True Followers of Jesus

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” — Jesus (Matthew 5:38-48)

It would seem to me that in Western Americanized Christianity, we have lost our way, and maybe even forgotten what the road we are supposed to be on even looks like. Ever since Jesus spoke these words two millennia ago, followers and non-followers alike have read these words and felt that Jesus was pretty clear. Sometimes Jesus speaks in parables and we have to figure it out. But this teaching was different. Jesus speaks plainly here and then lives a life demonstrating exactly what He means, all the way down to the manner of His death. How did we get from the clear teaching of Jesus to today where we, as Christians in America, celebrate July 4th as a Christian holiday, fly American Flags in our churches, identify ourselves as Americans first and Christians second (rather than strangers, foreigners, ambassadors for a Kingdom that is not of this world), and to John Hagee’s now famous prayer that God would, in the Name of Jesus, lead this country in our wars and that the angels of heaven would go before American troops against “our” enemies. How did we get here?

Today we have a series of reasons and justifications that circumvent our application of these words in their truest meaning. In our application we say that Jesus teaching on this subject is only for certain groups, certain time periods, or certain cultural circumstances. But the fact that Jesus taught the way of peace is obvious to everybody. Christians today just find unique ways to circumvent its application to our lives.

Today we have gone from a rule with no exceptions (this is how the first three hundred years of Christian history interpreted Jesus teaching), to believing that there were certain exceptions to Jesus’ teaching, then from exceptions being admitted to exceptions being embraced. Today, exceptions are now lived by more than the rule. The exceptions are seen as the rule and the teachings of Jesus are seen as the exception. How did this happen?

This series of e-Sights and Podcasts could not be more important right now. Your understanding on this topic, I will freely admit, is deeply determined by whether your picture of God looks like Jesus or something else. Most of the time, Renewed Heart Ministries is a ministry with a goal of humbly serving the world with a call to non-followers of Jesus to consider the radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered teachings of Jesus. But in this series, we are not calling those who are non-followers to consider the teachings of Jesus. We are calling those who claim to follow Jesus to take a serious look at the actual teachings of Jesus. This series is focused uniquely toward “Christians,” asking them to change the direction of their lives and begin following Jesus. It’s a call to Christians to repent. It transcends denominations and reaches to the central core of what, for the first three hundred years of Christianity, it meant to be a follower of “the way.” At its heart, the Kingdom was about following the way of peace.
———————

The words above are from Herb Montgomery of Renewed Heart Ministries in his weekly update from 5-27-2012. Click here to read it all. This was the introduction to Herb’s 11-part series on the “Active Non-Violence of Jesus.” For those who like to listen to podcasts you can download or listen to all eleven episodes here, or find his ministry on iTunes and download the eleven messages that were given from May 29 to October 1, 2012. You will be blessed, I promise you!

Do you call yourself a follower of Jesus? Is your house built on a foundation of solid rock or is your foundation built on sand? The Creator of the Universe sent His Son to teach us what it means to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and sons and daughters within His family. The very first message that Jesus gave to us about His Father’s Kingdom was the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, ending with the parable of the foundations. If you hear the words of Jesus and DO them, your house is built on rock, but if you hear and IGNORE them, then your house is built on sand and will be swept away.

The Sermon on the Mount is absolutely foundational to the Christian life. Let’s get back to basics, and spiritually gear up for the greatest move of God to ever impact the world here in these end-times. We need to repent, turn back to Jesus, and follow His instructions for living a life based on forgiveness, peace, love, and the awesome power of the Holy Ghost!

Peter Goodgame
www.redmoonrising.com

P.S. – please email me at pgoodgame@hawaii.rr.com and let me know if you choose to listen to these teachings. They have to be the foundation of the revolution that the Bride of Christ is being called to lead!


24 thoughts on “True Followers of Jesus

  1. You asked how ‘we’ got ‘here’–calling ourselves Americans before referring to ourselves as Christians[if it’s habitual, it’s due to a failing by us to realize where our citizenship really lies–in heaven with Jesus, even though we are still here at this point], asking for God’s protection for our troops when they are sent into battle on behalf of our own country, or in defense of another–as I understand this, we ask for God’s protection for our troops due to the idea that our troops are always fighting on the defensive, never the offensive in any conflict–which is why, when one of our troops is killed in battle their death certificate always reads, “Homicide”, as the cause–we consider them to have been murdered–

    –but, it was the Lord Jesus who let us know, due to what He said to His disciples on the night He was betrayed, that self-defense is totally permitted by Almighty God, when the Lord said this in Luke 22:36: “…and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”–

    –because, He knew how dangerous things would be as we attempt to spread the Gospel around the world, which is why He sanctioned using a weapon in self-defense–but, ONLY in self-defense–which is why our country is only supposed to fight defensive battles, NEVER offensive ones, or the death certificate could never read, “Homicide” when one of our soldiers is killed in battle–that’s only true, though, if those in power in this country are “moral” characters, not morally-bankrupt ones–but, if that happens, and I believe fully it already has, then I am positive that our heavenly Father holds all of us responsible for the neglect–sinful neglect–we’ve demonstrated as we’ve allowed those immoral men and women to worm their way into high office in our country, and begin to corrupt everything good we’ve ever stood for from the country’s inception–

    –I’m only replying the way I am to your notes due to how popular it seems to have become to bash even fellow believers for everything from ‘soup to nuts’ these days, finding fault with every little, or large failing, yet never truly showing the love and understanding the Lord would show, even in the face of the terrible failures we’re all guilty of, that has brought this country nearly to it’s knees thanks to rampant corruption of those in high office–traitorous characters ignore the constitution, steal away our God-given rights through clandestine illegal fiats, then slip “knives in our backs”, while smiling in our faces–

    –but, I see what’s happening from reading blogs like yours as ‘piling on’ the guilt without remembering that most of us don’t need further scolding–reality alone hitting us in our faces these days has already done that–what we need is what Christ, Himself, would give us–we need that from our Shepherds, not more and more brow-beatings, letting us know how wrong we’ve all been–and, we definitely do not need any more misinterpretations of God’s Word, when it comes to whether we can pick up arms to DEFEND ourselves and our country–because, Jesus told us in that verse from Luke all by itself that YES we CAN–defense of self, and of others, is not wrong–being offensive definitely is–

    –so, how did we all ‘get here’?–have you ever seen what happens when a ship loses it’s rudder?–our Shepherds, who are supposed to guard us, and teach us/lead us, on behalf of the Lord in His absence, top the list of reasons as to why what passes for Christendom today is in the deplorable shape we now find it–but, Jesus told us never to worry, or be afraid–so, even that reality shouldn’t scare us, but embolden us to go ‘before the throne’ on our knees, asking the Lord for His help for us, and His strength, along with His forgiveness.

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  2. Christie, thanks for sharing your opinion here, but I can see that you really need to listen to these teachings. The passage from Luke 22:36, that some see as a loophole to escape Jesus’ clear teachings on non-violence, is clearly explained here: http://renewedheartministries.com/Esights/06-22-2012

    We need to begin to realize how truly radical Jesus’ teachings were. The early Church understood this, which is why ALL Christian leaders for the first three hundred years categorically rejected violence, even for the purpose of self-defense.

    Jesus never called us to take up the Sword; He called us to take up the Cross, and to live just like He lived (and be willing to die like He died). It is for that reason that you will not find a book with the following title: “A History of Violent Resistence to Martyrdom in the Early Church.” The early followers of Christ went to their deaths willingly. We are called to be willing to die for Christ, not kill for Christ, and we are certainly not given a pass to kill for OURSELVES, to preserve our own lives.

    “And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9.22-24)

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  3. Very true, Chris! Very true!

    I think because of the many variations of Biblical teachings (where we have many different religions of Christianity) evidentally, we see why it is very hard for many folks to recall the literal translations of Christ Y’Shua Jesus’s words. The words get muffled into (the political) “(wo)man’s perspective” rather than Christ Y’Shua Jesus’s perspective.

    Many folks believe that you are setting up a witch hunt, when the fact of the matter is that you’re red-flagging (alerting us) to the dangerous misinformation which does not follow in literal essence the words of Adon Y’Shua Jesus Christ.

    Many of us are very busy in our daily lives that we must be more vigilant in rereading Scriptures.

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  4. I’m confused here. Who is Chris? Are you supporting Christie’s stance in support of “defensive” violence? Or did you mean to agree with my perspective that the American Church has become politicized into supporting violence? If you meant to say “Peter” instead of “Chris” then you make perfect sense!

    But if you agree with Christie I’d like to hear more about this Jesus who supports violence, whose teachings have been taken out of context, politicized, and dangerously twisted in support of sacrifice and non-violence.

    I’d say its been the other way around.

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  5. Understand… Rash violence will almost always promote more violence quickly… Rash passivity allows for potential moments of compassion and reflection slowly. Neither has a certainty of outcome other than faith from our perspective.
    While I do believe that Jesus represented a passive attitude at his first coming; as a “lamb to the slaughter”… he will return otherwise as the “Lion of Judah”.
    The message that you highlight here from the book of Matthew; Peter Goodgame; is the ideal… as you so aptly implied… achieving God likeness; through he that has redeemed us; should be every believer’s quest.
    However, most of us have trouble realizing our own position having never known the relationship or the experiential closeness that Christ knew with our Father… If most are like me, they may second guess themselves and ponder what righteousness truly looks like. The Father was very clear concerning certain peoples/civilizations… that there was to be NO mercy afforded them at the hand of man…
    Christ’s likeness as stated here is preponderance to me, and perhaps even an affront to my rationalization of evil works that are so prevalent these days…
    Good post Peter… one of few I read and cause me to respond with my simple thoughts…
    Thanks!
    PointOfLight

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  6. Hi Peter. I was wondering if you could comment on the theology of Herb? It appears he is either a 7th Day Adventists, or has a ministry to them. The doctrine of “investigative judgement” which they adhere to appears to be a works based salvation model, from which it certainly seems it would influence this teaching series (although I have not listened to it).

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  7. Hey there Peter ! I heard you with Dr. Stan … lotsa good points .So what is it a person must believe specifically in order to have 100% certainty of eternal life that cannot be lost for any reason whatsoever ? Thanks so much !!

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  8. Tim, to answer your question, you want to read 1 John. John wrote this letter to give assurance of eternal life. Note the following:

    1Jn 1:4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

    1Jn 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him….

    1Jn 2:5 …… By this we know that we are in Him.

    1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life….

    1Jn 3:19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

    1Jn 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

    1Jn 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: …..

    1Jn 4:6 ….. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    1Jn 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, …..

    1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, ….

    1Jn 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, …..

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  9. Thanks Stan !
    So what is it specifically in these verses that one must believe in order to have 100% certainty of the posession of eternal life that cannot be lost for any reason whatsoever ?

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  10. My belief is that “once saved always saved” is an incomplete and unbalanced doctrine. Jesus didn’t come just to teach us what to believe, He came to change the way we live. If our lives aren’t changed outside of our hypothetical “beliefs” we are not born again. To hold on to “once saved always saved” demands that we ignore many of the teachings and parables of Jesus. “Belief” brings us into the kingdom of heaven, but obedience keeps us there. To those who “believe” but don’t “obey” Jesus will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” This is my position. If you want to understand it more look at my post “Pursue Jesus In 2013” and consult the sources given there.

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  11. Tim, you can read these verses as well as I can, why are you asking me / us? For example:

    1Jn 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

    The word keep, in Greek being “tereo” meaning “to guard (from loss or injury, properly keeping the eye upon.

    Why would you think that your can have 100% certainty of salvation that cannot be lost for any reason? You can have 100% certainty of salvation if you guard it, it cannot be taken from you. But with sustained rejection, you can walk away from it. You still have a free will after gaining your salvation.

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  12. Thank you for your responses .
    So you do not know where you are going when you die , and you are certain that I cannot know either – does that fairly represent your position ?
    Please explain what you mean by “guarding” and/or “obedience” and what level or quantity of either would be required to enter heaven . Also , if you could point out from scripture the acceptable level and quantity of good works (obedience) necessary to obtain eternal life .
    Thanks so much !

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  13. So it seems clear that your position is that one cannot know with 100% certainty that one has eternal life that cannot be lost for any reason whatsoever by simply believing Jesus when he guarantees :”He who believes in Me , has eternal life” (John 6:47) , or it’s equivalent in John 3:16;5:24;11:25-26; 1 John 5:10-13 ; Paul in Romans 3:21-4:17;11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9 etc. .
    Perhaps you can clarify for us the distinctions between justification and sanctification in light of these passages ?
    Thanks so much !

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  14. I am asking you or anyone reading this – thanks Stan .

    Go ahead and take a stab at my questions .

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  15. BOSS PAUL THE PHARISEE
    [sing it to the tune of “Rapture” by Blondie]
    I’m Boss Paul, the Pharisee
    My hypocrisy’s plain for the world to see
    I travel the land and travel the sea
    to make a convert who is just like ME
    “All have sinned” – we know that’s true
    but it never means ME – it only means YOU
    My sins are all theoretical
    “I’m the worst of sinners”- but don’t ask where
    To be more like Jesus is what some strive
    except for me – I’ve already arrived
    I’m the perfect model since the road to Damascus
    What were Paul’s sins? Don’t ask us!
    I justify everything I do
    If I testify about myself it MUST be true
    I’m the only man in all history
    whose testimony doesn’t need two or three
    If I did something it MUST be right
    Don’t use the Scripture to shed any light
    Don’t do as I say, do as I do
    and then you can be a Pharisee too.

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  16. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? Here are 5 to get the discussion started:

    .1) Paul’s boastful conflicting false testimonies, exaggerating and making things up about his conversion experience in Acts 22 & 26, compared to what actually happened (recorded by Luke in Acts 9).

    .2) Paul lying to the Ephesian elders saying he was “compelled by the Spirit” going to Jerusalem, when in truth he was clearly disobeying God. [Acts 19:21 – 22:21]
    .
    3) Paul exaggerating his ministry in Ephesus claiming it was “3 years night and day with tears” when really it was 3 months in the synagogue and 2 years daily in a lecture hall.
    [Acts 20:31 vs Acts 19:8-10]

    .4) Paul abandoning the Church in Corinth after a year and a half for no obvious reason, and going off on another long trip, mostly on his own, without appointing anyone else in Corinth as overseer, or giving anyone else any specific authority in the Church in Corinth.
    [Acts 18]

    .5) Paul acting as an abusive absentee overseer / pastor to the Church in Corinth years after he abandoned them, and clinging to all power and claim to control of money and all aspects of the church ministry, while he was hundreds of miles away teaching full-time in his own school in Ephesus. [1 & 2 Corinthians.]

    Paul is the “model pastor” for many modern “Pauls” like;

    a)
    Bob Coy, who still owns all the assets and controls all the money at his cult known as Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, in spite of his recent resignation as “Senior Pastor” there due to adultery with multiple woman and other major sins that he still has never specifically admitted to personally.

    b)
    Greg Laurie, the Boss of a wide-ranging personal cult empire that generally goes by the name of “Harvest.” Greg lives in Newport Beach, commutes by helicopter, and exploits the very large church he founded in Riverside from a distance, while he does his own thing in Orange County and travels around wherever he feels like, building a personal business empire with himself as the center, not Jesus.

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  17. The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”

    Sin is always specific, not general.
    The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”

    The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)

    A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)

    What were Paul’s sins?

    STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
    (Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
    (Response- Sin is alwasy specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
    (Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
    (Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
    (Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )

    STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.

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  18. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

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  19. “What is an Apostle?”
    Here is the answer based on the original sources:
    The words and actions of Jesus and the Original Apostles in the text of the New Testament.

    .1) Gospel of Mark – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him…” [Mark 3:13-14]

    Three chapters later,
    “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” [Mark 6:6-7]

    .2) Gospel of Luke – time lag between being appointed and being sent
    “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon…..” [Luke 6:12-14]

    Again three chapters later,
    “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” [Luke 9:1-2]

    .3) Gospel of Matthew – which is organized by theme, not necessarily in chronological order.
    “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon…” [Matthew 10:1]

    Without any clear time reference, continuing on the theme of the Apostles, Matthew does record “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…” [Matthew 10:5] Matthew never said that the Apostles were “sent out” immediately after being appointed. If we didn’t also have the clear records in Mark and Luke, it would be a fairly logical assumption that Jesus sent them out right away, but it would still be just an assumption. In this case, that assumption would clearly be wrong. The Twelve Apostles were absolutely NOT sent out right away after being appointed Apostles, according to Mark chapters 3 through 6, and Luke chapters 6 through 9.

    So being an Apostle of Jesus involves being sent by Jesus, yes. But that isn’t the only meaning, or even the first and primary meaning. The first thing was “that they might be with Him” personally, together, for His entire earthly ministry, from the time of John the Baptist until Jesus rose to heaven. Jesus poured his life into the 12 Apostles for 3 ½ years very personally training them to be the leaders of the church, and Jesus chose Peter as first among equals.

    The NIV translation inserts the heading “Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas” for the passage Luke wrote in Acts 1:12-26]. The NIV headings were not part of the original text, and sometimes they can be misleading, but in this case I believe the heading is right on.

    Jesus and the Original Apostles knew what an Apostle is better than anyone else in the world. Why is this a strange idea? Why do so many people frequently attack and tear down and dismiss the Original Apostles, particularly Peter, as if they were all incompetent, stupid, and wrong in so many ways, and they didn’t even know what an “Apostle” was? The answer to that question is, they have been listening to the voice of Paul, rather than the voices of Jesus and the Original Apostles.

    As we consider the question “what is an Apostle”, we should carefully listen to the words of the leader that Jesus personally appointed as first among the Apostles, and trained personally for 3 ½ years, Peter.

    “It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” [Acts 1:21-22]

    Neither Paul, nor James, nor Luke were with Jesus and the Apostles the whole time, so they were not qualified to be a “witness with the Apostles of Jesus’ resurrection”, which is what it means to be an Apostle. Matthias was qualified, appointed, and later recognized as part of The Twelve. No one except Judas ever lost his apostleship.

    Responding to a question from Peter,
    “Jesus said to them:
    …you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Matthew 19:28]

    We cannot prove that Judas was present at that time, and we cannot prove that Matthias was absent at that time when Jesus spoke those words. Even if Judas was physically present, as we all realize now, he was not a true follower of Jesus. And even if Matthias was physically absent at that particular occasion, Jesus is still establishing the basic qualification for having one of the twelve thrones as being “you who have followed me,” not someone who will follow Jesus in the future, like Paul, James, Luke or anyone else in the world.

    At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His Apostles:
    “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred on one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Luke 22:28-30]

    Was Judas present when Jesus spoke those words? Even if someone wants to be argumentative and say we can’t prove that Judas wasn’t there at the time, we certainly can’t prove that Judas WAS there. Judas obviously didn’t stand by Jesus in his trial, as the whole world knows. But that was the requirement Jesus gave to “sit on thrones:” “You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” “You”, speaking to His 11 Apostles who had been walking with Him faithfully for 3 ½ years. Not others in the future who will follow the risen Jesus Christ. Notice that at the Last Supper, when Judas lost his throne and Matthias was definitely absent, Jesus chose to speak of “thrones” rather than “twelve thrones” as he had previously.

    The Apostle John recorded about the New Jerusalem,
    “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” [Revelation 21:14]

    The Apostles are 12 faithful eyewitnesses who walked with Jesus during His entire earthly ministry, and Matthias is the 12th. That’s the short version of my definition of “what is an Apostle.”

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  20. According to Jesus, which Commandment is the Most Important?

    This is a question of fact about the content of the text in the 66 Books of our Bible. It is comparing the words of Jesus with the words of Paul (and other men) regarding which one is the Most Important Commandment and which one is the Second commandment, which together fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Not The Law the Prophets & the Writings, not “All Scripture,” not “The whole Bible”)

    It isn’t a question of men’s opinions about “what Paul really meant” or “what Paul must have known” or “what Paul was actually referring to here” or “what Paul was clearly implying” or “what we must conclude that Paul was assuming”, etc. etc.

    These lines of reasoning all go back to the false idea that “Paul must have been right and Paul couldn’t possibly be wrong, so whatever Paul was thinking at the time must have been correct, and we just have to figure out what Paul’s intended meaning was and what Paul was really thinking when he wrote these words.” That would mean that your opinion about the unknowable unwritten “mind of Paul” becomes the “Word of God.” No. Wrong.

    Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. The words spoken by Jesus, recorded in our Bible by Matthew Mark Luke & John, should be above all other words. This has literally been the Orthodox position for almost 2000 years. Paul is inferior, Jesus is superior. The words of Jesus are superior to the words of everyone else in the Bible and to everyone else in the world. Jesus is in agreement with the Law and the Prophets and came “to fulfill them.” [Matthew 5:17-20]

    What Jesus clearly and specifically said is also superior and more important than your opinions about what you think Jesus meant or implied, but didn’t say elsewhere. For example, when Jesus was speaking about “a new command I give you,” Jesus didn’t say THE new commandment, or the FIRST commandment, or the MOST IMPORTANT commandment, or the ONE commandment, or the GREATEST commandment, or ONE RULE.

    The false teaching about “one rule” is the false teaching of the Pharisees of Paul’s day, and Paul the Pharisee was pushing this false teaching. This contradicts the clear specific teaching of Jesus about the first and greatest commandment and the second. Jesus warned us about the Pharisees in Matthew chapters 15 & 16, and quoted the Prophet Isaiah regarding them:
    “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
    [Isaiah 29:13]

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  21. Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”

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  22. Many self-professed “Bible-believing Evangelicals” won’t listen to the words of Jesus, because they are brainwashed through reciting their “mantra” – “all scripture is God-breathed.”

    This “Evangelical Mantra” has been accepted by the collective subconscious mind of “The Evangelical Church” without thought, question, reflection, or even 2 witnesses from the Scripture itself. It’s based on a misinterpretation, out of context, of one verse in one letter written by one man, Paul the Pharisee, who was unfamiliar with the personal ministry and teaching of Jesus.

    But, “Once an idea has been accepted by your subconscious, it remains there and it governs your behavior until it is replaced or changed.” [ as a pastor named Bishop Dale C. Bronner observed in one of his sermons]

    (Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.) Mantra (noun) (Hinduism.) A sacred formula believed to embody the divinity invoked and to possess magical power, used in prayer and incantation.

    When cult members repeat their mantra, it makes them deaf to the voice of God, unable to hear God. Instead, it puts their focus on their one “special man” above all others – his personality, words and teachings, character, life example, feelings, experience, intentions, mind, will, emotions, etc. Their cult leader is their hero – he is always right, could never be wrong about anything specific, and he must be obeyed in all things and never questioned. He will give himself a special title, write at least one special book, and claim special authority, with no need for a second witness to back him up.
    Here are 3 examples.

    .1) Fuhrer. The title of Adolf Hitler as the leader of the German Nazis, author of “Mein Kamph”. Mantra: “Heil Hitler.”

    .2) The self-appointed Prophet Muhammad, author of The Koran. Mantra: …..”and Muhammad is his prophet.”

    .3) Paul the Pharisee, the self-appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, whose 13 letters comprise one third of what, today, we call the “New Testament.” (The first, original “New Testament” was composed by the second century heretic Marcion, and he coined the term “New Testament.” His new “book” contained nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. There were no other “New Testament” books, and the Hebrew Scriptures were the “Old Testament” which was irrelevant, according to the heretic Marcion.) Mantra: “All Scripture is God-breathed….”

    I got my Masters Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was attracted to the school because they put Paul’s mantra of “All Scripture is God-breathed” above everything else, and I wanted to heed Paul’s command and “Preach the Word” like Paul….

    This mantra is a misinterpretation out of context of 2 Timothy 3:16. It ignores the previous verse, 2 Timothy 3:15, which clearly indicates that Paul was NOT referring to his own letters when he wrote the words “All Scripture.”

    Paul was probably making reference to some of the Hebrew Scriptures, quite likely including the Law and the Prophets. We cannot be completely certain exactly which “Scriptures” Paul meant in “All Scripture”, and what Paul meant by “God-breathed.” Why can’t we be certain?

    Because we must establish a matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses, especially something as important as “What is the Word of God.” No one else in the pages of the Bible besides Paul ever said anything like “All Scripture is God-breathed”. And Paul only said it here, one time, in the middle of a personal letter.

    The Apostle Peter made reference to “Prophecy of Scripture,” not “All Scripture,” and no it’s not the same thing at all. Jesus never said anything like that. And no one, not even Paul, ever said that all Scripture was equal.

    I remember the general approach to the Bible at Dallas being that “every word in the 66 Books is the Word of God”….. and we should interpret it based on “the intended meaning of the author in the historical grammatical context.”

    That is the basic idea of the heavy-duty seminary language we were being trained in. It sounds so right, so intelligent, so professional, so “godly”….. but it is fundamentally flawed.

    When we look at Paul’s teachings and testimony about himself, (in his letters that make up 1/3 of the New Testament,) we should NOT immediately ask ourselves; “what did Paul say, what did Paul mean, and how does this apply to my life?” The fundamental question is NOT “what was in the mind of Paul?”

    Before any of that, the FIRST question to ask is; “does Paul agree with Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets?”

    Paul contradicted himself, and his teachings and testimony about himself don’t harmonize with the teachings of Jesus (or with Luke’s record of his life.) Let’s not waste our time with endless debates about “what Paul really meant” with his wacky teachings about “baptizing the dead” or “there is neither male nor female.” Paul was wrong. Jesus reminds us from The Law “at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female.” [Matthew 19:4, Genesis 1:27]

    As to the question of “whether the Bible is ALL truly Gods WORDS”…

    The underlying unspoken assumption is that “The Bible” (66 Books) was given to us by God as “one book” and it’s all “equal” in level of authority, priority, and importance. This comes from unconsciously believing Paul’s mantra, the “Evangelical Mantra”, that “All Scripture is God-breathed”, and falsely assuming Paul was referring to every word in the 66 Books of the Bible. Yet even here, not even Paul, not even once, ever said that “All Scripture is EQUAL” in authority, priority, and importance.

    No one in the pages of the Bible ever said or wrote that “all Scripture,” or “the Bible,” is “all truly God’s words”. Jesus never said anything like that, and Jesus did not see it that way. Jesus did not see even the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the “Old Testament”, as a whole unit or book that was all equal or “all truly God’s words.” Jesus spoke of The Law, or The Law and the Prophets, holding these 2 sections of the Old Testament above the third, least important sections the “Writings.” And Jesus held the Psalms, the first book of the “Writings” section, above the other books in the “Writings” section in importance, since some parts of some Psalms are prophetic.

    Obviously, the New Testament Scriptures were not written when Jesus was walking the earth. But if we want to get closest to The Source, Jesus himself, it makes sense that we should look first to the eyewitness testimony of two of His appointed Apostles who walked with Him faithfully for over 3 years, Matthew & John. (Also to other eyewitness testimony, recorded by Mark and Luke.) This is more accurate, important, and authoritative than personal letters written by Paul the Pharisee, who never knew Jesus personally, had no part in His ministry, and had no eyewitness testimony.

    We should follow the Jesus of the Gospel writers. We should not follow the “jesus” of Paul the Pharisee or Muhammad or any other man, who had their own ideas of who “jesus” was and what He did.

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  23. If you are a true follower of Jesus, and have ears to hear……

    The message of The 11 (The narrow gate)

    “The eleven disciples went to Galilee”
    “Where Jesus had told them to go”
    They heard His voice and obeyed His will
    Despite uncertainty down below

    Jesus spoke to them at length
    He wasn’t really a Tweeter
    Only 3 of them wrote Scripture
    Matthew John and Peter

    “Feed my sheep” said Jesus, for though
    “Heaven and earth will pass away”
    I have the words of eternal life and
    “My words will never pass away”

    “Enter through the narrow gate”
    The voice of Jesus through the eleven
    Believe in Jesus “through their message”
    And “eat from the tree of life” in heaven

    Jesus commissioned the eleven
    With “everything I have commanded you”
    “Teaching THEM to obey” Jesus
    And “THEM” means me and you !

    “The command given by our Lord and Savior”
    Is not a Pharisee speaking alone
    It came rather “through your apostles”
    Matthew Peter and John

    If a Pharisee boasts proudly
    Those men added nothing to my message
    He doesn’t speak for Jesus
    His words are nothing more than garbage

    Bibliography
    All “quotes” in “quotation marks” are from the writings of the Apostles Matthew John and Peter in the Bible, mostly the “Red Letter” words of Jesus. [Matthew, John, Revelation, 2 Peter – NIV]

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