The Original Heresy, pt II: The Gnostic Gospels

Discovered near the Upper-Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, the Gnostic Gospels (also known as the Nag Hammadi library, or the Nag Hammadi Codicies) have managed to capture imaginations, and generate heated debate over what biblical canon ought to be, what it is, and why it exists in its current form. This collection is made up of 13 leather-bound Codicies, and contains 52 separate works, most of which are Gnostic treatises. Of the parts that are not, there are three works that are part of the Corpus Hermeticus, and a partially rewritten version of Plato’s “Republic”, complete with Gnostic themes that had not existed prior.

Since their discovery, much of the debate that has surrounded them has focused on whether or not they are to be considered biblical canon. For the majority of Christians, they simply are not considered Scripture for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they are inconsistent with the actual biblical canon. In this post, we will explore why they are inconsistent, and hopefully dispel a few of the more interesting conspiracy theories.


In 1945, a man named Muhammad Ali and his brother were digging for fertilizer near the town of Nag Hammadi, when they unearthed a sealed clay jar. Though they were initially hesitant to open it, fearing that it might contain a Jinn (a type of Arabic demon, and where we get the English word “genie”), they were amazed to find the library carefully hidden within.

Rather than turn it over to local authorities, they chose to hang on to the library, in the hope that they would be able to get a really good price for each piece. The brothers took it home, and kept it there.

Through a series of events, virtually all of the library was eventually acquired by the Egyptian government, and is presently housed in a museum in Cairo. Of the parts that did not make it there, an unknown number were burned by Muhammad Ali’s mother, who feared that the codicies might cause too much trouble, and another part was eventually sold to an organization in the Netherlands, after it had been unsuccessfully offered for sale in the U.S.

The Languages

Though the Nag Hammadi library was written in Coptic, some linguists have suggested that it had been translated to Coptic from Syriac, based on the wording of certain works, like the Gospel of Thomas. The prevailing scholarly opinion is that it was originally written in Greek, but there is a strong case to be made for a Syriac origin.

In his essay, “The Fifth Gospel?”, for example, Nicholas Perrin points to linguistic analysis to suggest that the Gnostic Gospels were in fact Second Century Syriac documents, rather than First Century Judean. He says, “As I have argued more fully elsewhere, the evidence seems to show that the Coptic
gospel is not so much a witness to the historical Jesus, but instead a witness
to early Syriac Christianity. Following a linguistic analysis of the Coptic collection, with particular attention to the use of catchwords, it appears that
Thomas was not written—per the standard and prevailing assumption—in Greek, as an evolving sayings collection, dating back to the first or early second century. Instead, it seems that our sayings gospel was written in Syriac, as a piece, showing dependence on the first Syriac gospel record,
Tatian’s Diatessaron (c. ad 173).”

Perrin’s Findings

A page from Perrin’s “The Fifth Gospel?” showing the comparison between the Gospel of Thomas, the Diatessaron (a Second Century Syriac harmonization of the Synoptic Gospels) , and Scripture.

According to Perrin, the wording in the Gospel of Thomas is more reminiscent of the Diatessaron than the actual Gospel accounts, suggesting that the Gospel of Thomas was derived from the Diatessaron, not from the Synoptic Gospels. What this means for the Gnostic Gospels is that they may well have been written in the wrong time and place, with the wrong content, to be Scripture.

While the Gnostic Gospels themselves were physically dated to the Fifth Century, it is the materials contained within that were dated to the Second Century. This would imply that the Gospel of Thomas was written in the Second Century, never mind the fact that he is not believed to have survived to the turn of the century. Historians place him in India in the late 70’s when he died, yet, the Gospel of Thomas is dated to somewhere between 120-150 AD. That disparity is rather difficult to ignore.

Do bear in mind that I’ve only chosen to focus my attention on one small portion of the overall library because it is so big a detailed analysis would end up becoming a series of its own. The idea is not out of the question, but for now, I plan on sticking with the more skin-deep approach. I trust that the person reading this is more than capable of doing their own research.

The Contents

Going beyond the age of the documents, there are also the contents to be considered. What the Gospel of Thomas contains is a list of sayings attributed to Jesus throughout His ministry. Some are correct, others only partially so, and most find absolutely no correlation with what is found in the Synoptic Gospels. It runs the full gamut of credibility, however, it also completely lacks a narrative.

While some have suggested that the Gospel of Thomas is as old as the document commonly referred to as “Q”, the fact of the matter is that one would be hard pressed to make the case given the similarities between it and the Diatessaron.

Here are a few examples of what is found in the Gospel of Thomas:

#3. Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

#7. Jesus said, “Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.”

#9. Jesus said, “Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn’t take root in the soil and didn’t produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.” (Similar to the Parable of the Sower)

Finally, #14. Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits.

When you go into any region and walk about in the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them.

After all, what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it’s what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.”

Note that much of 14 appears to be the very characterization of Gnosticism, while one small portion actually pertains to something Jesus said. This is an example of what I was saying. It is not difficult to insert an outside influence into Scripture and make it sound good. What simply does not help is that people today seem to be unwilling to sit down and engage with Scripture. People do not want to learn, and will be easily duped when someone comes along with heretical teaching that sounds similar to some half-remembered verse they heard in Sunday school.

How They Fail the Test

In my post on what constitutes heresy, I made the point that biblical teaching must be consistent with what is found in the Bible. The Bible is, in and of itself, the final judge of what is Scripture and what is not. Each of the books in Scripture find corroboration with the other books. Both Testaments support each other, with high degrees of agreement. Anything that does not mesh with this system is not to be considered Scripture. This is why the Gnostic Gospels fail as Scripture. Gnosticism is not biblically supported, it is actually proved false by it.

In Part 3, we will take a look at the Corpus Hermeticus.

Allow me to Introduce Myself…

I am a married Medical Assistant, parent of nine children (six sons, three daughters) and a currently serving Medic in the National Guard. I currently reside in a metropolitan city in the Midwest, though I’m a native Texan.

In case any are wondering, EngMed is short for Engineer Medic. I’m currently serving as a Platoon Medic in a Combat Engineer Company, so that seemed a fitting name, wouldn’t y’all think?

My interests vary between religion, politics, art, literature, hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, music, writing and serving the Lord. Yes, I am an evangelical Christian and I won’t ever shy away from the subject. I invite any to ask questions, debate and will gladly pray for any who ask.

In terms of politics, I’m a Conservative Constitutionalist. No, I’m not a Republican. I’m actually very disaffected with them, given that their commitment to conservative values tend to disappear faster than water on the surface of the sun.

I’m pro-gun, pro-life, pro-death penalty, and pro-limited government. I believe that the Constitution is the law of the land, not social whim.

I’m anti-Islam (a topic I will expand upon in the future), against virtually all forms of gun control, and I’m totally OK with the idea of legalizing marijuana, though I personally detest the stuff.

Well, I think that’s about all I have at this time. If y’all wanna know more, feel free to ask. I’ll just end with this quote:

“Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.” “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.”

Do Not Judge

Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.~Matthew 7:1-6

It is no mystery why I regard Matthew 7:1 as one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and misquoted verses in the whole of Scripture. This single verse has repeatedly been used to silence opposition to many of the varied sinful activities that our society has sought to make mainstream. When speaking out against things like homosexuality, fornication, abortion, and immodesty, which you must, you are highly likely to be hit with this verse to silence you. All most need to do is to simply repeat the opening line of Matthew 7:1, “Judge not” and many will simply shut their mouths because they know how the remainder of the verse goes. The premise is that one must always withhold judgment, which is a feat in and of itself, but must be done because, who are we to judge, right?

By virtue of attending a liberal United Methodist church when I was younger, I was brought up believing that Matthew 7:1 was a direct command from Jesus to never judge others for their words, deeds, and beliefs. I have seen that conversation take place and ignorantly agreed with the person making that argument because I did not want to be seen as hypocritical and unloving. As the saying goes, why would I hate someone for sinning differently from me, right? Of course, the main issue with that argument is that it can only be true if one were to rip Matthew 7:1 entirely out of context, and if they were to assume a meaning of love and judgment that does not fit with reality.

I will begin by pointing out that using a single verse as a standalone is not typically going to be accurate or effective. In fact, when it comes to reading or trying to understand Scripture, I strongly discourage studying one verse at a time. What you should be doing is studying the entire passage, chapter, and book to really understand what the writer meant when they penned their work. You should also be reading related writings in other books of the Bible to gain a much fuller understanding of what is being said in a single verse. Scripture interprets Scripture not Man. Do not forget that the book/chapter/verse system presently employed did not exist when the Bible was written and compiled. It was developed as a handy reference tool about 1,000 years ago, and it is extremely easy to rip a specific verse out of context as a result. You cannot ever overestimate the importance of context when engaging in exegesis[1] and using one verse to justify a doctrinal or ecclesiastical[2] position is an all too often committed mistake in the Church because that is not how the Bible was written. Matthew 7:1-6 serves as a prime example of the kind of mistake that one can make when you base an entire teaching around a single verse.

When applied using the common understanding of the verse, what you get is a form of moral indifference which leads to such idioms as “follow your truth”, “follow your heart”, and “live and let live”. While these things sound great on the surface, what you find underneath is an insidious ideology that leads to death, destruction, and pain. This ideology lends itself naturally to Relativism[3], a belief system that rests on the idea that truth and morality are subjective and based entirely on the whim of the person or society wielding them for their own benefit. The final product of this type of thinking has always been a form of moral cowardice that is illogical, irrational, and prone to atrocity as now many moral absolutes are traded for feel-good platitudes that are as morally bankrupt as they are incomprehensible.

Take Moral Relativism for example. This ideology teaches that morality is subjective and to be determined by the society and the individual and assumes that everyone will gravitate toward what can only be described as an external objective morality that everyone instinctively knows and displays in perfect altruism for the good of all. No, I am not kidding. Yes, this is a paraphrasing of the basic idea that is moral relativism, and I am sure many adherents may well foam at the mouth in objection to this paraphrasing. However, the cognitive dissonance[4] that comes with this idea is enough to reduce just about any Classically educated individual into fits of mental gymnastics that rival anything found in the Olympics. Yet, most humans planetwide have signed on to this logical nightmare with disastrous results, to the tune of more than 120 million people murdered by their own governments in the 20th Century thanks to men like Iosef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Tze Dong, Pohl Pot, the Kim dynasty in North Korea, Fidel Castro, and any number of other dictatorial madmen who operate in a world entirely devoid of moral absolutes external to themselves.

It is moral relativism that allows people to devalue other people to justify committing any number of atrocities like the Holocaust, and yet, people simply ignore that uncomfortable fact in favor of a system that grants them what they think is total freedom. This ideology allows people to continue to deny the existence of God so that they may continue to do whatever it is that they wish. It is moral relativism that allows people to consistently mistake indifference for love, to the detriment of all.

Now, we come to the passage itself. As I have already said, Matthew 7:1, like every other verse in the Bible, was never meant to be read as a standalone. That is not how the Bible was written. Given that, what one must do is read the entire passage surrounding the verse to gain some idea of what is intended. In this case, what Jesus is saying is NOT that we are forbidden from judging people, but rather that we are forbidden from being harsh and hypocritical in our judgments. Furthermore, we are also forbidden from condemning the individual as that job falls solely to God, whose perfect judgment will be executed on the day of judgment apart from any efforts on the part of Man.

All too often I have heard people say, “Only God can judge me”, to which I usually reply, “That should terrify you”. The reason why that should terrify them is that they are usually saying that only God can judge them as a way of silencing their “haters” who keep bringing up the fact that what they are usually doing is immoral and/or outright stupid. When you use a phrase like that to shield yourself from being reminded that you are doing the wrong thing, then you have abandoned all reason, all logic, and all objective morality. What will follow can only be described as pain and misery culminating in a face-to-face meeting with the Almighty that will not end well for the person facing the Lord. Those doing the reminding are simply doing what is right, and this is not a violation of Matthew 7:1.

Look at the verses that follow Matthew 7:1 and what you will find is commands to judge, which seems like a contradiction until you consider the difference between judgment[5] and being judgmental[6]. Verses 3 through 6 are commands to judge, with verses 3 through 5 showing that we must be fair and honest in our assessment. Good judgment requires that we be fair, honest, and equitable, while being judgmental would be jumping to conclusions, and making snap decisions based on limited or incorrect information. Before judging your brother, you must be sure to take care of your own failings. Step one in doing so is to acknowledge that your failings exist.

Furthermore, we humans judge constantly. Every time you conclude that you like or dislike a person, you have judged them as a person. You have judged that their personality and character as a person is either something you want in your life, or out of it. When walking down the street, every person you walk past has been judged as safe enough to walk past, and any time you have used avoidance behavior like crossing the street to avoid walking past someone you regard as a potential threat, you have judged them. It is right, normal, and practical to judge, but there must be a standard by which we are to judge, and this is what Jesus presents in His teaching on the subject. As we move through this chapter, we will go further into the standards by which we are to judge properly as laid out by the Lord Jesus so that we may be better able to exercise good judgment while avoiding being judgmental.

As we come to the end, I would like to take a moment and zoom in on verse six. In this verse, we are admonished not to share that which is holy with dogs or swine. What does Jesus mean here? When He refers to dogs and swine, He is referring to people who outright reject Him as Truth. In the First Century, dogs and swine were used as words to describe Gentiles, however, it goes deeper than that. These are the people who choose to be wicked in every sense of the word. They are perverse, sensual, corrupt, uncontrolled, and profane. The command then is to not share the Gospel with people who would be violent, abusive, debased, or unable to fully comprehend what it is that is being shared with them. The question then becomes, “How are we to determine who is a dog, who is a swine, and who is safe to share the Gospel with, if we are somehow forbidden from judging?” Satan is nothing if not clever in the ways that he twists Scripture, and this is a pitfall that we must avoid at all costs.

[1] Exegesis: the detailed explanation of a piece of writing, especially religious writing.

[2] Ecclesiastical: connected with the Christian Church.

[3] Relativism: the belief that truth and right and wrong cannot be judged generally but can be judged only in relation to other things, such as your personal situation.

[4] Cognitive Dissonance: the state of having thoughts that are not consistent, especially relating to beliefs, behaviour, and attitudes.

[5] Judgment: the ability to make sensible decisions after carefully considering the best thing to do.

[6] Judgmental: judging people and criticizing them too quickly.

Do Not Worry

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.~Matthew 6:25-34

Before beginning this section, I would like to take a moment and go over a couple of words that are relevant to this subject, and those words are avarice and greed. The main thrust to the teachings of Matthew 6 have been centered around the avoidance of avarice and greed, as these traits are both idolatrous and signify a lack of trust in the Lord. These traits also have the effect of precluding any chance at a relationship with God. As Jesus has shown thus far, we must be humble, meek, unpretentious, honest, faithful, self-controlled, loving, and unconceited. Avarice and greed make these traits and attitudes genuinely impossible because they require us to behave in the exact opposite.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, avarice and greed are defined in the following ways,

Avarice: extreme desire for wealth.

Greed: a strong desire for more wealth, possessions, power, etc. than a person needs.

Thus far, Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount have included commands to not seek out material wealth for the sake of having it. In fact, we are not to concern ourselves with the acquisition of wealth at all. As we make our way through life, we are not to worry over how and where we will be fed, we are only to trust that the Lord will provide for us according to His plan and His will. If that plan includes the acquisition of material wealth, then so be it, He will use it and us to whichever ends He sees fit. If not, then that is His will, too. The key point here is that we are to invest complete trust in the Lord and no others for our provision. Consider what Job said when he lost everything,

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:20-21)

While I regard the modern interpretation of Job as being a bit off, it is clear by his words that we have absolutely nothing good in our lives that does not come from God. As such, avarice and greed are exactly what Jesus had been speaking against, because these character traits keep us from understanding this important truth. We exist entirely at His whim, according to His plans and His desires, and for no other reason. We would not exist if it were not for Him, and this is something that we should regard as profoundly important.

Greed and avarice become a massive stumbling block that prevents us from internalizing this concept, and these are traits found in abundance among the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. It was also what led to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver. Greed and avarice are why seeking out material wealth would make it nearly impossible for rich men to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is one thing to be wealthy because the Lord saw fit to place you in that situation, and another to pursue wealth as if it were your god. We must not forget that the Lord forbade us from placing other gods before Him, and anything we place in a position of importance above Him makes it an object of our worship. It then becomes our god. A prime example of this is found in Revelation 3:14-22, which is the Letter to the Church in Laodicea,

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”            

Why would Laodicea come to mind? Consider what is stated in verse 17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”. In this, what has happened is that someone who is wealthy is less likely to understand that all that they have, all that they are, and all that they will ever be is purely at the mercy and whim of the Lord. When I referred to the three types of wealthy people, the rich and the wealthy were representative of the Laodiceans. That they were wealthy was not the issue, it was that they believed that they needed nothing from anyone because of that wealth. How can anyone submit to the Lord if they do not first understand that they need Him and that they would not have anything if it were not for Him? Therefore, the Laodiceans came to mind, and I should point out that the city once known as Laodicea ad Lycum, the city mentioned in Revelation, no longer exists. Not only is this once wealthy and well-appointed city no longer inhabited, but the ruins are not regarded with any particular interest. The fact is that the Church suffered the same fate as the city, and the reason why the Church at Laodicea no longer exists is something we ought to keep in mind.

The Lamp of the Body

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.~Matthew 6:22-24

This passage is really a continuation of the previous one, in that it continues the idea that we must keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, His Kingdom, and not on the lust of the flesh, the greed of the world, covetousness, and the consumption of all that is ungodly and immoral. The Lord Jesus continues to drive the point home by way of illustration, in this case with the eye. His point also seems to be that our focus must be unwavering, as being unfocused can and will cause issues with one’s walk.

As human beings, we are primarily visual in nature. For most of us, our strongest sense is that of sight. To be sure, some humans are either born with weak eyes, or are like me, and discovering that eyesight tends to diminish with age. However, Homo Sapiens is a species that relies primarily on eyesight to survive in the world, which is what makes Jesus’ example even more appropriate. He uses the sense that humans rely on first to help us understand what our mindset must be. It must be one of unwavering focus and clarity, we must never lose sight of who we are, what we are, and where we are going.

This reminds me of a trick I once learned when I needed to maintain my balance as a child. If you pick a fixed point in front of you and focus on that while walking or standing on something unsteady, then you will be better able to maintain your balance. Using this trick, I can do things like stand on one foot while putting a sock on the other foot (useful when you are getting dressed but do not have anywhere to sit). However, if you are looking around and not focused on that fixed point, then you will lose your balance and fall off.

This works great for doing things like walking a tightrope, walking on a beam, or a log bridge. When your eyes are focused intently on a destination point, and you have blocked out all other external stimuli, you will be rock steady. This same principle applies to the Gospel. If you are singly focused on the Truth of the Gospel, and your eye is fixed on following the Lord Jesus, then you will be fully balanced. This is the main thrust of what Jesus taught here. Keep your eye focused on the destination (the Kingdom), block out all other stimuli (the world, the flesh, and Satan), while you walk the tightrope (the Way that is Jesus), and you will be in the Kingdom before you know it.

This is where focus is essential. As with the previous section, dealing with the laying up of treasures here on earth, the idea is to grow your riches in heaven. If your focus is somewhere other than the Kingdom and being pleasing in the sight of the Lord, then the chances that you will stray are high. Therefore, Jesus teaches that if you lose sight of the goal, you will fall prey to the enemy.

Not too long ago, I came into possession of a book entitled, “Praying Clear Through”[1], and what this book has to say is truly relevant to this topic. I have only begun reading it in the last few days, and it has already had a huge impact on me. The author, W.J. Harney, makes clear that one of the most important aspects of keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord is prayer, and the command from the Apostle Paul is to pray unceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)

In the Preface to the book, W.J. Harney opens with,

“It has been the author’s firm conviction that the crying need of this age is a praying Christianity. When the weakest saint falls upon his knees the Devil trembles. If the weakest can cause him to fear, what about a Daniel? a Paul?”

Imagine the impact prayer would have on our lives if we simply made the time to sit down and seek that relationship with the Lord? As if to anticipate the excuse that most of us would give, i.e. “I’m too busy”, he has the following to say,

“In this electric age, most every one is on the run, hands full, head full; on the hurried march from early dawn until late at night answering the many, many calls. One cannot see much time to go to the closet; one can hardly get his eyes open before duty calls strong and loud, and off we hurry to office, business, school, store, shop, without any quiet time before Him. The devil hates prayer, he is aware of the fact that the prayer life is the successful life, hence, he must interrupt some way and if he can get us in a nervous hurry, we will neglect our quiet times and become weaklings and easy to overcome.”

Does any of the second quote ring bells with any of you? This book was written more than a century ago, the author long since departed to be with the Lord, and yet he describes a world remarkably and eerily like our own. Furthermore, he hits us in one of those places where it hurts us the most. The human mind instinctively rebels against the idea of weakness, and here is a preacher who has laid out how we can avoid being weak before our enemy. As I have mentioned before, we are at war, and Jesus was pushing this point. As the saying goes, “Keep your eye on the prize”, and this is the greatest prize to be found anywhere. Nothing else comes even remotely close.

Bear in mind that this is the same chapter in which Jesus lays out not only the template for how to pray, but also lays out the attitude in which we are to approach that prayer. We are to come to Him in humble supplication, acknowledging who He is, what He does for us daily, and what we owe Him as created creatures made new by His Sacrifice on the Cross. When He laid out what we call The Lord’s Prayer, there is a line in there that makes clear that we are to pray daily, and that line is “Give us this day our daily bread.” If that is our daily bread, how often are we to be asking for it? Daily.

If this is the template for daily prayer, and that template requires us to acknowledge our complete dependence on Him for our continued existence and sustenance, then what Harney said above makes a lot more sense. Prayer is how we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, how we keep ourselves from Sin, and how we confound the efforts of the Devil as he tries to derail our efforts against him. He desires nothing more than for us to join him in eternal condemnation, and I for one have no desire to see him win. Do you?

Finally, there is something Jesus says at the end of this passage which adds a whole other element to His teaching here. He says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (verse 24). Who or what is Mammon? Mammon is an ancient Syriac word that refers to a false god worshipped in ancient times, one known as the god of riches. Bear in mind that many of the false gods are not figments of the imagination, but rather demons sent to lead humans astray. This is no light or transient thing.

In the First Century, the name “Mammon” was used in Judea to denote wealth. The plain meaning of this one sentence is that you cannot serve the Lord your God and devote your time and attention to gaining the things of this world at the same time. In the end, you will be forced to choose between God and all your stuff. Love of stuff and money precludes relationship with God because it leads your heart and mind away from the things that are pleasing in His sight. Love the Lord, and He will reward you according to His will and His plan. Love stuff, and you already have your reward. The choice is yours.

[1] Harney, W.J. (1915), “Praying Clear Through”, God’s Revivalist Press, Cincinnati, OH

When Praying for the Wrong Reasons

I just want to start by saying that I have tried to be good as of late. I wanted to focus on the series related to the Sermon on the Mount, and I am making great progress there. The content of that series, along with much more, is going into the book I am presently working on, which is why I have tried to steer away from current events on this blog. To that end, I was deliberately avoiding current events because I feel like they might drag me off track and lead me down rabbit trails. This morning, I awoke to find that, at least for the moment, this simply cannot be. I have come across a rabbit trail that I am absolutely compelled to chase down, and that rabbit trail is a new book found at Target, among other places, entitled “A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal”.

Where I first heard of this gem of a book was in a Wretched Radio video, in which Todd Friel addresses the blatantly racist content of this book. From there, I went to my trusty search engine and searched for the book. What I found is that this book is not only being sold at Target, but also on Amazon, and a whole host of other places online and in the real world. To say that I am horrified would be a massive understatement, and here is why. The following is a quote that has been shared far and wide, attributed to one of the contributors to this book, Chanequa Walker-Barnes. Her contribution, entitled “Prayer of a Weary Black Woman”, opens with,

“Dear God,

Please help me to hate White people. Or at least to want to hate them. At least, I want to stop caring about them, individually and collectively. I want to stop caring about their misguided, racist souls, to stop believing that they can be better, that they can stop being racist.”

The first thing that comes to mind is that this is not just blatantly racist but is also more than a little blasphemous. She is begging God, the maker and Creator of everything, to help her hate one very specific part of HIS Creation, namely her fellow Man. Why? Because of the color of skin and, well, reasons. She has been convinced that every white person on this planet is born racist and deserves nothing more than active hatred, and we are ok with this?! How is this sentiment NOT racist in and of itself?

First and foremost, I worship God, the King and Creator of our universe. He is not partial to people based on their skin color. He is not partial based on the trash being peddled by Critical Race Theory, and He most certainly does not want us hating one another. In fact, He is not a respecter of persons at all, so such a request makes absolutely no sense. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbors AND our enemies. While hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is, hate is NOT love. Holding hatred and resentment in our hearts, refusing to forgive people of past wrongs, these are things that run entirely counter to what we are commanded to do, they run counter to the Gospel, and she has the audacity to beg God in prayer and supplication to help her do the exact opposite of what He has commanded her to do?!

We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, all descended from the same original father and mother. We are all the same species, the same race. The only real difference between us is the color of our skin, and the only biological purpose that serves is to provide varying levels of protection from ultraviolet rays. Beyond that, any other differences can solely be found on the level of ethnicity, culture, language, and religion. These are not arbitrary differences and have no impact on a human’s intellectual abilities. Furthermore, the Gospel itself is an example of ongoing racial reconciliation, in that the human race is reconciled to the ALMIGHTY GOD whose laws we transgress daily, so who are WE to beg Him to help us hate anyone?!

In the ensuing mess that resulted from the prayer going public, the writer of the prayer has stated that her words were misunderstood. She said, “Being a professor, I can tell when people haven’t done or understood the reading.” She claims that she was going at this in the same manner that king David went about writing some of his psalms and argues that she brought the prayer back to the love of God and for other humans.

If this were all, I would be willing to go with that idea, however, this is not the only thing she said in this prayer. To her credit, she separated out some white people while focusing on others, but this still is not acceptable in any way. She specifies exactly which white people she is seeking to hate in the following,

“Fox News-loving, Trump supporting voters ‘who don’t see color’ but who make thinly veiled racist comments about ‘those people.’ “The people who are happy to have me over for dinner but alert the neighborhood watch anytime an unrecognized person of color passes their house.”

She also says, “Stop me from being hopeful that White people can do and be better. Let me imagine them instead as white-hooded robes standing front of burning crosses. Let me see them as hopelessly unrepentant, reprobate bigots who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and who need to be handed over to the evil one.”

But she does make allowance for some white people by excusing them for being “White anarchist allies who have taken up this struggle against racism their whole lives.”

There is much in Scripture that comes to mind, things that make clear that racist ideologies are untenable in the lives of Christians. Sadly, she ignored all of that and chose to try to bring biblical Christianity and Critical Race Theory under the same umbrella, though they will never be compatible. For example, 1 John 2:9-11 says,

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

The incompatibility could not be any clearer. In the past I have written posts about unforgiveness, and how it is incompatible with the Gospel Message of forgiveness, redemption, and hope, neither of which can be found in Critical Race Theory. There is no forgiveness for perceived grievances, there is no redemption for the sin of being white, and there is no hope for anyone who so much as sneezes in a way that CRT finds offensive. What this reminds me of is a book I recently read entitled, “Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice” by Scott Allen. In this book, he says the following of Social Justice and Critical Race Theory,

“ideological social justice can be recognized by its bitter fruit. The lives and cultures shaped by it are marked by enmity, hostility, suspicion, entitlement, and grievance.”

The fact remains that CRT is an entirely antichrist ideology, that it runs completely counter to the Gospel, and that what she is asking of God is wrong. Her heart is not in the right place, and more than anything we should pray for her. We should ask that the Lord bring her to a place of repentance, and help her to find the peace that only He provides.

Treasures in Heaven

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.~Matthew 6:19-21

This small passage is one of the passages that has been used to argue against a few things in the past. First, it is used as one of the texts that speaks against the idea of acquiring material wealth, which in turn has led to the formation of the Poverty Gospel[1], which is the opposite of the Prosperity Gospel[2]. Rest assured, both are heretical. Second, it has been used to argue against the practice known as “prepping”, in which people set aside the equipment and supplies necessary to survive in a disaster. In their minds, possession takes you one step closer to eternal damnation, so it is best not to own anything, or to own as little as possible. Their idea of piety is living an ascetic lifestyle, with a side-order of self-imposed wretchedness.

The issue with this way of thinking is that it fails to consider the fact that some of the greatest figures in Scripture were men of means. These were not just godly men, they were wealthy, too. Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, and Solomon are among those who come to mind. They were men of strong faith, strong conviction, and they were very wealthy. Were they perfect? No, and they all committed sins in the sight of God, some grievously so, however, their wealth did not send them to eternal damnation. In fact, they all repented of their sinful ways and went to their graves forgiven and declared righteous by God, despite the wealth that they possessed. Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot went to his grave poor and condemned for his betrayal of the Lord Jesus.

Having poked the proverbial hole in that idea, let us take a closer look at what Jesus was saying here, shall we? We will begin with the word rendered as “treasure”, θησαυροὺς (thēsaurous). This word has also been translated as a storehouse of precious things, treasures, and wealth. The initial command is not to store up those things on earth, where rot and corruption can destroy them. Given this, it is not hard to conclude that we are commanded to avoid the acquisition of material wealth, but there is always more to the story, right? As with many other false teachings, there is enough truth in this teaching to create the impression of plausibility. However, that is where it ends.

This passage is a study in comparison that points more toward attitude than acquisition. Consider that the advice in this passage is not to hold on to material things on earth, where the ravages of nature can destroy them, but rather focus on thēsaurous in heaven, meaning the rewards of heaven vs those of the earth. It becomes readily apparent that this is a command against greed and materialism[3], not the acquisition of material wealth. In other words, do not rely on stuff, as it is all transient. Do not invest any portion of your identity in riches and material wealth. Instead, invest in treasures in heaven which will never be transient. We return to the idea that motivation matters, in that the acquisition of wealth for selfish or greedy reasons is what Jesus is speaking against here.

What this reminds me of is a bit of Scripture and a conversation I had with my wife recently about that Scripture,

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” ~Matthew 19:16-22 (see also Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)

Our conversation dealt with teachings that she had been indoctrinated with when she was little, teachings that are like those of the Poverty Gospel. She was brought up in the Restorationist branch of the RLDS[4] Church, and their brand of religion teaches that true piety is demonstrated through wretchedness. According to her description, they taught that God was waiting and watching for the moment when they would find anything pleasurable in life so that He may snatch it away. In this, He can prevent people from going down the road to damnation by preventing them from being distracted from Him by the things of the flesh. This includes family, friends, material possession, anything at all that could possibly bring even a measure of joy to one’s life.

During our conversation, we touched on two of the three types of wealthy people that can be found in the world, with me bringing the third to her mind. There are what I will refer to here as “the wealthy”, “the rich”, and “the generous”. The wealthy are sometimes referred to as “old money”. These are the types who are well-dressed, urbane, well-spoken, and can oftentimes be stingy or miserly. Their fortunes are often passed down through generations of careful management. Their entire intent is to take their wealth, grow it, and hang on to every penny they possibly can before passing it on to the next generation. They hoard it, hang on to it as if their lives depend on it, and typically eschew opulence. One example of this is Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickins’ “A Christmas Carol”, a rich man who was so completely miserly that he was faced with eternal condemnation for it. Bear in mind that he is an extreme example, given that he eschewed all manner of human attachment in pursuit of money, but he is easily the most recognizable example I could think of, and beautifully highlights why Jesus taught against such a thing. This is a mindset that utterly precludes any form of relationship with God.

The rich are the opposite. These are the ones who like to throw their money around. Oftentimes referred to as “new money” because they are usually new to wealth, their spending habits range from downright bizarre to utterly irresponsible. They will live their lives in a way that announces that they have a lot of money, so that others may have the opportunity to either be awed or envious. Most often, these types came from an extremely poor background. Examples of this can range from lottery winners to professional athletes and even rappers, most of whom often end up just as poor as they were when they started, only with far greater financial burdens owing to their spending habits. Neither type is generally known for their generosity, though that does not mean that examples of generosity cannot be found among old money or new. In the Scripture above, I was reminded that there is a third category of wealthy person that no one seems to address, and they are the ones that Jesus was not warning against. These are the ones I refer to as “the generous”.

They are neither miserly, nor opulent. They can be found among the wealthy and the rich. They are wise in their spending habits, given to using their wealth for the betterment of the less fortunate that are so often found in communities all around the world. They either use their wealth to create job opportunities, donate to charitable causes, and even create scholarships. These are people looking for ways to improve the lot of those less fortunate than they are, and the best example of these people can be found in Scripture! These were the new believers who were selling off their possessions and using the proceeds to care for their brothers and sisters in Christ! (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37) While the generous today is not necessarily selling off all they own, what they are doing is impactful, nonetheless.

The most important aspect of the biblical example of the generous is that their generosity was entirely voluntary. No one forced them to share their wealth with the less fortunate, they simply found in themselves the desire to do so through the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in their hearts. Once they had given themselves over, the Spirit inspired in them the desire to take their earthly belongings, convert them into cash, and use that cash to feed, clothe, and shelter their brethren in the poverty class. No part of this required them to become wretched, in fact, they found great joy and satisfaction in what they were doing, and this is what built up treasures for them in heaven.

According to some, the rich young ruler mentioned in Matthew 19 was condemned by the fact that he was rich, however, this simply was not the case. His condemnation came about due to self-righteousness and greed. He was self-righteous because he was convinced that he was good even though Jesus pointed out that he was not. He was greedy because he had a great many possessions and was unwilling to part with them. I am convinced that Jesus’ statement that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle is about those that I referred to as “the wealthy” and “the rich”, and not a general condemnation of material wealth at all. Many members of the early Church had tremendous wealth and used it to great effect. They were the generous.

No part of this says that you will be eternally condemned for acquiring material wealth, so long as you do not allow it to rule over you. Never forget that your fellow image-bearers are more important than stuff, and that your physical body is going to die one day. When it does, bear in mind that none of your stuff will be going with you but will be parsed out to your surviving friends and family. Stuff is stuff, and that is all it will ever be. If you have more of it than others, do not make the mistake of forgetting that it is just stuff and that treasures in heaven are far more valuable than perishable stuff here on earth. Be just and wise in your spending habits, and do not forget what Jesus said about giving in this very sermon, that is, to give cheerfully and without reservation.

Finally, we come to the practice of “prepping”. The passage above has been used to argue against such a practice because it is seen as hoarding material wealth. The issue here is not one of spirituality, but rather one of practicality. The fact of the matter is that I can find no teaching of Jesus that decries or discourages the very practical decision to set aside a portion of your stuff to get you through a disaster. However, do bear in mind that one must be practical about it. While I do recommend being prepared for whichever natural disasters are prone to occur in your area, along with the most likely manmade disasters, I do not recommend preparing for alien invasions or for the end of the world as we know it. One is likely the stuff of fanciful and possibly drug-addled thoughts, while the other is inescapable according to Scripture. As with anything else in life, it is best to approach decisions made with prayerful practicality and do not allow yourself to get caught up in the latest version of “the sky is falling”.

[1] A teaching that having material possessions is evil, rich people are ungodly and that self-denial is a means to earn righteousness in God’s eyes.

[2] A teaching that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy, with some teaching that becoming sick, or poor, is a sign of a lack of faith in God.

[3] Materialism: The belief that money, possessions and physical comforts are more important than spiritual values. (Oxford English Dictionary)

[4] Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints: a Mormon off-shoot that is centered around Independence, MO. They are descended from the ones who remained in Missouri after Brigham Young and his group set out for Utah.

The Church Has Always Been Multiethnic — Intentional Faith

Jesus’s public ministry was mostly focused on his fellow Jews. But time and again, he commends the faith of those outside the Jewish fold. He praises the faith of a Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5–13) and a Syrophoenician woman (Matt. 15:21–28). When he heals 10 lepers, the only one who turns back to thank him is […]

The Church Has Always Been Multiethnic — Intentional Faith

I read this and was immediately moved to share it. In a day when people are convinced that Christianity is a racist religion, and that it’s the white man’s religion, it’s good to see refutation of that point brought up from Scripture to the eyes of others.

Proper Fasting

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.~Matthew 6:16-18

In this next passage, we return to the theme that motivation matters. When it comes to bearing true faith and allegiance to Lord Jesus, He takes great pains to provide us with unambiguous examples that demonstrate for us the importance of our motivation, our reasoning for being and doing whatever we are being and doing. It speaks to another activity commanded by God that is meant to be a cause for celebration because honoring this command for the wrong reasons only serves to bring about the opposite effect; and that is the Sabbath.

Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Note that this passage is about the seventh day, with the final day of creation being the sixth. On this day, God chooses to rest. Why? He did not need it, God can never become tired, so there was absolutely no need for Him to rest. Yet, He chooses to bless the day and rest. This was meant to be an example to us from Him. He chose to take the seventh day and simply take joy in what He had made and has repeatedly commanded us to do the same.

Yet, there are two prevailing attitudes when it comes to the idea of taking a day of rest to find joy in living. The first, mostly Jewish, takes what is meant to be a day spent enjoying family and God, and wraps it up in so much legalistic packaging that it is difficult to find any kind of joy in it at all. I mean, how can someone take a day of rest if they are spending all their time worrying about what constitutes work and what constitutes rest? Why not simply take the day to just be?

The second attitude is that the Sabbath day is just another day. In this, people either regard taking a day of rest as a waste of time and money, or they allow their financial situation to dictate whether they take a day of rest. Up until about a year ago, I was working two jobs and sleeping anywhere between three and six hours per day. Yet, I made sure that I did not work from 5pm Friday to 5pm on Saturday, so that I was able to get one day of rest each week. I spent those days with my wife and kids doing what families do. We have not always been able to strictly abide by the rest portion of the day, but we have ensured that we got rest in one way or another.

Simply put, motivation matters. If your greatest concern is living in a way that is pleasing to God for no other reason than to please Him, then you are in the right place. However, if your motivation is a check list meant to avoid incurring the wrath of the Lord by following His commands to the letter, not only will you never find relationship with Him, but you will never be in the right place. This is because such an attitude is devoid of any form of intimacy between you and God, and only serves to drive you further away from Him.

When it comes to fasting, Jesus is saying that motivation matters. As with previous sections, Jesus is teaching that we should not do these acts of piety to seek out accolades and respect from our fellow men. What we should do is observe these practices out of a desire to be pleasing to our Lord. He states that the hypocrites take the acts of piety and turn them into public displays to convince others of their righteousness, and states in no uncertain terms that this is not pleasing in His sight.

The purpose to fasting is to pursue better relationship with the Lord. Having fasted before, it does bring about some interesting effects, not the least of which is a heightened sense of the world around you. Take note of the fact that Jesus says all of this in a manner that suggests that fasting is a given for the lives of His followers, and we would do well to internalize this. The main drive behind the Sermon on the Mount has been the pursuit of a better relationship with the Lord who created us and our universe. Fasting is no different, we must do it with an eye toward being pleasing to our Lord.

As with keeping the Sabbath, this means that we must use fasting as an exercise in finding joy in the Lord. This must be done in a prayerful and private manner, maintaining a pleasant and happy demeanor the entire time we are fasting. We must avoid letting others know that we are fasting, choosing instead to go about our daily lives as if nothing is in any way different. Note that Jesus says that we must go out of our way to create the impression that we are doing anything but fasting, which means no complaining, no announcing that this is what we are doing, and no seeking sympathy for how hungry you are. Simply dress well, keep up a pleasant demeanor, and keep your eyes on the Lord. The rest will take care of itself.

The Lord’s Prayer

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11Give us this day our daily bread.

12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This passage is not only profound, but essential because the Lord Jesus not only describes how we are to pray, but also the attitude in which we pray. These 11 verses do more to illustrate for us the how, why, and what we are to be praying than any other passage in the Bible. Prayer is meant to be a two-way communication between a believer and their Holy God, between a created creature and their Creator. It is meant to be an ongoing conversation that is to be deep and intimate. We cannot declare ourselves believers and neglect this essential facet of the faith, not for one second, and we cannot forget our place as the creation coming before our Creator.

In looking at this passage, you will note a point of similarity between this passage and the previous one regarding giving (Matthew 6:1-4), and that similarity is the fact that motivation matters. This is a theme that will appear often throughout Chapter Six, so we will get to cover it extensively as we make our way through the chapter. As with giving, if you come to the Lord in prayer for the wrong reasons, then not only will the Lord not hear your prayers, but the only reward you will receive will be given in the here and now, and not the hereafter. This means that going to the Lord in prayer requires that you be God-centered, not self-centered. You must be seeking God, not your flesh.  Your prayer must not be selfish, greedy, or in any way wrong-hearted or wrongheaded. Begin with the idea that God is not a cosmic pez dispenser and be ready for His answer to be “no”, trusting that sometimes the greatest blessing He can give you is “no”. One of the most frequent objections to Christianity I have encountered comes in the form of “God must not exist because He did not answer some hugely important prayer someone prayed”, which is childish at the very least.

The best illustration of humility in prayer that can be found is in Luke 18:9-14, the Parable of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector,

To some who trusted in their own righteousness and viewed others with contempt, He also told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the other men—swindlers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and pay tithes of all that I acquire.’

13But the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man, rather than the Pharisee, went home justified. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

In the parable, the Pharisee assumes that he is in a position of superiority over other men and prays as such. He touts his accomplishments, believing that it is his works that make him righteous, and thanks God that he is not like other men. He is haughty, arrogant, rude, boastful, and proud. He forgets his place as a creature before his Creator and seeks to elevate himself above all others. It is clear from his words that there is no humility, meekness, or poverty of spirit to be found in this man, and this is the reason why Jesus states that he does not go home justified before Him. In his arrogance, he has decided that he has no need to humble himself before the Lord who gave him life, and this is where he goes wrong in the long run. He forgets that his righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6).

Meanwhile, the tax collector is the very image of humility, meekness, and poverty of spirit. He recognizes that the only way he finds any justification is through the Lord and no other. It shows in his attitude and his words that he is painfully aware of the fact that he stands condemned before the Lord and makes no excuses for this. The imagery here is one of complete and utter desolation, contrition, and the true illustration of what it means to be poor in spirit. He is truly repentant, fully aware of the ways that he has offended the Lord God, and properly contrite. It is for this reason that he is justified before the Lord, and no other. It was nothing he said or did, but the contrition in his heart and the desolate poverty of his spirit that led to the Lord justifying him.

Not only does Jesus illustrate both states of being in this parable, but His words bring other Scriptures to mind, specifically Proverbs 6:16-19, and Psalm 51:17, which say,

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him:

17haughty eyes,

a lying tongue,

hands that shed innocent blood,

18a heart that devises wicked schemes,

feet that run swiftly to evil,

19a false witness who gives false testimony,

and one who stirs up discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

For the sake of clarification, let us look at what it means to be haughty. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, haughty means that one is “arrogantly superior and disdainful”. To be arrogant is to be “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities”. In the original Hebrew, the word for haughty used in Proverbs 6 is רָ֭מוֹת (raymot), which comes from the word רוּם (room) which means, “to be high or exalted”. In this, it clearly means that someone who is high and mighty in their own eyes is detestable to the Lord, which brings Jesus’ statement in Luke 18 more into focus. The Pharisee was being haughty and arrogant, something that the Lord finds detestable. He saw himself as being high and mighty, and thanked the Lord that he was better than all others, which is the height of arrogance. All of this helps us to return to the teachings found in the Tanakh through the lens of Jesus, God the Son.

Returning to Matthew 6:5-6, what we now find when we return to the beginning is a vivid description of what it is that Jesus is speaking against. His words paint the image of people who approach prayer with a haughty and arrogant attitude, as opposed to coming before their Lord in an attitude of humility and supplication. As with their attitude toward giving, these are the people who make themselves superior before their fellow men through an arrogant, haughty form of piety that centers entirely around keeping up the appearance of righteousness. They do indeed receive their just reward, in the form of respect and admiration from the ones they regard as their equals, while losing out on the eternal reward offered by the Lord because their attitude is one that He detests.

Jesus then goes on to state that our prayer should not take the form of vain repetition. The Greek word translated as “use not vain repetitions” is βατταλογήσητε (battalogēsēte), which can be better translated as “do not babble on”. It comes from the word βαττολογέω (battalogeó). It is a compound word made up of battos (a proverbial stammerer) and logos (word). It means to be long-winded, utter empty words, stammer, and be repetitious. It suggests a few things that we see from time to time, including the prayers given by Muslims three or five times a day, depending on the sect, some forms of speaking in tongues found in some Christian denominations, and even the act of praying the rosary among the Catholics. In all of these, the prayerful recitation is done by rote, or takes the form of a string of meaningless syllables and does nothing for the person praying because it either becomes meaningless through constant repetition, is directed at the wrong person, or it simply has no discernable meaning. This is not to say that such prayers cannot be meaningful to the person uttering them, just that they are supposed to be meaningful to God but are not.

What Jesus is commanding us to avoid is the same type of meaningless prayers being uttered by the pagans of His day. Their belief in that day was that the more they spoke their prayers in a repetitive manner, the more likely their gods would hear them, and His point here is that the Lord not only hears your prayers, but He knows what you will be asking for before you do. Therefore, it is important to come to Jesus with the correct attitude, and without the use of forms of prayers that are meaningless and repetitious. Come with an open heart, recognizing that you are a wretched sinner in need of a Savior, and being thankful for the mercy and grace that has been shown to you by the Lord Jesus.

Now we come to the famous Lord’s Prayer. This prayer has been uttered countless times in a multitude of languages throughout the last 2,000 years and has been by far the most impactful prayer in the lives of billions of people, me included. This is not just some prayer; it is also a template for how we are to come to the Lord in prayer. In this simple prayer, Lord Jesus lays out the whole of our prayer life, and even brings us to acknowledge anew our adherence to the Gospel Message every time we recite it.

The prayer begins with an acknowledgment of the Father’s place and authority by saying, “Our Father which art in heaven”. This is a simple statement that shows that we are aware that He is our heavenly Father, and that He is above us in every possible sense. He is our Father, our Creator, the One who is our final judge. The next line, “Hallowed be thy name” is a statement that the Name of the Lord is to be Holy. In Greek, the word used for Hallowed is Ἁγιασθήτω (Hagiasthētō) and means to make holy, i.e., purify or consecrate; to venerate (Strong’s Greek 37). To keep His Name Holy, we must keep it separate from anything that is profane or secular. This is also expressing the desire that His Name be venerated everywhere in the world. One way it could be translated would be, “May your name be made Holy”.

In the next line He says, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This line means that we should be desirous of His reign, that His laws be honored and kept, and that the Gospel Message be advanced everywhere. The desire is that His Law, His expressed will, be followed here on earth in the same manner that it is followed in heaven. The goal here is to express the desire that God be glorified by all, and that we should desire His Law and Him above all other desires.

The next line is, “Give us this day our daily bread.” First and foremost, this is an acknowledgement of our complete dependence on the Lord and His provision. The wording of this line shows that we are to make this prayer every day of our lives, affirming and reaffirming that we have nothing good in our lives that did not come from Him. It is a reminder to be humble, meek, and gentle. Furthermore, the plural “us”, ἡμῖν (hēmin) in Greek, carries an interesting connotation. While it is difficult for an entire body of believers to meet daily and pray in this manner, it is not too difficult for a family unit to do so. This implies, then, that this form of prayer is meant to be prayed by a family daily. The best way to do this would be for the entire family to gather together at least once a day and engage the Lord in prayer and supplication.

He then says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This goes back to the Chapter Five portion of this sermon, in that we ought to readily forgive those who sin against us, as the Lord has forgiven us for sinning against Him. He also taught that those who refuse to forgive will not be forgiven by Him, and this is a reminder of this. None of us are innocent, not one. We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), and we need that daily reminder to avoid forgetting this fact. None of us are any better than any others, regardless of whether we are saved.

There has been some debate over the rendering of the words “debts” and “debtors” in this line. In some versions, the Greek word ὀφειλήματα (opheilēmata) is rendered “debts”, while others render it as “trespasses”. Still, others render it as “sins”. Based upon the context of the language, and the overall nature of the prayer itself, I am inclined to disagree with the KJV on this one. Debts is not the most precise way that this word can be rendered, and frankly, I prefer trespasses or sins. It makes more sense to ask to be forgiven for our trespasses or sins than our debts. The Aramaic version of this prayer bears this out, as it uses the word for “sin”.

In the final section of the prayer, Jesus says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This is one that is of intense interest to me, as I have seen and heard some rather fierce debate over the phrasing used here. One of the points of contention has to do with the line, “And lead us not into temptation”. The reason why some object to this is that the Lord would never lead us into temptation of any kind, which means that asking Him in prayer to refrain from doing so seems a bit untrusting and blasphemous. Would they be right?

In the original Greek, the words used are εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς μὴ εἰς πειρασμόν (eisenenkēs hēmas mē eis peirasmon). This literally means, “lead us not into temptation”, which means that the translation holds true. However, what of their interpretation of this line? Does that hold true as well? There is another English language version I want to look at, to see if this is being interpreted correctly. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) renders this line as, “And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.”

What we find here is language that is like something found in one of king David’s Psalms, specifically Psalm 141:4, which says, “Incline not my heart to any evil thing…”. Clearly, this sentiment is not without precedent, and certainly king David went to his grave deemed righteous. Clearly, this is a prayerful supplication for help in avoiding the pitfalls of the flesh, and protection from the Evil One (Satan). The request is to not allow us to be tempted by guarding our hearts from outside influences, which implies that God has total control over the hearts of believers. As such, there seems scant need of debate here.

The final line of the Lord’s Prayer is, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”. This is an acknowledgement of the fact that everything in the heavens and the earth, i.e., the universe, falls under His command and authority. It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that His reign is eternal, that He has all the power, and all the glory. It then finishes with “Amen”, which is the Hebrew/Aramaic word that means “so be it” and is a statement of agreement.

While it is likely that the prayer was originally recorded in Greek, there is some debate over the original language of Matthew’s Gospel (Aramaic vs Greek). Papias was quoted as saying that Matthew’s Gospel had been written in the “Hebrew dialect”, which has led some to speculate that Matthew wrote his original in Aramaic or Hebrew. Of course, it is also possible that Papias was stating that Matthew had written his account in the Hebrew/Aramaic literary style, as opposed to the Greco-Roman style. It is the opinion of many modern scholars that Mathew’s Gospel account was in fact written in Greek based upon linguistic evidence, though the debate is currently ongoing.

While it does seem certain that Jesus taught in Aramaic, Matthew chose to record his account in Greek to get the Message out to a wider audience. It is for that reason I am including a video of The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, so that you may get to hear it in the original language. I tried to find a video of the prayer being spoken but could only find ones in which it is being sung. Here is the one I chose:

The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic:

Instructions About Giving

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.~Matthew 6:1-4, KJV

This is another example of Jesus seeking to take people back to the Mosaic law, and the precepts contained therein. The opening segment of Matthew 6 contains rather straightforward instructions on giving, as it is assumed that His followers will give. It also gives us an outside-looking-in glimpse into what charity and alms must have looked like in the First Century. Jesus begins by stating that we are to ensure that we do not do our giving in front of our fellow men, which is an interesting statement and leads to a question. Namely, why are we to take such great pains?

To put it simply, what He is saying in the entire passage is that the motivation behind your charitable acts matters to the Father. If the reason you are giving is wrapped up in the way that those around you will see you, then you are giving for the wrong reasons. If you are doing it to be pleasing to your fellow men, then there is nothing that the Father can reward you for, as you have already been rewarded by way of accolades and respect. Your focus was on them, and not HIM. This goes back to previous segments in Chapter 5 (Matt. 5:16) relating to our thoughts and the contents of our hearts. The fact that motivation counts cannot be understated. Give as an act that is intended to be pleasing to the Lord, and you will not care if others see you doing it, or even if you are given credit.

In verses three and four, we are encouraged to give in secret, which is to say that we are to give no matter who is around to witness it. In fact, it does not matter if the person receiving the charitable donation knows where it came from. Simply give without reservation, and without the expectation of any form of return. This is what Jesus is teaching here, that the giving is reward enough, and that we should not concern ourselves with the way the world regards us as people. God knows who we are, and that is more than enough. He is sufficient in all ways, and this is a fact that we cannot ever lose sight of. There can be no sense of entitlement in giving, not now, not ever.

Where this passage provides us with a snapshot of giving in the First Century is in verse two, in which Jesus says, “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.” The imagery this conjures up in my mind is one of a well-dressed rich man leading a procession towards a group of huddled poor, with the intent of making a massive public spectacle of their alms giving for the sole intent and purpose of garnering praise and admiration from those assembled. This type of giving is not just hypocritical, it is also humiliating for the person receiving alms as it can only serve to shame them. The intent here is to raise people up, not bring them down further than they have already fallen.

If this is what alms giving looked like in the First Century, then it is no wonder Jesus saw fit to teach on the subject. His perspective on this matter was pure Old Covenant, with Deuteronomy 15:7-11 being a prime example,

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 9Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

There are a few points in this passage that highlight the principle behind Jesus’ teaching in this matter. Where we will focus is verses eight through ten, and what is being expressed here. In the giving of the Law, the Lord commanded Sabbath for everyone in the land on the seventh day of each week (Ex. 20:8-11). He also commanded a Sabbath year every seventh year, in which no one was permitted to cultivate their fields, all debts were forgiven, and all Hebrew slaves were set free. As giving alms to someone who is otherwise able-bodied would be considered something more along the lines of a loan, giving close to the seventh year essentially counted as giving one’s money away, so the Lord cautions against hardness of heart in giving, so that people are not refusing to give just before the Jubilee year. This is meant to be a measure against greediness in giving and was intended to inspire cheerfulness about the act. Therefore, the Lord said, “Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him.” This is not just a case of Jesus commanding us to give cheerfully, this is also a case of Him reminding His followers of what they would have already known regarding the act of giving. We are commanded to give cheerfully, without reservation and without thought, care, or consideration over whether we will ever see a return. Lend without thought of being paid back, contribute to the wellbeing of others regardless of what it does for you, and do it all with happiness and joy knowing that the act itself is sufficient reward. In doing all of this, you are glorifying our Father in heaven, and behaving in a manner that is pleasing in His sight. There can be no greater reward. As James, the brother of Jesus, said, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

Is This for Real?

Words cannot begin to describe how I feel about this particular story. The layers of blasphemy and heresy contained within this story are a multitude. I could go back through this story multiple times and still unpack more heretical teachings wrapped up in wokeness. I will begin by saying that I am not attacking the man in question, as that is not my place, nor am I condemning him. That is God’s place, not mine. However, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do as a blood-bought and sold follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, and taking the steps necessary to correct massive error. This error cannot be ignored, nor can it go unanswered. It is simply too heinous. We will begin with a link to the story in question, so that all may see what I am referring to,

Gay minister says strong woman “spoke truth” to Jesus’ racism, caused Him to repent | Disrn

To begin, there is so much blasphemy and heresy in this that I am certain I am going to miss something. There is no way I am going to be able to unpack all of it here. Let me know in the comments if there is something I might have missed. We will begin with the most obvious. Jesus was sinless when He went on the Cross. In fact, as He is eternally sinless, it is safe to say that He has NEVER sinned in any way, shape, fashion, or form. Racism or prejudice of any kind is in fact sinful, so accusing Jesus of racism is denying the fact that He is eternally sinless. As we say in the Army, “You are a no-go at this station, Private.” Logically, this simply does not compute. If someone is said to be sinless, and they commit a sin, then they are not in fact sinless.

Nor am I saying this out of nowhere. Jesus is referred to as being sinless in Scripture, Messianic prophecy states that the Messiah would be sinless and divine, and the Sanhedrin that convicted Him had to do so on false charges because they could find absolutely nothing unrighteous about Him. When a covenant is established, the sacrifice that makes it official must be without blemish, and we are under covenant with Jesus, a covenant marked with His blood. By definition, this requires that He must be without sin, without blemish.

If the sinless, unblemished lamb had a blemish when He went on to be a sacrificial offering, then the offering can only be rejected, and the covenant invalidated. What this means for us as Christians and Messianic Jews is that such a fact would completely undo our faith. It would be vaporized as being untrue, and yet, that is exactly what this “Minister” is claiming. He claims that Jesus committed the sin of being a racist, and then makes the claim that he REPENTED when called out on it! People, you cannot make this stuff up, this blasphemous heresy is actually out there and we need to be aware and prepared. No question about it.

In his video, he says, “And she comes to ask Jesus to heal her daughter who is possessed by a demon. And what is Jesus’ response? He says it’s not good for me to give the children’s food – meaning the children of Israel’s food – to dogs. He calls her a dog.

What’s amazing about this account is that the woman doesn’t back down. She speaks truth to power, she confronts Jesus and says, ‘Well you can think that about me but even dogs deserve the crumbs from the table.'”

Just take a moment and absorb what has happened according to Brandan. He says that she “speaks truth to power”. There is none more powerful than God, and Jesus is God in the flesh! Again, he is attacking the divinity of Almighty God, and it cannot be allowed to stand. He IS Truth and He has ALL the power, the power to create and destroy an entire universe, and this puny human wants to denigrate Him by accusing Him of Sin? Not that it would be the first time, but history shows what happened to the ones who originally leveled false accusations against Him. Amazing how quickly someone who was supposedly trained in Theology forgets, right?

The Apostle John quotes Jesus as stating that He is Truth, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) This seems to be rather straightforward, but not so according to Brandan. If that woman spoke truth to power towards Jesus, then there is something very seriously wrong in this situation. How can someone “speak truth to power” when speaking to Jesus? It simply cannot be done. He is Truth, and He has all the power. It is illogical and irrational to think otherwise. We will take a moment and look at the relevant Scripture and see for ourselves what is really going on here, beginning with the account referenced in Brandan’s commentary,

Mark 7:24-30, “And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet26The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Matthew 15:21-28, “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Note that the most relevant portions of the passages above are in bold print, in addition to the italics I normally use for Scripture. Let us take a closer look at these words and see if what is going on here is as Brandan insists, or if he is in grievous error and in need of prayerful repentance. Both accounts tell the same basic story, with only the variations we would expect to see in the accounts of two very different people, namely Matthew and Mark. As it is very likely that Matthew was an eyewitness to the event in question, we will begin with his accounting of what unfolded.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus initially ignores the woman, commenting that He had only been sent for the people of Israel. This is important when you consider that Messianic prophecies showed that the Messiah would be a Jew who would come first for His own people, be rejected, and then become the Light to the Gentiles. It had to occur in that order, and this is what He was making reference to. When He finally speaks to her, He makes a rather profound point to the woman, and to His Disciples, by calling her a “dog”. Without proper historical and cultural context, this statement can be misconstrued as being needlessly insulting. However, Jesus is the all-knowing Son of God, and in His wisdom He chose to test the woman’s faith so that His followers would see not only the faith of a Gentile, but also that the Lord comes to sanctify even the Gentiles.

This was necessary for one major reason. God set the Hebrew people apart from all other people groups, creating a dividing line between them and the rest of humanity. This was intended to make them special and unique, but instead made them prideful and arrogant. In the First Century, the Jewish people had developed a very low view of Gentiles, most especially the Samaritans and the Syrophoenicians. They were seen as low, unclean, to be avoided, and were often called “dogs” (a term that is not racist in nature by the way). This prejudice was so instilled in the Jews of His day that they would intentionally take the long way around Samaria when making any kind of journey through the region. It did not matter to them how long it took, they would rather lose days, if not weeks, than set foot within the borders of Samaria. Ethnic prejudice was commonplace among the Jews, and Jesus needed to break His followers of this prejudice because they would be going out among Gentiles after He had completed His Mission. This was the reason why He led them through the region of Samaria multiple times, why He spoke with the woman at the well, and why He dealt with this woman in the manner that He did.

Note too, that the woman’s response was anything but “speaking truth to power”. She came to Jesus in supplication, fell at His feet and WORSHIPPED Him. This is not a case of “speaking truth to power”, this is the case of a sinner coming before her Almighty God (in the flesh), and acknowledging her unworthiness to be asking for what she asked, and asking anyway. This is wretched humility, not pride. She was not indignant, she was laid low and desperate. He tested her and she passed, and He healed her daughter as a reward for her faith and submission. Had she responded any other way, her daughter would not have been healed, and Jesus would have been right to reject her.

Brandan also states that Jesus repented when called out by this woman, which the above shared Scripture shows did not happen. The Greek word for repentance is μετάνοια (metanoia), and does not appear anywhere in these passages, neither on the part of the woman or Jesus Himself. For the woman, it was unnecessary as she was repenting in deed, rather than word, by falling at Jesus’ feet and worshipping. Nor does Jesus once apologize to her for what He called her, which means that Brandan read something into the text that was not there. In fact, if I am not mistaken, there is never a point where Jesus apologizes to anyone, nor does He ever repent. He is the righteous Son of God, God in the flesh. To whom would He repent?

Brandan goes on to say, “I love this story because it’s a reminder that Jesus is human. He had prejudices and bias.” Again, he could not be more wrong. Jesus was not prejudiced and had no biases. He came to bring Salvation to all mankind, not just to a select group of people. As His Mission was the salvation of the world, then bias and prejudice would be completely irrational. Consider John 3:16-21, in which Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

How could Jesus come as a demonstration of God’s love for the entire world if there were any humans He would bear ill will towards? I mean, these are Jesus’ words, spoken to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). His language here is all inclusive, “so loved the world”, “whosoever believeth”, etc. It is clear that Jesus bore that woman no ethnic hatred, and no ill will. He had a larger lesson to teach to His Disciples, one that involved that woman. According to this, the only humans He would bear anything resembling ill will towards would be those who rejected Him and refused to follow and submit to Him, but that is an issue tangentially related to this matter. The matter here is that there is yet another human falsely accusing Jesus of sinning, and this is one who makes the false claim to know and love Him. How DARE he?!

Going a step beyond this, I will question Brandan’s fitness to make these pronouncements in the first place. To begin, he makes the claim to be a member of the clergy. Yet, he also admits that he is gay. This becomes an issue give than the criteria for ministry, according to the Apostle Paul, includes the requirement that he be husband to ONE wife. How can a gay man, even one who is in a committed relationship, meet this requirement if he is not married to a woman? Even a single heterosexual man would be disqualified to lead a congregation under this rule, so it is not as if this is in any way discriminatory. How we determine one’s fitness to lead a congregation comes down to how they lead their household, which is the most important charge. Family first, congregation second.

In his letter to Titus, Paul says, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” (Titus 1:5-6) He also makes mention of it in 1 Timothy 3:12, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Considering this, how is it that Brandan is able to lead a congregation at all? I mean, I am disqualified under this rule by virtue of the fact that I have been divorced, and my relationship with my eldest children is non-existent because I was largely absent during their childhood, so how is it that he gets a pass and I do not? As a believer and an apologist, I can speak out, I can even teach, but I cannot lead a congregation. The choices I made prior to my decision to follow the Lord still have an impact on my life now, I make no excuses for it. IF he is a believer, and I question that as well, then he too can speak out, but he cannot do so under the guise of being clergy as he is NOT qualified. This is where I take issue, one who is unqualified to another.

Furthermore, how can he presume to lead a congregation and speak out on biblical matters, as a member of the clergy, when it is even clear that he will not inherit the Kingdom after the day of judgment if he does not repent of his Sin? Revelation 21:8 says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The abominable will not inherit the Kingdom, but will instead inherit the lake of fire and the second death. It is up God to make the call on whether Brandan is saved, but from this wretched sinner’s perspective it does not look good. In Leviticus, God calls homosexuality an abomination, a very strong term which sees little use in Scripture. Also consider that the Hebrew word for abomination, toebah, relates to idolatry, which means that homosexuals are not just sexually immoral, they are also idolatrous. How is it that an abominable idolater, according to Scripture and not me, can lead a congregation and bring people to repentance when he himself is unrepentant and unqualified? This is the height of arrogance, pride, and delusion.

This cannot be allowed. Brandan Robertson must be called to account for his erroneous teachings, and cannot be allowed to have a place in the clergy until he makes himself right. Learn and endure sound doctrine that has a biblical basis, marry a woman and have children. Lead and manage your home right, present yourself and your family as a good example, and then you can lead a congregation. Until then, you are little more than a well-educated but unrepentant sinner who is still dead in his trespasses, none of which will help you when you stand before the Almighty in judgment.