|Turbo Charge Your Church||by R. David Pogge|
Martin Luther chaffed against the abuse of papal power, and shared the hatred of Jews which was prevalent in his society. That made him wary of authority and anything Jewish. God’s law is both authoritative and Jewish.
On the other hand, Luther recognized that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and the ultimate authority. His motto was, “Sola Scriptura!” That is, “The Bible Alone!” He realized his obligation to obey God no matter what the cost. If a church doctrine conflicts with the Bible, one must follow the Bible rather than human tradition.
Therefore, Luther was somewhat conflicted. He believed that the Bible demanded obedience, but he had difficulty accepting those sections of scripture that he considered to be Jewish, and required obedience to Jewish laws. He laid the foundation for the Reformation; but his anti-Semitism kept him from completing the building.
Luther was right about a lot of things. Concerning the rest, he didn’t really go wrong—he just didn’t go right far enough.
Luther’s greatest discovery was found in Ephesians, chapter 2. It is salvation by grace, through faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV]
There is nothing anyone can do to earn salvation. God does not owe anyone eternal life. He doesn’t even owe you the life you are living right now. You didn’t do anything to earn your birth. God formed you in your mother’s womb by His own choice—not as the result of some obligation He had to you.
Nobody has lived such a good mortal life that God is obliged to reward him with immortality. Salvation is not something you can boast about earning.
Salvation is a gift that God gives to some people—but not everyone. So, one might naturally ask, “How does God decide who should receive the gift?”
You can’t make God give you the gift for two reasons. First, if you force God to give it to you, then it isn’t a gift by definition. A gift is something that someone doesn’t have to give you. Second, salvation is so valuable that nobody can do enough to earn it. So, if you can’t earn the gift, how do you get it? You get it because God decides to give it to you. Which brings us right back to the question, “How does God decide who should receive the gift?”
The simple answer is that God gives it to people who really want it, whether they deserve it or not. That naturally leads to the question, “How does God know who really wants the gift?” Jesus answered that question in several of His parables. Here is one example.
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” [Matthew 22:1-13, NIV]
The usual interpretation of this parable is that God prepared the wedding banquet for the Jews; but since they didn’t come, He invited the Gentiles instead. It is used to justify the false, anti-Semitic claim that God hates Jews, so none of them will be saved, and we Christians will all be saved even though we don’t deserve it.
Jesus certainly was trying to warn the Jewish leaders that they were guilty of dereliction of duty and needed to reform and get their priorities straight; but the parable applies to us Christians today just as much as it applies to the Jewish leaders 2,000 years ago.
Since the king represents God, he must have been a good king. A good king would collect reasonable taxes and use those taxes to build an infrastructure that provides a healthy and safe environment for all his subjects. That’s what God does for us.
Every kingdom includes some nobility. There are certain standards of decorum that are expected of the upper class. They are expected to set good examples for the peasants through their behavior and use of their wealth. They are rewarded with certain privileges and pleasures. Among the perks of being a noble is the occasional invitation to a royal function, such as a royal wedding.
God’s kingdom includes a noble class. God expects Christians to maintain a higher standard of conduct than non-believers. God expects Christians to perform works of charitable service. God expects His nobles to be His representatives on Earth. God pours out His blessings on all His subjects; but He gives greater blessings to the nobility. He expects the nobility to use and enjoy those blessings responsibly, and celebrate with Him on Sabbath.
The nobles in the parable were too involved with their own business to accept the King’s invitation to celebrate with Him. They ignored the invitation. Sadly, there are Christians who are so involved with their own business that they have little or no time for God. God invites them to spend every Sabbath with Him; but they ignore the invitation. Sadly, many people who God has blessed the most (with good health and material possessions) seem to have the least time for God. Some people who have been blessed with great intellects have become atheists, and use their mental gifts to attack God.
Because the nobles were unworthy, the king opened his wedding banquet up to the peasants, who were not noble enough to deserve to be in the presence of the king at the marriage of his son; but he still expected them to dress appropriately. Incredibly, there was one guest who did not bother to dress for the occasion. This was unmistakable lack of respect. The king threw him out.
God has opened His wedding banquet up to all of us, even though we do not deserve to be on the guest list. All we have to do is to show up and act appropriately to be included. Unfortunately, there will be some who do not show the proper respect for His Majesty and will be thrown out on their ears. The parable was a warning for us today—not just the Jewish leaders 2,000 years ago.
The punch line of the parable is, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Why isn’t everyone who is invited, chosen? Why invite people who are going to be thrown out?
The invitation for salvation is universal; but reception of salvation is conditional on the invitee. The invitee has to indicate a desire to receive the gift by showing up and acting appropriately.
Sadly, it has become common in Protestant churches to think that all that one has to do is to say he loves God to be saved, regardless of what he does.
We Christians have been invited to the wedding; but we have to behave nobly or else we will be thrown out. Christians aren’t better than everyone else; but they do have to live according to higher standards. Our heavenly calling demands noble behavior.
Luther discovered Righteousness by Faith. It was the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation. It needs to be proclaimed today with the same intensity that is was back then, as we will see in Section 5.2.
Unfortunately, the secular doctrine of Unrighteousness by Faith has committed identity theft, and masquerades as Righteousness by Faith in many Protestant churches today.
Unrighteousness by Faith is the doctrine that one can be unrighteous and still be forgiven if one simply claims to be a Christian. As we will see in Section 5.2, if one really is a Christian, one won’t be unrighteous; but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Unrighteousness by Faith is a doctrine that itching ears want to hear. It seems comforting to hear that all of God’s laws have been abolished, obedience is no longer required, and salvation is free for the asking. It is comforting—as long as one lives in that dream world. When one comes back to reality, and discovers that it is a lie, then it becomes very uncomfortable—especially if the realization comes too late.
Preachers of unrighteousness try to excuse their failures by quoting verses like these out of context:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: [Romans 3:10, KJV]
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; [Isaiah 64:6, KJV]
It is true, there is “not one” righteous man—there are too many righteous men to list them all! Here is an abbreviated list, taken from the Bible.
This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. [Genesis 6:9, NIV]
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. [Luke 2:25, NIV]
… because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. [Mark 6:20, NIV]
… and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— [2 Peter 2:7-8, NIV]
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. [James 5:16, KJV]
For verily I [Jesus] say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. [Matthew 13:17, KJV]
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. [Psalm 37:16, KJV]
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. [Psalm 37:25, KJV]
There are lots more verses like these, talking about righteous people, so clearly the statement that nobody is righteous must be false.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. [1 John 3:7, KJV]
He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign Lord. [Ezekiel 18:9, NIV]
The Bible is perfectly clear—you can be righteous. To be righteous you have to keep God’s laws. But people who aren’t righteous, and want to excuse their unrighteousness, claim that it is impossible to keep God’s laws. They twist verses like Romans 3:10 and Isaiah 64:6 to excuse their failures. Let’s look at them in context.
In the midst of Paul’s proclamation that Jews aren’t intrinsically better than Gentiles, he says,
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
He is quoting a psalm.
The fool says in his heart,
Paul’s point is that anyone, Jew or Gentile, who acts as if “there is no God,” is not righteous. Paul did not tell the Romans that nobody can be righteous. In fact, the letter to the Romans is filled with exhortations to be righteous. This is clear if you read the whole letter; not just one verse taken out of context.
When Isaiah made the remark about righteousness being like filthy rags, he was confessing the sins of a society that had fallen into apostasy. He was praying on behalf of the people who “continue to sin against [those who gladly do right].” Here’s what he said in context:
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
When Isaiah talks about “righteous acts,” he is being sarcastic. The “righteous acts” they are doing are things God expressly prohibits. As the subsequent verses say, they sacrifice to idols in gardens. They burn incense on brick (not stone) altars to foreign gods. They consult mediums to contact the dead in graveyards. They eat unclean food. They sacrifice to idols on mountains. And then they have the gall to claim to be holier than God! Isaiah tells them what God thinks about their “righteous acts,” which really are filthy and disgusting.
All day long I have held out my hands
The Bible is perfectly clear. God demands obedience. It isn’t impossible to obey God. He will give you the power to obey.
That isn’t a popular message. Instead, people want their preachers to tell them that obedience is impossible, and that God knows this, so He excuses sin. They want to believe in Unrighteousness by Faith.
Unlike some of the other false doctrines that have crept into the church over the centuries, it is hard to say when and how the notion that one can be unrighteous and still be saved began to be accepted. All that is certain is that lawlessness has spread like a cancer throughout many Protestant denominations, and that it was predicted that it would happen before Jesus returns to Earth. Those “lawless” denominations (who emphasize that Christians are “freed from the law”) were called out prophetically by Paul.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. [2 Thessalonians 2:2-12, NIV]
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. [2 Timothy 4:3-4, NIV]
Paul warned us, “God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Unrighteousness by Faith is the powerful delusion that God sends to separate those people who really love God and are willing to obey Him, from those who just want to get salvation without works by claiming to love God. Everyone who preaches Unrighteousness by Faith is “the lawless one.”
Too many Protestant preachers have become experts at taking isolated Bible verses and twisting them to support that powerful delusion Paul warned us of. For example, they love to quote,
I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. … Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! [Romans 7:14-15, 18-19, 21-24, NIV]
Verses like these in Romans Chapter 7, in which Paul was having a flashback to his life before conversion, are used to justify a life of continual sin. If Paul couldn’t stop sinning, how can you expect to stop sinning? But if you read Romans 6 and Romans 8, it is clear that Paul did get the victory over sin, and was insisting that the Romans could gain that same victory through Christ.
Paul gave a similar letter of encouragement to the Galatians.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5:13-26, NIV]
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. [Galatians 6:5-10, NIV]
Unfortunately, many people do mock God. They deride obedience, calling it “legalism.” They accuse anyone who obeys God’s law of trying to earn salvation. They flaunt their disobedience, calling it “Christian liberty.” They proudly point to their Sunday worship as proof of their freedom from the Ten Commandments.
There is nothing new about people rationalizing away their disobedience. Adam and Eve did it.
Eve must have thought to herself, “To eat, or, not to eat? That is the question!” God told her not to eat the forbidden fruit; but His prohibition did not seem logical to her. You’ve heard the story many times before; but let’s read it again.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. [Genesis 3:1-13, KJV]
Eve knew what God had said. She told the serpent, “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” She knew she should not eat it—but she ate it anyway. Why? Because, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” She could see it was good for food. She trusted her own wisdom more than God’s wisdom. So, she ate it.
It is really easy for us to blame Eve for her stupidity. It is easy for us to say, “If God had told us not to eat it, we would not have eaten it.” Really? God has told us what not to eat; but many Christians eat it anyway. If they feel the slightest bit of guilt about eating bacon, it is because of what they heard some doctor say, not because of what God said. They see that bacon is good for food, and the smell is pleasing to the nose, and eat thereof.
Eve was beguiled by the serpent. He said, “Ye shall not surely die”. Modern Protestants have been beguiled, too. They have been told, “Those dietary restrictions were only for the Jews.” As we will see from scripture, the dietary restrictions are still in effect. They weren’t “nailed to the cross.” The New Testament makes it perfectly clear that Christians must observe the distinction between clean and unclean meats.
Some people have been told that Jesus declared all meats clean. If Jesus really said that, nobody told Caiphas, Peter, or the Council of Elders in Jerusalem.
If Jesus had declared unclean meats to be kosher, and told Jews to eat them it, Caiphas could have charged Jesus with encouraging people to break God’s law. There would not have been any need for false witnesses to put Jesus to death if truthful witnesses could be found who would say Jesus declared unclean meat to be clean. If Jesus had eaten unclean meats, he would have sinned against God—but Jesus never sinned. He never ate unclean meat.
Peter refused to eat unclean food long after Jesus’ resurrection. We know this from Acts Chapter 10.
Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. [Acts 10:9b-16, NIV]
Bible scholars tell us this was about 14 or 15 years after the resurrection. In all that time, Peter had never eaten anything unclean. If Jesus had declared all meat to be clean, Peter would not have refused to eat the unclean animals, especially since he was so hungry, and an impressive voice commanded him to do it.
Was the purpose of the vision to get Peter to eat pigs, lizards and rats? Peter knew that wasn’t what God was using this vision to tell him. Here’s what he told the household of Cornelius the vision meant:
He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. [Acts 10:28-29, NIV]
When he was called on the carpet in Acts 11, Peter told the Council the same thing, and they agreed. The vision didn’t declare unclean meat to be clean—it declared Gentiles to be eligible for church membership.
Later, when the question about whether or not the Gentile converts should keep the Jewish dietary laws, the Council wrote to the Gentiles and said,
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. [Acts 15:28-29, NIV]
It was just as important for the Gentile converts to keep God’s dietary laws as it was to keep God’s laws about idolatry and sexual immorality.
Some Christians try to justify their ignorance of God’s dietary laws by claiming, “Jesus doesn’t care what I eat.” He cared what the members of the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira ate—and He cared a lot! Why do you think He doesn’t care as much about what the members of your congregation eat?
To the Church in Pergamum
I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. [Rev 2:13-14, NIV]
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. [Rev 2:18-20 KJV]
In both cases, Jesus considered eating forbidden food to be just as great a sin as sexual immorality. God forbade Adam and Eve from eating from a certain tree. He forbade the Old Testament believers from eating unclean foods. He forbade the New Testament believers from eating those same unclean foods (and clean foods sacrificed to idols, too).
Since it is clear from the scriptures that the prohibition against certain food is still in effect, why don’t Protestant churches obey God’s dietary laws? History tells us that it is a tradition born from hatred of the Jews.
Abstaining from unclean meats is something Jews do. To make a clear distinction between Jews and Christians, the food prohibitions were abolished by a corrupt, anti-Semitic church in the Dark Ages.
They changed the official day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday because they didn’t want to worship on the same day as the Jews. They celebrated Jesus’ resurrection on the pagan fertility holiday, Easter, instead of on Passover because they would rather celebrate with pagans than with Jews. The custom of eating ham on Easter was instituted largely to offend the Jews, because “Jews killed Christ on Easter.” Eating food that Jews don’t eat was done just to make a clear distinction between Christians and Jews.
In recent years, Protestants have tried to rewrite history to downplay the anti-Semitism of the medieval church, and given more politically correct reasons for these well-established traditions. It is falsely claimed that the apostles started worshipping on Sunday soon after the resurrection to honor the day Jesus arose. We showed that wasn’t true in section 2.1. Christians kept the Sabbath until the Catholic Church substituted the Lord’s Day in the fourth century, as we showed in section 2.2.
In the same way, Protestants have tried to justify their dietary disobedience by claiming that the distinction between clean and unclean animals started with the Jews. Christians would know this is untrue if children were simply taught the story of Noah’s Ark accurately.
The overwhelming majority of people were taught from the time they were little children that Noah took TWO of every kind of animal on the Ark. That’s not true. Genesis is very clear on this point.
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. [Genesis 7:1-2 KJV, emphasis supplied]
Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals long before there were any Jews. He took two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. Then, Genesis tells us what happened when he got off the Ark.
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. [Genesis 8:20 KJV]
The reason why God told Noah to take seven clean animals is because clean animals can be sacrificed; but unclean animals can’t. (God isn’t honored by unclean offerings.) By taking four males and three females of each kind, Noah was able to sacrifice one male of every clean animal, leaving three breeding pairs of every kind of clean animal.
Noah’s three sons and their wives were the three breeding pairs of humans. No human was sacrificed at that time because Jesus was to do that later.
Why are children taught that Noah took two of every kind of animal on the Ark? It’s that old anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head. If children were taught that different numbers of clean and unclean animals were taken on the Ark, they would realize that God’s distinction between clean and unclean wasn’t made for Jews alone. The distinction between clean and unclean goes all the way back to Noah’s Ark, and even before that to the sacrifices in the Garden of Eden.
If children were taught that Noah took seven of the clean animals, and two of the unclean animals, there is the chance that a child might ask the embarrassing question, “What animals are clean and what are unclean?” Sunday School teachers don’t want to have to explain that God said not to eat pigs, knowing that some of the children probably ate bacon and sausage before coming to church that morning.
Since they weren’t told the truth about Noah’s Ark as children, many Christians don’t even know how to tell a clean meat from an unclean meat. The relevant Bible passages are Leviticus Chapter 11 and Deuteronomy 14:1-21. The general rules are:
This requires more biological knowledge than some people possess, so below is a chart of common foods to help you out.
You may not eat a clean animal if you find it lying on the road, dead. Nor may you eat it with the blood still in it.
Some people say that God told the Jews not to eat pork because of trichinosis, and not to eat lobster because of cholesterol. They say God knew things about health that the Jews were not sophisticated enough to understand; but since we modern, sophisticated people know the trichinosis worms can be killed by thoroughly cooking pig meat, and there are cholesterol-lowering drugs, so it is okay for us to eat those things today. Those are just rationalizations similar to the one Eve used.
God simply said not to eat those things. He didn’t say not to eat them unless they are properly cooked, or unless mitigating drugs are taken. Yes, there are good health reasons not to eat the food He has forbidden, and that might have been one reason He said not to eat them—but He might have had another reason, too.
Apparently, since the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil doesn’t exist any more, He decided to replace it with a prohibition on certain foods as a very simple test of obedience.
God told Eve, “Don’t eat from the tree in the midst of the garden.” The serpent tricked Eve into thinking her disobedience was not a terrible sin, and she failed the test.
God told all Adam’s and Eve’s descendants, “Don’t eat these particular things.” The serpent has tricked many modern Protestants into thinking their disobedience is not a terrible sin, and they fail the test.
Ignorance of God’s laws is one of the signs that Jesus is about to return.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. [2 Timothy 3:3-9, NIV]
Many Protestant churches have become social clubs, where good people can get together to have good times. They have a form of godliness which gives them prestige without spiritual power. When Jesus returns, they will find themselves in the wrong resurrection. Jesus wondered,
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8, NIV]
He won’t find it in the Christian churches, if they remain in their spiritual stupor.
Unrighteousness by Faith is a failure-based philosophy. It tells you that you will fail to be righteous—but not to worry about it. God will save you in your sin.
As you will see in Section 5.2, Righteousness by Faith is victory-based. You can overcome sin. God will graciously give you the power. God will save you from your sin.
No doubt you have eaten lots of forbidden food during your life. It isn’t your fault. You didn’t know any better. You were told God’s dietary laws were abolished at the cross by people you respect and trust. You haven’t lost salvation because of what you ate ignorantly in the past. If you truly repent, ask forgiveness, and stop eating those forbidden foods, God will forgive your past transgressions. So, that’s what you have to do.
Ask yourself, “How can the Holy Spirit empower a congregation whose members criticize Eve for eating the forbidden fruit while they are eating ham sandwiches?” Your congregation has to obey all of God’s laws, even the seemingly minor ones telling which foods not to eat, to avoid being crippled by hypocrisy.
If you continue to practice Unrighteousness by Faith, willfully disobeying God, believing that God will save you in your sin (rather than saving you from sin), you will be lost. For your congregation to revive, it has to reform. It must obey all of God’s laws, including the Sabbath Commandment and dietary restrictions.
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