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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guilty as Charged

Some parts of Brother Kevn's message a few weeks ago. It reminds me of what I've thought before (and it seems what many of us here have thought before). When I go out with the brothers when they are street preaching, so many professing Christians will get upset at the brothers' signs. I cannot help but wonder WHY? Why would they be upset that we are promoting purity in marriage, loving our enemies, not storing up treasures on this earth, and so on? After all, these are just things Christ taught. Why is it such a crime to believe we must love others and love God?

Acts 26 – Paul has been taken here before King Agrippa. We'll start here in verse one.

Acts 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. 4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Now why was that a crime? Why was that such a criminal offense? And that's what he was saying. “I am standing here being judged for the very hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.” I've been thinking about that some. Some of the brethren have been informed, somehow either by letter or phone or whatever, from there former church associates that what they have against us is that we emphasize Christ's words even above Paul's. They would say Paul is where we have the teachings and establishment of the church, so our crime in their eyes is that we elevate the words and the teachings of Christ and that we would even think to put the words of Paul as under Christ and not on the same level as his. Well, I appreciate that. I am glad that they are finally accusing us of something we do rather than other things like living 300 miles away form church or something like that and not fellowshipping with each other or some other ridiculous point that is not true. At least now they are getting close to figuring us out I guess, and the thing of it is, I am not at all apologetic for their accusations. As a matter of fact, I embrace it and appreciate it.

We declare plainly that we follow Jesus, and I am not apologizing for that and I'm not even really going to try and explain that. I mean, if Jesus is who he said he was then we are safe following Jesus.

After all, what's so wrong wrong with saying a woman is bound by the law of her husband as long as he lives – establishing the permanence of marriage? Don't the men and women of the world go from one to the other seeking a lasting relationship? We are saying, “Make it last!” We are saying, “It is there, it's permanent!” What's wrong with that?

What's wrong with loving your enemies and feeding them and not returning evil for evil? Defusing anger with good? Well, what kind of world would it be like if everybody was like that? Well, it'd be a pretty nice place to be, wouldn't it? Another “Hello!”. It's ridiculous [why some would be against this]. It would be peace!

What's wrong with not being greedy of gain? Being content and satisfied with food and clothing? And the world strives a lifetime to gain these things; a Christian, at the very onset, sets these things aside and is content with food and raiment, to seek things of value. The world does not have to worry about the Christian getting in his way. They'll let them have it.

Oh, and when I'm talking about “Christian” I'm talking about the real ones, not the ones that (you can probably finish the sentence) that led the Crusades. That's the first thing out of people's mouths, “Well the Christians went on Crusades!!” No they didn't. The Christians didn't do that. The Christians didn't kill or murder people. The Christians didn't go to war. “Well the Christians are the richest people in the communities!” No they are not. Christians are not interested in material wealth.

What's wrong with putting away being angry with your brother? We wouldn't have any lawsuits then, would we? What's wrong with humbling ourselves, letting others win, not making a show of our good deeds, and after we've done all saying, “we are yet unprofitable servants.”? What's wrong with being truthful and not needing to swear because what you say is what you mean and what you say is trustworthy because of the kind of person you are? I mean, if you swear on the bible, on the very thing that tells you not to swear, isn't that an oxymoron, or am I using that word wrong? That's an oxymoron. Are you trustworthy if you swear on the bible that tells you not to swear? You are swearing against your own supposed religion. That doesn't work.

What's wrong with not looking on a woman to lust after her? What's wrong with a woman not wanting to incite lust in a man? Well I guess we wouldn't have too many broken homes if we did that. What's wrong with keeping our hearts pure? What's wrong with taking thankfully from God and not laying up treasures for ourselves against an unknown future but trusting a God that knows the future?

Why are these such criminal things? It's because you have to die to do it and man inherently hates death. I do too, we all do. But you know what? We are all going to do it. Unless Jesus returns, we are all going to do it. And if he returns, it's still going to happen. Some will experience death forever then anyway and others will have already died. So, we are all going to do it. We are all going to give up. We are all going to surrender. We are all going to die. So really the difference is the Christian has decided to do it before hand. A christian has just simply decided to die ahead of time because somehow he got enough knowledge and wisdom to know he's going to have to do it anyway so he might as well do it in God's timing on peaceful terms with God.

Elvis Presley once sang a song in which he said, “And through it all, I did it my way.” Well a few years later his way killed him and your way will kill you and my way will kill me. But Christ's way will give life. Isn't this wonderful how simple it is? It's not that hard. Even for the unrepentant it's not that hard. The hard part of it is doing it and dying. 

If Abraham would be here today would he have fellowship with the Sabbatarians? If Moses were here today, would he have fellowship with the Judaizers of the day? Those who believe that they need to be circumcised and keep the laws that he told the people to keep? Not according to Jesus. He told the Jews, “If you were Abraham's seed you would have rejoiced to see my day. I'm not going to judge you but Moses in whom you trust is going to judge you” and the reason they are going to be judged by Moses is because Moses would be following Christ. That in itself is their judgment. Moses would be hearing Jesus. Christians simply do what Christ said, just like Paul, just like John, just like James did, just like Jude did, and whoever else wrote the New Testament after the gospels.

The irony of it is (and this is probably going to sound a little proud) we obey Paul more than they do! We respect what he told us because he followed Christ and was taught of him. The Christian has entered the kingdom of God already, that's why it says the kingdom of God is now. Now. That's why it says he that believeth on me shall not taste of death - because he gave up his will already. What do you want? A shadow? Or do you want the substance that made the shadow?

There are so many religions on each side of Christ. I appreciate what Brother Walter said the other day – at noon day a man doesn't cast a shadow. If the sun is over him he does not cast a shadow. The Jews were observing shadows and types of Christ and when Christ got here most of them rejected him. Almost all of them did and then some believed later. Since Christ we have 2000 years of shadow on the other side and it seems like everybody takes their place parking in that shadow and enjoying the shade of it instead of getting a hold of what's causing the shadow. Getting a hold of Him! It's not time sensitive. We didn't have to be there to follow him. Thankfully, because of witnesses, and his Spirit, we didn't have to be there to hear him. And because God left in us a conscience, or didn't allow Satan to destroy it completely, we can hear him. We have not followed cunningly devised fables.

You know, we were talking about this last night, among many other things – if this had been a cunningly devised fable, it wouldn't have had so many inconsistencies because religion seems to be so smart anymore that they have to make every thing systematic. There are books written on 'systematic theology' so it bridges all those gaps and fills all those holes it he bible. It makes it all coherent or mesh from one end to the other. It makes it all 'make sense.' Well we don't follow Jesus because he made sense. We follow him because he is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way and we are convinced, and we know, that he is the son of God. I am encouraged with that thought! It's foolishness to the world. It doesn't make sense to the world and you are not going to convince them by your systematic theology or your debates with a bunch of Calvinists. That's foolish. The truth has nothing to apologize for and he was truth manifested in the flesh. The law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. We are either going to believe that or we are not.

Textual critics would throw out the bible, and they have. That's why so many atheists and these little educated guys out of school are throwing out the bible because in one place it says one thing and in another place it says another thing. Missing God's message. He left those things there to see if we'd love him or love a book. He left the brazen serpent on a pole to see if the Israelites would still look to him or look to it. So many copies. We have 2000 years of copy after copy of a copy of a copy. What do you end up with if you copy a piece of paper on a copying machine one time? Pretty nice and clear usually. But if you copy that copy and then that copy and then you do that 100 times, do you think it would be readable? Hardly. That is what a lot of Christianity is today. That's why we teach Jesus. That's why we follow Jesus and we respect and hold to the teachings of Christ and the apostles, but in that order. Just like they taught us to do. Just like he taught us. It's a blessing just to read through Acts and other books and see, “Amen brother! Amen” agree with what they were saying about Jesus. Agree with what they were saying about salvation. And we even get over to Peter and when he said 'some things that Paul said are hard to understand,' we even say, “Amen to that Brother!” But does that throw us away? Does that cast us off? No. That comforts me because I know that Peter had some of the same thoughts I do when I read Paul. Does that make our faith void because we didn't quite get it all understood. No, it doesn't.

We are not going to be given a test on how much we knew and just how much we understood it to mean and how our theology all lined up with what Paul said. The test is right now and how we are following Jesus – the one that Paul preached. The test is right now in how we are following Jesus – the one that Moses talked about. The test is right now in how we are following Jesus – the one that David prophesied. The one that all of the patriarchs talked or prophesied about in one form or another. All the prophets were talking about the things of Christ coming. We are being tested right now.

I think one of the most tormenting thoughts in hell will be the thought of the very things they strove for, or a striving to live for, or are trying to get, they rejected because they rejected the one who gives it. Rejecting it because they wanted it their way.

Acts 2 – this was Peter standing up with the 11, lifting up his voice after the coming of the Holy Spirit and the believers there spoke the wonderful works of God in many other languages, preaching God and Christ to those around them.

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

I say Amen to that! And I would say that to all the house of Jakob Ammann and all the house of Menno Simons and all the house of Martin Luther and Augustine and many of the others – ALL the others! I don't care who they are! Let them all know that God hath made this same Jesus, whom the Jews ripped his body apart – this same Jesus that you are tearing apart his body, the church - both Lord and Christ. And he will come again. And he is going to judge this world. He is going to judge all this division making and all this nonsense that was supposed to not even happen, because another oxymoron: loving one another, agree with one another and forbearing one another and calling yourselves Christians. I'm not saying all of these men necessarily, whoever they are, were not trying to follow Christ but I'm talking about the houses that name themselves after them in particular and some of the men themselves. Or the schools that name themselves after them that are trying to figure out their doctrines.

I'm determined to follow Jesus, no matter what. And I have to determine that every day. Every day. And you do too.

Do you want to be content with a shadow? Right down there, turn the corner and there's a church on the right. There's a big one down here across the street from the grocery store. They are all over this town and every town. We want to teach the substance here. We want to uphold the substance. We want to believe it and we want to stand for it. And by the grace of God and all the power he can give us, we are going to do just that. We are going to do just that.

I will close with Colossians chapter 2.

2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Praise the Lord! In whom are hid ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! Moses wasn't even mentioned! Paul wasn't talking about himself! He was talking about Jesus. God. 

Let's live in the substance. Let's live in Christ. Let's rejoice in that when someone says, “Well, they don't look at the bible as a flat book!” You are right, we don't. We follow Jesus and let all the bible point to him. “Well, they put the words of Christ above the words of Paul!” Yeah, just like Paul did. Amen. Amen. That's a blessing!

So brethren, continue to be guilty in these things, and may the God of peace bless you.

Some comments from the brothers:
Duane – I appreciated the message and wanted to say amen. I had to think of when the dark ages were ending and the reformation started. The people saw the Catholic church and the tradition that had come with it and everything that was added to it and the wanted to reform it so they said, “Sola Scriptura” or “only scripture” but out of that thinking they developed Martin Luthers and John Calvins and Zwinglis and a host of other names. The anabaptists didn't say “sola scriptura” they said “only Christ” and they lived the kingdom.

Kevn – Amen, praise the Lord. That's why we have fellowship with the early anabaptists when we read them.

Norman – I was reminded of what one of the brothers here said one time when we were talking about people who promote flat bibles and how in the transfiguration it seemed like that's what Peter was suggesting. When they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Christ, Peter said, “It's good to be here, let's make three tabernacles, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” the idea that Christ would take his place among Moses and Elijah. But while he was still speaking a bright cloud covered them all and they were very afraid. The next thing they knew Moses and Elijah disappeared and there was no one there but Christ. A voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son, hear ye him!”

Kevn: Amen. He didn't say “hear them” he said “hear him”. Amen. I appreciate you bringing that out.



  1. Enjoyed this post very much! My husband and I were just discussing last evening how real Christians differ from those who claim the name, but live quite differently from what Jesus taught.


  2. Yes - if we do not live how Christ lived, we will not live with him in eternity.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have been so blessed by listening to messages from your church. You had a post on here about the message 'a personal relationship with Jesus' but I can't seem to find it now, your post encouraged me to listen to the message, as always it was really challenging - thank you and God bless you.

    I will email you if that's ok, I find it hard to say what I want to say in a small comment and I can't always post comments for some reason.


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