Critical Thinking Exercise 1: Did Jesus Keep the Law?

June 16, 2014 Posted by Rich Vermillion

Share

.
.
.
.
.
.

Critical Thinking Exercise #1: Did Jesus Keep the Law?

.

One of the very key things that I am called to do as a minister is to encourage people to develop sound critical thinking skills. When I taught as a professor at a Bible school, I always attempted to inspire reflection and analysis among my students by encouraging them to think about the content of the course. Most theological schools merely “indoctrinate” their students, and critical thinking is too often highly discouraged. However, it has always been my goal to “educate” people instead. The latter can only be achieved if people are given the tools to think correctly (logically), and entrusted with the ability to use their God-given brains as they try to reach sound conclusions.

Yes, people will make mistakes, but that is also how we learn. Moreover, if a professor/teacher is secure in his or her own ability to discern and explain truth, then they should be willing to let people make the effort and then give sound critique to get them on-track if they miss the mark. We should teach students how to think first, and provide them a framework of understanding core doctrines of the faith at the same time.  Then we need to allow them to put those same doctrines to “the test” by analysis.

General Theory of Discernment-Small

This chart illustrates a correct reasoning process wherein true premises combine with logical analysis, in order to focus upon a true conclusion. This can then be put into action or expressed with correct words in the form of rational arguments. Click on the image to enlarge the chart.

Within my FREE audio series, The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel, I called this the “lab” (short for “laboratory”) part of the education process. Using a chemistry or physics class as a metaphor, I liken the Bible instruction portion of the education process to the textbook reading and lectures. However, the concepts don’t become “real” to a person unless they can then see the dynamics involved with their own eyes. Hence, there is a “lab” class in which they get to “test” the theories they learned in the main classroom. There is something about actually working with the experiments that makes abstract concepts come alive to the mind, as we understand how they apply in the real world. Likewise, if a given doctrine is truly correct (i.e., both biblical and logical) then the “lab” of good analysis will verify that fact. However, if the doctrine is false, then when it is “put to the test” it will fall apart as the inconsistencies and contradictions are exposed.

With these points in mind, I would like to do something different with this article than I have within my previous ones…

Normally, I take a subject that I have on my heart and write an article. I lay out my case as logically and methodically as I can from the Scriptures, and attempt to provide analogies to make the teaching more comprehensible (much like Jesus used “parables” to do the same).

Once I post the article, however, it is not uncommon that someone will come along and challenge me on a point or two. When they do, I typically respond to them and dissect their arguments (like a good professor should) in order to demonstrate where their reasoning is in error (if, in fact, it is in error). Some appreciate this, and others do not. Of course, the Bible told us that is the way it would be:

Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

(Proverbs 9:8, NKJV)

For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life…

(Proverbs 6:23, NKJV)

So not everybody appreciates the correction, but nonetheless, it is the way people are supposed to grow intellectually and learn. Another way that people learn is to “do” something concrete with the instruction that they have already been given, as I noted above with my “lab” analogy. So what I would like to do is to combine these two concepts, and that brings me to my idea.

.

My Experiment

I would like to do my OWN experiment here. Instead of answering a particular comment directly myself, what I would like to do is allow my readers to examine the comment and to dissect it to see if they can pick out the errors. Then I would like my readers to post their own comments underneath this article with their analysis, and I will affirm those points that are correct and coach them where they fell short, in order to sharpen their discernment and reasoning skills.

So to use another analogy, picture a classroom setting. One of the “students” (in this case, a reader of this website) has just stood up and presented a thesis that challenges something that I as the “professor”(in this case, the author of the article in question) have presented to the “class” (i.e., all my other readers). So turning to my class, I am asking, “Okay, he has presented his case. Is he correct? Is he wrong? In what way or ways is he wrong? Critique his thesis using sound reasoning, and be sure to justify your own answers accordingly.”

If this little experiment of mine works well, then I may do this more often from here on out. As I write articles, and people come to challenge me on points, I may take some particularly ideal comment and set it apart in an article like this for group analysis. (Not all comments are as well suited for this as the one I will present below, so I will only be able to do this as I have comments that are useful for the purpose.)

.

Supporting Analysis Is Provided

Of course, I will not leave my readers without some helpful instruction. What I will do is post the comment in question below, and then give you a few hints at what problems are in there that I have already identified. Then you can choose the category (or categories) that you want to study and analyze, and select the points underneath which you wish to address. Then write your comment at the bottom of this page in order to break down the problem AND to give the correct answer from the Scriptures. You can choose as many or as few points to discuss as you like and as your schedule permits.

What I will do on my end is to leave all the comments in the moderation queue for a few days (maybe a week or more) so that I can let them build up. I want to give you all a chance to respond to the parts  that you want to address without someone taking your topic first and/or influencing your answer. When I am ready to pop them out of the queue, I will respond to each post (very kindly) and affirm the good arguments/points, while providing a proper critique of the parts that are not quite correct. Hopefully, we can work together to help this person understand why his comment is in error.

(Of course, the person who posted the comment could themselves re-examine their original statements in the light of my “hints” about the problems therewith, and post their own corrections.)

The entire exercise should hopefully prove to be a great way for my readers to learn more about biblical exegesis and logical analysis. It is my hope that this will encourage a greater quality of critical and biblical thinking, while enabling me to take on more of a “coaching” role whenever the time comes to address another sincere (but erroneous) comment in the future. Again, my goal is to “educate” people. Part of that entails encouraging critical thinking and logical analysis. Thus, I hope that this “lab” time will help you all to attain greater skill in these areas.

.

The Rules

Of course, I have to put a few control mechanisms in place in order to ensure the discussion stays objective and polite. I want to encourage academic-style discussion to the greatest degree possible. I do NOT want to merely encourage people to post unsubstantiated opinions on my page, or to abuse the person who has just inadvertently “volunteered” for this exercise by posing a public comment on one of my articles. So to be clear: I don’t want your “opinions.” I want your thoughtful analysis and resulting conclusions. (Yes, there is a difference.)

So here are the basic rules:

  • No baseless name-calling. In logic, this is called the “ad hominem” fallacy. This is a Latin term that literally means, “at the man.” Whenever a person lacks good reasoning skills or have nothing by which to substantiate their thesis, they often resort to verbal abuse as a defense method. This is nothing less than a school-yard bully type of tactic in debates. Unless the statements/labels being used are relevant AND substantiated with fact (e.g., calling a proven heretic a “heretic” is perfectly legitimate), then we are dealing with an “ad hominem” fallacy. Such comments will either be edited (i.e., if they contain other useful commentary) or deleted entirely (if they do not).
  • State facts, not opinions. In order to “make your case,” you need to address specifics with the person’s comment, or expound upon a Bible passage, or identify a relevant point of logic or something else of substance. While statements like, “I don’t like that” or “I think it should not be that way” may be honest expressions of your opinion, they are also not logical “arguments” in the true sense of the word. Stick with the facts, and make your case. Please keep emotions and mere opinion out of it as much as possible.
  • Be respectful. While you may not agree with the commentator (or me), be respectful in how you address the other person’s view and argument. You may not respect their particular view (i.e., in the sense of agreeing with it), but you can still be respectful toward the person. Again, hostile or disrespectful comments will be either edited or deleted.

So with these basic rules in mind, let me now present to you the comment that we will all study together and analyze. I will thereafter provide some helpful “hints” as to what problems I have already identified therein (in several categories). It is then up to you to take it from there and make your case about any point that you wish to address (including any points that I do not identify explicitly because I have not stated all of them that I see, nor do I necessarily see all of the problems that are within the comment; I am certainly not omniscient).

.

The Comment

The following comment was posted by a very sincere person by the name of Loddie Resnick. This brother was NOT hostile, so we must give him due respect as we reply to his comment. However, he is quite incorrect on a number of points, so I think it will be a good exercise for my readers to reach out in an effort to help this person see where his reasoning is not as scriptural as it could (and should) be.

This comment was posted underneath my recent article Casting “Boomerang Stones.” (Since his comment addressed a secondary point of that article, it would take that page way off topic if I replied to him there; thus, this is another reason why I have relocated his comment here so that we can discuss it without detracting from that other article.)

So before replying to what he wrote, you will certainly need to first read that article. This is necessary in order to understand the subject of what Loddie is discussing. In the mean time, here is what he wrote:

Rich,

You state “One of the things that qualified Jesus Christ to be our Savior is the fact that He NEVER sinned! He was the sinless “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Thus, in order to KEEP the law (which Jesus had to do in order to be “sinless,” and He Himself said He came to “fulfill” it in every way), then Jesus would have had to AGREE with the Law—but only if it was being properly applied.” Nowhere in the 4 Gospels does Jesus ever claim that he came to “keep” the Law of Moses. The using of Matthew 5:17-18 to justify your belief that Jesus was testifying to his keeping the law “perfectly” in order to be sinless is just plain bogus. Jesus himself contradicts your understanding of what he meant by fulfilling the law.

Read the account of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Verse 27 states, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Then later in the chapter Jesus appears to his disciples back in Jerusalem and verse 44 states “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’” The Law of Moses, in types and shadows, and the Prophets and psalms all pointed to Christ as the coming Messiah who would save mankind from their sins. Jesus was asserting, thus promising, he was going to fulfill all those things declared of him in the law and prophets. For you to twist Christ words in Matthew 5 to mean that he came to “keep” all the Law of Moses perfectly contradicts Jesus himself and calls into question your whole hypothesis about the boomerang words. You cannot start out contradicting Christ and somehow believe you will end up with the truth.

One enjoinder of Christ often repeated was to “follow me.” If Christ was in fact keeping the Law of Moses then we are obligated to “keep” that Law also or we would not be following him or way he lived his life in the Gospels. Do you really believe true born again Christian are obligated to “keep” the Law of Moses in order to follow Christ and live as he did? Seems to me one would have to believe that if they truly believed Christ was “keeping” the Law of Moses. Otherwise they would not be truly following Christ.

Gal 5:18 “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Is not someone under the law obligated to “keep” the law? Yet keeping the law would be counter to walking in the Spirit. If Jesus was “keeping” the law was he then not being led of the Spirit? Of course Jesus was led of the Spirit thus he was not under the law and therefore, not “keeping” the law. He manifested the life of his Heavenly Father that dwelt within and thus was never under law or “keeping” the Law of Moses. This is exactly how we live our lives by following the example of Christ in being led by the spirit and not under law. The Apostle Paul puts that whole argument to rest.

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 1:8-11) Just how does a true born again Christian use the law lawfully (correctly, properly)? They use it correctly in revealing Christ to sinners and their need of him for salvation. They misuse it when they attempt to “keep” it or try to impose it on others as a necessary part of salvation. Paul is emphatic that the law was not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and ungodly. Why would Christ, our righteousness, have to submit to and “keep” the Law of Moses since it was not made for a righteous person? Makes no sense that Christ had to “keep” the law “in order to be “sinless,” (your words, Rich) if he was already sinless and righteous before his Heavenly Father.

Rich, you contend Jesus would have insisted upon Law of Moses being obeyed by supporting the stoning the two caught in adultery, had the man been brought to Christ along with the woman. Your argument is based on the belief that Christ had to “keep” Law of Moses perfectly. Nowhere in the Law of Moses does it allow for the mitigation of stoning adulterers even if they are contrite and repentant of their sin because the Law of Moses was the ministration of death (2 Corinth 3:7) not life. If what you contend was true then the words of Christ from Luke 9:56 “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” would be disingenuous at best to the ordinary Jew in those times but more so the words of a hypocrite and deceiver.

Rich, you really need to go back and rethink what you have written here and ask the Lord for clarification and correction.

Your brother in Christ

This is a well-written comment, indeed. Most of the ones that challenge me are not this well stated, well formatted, or grammatically correct.

However, there are a number of biblical and logical errors within this sincere brother’s comment. Let me point out a few of them here, and then let me challenge my own readers to explain WHY these are problems and what the correct biblical exegesis is that will get him on track.

.

Points to Note

The problems that I have already identified with what he wrote above fall into three categories: His use of fallacies, self-contradictions, and statements of error. Let me explain (in general) what I see herein:

Use of Fallacies:

The first thing to note is that there are at least four fallacies that he has used within this comment. “Fallacy” is a word that is defined simply as error in reasoning. More specifically, these are “informal fallacies” that he used because they do not pertain to the formal structure of his argument, but rather to his ability to “form” and then “target” his argument at all. These are:

(Click the image to enlarge the view.)

The “puzzle piece” in this chart illustrates how illogical (irrational) thinking can incorrectly “process” even true premises and still reach a false conclusion. This then results in wrong actions and incorrect (illogical) arguments. Click on the image to enlarge the chart.

  • The “Straw Man” Fallacy: Whether due to misreading my arguments to which he addressed within his commentary, or due to an unclear explanation on my part, or due to his own faulty thinking, etc., the position that he thinks that he is attacking is not real. It is a figment of his imagination. In short, what he thinks that I was arguing, is not what I was arguing. So like fighting a “straw man” rather than a real one, his entire thesis is pointed toward an illusion instead of what I really said. (Note: You can study about the “straw man” fallacy by clicking here.)
  • The Fallacy of Bifurcation: This fallacy occurs when a person wrongly thinks things are “either this or that.” In other words, they think that the answer is one of two “mutually exclusive” choices (and, of course, they think theirs is the “correct” choice) when, in reality, there may be three or more choices. It is like a person who thinks everything is either “black or white” when in the world around us, there are colors like red, green, blue, yellow, orange, and even “banana cream.” (Many years ago I worked in the paint department of a major home improvement retailer, and some of the names of paint colors made me hungry! LOL!) In particular, Loddie thinks that what I said, and what he proposes, are mutually exclusive positions. However, what I really said (i.e., not his “straw man” argument) is perfectly congruent with the passage he mentioned from Luke chapter 24. (Those of you who have listened to my FREE audio teaching series, The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel, know that I spent considerable time teaching from Luke chapter 24 within that series.) Yes, there are times when bifurcation is not fallacious because there really are only two mutually exclusive choices. However, Loddie falsely thinks that his answer excludes my earlier points, when they do not. (Note: You can study about the fallacy of “bifurcation” by clicking here.)
  • The Fallacy of Hasty Generalization (aka “Hasty Conclusion”): This fallacy occurs simply because too few samples are taken before “jumping to a conclusion.” In the field of statistics, an example would be conducting a survey of five people and then concluding from these few responses that “everyone in this town thinks this way” about that topic. The sampling has to be significant enough in order to be credible. In the world of theology, however, this fallacy takes on a slightly different character. Basically, this fallacy occurs whenever a person studies too few Scriptures before reaching a conclusion about a given doctrine. Loddie is sincere, but he is also ignoring many Bible verses in order to make his point. I run into this particular fallacy frequently when people propose doctrines in error. In Loddie’s particular case, he is taking an OVERLY narrow view of a much broader subject than he realizes. (Sorry, there is no quick link to a Christian website that I can provide for this one at the moment, but I might write an article about this fallacy later myself.)
  • The Fallacy of Begging the Question: In this instance, the fallacy in question involves assuming a conclusion that has NOT yet been proved. In other words, it is a case of a person thinking that they are right, and then insisting that they are right, without actually proving that they are right. This is why this fallacy is also called “circular reasoning.” Now, reasoning in circles is not necessarily fallacious. We all do this all the time. For example, you might be talking with co-workers about something that you all already know (e.g., some technical issue). Unless the underlying assumptions are challenged by someone, then those assumptions speed the conversation along because it would be a waste of time trying to “prove” something concerning which everyone is already in agreement. However, the moment you are presenting an argument to someone who does NOT agree with that assumed position (or if they challenge you to prove it), then you have to validate that assumption. Otherwise, a person commits this fallacy as they continue to assume that their assumptions are “true” without proving that the are so. Likewise, Loddie has assumptions about the truthfulness of his position that are unproven, partly because he is fighting a “straw man” and partly because of his bifurcation. In fact, because of the contradictions within his argument (which I will note next), his entire thesis is entirely unprovable. (Note: You can study Begging the Question by clicking here but also by clicking here for a second article on the subject.)

Now, there may be other identifiable fallacies within his comment. Nevertheless, I will leave this list off here for the sake of time. If you notice other fallacies that he used, however, feel free to elaborate upon them within your analysis as you post your comments below.

Self-Contradictions:

One critical point of logic is that no genuine TRUTH can ever self-contradict. For example, something cannot be “this” and “not-this” at the same time. So a car cannot be “in the garage” and “not in the garage” at the same time. Now someone might protest, “Well, the car could be half-way in the garage, and be both.” No, that is NOT “not in the garage” but “half-way in the garage.” There is a difference. Someone else might say, “Well, something could be black AND white at the same time.” Yes, that is true; but that is not a contradiction. If someone says “it is black and it is NOT black,” then they have self-contradicted. Being black AND white is different (i.e., there is no contradiction there). Stating that something is “black and not-black” at the same time is a contradiction.

There are at least two contradictions that I see within what Loddie wrote above:

  • The contradiction that comes from the combination of his “straw man” argument and bifurcation, in that he quotes my stated point and then PROVES my point with what he writes thereafter. That is like saying, “You are wrong and you are not wrong” at the same time. Whenever you say that someone is wrong, but then prove that they are right, that is a contradiction. (Note: I will revisit this particular contradiction again further below.)
  • The second contradiction is one that I already explained within the article itself, Casting “Boomerang Stones.” In anticipation of challenges, I had already explained in that article (irrefutably) that to argue against my stated position on that point puts a person into an automatic self-contradiction. If he had thought carefully about what I had written regarding this, then he would have perhaps realized that he was self-contradicting himself by trying to argue against my stated position.

In short, one cannot base their case upon contradictions AND still be telling the truth. The two parts cancel each other out, so that the “argument” is self-nullified. So the fact that Loddie self-contradicted himself twice proves that those particular points are invalid. Since those points are integral to his thesis, then his entire thesis collapses by self-nullification.

(Unfortunately, his entire thesis also qualifies as outright heresy because it indirectly attributes sin to Jesus Christ, but I doubt that he realizes that fact. So please be gentle with him as you reply.)

Statements of Error:

Loddie also made at least one factually incorrect statement. (He may have made more, but I will let you search for those if they are there. Again, I am trying to encourage critical thinking, so I want to see what you all come up with here.)

When Loddie wrote above, “Nowhere in the 4 Gospels does Jesus ever claim that he came to ‘keep’ the Law of Moses,” he was making both a straw man argument AND an incorrect statement. Moreover, he seemed to forget that the Bible is more than the four Gospels alone. So let me challenge my readers:

(Please click on the image to enlarge the chart.)

This third chart demonstrates that even when a person has logical (rational) thinking processes, the presence of deception among the premises upon which their conclusion is based will interfere with rationality and lead to a false conclusion. Once again, this results in wrong actions and incorrect (illogical) arguments. Click on the image to enlarge the chart.

  • Can any of you find passages in the four Gospels in which Jesus explicitly or implicitly stated that He was sinless, and thus, keeping the law perfectly?
  • Can you find quotes about this fact from anywhere in the rest of the New Testament?
  • Are there any such passages found about Jesus Christ (i.e., prophetic descriptions of Him) in the Old Testament?

Of course, I can give quotes from all three areas of the Bible, but I want to see what you all come up with first.

Again, all of this points back to the Fallacy of Hasty Generalization that I explained above. It also demonstrates that one should not make “absolute” statements about the Bible unless they have truly studied the Bible.

(Again, the very fact that Loddie tried to argue that Jesus was NOT sinless–which is the implied meaning of his argument–is a contradiction, as I already explained within the article Casting “Boomerang Stones” itself.)

One Correct Point to Note:

I do not want to leave my readers with the impression that Loddie’s entire comment lacked merit. I should note, in all fairness, that Loddie DID make a correct statement when he wrote:

The Law of Moses, in types and shadows, and the Prophets and psalms all pointed to Christ as the coming Messiah who would save mankind from their sins. Jesus was asserting, thus promising, he was going to fulfill all those things declared of him in the law and prophets.

In fact, with that one statement Loddie proved my entire thesis (i.e., the very thesis that he was challenging). Again, this is one of the self-contradictions that I mentioned above. Can any of you explain why this statement of his PROVED my entire thesis, contrary to what he intended?

.

Start Thinking

Now that I have pointed out three categories of error that are found within his comment above, along with a few specifics under each category, it is time to see how good the critical thinking skills of my readers are. Here are a few pointers:

  • Please do NOT try to tackle too many categories or issues in one comment. Otherwise, your comment will be too long and it will be hard for me to reply to you. Instead, try to keep to one or two issues within each comment.
  • Please do NOT try to tackle too much in one sitting. You may need to ponder these things a bit. Moreover, your schedule may only provide you enough time to touch on one or two things, but you can then come back later to address other points.
  • Please READ Casting “Boomerang Stones” first, because you need to understand his comment within the context of that article. You will ALSO need to understand my own points (to which he addressed his comment) within their own context. So read that article first so that you do not commit the “hasty conclusion” fallacy yourself:

A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart…. He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.

(Proverbs 18:2 & 13, NKJV)

  • Please also remember that we are trying to help Loddie understand why his entire thesis is incorrect. This is to be a respectful discussion.
  • Please FOCUS on explaining what the Bible really says about Jesus keeping the Law (i.e., the subject at hand) and try to avoid running off into unrelated topics or tangents.
  • Please do NOT think that you need to “defend” me or my article. This is NOT about me. It is about learning to discern and explain biblical Truth while helping a brother to see that Truth. (Besides that, I am quite able to defend my own theses whenever the need arises.)

So with these points in mind, let me again invite my readers to take the time to do some reading and analysis, and to post your comments below. I will again keep the moderation queue from posting publicly until I have collected a few and have the time to respond to each one. Also, again, I will endeavor to tactful in replying to a sincere effort to respond to Loddie’s comment above (or to me). So please just keep in mind the rules above and don’t be nervous about writing your comment.

Once I start releasing the comments from the moderation queue, we can also begin to dialog further. I hope to get a good discussion going through this exercise. So please feel free to mark the “notify me of follow-up comments via email” option whenever you post your submission (you can always cancel those updates later if you wish). That notification system will enable you to monitor the discussion as it proceeds. (By the way, I will likely release all future comments in batches too, simply because of my schedule. So don’t be nervous about any delay in having your comment approved because sometimes I get busy.)

If this experiment of mine works out, and my readers seem to enjoy learning by this method, I may do it again in the future from time to time. So if you like this idea, then please be sure to participate! Please be sure to also “like” and “tweet” this article so that others know about it and can participate.

Now, get to reading, and get to thinking! :-D

Always in Jesus,

-Rich

 

 

Share

Casting “Boomerang Stones”

June 4, 2014 Posted by Rich Vermillion

Share

.
.
.
.
.
.

Casting “Boomerang Stones”

.

Boomerang-Stone

Have you ever tried to confront another person with their genuine sin, only to have them retort, “Well, he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone”? I have, many times. In fact, I just had a woman write me over the weekend who “hurled” this very misquote of Scripture at me…only to have it “boomerang” right back at her through her own words. (Hence, the graphic to the left.)

If you genuinely care enough about people to tell people the truth, then I am quite sure that you have encountered this same “comeback” too. You may be truly concerned about their welfare and how that sin is affecting their lives, or even concerned about their salvation. Alternately, you might be warning a person about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (see Matthew 7:15-16) with plenty of evidence to back up your claims about the danger such false ministers pose to their soul (and wallet).

Yet, no matter how much you truly care or what your motives might be, or how much evidence you present to them, the person you are confronting for their sin (or in the case of heretic false ministers, the followers that you may be warning) often reply with that self-refuting “stone” comeback. The woman who’s self-contradicting message triggered this post was upset with me because we expose numerous DOCUMENTED wolves in sheep’s clothing on our KennethCopelandBlog.com website. So she would rather ignore the evidence that she can see with her eyes—which willful ignorance is to her own detriment—while she lauds her “idols” with undeserved compliments. (Frankly, I could not help but wonder if she had an alter in her house where she burns incense to photos of Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, & etc., given the pagan adoration that she expressed about them.)

Of course, whenever a person retorts with that weak “stone” comeback, their tone is not usually nice. Typically, they are mocking or angry as they try to convince you how “unloving” you are for bringing up such righteous criticisms. So it is easy to discern that they do not care about your welfare at all as they hypocritically try to “correct” the one who is lovingly trying to correct them (or who is exposing the danger of their favorite wolf-preacher). Their sole desire and objective is to try and shut you up so that you will leave them (or their favorite false preacher) alone.

You probably know what I am talking about here already, but what are you to do? How do you respond to their misuse (and misquote) of a famous Bible passage like that?

Well, I am about to show you how to deal with that anemic “comeback.” I will do so by demonstrating—both biblically and logically —that it is the people who reply in such a manner who have actually “cast stones” at themselves. In fact, I will explain why these verbal “Boomerang Stones” hit them in the head the moment they left their own mouths.

Please study this page thoroughly so that you are ready to handle this situation whenever you encounter it in person. You might want to bookmark this article for future reference too, just in case you need to share it with people online from time to time. It is important for this particular teaching to spread wide and far in order to end the “carnage” that is caused by people who habitually “stone” themselves with the “Boomerang Stones” of their own hypocrisy…in an effort to ignore or hide their own sin (or the sin of their favorite wolf-preachers), to the detriment of their own souls.

.

Start with the Full Quote, Then Move to Supporting Scriptures

The first thing to do in order to understand how to address this feeble, “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone!” statement is to review the actual story in the Bible from which it was inappropriately stolen. So I will begin with the Bible’s account of the “Woman Caught in Adultery.” I suggest that you do the same whenever you run into this situation yourself (or just send them this article if you are online). So let’s take a look at the passage now:

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.

(John 8:2-11, NKJV, emphasis mine, words of Christ in red)

Please take notice of the words that I have put in bold emphasis above. Those passages will provide the focus for each of the next five subsections.

 1. Jesus DID Confront Sin

The first thing that should jump out at you is the closing commandment from Jesus Christ for her to “SIN NO MORE.” Jesus did NOT ignore her sin (as the people misquoting verse 7 want you to do). Nor did He brush it aside by saying something like, “Don’t worry about it. Everybody else sins too.” No, Jesus Christ directly CONFRONTED her sin at the close of His conversation with her by adding the command “SIN NO MORE.”

Thus, the hypocrisy of people replying with what Jesus said in verse 7 about throwing stones should be clear. When you are confronting them about obvious sin (or the sins of their favorite wolf-preacher), you are actually doing what Jesus did. You are probably trying to tell them to “sin no more” or to stay away from false teachers that would lead people into sin and apostasy. Is that not what Jesus was doing with this woman?

Moreover, did you notice that Jesus ALSO confronted the sins of her accusers? Yes, the idea that somehow this story is intended to deter someone from addressing one’s sin is rather absurd, since Jesus opposed EVERYBODY’S sin in this story!

So if you are trying to get a person to repent and they “throw” the “stone comeback” at you, then you could quickly reply with a short-version response along these lines: “Yes, Jesus said that. However, Jesus also said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and SIN NO MORE!’ I am not condemning you for your sin, but telling you in the light of the Bible that your own sin has condemned you before God already!” (Please note John 3:14-21.) “Moreover, Jesus has already commanded you in the very story that you have referenced to stop it! Thus, you have just confirmed even more strongly that you need to repent.”

Be clear about this biblical fact: Confrontation of sin is NOT the same thing as condemnation of the person. (So please do not confuse the two, regardless of whether you are on the “sending” or “receiving” end of the correction.) There is a difference. Jesus clearly confronted the woman’s sin BUT openly said that He did NOT condemn her when He did so. In fact, confrontation about sin is a demonstration of pure biblical love, and thus, a commandment in and of itself:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

(Revelation 3:19, NKJV, words of Christ in red)

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

(James 5:19-20, NKJV)

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

(Luke 17:3, NKJV, words of Christ in red)

Jesus REBUKES the people that He loves. Moreover, compare the first and last quote above. Jesus also commands us to do the same thing!

Thus, for a person to omit (or ignore) the fact that Jesus DID confront/rebuke the woman for her sin by addressing it at the close of His conversation with her, while using Jesus’ earlier statement in an effort to get you to stop confronting/rebuking them (or their favorite wolf-preacher), is utter hypocrisy. This is especially true in the light of the fact that Jesus also confronted the sins of her accusers very plainly.

(Note: Please also review my article “Judging”: Hypocritical vs. Biblical for further points that will balance this teaching more fully. Jesus did also command us to avoid being hypocrites whenever we correct others. So please review that article also. I do not want you to think that I am encouraging people to go around “correcting” everyone they know while they ignore those same issues in their own lives.)

2. “Stones” vs. “Words”

There is also a second point of difference here between confronting a person with their obvious sin (or exposing a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” with factual evidence of their true nature) with the events of story at hand: Namely, the men in this story were planning to actually KILL the woman, not just rebuke her so that she might get her life straight.

In other words, while it is true that people have used the “casting stones” statement as a metaphor for insults and criticism for as long as anyone can remember, it is equally true that this demonstrates BAD logic (i.e., error in reasoning). This story is not about “insults” or “criticism,” but about killing people by a misapplication of God’s Word. There is an informal fallacy known in the field of logic as “false analogy.” That is what people are using ( often unintentionally) whenever they attempt to improperly connect the REAL stones of the story and their false interpretation with regard to “word stones.”

I will explain how we properly use analogies first, so that the fallacy becomes more clear.

We think using analogies all of the time. (Click here to read the definition of analogy if you are not familiar with this term.) We learn about things by comparing them with the things with which we are already familiar, and drawing conclusions due to the similarities. The Bible demonstrates this principle frequently. For example, here is one use of analogy for comparing two things, so that something about the second thing can be understood more clearly:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

(Isaiah 55:10-11, NKJV)

The Lord God made great use of analogies throughout the Bible, such as in the example above (and the parables of the New Testament). Here we see the Word of God compared to rain, and we are to learn a lesson about God’s Word from the behavior of the earth’s water cycle (i.e., the rain comes down, waters earth, returns to the atmosphere by evaporation, and the cycle begins again). Instruction by analogy is quite biblical, and we even think in analogies (but I will refrain from explaining this concept more fully for the sake of time).

The fallacy of “false analogy” occurs whenever a person tries to compare two things that are NOT similar, in hope of drawing a false inference from the bad comparison. Typically, people do this in order to support a preferred belief or agenda. The two things being compared are NOT similar (except perhaps in superficial ways), and thus, the analogy is NOT valid, NOR are the proposed inferences true.

In this specific case, people who use the “throwing stones” analogy in order to apply it to criticisms. This is a violation of many passages of Scripture that tell us TO CRITICIZE people for their actual sin (three examples of which I have already provided above). Other valid types include the public rebuke of wolves and ministers in error (e.g., 1 Timothy 5:19-21; Galatians 2:11-21; Titus 1:10-16; Matthew chapter 23; etc.), confrontation of people who are leading people astray into false doctrines (e.g., Acts chapters 5 and 8; Acts 13:6-12; Revelation 2:12-29; Jude; 2 Peter chapters 2-3; etc.). In fact, Paul said quite clearly that we are to expose error openly:

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),  finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Walk in Wisdom

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

(Ephesians 5:1-17, NKJV, emphasis mine)

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

(2 Thessalonians 3:13-15, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Jesus said to rebuke them—even publicly! Moreover, both Jesus and James said that is true agape-love for the people being rebuked (as we saw in the passages further above). Now Paul weighs in on the subject by making the very same point!

In short: If you do NOT confront sin in others when it is necessary, or expose wolves when they are evident, then you do NOT love people with true biblical love (despite any false claims that you may make otherwise).

Thus, the threat of a LITERAL EXECUTION of this woman by REAL STONES does NOT compare with imagined “stones” of criticism or TRUE accusation. It is a false analogy to assert that people should never criticize/confront others simply because Jesus spared this woman from being stoned to death with REAL stones. That is quite absurd and unscriptural. Jesus was NOT trying to convince His audience to stop CRITICIZING the woman, but rather He was trying to keep them from KILLING her! Yes, there is a big difference between what really happened on that occasion and what people try to make it out to be.

Stated another way: NOBODY is trying to LITERALLY “stone” a person (i.e., KILL them) when they point out their sin, or when they expose a wolf-preacher for being what they truly are (i.e., with evidence of what they are doing or teaching). Thus, for the sinner (or wolf-follower) to claim otherwise is tantamount to them to “hurling” a false accusation in response.

So once again, we see the utter hypocrisy of a person saying “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone!” Nobody is throwing REAL rocks here, nor is anyone trying to physically hurt anyone. Thus, this story does NOT apply to the things to which people falsely try to apply it.

3. What Did Moses Say?

Now let me move on to point out something that is perhaps not evident to many readers when they consider the full text of this story. I have already posted this portion of the text above, but I will restate it here for the sake of convenience:

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

What “law” are they claiming to apply to this situation? They said “Moses…commanded,” but what did he actually command? Oh, this is where the rubber meets the road, my friend! Reading the law in question is critical in order to understand why Jesus reacted to the mob in the way that He did. We find the passage in question in the Book of Leviticus:

The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.

(Leviticus 20:10, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Please notice that the passage from John 8 states clearly that they caught the woman “in the very act” of committing adultery. “In the very act” COULD NOT have been done by herself! She had to have been WITH an adulterer for her to have been committing “the very act” of an adulteress!

So, um… where was the GUY????

Why did the Pharisees leave the man out of this? In fact, how did they know where she was in order to “catch” her “in the very act” to begin with? Was this a set up between one of their own guys in order to entrap this married woman in adultery? Regardless of how they set her up, WHY did they leave the GUILTY MAN out of this, in VIOLATION of the Law of Moses?

The general motive of the crowd is given when the passage says, “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” This had NOTHING to do with their wanting to fulfill the Law of Moses. They set this woman up (as they obviously knew where to find her in order to catch her “in the very act”) so that they could use her as a pawn in their scheme, while leaving their “good buddy” out of the picture so that he did not get killed too.

So what did Jesus do in response to their hypocrisy? He began to write on the ground with His finger…

4. When the Finger of God Writes

Jesus Christ was no ordinary man. He was “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16; compare also John 1:1-5 & 14; Hebrews 1:8-9; Isaiah 9:6-7; etc., etc., etc.). Thus, God Himself—the Lawgiver Who actually provided the Law to Moses—was the One to Whom the mob was making these accusations about the woman. They were accusing her to the One Who gave the commandment that is found in Leviticus 20:10! (So He knew what Moses REALLY said!)

Thereafter, Jesus bent down and began to write something with His finger. There are only TWO times in the Bible in which it is recorded that God wrote something with His finger. The second occasion was this passage in John 8. So let’s now compare the first time God wrote with His finger with this second time, and see if we can infer from the two events what Jesus was doing when He wrote on the ground:

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

(Exodus 20:1-17, NKJV)

And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

(Exodus 31:18, NKJV)

Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough with you to have destroyed you. When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.

(Deuteronomy 9:7-11, NKJV)

The above passages describe the first time that God wrote with His finger in writing the Ten Commandments upon the two tablets of stone. Now, please look again at what Jesus did:

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.

(John 8:3-11, NKJV, emphasis mine, words of Christ in red)

Let me be clear that the passage in John 8 does not explicitly tell us what Jesus wrote upon the ground with His finger. However, in the light of the passages from the Old Testament, and in the context of the event recorded by John, we can conclude the following points very clearly:

  1. The only thing that God wrote with His finger in the Old Testament was the Ten Commandments, which is the essence of the entire law. (Compare Romans 7:7-12 where the tenth commandment is equated with “the Law.”)
  2. As I stated above already, Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh,” and thus, it was God Himself writing on the ground with His finger in John 8.
  3. The context of the event in John 8 was that they claimed to want to stone the woman according to the “Law of Moses,” although they were themselves violating that same law by unjustly excluding the MAN with whom she had committed adultery.
  4. When Jesus stood up to reply, He said to them “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 1 John chapter 3 defines “sin” as “lawlessness,” for the very definition of sin is to break God’s commandments (compare also Romans 7:7-12 again, along with Leviticus chapter 4, etc.).

Thus, in the light of the points above, it is very reasonable to infer inductively from these facts that—in all probability—Jesus was writing some portion of the Law of Moses (perhaps Leviticus 20:10 itself, and/or part of the Ten Commandments) on the ground for everyone to see.

Regardless of what He wrote on the ground, however, Jesus Christ stood up and confronted THEIR SIN too!  And Jesus’ confrontation of THEIR SIN was based mainly upon these facts:

  • They were NOT righteously applying the Law of Moses, as they falsely claimed.
  • Thus, they were LYING to Him about the woman and their true motives, as they tried to entrap Him.

Consequently, everyone standing there with a rock in their hand knew full well that they were sinning in what they were doing. THAT is the MAIN reason why they were “convicted by their own consciences”: They misapplied justice and told outright lies. Therefore, their “conviction” was primarily for the sins at hand, and not because of other sin that they likely had in their lives.

Stated another way: The implication being pushed whenever a sinner cites this passage that we are “all sinners” and therefore a person should NOT confront the sinner (which again is not supported by this passage from John 8 because they were going to kill her, not merely confront her). However, story itself indicates that the accusers were convicted mainly by the CURRENT sin that they were committing right then and there in front of Jesus! THAT is why they threw down their stones and walked away. They knew that Jesus had turned their false accusations back against them, by pointing out their own violation of this VERY SAME passage of the Law of Moses!

In short, their own words were “Boomerang Stones,” just like it is whenever a sinner (or wolf-follower) quotes this story in an effort to silence those who are genuinely concerned about their behavior.

Yet, this raises another question: What would have happened if the crowd had brought BOTH people—the adulteress AND the adulterer with whom she sinned—to Jesus to inquire about carrying out Leviticus 20:10 properly?

5. Jesus Kept the Law

One rather shocking fact about Jesus Christ that people too often seem to miss is that He KEPT the Law of Moses perfectly. Of course, that makes complete sense to anyone who realizes that Jesus Christ GAVE the Law to Moses, because Jesus Christ is God. Certainly, He would keep His Own Law because it expressed His Own attitude toward sin (and revealed why we all need the Savior). Nevertheless, the New Testament also makes this point explicit because it is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

(Matthew 5:17-18, NKJV, emphasis mine, words of Christ in red)

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

(2 Corinthians 5:20-21, NKJV)

One of the things that qualified Jesus Christ to be our Savior is the fact that He NEVER sinned! He was the sinless “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Thus, in order to KEEP the law (which Jesus had to do in order to be “sinless,” and He Himself said He came to “fulfill” it in every way), then Jesus would have had to AGREE with the Law—but only if it was being properly applied.

Therefore, if the accusers had brought BOTH the man and woman to Him in a genuine application of Leviticus 20:10, then Jesus Christ would have had to agree with them that this was the penalty pronounced by the Law, and both of them would have died that day.

Do you doubt this? Then please note this description of Jesus Christ, and then His subsequent statements against sin:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood [compare this description with that found of this same scene in Isaiah 63:3], and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

(Revelation 19:11-21, NKJV, emphasis and added note mine)

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

(Revelation 21:6-8, NKJV, emphasis mine, words of Christ in red)

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”

(Revelation 2:18-23, NKJV, emphasis mine, words of Christ in red)

The Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible is NOT kind to willful sin, my friend. Yes, people will DIE when He returns to the earth to take control of the nations in Person. Hence, Psalm 2 clearly warns:

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

(Psalm 2:10-12, NKJV, emphasis mine)

In short, if you have a mental picture of Jesus always being kind and meek, then the Jesus your “Jesus” is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. (And a figment of your imagination can NEVER save you…so you had better learn Who the REAL Jesus of the Bible is.) Yes, Jesus was gentle with the contrite and penitent people with whom He came into contact. Yes, Jesus is still merciful to the penitent sinner today! However, Jesus was also quite stern and angry with sin at times too!

  • The REAL Jesus Christ made a whip of cords and turned over tables in the Temple (John 2:15).
  • The REAL Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Scribes with vehement warnings of eternal damnation (Matthew chapter 23).
  • The REAL Jesus Christ even today judges people, as the example is Revelation 2:18-23 reveals clearly above.
  • And the REAL Jesus Christ will return one day to kill the armies of the Anti-Christ, throw him and his false prophet into the Lake of Fire…along with everyone who rejects His grace (see Revelation chapter 20 in addition to the quote above).

Thus, the REAL Jesus Christ would have watched as the woman AND her lover were stoned to death, if the Law of Moses had been CORRECTLY applied.

It was the hypocrisy of the law-breaking accusers that enabled the Lord Jesus Christ to spare her in His mercy that day. The Bible does NOT say a thing about her having repented of what she had done. No, Jesus had to command her to NEVER do that sin again! Thus, it was not faith on her part that delivered her that day, but simply the failure of her accusers to apply the Law of Moses correctly. In other words, she was delivered on a “technicality” and not because she was either penitent or innocent.

This fact is clear by the Scriptures I have provided here (and many more that could be provided). It is also clear in the fact that Jesus commanded her to “SIN NO MORE!” He did not give her a “pass” on what she had done. She was guilty as charged, and she knew it.

Now, some people will want to argue against this despite all of the Scriptures that support this truth. Thus, let me point out that any argument that Jesus somehow would NOT have applied the Law of Moses (i.e., if the man-adulterer had been brought along with the woman too), necessarily implies the following:

  • Such an argument that Jesus would not have carried out the sentence (if the man was present too), implies that Jesus would NOT have kept the Law of Moses.
  • If Jesus ever failed to keep the Law of Moses, then He would be a sinner under that Law (i.e., to state that Jesus would have EVER failed to keep the Law is to imply that He was sinful, and willing to break the Law).
  • If Jesus was a sinner, then He could NOT be the Savior.
  • If Jesus is not the Savior, then we are all still dead in our sins and are hopelessly damned (see John 3:18).

Jesus came to “fulfill” the law, not to break it. So to even imply that He would have made an exception in this case had the law been faithfully applied, is to imply that He did not come to fulfill the Will of God His Father after all.

Thus, to deny that Jesus would have carried out the Law of Moses—IF it had been CORRECTLY applied to BOTH the man and woman—is to also deny the validity of Christianity itself.

Yes, it is quite evident that the Bible confirms that Jesus Christ would have seen to it that the penalty of Leviticus 20:10 would have been carried out for BOTH people “caught in the very act” of adultery, but only IF the accusers had not been hypocrites by violating that law themselves.

(Thus, it was a good thing for her that Jesus saw through their hypocrisy! Yikes! 8-O )

.

Summary Conclusion:

So what do we have here? I have covered a whole lot of material to this point, so let me bring out the key points very clearly in the light of the foregoing teaching. Here are the key facts that we have covered:

  • Whenever a person tries to use “He who is without sin cast the first stone” in reply to confrontation of sin (or the exposure of a wolf in sheep’s clothing), they are self-refuted by their reference to this story. This story CONFIRMS the need to expose sin; it does NOT deny it. This is because two different groups of people are directly confronted for their iniquity within this story:
    • The crowd of accusers who misused Leviticus 20:10 by not bringing the man forth for punishment too.
    • The woman, for her sin, when Jesus told her “Sin no more!”
  • Additionally, the idea that the REAL stones in the story are analogous with mere “words” of criticism is absurd. That is a false analogy. There is nothing similar about using real stones to kill a real person due to a misapplication of God’s Law, and a sinner (including false wolfish preachers) being confronted by concerned Christians.
  • Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for sin, and is the TRUE Savior because He was sinless Himself. However, He is also the Judge Who will NOT excuse the sins of people who refuse to repent and accept His saving self-sacrifice. So Christians can and will be judged on earth for their habitual sin (e.g., Acts 5:1-11; Revelation 2:18-23) and non-believers (including false converts who think that they are Christians but who are NOT) will find themselves spending eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation chapter 20; 21:6-8; etc.).

Thus, if Leviticus 20:10 had been correctly applied, the woman AND her lover would have died that day…and unless one repents, they will likewise perish today:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

(Luke 13:2-5, NKJV, words of Christ in red)

Now, here is the “boomerang” irony:

  1. Those who “hurl” the “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone” reply at those who confront them (or who expose their favorite wolf-preacher) are themselves casting the same alleged verbal “stones” at their critics that they claim are being thrown at them! (Of course, this makes them self-contradicted hypocrites.)
  2. The very story to which they are referring when making such a reply CONFIRMS the need to confront that person with their sin so that they will “sin no more!” Thus, they have just confirmed the need to rebuke them for their sin even as they attempt to use this story to shield themselves from such scrutiny. (And once again, this fact makes them self-contradicted hypocrites.)

Thus, if anyone has hurled a verbal “stone,” it is the person who makes the very statement, “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone!” The statement that they have made has “boomeranged” right back at them the very moment that it left their mouth.

Most victims of their own “Boomerang Stone” are likely unaware of what they have just done to themselves, so you have to point this out to them in order for them to get the point. So feel free to share this teaching and this link with others, so that the “carnage” of “self-stoning” can perhaps cease. ;-)

In closing, let me suggest that you all read my related article “Judging”: Hypocritical vs. Biblical too. It compliments this article very well, and brings out other points that help to balance this into a full teaching on the subject. Thus, these two articles work well together in order to help people understand how to biblically correct someone in love, versus trying to avoid such correction by using hypocrisy.

Additionally, please read The Supreme Value of Righteousness in order to learn what the Bible really says about KNOWING that you are truly saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I have discussed His role as Savior in brief within this article here, but The Supreme Value of Righteousness does so in far greater detail (plus it contains some of my own salvation testimony). So please read that right away too.

Again, please share this article with others. You can also “Recommend” it via the Facebook button, or “tweet” it via Twitter. Let’s help people understand that we really do love them when we confront them (or expose wolves), and thus, it is in their best interest to stop hitting themselves with “Boomerang Stones” in reply.

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

(Ephesians 6:23-24, NKJV)

Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

.

Share

Over 2,000 Downloads…and STILL Counting

September 28, 2013 Posted by Rich Vermillion

Share

.
.
.
.
.
.

Over 2,000 Downloads…and STILL Counting!

.
210X350FatScraper-shadowDonna and I are very pleased to announce that a milestone had been reached. The FREE audio MP3 series, The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel, has achieved over 2,000 downloads to date—and that number is still growing daily.

What is even more remarkable about this fact is that this entire audio teaching series comes with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, which allows people to give it away to others for FREE too! Thus, while there have been over TWO THOUSAND direct downloads from our download page on Archive.org, there are likely several thousands more copies circulating out there on MP3 players, Compact Discs, tablet devices, smartphones, and etc.

We have been told by people that they have installed this series on the devices of other people, such as family members and friends. Hence, it is quite reasonable to assume that 3-5 times this number are in circulation, and perhaps even more. That means that this series may be in the possession of over 10,000 people by now…and we are absolutely THRILLED at that possibility!

Donna and I want to express our gratitude again to the international team that came together with us in order to get this series produced and distributed. Several of them do not want to have any attention given to them, as they prefer to have all of the attention on Jesus Christ and His REAL Gospel instead. So out of respect for their wishes, I will not name them all here. Nevertheless, they were a huge blessing to us, and vital to the production and success of this series. (Thank you all!)

If you are reading this and have not downloaded your own copy of this series yet, then let me encourage you to do so. This series is absolutely FREE, and you can download it over any broadband or WiFi wireless Internet connection in the world onto your computer or portable device. You can then transfer it to other devices as you see fit. Again, you can also give copies of this series away to others for free. Simply click here, or upon the top left banner graphic for this series, and you will be transported directly to the download page within a new browser window. (However, the banner in the right column of this page will take you instead to our previous announcement regarding this series.)

A series description is provided upon the download page. The download instructions are found by scrolling down beneath the description text.

If you have already downloaded the series, then please be sure to tell others where to go in order to obtain a copy, or just give them a copy directly. It is so important within these days of widespread apostasy that the TRUTH of God’s unadulterated message of Jesus Christ be understood. A thorough knowledge of the REAL Gospel preached by the apostles is the first step toward immunizing people from many of the heresies that circulate today. Amen.

Lastly, if you are on Facebook, you can find our page for this series at the following link. Please click the “like” button on it, and do whatever else you can in order to spread the word about this important series. Here is that link: The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel Facebook Page

Thank you for reading this announcement. It was certainly our pleasure to bring it to you. :)

Always in Jesus,

-Rich & Donna Vermillion

.
.

Share

Are You a Mature Christian? (Take the Tests and Find Out!)

July 30, 2013 Posted by Rich Vermillion

Share

.
.
.
.
.
.

Are You a Mature Christian?
(Take the Tests and Find Out!)

.
Surprised Baby B&WIf you are a professing Christian, let me ask you this: How spiritually mature are you? Many of the people that I run into online and within congregational settings, seem to have a much higher estimation of their own spiritual maturity than what the facts seem to bear. Of course, the Bible tells us why this is the case:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.

(Proverbs 21:2, NKJV)

All of us are susceptible to assuming we are “right” (or in the case of our topic here, “spiritually mature”) when we might not be so. Consequently, we need a “measuring stick” or “standard” by which we can accurately assess our behavior (i.e., to see if we are really “right” in God’s eyes).

The source of that measure, of course, is the Bible itself. Understandably, the Scriptures also provide us the “measure” of spiritual maturity too. So are you ready to take the test? If so, then be very ready for a possible “reality check” that you may NOT have expected…

.

The Biblical Standard

Here is the exact “measure” of spiritual maturity provided within the Scriptures:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

(Hebrews 5:12-6:3, NKJV)

Looking at this passage above, we see TWO “tests” of spiritual maturity: Namely, the test of “Behavior” and “Comprehension.” I will begin by explaining the first initially because it is also a test to see if a person is truly saved at all.

.

TEST ONE: Behavior

This first test is identified within the Hebrews passage as whether a person has “their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” i.e., whether they are consistently living a godly life. This single point is explained in the Bible as both a test of salvation itself, but it is also a test of spiritual maturity if the person has truly been born again. Let’s begin with the salvation part of this test, therefore, and then move on to the other afterwards.

Test 1A: The Test of Faith

Although Paul explained to the Ephesians that although “works” can NEVER earn a person salvation or righteousness before God, he also clearly stated that “good works” (a term that is ONLY used in the New Testament to describe the works of Jesus and born again Christians) are expected of a truly saved person:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:8-10, NKJV)

Paul said above that God had “prepared beforehand” (in the KJV, “ordained”) that we should walk in these “good works” that he mentioned. Paul elaborated on this quite a bit more within his letter to Titus, wherein he explained by the Spirit of God that the very SAME grace that “saves” ALSO “teaches” a person to live godly in Christ Jesus…which is a part of the “good works” for which Jesus saved us to perform:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

(Titus 2:11-15, NKJV)

If a person is NOT demonstrating that they have the “grace” that teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and how to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,” then that same person may NOT have the same “grace” that SAVES either. Consequently, Paul had earlier told Titus that a person’s behavior can reveal that they are “denying Christ” in their hearts, and thus, are “disqualified” from ever doing the “good works” which God has ordained for genuine Christians to perform:

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

(Titus 1:15-16, NKJV)

The “works” of a person (i.e., behavior) can reveal that they are “disqualified for every good work” that God has ordained for believers. Again, the term “good works” (plural) is only used in the New Testament to describe the works of Christ and genuine believers, while the phrase “good work” (singular) is only used in the New Testament regarding specific works that God has done Himself or commended of others. (To verify these facts that I am sharing, please click HERE to see a page listing all the “good works” passages, and click HERE to see a page listing all of the “good work” passages.)

The apostle John then explained these same principles in even greater detail within 1 John chapter three:

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

(1 John 3:2-10, NKJV)

Thus, we have Test 1A identified: The very first thing a person needs to “test” is their own salvation, if they find that they are having difficulty living a godly life in Christ Jesus and avoiding habitual sin (i.e., “practicing sin” as a habit, versus “practicing righteousness” as a habit).

Of course, the word “practice” implies imperfection. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect”? Thus, John was not saying above that a truly born again person could not commit a sin categorically because of their new nature in Christ, but that they will not “practice” such behavior habitually because their consciences will not allow them to do so. Similarly, John was not saying that an unsaved false-Christian could not do something righteous from time to time, or that they cannot put on a show of piety when they are around other people. However, an unsaved sinner cannot “practice righteousness” habitually because they have an inner nature that “defaults” toward sin:

How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!

(Job 15:16, NKJV)

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

(Romans 3:10-26, NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God….Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

(John 3:3-7 excerpt, NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ…

(2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NKJV)

Apart from Christ, mankind is naturally inclined toward sin. No matter how hard they try, they cannot possibly “practice righteousness” habitually because it is not in their nature. Thus, the unsaved false-Christian might put on a good show when he or she is around Christians (often because they know that is what is expected of them), but both their private life and general habits betray their true nature. If you watch their habits and listen to their conversation over time, they will demonstrate their true character:

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

(Luke 6:43-45, NKJV)

Therefore, Paul admonished the highly sinful Corinthians to check up on themselves to see if they were really saved, since they seemed either unwilling or unable to live godly lives:

For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare—since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

(2 Corinthians 12:20-13:5, NKJV)

Thus, again, we can see Test 1A made clear to us from God’s Word: If you have not been able to live a godly life in Christ Jesus consistently, despite your best efforts, then the first thing that you need to do is to check up on yourself to see if you are genuinely saved or not. This is particularly true if you have been a professing Christian for a number of years, and yet, are living a hypocritical life of “habitual sinfulness.”

To check up on yourself in this regard, let me direct you to my own article, The Supreme Value of Righteousness, for further information and instructions. That particular article also contains a little of my own testimony, as well as another “test” that will help you to check up on your salvation experience specifically. Please do not delay, however, because Jesus Christ Himself said that “few” people find the “narrow gate” and “difficult way” that leads to life, because “many” have been deceived into following the various “broad way” false-gospels instead. Thus, such people will discover to their HORROR and TOO LATE that they were never saved, despite their professions otherwise during their lifetime:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are FEW who find it.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. MANY will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

(Matthew 7:13-23, NKJV, ALL-CAPS and underlined emphasis mine)

The same “many” who follow the false gospels are the very same “many” who discover that they are damned. That is a terrifying thought!

So for convenience sake, please allow me to also provide for you here three Bible “short lists” of major sins that demonstrate clearly that a person is not really saved at all (again, these lists are certainly not exhaustive):

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV)

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

(Ephesians 5:2-7, NKJV)

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

(Revelation 21:8, NKJV)

Thus, please do not delay to study The Supreme Value of Righteousness right away if you have ANY of the signs of possibly being a false convert, as we have described regarding Test 1A within this section.

Now, let’s move on to the next part of Test One…

Test 1B: The Test of Carnality

While it is true that Paul was becoming quite concerned by the time of his second letter to the Corinthians that some of them might not actually be born again, it is also true that in his first letter he chalked up much of that behavior to something called “carnality.”

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men.

(1 Corinthian 3:1-3, NKJV)

It is interesting to note that Paul said that “carnal” Christians behave somewhat like “mere men.” The Amplified Bible expands this out a bit more for clarification purposes, and here is how it expresses verse three:

For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?

(1 Corinthians 3:3, AMP)

In short, sometimes it can be quite hard to tell the difference between an unsaved false-Christian who was never saved, and a “carnal” Christian who needs to grow up and start behaving as they should.

I should point out that “strife” in and of itself is not a sign of “carnality” if it is done according to the Word. After all, we are to “contend for the faith” (see Jude verse 3-4) and the apostles often confronted people in sin and error (note Acts chapter eight, for example, as well as James’ admonition in James 5:19-20). However, frivolous fights that are based in jealousy and envy are certainly baby behaviors wherein no mature Christian would engage (except to perhaps rebuke those who were doing so).

However, what does this word “carnal” mean? Let’s define it.

The original Greek word that was used by Paul when he wrote this letter to the Corinthians is “σαρκικός” (or spelled phonetically using our Latin characters, sarkikos, which is cross referenced in Greek dictionaries and lexicons by Strong’s #4559). This word is derived from another Greek root word “σάρξ” (sarx, Strong’s #4561), which means the flesh or body. Consequently, the Greek word for “carnal” means, “fleshly, carnal,” or we could say, “under the control of the animal appetites…governed by mere human nature” (Thayer’s Lexicon). Our English word “carnal” is actually derived from the Latin term “carnālis” (Dictionary.com), from which the Spanish term for “meat” (carne) is derived. In short, we could say that people who have their “minds on the flesh” are proverbial “meat heads” that need to grow up in Christ!

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

(Romans 8:1, NKJV)

Returning to our Hebrew quote from the top of this article, we find that those who “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” are the ones who are spiritually mature. In the Romans passage above, we find that this is because the person has their MIND set upon the things of the Spirit and not what the body craves. A few other passages explain to us how this is supposed to look:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(Romans 12:1-2, NKJV)

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot….Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

(An excerpt from 1 Peter chapters 1-2, NKJV)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

(Ephesians 4:11-32, NKJV)

We can see from the above passages that in order to “walk in the spirit” with our minds focused upon the things of God, we need to have our minds renewed by God’s Word. This is done directly from God’s Word as we study it individually (e.g., see 2 Timothy 2:15), but it is also clear from above that Jesus Christ has ordained it that godly ministers teach His people. (Please note my emphasis on the word “godly,” because there are “false” ministers abounding these days, who are quite ungodly; please see Matthew chapter 24 for Jesus’ warning that false ministers would be prolific in these Last Days, and compare that passage also with 2 Timothy chapters 3-4, 2 Peter chapters 2-3, and Jude).

The genuinely born-again Christian who seeks to learn God’s Word in this manner will, over time, “grow up into Him which is the Head, even Christ.” In other words, they will mature. As they mature, they will “put off the old man with his deeds,” referring to the old nature we had before we were born again and to which our flesh was previously trained. As their minds are renewed they will then discipline their bodies and habits in order to conform to the “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” that we are through being born again. In short, they will behave more and more like Christ Jesus Himself, as they genuinely continue to mature in Christ:

Now by this we know that we know Him [Jesus], if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

(1 John 2:3-6, NKJV, bracketed notes for clarification, mine)

Thus, we have clearly identified Test 1B: The Test of Carnality.

In essence, a genuinely maturing Christian will act less and less like the unsaved world in which they live, and more and more Christ-like in character, behavior, and genuine holiness.

Summarizing Test One

It has been demonstrated from the Bible that this test should be applied in two ways:

In discussing Test 1A, I have shown from the Scriptures that “practicing sin” habitually may be proof that a person was never genuinely born again (saved), despite the fact that they may profess to be a “Christian” (or perhaps identify themselves by a denomination). They are still in their sins, and thus, if they were to die in that state—despite professing to be a Christian—they will be horrified to discover TOO LATE that they were never saved at all!

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it….

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

(An except from Matthew 7:13-23, NKJV)

In discussing Test 1B, I have shown from the Scriptures that a genuinely born-again Christian who still behaves like a lost sinner (to include acting like the unsaved false-Christians described beforehand) is “carnal” or “fleshly-minded,” and they need to grow up. This is achieved over time through prayer, worship, and most importantly, through studying the Scriptures (directly and under the teaching of godly ministers of Christ).

By the way, we ministers are still always growing too, so this applies to all Christians and not just the non-clergy.

Now, it is time to get into Test 2 for spiritual maturity, and this is “where the rubber REALLY meets the road” (to use a common American colloquialism). If you have felt that you were doing pretty good until now, then get ready to have a major “reality check” to see if you are walking in genuine spiritual maturity…

.

TEST TWO: Mastery of Fundamental Biblical Knowledge

Let us review once again what Hebrews told us about spiritual maturity:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

(Hebrews 5:12-6:3, NKJV)

Paul listed the foundational doctrines found within the “elementary principles of Christ”:

  1. Repentance from dead works (e.g. compare Hebrews 9:14 with Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 2:11-15 )
  2. Faith towards God (e.g., note Paul’s statement in Acts 26:19-20 about what he preached everywhere, plus Romans chapters 4 and 10)
  3. The doctrine of baptisms (note that this is a single doctrine, but that “baptisms” is plural, meaning that there is more than one type; e.g., please compare Acts 1:4-8 with Acts 2:38-39, 10:44-48, and 11:15-18)
  4. Laying on of hands (e.g., compare Acts 6:6, 8:17, 9:12, 13:3, and 28:8)
  5. The resurrection of the dead (e.g., compare 1 Corinthians chapter 15 with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2)
  6. Eternal judgment (e.g. compare Jesus words in John 3:16-21 with Matthew 7:13-23 and Revelation chapter 20)

These are the essential “elementary principles of Christ” that ANY and EVERY mature believer has already mastered, and moved beyond. (Note: I provided only a few sample passages for each item above, and not an exhaustive list of references for each doctrine listed.)

We should also add to this list above the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself, since it is ONLY through THAT doctrine that one can be saved and learn these other principles.

Thus, in all, there are seven core doctrines that each Christian—if they are mature—should have already mastered, and know “like the back of their hand.”Along with these, as they are listed in Hebrews, we have associated core doctrines of the Christian faith that are logically contained within these; chief among these would be the doctrines of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity (the denial of either of which makes a person a heretic, and thus, unsaved; but unless you know these doctrines, you cannot even understand why my point is irrefutably biblical and true).

Thus, to be a truly mature believer, you must KNOW what it is that you believe! Or stated better, you must know what God said about these subjects, in His Word, and be familiar with them to the point that you can teach these same things to others on-demand, without having to use notes or other such “aids.”

TEST TWO IDENTIFIED: Can you, without ANY supplemental aid (such as a “statement of faith” or handy outline) open up your Bible, and explain these basic doctrines to another person clearly? (Again, I am talking about the basic doctrines of the faith that are listed above, and not every doctrine of the faith.)

This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road,” my friend: If you cannot explain very easily, using only your Bible, the core Christian doctrines such as these (and the other related basic doctrines of the faith, such as the Trinity, Deity of Christ, and etc.), then you are NOT a mature Christian.

I do not care what you think about it; you simply cannot be “mature” and be “ignorant” of the elementary principles of the doctrines of Christ at the same time. That would be a self-contradiction, and thus, it cannot possibly be a reality. Either you know your God and His Word, and live a godly life accordingly, or you are a carnal and immature Christian (or unsaved). You must demonstrate both knowledge of Christ and godliness, in order to be spiritually mature in Christ:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

(2 Corinthians 10:4-6, NKJV)

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(Ephesians 3:14-19, NKJV)

…[until] we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ…

(Ephesians 4:13-15, NKJV, clarifying note in brackets mine)

CLARIFICATION: Yes, when teaching others the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ, even a mature Christian might have to look up a passage or two wherein they may remember the quote itself, but cannot remember exactly where it is located. That is normal, unless a person has a photographic memory and does not need such handy resources from time to time. So I am not saying that you cannot use a concordance or some other handy reference for that purpose.

However, if you are NOT familiar enough with your Bible to teach these core doctrines to others—at the spur of the moment, on-demand—without the use of theological “aids” such as your denomination’s statement of faith, or some check list that someone gave you, then you cannot possibly be a mature Christian. You are still a baby or child spiritually speaking. You need to grow up “into Him which is the Head, Christ,” by learning the fundamental doctrines of the faith that are contained in your Bible, but which are not yet fully in your heart and mind.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(Romans 12:1-2, NKJV)

To summarize:

  • You can live a reasonably godly life, and still be spiritually immature (i.e., a “baby” or “child”) in Christ simply because you do not KNOW CHRIST and His doctrines, through a reasonable comprehension of His Word.
  • On the other hand, you can be a theological scholar and yet be completely unsaved if you are still “practicing sin” habitually (and seminaries are full of unsaved theological scholars, frankly).
  • You need to pass BOTH parts of the “maturity test” in order to be a genuinely mature Christian, i.e., you must be one who is born again and living a godly life in Christ AND who can articulate to others the essential doctrines of Christ easily, from your own Bible, WITHOUT any help from others, or written aids.

An Illustration

I have often encountered people who are very theologically “sophisticated” on the surface, but who are clearly immature as believers. (I am merely assuming here they were actually saved, although I certainly wondered about some of them.) This has happened with regard to people from all sorts of denominations, such as Baptist, Assemblies of God, & etc, as well as non-denominational groups of every kind. They have their beliefs, of course, but many seem to struggle in their ability to articulate those beliefs from the Scriptures directly (especially within such a way that demonstrates sound reasoning).

However, I most commonly come across this phenomenon whenever discussing the Bible with people who consider themselves “Reformed Theology” adherents (e.g., Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, etc.). This group tends to sound the most “sophisticated” with regard to their doctrinal beliefs, but upon further examination many are found to be rather shallow in their actual understanding of the Bible itself. When that is the case, such people will use plenty of theological terminology (i.e., the “buzz words” of their particular denomination), but yet rarely quote from the Scriptures themselves in order to support their alleged beliefs.

Generally, whenever I try to explain a point to them using Scripture alone, they seem baffled by that fact. Based upon their reaction, it would almost seem that many of them think that I just stepped off of a spaceship and said, “Greetings, earthling!” They simply have no idea why I would want to quote the Bible—and ONLY the Bible—as being the sole source for my doctrine, and the measure by which I am testing theirs. At that point, they typically  then ask me from where I get my theology.

(Note: Again, my answer is “I get my theology from the Bible,” because no other source matters as much.)

Of course, such people are demonstrating themselves to be “carnal” (immature) already because of their denominational identification. The very fact that they are asking me where I get my theology (especially since I am quoting the Bible, and thus, am already showing where I get my theology) proves that they are sectarian, and thus, carnal:

For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?…

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

(Excerpts from 1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 3, NKJV)

Nevertheless, it is hard to get them to understand how immature they really are by pointing out their sectarian carnality. People who are that self-labelled consider themselves “superior” to most other groups, and thus, it is hard for them to comprehend that this very sense of sectarian superiority is proof of immaturity.

Thus, I have found that the best way to confront this is to ask them simply, “Are you able to take out your Bible at any moment, and using ONLY your Bible, to explain any of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith to someone using that one source alone? In other words, without resorting to your denominational statement of faith, the Apostle’s Creed, notes, or any other aid, are you familiar enough with these doctrines from the Scriptures themselves that you can explain them to another person WITHOUT any help?”

It is rare that I find one who can (and generally they ask me why I want to know). So I quote the Hebrews passage to them, and then tell them the same thing that I have proven within this article: If you are not grounded enough in the elementary principles of the doctrines of Christ to be able to explain them to another person without some sort of “crutch” to help you, then you are an immature Christian and “you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God”:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

(Hebrews 5:12-6:3, NKJV, underlined emphasis mine)

My friend, even if you are saved: If you are NOT living a godly lifestyle and/or you cannot teach others the essentials of the Christian faith, then you are still a spiritually immature “baby” or “child.” You still need to grow up.

Oh, and don’t think that every “Christian minister” can pass these tests either, my friend.

.

A Loving Challenge To Ministers

The late great evangelist, George Whitefield, is quoted as having said:

The Lord enabled me to open my mouth boldly against unconverted ministers; to caution tutors to take care of their pupils; and also to advise ministers particularly to examine the experience of candidates for ordination. For I am verily persuaded the generality of preachers talk of an unknown and unfelt Christ; and the reason why congregations have been so dead is, because they have had dead men preaching to them. O that the Lord may quicken and revive them, for His own name’s sake! For how can dead men beget living children? It is true, indeed, God may convert men by the devil, if He pleases, and so He may by unconverted ministers; but I believe He seldom makes use of either of them for this purpose. No, the Lord will choose vessels made meet by the operation of the blessed Spirit for His sacred use.

(Online Source)

And the great evangelist from the First Great Awakening above was not the first one to observe this phenomenon of unsaved ministers, for Paul (e.g., 2 Corinthians chapter 11), Peter (2 Peter chapters 2-3), and Jude discussed them at length, as well. Thus, we can understand three very clear points with this regard to this phenomenon:

  1. No alleged “minister” is consistently able to help others experience what they themselves have not; so if they are unsaved, likewise most of their followers will be unsaved.
  2. No carnal and spiritually immature “minister” (i.e., one who either lives an ungodly life, and/or who is unable to articulate the basic principles of the Christian faith on-demand) is able to help their followers to grow beyond their own spiritual level of maturity. If they are carnal, so will be most of those who follow their “lead.”
  3. Every Christian needs to be able to know how to “test” the salvation and spiritual maturity of others—including ministers—in order to be sure that they are not being led to a “ditch” by a “blind man” (i.e., either an unsaved false minister or a carnal Christian who has no business leading others).

Moreover, here is one of the several passages in the Bible explains these very same facts above:

And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

(Luke 6:39-40, NKJV)

Consequently, this article has some very practical uses for all Christians beyond your own immediate need to test your spiritual maturity. You need to know how to check out the “preachers” too!

When I used to pastor within local congregations, I would take some of my Wednesday evening services and open it up to questions from the congregation. I not only found this to be particularly helpful to me at those times when a specific topic did not seem to be clear in my own mind after my time in prayer, but it also proved to be extremely helpful (and appreciated) by the people in attendance too.

“What are you all struggling with? What Bible questions do you have? What problems are you facing?,” I would ask. Once the first person asked their question, I would then take everyone through the Bible in order to answer it for the benefit of those present (or who listened to the cassette tape later… yes, I just dated myself a bit with that comment). Then the next person would ask their question, I would answer, and then the next, and so on.

Of course, I did start off by telling the congregation that I am NOT omniscient. Thus, I told them that if I do not know the answer, I reserved the right to not answer their question right then (or if I felt that the inquiry was about a personal matter that was inappropriate to address publicly, or if the answer required more time than I had, etc.). Nevertheless, I typically answered every question that I was asked—from the Bible, with clear and logical explanations that satisfied the person making inquiry. Moreover, with regard to the “elementary principles of the doctrines of Christ,” I have never been unable to answer the questions asked of me.

Preachers and pastors, can you do that? If you cannot, then you are still spiritual children or babies, and you need to grow up—so that the people you attempt to “teach” can finally begin to grow up too:

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

(James 3:1-2, NKJV)

Frankly, most “ministers” are be terrified by the thought of ever doing such a thing publicly. Most of the preachers that I have met throughout the years are far more comfortable when “preparing a message” than when called upon to provide instruction on the spot in answer to specific questions.

Thankfully, I do know several godly ministers of Christ who are very good at answering questions on the fly, because they are spiritually mature Christians who are also faithful to their calling. However, I have met many others who would be completely unable to do that. I have also seen videos of “famous preachers” being asked impromptu questions and being unable to address them on-demand. In short, either charisma and personality, nor a good marketing department, can ever be substitutes for genuine spiritual maturity.

Another Illustration

Let me give you an example of how common it is for very immature Christians to be in “leadership” positions within churches today. I have a very good and godly minister friend named Raymond Luster. He is an amazing man of God with a solid grasp of the Scriptures, and I am very honored to call him my close friend.

Raymond spends most of his time mentoring other ministers rather than filling pulpits, however, because he is a real “leader of leaders.” (He also does not particularly care to be “seen by men” either, because he is faithful to his own calling before the Lord; please note Matthew 23:5 in comparison with Galatians 1:10.) Consequently, he is often asked by pastors to help them train their leadership too.

As I remember this particular story, he was visiting with a particular pastor one day in that man’s office. They were discussing that man’s desire to have his associate pastoral staff trained in leadership skills. After a while, Raymond said to this pastor, “What you don’t understand is that your ministers first need to go through the catechism.” Neither men are Roman Catholic or Lutheran (two groups which serve as examples of those which use “catechisms” to school people into their religious beliefs). So the pastor just looked at Raymond kind of funny, and did not immediately reply.

Raymond was simply trying to provoke the man to think, and was not suggesting that the guy join a new denomination. So he grinned real big at the pastor’s reaction, and told him to call his associate pastors into the room.

When the four or five associate pastors arrived, Raymond looked at this group and asked them all,”Which of you can open your Bible for me right now, and prove to me from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ is God?” In short, he was asking them to demonstrate that they knew how to teach on the Deity of Christ without any aids or notes, which is a sign of genuine biblical maturity; thus, it is certainly a fundamental ability for any person to master before venturing into the “ministry” (although heretics do it all the time, of course).

When he asked them that question these men looked around at each other baffled. Not even one of them could do it.

Raymond then turned around to the pastor and said, “See! Your people don’t even know the basic doctrines of Christianity. How can I teach them ‘leadership’ when they are not even mature Christians?”

And by the way, this same principle also applies to the many self-appointed “Internet” teachers that I run into online (and especially on Facebook). If you are living an ungodly life, and/or you cannot open up your Bible and address the fundamentals of the faith with someone on the spot, then you need to (1) Make sure that YOU are saved; (2) Realize that even if you are, you are yet “carnal,” and (3) That you need to stop trying to teach others, and instead let someone else teach YOU the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

(Hebrews 5:12-14, NKJV))

Christians: It is certainly time for the Body of Christ to grow up (preachers included).

.

A FREE Resource

I realize that this article may have seemed a bit like too much of a “reality check” for some reading it. However, I had to express this truth to you because I would be held accountable otherwise:

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

(Acts 20:26-27, NKJV)

According to Ephesians 4:11-16, it is my job as a minister to teach the truth of God’s Word in love for the maturing of the saints (see also James 5:19-20). So I have hopefully given you something major to “chew on,” and that you appreciate the clarity and frankness with which I have written this article. However, I want to give you something else too, which will help you to master some of the core doctrines of the Christian faith. It will teach you the proper methods of Bible study, as well.

I teamed up with some very blessed brothers and sisters from around the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom, to put together a FREE audio teaching series, which you can learn about (and subsequently download) by clicking here, or by clicking on the following banner link:

.

728X90_Leaderboard-shadow

.

Download instructions are on that same page underneath the description. So are the reviews of some of the many people who have listened to that series already. So please take advantage of this free resource, and even share it with others, so that you (and they) can grow in to genuine maturity in Christ Jesus.

Moreover, I would like to recommend also another of my key articles on this very website, Four Characteristics of Sound Doctrine. This teaching will show you some of the biblical principles by which you can ensure that your own understanding of the Bible is sound, and by which you can test the doctrines of others, as well.

Lastly, if this article was a blessing to you, then please “like” it or “tweet” it so that others can know about it too. You can also print this article, or create an email-ready PDF of this page, using the feature for that purpose found at the very top of this article. Feel free to also post a comment below.

Now for a biblical benediction in closing:

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

(Ephesians 6:23-24, NKJV)

Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

.

Share

Joel Osteen’s ‘Mantra’

November 20, 2012 Posted by Rich Vermillion

Share

.
.
.

Joel Osteen’s ‘Mantra’

.

A "spoof" of Joel Osteen's book, "Your Best Life Now," which portrays Joel as a Hindu, and is entitled, "Your Best Life Next Time" (referencing reincarnation beliefs).

This widely circulated “Hindu Edition” spoof of Joel Osteen’s famous heretical book, “Your Best Life Now,” was just too funny and too appropriate for me to not use for this post. (Click to enlarge.)

If you have ever watched Joel Osteen’s “church” services from Lakewood “Church” in Houston, Texas, you have probably seen him lead the congregation and television viewing audience into making a “positive confession” right before he begins his teaching. What you may NOT know about that “confession” is that Joel — consciously or unconsciously — is programming his audience to receive his false doctrine without ANY question or discernment.

(Let me note briefly that I have hyper-linked many of the words in this article to Dictionary.com in order to provide definitions for terms that might not be readily understood, especially by those for whom English is a second language. So if you do not understand a particular word or phrase, simply hold your cursor over it to see if a message appears that indicates there is a link there for you to click.)

“Now,” someone might object, “How can you say that about Joel’s innocent confession? It is simply a profession of faith that we are going to be teachable and to learn from God’s Word.” Oh, is it? We will take a closer look at that confession and find out that there is more to it than readily meets the eye.

However, before we get into that detailed examination of the “Lakewood Church Confession,” let us first take a look at the word “mantra” which I used in the title of this article. You will readily see as we progress how accurate a word this is for us to use to describe what Joel Osteen encourages his followers to do (and why I picked the spoof book graphic to the right for this post). Here is the definition:

1. Hinduism: A word or formula, as from the Veda, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer.

2. An often repeated word, formula, or phrase, often a truism: e.g. If I hear the “less is more” mantra one more time, I’ll scream.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

Now as we get into studying this “confession” of theirs, you will find that the NET EFFECT thereof is the same as the “mantra” definition #1 above: Namely, that it is an “incantation” (of a sorts) that takes place, through which the people are led into programming themselves to be deceived by the man.

.

Word of Faith, or Word of Poison?

To begin, let me note that this “Lakewood Church Confession” was actually created by John Osteen, Joel’s father, many years ago. John was a very respected leader within the “Word of Faith Movement,” and had the typical “confession” theology that prevailed in those circles for many years and even today (though “money” now dominates their attention more than “faith” or “confession” typically). That brand of theology contains a mix of biblical truth with significant error. As it has proliferated since Kenneth Copeland became more prominent within the movement back in the 1980s, it is also mixed with Masonic doctrines as well.

I came out of that background myself, and even served as an Associate Pastor on the staff of a then-4,000-member “Word of Faith” church. So I know “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” of those doctrines. (And Osteen’s use of  “confession” is one that comes under the category of the “ugly,” as you shall soon see.) However, rather than get into a detailed analysis thereof, let me just offer here a few observations for the purpose of this article…

There is a fairly old saying that points out that, “Rat poison is actually 98% perfectly good corn meal.” Obviously, just 2% of poison is enough to turn a perfectly good “dinner” into a “death sentence” for any rat that dares to feed on the meal they are offered. Likewise, heretics often mix their spiritual “poison” with Scriptures that seem to support their thesis only at first glance.

There is a term within the legal profession that goes by the Latin phrase, prima facie, whereby they describe a lawsuit which appears legitimate at first, but has not yet been tested in a court of law against all the available facts. Heretics absolutely THRIVE on presenting “plausible looking” doctrines which seem to be authentic, but which are actually incapable of surviving close scrutiny. A closer examination of their false doctrines reveals that what appears to be truth is actually a myth.

(By the way, I teach on this subject of “truth verses myth” at some length in my free MP3 audio series, The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel, which you can download FOR FREE by clicking here to visit the download page.)

In the case of the “confession” theology found within the Word of Faith circles, this mixture of error and Masonic heresies with God’s Word, creates a dangerous mix of “spiritual rat poison” for those who accept or study it. Thus, I highly recommend that you stay away from such teaching, as any effort to “feed on the good” necessarily causes you to mentally “ingest” the “poison” that is mixed therein.

But since I do not want to expand this article too far from it’s original topic, I will leave this subject here at present. I will have to write on this issue separately at a later date. Please check back to this website frequently to read it when it is posted, or simply sign up for our Feedburner™ notifications by clicking here to be updated about all our posts.

.

Confession of Deception

Getting back to the “Lakewood Confession”: The DANGER with Joel’s pre-instruction confession is NOT found within the first two sentences. That opening portion is actually pretty nice, and tends to lull the person into not questioning the remainder of the mantra.

So the DANGER of the “confession” that they repeat before EVERY service at Lakewood “Church” is found in what FOLLOWS, starting at the third sentence. Here is the full confession (as copy/pasted from the Lakewood FAQ page, last accessed on November 20, 2012):

This is my Bible. I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess; My mind is alert, My heart is receptive, I will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever-living seed of the Word of God. I will never be the same, never, never, never, I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s now begin to dissect this mantra and find out where the danger lies therein…

.

Begging the Question

The FIRST problem found in the Lakewood mantra is that it is founded upon a logical fallacy known as “Begging the Question” (aka “Circular Reasoning”). The confession first ASSUMES that the “teaching” which is about to follow is BIBLICAL, and thus, will actually convey genuine Christian doctrine.

However, logically, one should not merely ASSUME something is fact (or true), but rather they must PROVE it to be so — especially if there is any question in the matter — BEFORE accepting it as such. So in terms of doctrine, one should always prove that a doctrine is sound and congruent with the Scriptures BEFORE accepting it as being true.

This is certainly the biblical thing to do because “gullibility” is to be avoided:

Test all things; hold fast what is good.

(1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV, emphasis mine)

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.

(Acts 17:10-12, NASB, emphasis mine)

Paul preached truth, and these people were receptive to what he was preaching as he quoted extensively from the Old Testament prophecies to support his assertion, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ” (verse 3). However, these people were NOT gullible; and they wanted to move beyond the prima facie appearance of plausibility, and to put this doctrine of Paul’s to the test. So they examined “the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” BEFORE they “believed” what the man proclaimed.

As the passage from 1 Thessalonians above reveals, Paul actually wrote a letter to the Christians in Thessalonica to tell them that they were to be similarly “noble-minded.” Like their Berean brethren habitually did already, the Thessalonians were told to likewise “test all things” and only accept that which “is good” (i.e., those things that pass a closer examination).

But does Joel Osteen encourage people to “test everything” that he says? No, he does not. He instead “begs the question” whether what he teaches is biblical or not — and through the Lakewood mantra, Joel has all the people predetermine beforehand that they will “accept” whatever he teaches as being “biblical” BEFORE Joel has PROVEN anything from the Scriptures.

Worse yet, the instruction that follows the Lakewood mantra is generally NOT biblical teaching. Rather than dive into his heresies here, however, let me first refer you to a few resources of mine which discuss Joel’s “other gospel”:

And let me also suggest the following “Joel Osteen” resource pages, each of which provides a generous list of other websites that document his errors and heresies (listed alphabetically):

.

Switching Definitions (Equivocation)

The SECOND problem found in the Lakewood mantra is that it is also founded upon another logical fallacy known as “Equivocation.” Equivocation generally occurs when people switch the definitions for words in how they use them, in order to either obscure the the truth (i.e., to hide something) or to deceive another person (i.e., to interject a lie into their mind).

(Note: Some people “equivocate” because of sloppy thinking and/or because they were themselves deceived by someone else, and are just repeating what they were told. However, I am primarily addressing within this article the intentional use of equivocation as a tool of deceit and manipulation, although is is possible that the “deceived deceiver” scenario might be the case with Joel Osteen. Regardless, he is deceiving others — whether intentionally or unintentionally — which makes him a dangerous “leader” who should be avoided, and not “followed.”)

So to illustrate: When a Mormon — or a “Latter Day Saint” (LDS), as they prefer to call themselves — comes to your door and claims that the “Jesus” of Mormonism is the “same Jesus that is in the Bible” they are equivocating. I had this happen to me recently, and I refused to let them do that. I replied to these Mormons, “The Jesus of the Bible NEVER came to America after His Resurrection as you claim, and thus, your ‘Jesus’ is NOT the same one.” They tried to use equivocation on a few other terms in an effort to hide the distinctions between Mormonism and GENUINE Biblical Christianity, but I kept catching them at their tactic and REDEFINING the terms according to the Scriptures — i.e., in CONTRAST to how they interpret them. Those two Mormons were quite confounded by that (as I guess they had never run into someone who knew their heretical tactics) and they soon looked for a way to exit the discussion (but I kept re-engaging them and extending the conversation…hee hee.)

(Click here if you want to learn more about the Mormon’s many absurd heresies, and their ties to Freemasonry, as I have to move on beyond this example and get back to our main subject.)

As you can probably guess, this fallacy of equivocation is another TOP favorite among heretics. Understandably, therefore, the Bible specifically addresses this practice of theirs in numerous places. Here are a few selections for us to discuss (of the many which could be cited):

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Jude vs. 3-4, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Jude warns that these ungodly men (and women) would “turn the grace of God” into something that the Bible does NOT describe it as being. (Joseph Prince falls into this category, by the way.) Such heretics will redefine “grace” according to definitions which will actually produce “lewdness,” and that even actually DENY the Lord Jesus (by either word or deed…please note Titus 1:16). Such “changing the definition of grace” is an example of the use of equivocation as a tool for deception.

Now look at one of the things that Peter discussed along these lines:

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 3:14-18, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Peter discusses how heretics “twist” the Scriptures, to include the New Testament writings of Paul. This “twisting” is typically manifested by heretics through how they apply both “equivocation” to the terms they use, and how they apply still other logical fallacies in order to lead people to wrong conclusions.

Now let’s look at how Paul discussed this use of “definition switching” by false ministers (heretics):

Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches ANOTHER Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a DIFFERENT spirit which you have not received, or a DIFFERENT gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

(2 Corinthians 11:1-4, NKJV, emphasis mine)

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a DIFFERENT gospel, which is NOT ANOTHER; but there are some who trouble you and want to PERVERT the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches ANY OTHER GOSPEL to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

(Galatians 1:6-9, NKJV, emphasis mine)

It is important to note that Paul was writing by the Holy Spirit to churches that he had founded himself. He was concerned that because of the outright carnality (i.e., fleshly mindedness) of the Corinthians, that they seemed to be “easy prey” for false teachers to deceive through the use of equivocation.

When he wrote to the Galatians, he was shocked that they HAD ALREADY been taken prey by such heretics using this very tactic. A “different gospel” had been presented to them, and they were in danger of losing their salvation thereby — not only by being “accursed” for spreading that heresy themselves, but also for “falling from grace” through a works-based religion (see Galatians 5:3-4 for Paul’s statements regarding this last point).

ALL of these heretics were preaching different things than what Biblical Christianity teaches, but were using the subtle tactic of “equivocation” in order to confuse their hearers and to lead them astray with their false doctrines. They say “jesus,” “cross,” “baptism,” “gospel,” “holy spirit,” “salvation,” “christianity,” & etc., but mean entirely DIFFERENT things than the TRUTH of what the Scriptures reveal about those Persons and things. (Note: I used lower-case letters intentionally above, though not grammatically correct, because I wanted to differentiate these false terms from the REAL ones of the Bible.)

.

Conclusion

So what is the problem with the Lakewood mantra, which the people “confess” before Joel Teaches? What is wrong with them saying that they are going to “receive” the “Word of God” and accept it from Joel Osteen without questioning it or putting it to the test?

By getting all the people (and his television audience) to “confess” this mantra, Joel Osteen is doing the following:

  1. Equivocating his FALSE doctrines with the GENUINE doctrines of Christ….
  2. …and fallaciously ASSUMING that they are the same (i.e., “begging the question”) without first PROVING that they are actually sound biblical doctrine…
  3. …and thus, he is PROGRAMMING his audience to “receive” something that is often NOT BIBLICAL as if it truly is biblical….
  4. …when the BIBLE tells us that people should INSTEAD be taught to TEST THINGS that they hear — instead of just “swallowing” it like a fish, “hook, line, and sinker,” without questioning its validity and veracity.

Thus, the PROBLEM with the Lakewood “confession” is NOT the first two sentences of it, which are actually quite nice and sound good. Rather, the problems are found within the REST of the confession — because it softens the minds and discernment of Osteen’s audience in order to make them more receptive to his false doctrines and gross heresies.

Thus, I highly recommend you do NOT ever make such “confessions” whenever ANY alleged “minister” wishes you to do so before they teach you. A genuine minister of Christ will always want you to learn the truth for yourself, and to “test things” to ensure you both understand their teaching, and have confirmed that it is truly biblical.

Again, in closing, my audio teaching series, The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel, actually explain how to discern true from false doctrine — AND true and false ministers as well. I hope you will obtain your own copy of this FREE series today, and begin to listen to it — searching the Scriptures daily as you do, to “see if these things be so.”

Thank you for reading this article. I hope it was helpful. The comments section is open below if you would like respond or to add your thoughts to this discussion. (And yes, comments are moderated.)

Now in closing, let me offer you the following benediction from the Bible itself:

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

(Ephesians 6:23-24, NKJV)

Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

Share