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True Christianity is about Fear of God, Obedience, Practice

   Many religious people, especially religious fanatics, tend to 
   be very closed-minded.  They believe they have the truth and 
   are not receptive to other ideas or beliefs.  Whether we are 
   talking about Moslems, Hindus, various Christian sects, etc. 
   they have their set beliefs, assumptions and ideas and are not 
   inclined to listen to people of other religions or beliefs.   
   They are completely convinced that they have the truth, they 
   are completely happy with their beliefs, and are not prone 
   toward doubt and examination of their beliefs.  They believe 
   what they have been told, what they have been taught.  They 
   have been indoctrinated into a particular set of beliefs.  
   Their minds have been programmed.  Religions program minds.  
   (It is not just religions.  Other belief systems, such as 
   atheism, program minds, as well.)  We all work under 
   assumptions.  We need assumptions in order to think.  A 
   particular set of assumptions represents a programming of the 
   mind.  And when you are working from a set of assumptions and 
   one of your assumptions is in error it can lead to invalid 
   conclusions, to error in thought. 

   I don't believe that evangelical, born-again Christians (the 
   group of people I come from) are generally receptive to the 
   things I have to say.  They are not receptive to questions and 
   challenges.  Their minds are closed.  They are not out in 
   search of truth.  They feel they have it. They are hard-shelled 
   nuts that you can't crack.  Why is this?  It is because they 
   feel they already have the truth and that there is nothing 
   more to be had.  They feel they are saved.  It is something 
   that happened to them at some point in their lives.  They 
   "accepted the Lord" at some point in their lives and so now, in 
   their minds, they are saved.  It is as simple as that.  There 
   is no more truth to be had than that.  They have the truth.  
   All of it.  Everything is all neatly wrapped up, tied and 
   sealed.  They are saved and are going to heaven.  This idea has 
   been instilled into them, they have accepted that idea, and 
   that is what they believe.  It is their belief, their religion.  
   They have been indoctrinated.  Through the endless repetition 
   of the "just believe in Jesus" and the "salvation by grace 
   through faith, not by works" genre of New Testament scripture 
   their particular doctrine has been so heavily implanted in 
   their minds that they are unable to mentally grasp the very 
   crucial fact that true Christianity is all about obedience and 
   practice.  And that is their big error.  It is one of wrong 
   emphasis.  The importance of obedience and practice is not 
   emphasized in their services.  It gets grossly neglected, 
   ignored.  They don't talk about it.  (They talk about tithing, 
   soul-winning and helping out in the church --- things that make 
   the church grow ---  but personal virtues like honesty, 
   humility, chastity, forgiveness, peacefulness, etc. aren't 
   talked about --- and these personal virtues are what the 
   teachings of the Bible are all about.)  In actual fact, true 
   Christianity is a faith in which obedience and practice is 
   fundamental, central.  True Christianity is about love of God 
   and obedience and practice coming out of that love of God (but 
   not obedience and practice coming from trying to work your way 
   into heaven).  More specifically, it is about following the 
   teachings of Jesus, following the teachings of the Bible.  It 
   about fear of God and obedience to him in the way of godly, 
   upright living.  It is about obeying God in the way a child 
   obeys his father.  It is about love of God, honesty, integrity, 
   humility, forgiveness of wrongs done to you, chastity, 
   goodness, peacefulness, justness, treating your neighbor right, 
   etc.  The things Jesus taught.  Christianity is all about 
   obedience, about practice.  About implementing God's teachings 
   and principles in your life.  About conforming in our habits 
   and personal conduct to his principles.  And mostly his 
   teachings are about how we are supposed to conduct ourselves 
   with other people.  Yes, we are saved by grace through faith.  
   But the faith is one that includes obedience, that is evidenced 
   by obedience.  A "faith" that isn't accompanied by obedience is 
   foolishness.  It is intellectual self-deception, sham.  One 
   does not go to heaven by any sham ways.  And yes, we are saved 
   by the blood of Christ.  Those who follow and are obedient are 
   indeed saved by the blood of Christ.  But the heart of 
   Christianity is practice.  It is about practice out of a love 
   and fear of God.  It is about eschewing evil and pursuing 
   virtue.  In the Old Testament God instructed the Israelites to 
   follow his commandments.  Jesus taught us to "keep the 
   commandments"  (Matt 19:16-22).  In other words, "obey God, 
   practice his teachings".  Keeping the commandments involves 
   effort, struggle, commitment, self-discipline, self-control, 
   self-sacrifice.  It not an easy, effortless way, a way of self-
   indulgence and following the ways, outlooks and values of your 
   culture.  Indeed it generally requires questioning and going 
   against the ways, outlooks and values of your culture. It is 
   not some social group exercise, a church thing, something you 
   do with others --- it is something you do all alone, all by 
   yourself, in the quiet of your own heart and mind.  It is a 
   deeply personal thing.  It is all about personal commitment.  
   No one can do it for you.  It is not about just "believing in 
   Jesus".   The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).  It is 
   not just some thing of the mind, an intellectual thing.  It is 
   about obedience --- fearing and serving God.  Let us look now 
   at what God said to the Israelites.  Note what he says about 
   "walking in all his ways". 

   Deut 10:12-20   And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God 
   require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all 
   His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all 
   your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the 
   commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you 
   today for your good?  Indeed heaven and the highest 
   heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all 
   that is in it.  For the LORD your God is God of gods and 
   Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no 
   partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for 
   the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving 
   him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for 
   you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  You shall fear 
   the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall 
   hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 


   Deut. 6:1-2,6-9   Now this is the commandment, and these are 
   the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has 
   commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land 
   which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the 
   LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments 
   which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all 
   the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. You 
   shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your 
   soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I 
   command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them 
   diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you 
   sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, 
   and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your 
   hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You 
   shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your 
   gates. 


   Lev 19:2-4   You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am 
   holy. {3} Every one of you shall revere his mother and his 
   father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. {4} Do 
   not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am 
   the LORD your God. 

   Lev 19:11-18,35-36,26,28,31  You shall not steal, nor deal 
     falsely, nor lie to one another. 
   You shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane 
     the name of your God.  
   You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of 
     him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until 
     morning. 
   You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before 
     the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD. 
   You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial 
     to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In 
     righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 
   You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor 
     shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor. 
   You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely 
     rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 
   You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the 
     children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as 
     yourself. 
   You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of 
     length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, 
     honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.
   You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you 
     practice divination or soothsaying. 
   You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor 
     tattoo any marks on you. 
   Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek 
     after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. 

   Lev 19:33-34   And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, 
   you shall not mistreat him. {34} The stranger who dwells among 
   you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love 
   him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I 
   am the LORD your God. 

   Deut 15:6-7,11   If there is among you a poor man of your 
   brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord 
   your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut 
   your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand 
   wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, 
   whatever he needs.  For the poor will never cease from the land; 
   therefore I command you, saying, "You shall open your hand wide 
   to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land."

   Lev 18:22-24  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It 
   is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to 
   defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an 
   animal to mate with it. It is perversion. Do not defile 
   yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the 
   nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 

   Lev 20:10,13,15-16  The man who commits adultery with another 
   man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, 
   the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. 
   If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them 
   have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to 
   death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man mates with an 
   animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the 
   animal. If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you 
   shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put 
   to death. Their blood is upon them. 





 TEN COMMANDMENTS

   1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
   2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
   3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
   4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
   5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
   6. Thou shalt not kill.
   7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
   8. Thou shalt not steal.
   9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
   10. Thou shalt not covet.


   God's expectation of us is the same as it was of the 
   Israelites.  He has told us what he wants.  We are supposed to 
   "walk in all his ways", to obey.  His law is a higher law than 
   the one the rest of the world lives by.  His way is the Way of 
   Truth.  It is the way of Wisdom and Understanding that we read 
   about in the book of Proverbs.  It is the Way of Jesus.  Jesus 
   told us the way.  By his example he showed us the way. 

   An evangelical will say, "Thank God, I am saved!  I am just 
   a sinner saved by grace!  I accepted the Lord, I believed, and 
   now I am saved!  Thank God!"  Well, we are indeed all sinners 
   in the sense that we have all sinned.  And all Christians are 
   saved by grace.  However, salvation comes from repenting of 
   sin, turning away from it, turning to God, and walking in his 
   way.  If one is of the idea that the single act of walking down 
   a church aisle and professing his faith in Christ is sufficient in 
   and of itself to save him he is in danger of great and terrible 
   self-deception, self-delusion (no matter how sincere he was at 
   the time).  True Christianity is about walking in God's way, 
   living by the example and teachings of Jesus.  One must 
   thoroughly appreciate this.

   Man has a tremendous capacity for self-deception.  It seems to 
   me Christians are always trying to get to heaven in all kinds 
   of ways, all ways except the way of obedience.  They try to go 
   there by faithfully attending some church, following church 
   teachings (instead of God's teachings); through actively 
   working in churches, through following church rituals and 
   rites, through formulas.  They become mesmerized, brainwashed 
   by some handsome, fast talking preacher, believe everything he 
   says.  He talks them into believing they will go to heaven by 
   some recipe or other, something complicated and perhaps a bit 
   outlandish that doesn't make much sense.  The idea of going to 
   heaven by something so simple as loving God, obedience to him, 
   following his teachings is just too simple and obvious.  So 
   simple and obvious that they reject it, overlook it.  They are 
   looking for a way to heaven that is more complicated, obscure, 
   exotic.  Like maybe some magic words or magic rituals.  
   Besides, following his teachings is just very hard, you know.  
   The idea just doesn't appeal to them.  It involves effort, 
   self-discipline, changing yourself, changing your habits, 
   changing the way you live, changing the way you treat people.  
   That sounds hard.  It is just not a thing that gives a lot of 
   pleasure.  They prefer things that entertain.  They like having 
   fun.  They get all caught up in religious services, do a lot of 
   spirited singing, maybe dancing, praising God. They pick up a 
   lot of religious slogans and cant, stand up and give their 
   testimony on all the things God has done for them this last 
   week.  That is on Sunday.  The rest of the week they live 
   like the rest of the world, take the easy way, violate all 
   God's laws.  I look at the different Christian denominations 
   and they all seem to me to be perverted in one way or another.  
   Either they are liberal and deny the main truths of the Bible 
   or they are conservative, but have gotten twisted off into a 
   wrong path in one way or another.  The Devil is everywhere, 
   busy doing his thing. 

   I believe that a Christian should be in search of truth.  He 
   should have an objective mind that seeks the truth.  I believe 
   that thinking and reflection are very important to the 
   Christian life.  He needs to question, examine and reflect.


   Apr 2009



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