Category Archives: Staff Articles

Logic

The Law of Logic

We can all agree that our God is one of law and order.  With reason alone we can come to the conclusion that everything in existence, or that will ever exist, is governed by a law that originated with God. Without law we could not exist. For instance, it is God who established the laws of physics, of motion, gravity, and the universal forces. Without such laws the very universe could not exist. It is God who developed the law of the body, which states that we cannot function without a brain or that blood cannot flow without a heart. We may see this as the regular workings of a machine but is it not, in fact, an unbreakable law? Does an unseen law of God rule not all things we see as mechanical or repetitive?

God is the one that sets forth motion and it is God alone who has the power to stop that motion. He is, after all, the ultimate creator, sustainer, and destroyer of universal energy.

Why than do we think that no law governs us, as Christians, and that we can do what we please according to our own heartfelt understanding? Is not the rejection of law the true definition of lawlessness? It is lawlessness and we do have law that governs us though many reject law because they are spiritual anarchists.

Many Christians are so wrapped up in the concept of free will that they have grown to reject divine sovereignty over their lives. It was once said that in true logic there is no such thing as a contradiction. If you discover a contradiction you must review the premise and reevaluate all the information. Christianity today has accepted so many doctrines of man and traditions that we have forgotten to be men of the mind and have accepted anything preached from a pulpit as authority.

God has given us a mind to think for ourselves. We can develop, create, comprehend, and decipher all from the mind but we have turned what is probably one of the greatest gifts given by the Creator into a stagnate pond and thus becomes a cesspool of rot. God did not create you to be blind, deaf, and dumb. Once you become a Christian we do not literally become sheep and blindly follow anyone and anything that is laid before us. We are to seek the meaning of the things of God and that is knowledge.

Seeking knowledge has become a career path in our society. We are told that only a man who has graduated from a seminary has the right to decipher scripture and ponder the things of God; the religious institutions that only hire men of paper and not men of the mind reinforce this. For what are universities and what are seminaries but places where you learn of concepts developed by other men and not of God.

What is the Godhead? It is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who all agree as one. As Christians who guides and develops our understanding? The Holy Spirit, who inspired all scripture and who lives inside us all. So logically speaking if the Holy Spirit, who indeed inspired all scripture and is a member of the Godhead, lives inside you why do you seek the knowledge of man when it comes to the scriptures? If you had William Shakespeare standing in front of you ready to open all the meanings of his plays would you leave him to attend a lecture on the meaning behind Romeo and Juliet? 

This is what we do. We tell the inspirer of all scripture to wait until we have heard professors tell us what to think. We tell the Holy Spirit to wait until we have heard a pastor or a teacher tell us what to believe. This is utterly ridiculous.

But why do we do it? Because we have forgotten how to think and that we, as Christians, can think for ourselves. This is a dangerous topic you see. To think for yourself destroys the plans of those who rely upon your blind obedience. Without your mind you are blind; you cannot see the Holy Spirit leading you. You are deaf; you cannot hear what the Holy Spirit is telling you. You are dumb; you cannot declare the truths of scripture revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.

You have heard it said that all evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing. This is true.  All Satan needs to triumph is for you to not use your mind. You see, when you use your mind you take away the power of those who seek to rule over you. When you use your mind you place the authority over your life back into God’s hands where it rightfully belongs. God wants you to think, to thrive, to develop, to create, to produce, to make something of yourself because this further perpetuates His spiritual kingdom and forces it into the physical world.

When you use your mind to study the scripture, and not just read it as simply text on a page, the marvels of the spiritual will open to you. The timeline of the ages will lie before you and you will see that there are truly no contradictions in The Word. You will see the progression of His divine plan and how it is to truly influence you, not as a mere man but as a child of God.

When you do this, when you use your mind in the way it is intended to be used, you will see things that you thought were wrong become right. You will learn that things you thought were right become wrong. At that time you will have two choices. You can either take what you have learned and apply it in order to grow or you can reject what your logic, controlled by the Holy Spirit, is telling you and damn yourself to eternal slavery to sin.

The use or rejection of your own intellect, when guided by the Holy Sprit, is a very serious thing and should not be taken lightly. Many today think they have used their minds to rightfully study the scripture but what they have done is only applied what they have been told by man. They have accepted contradictions as mysteries and ignore other passages that contradict what they have accepted as doctrine. They deny themselves the very thing that makes us an image of our Creator, that being intelligence.

Once you destroy your biases and clear your mind of the clutter that is doctrines and traditions of men you will see true doctrines of God.

Donnie Elswick
Truth & Freedom Radio

mansion

Richly Paneled Houses

At first glance Haggai 1:2-11 might seem like nothing to do with us today; after all, we don’t have to build a temple to God in order to worship Him. But when we look deeper there is a powerful message to the 21st Century Church that must be heeded.

Haggai 1:2-11

The Lord who rules over all says this: “These people have said, ‘The time for rebuilding the Lord’s temple has not yet come.’” So the Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai as follows: “Is it right for you to live in richly paneled houses while my temple is in ruins? Here then is what the Lord who rules over all says, ‘Think carefully about what you are doing. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but are never filled. You drink, but are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but are not warm. Those who earn wages end up with holes in their money bags.’”

“Moreover, the Lord who rules over all says” ‘Pay close attention to these things also. Go up to the hill country and bring back timber to build the temple. Then I will be pleased and honored,’ says the Lord. ‘You expected a large harvest, but instead there was little, and when you brought it home it disappeared right away. Why?’ asks the Lord who rules over all. ‘Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house! This is why the sky has held back its dew and the earth its produce. Moreover, I have called for a drought that will affect the fields, the hill country, the grain, new wine, fresh olive oil, and everything that grows from the ground; it also will harm people, animals, and everything they produce.’”

Richly Paneled Houses

Verse four hits a spiritual target dead center when looking at it in the context of the 21st Century Church. Our physical lives are elaborate, lacking nothing at all. Even some of the poorest among us are wealthy in comparison to many in the Third World. Almost everyone has a cell phone, internet, cable television, a car if they need it, a roof over their head, and food at every meal. This is nothing to be ashamed of or to hate but sadly having these things and other earthly possessions has become our primary focus.

The physical house that is our lives is a finely decorated house when all the while God’s temple is in ruins. Yes, you heard me right, God’s temple. I am not speaking of a church building because we should all know there is nothing holy or righteous about a building but it is who is inside at any given time that makes it a place of worship and spiritually clean before God. It is the people who are inside that are the true temple of God.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We are so concerned with the physical that we often forget about the spiritual. Which is more important? Which will last forever if we are Christians and which will allow us to lay up treasures in heaven? The spiritual of course.

Think About It

You have dedicated all of your life to securing earthly riches and possessions but when the end comes will you take it with you? Will not all these things burn in the great day of judgment? Yes they will burn and so will those who reject our Father together with his Son.

We fill out bellies with food that provides nourishment but that is only temporary; having left a hole that requires refilling in only hours. We drink to satisfy our thirst but we will never satisfy that which is fleeting. We purchase expensive clothes in an attempt to impress those around us but over time they wear thin and are riddled with holes and must be discarded. We work forty, fifty, and some of you even sixty hours a week for a pay check that leaves your bank account almost as fast as it is deposited.

Why do we continue to focus on this that has no real meaning? Why do we spend so much time attempting to achieve a dream that someone other than our Lord told us needed fulfilling? The answer is simple; we are focused on the material, the physical, and the fleshly desires of our heart.

Pay Close Attention

If we would come to the realization that God desires our full attention and that we must focus on the upkeep of His temple then we would be doing His will and this would both greatly please and honor our Lord. But instead we expect to be rewarded for the little time we spend cultivating our field. We expect our spiritual lives to be perfect when we spend less than eight hours a week developing it. We expect to be able to move mountains, heal the sick, and to cast out demons by our very word but yet when that does not happen we ask, “Why God?”

God has given you your answer yet you refuse to have ears to hear. The Lord says, “Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house!”

Obey

If we would simply listen to the Lord and throw off the chains of slavery to the flesh we could become a more glorious and pleasing sight to the Lord than the Temple of Solomon. We would be a house worthy to be called God’s. All we need to do is obey the Lord our God and respect Him. Then the Lord would say, “I am with you!” And with those words we would be all the more energized and encouraged, just as the whole remnant of the people was when they obeyed God in Haggai 1.

God Bless!

Donnie Elswick

sin

What is Sin?

Allow us to just sit back and think about sin for a moment. Not to give it any high place in our mind but to actually think about what it is.

Q: What is sin? A: The scriptures tell us that it is lawlessness.

Q: What is lawlessness? A: Anything that goes against the law of God.

Q: What is the law of God? A: Under the new covenant that we have through faith in Jesus Christ it is love.

Q: What is love?

This is the crux of the issue because so many people do not know what love really is. And without an understanding of what love is we cannot even begin to talk about how to display it; or in reference to sin, how not to display it.

A simple definition found in most dictionaries and internet searches says that love is: 1) (Noun) an intense feeling of deep affection 2) (Verb) to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.

Q: Is this really what love is in the context of God? A: No

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”

The word for love that Jesus uses here is Agape, which means an unconditional and sacrificial love. It is no mistake that Jesus uses this word because it helped the listener, and later the reader, understand what this love is. Agape is a spiritual and divine love as opposed to Eros, which is a passionate or physical love, or Phileo, which is the love of family or mankind. In both instances, Jesus uses the word Agape to describe the type of love we are to have as Christians.

Our Agape to God is to keep his commandments and his directed teachings. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” This is how we display Agape to God, by keeping his commandments. In light of Matthew 22:37-40 we see that this is how we show that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.

Jesus tells us that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is second to none. Why is this important? Because it sets up the second commandment to be in its rightful place.

To ‘Agape our neighbor as ourselves’ is to unconditionally love them and be willing to sacrifice ourselves for them but in the context of the greatest commandment. Here is an example: If you have a friend who is a homosexual, you are to unconditionally love them to the point of death if necessary. It does not say that you are to condone their actions; on the contrary, you are to guide them to the knowledge of their sin so that they will be saved. Remember, we want all people to Agape God before their neighbors so that they understand what all the love is about.

This is the key to understanding the love of our neighbors. We love them to show Christ to them so that they may have eternal life with us; not to just love them for loves sake. No matter how hard it may be or what it may cost you personally you should be willing to show them Christ in all that you do, even unto death. Remember, Agape is sacrificial love and 1 John 4:16 says that God is Agape.

So in light of what we have uncovered, what is sin? Sin is anything that is not us showing Agape first to God and then to our neighbors. Scary yeah? Sin can be something that we do without even realizing it but that is probably why the scriptures say there is sin leading to death and sin not leading to death.

For a sinner, which is anyone who does not have full faith in Jesus for salvation, sin as a behavior is anything that goes against God and his law. Because a sinner does not know Jesus, the law is applied to them and so all sins lead to death. But when a person is a Christian we know that we are to stay away from sin but that we have an avenue for repentance in that Jesus is our intermediary to God. Also, because we are striving for perfection but not yet perfect, any unintentional sins are covered by the blood of Christ. What are unintentional sins? Failing to love either God or our neighbor properly due to our fallen human (fleshly) nature. This is different from intentional sin in that intentional sin would be premeditated or gross spiritual negligence on our part.

Personally, and this is just me contemplating on the subject, I think that God understands that we, as humans, will not always get it right. We will not always love our neighbors no matter how hard we try. When someone does something horrible to you it is really hard to love them unconditionally and be willing to sacrifice ourselves for them. Nevertheless, that is what we are supposed to do.

For me, many think that I have an awful lot of hate for people. It is not uncommon for me to call out sinful behavior when I am teaching, preaching, or just posting to the internet. Please know that I do hate the behavior but I try really really hard to love the person. I am by no means perfect but I am working on that, as should we all be.

Love, true Agape, is not an easy task but it is one that we should never shy away from. It is, after all, the first two commands that we, as Christians, have.

God Bless!

Donnie Elswick

mary

Origins of Doctrine: The Cult of Mary

The Roman Catholic Church believes the following about Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Look it up for yourself at the Catholic Encyclopedia online or the Roman Catholic Catechism.)

  • Mary was born without the stain of the original sin and that her grace came from herself, meaning she did not need a savior / they call this the Immaculate Conception, not what occurred with Christ.
  • Mary was the Mother of God because of their view of the Trinity and Christ being “God the Son”, a term never found in scripture.
  • Mary was a virgin all her life and James was not really Jesus’ brother.
  • Mary was taken to heaven in the same manner as Christ.
  • Mary intercedes for us, she is the “Queen of Heaven”, and Christians should pray to her.
  • Mary is equated with the woman in New Testament prophecy; not the church.

Any scripturally grounded student of The Word can see that not a single one of these beliefs are found in the Bible. Many think this is merely tradition and the result of various papal decrees, which are half-truths, but I believe these are doctrines of pagan origin that have been purposely planted to deceive Christians by none other than Satan himself. The Cult of Mary is satanic idolatry of the highest level and to believe it is only a harmless belief is foolish.

Let’s start by looking at what is wrong with a few of these doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. First, the belief that Mary was born without the stain of the original sin. The Roman salutation goes, “Hail, Mary, full of grace”. While the ordinary Christian may think that this is representative of Mary having grace from God that is not what the Romans mean by reciting this. They express that the fullness of grace enjoyed by Mary must be regarded as her having a superabundance of inner holiness. To say that Mary had internal holiness and she had her own grace states that she was in no requirement for a savior because she was deity. In essence that is what they have done, made a righteous and honorable woman, the mother of our Lord, a pagan goddess. Who else would do such a thing but Satan?

Think I am leaping to conclusions in stating that they believe Mary is a goddess and that she was holy unto herself? Just look at the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which actually has nothing to do with Christ but entirety Mary. It is the doctrine that Mary was born free of sin and that it was Mary herself that never sinned. Again this is contrary to scripture. They say that she had to be sinless to give birth to Jesus, who they believe was really incapable of sin because of this. Furthermore, because they believe that Jesus was “God the Son”, a term that is never found in scripture but has its origins in much darker theology.

The errors keep stacking up. But all of this doesn’t stop with the Romans declaring Mary immaculate, sinless, and internally holy. They go even further and say that she was incapable of sin and that she was received bodily up into heaven. This is called the Bodily Assumption.

Because we know that scriptural evidence for anything dealing with these doctrines is nil, we must conclude that these sources came from outside of the Holy Word of God. And indeed they did and those sources are from pagan religions. These very same pagan religions are those that influenced almost every single anti-Christ / anti-God religion in history and are the same pagan religions that were the enemy of God and of Israel in the Old Testament.

We will now travel back into history, to the time of Nimrod and of the start of the Babylonian religions. As the pagan mythology goes, Nimrod, also known as Ninus in some traditions, had a wife/consort named Semiramis. When Nimrod died Semiramis had a son named Damu, which later became Dammuzi, and in Hebrew, Tammuz. She informed people that Tammuz was Nimrod reborn. There are some who believe that Semiramis actually married her son. Regardless, this was the start of what is called The Babylonian Mystery Religion and it spread like wildfire around the region and world. (Note: Semiramis is also known as Ishtar, or Easter)

The image of Semiramis and Tammuz is seen everywhere in ancient pagan religions as the picture of a mother with child. I highly encourage you to do your own research to see the images from around the world. One researcher has found that from China, India, Rome, Egypt, Greece, and even Mexico images of the “holy mother” and her “god son” can be found. But how and why? Multiple researchers suggest that it steams back from the days of the Tower of Babel, when God confused the languages, but others say that Nimrod and the tower of Babel were not contemporary with one another. Either way, this religious system was already in place and once the people could not communicate they simply banded with others that spoke their new tongues and continued on with their religious system; obviously with it evolving over time. But the one thing they all have in common is the “Mother Goddess.”

We all know that these pagan religions were the constant struggle for the children of Israel. We find one false god in particular mentioned over and over, that is Baal. Baal was the “Lord of Heaven” and can be traced back to none other than Nimrod. So this entire system of Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz (or to use his original name, Damu) being deity is the root cause for paganism in the ancient world. Further proof is that Tammuz is later mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14-15. But how did this enter into the church in the form of The Cult of Mary?

We now look to the book of Acts for this answer.

Acts 8:9-24

“Now in that city (Samaria) was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. All the people, from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’” And they paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with this magic. But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed.”

“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. These two went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. (For the Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

“Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, saying, “Give me this power too, so that everyone I placed my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money! You have no share or part in this matter because your heart is not right before God! Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart. For I see that you are bitterly envious and in bondage to sin.” But Simon replied, “You pray to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.” (NET)

In this scripture we see an interesting man come on the scene. Most will call him Simon Magus, or Simon the Magician, others will call him by other names but this will come later in this investigation. Before we get to know who Simon was, we need to understand what is occurring here.

Simon was use to amazing the people but when Philip came with authority from God, through Christ, Simon himself started to become amazed. Being the person we learn he is, it is eluded to that Simon started following Philip and claimed to be a Christian out of his selfish desires for power. Think I am wrong? Look at what happens when he tries to buy the Holy Spirit. Peter strongly rebukes him and says that he is “bitterly envious and in the bondage of sin.” For one, if he was a true Christian he wouldn’t have been in the bondage of sin. Second, this envy Peter speaks of can also be looked at as Simon being bitter that someone has more power than himself. Some may think that Simon repented at the end but most Bible translators agree that Simon’s statement to Peter was more of a sarcastic remark and not sincere.

So we have this man, Simon, who was truly amazed at Christianity, the power of the Holy Spirit, and even claimed to be a Christian but it was all for selfish gain. He wanted power. But is this the last we ever hear of Simon and his sneaky behavior? In the Bible this is the only outright reference to him but early Christian writers fill in the gaps. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius all mention Simon as the one who brought about the heresies in the church, calling him “the father of all heresies.” He spread these heresies in Rome where it was told by Justin Martyr that he had a formidable following even in his day (circa 155 AD) and that they were known as Christians. Martyr later tells that when Simon Magus came to Rome he astonished the Roman Senate and they had a statue built to honor him.

Irenaeus and Hippolytus write the following about Simon Magus:

1 – Simon Magus taught that he appeared as the son to those in Judea, that he was the Holy Father in Samaria, and that he was the Holy Spirit to the gentiles.

2 – He called himself the Holy Father and many addressed him as Simon Pater (meaning father).

3 – Simon studied in Phoenicia (where he learned of the pagan religions which were descendant of the Babylonian religions referenced above)

4 – Simon purchased a prostitute named Helen in Tyre and said that she was his Queen of Heaven and that he saved his lost sheep. Statues of both Simon and Helen were made in the images of Jupiter and Minerva (both having their roots with Tammuz and Semiramis). They viewed Simon as the Father and Helen as the mother.

5 – He accused the 10 Commandments of bringing people into bondage and that the people are free because of his grace, which he freely gives and so there was no need to follow the 10 Commandments.

6 – His sect eventually built churches in Rome and called their ministers Priests, copying the pagans.

7 – They used magic in their religion and conducted ritualistic exorcisms

8 – After the death of the apostles the sect of Simon grew

Here we have very compelling evidence that links the Babylonian mystery religions being merged into Christianity and in Rome none the less by Simon. But what about Peter? Was not the Apostle Peter in Rome to fight this? Isn’t their proof that Peter lived and died in Rome?

This leads us to an interesting discovery that was made in 1953 in Jerusalem. In a 1958 book printed by two Roman Catholic priests, PB Bagatti and JT Milik, called “Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit” there is mentioned a discovery the few have ever heard of. This discovery was that the Apostle Peter’s burial site was found in Jerusalem. In an archeological excavation in 1953 an ossuary was found with the name Simon Bar Jona, the true name of Peter. This ossuary was found on the Franciscan monastery site called, “Dominus Flevit”, this is where Jesus was supposed to have wept over Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives. Pictures from the excavation show that three ossuaries were first found at a Christian burial site dated to the first century. The first three had the names of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, all next to one another. Other names of early Christians were found on other boxes but the one to point out had written in Aramaic, Simon Bar Jona. A Yale professor and archaeologist who was the director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem said that it would be improbable that a name with three words, and one so complete, could refer to any other than the Apostle Peter. Another scientist said that the writing style could be dated to the time just before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD.

A researcher spoke to Milik, the writer of the above mentioned book, and said that Milik admitted that he knew that the bones of Peter were not in Rome. Remember, Milik is a Roman Catholic Priest. Milik said, “There is a hundred times more evidence that Peter was buried in Jerusalem than in Rome.” A matter of fact there is no evidence that Peter was buried in Rome. The researcher spoke with many Franciscan priests in confidence and they all agreed that the tomb and remains of Peter are in Jerusalem. It was also discussed that Pope Pius XII was informed but that he said, “Well, we will have to make some changes, but for the time being, keep this thing quiet.”

This researcher, F. Paul Peterson, writes, “The Catholic Church says that Peter was Pope in Rome from 41 to 66 AD., a period of twenty-five years, but the Bible shows a different story. The book of Acts of the Apostles (in either the Catholic or Protestant Bible) records the following: Peter was preaching the Gospel to the circumcision (the Jews) in Caesarea and Joppa in Palestine, ministering unto the household of Cornelius, which is a distance of 1,800 miles from Rome (Acts 10:23, 24). Soon after, in about the year 44 AD (Acts 12), Peter was cast into prison in Jerusalem by Herod, but he was released by an angel. From 46 to 52 AD, we read in the 13th chapter that he was in Jerusalem preaching the difference between Law and Grace. Saul was converted in 34 AD and became Paul the Apostle (Acts 9). Paul tells us that three years after his conversion in 37 AD, he “went up to Jerusalem to see Peter” (Galatians 1:18), and in 51 AD, fourteen years later, he again went up to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1,8), Peter being mentioned. Soon after that he met Peter in Antioch, and as Paul says, “Withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed,” (Galatians 2:11)”

Peterson goes on to write, “Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD and left it desolate. Therefore, it is impossible that the inscription could refer to a relative after Peter’s time. (as some had argued) One encyclopedia explains the destruction in their words, “With this event the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close, for it was left desolate and its inhabitants were scattered abroad.” From all evidence, Peter was about fifty years old when Jesus called him to be an Apostle, and he died around the age of 82, or about the year 62 AD. Since by these figures there are only eight years left from the time of Peter’s death until the destruction of Jerusalem, it was then impossible that the inscription and remains belonged to generations after Peter.”

Going on with Peterson’s point, Peter would have only had less than 11 years to go to Rome, establish the church, become the first pope, and be buried in 62 AD. If you take the Roman Catholic’s view of the death date being 66 AD then Peter certainly would have had more time to do this but there are still the accounts in scripture after the 51 AD date that have Peter in the Middle East. So we don’t know when Peter would have went to Rome. If anything it is more likely that Peter visited Rome but we know it was Paul who had the ministry in Rome. The Bible is clear on this fact.

So if Peter wasn’t the “First Pope” and if he didn’t pass away and if he wasn’t buried in Rome then who does the Roman Catholic Church follow as the first pope and who is buried in their tomb? I suggest that it was Simon Magus, or as they call him Simon Pater (or Simon Peter), who we know from early Christian writers was buried in Rome when he died attempting to raise himself from the dead after three days. If Simon Magus was seen as a god and worshiped, his followers would have made his burial site holy and protected it. This leads us to the location of the Vatican, and St. Peters Basilica.

Although the origin of the word Vaticanus is disputed, what is not disputed is that the place on which the Vatican sets was a pagan god worshiping site. This Roman deity was Vagitanus, where some think the origin of Vaticanus derives, but others deny this. But most all agree this was a pagan site for some purpose. However, around the 4th century AD, construction of Old St. Peter’s Basilica started over an old cemetery that was said to be the site of St. Peter’s tomb. Construction started at the orders of the Roman Emperor Constantine I between 318 and 322 AD and took approximately 30 years to complete. During Nero’s day, this location was that of the Circus of Nero. This circus was the site of the first organized, state-sponsored martyrdoms of Christians in 65 AD. This is also, according to Catholic tradition, where Peter was martyred. Standing in the center of this death circus was an obelisk; this very same obelisk was re-erected in Saint Peter’s Square in the 16th century. This is the same obelisk that was brought to Rome by Caligula, brother of Nero.

The connection with the site being used for pagan religions, the martyrdom of Christians, and the traditional burial site for “Simon Peter” is really too much for it to be coincidental. A matter of fact, all of this information combined cannot be denied.

In the book “The Bible and the Roman Church”, written by JC Macaulay for Moody Press Publications in 1946, the topic of the Cult of Mary is covered more in-depth as well as other Roman Catholic doctrines that are so unscriptural that they could only come from one place, and it isn’t God. Other books such as “The Two Babylons” written in the 1800s talks about the connection with Babylonian paganism and the Roman Church. A matter of fact most, if not all, of the reformers in the Reformation believed The Roman Catholic Church was a system of anti-Christ. And given that they hold Mary in equal or higher esteem than Christ that is an easy to prove statement in itself.

My hope is that this article will cause you to do your own research and seek the truth. That is the very reason we are called Truth & Freedom Radio and Truth & Freedom Ministries, because by the truth you can be set free. Christ is that truth and to be in him, not anyone else, is freedom.

Donnie Elswick

money

Treasures on Earth: Why I Despise Prosperity Teaching

“The Church used to be a lifeboat rescuing the perishing. Now she is a cruise ship recruiting the promising.”

-Leonard Ravenhill

With that one quote, Leonard Ravenhill perfectly captures the dilemma facing the Church today.

We’ve lost it.

We’ve traded in our heavenly treasure for earthly trash, and we’ve been paying for it ever since. Pastors have become swindlers. Prophets have become fortune tellers. Bishops have become bartenders. Our pulpits have traded in the glorious Gospel of our Blessed God for pyramid schemes meant to keep the leadership’s pockets lined with the same cash that will be used as tender on the Day of the Lord.

I realize that may sound jarring to you, but it’s just true. Not since the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church has the Body of Christ been so ravaged by the desire for worldly gain.

Why is this such a problem? Well, let’s take a look at some reasons…


 It’s Unbiblical

Firstly, the entire foundation on which the so called “Prosperity Gospel” stands is completely separated from Biblical truth.

Think about it.

Isn’t it a little bit hard to believe that the same Jesus who told the rich young man to sell all his belongings and give the money to poor now wants His followers spending lavish amounts on themselves? Am I the only one having trouble with this? (Matthew 19:21)

How about the treasure hidden in a field that caused a man to sell everything he owned in order to buy that field? (Matthew 13:44)

Who could forget the merchant that sold all he had in order to purchase the pearl of great value? (Matthew 13:45)

Now, some of you are surely thinking, “But Jesus is talking about the love of money. The money itself isn’t the problem, we can have as much as we’d like as long as we don’t love it!” Indeed, Jesus is talking about the love of money. However, if you don’t love money, why would you keep it all for yourself? Why not give all your money away if you don’t love it? After all, John Wesley made a lot of money for his time, yet gave most of it away.

There are countless verses found in God’s Word concerning the relationship between Christians and money; nearly all of them speak negatively of it’s impact on our lives.

Paul hammered the proverbial nail in the prosperity coffin when he wrote to Timothy:

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

It’s Not the Gospel

It’s called the “Prosperity Gospel” for a reason.

We know from scripture that there is no other gospel we should be following other than the one proclaimed by Christ and His apostles.

In fact, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul was quick to point out that there is in fact no other gospel. Period. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Jesus said that we cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Turn on your television and watch TBN. Chances are, there is a Praise-a-thon asking for people to give them money. If it’s not a Praise-a-thon, it’s probably a false teacher telling you how to get money by giving him or her money (I’m looking at you Joyce Meyer and Gloria Copeland).

Notice something?

There is very little, if any, emphasis given to Christ’s saving work on the cross. If anything, you may hear that Christ died to make you rich. All of the scripture used in defense of this idea is taken completely out of context in order to suit the message of these prosperity peddlers.


Beloved, do yourselves a favor and turn off the televisions. Stop paying exuberant amounts to head to one of Benny Hinn’s (Fake) Healing Crusades.

Instead, open up your Bibles. Test and examine the things you hear in light of God’s Word. I think you will quickly find that these false prosperity teachers fail to meet the standard.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/947e22756f2733559b1f9e98d2745e9f?s=64&d=http%3A%2F%2F1.gravatar.com%2Favatar%2Fad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536%3Fs%3D64&r=G[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio.[/author_info] [/author]

zombie fish

The Church Snob vs. The Church Zombie

(Yep, it’s gonna be a crazy blog post)

I have become a Zombie Snob. What do I mean by that? I mean that now I only like to watch high-end zombie movies and shows. With ‘World War Z”, “28 Days Later” and “The Walking Dead” raising the bar so high on zombie media how can you not be sort of a Zombie Snob? I once loved b-rated zombie films and then “The Walking Dead” came on television a couple years ago and that was it. I was hooked on only the best.

WARNING: THE NEXT PART MAY OR MAY NOT OFFEND YOU. EITHER WAY I DO NOT CARE.

You know what? Some churches are sort of like that in two ways (maybe three). First, we have Church Snobs. Church Snobs are those people who only go to a church that has raised the bar so high on the entertainment or coolness factor that no one else around can compete. A Church Snob will leave a church in a heartbeat if a nicer or more exciting worship experience comes along. Never mind if the teaching is elementary level or if you can’t understand half of what is said in the service. People say,”It is a rocking good time and they have great programs for the kids!” Or, “They know my needs! I can really feel the spirit moving!” (Yeah, you probably feel your emotions being manipulated but not by the Holy Spirit… but that is another topic.)

The second way a church is like the first paragraph is on the zombie part. Those churches that can’t compete with “The Hollywood Church” (The Hollywood Church: the church the Church Snob attends) become few in number and many eventually close their doors. But some hold on and become part of “The Church of the Undead”. They are called “Church Zombies”. (Sorry for the constant use of “”, I am just in a “” mood.) These churches hold on to the old ways and traditions so tightly that the rigor mortis has set in and they cannot and will not ever change (even unto death my love). People say, “This is my home church and I will never leave. My family has gone here for generations.” Or, “I like the conservative service. Rock and roll has no place in the church; only order and respect!” (Your mission is to teach and preach for discipleship and to spread the gospel, not be a self-licking ice cream cone.)

But there is a third church option that is on the raise in today’s very odd and selfish society. That is the Church of Jesus. (Note: I did not say “The Church of Christ” because a denomination has taken that one. I can’t say “The Church of Jesus Christ” because someone will take it out of context and think I am a Mormon… which I am not.) So the Church of Jesus, which I do not associate with any denomination or specific religious group, is on the raise today. So what are the indicators that you are in a “Church of Jesus”? Well that is outlined for us in the B-I-B-L-E.

Here is a list of things the church should be doing:

  • ·         Prayer: including requests, intercessions and thanks
  • ·         Preaching and Teaching: from the Word of God
  • ·         Rebuking of Sin: That is rebuking sinners not just sin in general
  • ·         Accountability: Confessing sins one to another
  • ·         Worship: Through prayer, submissiveness to the Holy Spirit, and through song
  • ·         Fellowship: Be a community
  • ·         Discipleship: Assisting spiritually young believers grow strong in the faith
  • ·         Spreading the Gospel: On the streets, in crowds, all over the place
  • ·         Helping the Downtrodden: Widows, orphans, the poor

While this list is not all encompassing / Here are things The Church should not be doing:

  • ·         Building extravagant churches, gymnasiums, or recreation facilities
  • ·         Hording money
  • ·         Gossiping or talking trash about fellow believers
  • ·         False teaching or prophecy
  • ·         Holding to traditions of men

While the second list doesn’t some all the problems up but I think you get the idea.

(Read all of Ephesians 4 for more details concerning this post)

Colossians 1:18 tells us that Christ is the head of the Church. Not an earthly pastor, elder, committee, congregation, conference, denomination, king, president, prime minister, parliament, congress, government, pope, NOT ANYTHING OF THIS WORLD. Jesus is the head and we are to follow Him. But Christ has allowed there to be those that assist you in your journey. Those are elders (including pastors and teachers), deacons, evangelists, prophets, apostles, and others that work in the Church. They help you but never lord over you. They love you and not only tell you how to walk in the spirit but show you. They are not a special conduit to God or Christ. They are flesh and bone like you and I.

So what is this all about? Don’t get caught up in thinking your specific church is the greatest thing or the worse thing. At the end of the day your church is no different from mine and vice versa. We are all equal in the sight of the Lord.

So let’s break down the barriers and start being the WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST and not a dismembered corpse. Stop leaving your churches for other churches. If your church is a Zombie Church help reanimate it. If your church is a Hollywood Church help ground it is scripture (and reality). Stay and make it work the biblical way.

Love the whole Bride of Christ just as Christ does.

God Bless,

Donnie Elswick / Truth & Freedom Radio

EmptyPew

If There is No God: Atheism’s Moral Implications

There was a time when I was so offended by the idea of God that I would literally take pleasure in rubbing my atheistic belief system in the faces of my evangelical family and friends. I took joy in dismantling their arguments for a Creator, and would boast in myself, “Finally, someone in this family has stopped following such nonsensical irrationality, and has shed off the binding chains of religion.” I was adamant in hailing religion’s ignorance, and at some points, even reasoned for it’s complete annihilation.

If you’re reading this now, you may be surprised that the man who currently takes such joy in reading, discussing, and writing about God’s Word was also the man that counted it as folly in the paragraph above.

That’s right folks; your brother in Christ used to be a fire breathing, religion berating atheist.

But, that same logically based mind that plunged me into a world of Nietzsche, Marx, and Dawkins, eventually led me straight to the foot of the cross on Calvary.

How?

Well, it all comes down to a little something called morality…


Do Atheists have Morals?

That subtitle was only meant to grab your attention. Of course atheists have morals.

That has never been the question. They hurt, they cry, they feel pain when they see someone they love in pain, and they are given over to random acts of kindness. Atheists care.

But, why?

Why do they care?

That’s the issue. You see, coming from an atheistic worldview leads to this progression in rationale:

  1. There is no God.
  2. I have morality.
  3. You have a different morality.
  4. Morals are relative to the individual, because there is no such thing as absolute truth or a divine law giver.
  5. Therefore, what’s right for you may not be right for me, and likewise.
  6. We must tolerate our differences in morality.

That looks fine doesn’t it?

Well, no actually.

If you come to the conclusion that morals are relative, you just created a logical hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through.

If morality is relative to the individual; murder, rape, child molestation, thievery, adultery, and every other act we consider heinous are ultimately up to personal conviction, and are therefore, not actually wrong for everyone.

Atheists must deal with that. When they go to bed at night, they must be willing to accept that if someone were to murder their loved one in their sleep, it isn’t wrong. How could it be? Wrong and right are categories that do no exist in reality. They are only constructions of the human mind.

When we take the secular atheistic worldview out to it’s furthest conclusions, we end up with absolute chaos. Don’t believe me?

Atheist and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer said this:

“If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges?”

 

Disclaimer: I do not believe that atheists as a whole are anything like Dahmer. This quote was used to merely demonstrate his reasoning.

 

In addition, look at Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot, and the atrocities that were committed during their regimes.

We are talking about the taking of human life on a massive scale.

Sadly, in atheism, none of those atrocities are inherently wrong, because “right and wrong are illusions.”


That is why I cannot be an atheist.

Can you live with the moral implications of atheism?

In closing, hear the words of Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias,

I am thoroughly convinced that when the last chapter of humanity is written, we will find that the implications of atheism, i.e., living without God, if consistently carried through, will have made life plainly unlivable within the limits of reason or even common sense.”

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/947e22756f2733559b1f9e98d2745e9f?s=64&d=http%3A%2F%2F1.gravatar.com%2Favatar%2Fad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536%3Fs%3D64&r=G[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio. [/author_info] [/author]

Success Through Christ Alone

Success – understanding that Christ is in complete control of the believer’s life.

1) Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, unto the end of the world.”

2) Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus the author and finisher of faith.”

3) Philippians 1:6 Have confidence Christ started the work in you He will finish it.

4) Romans 8:28 God, who justified the called, has a purpose, a reason for our life; all things experienced will work towards our victory.

It is God’s plan that we endure the trying of our faith. The testing of our faith is not designed to cripple us, it is intended to strengthen and reinforce our confidence in Christ as The Deliverer.

Success comes to the disciple when he or she understands that we have an anchor of the soul, Jesus Christ The Righteous One. He is both sure and steadfast there is no shadow of turning with Him.

Abraham is a wonderful example of God’s provisional care. In Hebrews 6:14, 15 the Bible tells us that God promised Abraham, “Saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.’ And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Abraham’s fortitude, i.e. his strength and endurance came from the promise God gave. Abraham was not persistent for persistence sake. Abraham was unrelenting because God gave a promise! In the same way, we endure because we have a hope, we do not endure to obtain the hope. The promise has been given; Christ who has begun the work will also finish the work. Of course this does not permit us to sin. One who sins is estranged from God (1 John 3:9). The believers passion is for God things, the Spirit of God within us leads us to a rich and fulfilled relationship with our Creator. We frequently forget that Jesus said, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). We receive the Kingdom not my works but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 2:16; 3:12). Remember Abraham? Galatians 3:18 tells us that God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise, not by the works of the law. Likewise, Christ gives us a better heritage not by adherence to the law, or by works, but by faith in Christ as the Shepherd of our soul. Yes, confession without works is dead; “show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18b) But remember, James never said that you are saved by works. One who works without total reliance upon Christ as Savior, Provider, Author and Finisher has run in vain (Galatians 5:4, 5).

If we are to be successful in this race (as Paul put it) we must understand that we are triumphant only through Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). Understanding that Christ is in complete control is essential to our spiritual journey. If we as believers refuse to acknowledge that Christ is in control of our lives, Satan may entice to abandon the faith as stated in 1 Timothy 4:1. If however we understand that success depends upon Christ, we will be able to weather the ebb and flow of life, knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to God’s purpose” (Romans 8:28).

By Pastor Don Elswick, Truth & Freedom Ministries

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://truthandfreedomradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/photo11.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Don Elswick: Since the 80′s, Don has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and has served as the pastor of congregations in West Virginia, Ohio, and Virginia. Currently Don is the pastor of three churches in southwest Virginia including the non-denominational Tazewell Grace Fellowship in Tazewell, Virginia, which is the home of Truth & Freedom Ministries. We are excited to have Don as our Senior Adviser and Head Elder here at Truth & Freedom Radio and we pray that you learn about the wondrous power of our Lord when you hear him speak or read his articles. (Email: pastorelswick@live.com)[/author_info] [/author]

Spiritwar2

Can Christians be Demonically Oppressed?

In the first article, I tackled the question of whether a Christian can be demonically possessed, and the answer was a resounding no.

But what about oppression?

On a personal note, I have sometimes been confronted with unusually strong attacks on my belief; from extreme circumstances to devastating setbacks, it seems as though every now and then my problems take on an other worldly persona. I quickly jump to Romans 7, rationalizing that these things are merely manifestations of the remaining sinfulness of my flesh. But is that really all that’s going on?

Everyday it it seems we hear of a brother or sister enduring spiritual battles, or struggling against temptation. Are such things related to demonic activity?


There is a War

I’m sure we can all agree that there are struggles Christians go through.

Scripturally, we know that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. (Ephesians 6:12)

Now, the term “principalities and powers” only occurs in the King James Version, along with it’s derivatives (NKJV, MKJV). The English Standard Version translates this to “rulers and authorities”. So, we know the struggle is against rulers and authorities that aren’t made of flesh and blood.

Looking back to Ephesians 6:11, we see the context Paul is placing these terms in:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

What is the Holy Spirit trying to say here?

Well, let’s look at this entire thing in context.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 1For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

 

From this passage, we get a clear picture of the struggle, and what we’re struggling against.

The Enemy is Satan

Satan is the enemy of God; therefore, he is also the enemy of those of us who are in Christ. How does the enemy attack us?

Look again at Ephesians 6:11, focusing on the phrase “schemes of the devil”. The Greek word that is  translated into “schemes” is methodia. That should look familiar to you, because it’s where we get the English word methodMethodia refers to cunning, deception, and stealth.

Now, deception can manifest itself in several ways, but one example can be found in 1 John 2:16. Notice that John seems to be pointing out a general focus on worldly things. Afterwards, John goes on to talk about antichrists, so we can assume this falls into the realm of Satan’s deception.

But is Satan personally assaulting believers?

The Battle is Against Demons

As we can see in our example found in 1 John 2:16, one of the most damaging ways in which Satan manipulates believers is by elevating the flesh while downplaying the spiritual war. We cannot fall into this trap, because to do so can cause us to lose zeal and lead to indifference in the Christian life. After all, why should we be warriors if there is no war?

As a recap, look again at Ephesian 6:11-12. We see three key points in the text:

  1. There is a war.
  2. The war is against Satan.
  3. We fight against demons.

Paul spends much of verse 12 showing us that Satan isn’t the only one fighting on behalf of evil.

In the words “rulers… authorities… cosmic powers of darkness… spiritual forces of evil”, Paul seems to be laying out a hierarchy for the supernatural powers of darkness. We see this evidenced by his use of the word “against” prior to each escalating reference.

I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit’s intention is to give us a primer in demonic ranking systems. However, we should come away from this passage with a firm understanding that we face an unfathomably evil, organized enemy.

Stand Firm

We see that Satan and his demons are to blame for much of the adversity we encounter.

But, that’s no reason for alarm. After describing the enemy, Paul launches into Ephesians 6:13-18, where he gives us specific and applicable strategies in our battles against Satan and his army. Through these instructions, all of us who are in Christ can be well prepared to face off against the demonic powers as we see the Day of the Lord drawing near.


Victory in Christ

There is such a thing as demonic oppression in the Christian life.

However, oppression is what occurs when we do not stand firm. War is what occurs when we bear up arms in offense against the powers of darkness.

In closing, I want to leave you with this picture of the returning Christ whom we love and and trust in:

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-6)

 


[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://truthandfreedomradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/photo9.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio.[/author_info] [/author]

 

love2

Love in Context: What is Biblical Love?

Love is a word that is thrown around a lot these days. From secular music artists to pastors in the pulpit, everyone says that we need to love. Love is something that is desperately needed in the Church today but we need to understand, as I say, “Love in Context.”

In order to answer the title question, let’s review scripture, which is where all things should come if we are Christians.

Matthew 22:34-40 states, “Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

(Note: all scripture from the NET Bible Translation)

In the above scripture, the Pharisees ask Jesus which commandment in the law is the greatest. This is important to remember when reading his response because this is the Law Giver himself telling mankind what the number one commandment which he gave us is. His answer to the question is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5 which states, “You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength.”

Let’s stop there for a second to realize what Jesus is saying. He is telling us that the number one command we have as believers in the Most High is to love God. This is the fundamental nature of our entire being as Christians. Love for God is our number one duty, it is should be the first thing on our minds in the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening. Love for God should drive every single action that we do.

In Luke 14:26 Jesus states the following, ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Now, in context, Jesus is telling us we must be willing to lose everything for the sake of following him. But one cannot dismiss the fact that Jesus clearly states that we must hate everything that has to do with this world. He says this because we must put the love of God first and foremost in our lives. One cannot have any attachment in this world if you are willing to lose all for the sake of following Christ.

Our God is worthy of the utmost praise and dedication. Our lives, our personal desires, and our free will should be lost to us once we are called into righteousness by God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:34-40 that God alone is the only one worthy enough to receive every single ounce of our love. Christ calls this the “first and greatest commandment” meaning that there are none equal to it or that even rival it.

The second commandment, which is like it because it deals with holy commanded love, not because it is equal to it, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

This commandment, like the first given, can be found in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 19:18 the Lord says, “You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” In the larger context of the surrounding verses we are dealing with unjust judgment, showing partiality for poor or rich, not slandering, not standing idly by when someone’s life is at stake, not hating, reproving so that sin is not incurred, and not taking vengeance or bearing grudges.

Of note, not here, nor anywhere in scripture, does it say to love everyone and ignore their sin. On the contrary we are told to reprove, correct, and point out when blatant sins are being conducted by the people of God. This is clearly seen all throughout scripture, from the prophets to the apostles. We are told to do this first and foremost because we love God and want to see his righteousness thrive in all situations and second because we love our neighbors and do not want to see them suffer the wrath of God.

As a parent, I cannot imagine allowing my children to sin. My duty as a parent is to bring them up with sound biblical instruction, in the love of Christ and a healthy fear of God. If my children disobey the commands which the Lord has given I correct them on the spot. Likewise, when I am not there, my wife will do the same and so will anyone who has charge over them at any specific time.

Now, as Christians, we are children of the Most High God. Our Lord has given us commandments and certain ways we should live our lives. When we, as children of God, disobey the commandments of the Lord we are corrected by those who have studied the Word of God and know what it says. That is a command that our leaders have from the Lord as shown in multiple portions of scripture.

Example; 2 Timothy 3:16,17: “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”

Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this so that we will know scripture can be used for reproof and correction. If God did not love you He would not desire for you to be corrected when you do wrong. But God does love you and He has given the scripture for your continued sanctification. Being disciplined is a good thing because it means someone cares enough about you to want to help you succeed.

To love God above all, and afterward to love your neighbor as yourself, is the way we live a righteous life. So ultimately this is a discussion about righteousness. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary alludes to the fact that man’s righteousness is defined in terms of God’s righteousness because there are none that are righteous upon the Earth. Righteousness is living a holy life to God, not to man.

This is the same with love. True love can only be defined in the terms of God’s love for us. So our love must mirror that which God has displayed. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer righteous judgment for our sins. God gave up His Son and the son gladly obeyed.

This shows that the true biblical love of God is a sacrificial, loyal, and obedient love. We are to be willing to sacrifice all for Him. We are to be loyal to Him above all else. We are to be obedient to Him and not our own desires. In the Old Testament this love is displayed through the concept of Hesed. That is a loyal love. In the New Testament this love is displayed through Agape, or a covenant love. This love is one that is totally given over, or devoted, to another person’s welfare. It is unselfish love that requires loyalty; not to man but to God.

Donnie Elswick
Truth & Freedom Radio
Donnie@truthandfreedom.org

Christians and Possession

Can Demons Possess Christians?

So often in the more charismatic circles seen today, we hear stories about Christians coming under demonic attack, and in some cases the claim is made that these individuals have actually become demonically possessed.

But is that possible? Can we, as follower’s of Christ, actually be invaded by a demonic entity?

Firstly, let’s come to a few preliminary conclusions:

  1. God’s Word is the ultimate authority on all aspects of the Christian life. Period. Only after laying that foundation can we hope to come to any reasonable answer concerning this subject. This also means that we must do away with personal experiences, spiritual epiphanies, and “new” teachings that don’t have a biblical basis. I know that this will upset some of those who believe that prophecies today are just as reliable as the prophecies found in the Bible, but I will appeal to Galatians 1:8 in response to that crowd.
  2. If you have been genuinely born again, the Holy Spirit resides in you. Hopefully this is something we can all agree upon. There are some that argue for a second, supplemental “filling of the Spirit”, but that idea doesn’t hold up in light of passages such as Romans 8:9-10.

Now that we have those out of the way, let’s examine God’s Word and get to the bottom of things.


 

Let me first go on the record to say that there are no examples in the Bible of a believer coming under demonic possession. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

This fact alone makes a strong case against the demonic possession of Christians. But, we wouldn’t have need for an article if that was the end of the story, would we? So in order to be thorough, let’s begin building as case from scripture.

Christ Protects Those Born of God

According to 1 John 5:18, Christ is faithful to protect those whom have been born again; not just from the clutches of sin, but also from the evil one. So, in order to maintain the belief that a Christian can come under the influence of a demonic entity, one must essentially say that the power of Satan can usurp the power of Christ. And that, brothers and sisters, is simply untrue. Hebrews 2:14 affirms that through Christ’s death, Satan is rendered powerless. Isaiah 63:1 prophetically and powerfully displays Him as being both great in strength, and mighty to save.

This is cause for much celebration in the lives of believers. Why should we fear the power of the one whom Christ has already conquered?

We’re not afraid of smallpox anymore because it was deemed eradicated in 1979 due to vaccination campaigns. In the same way, believers shouldn’t fear demonic possession anymore because roughly 2000 years ago, the Son of God eradicated the power of Satan.

The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Cohabit

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 makes some strong arguments against the belief that demons and the Holy Spirit can occupy the same vessel. As we asserted at the beginning, every true believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This fact alone prevents anything ungodly from taking a Christian captive.

As Paul states, “Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Light, by it’s very nature, cannot share a space with darkness. In fact, the very idea that a demonic entity can be roommates with the Holy Spirit violates the Law of Non-contradiction.

In addition 1 John 4:4 famously states, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” So, not only will the Holy Spirit not share you with an unclean spirit, but the Holy Spirit is also more than capable of keeping unclean spirits out.


 

In conclusion, we can confidently state no, a demon cannot possess a Christian. The scripture speaks clearly on the subject, and no amount of personal belief in such things can take precedence over the Word of God.

However, this is not to say that demonic entities pose no threat to those in Christ. Indeed, scripture is full of references concerning an ongoing struggle against the powers of darkness.

Join us next time as we examine this struggle, and learn how Satan still attempts to deceive and oppress the Church today.

Glory to Christ

Clarification on Calvinism

 

If you have watched the recent Truth and Freedom Radio Show episode entitled “Predestination” (if you haven’t, click here to check it out), you may have noticed that I have some issues with being labeled a Calvinist.

(Side Note: If you need a primer, John Piper does an excellent job of explaining Calvinism in this series.)

As far as my personal belief’s go, I fall pretty close to the traditional TULIP understanding, with some back and forth when it comes to Limited Atonement.

So, why would I be uncomfortable with being called a Calvinist?

Well, let’s take a look at a few reasons…


Scripture

In 1 Corinthians, Paul begins by describing  divisions that took place in the Church at Corinth. These divisions seem to be based on doctrines taught by the apostles, and Paul is quick to rebuke the Corinthians for their disagreements and quarreling, arguing instead that Christ is the only one worthy of recognition as the head. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

Fast forwarding to today, what do we generally see taking place in the Church at large? Division.

We have five-point Calvinists and Arminians, along with everything in between. We have Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants.

Move into Protestant circles, and the divisions get even more absurd and trite. All of these sects claim some amount of truth, and point to their contemporaries’ falsities.

Each denomination usually has a banner it flies under, and more often than not those banner’s are more derived from fleshly, vain, superficial doctrines than they are the Word of God.

The seeds of this practice have been planted as long as the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been preached, and I believe this comes from a common error that has it’s base in idolatry.

We must get this straight. It is all about Christ, and Him crucified.

All kinds of men throughout church history have come to some understanding of the greater glories of God, but we must not follow those men. We follow Christ! Let us move on from this saint worship that has taken hold of our church. If not, we may find ourselves on the wrong side of another reformation stemmed from a generation of believers crying out, “We just want to follow Jesus!”

Paul doesn’t stop in Corinthians though. Looking in 1 Timothy, we also see him echoing the same warnings to a young preacher. Only now, the concern isn’t so much on church division. Now Paul is concerned with the rise of false teachers, and he urges Timothy not to get caught up in vain discussions as an extension of this concern. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

Now, I am not suggesting that the sovereignty of God is a vain discussion. But, I am willing to put forward that while John Calvin had a high sense of God’s role in salvation, he himself was a man capable of sin. We see this in his dealings with Michael Servetus.  There are many arguments both against, and for Calvin’s role in Servetus’ burning at the stake, but the main issue is this; why would we even entertain the thought of flying under a man’s banner when we have believed in the perfect one? By following Christ and Christ alone we never have to worry about such matters.


So, in conclusion, I am not a Calvinist. I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin, along with many others, have made great strides in advancing a high view of Christ. But it would do us well brothers and sisters, to hold man as lowly, and to revere the Lamb as the only one worthy of glory.

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Christian Ethics and Homosexuals

The global body of Christ, The Church, is facing a multitude of dilemmas in these last days. This article will focus on one dilemma in particular, homosexual acceptance in The Church. We at Truth & Freedom Ministries are not without our own disagreements on the subject, as discussed in our recent Soap Box video ‘Homosexuals in The Church,’ but we all unite on the fact that it is a sin and there is a need to repent of and turn away from all sin. I personally feel this topic is vital to what will be a choice in the last days, and that is to either hold on to what the Bible says or deny it for public acceptance. Although this is not about prophecy it will be clear to see how it fits into those studies.

The topic of homosexual acceptance in The Church is a hot button issue that has mostly been made so due to The Church allowing outsiders to form the argument itself. Persons with unbiblical perspectives have essentially given Christians two choices; 1) Accept homosexuality completely and without question (or) 2) be labeled as a hypocrite and be categorized with those who discriminate and kill homosexuals. These choices leave many Christians in a dilemma; do I accept homosexuality and thus deny what the Bible says or do I hold to the Bible and be hated by all as being no better than a racist? To compound matters into something worse, there are Christian thinkers who tell others to accept homosexuality because of the Golden Rule and the commandment that says to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

Ethically, when viewing only these two options, we would have to accept homosexuality. Because in Christian focused studies of ethics love is the bottom-line. If it is not of love it is not of the Lord. Thus we must choose to accept homosexuality. Furthermore, Christians believe it will “hurt their witness” (ref. ‘Shoot Christians Say’ jk ;))

However, when viewing these two options from the perspective of it being a legal dilemma, a different prioritization or option emerges. We do not base outcomes on love alone but we look at love and the situation in relation to law. We have only two laws which tower above all else; 1) Love the Lord, your God & 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. When looking at this problem from a legal point of view, Jesus’ prioritization of the Law of Love comes forth. First, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord and second, not equal to it remember, is to love your neighbor.

So as an ethical dilemma the first option stated above would be the correct option. But the very fact that we have received commands, laws, and other such guidelines from Christ and the Apostles, should tell us this is not an ethical decision but it is a legal one. Legally speaking, we know that homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible. It is a sin plain and simple. To sin is not to love God and thus love cannot even be mentioned as a reason why to accept homosexuality. This is not legalism, which is to hold to the letter and not to the spirit of the law, but it is legal, meaning right within the eyes of the law giver, Christ, and the overseers of that law which expounded upon said law’s spirit, the Apostles.

When applying ethics to situations which are pushed by godless people neither case will ever be the one which the Lord wants. For how can the ungodly and unrepentant know what our Righteous and Holy God wants? However, when we look at it as a matter of legality, the answer is simple; homosexuality cannot be accepted because it is sin.

Ethics within the Church is nothing new. It has been around for centuries as man has attempted to justify actions that are not always clear in scripture. Applying ethics to situations is not inherently wrong unless you do it without knowing what the Bible says about the situation first and foremost. In the 1960’s an Episcopal priest by the name of Joseph Fletcher developed a Christian ethical theory known as Situational Ethics. His work stated that all things should be looked at from the perspective of ‘love your neighbor.’ Within this he developed ten principles, which I will not cover in this article, that all came from the argument that the end justifies the means as long as that end is love.

On the surface well meaning Christians could see how this could be embraced and applied. BUT, this entire thought is based upon ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ being the top, and really only, commandment. So this theory is disproven because we know that to love the Lord is first in any priority. The Situational Ethics view of love, which has lost the love giver (that’s God), is a love that is unbiblical and it is of no surprise that sinful lust has crept in. When Christians pursue love without God it is empty and only self-fulfilling. It is not even possible to love your neighbor without first loving God.

The use of the ethical argument has occured for centuries, and really since the conception of sin, as man has tried to make since of his world. However, Satan has been there to form the boundaries of the discussion as the moderator. The interesting pattern that emerges with Satan in relation to ethics is that he attacks the family. Some of his most successful spiritual campaigns against the people of God have been to attack the institution which God established at the very beginning of our creation. The family was meant to be where connection to the Most High first started and was maintained throughout life. A church building or ministry is really only there as a way to provide direction, it is the family that is the true building block of The Church.

Some of the first ethical dilemmas arose early on with adultery and divorce. Because of lust, masquerading as love, humans denied the family by committing adultery. Then, once someone believed they were in love with another, not being their spouse, they sought divorce. God allowed divorce on grounds of unfaithfulness but more so He wanted reconciliation to take place. Nonetheless, God allowed it. There was a big stipulation though, the person who committed adultery, and the person who they committed the sinful acts with are living in sin until repentance. Even then that person  once married is meant to remain unmarried and betrothed only to the Lord.

Time progressed on and people then decided that they could divorce for any reason. This time God did not allow it and if two people were to divorce and remarry others they were declared adulterers until they repented of their sin. Soon the institution of marriage itself, and its sacred sexual acts, was denied and premarital sex became a norm. People saw no need to wait for their future spouse and they gave in to their sexual desires. God did not allow this either and these people live in sin until they seek repentance. Because of premarital sex came abortions. Either to hide an act of sinfulness, or for selfish reasons, people choose to murder a child while still in the womb. God rejected this act as it is classified as murder and those who have abortions are guilty of murder until they seek repentance from the Lord.

All of these were tools used by Satan to destroy the family and all of these could be associated with a wrongfully placed ethical argument about love. For adultery it is about love, for divorce it is about love, for premarital sex it is about love, and for abortions it is about love… or so it is argued. Adultery and premarital sex is not love it is lust. Divorce is not love it is hate. Abortion is not love for oneself or out of concern it is murder. See how Satan will take and twist love to his advantage? See how people will accept that because of love these acts should be accepted?

Homosexuality is on this level. It is lust, hate, and denial of God all in one act. It denies the very laws of science that God established, let alone the commands given in the Bible. This is why homosexual acts are given a special designation in the Bible; they are called abominations, something not used lightly. Those acts are an affront to all God is and commands.

As stated before, when used properly, ethics are not a bad. An ethic is a moral principle that governs a behavior and in that since it is similar to a law. If your ethics are biblically based, and not contrary to any scripture, it is a good thing and can be utilized in places where the Bible truly is silent or unclear given modern advancements and situations. However, when you attempted to unevenly yoke a secular worldview with one that is meant to be righteous, disaster is sure to occur. Likewise, having a law, when used properly, is not a bad thing. The Bible itself is prescriptive in nature and to deny there is biblical law is to deny the Bible.

All things should work together for good and thus if the Bible clearly lays out a behavior as sinful it cannot be overturned by another part of the Bible that speaks of love. To do this is to destroy the very integrity of scripture.

I believe we are living in the last days. Satan is trying with all his might to confuse you and to make you feel hated and wrong. He wants you to fall away from the truth. He wants to enslave you once again in sin. The only way to know which direction to go is to know your Bible. The Sword of the Spirit is your offensive weapon to combat the enemy. There is coming a time when you will not be able to pick up a phone and call your pastor about a situation. Your church friends will not save you. In the last days the decisions you make will be personal and will have to be made by you. If you know your Bible, if you read it and study it and meditate upon it, you will make the right choice because you will be in tune with the Holy Spirit. He was the one who inspired that book, and He will be the one to guide you through the dark times ahead. You will be hated for the truth, but fear not, they hated Christ first.

In the First Century and during times of extreme persecution since, Christians have not been afraid to take a stand for God. Will you be among them in the last days? Will you stand for what is holy, just, and righteous? Or will you be counted among the enemies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? The choice, ultimately, is yours.

Donnie Elswick
donnie@truthandfreedom.org

Islamic View of Jesus

The Islamic view of Christ and Christians

Jesus in the Quran? Yes but no.

There is a movement growing in many Christian churches today that views Islam as a YHWH sanctioned / inspired religion. Within this movement they believe and teach that Muslims have the same view on Christ as Christians and that Muslims were sent to protect “true” Christians in the Last Days. These people also teach that Christians and Muslims can (and should) worship together and furthermore their teaching implies that Christianity and Islam are one in the same when they say that the Quran is a divinely inspired book equal to the Holy Bible.

The purpose of this short review of specific verses of the Quran is to clarify the Islamic stance on Christ and Christians. The goal is to display to you that the Islamic Jesus, known as Isa, is not the Christ of the Holy Bible and that Christians are viewed as disbelievers that should be not trusted and executed.

Continue reading

Roots

Forgotten Roots

Our children will never know a time before a smart phone, an iPad, or many of the other technological achievements that have come about over the past 10 years. We are truly light years ahead of where we were in the year 2000. Imagine where we will be in another 10 years, or 20 years. Honestly you probably can’t correctly predict what the next big technological breakthrough will be. If you can you better head to the New York Stock Exchange NOW.

But think about it, our children will never be able to imagine what the 1900s, the 20th Century, was like. They can read history, look at pictures, watch documentaries’, but they will never really know and understand the little things. Just as most of us cannot comprehend what life was really like to live in the 1800s, a time before automobiles or phones, or even electricity. Just think about that, let it sink it. There is so much forgotten knowledge about what life was like then. That is just over 100 years ago. Continue reading

Secret Messages in Scripture

Secret Messages in Scripture?

The Bible is a truly amazing document. Without contradiction this collection of 66 books displays both man’s view on God and God’s view on man. It displays historical fact as well as events that are yet to take place. But are there secret messages found in scripture? Many books, such as the Bible Code, claim to use mathematical equations and computer algorithms to find hidden names and meanings. Books also claim to have found special hidden knowledge in The Word of God. But you don’t need to be a mathematician or a programer to find things in the Bible. All you need is the Holy Spirit’s guidance, after all, He inspired those who wrote the book.

What we want to show you are two “secret messages” found in scripture that prove not only divine influence but also the predestination of God’s will. Continue reading

Perseverance

The Temptation of Christ – Seven Lessons in Perseverance

I’ll admit it.

I was this close to titling this article “The Temptation of Jesus, and Why We’re All Wussies”.

Luckily, cordiality and meekness won out, and so we have been left with the current title of this piece.

Still, the main point stands. In comparison to Christ, we are an extraordinarily weak, shortsighted, and impatient people. So often we fall into the trap of expecting life as a follower of Christ to be an easygoing and leisurely affair. Then, when hardship comes our way, we are left shrugging our shoulders and scratching our heads.

This is so pronounced in Western Christianity that we even have entire ministries built around the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” movement.

(Note: I will not be discussing the flaws found in such ministries in this article. But, stick around for awhile. I promise, I won’t be able to bite my tongue for long.)

But, what does the Word of God say?

If you would, please join me in this verse by verse study of Christ’s temptation as it is found in Luke 4:1-15. I will be using the ESV Bible as my primary reference, but you can feel free to use whichever translation most suits you.

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Christian Life

Living the Christian Lifestyle

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3 NET

Christianity revolves around Jesus as Christ. To Christians, any faith, religion, or creed which does not accept Jesus as the exclusive savior of the world is anti-Christ. The very term anti-Christ alludes to being against Christ or against Messiah. Continue reading

Addictions

Addictions & Idols

Simply put, we all have addictions. Each has diverse consequences but all are equally addictive. Take coffee for instance, coffee is an addictive substance; better yet it has addictive ingredients. However, addictions don’t have to come in the form of substance abuse. Phones can be as equally addictive as coffee. Being addicted really means that you have a deep desire to do something constantly. My phone isn’t the problem in and of itself. Its not like phones are the cause of the evil; rather the phone is just the projector. People don’t get addicted to television, in as much as they become addicted to television shows.

Continue reading

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The Biblical Republic

In the United States of America “Separation of Church and State” is the great unwritten rule. First used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to describe the spirit of the First Amendment to the US Constitution; it has been used by the US Supreme Court, activists, statesmen, sinners, and saints to establish the standard in which we operate. Because of this, many Christians today have a very hard time correlating religion and government as one in the same. But that is what it was originally intended to be by The Creator. Continue reading

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A Lesson in Salvation

   Justification and Sanctification are two things that are often confused in modern Christendom. Some see Justification as the first step in Sanctification; some see only the need for Justification; while completely different people see Sanctification being just as important to Salvation as Justification. My goal is to examine what Justification and Sanctification are, both to Salvation, and to us as everyday Christians. Let us start with definitions.
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Attention Church!

   Many people in the Church are brain dead!  We’ve based our understanding of sacred Scripture entirely on what the television preacher says. We are experiencing a wave of ignorance from the pulpit to the pew, unlike anything we have ever seen in the Church before.  I’m not kidding when I say; you can hear anything you want to hear in the Church today.  We are headed down the road to destruction so quick it’s almost impossible to apply the brake.  What saddens me the most is that no one seems to care.
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This is the Law of God

Part 1
 
In Exodus 20:1-17 we find the Law of God, also known as the 10 Commandments. Often times we structure these commandments into easy to remember phrases so that we can memorize them. I do not believe there is anything wrong with this as we are supposed to study this law and keep it in our minds. Often times it looks like this:
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To Eat or Not To Eat?

I Corinthians 8:8 “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”
Liberty is jeopardized in many Christian churches.  In Apostle Paul’s day there were those who would spy on the liberty of the sect called Christians.  Those Judaizers would spend their time accusing believers of wrongdoing; they got their kicks by watching others suffer in the flesh. 
 
Sadly, we continue to see people in the church that aren’t happy until they see all believers submit to their doctrines of the flesh.
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Getting the Facts Right

 
Job 14:12 NET, “So man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.”
The Church is filled with erroneous doctrines.  Recently, believers have overflowed the media outlets with the idea that at death we become angels.  Some believe this brings comfort to the grieving survivors, adding that their now deceased loved one will be their heavenly guide through this troublesome world. Continue reading
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New Things

Isaiah 42:5-9

Repetitive acts can cause boredom, especially when the heart is not passionate about the endeavor.

The nation of Israel was hardened to the things of God, chiefly because their allegiance was based primarily on the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. Life became very mundane, indeed the repetitive acts had caused the people of God to become ensnared and caged by the sin of formalism. What they desperately needed, oddly enough, they collectively rejected. Continue reading