Sunday, March 26, 2023

904. False Assumptions: "Where Two or Three Are Gathered"

In Matthew 18, Jesus makes a statement that is often quoted in religious circles:

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

This is usually plucked out and used in a church group setting where people are worshipping together, or it may be applied when "two or more" are gathered to pray, and that their prayers will be answered because there is more than one person present ... "power in numbers," they might say. Notice Jesus didn't say two or more, but was very specific about two or three ... and it was for a distinct reason based on what the law said.

In spite of our assumptions, Jesus was talking about something entirely different and it was from a law-based, Old Covenant perspective (now obsolete). It involved conflict resolution when one would sin against another. Jesus even quoted from the law within the passage. It's clear Jesus is not speaking to non-Jewish people and it's not a "Christian" passage with new instructions—but He was looking back at something from the Mosaic law which was still in place before His death.

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Sunday, March 19, 2023

903. False Assumptions: You Are the Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

Why did some of Paul's statements appear as a contrast to some things Jesus said? Put simply, Jesus made statements to Jewish people who were still under the burden of the Mosaic law. Paul provided revelations of truth for those people who had been freed from that law after Jesus fulfilled it. The mistake of assuming Jesus is always speaking to future believers will miss valuable context regarding what He came to deliver people from—especially as it relates to Israel and the shift from one covenant that was about to be made obsolete ... to something brand new.

One example is when He said, "You are the salt of the earth." Traditionally, many Christians have identified themselves as the salt of the earth, but this was a covenant conversation Jesus was having with His Jewish disciples who were still under the law. A covenant of salt between men was not an uncommon idea in those times. The problem is that Israel failed the covenant God made with them, the salt lost its flavor—and needed to be thrown out (Gulp!). Nobody could attain righteousness through that covenant containing the law. The good news is that by God's grace and mercy, it would not be the people being thrown out, but the covenant would need to be tossed aside and replaced with something better.

The house of Israel was also considered the light of the world as Jesus spoke to them, but it was a light growing dim through an inconsistent effort of works of the law. Jesus later stated He was the light of the world ... and new covenant writings describe us as children of the light ... but it's His light that we reflect, which is a different position than His reference to Israel in Matthew 5.

When it comes to the teachings of Jesus, developing an understanding of the Old and New Covenants and their timeline will help avoid a lot of inconsistencies in what we say and what we think we believe.

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Sunday, March 12, 2023

902. False Assumptions: The Sermon on the Mount Was a New Christian Teaching?

It's easy to get confused between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant if we're under the assumption that when Jesus was speaking to His disciples, it means He was also speaking directly to us today.

Jesus was born under the law for the purpose of redeeming the Jewish people from that law, which was incapable of providing them with life and righteousness. The New Covenant did not begin in Matthew 1:1 or at the birth of Jesus ... but would be ratified after His death (Hebrews 9). The "sermon" in Matthew 5-7 was Jesus attempting to methodically show His disciples that if they were to continue to make attempts at attaining righteousness through that law of works, they would fall short of the perfection it demanded ... because it would mean keeping every jot and title of the 613 commandments and statutes. They would need a greater righteousness.

Therefore, what Jesus spoke with His words in these passages is of critical importance ... but it was not a new Christian teaching for all future believers in Christ with a new set of rules that would be even more difficult to follow than the impossible law. They would need a better way to get to God—and Jesus would be that way.

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Sunday, March 05, 2023

901. False Assumptions: If You Do the Wrong Things - You Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God

On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul mentioned a list of fleshly, sinful actions, and said that those who do or practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Believers may sometimes be taught by the legalistic that this is like fine print on their salvation agreement, leaving them feeling unsure about where they stand with God, despite having confessed faith in Jesus. Such passages sound like quite a contradiction on the surface when compared to other things Paul stated in his writings.

We have already received the kingdom—and it's one that cannot be shaken—which occurred apart from what we do, by grace through faith. The unrighteous are not identified as such because of what they do, but what they do is because they are unrighteous. Likewise, believers in Christ are not righteous as the result of doing good and avoiding what is bad ... God's righteousness has been gifted to us. We'll take a look at what else Paul said right before and after these statements and it will highlight our identity as righteous people—as he encourages believers to avoid the quicksand that the unrighteous fall into and realize this is not who they are in Him. And walking by the Spirit will help us in this.

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Sunday, February 26, 2023

900. False Assumptions: "If We Sin Willfully" (Hebrews 10:26)

After taking a few minutes to recognize the milestone of our 900th weekly podcast, we pay a visit to another false assumption that the ministry of fear loves to pour on top of people. And yes, once again it involves plucking a Bible verse completely out of context from the book of Hebrews that will be advertised in a way that suggests a person may lose their salvation if they sin deliberately. They will imply the sacrifice of Jesus will not be able to save them for "willful" sins. We will point out who the writer is communicating to and some things they said over several chapters leading up to this "verse" which we hope will bring some peace of mind—because the gospel is supposed to be good news—not a message of discomfort.

The writer is explaining to Jewish people about the contrasts between the New Covenant of Christ and the former Old Covenant of law and animal sacrifices ... and how the old way was annulled. If they were to reject the sacrifice of Jesus which brought eternal forgiveness and took away sin once for all, there would be no sacrifice left for sins. So this is not referring to people who sin (as we all do), but it is aimed at those who reject the only sacrifice God provided to take away their sin.

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

899. False Assumptions: "Fallen From Grace"

When someone is accused of falling from grace in today's "religiondom" (introducing a new word on the podcast!), it is usually used in the context of a person who has been caught in some sort of "major" sin or was discovered to have broken a significant commandment from the Mosaic law. Perhaps it involved a habitually failed attempt at commandment-keeping—and caught the attention of the rumor mill—also known as the judge and jury.

The phrase "fallen from grace" appears in one passage (Galatians 5:4). Even within this very Bible verse, it tells us what caused the Galatians to have fallen from grace, and it's pretty much the precise opposite of what church attendees have been told. But as we often do, we will expand the boundaries of the context to help get a clearer understanding in order to avoid the pitfall of yet another false assumption which slipped through the religious church filter.

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

898. False Assumptions: God Convicts Believers of Their Sin

Believers in Jesus often throw around a talking point that sounds something like this: "The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins." It's another false assumption which is probably the result of misunderstanding something Jesus said in the gospel of John. Jesus is looking forward to the New Covenant as He speaks to His disciples and begins to tell them how He will be departing, but the Spirit of God would be sent as a helper. Jesus explains the conviction of sins by the Spirit would be directed at unbelievers. The Spirit is with believers to convict, declare and remind them that they are the righteousness of God.

Not understanding the plenitude of God's forgiveness and the taking away of sin through the blood of Jesus will leave people in a sin consciousness instead of a righteousness consciousness. Hebrews 10 explains how the Spirit of God bears witness to us that God would no longer remember sins in this New Covenant. They were removed, and the Spirit isn't going to convict us of something that is no longer on the record.

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