Instead, at the Battle of Sharpsburg, the bloodiest single day in American history, the North prevailed and Lee retreated back across the Potomac. Only once more would The Army of Northern Virginia invade the North. Then too they would be driven back.
Because of the North’s victory at Sharpsburg, on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln found the will and opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring, “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.”
If President Lincoln’s words sound familiar, they should, for by this time he had begun to think of the Civil War as God’s judgement upon the nation. As such, he could not accept the Southern churches’ position on slavery. For President Lincoln, there could be but one destiny for all men: freedom.
accepted the Jesus of history, but he could not accept the church’s concept of the Christ of faith, nor could he justify the division of the churches over the issue of slavery.
Today as in the 1860’s — as in the days of Rome, as in the days of Pharaoh, as it is everyday — the issue of slavery is before us. Will we celebrate the captivity that comes when we are mastered — not by the harsh hands of another human — but by the tyranny of sin? Or will we seek to liberate others with the good news of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and destruction of sin’s power over our flesh?
With our Father’s help may we teach, preach, and love with the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us God.
John 14:15-17, John 8:34, Romans 6:6, Romans 6:6-7, Romans 6:19, 2 Peter 2:19
Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
Belief, Behavior, Belonging
“Repent.” – Jesus (Matthew 4:17)
“Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” – Jesus (John 5:14)
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” – Jesus (John 8:11)
Jesus’ first word in ministry was, “repent.” Jesus consistently forgave sins and then called those who had “ears to hear” to stop sinning. This is love in action. This is the love of a God who cares so much for us that he is willing to send his Son to die for us in order that we might live.
To think we can be saved from God’s wrath and continue to sin with impunity is to misunderstand the cost of sin. Sin always leads to death. If we are in Jesus, we will live. But while even in Jesus our sins will lead to pain, for our hearts will hurt each time we realize that Jesus had to die for that sin.
When we sin again and again without feeling or expressing any remorse we crucify Jesus again and again. (Hebrews 6:6) Do this too long and we prove that we were never in Jesus. (Hebrews 6:4-6) We may know a great deal about Jesus and even think he was God’s son. But if we never crucify our flesh (Galatians 5:24), surrender our life to him (Galatians 2:20), and accept a new reborn life in Jesus (John 15:4), we may one day hear him say to us, “I have no idea who you are. Go! Get out of my sight!”
This is how Jesus speaks of those who are exposed to the truth of his good news and who perhaps make a profession of faith, but never demonstrate genuine saving faith.
Some seed fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But because the seed never took root, when the sun rose and grew hot, the plants were scorched and withered.” Matthew 13:5-6
The seed is God’s word, the words of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit reminding us of all that Jesus said.
In the book Five Practices of Fruitful Living the author cites an “emergent church advocate” who describes how for many in the modern church move from “belonging to behavior to belief.” They seek congregations where they feel welcomed as they are. They seek congregations where they are affirmed. They seek congregations where they are not judged for what they believe or how they act. This group seeks a community where there is no call to change and no need to repent. Sin is rarely, if every, discussed and when it is, the conversation is in general terms, not with regards to our specific sins. This group joins the community and comes to behave as the community behaves. In time they believe as the community believes—for the community comes to believe as the new members believe.
The author writes that this is in contrast to how those in past congregations moved from “belief to behavior to belonging,” and yet this is the core message of Jesus. For me, for you, for all we might say:
- “I believe I need help—a savior to rescue me. Jesus calls me to repent.” I agree that I am on the wrong path and need to turn around and towards him.
- “Jesus and the Father call me to stop sinning. Only the Spirit of God can change my behavior. Through the work of His Holy Spirit I will become more like Christ.
- “In time no matter where I am in the world, I will recognize I belong with those who behave like Jesus and believe what Jesus and the Father believe. This broad community of individuals—even if we meet as strangers—will become my new family.
To pull those who are drowning into a sinking boat helps neither the man in the boat or those who desperately wished to be rescued from the increasingly hot water on which the boat floats. How can you tell if there are holes in your boat of beliefs? Check to see if your boat is filling up with the water around you. Here is but one example of how an individual or congregation can slowly sink into the hot water of the world.
- In 2007, the Church of Norway, part of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination, voted in favor of allowing members in same-sex partnerships to serve in ordained ministry.
- In 2015, the Church’s General Synod voted in favor of accepting same-sex marriage.
- In 2016, the Church voted to allow gay people to be married in church.
- In 2022 the Church announced that they are open to allowing ordination of unmarried, cohabiting individuals. The Norwegian news outlet Vart Land reports that bishop of Oslo, Kari Veiteberg, has been ordaining cohabiting priests, cantors, catechists and deacons since 2017.
In fifteen years this denomination has moved from expressing their love for God by practicing and teaching his commands (1 John 5:3) to breaking and teaching others to break his commands. (Matthew 5:19) Jesus says to us, “Unless you repent, you will perish.” (Luke 13:3) If we wish to become fishers of men let us cast our nets the way Jesus cast his.
- Start with the problem: accept that we are all sinners in need of rescuing. (Romans 3:23)
- Offer the solution: Jesus pulls us from the hot water saves us from God’s wrath. (John 3:16) (“Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.)
- Offer the benefit: Once in the Jesus boat we are filled with his Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8) (“You will receive power. You will be my witnesses.”)
- Present the future: In time, as we are changed by his Holy Spirit, we will express the character of God. We produce Holy Spirit fruit. We will love God and our neighbor more than ourselves. In the Jesus boat everyone wins except the enemy.
If you seek to belong to a group that demonstrates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, start with this one belief: you are lost in a sea that leads to darkness and you cannot escape on your own. Then seek a boat skippered by someone who acts like Jesus and believes the things Jesus believes. Wave your hand and someone will swing by to pick you up.
The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised. – Staff
“The Unpardonable Sin—to blaspheme: to speak irreverently and with disrespect, disdain . . . to be impolite, flippant or show contempt for the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus.”
Perhaps you ‘ave heard a feller or lass say sumpin’ like this:
“Scripture was not dictated by God but rather written by men seeking to express what they believed was God’s will. They were writing in a given time and culture, and they were writing to address the needs of the people of their time. While they generally wrote under the prompting of the Spirit, this does not mean that every word of scripture was chosen by God or equally inspired by God.”
Blaspheme: to Speak Irreverently and the Unpardonable Sin
If you ‘ave heard such talk and believe the Bible ter be a compilation of writings by men based on thar best guess of what Skipper wished ter say, consider these words from the Son regarding The Unpardonable Sin
“I cast out demons by the Spirit of God.” — Jesus (Matthew 12:28)
“I cast out demons by the finger of God.” — Jesus (Luke 11:20)
Thar be a subtle shift in accounts between Matthew and Luke. In one the Son declares his power comes from the finger of God. In ah tudder, the Son’s power comes from the Spirit of God.
Give Credit Whar Credit Be Due
Accordingly if the Spirit of God and finger of God be the same, then ter give credit ter men as the authors of Scripture be ter accuse the Holy Spirit of plagiarizing the works of men, fer we also read:
When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the FINGER OF GOD. (Exodus 31:18)
The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written by the FINGER OF GOD; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. (Deuteronomy 9:10)
All Scripture is God-breathed (Spirit filled). (2 Timothy 3:16)
Jesus affirms the authorship of Scripture on the road to Emmaus.
Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
Peter affirms the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture.
Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)
The angel spoke at length to Moses on Mount Sinai, and he received living words to pass on to you. (Acts 7:38)
Those in the early church affirmed the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture.
You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David. (Acts 4:25)
Consider This Warning From Jesus
“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” — Jesus (Mark 3:29)
Men, as scribes, may ‘ave written down what the finger of God, Spirit of God spake. However ter assign credit ter a scribe, editor, or proofreader as the author and source of the Holy Spirit’s work seems ter be nothing short of grand theft. Far be it from us ter steal the work of the Holy Spirit and claim it as our own.
Rather, let us act in love with grace towards all who don’ ‘ave the revelation of the Son we enjoy. Ne’er ferget that we also once walked in darkness.
Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
Bond of Peace
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)
Attempting to keep peace with those who disagree with us is not simply a good idea but a command. The Apostle Paul understood that there would be differences among believers. On at least one occasion Paul and Peter disagreed over a key doctrinal issue: salvation by grace or salvation by works.
After some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I confronted Peter in front of the others. We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:12-16)
Though Paul found it necessary to confront Peter, he did so in love. Later we find that Peter came around to Paul’s understanding of salvation by grace and declared this same message to the a gathering of the Christian Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 11-13).
In time Paul and Barnabas would disagree over the role of John Mark in their ministry, but in love they agreed to part ways. As a result four, not two, (John Mark and Barnabas, Paul and Silas) carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:36-41).
Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus
Some claim that division among believers is destroying the modern church and its testimony.
“One of the greatest problems in our churches is the breakdown of church unity. It is insidious, debilitating, and destructive.” – Church Answers, Thom S. Rainer
Mr. Rainer’s comment reflects many of the calls from pulpits to present a united front for both believers and seekers.
And yet, even Jesus did not sacrifice the truth of the gospel message for the sake of unity. When Peter challenged Jesus over the doctrine of salvation by grace, Jesus rebuked him—and perhaps with less love than Peter expected.
“Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mark 8:33)
Truth of the Gospel Message
Rather than seek unity on all matters we would be better served to follow the example of Paul and advocate for the truth of the gospel message. What we say matters. And what we teach and preach matters a great deal, for our words carry the power of life and death.
A man shall be satisfied by the fruit of his words. With the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:20-21)
Every word of Jesus and the Father are true. And every careless comment in conversation and declaration carries consequences.
Jesus says, “I say unto you, that every idle word a men shall speak, he shall give account on the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)
What We Say Becomes Our Future
What we say today becomes our future tomorrow.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Jesus (Matthew 18:18-20)
Let our words carry life not death. And if we find ourselves tempted to speak doubt and death—to promote the agenda of the enemy—let us follow the advice of Jesus to Jairus and remain silent.
When faithless doubters told Jairus that his daughter had died, Jesus said:
“Ignore them. Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” (Mark 5:21-32)
When faithless doubters question, deny, and skew God’s word, let us rebuke them in love with grace and the whole truth of the gospel message—from Genesis to Revelation. Let us have in mind the concerns of God and love of Jesus. In time we may find that our love through the Spirit of Jesus and the power of his living word has changed hearts, leading some to repentance.
And that’s always our Lord’s will.
John Wesley… the Holy Spirit… Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
Working For Our Lord Jesus
On the voyage to the colonies John and Charles Wesley came into contact with Moravian settlers. At one point in the voyage a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. While the English panicked, the Moravians calmly sang hymns and prayed. This experience led Wesley to believe that the Moravians possessed an inner strength which he lacked. Wesley returned to England depressed and beaten.
In comparison to his later success as a leader in the Evangelical Revival, John Wesley’s ministry to Georgia has often been judged to be a failure. Why the difference? Why is one work for the Lord considered a failure and another a resounding success? Let’s look to Wesley’s own journal for the answer.
Working With Our Lord Jesus
On 24 May 1738, at a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, a depressed Wesley attended a service in which he heard a reading of Martin Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. Wesley recounted his Aldersgate experience in his journal:
“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Can An Individual Be Saved But Not Filled With The Holy Spirit?
Some claim this is impossible. But if they are correct, then what do we make of the thief on the cross?
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Jesus was crucified at Passover and ascended forty days after his resurrection. The Holy Spirit came fifty days after the resurrection, ten days after the ascension. Were the Eleven plus Matthias lost during those forty-nine days? Doomed to damnation for lack of the Holy Spirit?
The Book of Acts recounts others who were saved but not filled with the Holy Spirit.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them. They had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-16)
The Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Then Ananias, placing his hands on Saul, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:15-17)
John Wesley… the Holy Spirit… Less Jesus
Was Paul saved at the moment the Holy Spirit came upon him? Though he had encountered the risen Lord and was in prayer, even to the point of having a vision, prior to the arrival of Ananias was Paul still lost? Destined for hell?
Many in the modern church appear to be saved, but working for the Lord, not with the Lord. We cannot know a person’s heart: only Jesus has that insight. But we can judge the fruit of their work and discern if they are harvesting work sown by the Spirit of Jesus of another spirit.
If in our work for the Lord we lack inner strength, feel depressed and beaten down, perhaps the fault lies not in the work, but in the spirit calling us to the work. The enemy dearly loves that we remain busy at any task so long as we are not with the Lord.
Let us do as John Wesley and be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
I Set Before You Life And Death and Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff
I Set Before You Life And Death and Less Jesus
We proclaim the Word of life. The life appeared. We have seen the life. We testify to the life, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:1-3)
In Him was life. – Jesus (John 1:4)
“I am the bread of life.” – Jesus (John 6:48)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” – Jesus (John 14:6)
“I came that they may have life, and have life abundantly.” – Jesus (John 10:10)
“We call on federal and state legislators to act to protect the lives of women and girls by codifying their right to abortions.” – Harriett Jane Olson chief executive officer of the United Women in Faith’s (formerly United Methodist Women)
“The thief comes only to kill and destroy.” – Jesus (John 10:10)
“As a leading Christian women’s organization committed to the needs of women, children, and youth, United Women in Faith must voice alarm at the possibility of women losing the Constitutional right to legal abortion guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting Roe v Wade decision. Overturning Roe could also endanger the right to privacy that should also protect women from being prosecuted for a miscarriage and affords women access to widely used, safe, and legal contraceptives.
“Over the years, The United Methodist Church has crafted a carefully nuanced position on abortion that calls us to respect both the sanctity of unborn human life and the well-being of the mother, while supporting the legal option of abortion by certified medical providers in cases of “tragic conflicts of life with life.” *
“It is for this reason that, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, we express our concern for the lives of women and girls as more than 20 states are posed to effectively outlaw abortions in the event that Roe is overturned.” — UMC General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson
I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)