Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Change of Heart, Change of Style

A while ago, on social media, a posted a rather harsh reply to something that a pastor posted, and got rebuked for not making my reply in a loving way.  After a long time thinking, I realized that those who rebuked me were right, but I couldn't find the post again to give my response accepting the rebukes.  In light of this correction, I'm not only going to change my style when I correct Christians on social media, but also when I post on this blog corrections of false doctrine.  I want my posts to come off as being made with a loving attitude regardless of whether it's encouragement, questioning, correction, rebuke, or exposing deceivers.  This is something I should have been doing from the beginning since it is a command of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.  Now because I don't edit or delete any posts that have been published on this blog, you will be able to see this transition.

Now, there is another change I'm going to be making to how I write blog posts.  Previously, when I've been exposing false teaching, referring to articles or posts from others, I would omit linking the post or naming those who teach those false teachings.  This was done because I did not want to lend them any credibility by naming those who teach such things or linking to their articles.  I now believe this to be wrong.  So there will be blog posts in the future where I link directly to the articles I'm refuting, along with naming the ones teaching those false things.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The Body of Christ is NOT the Church

The Body of the Messiah consists of those who believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah (Christ) and have put their trust in him for their salvation.  It is often stated that this body of believers is the Church.  In actuality, the Church is a different entity entirely.  A quick look into the origin of the word Church reveals that the word is derived from the words for "circle" or "circus".  But the Greek word translated as "Church" (ekklesia) is a compound word that literally means "to call out".  What does a circle have to do with being God's called-out?  Nothing.  And isn't it interesting that a doctrine so core to Christianity that it was in the name was lost to history over the millennia.  Then again, the Truth does have a way of sneaking its way through.  Because rather than being called out from worldly practices and teachings, the Church instead embraces them, "claiming them for Christ" and advocating or even mandating said things.

Jesus established the Ekklesia (called-out) in AD 30.  In AD 325, Constantine established the Church.  It was still probably called "ekklesia" back then because the Catholic Church hijacks everything, but that is the definitive point in history where it stopped being the Called-Out and started being the Circus.  Constantine's establishment was made as a means of controlling the Body of the Messiah by keeping them from the practices that God ordained (eg: 7th Day Sabbath) and in slavery to idolatry.  And the doctrine of this establishment has changed over the centuries with each change of doctrine bringing about a reinterpretation of Scripture to suit that change.  They have even changed some "New Testament" passages on rare occasion, such as Mark 16:9-20, which are not in the original manuscripts.

One important detail is that "the Church" (as far as my usage of the word is concerned) is not the Catholic Church or any particular Protestant denomination, or anything else that calls itself a "Church".  That's right, it's independent of the Catholic Church because it is a system rather than an organization.  Constantine established both the organization and the system.  Both of which have evolved over the years, but in different ways.  The organization evolved to "claim for Christ" the various pagan practices that surrounded it while the system evolved to better keep people from wandering too far from Catholic doctrine, so that they don't rediscover the freedom that comes from keeping God's Law.  The most notable point in this evolution is the weaponization of apologetics (both the weaponization and apologetics are for future posts).

This system of course does have "gatekeepers" among both Catholics and Protestants.  (The "gatekeepers" within the Catholic Church shouldn't be a surprise as the Catholic Church is what created the system in the first place.)  You can identify these "gatekeepers" quite easily:  Just challenge or outright deny any doctrine that has very little, if any, biblical support (it does not have to be any of their core doctrines) and watch them forget how to use apologetics to defend said doctrine.  Actually, even that isn't necessary.  Because in some cases where a doctrine is being challenged or outright denied, but has extensive biblical support, the evidence brought against the doctrine is often itself another doctrine held by the system.  When this happens, a false doctrine is used as evidence that a true doctrine is actually false doctrine.  Since the Church believes both of these doctrines to be true or is incapable of letting go of either one, they are unable to provide an adequate defense of the true doctrine, even though one does exist.

Where does the above-mentioned scenario happen?  That is exactly the scenario playing out among those who believe that Paul was a deceiver.  The Church and those who hold that Paul was a deceiver both hold to the false doctrine that Paul taught against God's Law.  The Church holds to the doctrine that Paul was a legitimate Apostle of Yeshua.  But Paul's alleged teaching against God's Law is the evidence that Paul was a deceiver.  The Church is incapable of proving that Paul was a legitimate Apostle simply because it is a system designed to keep people from God's Law of Liberty.  And proving that Paul was legitimate would prove that the Church is the real deceiver.

On a final point:  These "gatekeepers" have an advantage that no other system has.  What is this advantage?  Jus ask:  Why would anyone who believes they will burn for eternity for lying lie to the masses?  That is the advantage that they have in their deception!  And that is also the perfect cover-up for the system of deception, regardless of whether the ones teaching that liars burn for eternity actually believe their own doctrine.  It's important to note that not everyone who uses the Church's talking points is part of the system.  Remember:  This is a system of deception.  There are going to be people who fall for their deceptions.  This is one reason why we need to test everything [1 Thessalonians 5:21], so that we only accuse the deceivers of being deceivers.

In conclusion, the Body of Believers are the "Called-Out" of God.  We are those who have been called out of sin and idolatry and we should refer to ourselves as such.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Is Observing the Biblical Feasts a Sin?

One question one might ask would be "how could observing the Biblical feasts be a sin?"  The answer to that is rather simple:  If God gave specific instructions in his law concerning their observance, and we observe them outside of those instructions, then the observance itself is a sin.  Which would also mean that if it is currently impossible to meet those conditions, then observing the feast would always be a sin.  But surely this can't be the case, right?

Well, someone cited Deuteronomy 12 as the proof that this is exactly the case for all of the feasts in Torah.  And since we're supposed to test everything [1 Thessalonians 5:21], this naturally includes seemingly counter-intuitive claims like the one someone made somewhere around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Oh, and also our own stances on the observance of these days.  And whenever we find that something we are doing is a sin, we should stop doing it.  The relevant passage starts in verse 5 of Deuteronomy 12:

[5] But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. [6] There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. [7] And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you. [Deuteronomy 12:5-7; NKJV]

It's pretty clear from these verses that everyone shall bring their offerings up to a single place where Yahweh chooses to put his name.  From there to verse 28, we are warned not to make any tithes, offerings, or sacrifices in any place except that which Yahweh chooses to put his name.  But that we can freely eat meat anywhere we desire so long as we do not eat the blood.  Yahweh's appointed times certainly have requirements to bring sacrifices and offerings.  So at the very least, if one cannot make it to whatever place Yahweh chose to put his name, then it is sinful to offer said offerings.  Note that from Deuteronomy 12 alone, it would be the offerings that are sinful to offer, not the observance of the feasts.  To see if there are any commandments that would make observing the feasts themselves sinful, we must look to the commandments concerning those feasts.

Before we look into these commandments, one might be tempted to simply invoke Deuteronomy 12:32 and/or Deuteronomy 5:32 and be done with it.  But invoking these verses in this instance wouldn't do much good on their own.  For example, it may be viewed that the claim that we should only observe the feasts in Jerusalem (the place Yahweh chose to put his name) is adding to God's commandments.  Invoking Deuteronomy 12:32 in this instance would actually backfire for the person making such a claim as it would appear to others like he/she is themselves adding to Yahweh's law.  Likewise, invoking Deuteronomy 5:32 and leaving it at that would simply beg the question:  "How are we deviating from God's commandments?"

Anyone who invokes Deuteronomy 12:32 challenges their opponent to prove that their claims of what is or is not sinful is not an addition to or subtraction from Torah.  But anyone who invokes Deuteronomy 5:32 must be able to back up their claims with Torah or will themselves be on the receiving end of the Deuteronomy 12:32 challenge.  By the way, Deuteronomy 5:32 would definitely apply to observing Yahweh's feasts outside of the rules that he established in his Law.  So let's now take a look at what the Law says concerning these feasts.

The first relevant passage is in Leviticus 23, which opens by declaring that the feasts contained within that chapter are Yahweh's feasts.  In other words, those feasts and only those feasts are to be used to honor God.  And yes, that does mean even Hanukah and Purim should not be used to honor God.  In this chapter, there is no hint that there is only to be one place where the feasts are celebrated.  But that doesn't mean there aren't any.  It's just not here.  There are however, in Exodus 12:43-49, instructions concerning who may or may not eat the Passover.  But also no instructions on any one specific place.

Then we have Numbers 9:1-14, which concern how the Passover is to be kept if one is not able to do so at the appointed time.  This also does not specify a single place where the Passover is to be observed.  It does however, not give any requirements for keeping the Feast of Unleavened bread that comes immediately afterwards.  Numbers 28-29 have the most comprehensive set of instructions concerning Yahweh's appointed times, but again, there is no indication that they are to be celebrated only in one place.  But we haven't finished going through Torah to see if there are any instructions that would prohibit us from observing these times outside of that one place.  However, the commands in Deuteronomy 12 concerning the offerings would definitely make impossible to fully-observe the feasts outside of that one place.

Deuteronomy 16 is where we start seeing instructions explicitly restricting where we may observe Yahweh's appointed times.  So let's just quickly list-off the feast, the verses, and the type of restriction of location (if any).

  1. Passover [Deuteronomy 16:1-8]:  Passover must be sacrificed at the location God chooses.
  2. Feast of First Fruits:  No location restrictions.
  3. New Moon Feasts:  No location restrictions.
  4. Feast of Weeks [Deuteronomy 16:9-12]:  Must be observed at the location God chooses.
  5. Feast of Trumpets:  No location restrictions.
  6. Day of Atonement:  No location restrictions.
  7. Feast of Tabernacles [Deuteronomy 16:13-17]:  Must be observed at the location God chooses.

Well, there we have it!  Three of the feasts are only to be observed at the location that Yahweh chooses.  The Passover, the Feast of Weeks (aka:  Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles.  There is no indication that any of the special Sabbaths may be ignored if one cannot come to the location God chooses.  As for the rest of the observance, it is indeed a sin to observe those three feasts outside of the place God chooses.  And the place that Yahweh chose to put his name is Jerusalem.  Today, most people simply cannot go to Jerusalem three times a year.  But there is coming a time when all nations will go up for the Feast of Tabernacles [Zechariah 14:16-19].

By the way, I was not expecting these results in the slightest.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Lies Believed by Fundamentalists

I have noticed many things that are taught by Christians (or those who claim to be Christians) that are, at best, not supported by Scripture.  And at worse, contrary to what the Bible says.  Today, we're going to focus on things that the fundamentalists (of which I once was, and still am to some degree) get wrong.  I am hoping to list every single lie that is believed by fundamentalists, and which is specific to fundamentalist doctrine.  But to end on a positive note, I also hope to list every single true thing that is believed by fundamentalists, and which is specific to fundamentalist doctrine.  And these will be very brief summaries as each one could be a blog post in and of itself.  Also, since I will not edit a blog post after it has been published, if I miss anything here, there probably will eventually be a part 2.

The Lie The Truth
The Bible is [literally] the word of God/written word of God. The Bible contains the written word of God, but it not literally the word of God.
The Bible claims to be the word of God. The Bible makes no such claims.
The Bible claims to be inerrant.
You can either trust the whole Bible or none of it. There is no reason to treat the Bible as an "all or nothing" book.
The Bible has no contradictions. There are some contradictions, but very few in number.
"Scripture" in the Bible refers to the whole Bible. "Scripture" in the Bible refers to a subset of "Old Testament" writings (namely the Law and the Prophets), except for 2 Peter 3:16, where it also refers to Paul's epistles.
The Bible should be taken literally. [not all fundamentalists teach this] Not everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally.
It's in the Bible, therefore it's the word of God. Circular reasoning.  Besides, not every book in the Bible claims to be the word of God, nor are given such attribution by other books in the Bible.  Being the "word of God" was never a requirement for inclusion in the Bible.
It doesn't belong in the Bible because it's not the word of God.
"Scripture" and "the written word of God" are the same thing. Not all Scripture is the "written word of God", nor is all "scripture" [literally "writings"] in the Bible directly attributed to God.
Every word in the Bible was dictated by God. There are many places where this is true, such as where God is telling Moses or another prophet what to tell the people. But there are many places where this is not only false, but would be useless to us if  it were true.
Rejecting one book in the Bible will lead to rejecting the whole Bible. This is only true for those who bought the lie that the Bible is an "all or nothing" book.  Otherwise, there wouldn't be people who believe that Paul is a deceiver while simultaneously believing Jesus is the Messiah and the other apostles were legit.
All books in the Bible have equal authority. There is a hierarchy of authority in the Bible starting with Torah at the top, followed by the Prophets, then everything else.
Not believing all of the above is compromising God's word with man's words. All of the above claims are man's words.
It is now morally necessary to wear clothes because of sin. God never gave any such mandate or moral obligation.
The laws against incest were given out of necessity. The laws against incest were put in place to (1) set God's people apart from the nations [Leviticus 18:1-5], and (2) keep all sexual relationships within the bounds of what God intended.
Sins are only forgivable through a blood sacrifice. There are many instances in the Bible where God forgave people without a sin offering being presented, notably with David's adultery and murder, and the many times that Jesus forgave people just because of their faith. And there is a sin offering that is just flour [Leviticus 5:11].

That should be all of them.  Now to end on a positive note, here are all (hopefully) of the fundamentalist claims that are correct, or close enough.

Claim More Accurate Version (if any)
The Bible should be taken as plainly written. For the most part, the Bible should be taken as plainly-written.  [Hebrew idioms in both OT and NT need to be taken into account.]
Everything God says is true.
Genesis is the foundation of the Gospel Message of Jesus the Messiah. Genesis, along with the rest of Torah, is the foundation of the Gospel Message of Jesus the Messiah.
Compromising Genesis compromises the Gospel.
The Bible has a 100% prophesy-fulfillment rate.
Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sinners death to pay for our sins, and rose from the dead on the third day. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sinners death, and rose from the dead after three days and three nights.
Jesus is the son of God and is God.
Jesus is the Messiah.
Jesus is God in the flesh.
If you do not believe Moses, you will not believe Jesus. If you do not believe Moses (which includes obeying him), then you will not believe Jesus.
It is because of the Fall that we wear clothes. It is because of the fall that we began to wear clothes.
God created everything in 6 days and rested on the seventh.
Death, disease, and suffering are the result of the Fall, and were non-existent before then.
The Flood of Noah literally covered the Earth in water.
There is no such thing as "pre-history".
Man and dinosaurs were created together and lived together.
Living things reproduce after their kind.
All people and nations came from Adam through Noah.
God created all things "very good".
Sin corrupted God's very good creation.
Death is the result of sin.

Don't forget: If you think I missed anything (I probably have) or got something wrong (I probably have), constructive criticism is always welcome on this blog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

How to Test Claims that Something is a Sin

When trying to determine whether something that is claimed to be a sin actually is a sin, you only need to ask these three questions:

  1. Does Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) have a direct command against it?
  2. Does Torah list items that are permitted (or required) in a category that the item in question is in but is not on the list?
  3. Is there a penalty associated with it, but without a direct or indirect command against it?

It really is that simple, as Torah alone defines what is right and wrong.  Whatever is contrary to Torah is sin and whatever is not contrary to Torah is not sin.  The Prophets do not define sin.  Jesus does not define sin.  The Apostles do not define sin.  Only the Law of Yahweh defines sin.  And for those who would say that Yeshua does define sin because he is God, let me remind you that if he is to live a sinless life as a human being, he must abide by the same Law that everyone else is expected to abide by.  If he were to teach what is contrary to Torah, then he would have sinned and his death on the cross would be useless for our salvation.  Therefore Yeshua does not define sin.

Also, I originally listed just the first two questions, and would have considered things that meet the criteria of the third question as things that God hates but does not forbid.  But while writing this post, I changed my mind, hence the third question.

Jesus said to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).  And you're not living on it if you are adding to it or subtracting from it.  For the Law says in multiple places, such as Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 to not add to or subtract from God's commandments.  This means that once written, the Law of God is read only.  Nobody after that can in any way change the Law, not even Jesus after he rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.  The Apostle Paul said multiple times that Torah defines sin, such as Romans 3:20 and 7:7.  The Law itself defines sin in multiple places as transgressing the Law.

For any given thing that is claimed to be sinful, answering "yes" to one of the above questions proves the thing in question to be sinful.  If the answer to both questions is "no", then the thing in question is not sinful even if it is detrimental or believed to be detrimental.

The first question should be self-explanatory.  If God's Law has a direct command against something, then that something in question is a sin.  Theft, adultery, lying, murder, and slander are all sinful because the Law has a direct command against each of these.  The same for eating animals like pigs [Leviticus 11:7-8].  And if you think of twisting 1 Timothy 4:1 to claim that I'm teaching "doctrines of demons" (as some have done), then you would be calling God a demon, for God himself gave that command.

The second question is a bit more complex than the first.  There are some places in God's Law that list of a number of things in a category that are either allowed or required.  In these instances, whatever is in that same category that does not make the list is forbidden.  A good example of this is the list of holy days in Leviticus 23 that we are to use to honor God.  So even if it could be proven that Christmas and Easter did originate within Christianity, it wouldn't change the fact that those days are not on the list of holy days for honoring God, and are therefore sinful to partake in.  We may see those days as serving God, but that's not how God sees them.

There are some things that do not have a direct command against them (answer to question 1 is "no") or an indirect command against them (answer to question 2 is also "no").  This is where the third and final question comes in:  If God's Law also does not list a penalty for doing something (answer to question 3 is "no"), then the item in question is not a sin.  But if there is a penalty listed for doing something, then the item in question is a sin.  Otherwise, there would not be a penalty.

A good example of something that has a penalty listed, but no direct or indirect command against it is extramarital sex.  In Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, if an unmarried couple are caught having sexual relationships, then the man is required to pay the bride price to the woman's father, the two are required to marry (unless the father forbids it), and they are never allowed to divorce.  The bride price, can be multiple years worth of wages.  And if a woman had this type of sexual relationship, then presented herself as a virgin to another man and her deception was discovered, then the woman could die (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).

In any case where the answer to all three of these questions is "no", then the thing in question is permissible.  In fact, since Torah is described as "the Law of Liberty" in James 1:25, then we should approach things in a "freedom by default" manner.  That is, unless we can prove it goes against God's Law, we should allow it.  Some examples of things that are not against God's Law include dancing, games and sports, and gender-neutral bathrooms, lockers, etc.

There are some things that Yahweh technically allows, but also hates.  These things are often identified by whether God's Law has a provision for them, but also a lot of restrictions.  One example is divorce, where as I explained in a previous post, is intended to be done only in cases of unfaithfulness in marriage.  We also know that Yahweh hates divorce because of Malachi 2:16, where Yahweh explicitly states as much when speaking through one of his prophets.

To summarize:  If you cannot prove that something is contrary to God's Law either by (1) a direct command, (2) by not making a list of items allowed or required that are in the same category as the item in question, or (3) by not having any penalty for doing something, then regardless of how sinful you believe it to be or how much you object to it, that thing is not, I repeat, not, a sin.

I'll leave you with this exercise:  Exodus 20:26 says, "Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it."  So what is the sin here?  Is it to build steps up to an altar, to approach the altar naked, or both?  Don't forget to prove your answer.

Change of Heart, Change of Style

A while ago, on social media, a posted a rather harsh reply to something that a pastor posted, and got rebuked for not making my reply in a ...