The recurring theme of the Bible
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible has one recurring theme. This simply is to leave your sin’s and come back to God.
Forsaking your sinful ways is just one part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The next part is to get back to God. This involves a relationship with God where you are his child and the Lord is your Father.
Any gospel that excludes repentance from sins and being reconciled to God is a false gospel. Any gospel that focuses on material prosperity and efficiency of resources alone is a cheapened gospel. Any gospel that teaches a Jesus who doesn’t love you unless you follow a thousand rules is a legalistic gospel. Have nothing to do with any false gospel.
Obeying God by stopping drinking from the cup of sin is not an optional part of the true Gospel. We are called to be in a relationship with Jesus and his heavenly Father. This means that we do not let anything or any person come in between us and God. No sinful entertainment is to take that place. No obsessive passion should come in between. No worldly pursuit should replace this relationship. No man nor woman should be given the place of God in your life. People can be loved and valued without making them a replacement to the Lord himself.
We are called to hold on to Christ. We do this by believing in him. We do this by abiding in Christ’s teachings. We therefore must continue in our relationship with God always. Nothing else matters as much.
Give thanks to God for your salvation which comes from Christ Jesus. Amen.
Take the machinery out of the church
The farther away from God you get, the more rules and regulations you’ll come up with in an effort to maintain what you once had. And what was once living will soon become mechanical and artificial. (Take the machinery out of the church.)
Beware of the yoke of men. Man’s yoke looks good, but it will only slow you down in the climb, and will make you less fruitful. The Lord’s yoke is light, it lifts you up, but man’s will weigh you down.
Zealous Christians can sometimes fall into the deception that they can earn God’s Love, and that His love is based on their performance. (I personally fell to this deception.) Be sure to love God for who He Is, not for what He can give you. The Love of God is not so cheap that it can be earned by the work of your hand or the sweat of your brow.
The above quotes are by Robert Brownell (of divinerevelations.info) and exhort us to follow God freely in spirit. Sometimes people act legalistic while they may not be aware of their behavior. However, these people are aware of how others follow God freely and so don’t have an excuse. God wants his people to love him with all of their heart, mind and strength. Acting like a machine won’t help you at all. Machines don’t have have a heart nor a mind.
You need to receive the Lord Jesus who gives true grace and truth. So hold Jesus close to your heart. Love Jesus not out of compulsion but out of free will. God knows the thoughts of your heart, so don’t do good works to get a certificate of right conduct from a preacher. Maybe you need that certificate for church formalities etc. However, be true to the will of God. The will of God is not something clouded by intellectual smoke. God’s will is that you believe in the Lord Jesus and live a holy life unto God.
Do works of charity not for fame but for the glory of God. Good works don’t get you salvation as you can never earn your way into heaven. Salvation is given freely by Jesus Christ to those believe in him and the Gospel of Christ. Salvation is not a ‘one-time-prayer-and-forget-about-it’, it’s about continuing in your relation with Jesus. For salvation outside of Jesus Christ does not exist, so keep within Jesus always.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21)
Legalism won’t make you righteous
Legalism is a fake version of righteousness. It affects men, women and children in various forms from the cradle to the grave. Even preachers entertain this without realizing the dangers of it.
First things first, legalism is not the same thing as righteous living, praying methods, living by faith, obedience to God’s will, desire for purity and genuineness in one’s relationship with God. The Bible doesn’t promote legalism. Legalism is not be confused with following the teachings of the Gospel. At this point its imperative to get a clear idea of what is legalism. Let’s start with the dictionary meaning:
Legalism : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code ( Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
Now in Christianity legalism is the excessive and improper use of the law. By excessive, it means overzealous following of the laws of God while not giving glory to God. It can also promote self-righteousness as it makes a person focus more on self than the Lord.
By improper usage, it means that it stealthily becomes a ‘earn your salvation‘ technique instead of getting your salvation truly and freely from Jesus our Lord. This can make you very unsure of your salvation and thereby keep you dependent on the church authority structure to say whether are you saved or not. It’s good to obey church leaders but you must keep it balanced in the light of the Gospel.
During the course of my life I was unwittingly taught legalism though I didn’t understand it at that time. However, after a few years I realized that is an energy drainer. This affected my relationship with God and I was not sure of my salvation. So decided to re-learn the teachings of the Bible directly by myself and praying to the Holy Spirit to lead me. It’s a big relief to be out of it and be sure of one’s salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
Legalism can happen in non religious settings such as work or college. Since, I’m speaking of legalism in a spiritual context, I will give you a few examples of how things can go legalistic in the religious world. Here we go:
- Lydia is trying to make ends meet for her little child. Her husband is working but is not getting enough due to the bad economy. So she decides to do part-time work as a nurse to supplement their income due to which she misses on a few church services. She is worried that her actions have jeopardized her salvation and keeps crying out. This continues until a preacher convinces her of true salvation and helps her with the timings of a church that has worship services all through the week.
- James is taught to always wear a tie to any church service as every man in church who doesn’t wear it is seen as not sincere about salvation. He keeps doing this regularly. One day he forgets to wear a tie and enters the church. He is then denounced by everyone in the church and eventually leaves it. He then enters another church where there is no requirement to wear a tie (to his pleasant surprise) and continues to go there regularly. (the first 2 examples are just indicative examples, the next one is a real one)
- I would attend a place of prayer where people got healed by the power of Christ. However, the preachers in the due course of time started acting legalistic and would say the following statements, “If you have AIDS or HIV its God’s Gift to you for sinning and God will NOT heal you” and would also say “I sense God is healing some person of this and this disease but I say to this person, come up and testify on the stage right now or you will LOSE your healing”. I was totally horrified at this legalism and started avoiding them lest I too learn their ways. As time passed by, many people stopped going to this place and started going to other places to get prayed over. However, the preachers over there are still adamant on their ‘God hates people with AIDS’ stance. (I mentioned this example in my earlier post; Learn to understand what comes from God and what comes from man)
A very sure way to realize legalism is at work is when things are added or removed from the actual wisdom and practices mentioned in the Bible. Basically these are rules of men and not of God.
This make me recall the words of a wise preacher, ‘The farther away from God you get, the more rules and regulations you’ll come up with in an effort to maintain what you once had. And what was once living will soon become mechanical and artificial. (Take the machinery out of the church.)’ No wonder, I say that your righteousness must come from Christ. alone. You must have the right attitude of the heart, not just good external actions.
Here are few scriptures on what the Bible speak about Legalism:
Isaiah 1:11 “The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:1-4 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Some videos on the reality of legalism. These make good sense, so are worth a watch as well.
Neglect prophecy at your own risk
Prophecy has always been a part of the will of God. Even before Jesus formed the church there have been prophets sent by God. Prophets were those who gave messages from God especially about the future concerning blessings and judgements.
The Lord doesn’t want to hide prophecy. He wants people to know what he has planned out so that they can be secure in him.
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.(Amos 3:7)
Jesus said, “So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time”. (Mark 13:23)
So pay attention to true prophecy because it will give you hope.
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain,and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
(2 Peter 1:19)
Biblical prophecies were always due to inspiration by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures themselves attest to this.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
So a true prophet is to be heard and prophecy is to be acknowledged positively. Its very important to always check if the prophecy is consistent with the Bible. Otherwise it could lead to deception.
Now only a false prophet would say there’s no Judgement day at all and you realize that the Bible clearly speaks of Judgement day. So would you do then? I’d reject the false prophecy of no Judgement day and then denounce the false prophet if he persists in that perversion of truth. I will also reject any prophecy that says that pay so and so amount of money to guarantee your salvation. Because the Bible says “believe in Lord Jesus and you will be saved” but it doesn’t say pay money for salvation.
However, sometimes instead of discerning prophecy by the scriptures people use a wordly approach. They simply ignore prophecy or act like sceptics. Scepticism is not a substitute for discernment. Also labelling every prophecy as false without even checking may cause you to miss being part of a great move of God.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)
People have got into trouble because they have either rejected or ignored prophecy. Due to legalism in certain churches, only prophecy that comes from the top leaders is considered valid while other people who gave prophecy are told to keep such things to themselves and repent of their ‘sins of pride’. By such standards of legalism, great prophets such as Daniel, Isaiah etc wouldn’t be heard if they were on earth today just because they are not ordained religious leaders. Yes that’s the logic of legalism though it always claims to ‘defend’ the faith. So even legalism is a bad way to interpret prophecy.
Sometimes there’s outright rejection of prophecy and sure enough disaster and death follows. The ancient Israelites most of the time rejected the call to quietness and trust in the Lord and instead they kept worshiping false gods. Though they sometimes did heed the prophets and repent of idolatry, they later back tracked on prophecy and they rejected it.
What followed next was the defeat of Israel by various kingdoms. Israel cried out for relief and God forgave them and did restore them. However, their heart was not fully with God. So, God again sent his prophets to them. Yet they didn’t listen to prophets who spoke of God’s sovereignity, love and mercy. They kept sacrificing not just animals but even fellow humans and kids to false deities!
Due to this, severe judgement arose from God with the result that an evil and sadistic empire known as Babylon attacked Israel like a ravenous wolf tears up its prey on a dark winter day. Empires such as it spread terror where they went and even more in Israel. Most Jews then were either killed or exiled over to far off lands, with only the poorest of the poor left to tend the land of Israel. The glory of Israel was dimmed out due to their repeated rejection of prophecy. Even to this day Israel never experiences true peace and security. Please don’t think that God has forgotten about them. There’s Biblical prophecy about them and Jesus reconciling in the future. Amen.
Now not every rejection of prophecy brings instant death. Sometimes you just miss a brilliant opportunity to improve yourself or others in the mental, physical and spiritual without much effort. You miss a time of God’s favor and then replicating the benefits yourself would otherwise take years of self discipline to achieve or even be unachievable by human standards.
If Peter wouldn’t have given heed to visions related to Cornelius the Roman and Gentile then the church today would never open its doors to people who are Gentiles. (A person who is not a Jew is called a Gentile by the Jewish people). God never intended salvation through Jesus be only limited for the Jews but rather also to everyone else who believes in the Gospel. Peter’s reaction to this prophecy changed the future for many Gentiles yet to be born. Thus we see that a positive response to genuine prophecy affects both the present and the future dramatically.
Prophecy can sometimes be very time specific, so avoid an indefinite delay tactic in discerning. Write down or make a recording of the prophecy you got. Make note of the time, place etc. Then simply pray in the Holy Spirit and remember the words of the Bible. Ask the Lord for wisdom on this. Have hope in Christ!
I remember an incident when a man in a room where people were gathered for prayers got a shocking revelation. It was that a young woman among them secretly had hidden poison in her bag and would commit suicide later. The prayers were slowed down and after some discerning he made known the prophecy to all over there. That woman started panicking and others in the room found out that she indeed had poison in her bag. After being found out, nobody started a blame game on her. Instead they prayed for her and with her. This woman with much tears repented of her desire to kill herself and is still alive today. Just imagine for a moment that the person who recieved the prophecy decided not to bother about. That woman wouldn’t be alive today.
Here are a few scriptures to reflect on which pertain to prophetic blessings, warnings, affirmation of prophecy and discernment as well :-
1) I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come,scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” (2 Peter 3:2-4)
2) Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it. (Revelation 1:3)
3) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
4) And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)
5) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (Matthew 24:6)