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The great foundation stone, universally used, by the Protestant and Catholic Church to justify the killing of their enemies, in concert with the state, is Romans 13. I have heard this chorus sung so often from the pulpit that there is virtually no Christian who can read this passage without filtering it through their favorite denominations political standpoint. Has Romans 13 become the Christians license to kill?

Has the God of Love and Peace become the God of hate and war? This unresolvable dilemma is completely ignored for the sake of compatibility and harmony of opinion amongst the greater part of Christianity. Inconsistency with this famous doctrine simply is not allowed to exist within the bounds of the Patriotic gun-slinging church of the 21st Century. Vocalizing any objection is not tolerated. With disrespect for all that the New Testament has to say on the matter of love and peace, and Jesus Himself symbolized as a Dove and a Lamb, modern Christianity has elected to be identified with a flag, patriotism, and concealed carry, which is, in my opinion, a rejection of true peace and of Christ.

To properly understand the infamous verses of Romans 13 they must be read in the overall context of the letter of Paul to the Christians in Rome. That is, in chapter 12, Paul speaks of love, and gives in sequence a number of ways love is to be applied. He closes the chapter speaking of love for one’s enemies (if your enemy is hungry, feed him, etc.,) and after the seven verses on authorities that open Chapter 13, Paul, again, returns to the theme of love, showing how love fulfills all the commandments. Then he digresses about the end-of-time necessity of understanding correctly (13: 11-14) and then returns to love in chapter fourteen and concerns for the weak.

Conclusion: the verses on authorities are encompassed by Paul’s teaching on love, and not unmitigated surrender to the powers of the state. I would go so far as to summarize them this way: “Love your enemies. Naturally, we all believe that the authorities are of this world and are therefore our enemies, however, we must also love them.” But as in each case that Paul studies (the Church, joy, enemies. the law, the weak in faith, etc.) he gives a specific reason for this love of the other, he does the same thing for the authorities and it is from this viewpoint that he writes the famous “there is no authority except from God” Rom. 13:1a. Consequently, Paul’s negative viewpoint of government power here should be stressed, and not the viewpoint which developed after the 4th Century which emphasizes Rom. 13:1b “all power is ordained of God” which is commonly viewed as an absolute principle for Christians to follow. Paul is not expressing a principle. Therefore, this text, in my opinion, should be reduced to what it is, and that is, an attempt to apply Christian love in an environment in which the authorities were hated, and it is not the last word to Christians on the question of permissible killing, nor is it a license to kill.

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After being associated with the Anabaptist for a little while now the question for me arises: What is the most apparent difference between my experience with the Protestant Church and the Anabaptist Church? Both the Protestants and Anabaptist claim to preach the Gospel of Jesus, but the effect that that message has had in the hearts of their hearers was, and is, totally different. I am sure that there are other reasons for this, but the one thing that stands out for me is this, How do we view ourselves in this world? Luther, after all of his great work, declared that he could not get enough true believers together to have a prayer meeting, yet the Anabaptist were giving their lives joyfully in large numbers. What I mean by this is, whether Pagan or Christian we are both in the world and have to deal with the facts as we see them, so how do real Christians deal with the facts of this life?

The important element for me is this continual Tension I experience. This tension is very upsetting for the common Christian and they tend to forget that they have this dual nature, “In the world but not of the world.” For the Christian who has received revelation this tension must not be suppressed or opposed, but for the others it is simply intolerable. We are in the world and from the world we cannot escape; our lives exist in this world and the world is a stumbling block so we must not become accustomed to it. It should be like a rock in our shoe, a constant reminder. In spite of our piety we all have a share in the sin of the world and the worst thing we can do is to remove the stone and forget who and what we are.

This natural and legitimate tension that exist between the Christian and the world should force the Christian to realize that he/she cannot improve the world, and at the same time we must refuse to do or say anything that will further the world’s disintegration. With all gravity and faith we must admit that we cannot do anything about it; we are pilgrims in the land of demons who’s lord is a ruthless Devil. For this reason we are caught between two necessary things: We cannot make this world less sinful; and on the other hand we can’t accept it as it is. To deny either is to deny the truth of our situation and God’s Grace. The true Christian life is therefore a scandal in the eyes of the world. This is not an abstract truth but spelled out on every page of the Bible, and it must be lived-out daily. The living-out of this life of tension and sacrifice, in the plain view of those trapped in darkness, is to pierce the veil and allow Light to stream into Satan’s world and to warm the frozen sod where a waiting seed can receives life.

And then, there is the world and the worldly Christian. This man does not have the ability to see the spiritual reality in which he struggles. He only sees the trash that floats to the surface, the social, political, and economic problems, and it is these which demand his attention. This is the course of most men and women, Christians included, and they are pulled deeper and deeper into the false and complicated situations that spell their doom. While Luther ran to the world and produced children through adultery with the state the Anabaptist ran away from the world and the seed of their mission fell to the ground and died and brought forth a hundred fold, which in its turn, produced a great harvest for God’s Kingdom.

All of nature reveals this truth, that through tension, suffering, trials, and death, life comes forth, and it is no different for the Christian. Through the joy of a tense and sorrowful life we produce fruit. The Kingdom is won not through preserving our lives but through sacrifice. The Great God has shown us the way to produce a good crop, so He bids us come and die.

Man has been separated from God for well nigh seven thousand years and today little thought is given to the idea that maybe what we witness with our eyes and in our thoughts is not normal. Most men and even Christian men will indulge their propensity toward evil. They will watch the theatrics of evil as it spews from the airways then feel righteous when they experience sorrow or grief for the imaginary victims of fake violent scenes on their television sets. They will applaud the violence of sporting events and cringe just a little if real blood is spilled or a bone is broken. With excitement, they will read of the destruction of a supposed enemy either real or fictional and care little that they are really rejoicing with demons in a world that will soon burn. Men have become so accustomed to this fallen world that they have no propensity for another world that is in contradiction to all that he sees and imagines. Mankind has adapted itself to its new home in the Garden of Evil.

On occasions, I will sit and wonder what the Garden of Eden was like and if Heaven will be like that or something else. Thinking of Eden is a pleasant pastime but pastimes give way quickly to reality and the fact that we are no longer in Paradise. We are not in Eden but rather we are in the Garden of Evil.

On that fateful day in Paradise, our parents, Adam and Eve, were cast from the presence of their Father to spend the rest of their days on the wrong side of swirling swords of fire and cherubim guarding against their reentry to The Garden of Eden.

In Eden, life was simple, and everything was at their disposal, and for their good, with only one restriction, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” In Eden man instinctively knew what to do, his mind was not clouded by the conflicting knowledge of both good and evil; he knew only good. He was not distracted with all the mental gymnastics that accompany decision making now.  Answers and solutions flowed easily from a mind uninhibited by contrary thought processes and guilt.  All of nature was in sync and operated according to perfect order. It was a time that we can only dream about, the stuff fairy tales are made of. Adam and Eve never spent time considering a better life than what they had; trying to imagine a more perfect perfection doesn’t even make sense. They were perfectly content.

Outside the Garden of Eden is another garden, the Garden of Evil, and it also has a gardener who likewise says, “You can eat from any tree in the garden except the Tree of Life.” “If you eat from the Tree of Life you will die.” The fear of death is the one thing that keeps the Devil’s servant in line. In this kingdom, everything is antithetical, pretentious, and counterfeit. Out here, in the world, there are many horns sounding, and every day more are heard. All of them come with a promise of light and wisdom, showing men the way to god or to become gods. Even as we speak, all of these prognosticators, seers, oracles, soothsayers, esoterics, philosophers, psychologist, prophets, politicians, mystics, kabbalist, sects, denominations, cults, orthodox and unorthodox, are raising high the standard of truth, with voices sounding ever more as one voice, propagating the religion of the world.

The Bible declares that men are lost! I went wandering off one time in the desert around Superstition Mountain in Arizona. It was a long time ago when my girls were still very young. I pulled the car over to the side of the lonely road and told Marilyn, my wife, that I would be back shortly. So with camera in hand and brain turned off I started taking pictures. When I was finished I turned to go back to the car but to my stark realization I had become “lost.” I didn’t know where I came from, or where I was going. I became acutely aware that this was serious, it was very hot, and for an instant, an adrenaline rush of fear passed over me. Lucky for me Marilyn had the presence of mind to honk the horn and direct me out of danger. That was a great lesson, and the lesson of the Garden is similar. What men have failed to learn from the Garden lesson is that they are very lost, away from Eden and in the Garden of Evil, and they hear horns honking from every direction, and have only succeeded in going deeper, and deeper, into a dangerous wasteland, endlessly trying to reason-out which horn will lead them to safety. Outside Eden we now have this characteristic which is part of our fallen nature called “reason.” Things which we used to know instinctively now demand much thought and reason. It is true, we do now know good and evil, the problem is we don’t know how to tell the difference. Many things that we consider good are in fact evil, and some things which may appear evil to the human mind are in fact good things. We are truly lost! We cannot distinguish our Fathers voice from all the din and dissonance. Every question has a thousand nuances, and every horn sounds like salvation. When I was lost in the desert I had good reason to be afraid, but being lost in the “world” doesn’t appear that bad to people who have come to trust their ability to “reason”. To the lost world, this phenomenon is the new normal and is why much worldly schooling becomes necessary.

How do we find our way back to God? How do we determine good from evil, and truth from error?

At this point, God steps in. In our minds, we would reason that the best thing for God to do would be to just kick the Devil out of the Garden, but the truth is just the opposite; God kicks us out and gives us special instructions on how to distinguish the sound of His “horn,” or voice. Faith, trust, and belief are key components of those instructions.

This is all very simple but has been missed by the majority of people, including Christians. We cannot see the truth because it all seems so illogical to our now impaired reasoning ability. Here is the simple God-logic of the situation: Do not listen to the instructions that come from your faulty navigation system –your mind – it will trick you into faulty conclusions and keep you self-confident, and following the wrong path. Worldly logic is fatal, it is the beginning of a trip into superstition and despair, which will result only in death. What the Bible says throughout is to live a separated life, isolated from all the commotion outside the Garden; from all the efforts of Satan to tempt and trick us into responding to one of the false sounds of deliverance. We must make a decided effort to ignore the sirens and seductresses of this world by closing off all avenues of assault. Not only that, but we are instructed to not even trust our own thinking. I know this all sounds ridiculous, and that is precisely why very few will heed the warnings, and so many will be eternally lost.

As the world continues to rumble, and the seas roar, like a woman in labor, ready to deliver, the events that took place in Eden, and after that, should begin to make more sense. The tree of Life—the Bible–that we are advised by this world to not take literally, is the single clear voice of escape. It foretells of these end-time calamities. The religious and political power structures of Satan’s world have diluted the message to a near meaningless book of verbiage. For anyone still seeking the truth, the message is still absolute, and able to lead any who follow to safety, but the trip is not without perils; the Bible is clear on that point also.

The Son of God, who is the Living Word, is the “Tree of Life.”  When the Word speaks of mixing two types of cloth together, plowing with an ox and an ass, or adding yeast to dough, it is speaking of the peril of adding or mixing anything of the world to the truth of Scripture; this will never work; it is like adding venom to vaccine, as history has proven.

By extension, we can say: If you think you can do something good for the Lord, you are wrong. If you think you can build or plant a “Church” for the Lord, you are wrong. If you think you can live a good life and please the Lord that way, you are wrong. If you think speaking in tongues, or healing the sick, or even reading your Bible will secure you a seat on the Gospel Train, you are wrong. We had life once, inside the Garden of Eden, but now, outside the Garden, the Lord requires one thing, death. Jesus said to follow Him. Where did He go? He went to a hill outside Jerusalem and died, and it is there we are to follow. Dead men do not do anything, they are dead. All our thoughts and good intentions must go; all our aspirations and education, no good; all our lust, desires, and habits along with all of those things, even our devotion to children and spouse, must take their place on the burning altar and be reduced to ashes. Then, and only then, with the faith and belief of Abraham, we know that what we have dedicated to the Lord He is able to rise again from the ashes, to be a vessel for the King’s use, forever, and evermore.

This is part of the lost truth of the Bible, and this is only the beginning. There is so much that we are not hearing from the sounds coming from so many religious buildings, with their CEO’s and Sunday morning speeches, and the horns are earsplitting. We have men trained by men to preach the party-line; ordained by men, commissioned by men, sent by men, to build something for “men.” It sounds very much like the episode of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel.

These are the last hours of the last days, before the Lord’s return, and truth is at a premium. Solomon instructs us to “buy the truth and sell it not.” Jesus instructs us to sell everything we own and buy “the pearl of great price.” They both speak of “truth” as the most valuable possession that a person can own. There are so few of us who really want to know the truth. Don’t satisfy yourselves with concessions.

Christian, don’t let the glitter of this world get in your eyes.

“See to it, then, that the light that is within you is not darkness.” Luke 11:35

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”  Matthew 7:22, 23

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Proverbs 10:5 “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”

For very many years now the Protestant Church has dominated the conversation on the subject of non-resistance to the evil person, separation from the world, and separation of Church and state. They have watered these truths down to the point that they are virtually nonexistent. The present value of these doctrines among nominal Christianity have slipped into the obscure recesses of Church history. Today’s Anabaptists, who in former times gave their lives to uphold these doctrines, and by doing so, persuaded many, have now chosen to remain silent, and safe.

Has it now become unnecessary to reach those in the cities with these precious and rare gems of truth? For many years I was persuaded that being a flag-waving patriot was to be the ideal American and Christian. I didn’t know any other way because the popular and vogue Gospel of balance and open-mindedness was all I experienced in the Protestant strongholds of the city where I lived and raised my family.

All of my Christian life, until I was near 60 years old, I wrestled with those contrary verses of love, mercy, and forgiveness while my teachers and leaders contested what I knew in my heart and steamrollered my inner-voice. Today I know and have found real freedom, and understand the heavenly mystery of overcoming evil with good. I also know that there are very many Christians in these Protestant strongholds who are just like me and want to be convinced that they are not crazy for seeing value in all human life, even the life of their sworn enemies. And, where have all their political involvements gotten them? Ever since I could vote I cast my vote for those who would do away with the wholesale murder of babies yet, today babies are murdered (60,942,033 since 1973 in the U.S.A.) without many tears being shed and in similar numbers of previous years. I now conclude that Christians voting is not a Christian endeavor blessed by God; it is just men in their own strength playing God and pretending to be Godly while men and babies die, with their consent.

We are in such dire need of a new crop of Anabaptists who have open eyes, and open hearts, and open ears, who see, feel and hear the voices of their brothers and sisters stuck behind-enemy-lines being fed the propaganda of government and Church that violence toward their enemies is blessed of God and that to be in the military, police force, and justice systems are good things for Christians. These Christians are in a very dangerous position thinking that God blesses these activities when in fact it is a rejection of all that the New Testament says about how we should live and conduct ourselves in the world. We have not been sent here to kill our enemies but to save them through great sacrifices, what else can picking up our own cross and following Jesus mean?

When will the new Radical Reformation begin . . . ?

Shipshewana, In, March 28 – 30, 2019

Steve Blackwell

I was very excited to attend the AIC and that excitement was justified. As a rather recent convert to the Anabaptist doctrine and having spent a few days with the Hutterites in Minnesota my love for the people and their values remains untarnished.

Because it was an “identity” conference I wanted to know two things: 1st How is the historical Anabaptist identity being preserved? And, 2nd what is that identity and is the original goal and focus still valid today?

Because of certain constraints, I will focus my critique on the second part since, in my estimation, the first part, especially for those who were present among us non-Anabaptist background “seekers,” the mysterious charm of these Godly people is very much alive in the 21st Century, but in all honesty, I do have an issue with their present stance.

My introduction to Anabaptism was an accident, or maybe a miracle. Yes, like nearly all Protestants I knew of these odd people with their funny ways, their gentleness, exclusiveness, value-driven lifestyle, hard work, and simple ways, but that is all I knew about them. My Bible training gave them the necessary “tip of the hat” acknowledgment as part of my curriculum that highlighted the heretics of the Reformation and the problems they caused to the progress of the “true” Christian message as professed by Luther and Zwingli. Grebel, Manz, Blaurock, and others now bearing the label of anabaptist (re-baptizers) by their foes, having discovered the buried treasure of non-resistance to evil, separation from the world, and believer baptism, proceeded to do what every believer should do, and that is, to share this vast wealth with anyone in need, begging for relief, or those who hold out an empty hand. All my Christian life I unconsciously hungered for their message and struggled often with The Sermon on the Mount only to have it explained away by my teachers and leaders. One day while reading 2Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” a live coal fell from the altar of God and illuminated my heart and changed my life forever, and along with that illumination came the beginning of my story of personal suffering that validated Paul’s message. And, now I realize too that there had been given, to a special people, a vast treasure that was not being shared.

Without the help of heritage, without the help of community, and without the help of men, but only a burning heart, a prophetic treasure, and desire to share, I ventured into my old haunts to find that Paul’s inspired words to Timothy are still true today. Just as in the days of the Apostles and the “Radical Reformers” I had discovered the secret weapon that is hidden to the world and to the institutional Church that “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.” This death is more than just an odd appearance to outsiders, giving up of the luxuries of technology and science, or building a wall around an “identity” to keep out the world; No! it is so much more than that.

I appreciate very much that my Anabaptist brothers and sisters have maintained their wonderful heritage because that heritage has become a sign to the world. The world of man and religion cannot help asking the question, when Anabaptist appear, “Who are these strange people?” The problem is, they get no answer, they are a sign with no message. They signify something to the world, but what? Must we find the answer by accident? The treasure that the Anabaptist reserve for themselves or bury will get out with or without their help, and I pray it with their help. Enjoying their craftsmanship and good food is not enough and I believe that if Conrad Grebel was here today he would say, “It is time.” It is time to infiltrate the cities, the Churches, the schools, the streets and neighborhoods of the world and to open our hands and to share this great resource of truth that the world fears and the Devil hates.

When the Israelites came out of captivity the first two things to be restored were the Altar and the wall. The altar represents our sacrifice and the wall represents separation from the world, security, and protection. Commerce took place during the day but at night the world was forced out and the gates closed, i.e. they were separated and “in the world but not of it.” The wall is the great heritage of truth of our Christian forefathers, but heritage quickly turns into legalism without the altar. True Christians are “light,” “salt,” and “sheep in the midst of wolves.” Yes we are the light of truth, and we are the salt of the earth, but we mustn’t forget that we are also sheep for the slaughter, that is our destiny. If we will be true to the first two the third will also come. We must pick up our own cross and follow Jesus.

We have allowed the world of religion to dictate just how much of the truth is allowed to be preached. And, how will we know when we are succeeding? It is no different today than it has ever been. How did the Apostles know? How did the Remnant of the Dark Ages know? How did the Radical’s know? The trail of blood has arrived at the doorstep of Twenty-first Century, will you be sheep in the midst of wolves or will you be sheep closed-up in a pen behind walls of protected identity?

I love the Anabaptist and it is not my goal to hurt them, unless the hurt has the effect of healing. I have much that I need to learn from them and my study is ongoing but maybe they can learn something from a Seeker?

Is there such a thing as practical holiness? Is there a Biblical holiness that is actually displayed in the lives of Christians? Or, is the holiness mentioned in Scriptures only theoretical? Are Christians only to be concerned with knowing the fundamental principles of holiness and not the application and implementation of these principles? Holiness is usually associated with gloominess and somberness and displayed by the use of priestly gowns and pastor collars and reserved for clerics and not the laity. Can regular Christians be holy?

If we look at the lives of modern Christians we would have to conclude that merely having the knowledge of holiness is all that is wanted or necessary to include them in the ranks of those who will inherit Heaven, but the writer of Hebrews says differently,

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” Heb. 12:14

There is no doubt that very many people want to go to Heaven, but if holiness is the criterion we may have a problem. And besides, if their idea of Heaven is like their idea of Christian freedom in this world I do believe they will be most unhappy in such a holy environment.

What is “practical holiness?” Very simply put, practical holiness is obedience to the commands of Christ who is the personification of Holiness. Practical holiness is the final product or result of doing the things He commanded. But what were those things?

I am in no wise elevating myself into some special class of holy individuals who are allowed to point the finger at others because of my purity; on the contrary, I have discovered in myself the great need for holiness and the desire to help others who travel the same path to the same destination.

Here are a few things I have learned that stand out to me in the lives of most Christians, which are inconsistent with the demands of practical holiness.

The most prominent discovery has to do with love, or the lack thereof.  I must confess that I thought I fared pretty well in this department until I read and understood the Sermon on the Mount. Love, being the fulfillment of the Law, touches every aspect of life, and is the spirit and essence of practical holiness.

First of all Jesus makes the statement (Matthew 5:22 KJV) that we should not be angry with our brother without a cause. This verse is a puzzler. Have you ever been angry with someone without a cause? Of course there is always a reason for your anger, righteous or otherwise, is there not? This verse justified all of my anger, for whatever reason. What I discovered is that this verse is a corruption of the original inspired revelation from God.  The words “without a cause” are not in the original, they have been removed from other translations and consequently my justification for anger.

The inspired New Testament has removed any and all justification for anger toward another human being, yet we routinely see this display among Christians calling it righteous anger. Christian love has a restraining force that allows us to receive the fury of another without returning in like manner.

Secondly, there is this matter of suing in the courts. There is not one in a thousand Christians who would not press their rights in a court of law if they deemed it necessary to restore their dignity or win some award. Is not this the exact meaning of Jesus’ words when He commands us to “judge not that ye be not judged”?  “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37. If we sit in judgment on someone else there is One who will sit in judgment against us. God has forgiven all, and we are required to do the same. Yet, Christians feel it is okay to serve as jurors, Judges, and lawyers, but practical holiness says otherwise.

Third, there is this thing about forgiveness. Most of us are willing to forgive minor things that do not affect us too much, or cost too much; but are you willing forgive all, regardless of the cost or seriousness of the deed, or whether or not the offender is a Christian? The forgiveness that I experience from most Christians is selective who reserve the right to not forgive under certain circumstances, like divorce, child abuse, terrorism, and abortion. The forgiveness of God, which we are to foster, is not selective, and therefore pure and holy.

Fourthly, let’s consider our love for our enemies. Does our love only go as far as our “neighbor” who we know or we can relate to on a national basis? Who is our neighbor? Is our neighbor someone who lives on the same block as we do or goes to our Church; are they fellow Americans; and do they include Muslims who wish us harm? Does the liberty we have in Christ make allowances for hatred and military violence or serial killers? Can Christians justly kill their enemies in acts of self-defense or government sanctioned operations according to the New Testament and still maintain a holy witness and testimony?

Fifth, Divorce! Would Christ consider us holy if we divorce our mate? I do not believe that the New Testament makes any allowance for divorce. Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount appears to be giving permission for divorce with the words, “. . . except for fornication.” Matthew 5:32. But this verse makes no sense at all if we believe the other parts of the New Testament concerning love, mercy, and forgiveness. When Jesus’ disciples asked how many time they should forgive He answered them, “not seven times but seventy times seven times.”  We can forgive our enemies an infinite number of times but we cannot forgive our mate once? This verse has to be a corruption of the text, a justification for some immoral ruler to shed his unwanted baggage for a new wife. And, what about the man? Is the wife not allowed to divorce her husband for the same reason? I personally believe, when understood correctly, that Christ has here removed any justification what-so-ever for divorce.  It was men who, under the Law of Moses, were given justification for divorce so that they could remarry, but Christ here removes it. According to the spirit of Christ and holiness, this verse would read better this way:  

“It hath been said (i.e. by Moses), Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, besides the guilt of fornication (that the man commits because he wants a different woman), causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32

Could Christ really have approved of divorce when He expressly states in Malachi 2:16 that He hates divorce? Or, would He approve of divorce when it is He who states that they “are one flesh” and that man should “not put asunder” what He has established?

God’s own example of accepting back his own adulteress people after committing prostitution with another nation, and his example in the life of Hosea, who married a woman who he knew would cheat on him then purchasing her back after a promiscuous life landed her on a slave block, is proof enough that Matthew 5:32 is a corruption inserted for the justification of some man’s desire to have another woman. Hosea exhibited Godly holiness in the mercy and forgiveness he showed toward his wife.

Sixth, immodesty! Well, this needs little explanation; we need only open our eyes. Christian men and women alike are very immodest. The opposite of modesty is vanity. Vanity is openly flaunted and accepted in the Church because it is so prevalent. It is hard to imagine a time that excels the self-centeredness of Christians today. Holiness, sure, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the exposing of breasts and other flesh, or the latest article of clothing or hair fashion, a tattoo or body piercing, perfume or jewelry, or anything else that communicates how wonderful and blessed I am.

There is more, we could consider theft, coarse speech and joking, the things we allow our eyes to watch, our use of drugs and alcohol, our obsession with sex, jealousy, and lack of self-control in nearly all areas.

The lack of holiness we see in the Church is not due to ignorance but rather a lack of intention. Very few Christians have any intention of living a holy life, and there lies the problem. We can only conclude that holiness is a rare and precious commodity in the modern Church, but an absolutely necessary feature if we will see the Lord.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” Heb. 12:14

These afterthoughts from the last article highlights the position of every Christian, but it is especially significant and important for the novice Christian because for him there is no marked separation from the world as there is for the professional Christian, the clergy. For the common Christian, there is no illusion on this subject because he is involved closely with the world through work and other interest. For the layman to imagine being separated from the world is not possible. In today’s work and social climate to be totally absorbed means being drained of vital bodily forces, and this is common. With no time for reflection, how is he to function or to live as a Christian?

Seeing that the Christian is compelled to follow a path as decreed by society he is conditioned to submit to a mechanical or false kind of unity of purpose and sympathies which stifle any real attempt to act out Biblical faith. He is part of the mass being moved along by the tides of time and chance, even against his wishes. Thus, the Christian’s sense of purity is flawed and spoiled by unconsciously acknowledging a reference point in the world. Television, radio, telephone, and Internet make isolation impossible. These technologies have corralled Christians into commonness with the world and our sins have become the collective sins of the herd and they feel pressured to participate. Corporate sins of a group or nation have the imagined results of sharing the guilt and easing the consequences. This solidarity with the mass of mankind has now made the words of the prophet ring in our ears with perfect clarity, “There is none righteous no not one,”[i] and this is because all are “shut up under sin.”[ii]

Even though, the Christian conscience finds the situation disagreeable. The professional Christian will be affected less so, but the layman cannot escape it although he will try through common rituals. This he will do in two ways. He may try to dissociate the spiritual from the material situation. He will deny that the material has any real meaning to him since he is born again and that it has no eternal value or consequences, and is neutral at best. Having separated out the material they can now turn their attention to spiritual problems. The spiritual and the material have been compartmentalized in his mind and actions. These people will argue that the interior life is really all that matters and that being the salt and the light is just a matter of positive affirmation. Isn’t this what Jesus called hypocrisy; giving up the attempt to live out one’s religion in the presence of the world? Is it really possible to divide our lives into spiritual and material, one perfect and the other material and unimportant, where we can behave as other people? Do you think this may be one reason why the Church has so little influence in the world today?

Secondly, which is the most common way of escape, is to moralize or Christianize the world’s institutions. “How wonderful it would be if the institutions were all Christian then they would be dependable,” they say. Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin all thought that this was the answer and even though they failed to produce the desired results, that thinking still persists to this day. These people have this mindset that everything can be Christianized then those things will become good. This world belongs to Satan, you can dress him in white and he is still the Devil. It is this effort that Christian patriots, social justice advocates, Christian psychologists, and others try to do and refuse to look at the results, nothing but failure after failure. Applying Christian remedies and virtues, putting a Christian spin or justification on the world only leaves you with hypocrisy and failure. What is really taking place is that Christians are trying to make the world tolerable to live in, as if it is their home. Just like they try to present Soldiers and criminal lawyers as Christian so also social disorders are supposedly held in check by the application of the label “good works.” The condition of the world is just too shocking to the Christian conscience so they feel the need to do something to change it. In reality, men are trying to build a bridge between heaven and earth, between the kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of this world and now the Christian is always on this bridge of good ethics, good works, and a good conscience. “All for one and one for all” is disgraceful gossip trying to bridge two kingdoms.

By the application of the love word, in all of its varied forms, when confronted with the profound problems of the world the Christian is implicated in a conspiracy to try and appease and satisfy God without involving the cross. The strategies of modern Christianity to forgo the cross and the death it symbolizes, death to the world and death to self, is primarily the end-time product and fruit of fourth-century Constantinian and Catholic, and sixteenth-century Protestant theology to take the reins of the Church away from the Holy Spirit and place them in the hands of mere men.

More thoughts to follow; how did this happen?


[i] Roman 3:10-12

[ii] Galatians 3:22

It is clear that the Christian is in the world and that in the world he must remain like a uniformed soldier that is “on-duty” in a hostile land. When his job is done it will be God’s calling that will bring him home and not his own doing. Similarly, Christians are to return to, and live, in close communities, separated from the world, after going into the world to conduct their missions. Thus, the Christian is “in the world but not of it.”  The Christian’s thought, his life, and his heart are not controlled by the world nor does he depend on the world, because he belongs to another kingdom and Master, and his communication/communion with that kingdom should not be broken in spite of the fact that the world attempts to do just that.

This communion implies two things. First, is that behind his confrontation with the material world is a spiritual reality. Therefore, the “weapons of his warfare are not carnal but spiritual” because “we do not war against flesh and blood.” Secondly, this communion/communication assures him that he is not of this world and that he is free from the death that awaits the world. Having been liberated from this death he is free to engage the spiritual enemy with weapons of love and truth. His mission is to break the chains of death and darkness that hold the world, with God’s secret weapons (Eph. 6:10-20).

Now, the question becomes, what are the responsibilities of the Christian in the life of the world? The traditional answers are all just formulas that lead nowhere, like, “live a Christian life,” or “you must witness and evangelize,” or “understand the will of God for your life.” All of these and others are good of course, as long as it is truly understood and not just religious talk.

What is the Christian’s calling and what actions are required?

First of all, we need to realize that Christians must not act like people of the world. The individual Christian has been given a part to play that cannot be fulfilled by any one of the world or any other Christian. We are not asked to familiarize ourselves or take part in all the different movements which men have started: political, social, economic, military, either for our knowledge or entertainment and to choose those which seem – good – and then support them. He is not asked to side with or to bless any particular human initiative nor to support any decisions of men. Secondly, the Christian has been given a mission of which the natural man can have no idea; yet, in reality, his mission demands a decision concerning the actions taken by men in the world. The Christian’s mission has the power to determine an outcome for the world, and his work must be unmistakable and characterized by decision and firmness in both his words and the unique quality of his visible life. What does this mean?

The Christian as a Sign

What this means according to God’s word is that the Christian is salt, light, and sheep in the midst of wolves.

Salt

You are “the salt of the earth.” God took the Israelites and made them His own through a covenant of salt.  Leviticus 2:13 “You are to season each of your grain offerings with salt; you must not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God. You are to present salt with each of your offerings.” Salt is the sign of the two-sided agreement between a man and God. Thus, in the sight of men and in the reality of the world, the Christian is to be a visible sign of this agreement, he is the salt that is to be added to every sacrifice in Christ. But, here is the essential thing, it must be a real sign, it must signify something, which means that his life and his words should manifest this agreement in the eyes of men. If this doesn’t happen then the earth will experience deprivation and loss of hope; it will wander aimlessly and will lack any real knowledge of itself or its future, and the salt will become worthless and cast out.

When Christians, like the Israelites, were born their cord was not cut, they were not washed with water, rubbed with salt, or wrapped in clothes, Ezekiel 16:3,4. The context here is that we were all still living attached to our parents, the Hittites and the Amorites, in full-faced idolatry, and in agreement with the world.  We were still tied by an umbilical cord to our mother.  In other words, our behavior hadn’t changed!  Israel was still acting like her parents and likewise, us Gentile Christians.  And if their umbilical cords were not cut, they would die even though they were outside the womb.

Romans 12:1-2, which I believe is the Covenant of Salt in action.  As we offer our bodies as living sacrifices (salt was added) you are dying to self and living for God.  How is this seen?  Trusting God’s Word (the basis of a covenant) and conforming our lives on a daily basis; “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Light

You are “the light of the world” and “the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness apprehendeth it not.” Christians are this light. What does light do? First of all, it displaces darkness; it is that which differentiates life from death; it is that which gives definition to goodness – and that is why in the following text reference is made to “good works.” Apart from this light how would we even know what good works are or in what context to understand goodness in the world; the world defines goodness much differently.

In another strain, how can we understand the history of the world apart from knowing the direction it should have taken; the path must be illuminated by light and its history given meaning. If we look at the progression of history we find no logic or confidence in its supposed actions or improvements through its instruments of politics and economics. To get an understanding of the past we must supply knowledge from the outside, through the Spirit, through the Church. This is why being the “light of the world” the Christian plays a part in the very life of the world, by its restrained interactions with the world. In addition to being “salt,” an element of preservation, he must go even further, he must reveal to the world TRUTH, the truth about its condition; he must be a witness to salvation, of the escape provided through the sacrifice of Jesus. However strange it may sound to the captive, who is captivated with, and bewitched by this world, the Christian must be the light of the world, a city on a hill that can’t be hidden.

Sheep

Of course, what this means is that the Christian will be like “sheep in the midst of wolves.” The ultimate sign to the world is the Christian’s ability to lay down his life, to ratify and validate his message with his own blood, when necessary. Following the Lamb is the sign of the reality of God’s action in the world. It was the Lamb who took away the sins of the world, and Christians are the sign of that promise and reality. Every Christian receives a share in the work of Christ; we are the constantly renewed sign of the Lamb; we are also sheep.

History has made plain that there is no salvation apart from the offering of blood and the world can not discover life apart from the Christian witness of the sign of the Lamb, and to think otherwise is mere fantasy. Everyone in the world wants to be wolves, no one wants to play the part of the sheep. Unless the Christian plays his part there will be no life for the world; Christ in the Christian is the only hope of glory. Christians are the living witness, the sign, that points to what our Master and Lord has done and He says “Follow Me.”

This is why it is essential that Christians not be wolves. Christians should not dominate or judge, or kill those to whom they have been sent to rescue; we are to signify in our life and in our death a reality which can only be conveyed through service and suffering; it is the mysterious secret weapon of a reality that lays hidden to the world, but becomes visible through certain signs that are communicated to hearts that have been made ready to receive that precious seed.

I love writing poetry and exploring the depths of my emotions and their meaning. For instance, I used to think that a person is a solo object floating in the midst of abstract indefiniteness yet has a mysterious link to all other things. Is that even possible, to be an individual and still be part of the whole, and yet a free spirit but sad when alone?

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent,” said John Donne. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” says the master of metaphysical poets. 

Then he says in another place, “Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.” Is not this the predicament of man that we all of a kind have freedom in our hands and chains on our ankles? We tread a fine line between intellect and mental illness; between killing and healing, between blessing and cursing, and loving the sinner yet hating the sin. What is this craziness we have gotten ourselves into? “All we like sheep have gone astray,” and in our ignorance, we know no other way, and the mouth speaks what it wants to say, while 150,000 men die every single day. “We do not live for ourselves only, and we do not die for ourselves only.” 

We are not solo objects in the midst of many but rather an important thread in a complex tapestry weaved together into a beautiful garment. All the threads becoming one in a Divinely orchestrated concert of perfectly tuned harmonics, everyone for all the others, performing in love for the One who loved perfectly, living together in the gladness of heart FOREVER. No, this is not solo, this is unity and completeness. This is the depth of all our emotions and what we were created for; this is the meaning of life and fulfillment, it is what we have been longing for. 

‘No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

MEDITATION XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

The most unpleasant, and I must say stupid situation, I have ever found myself in is to have ownership of the most powerful weapon ever, without much caring about it or concern for its use. I can not say I was ignorant of this weapon because it was everywhere portrayed, illustrated, and exemplified by eyewitness accounts, inspiring stories, and personal examples of men, One of which claimed to be God.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying,

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

The weapon that I speak of is the proclamation and exemplification of LOVE. Jesus and His Apostles defined LOVE with their actions and examples, making it crystal clear by removing the obscurity of poetic and patriotic romanticism from the definition and transforming love into much more than just a word or symbol. The insanity of which I speak is mind-numbing. We look down on and detest those who have justified the death of large numbers of innocent people, yet, heap praise and honor on patriotic Christian soldiers who purposely train to do the very things that Jesus held in contempt. The exact opposite of the world’s method is the method of Jesus which is the method of love, mercy, and forgiveness for all enemies personal or national. The greatest weapon of the universe is scorned and despised by the Church; shouldn’t this be classified as madness and insanity?

There was a time in my life when I thought I wanted to get rich so I studied the commodities market and learned how to buy and sell commodities. I became very rich and my confidence and abilities were beyond question. I studied the masters of the trade and applied their knowledge to my own life and talked confidently with others and even gave advise. But, there was one little problem, all my success was only on paper; no real money was ever invested; my success was only in my mind. My problem was I was not willing to risk anything. My savings were secure in the bank, where I buried it. Like the guy who buried his money, which was given to him by his lord and master, I left my money in the bank where it was safe. In the early days of Luther and Zwingli, they both shared the vision of the Anabaptist who believed that the Church should be separated from the government and that their total loyalty should be to Christ alone. At first, it all went well, until Luther and Zwingli realized that their own vision of how a reformation should take place never materialized. At that point, they joined ranks with the state and accomplished their reformation through the use of force, as did Calvin a little later. Their reformation was on paper only, where they looked successful, but when it came time to go all-in, as the Anabaptist did, the risk was too great and the choice to trust their Master failed, so they buried their money in a hole for safekeeping; that hole was their alliance with the state. Their Reformation was on paper only.

Today, the lessons of Luther have not been learned. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin along with the Catholic Church opted to follow the world, and destroy those who choose to follow Jesus and use the ultimate weapon of love against their enemies. The Church today has decided to follow the world and to align itself with the world to propagate the message of Christ. The commercial Church has grown and appears to be successful but like the Reformers they have buried their money in a hole for safe keeping. The risk of life-and-limb is too great so they have opted to trust the state with its military to progress the message of Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness, but it will fail because they are not willing to risk total trust and faith in the Master. They are only Christians on paper.

It is only through the risk of trust and going all-in that success is realized. It is only by taking what has been given to us and laying it all on the line that future profits will be realized. It is only through the real definition of love that true reformation will take place. It is only through giving all that we will receive everything. It is only through death that we can promise life, and it is only by following Jesus and picking up our own cross that we can be called Christians.

The insanity of the commercial Church is that it thinks it can use the methods of the world to overcome evil when Jesus said plainly that evil is only overcome with good. The seed of the real Church is still the blood of the saints, who freely give their lives for their enemies; and worldly Christians think we are insane when really it is our secret weapon. The commercial Church and the world have been doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Maybe Einstein was right!

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