Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why the UPCI Church Service Model Fails The Biblical Test

So. It has been a while since I posted on here. I took a month off from some things, and I feel much refreshed. Everyone needs to step back at times and take a break from the grinding wheel. I do apologize to those that have missed my Blog, and to those that don't miss it but still return to see what I have to say. Today I want to examine some things Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-7.

Having been raised UPCI and attending as an adult, I continually heard the admonition to public prayer before service. There were times that a man would get in the pulpit and commend a group for the volume of prayer, and other times a man would condemn a group for a lack of volume. So let's look at whether this is actually a Biblical attitude.

Matthew 6:5-7 says in the KJV:
"5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

In Young's Literal:
"5 And when thou mayest pray, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, because they love in the synagogues, and in the corners of the broad places -- standing -- to pray, that they may be seen of men; verily I say to you, that they have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou mayest pray, go into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who [is] in secret, and thy Father who is seeing in secret, shall reward thee manifestly.
7 And -- praying -- ye may not use vain repetitions like the nations, for they think that in their much speaking they shall be heard,"

We see very clearly here that Jesus commands two things: Don't pray in public, and pray in private. Of course, this seems very clearly to state that we should never pray in public at all, which totally eliminates the standard first 1/2 hour of a UPCI service. I would agree except that there are some seeming contradictions in the Bible, so, in fairness to the folks at your local UPC, let's examine them.

We begin with perhaps the greatest prayer a man ever made to God (barring the Lord's prayer as that was an example, but amazing nonetheless): 1 Kings 8:22-53. In this passage we read the profound prayer of a man that is asking for the blessing and mercy of God to remain on the Israelite nation. He spends what would seem to be about 20-25 minutes on his knees with his hands up (try praying that prayer out loud and see how long it took). It is curious to note that there was no instrumental "background" music mentioned as is common in UPCI churches nowadays. There is no mention of others praying. In fact, the only one praying is Solomon. Why this is important to examine is that you will often see a benediction made before and after a service. This is what Solomon is doing. He is dedicating the Temple and asking a benediction on the people. This is not the kind of public prayer that goes on for 30 minutes to an hour in UPCI churches before the "Song service". To use this passage as a basis for public prayer before church would be pretty silly, yet I've seen it done...

Now we move on to Hannah: 1 Samuel 1:10-13. Hannah wants a son. More than anything. Just a little boy. So she, in her desperation, goes to the Temple to plead with God yet again. Note that only Eli is mentioned as being present, not a group of people. This hardly qualifies as public prayer, but I suppose it could be important to someone trying to build a house of straw. So look at one very important thing: according to verses 12 and 13, she was praying silently. Her lips moved but no sound came out. That kind of makes the passage useless as far as the public volume in prayer argument goes. Also note, due to her prayer and her vow, she got her boy, who just happens to be my favorite Prophet/Judge in the entire Bible.

The next example I want to examine is 1 Kings 18:36-37. Here we read of Elijah praying to God to show His power to the people of Israel so that they would no longer be caught between two belief systems. This was not a time of preparing to serve and worship God or to get "in tune with the spirit". It would seem to be apparent that Elijah was very much already "in tune with the spirit" based on his lifestyle and authority with God. So, once again, not justification for public praying for a period of time before church.

The last of the OT references that seem to bear on the matter is Ezra 9:1-10:1. We read of Ezra praying to God in a very public manner. The reason this cannot refer to public prayer as a habit is that the text is very clear that Ezra was confessing and asking for divine forgiveness on behalf of the people, not himself. He was told what they were doing, so he lamented and mourned and grieved and begged God to be merciful. Since he was asking God to withhold judgement for acts done in public, he made the prayer public in the presence of the transgressors. That doesn't fit the UPCI church service model one bit.

As we move into the NT, we see that Jesus prayed publicly on 3 occasions that are significant to the discussion: When He raised Lazarus; when He took Peter, James, and John to the garden; and when He was on the Cross.
At the first example He was doing 2 things. First, He was training His disciples to understand that all power comes from God. Second, He was making very public that He was calling on the power of the Israelite God, and not doing it through sorcery or witchcraft.
For the second example, I would like to point out some things that are important. We so often miss the sorrow and emotional distress that Jesus Christ felt. He knew He was about to die. He knew He would endure terrible torments and physical harm. He knew that He would suffer this at the hands of the very people He was trying to reach for. In light of this, if you were going to go pray for strength from God, wouldn't you want your closest friends that you had spent 3 1/2 years in continual close personal contact with at your side? Of course you would. No one wants to be alone the night before they die. This wasn't a regular habitual occurrence. This was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of almighty God asking for a reprieve but also preparing Himself to suffer as God saw fit. Also, note that they stayed back while Jesus went to pray a small distance away.
The last example is pretty clearly a singularly once in all of history occurrence. 'Nuff said.

The rest of the examples of Jesus praying were all by himself, or giving a benediction to a group of people, or training His 12 disciples.

There are other examples in the NT of group prayer, but you always find a specific cause or reason that they are praying together for a very specific thing. Not the general purpose of getting "in tune" with God.

We are called to be instant in season and out, and should not need 30 minutes or more of prayer before a service to try and "rid ourselves of the daily grind". If we are truly walking with God, and in the will of God, and in the Spirit of God, then we should be prepared to worship, to hear, to move at His desire without getting on our knees in a public meeting hall and saying the same repetitive things over and over and over and over ad nauseum. I can't convey, in text, the annoyance I feel when I hear someone say "Thank you Jesus, Hallelujah, Praise God" etc over and over and over for 30 minutes or more straight. It's even worse when they do it at high volume every service for years at a time (I thank all the people that prayed quietly in your chairs and pews over the years, and apologize to you for the times I didn't). It's just clock punching to please the whim of a man that thinks that's what the Bible says to do.

Prayer for the most part is personal. Worship should be public. Prayer can be public when there is a specific reason such as benedictions. Those are 3 very different things and you should be keeping them as such. If the UPCI really feels the need to rev people up for 30 minutes and then jump pews for 30 minutes, why not just skip the prayer and have a 1 hour worship service? I dare say your services will be more lively...

God Bless ALL His Children

Friday, September 11, 2009

All I can say is hahahahahahaha

I am still laughing because this was hysterical. I just got a phone call from my wife. This is rich...seriously. So, as most of the readers of this blog know, my wife and I left a UPCI "church" earlier this year. About the same time (a bit before but not much) another young lady stopped attending. Well today she was told by a current member of that "congregation" that this person couldn't "in good conscience" hang out with her or be her friend (I paraphrased that FYI but after she and her boyfriend have dinner with us tomorrow I may edit it to put the actual quotes in for fun). The reason given: (here's the hilarious part) because she "associates" with my wife and I lol. Apparently, they seem to think that I'm the devil incarnate (hang on, gotta wipe my eyes lol), and that I will somehow through a weird Legalistic-Ritualistic-Pentecostal-Messed-Up-Un-Biblical-Logic-Chain transfer this devilishness to her and she will transfer it to them and they will infect others and we'll all be infected with a spiritual STD of satanistic beliefs.

I'm serious. This really is great...I needed a laugh to end my work week. So, I figured I'd spend 5 minutes (it really won't take long to rip apart yet another bunch of garbage coming out of a Modalist organization) showing why they are in error yet again :D. I would like to know just one place in the NT where Jesus ever avoided someone that He knew to be of the devil. He didn't. Not even the pharisees. The only time He ever walked away was when they tried to take hold of Him to kill Him and that was AFTER He had (yet again) showed them their errors. He could have ran and hid and said nope...can't talk to you....but He didn't. So, if the Spirit of Jesus is living in these deluded people's (I wanted to say something mean but God said no) minds then why are they afraid to hang out with people that hang out with someone these people call a devil? Shouldn't they embody the word "Christian" (which means Christ-like) and just come cast the devil out of me? And then cast it out of everyone I ever talk to or associate with? And then everyone they associate with? And so on and so on.

Nope, they are like the pharisee in the temple that said "Thank you Lord that I'm not a sinner like homeboy over there" and strutted away with his nose in the air quite self assured that he was doing God a favour. We are all (I hope) aware which one the Bible says was justified... The difference between me and this group of people is that I am willing to admit that I don't know everything and they aren't. They say they don't, but then hold forth at great length until "the Spirit tells them" it's time to be done. Apparently the "Spirit" can see people are yawning just as easy as they can... Any church that sets itself up as "the only church in town" (yep...exactly that, said, repeatedly, over the "pulpit") only proves that they are the pharisees that the early Christian church had to contend with. Especially when they spend hours and hours justifying standards and legalistic ritualistic requirements with OT laws and events.

I have repeatedly (and do so yet again) challenged the man leading that group to get some gumption and write me an email to post on this blog so that he can attempt to prove me wrong. I put only four limitations on it: I won't post anything racist or bigoted (I will say this, he isn't racist in the least, he's very much against racism and I applaud that, but I will also not tolerate anything bigoted against a class of humanity and I want that clear at the outset), I won't post anything that is inflammatory (inflammatory defined as anything designed to rally people to a point of view or against a point of view by using anything OTHER THAN ORIGINAL DEFINITIONS OF THE ORIGINAL TEXTS...I will accept Strong's Numbers as the definitive source if that is acceptable to him, or he can submit another source that I will have to examine first before agreeing or disagreeing), I won't post personal info about anyone as he seems to think that is worth attempting lawsuits over, and finally, I hold the condition that I will post (at great length I'm sure lol) in response to his email to show any and all errors that it may or may not contain (haha pretty good job of being diplomatic on that part eh).

God bless His children and I hope the rest of you learn who He really is.

PS I was originally going to post a bunch of videos regarding other organizations that are very similar in practice to the UPCI but this preempted it so I will post that later this weekend. :D I am planning on getting back into posting lots now that the summer is over.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Well, I haven't posted in almost 3 weeks (bad I know), but it's summer and life is busy so I have an excuse lol. I just wanted to post something I've been thinking about that always bothered me. According to a certain ex-pastor of mine, you aren't a real man until you go through labour with your wife when she's having a baby. This said multiple times over his "pulpit". My question then is thus: Does that mean Jesus and Paul were not "real men"? How about the rest of the Biblical Patriarchs that, historically according to custom, did not attend their wives during childbirth? Sounds like another instance of the Legalistic Pentecostal Cultish measuring stick that is never accurately and consistently applied.

Have a great summer and God Bless you

Monday, August 3, 2009

Salvation - Can It Be Obtained Or Retained By Works?

One of my pet peeves about the UPCI (and every other legalistic organization I've encountered) is that works are always taught as requirements of Salvation. The main examples of this are required baptism in Jesus name only, mandatory tithing of 10% of gross income (and usually required offerings too), mandatory attendance of services, and absolute compliance with a strict set of standards defining dress, conduct, even hair style.

There are two issues with this and those are number one that the Bible says that our Salvation was paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross and is guaranteed for all that believe on Him, and number two that the standards required are flexible in certain circumstances.

Let me elaborate: We were always taught that makeup was wrong because it meant you were trying to be seductive and fake like Jezebel in the Bible (side note: her intentions are not defined in the Bible when she dolled herself up, but legalistic cult leaders say she intended to seduce the man coming to kill her. But what's amusing about that belief is that makeup predated Jezebel by centuries, possibly a millennia). However, the same people saying that mascara and lipstick, and rouge etc are bad, immoral, blah blah blah, don't mind when someone uses cover up to conceal a pimple, or lip gloss to make their lips shinier. Hypocrites. If you teach against artificial beautification, then you preach against it. Period. I don't buy for one second that the lip gloss is to prevent dry lips....that's what blistex and chapstick are for...and they don't make your lips shiny or a different colour.

Dress standards were rigidly enforced EXCEPT if you were the pastor's son, daughter, wife. Or a new convert. The latter makes sense UNLESS you examine the fact that the rest of the congregation is taught NO FREAKIN PANTS ON WOMEN OR YOU'LL BURN!!! Ok, so if I'm a woman (hypothetically) and I wear pants so I'm going to burn, then what's the difference between me and that lady over there? Not a thing in God's eyes. It's men that differentiate. And Men that create these ridiculous standards. I do disagree with pants on women for the most part, but seriously, if my wife was a nurse and had to climb up on a gurney to do CPR on some guy that just quit breathing, you can darn well believe that I prefer she be wearing a full length pair of loose fitting pants than a knee length skirt that some guy is going to look up. A full fitting pair of pants is far more modest than a great number of the skirts I see worn by UPCI licensed pastor's wives and daughters.

But that's all academic. Because John 3:16 says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have Everlasting life."

John 11:25 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"

John 7:37-39 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"

Even Paul stressed faith and belief in God rather than works...and he was a Jew of the Jews. He was raised on the Law, yet he renounced it and actively taught against it, especially in the book of Hebrews.

Yes there are fruits associated with the faithful, and there are things that someone who trusts in and believes in God will not do. But these do not buy, obtain, retain, or ensure Salvation. They are exhibited by those with true faith in God. They cannot be legislated by an organization or "Pastor". They must come from a sincere belief in God. Baptism does not buy Salvation...it is caused by Salvation. Modesty and humility do not cause salvation...they are fruits of it. Tithing and church attendance do not bring blessing...they are the result of blessings brought by faith in God.

The fallacious statement by a pastor that he has to "force people into blessings" is ridiculous. It's the self-righteous, arrogant, selfish statement of a man that enjoys power and authority. True belief in Jesus Christ will bring the fruits that these people try to legislate. It will also bring freedom to live with peace and joy and harmony.

Legalistic organizations sneeringly refer to this as easy believism. So, the question I want to end with is this: Is it easier to believe that God came as a man to earth 2000 years ago and lived and died to buy our salvation and we must believe? Or to follow the lead of some self-proclaimed midlife "elder" (pastor) that says he will lead us to heaven, and abdicate our own responsibility to search the scripture? Haven't we heard of these types of things before? Waco? Hale-Bopp? Which is easier?

God Bless You

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Still No Attempt To Reach For My Wife Or Myself

The following is a writing by my wife that she wanted posted on here. She also asked that I comment on it and why it was written. That will be found after her writing.


I'm just so very angry and sad right now. I'm angry at the people who profess to love God, but then turn their backs. I'm angry that the pastor I loved, respected, and obeyed turned his back on me when I needed his counsel(1) most. Also even though none of my fellow saints were not directly told to avoid or shun me, it had been implied many times over the pulpit. I can't even be considered one of the lost they claim they are desperately trying to save. I am "backslid", and going to burn, unless I beg forgiveness of my "pastor".

Mat 18:12. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that [sheep], than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

It is much easier for them to sit on their spiritual high horses, and poke fun....(cause Jesus did that all the time), than to actually admit that they might be wrong, or not have the answers.

I may not be right, but I am unwilling to be spoon fed twisted teachings from a church who expects strict compliance to standards of a man. I am not satisfied to be told that I don't have enough of a prayer life, or faith, or spiritualness because I come with questions that appear to be contrary to the UPC's doctrine. At least the writer of this blog is doing some homework, and coming up with some answers. That is more than I can say for the limp wristed attempt of a so-called “pastor” who in my opinion did nothing more than tuck tail and run.

(Editor's note: I made the following change to the above - (1) changed "council" to "counsel". The rest is the writing of my wife in it's entirety.)

My wife and I left a UPCI congregation in May of 2009. I have posted on that previously, and am not going into the details that caused it here. However, my wife has gone through much more than I since the break, as I was preparing for it far earlier than she was. It's true that she left of her own choice, and, in her words: "Because I won't sit and listen to all the crap they will say about you after you leave".

I had of course informed her I was leaving, and why. As well, I agreed to stay until after a women's conference she wanted to attend, and so we set the date a little later than my original intentions of mid-April. However, it was the women's conference that cemented in her the desire to leave. Two things occurred that caused this: first, all the men in the church were repeatedly told over the pulpit that this was a girl's trip only, no men. That was no issue until my wife found out that the very man making those pronouncements had intended to drive the van the women were taking down to the conference. The intentions were no doubt honourable, but definitely not in line with what the rest of us were being told. She was a little perturbed by that.

The second thing that happened was that at the conference, a woman got up and spent most of a service teaching on UPCI standards of holiness and separation. Bear in mind that this was an audience comprised of 99.9999% UPCI women that already knew the standards and lived them in all the self-righteous arrogance that the UPCI is known for. My wife said there was one visitor she noticed that was obviously not UPCI as the attire she was in was not what would be normally observed in such a setting. It was this that really offended my wife. Here they are, all proud of their standards and how much God loves them because of their standards, and a lady in the crowd is totally out of place and being forced to see it. How christian of them.

Of course, this was what caused my wife to leave. What has caused her to stay away, is outlined in the paragraphs she wrote above. Since leaving, she has witnessed (from a distance) the exact behavior she knew would come. She found some videos on Facebook that apparently make fun of me and my blog. Instead of showing compassion and reaching for her, the members and leadership of that cult have distanced themselves, ignored her, and ridiculed everything she and I have discovered about the truth. This was precisely what I told her would happen, and I pointed her in the direction of a website (spiritualabuse.org) that specifically deals with people leaving the legalism and works-based Salvation of the UPCI.

She finally had enough and decided she wanted to "rant" a little. So she did. Her goal, as expressed to me, is to make a statement, to vent, and to possibly help someone else that goes through the same deal someday. Her hope is that others will someday see that there is a better life available to those that trust in God....which leads directly into the post I was planning on doing today.

God Bless You

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Acts 2:38 ... At Last

Well, I've been totally distracted from my original research into Acts 2:38 by a great number of topics that are related to each other and stem from the study of this verse. Because I want to post on those other topics though, I feel I need to get Acts 2:38 dealt with. In the context of this blog, namely to disseminate the heretical teachings of cultist, legalistic organizations, this verse is important in that it is the absolute basis of ALL UPCI, salvational teachings. It is used to state that God is modalist and that His name is Jesus (period), that baptism in that name is mandatory and required for salvation, and that the believer will receive the Holy Ghost the same way and with the same manifestations the Apostles did earlier. Of course, as any student of the Bible will tell you, you simply cannot use one verse of scripture as the fundamental basis of your doctrine. You absolutely MUST use the entire canon of scripture to support your belief.

It should be mentioned here that I do not deny the accuracy, potency, and efficacy of Acts 2:38 in reference to the audience that heard it. However, I also ascribe it no greater value than any other scripture in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).

Acts 2:38 is an answer to a very specific question by a very specific group of people. In Acts chapter 2, Peter is delivering a sermon to a group of people composed (arguably) exclusively of Jews. There is no reason to believe or state that there were gentiles present at this "conference". This is important because it sets the stage for Peter's entire address, and he even makes reference to it when defining his audience in verses 14 and 22. This passage of scripture is the first time post-resurrection that the Disciples of Jesus appeared as a unified whole before the Jews. Up till this point we read where they were scattered and fearful, but with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, they gained the confidence of belief and experience. Peter stands up (with the rest of the Disciples) and begins to expound to the incredulous Jewish multitude that this is, in fact, of God. He then gives a scriptural history of Christ, and then (very politely really) tells them they murdered the Messiah.

It is at this point they become "pricked in their hearts". When the question is asked in verse 37 "Men and brethren what shall we do?" (emphasis mine) they are asking as a NATION which is evidenced by their askance as a whole, exclusive group: Brethren. They were not asking simply as humanity, they were asking as the chosen people of God. The laws of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics require that context and audience be included in all understanding of scripture, and this is no exception. The Jews understood (rightfully) that they were a nation set apart and chosen by God. To them, there was no reason to believe or expect that Peter was talking to Gentiles, nor would Peter have felt a need to discuss the requirements for Gentiles with the Jews present.

It also bears mentioning that Peter was not necessarily thinking about the Gentile nations at this point. When the Holy Ghost was poured out on Gentiles later in Acts, Peter was a bit surprised himself. He knew that God had promised it, but he still seems to have not been expecting it. So when he was speaking to a group of Jews mere minutes or hours after the Holy Ghost was first given, there is absolutely no way to support a belief that he was speaking to the entirety of humanity throughout thousands of years to come.

Legalistic organizations use the reference to repentance in verse 38 to say that you must give up all your sinful ways, and then go on to define what is sin...often with absolutely no regard for scripture or, more specifically, a complete lack of scripture to support their definitions. For instance, you can't drink even a drop of alcoholic beverage because the Bible says so. But wait, you can't smoke a nice cigar either...and God Forbid you wear a pair of shorts!!! However, they use cough syrup when they're ill (I assume they discourage robo-tripping though I've never heard it specifically taught on), they commute on major freeways through large cities where the toxin level in the air far exceeds that of a cigarette or cigar...and they even inhale while they drive (you don't inhale a cigar...that would hurt a fair bit), and they allow their women to wear skirts that are below the knee in length but are so tight they leave absolutely nothing to the imagination...except maybe the colour of thong underneath).

What does all this have to do with repentance in Acts 2:38? Peter was telling an entire nation that they needed to call on God for repentance and forgiveness of the sins of murder and unbelief. He had already told them in verse 21 that if they called on the name of the Lord (he was quoting OT scriptural prophecy) they would be saved. In verse 38 he reiterates it at their request, and gets more specific.

What legalistic cults never see, is that these were DEVOUT JEWS (verse 5) that lived according to the law of Moses, and as such, were not given to hedonistic lifestyles and practices. These were Jews that were against all manner of sin and abhorred what the other nations considered common. The reason they were upset was because they realized they had broken two of the greatest commandments of the OT: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and Thou shalt not commit murder. To them, these were incredible breaches of the scripture, and they were saddened and fearful. Peter told them they had to repent of the old ways of living by the law, and of the old thought patterns that led to their disobedience.

Does repentance still apply to the believer today? Of course! We still must repent of our old thought patterns and selfish ways of life, and we must accept our own responsibility for the death of Jesus as we are sinful in nature. Does this mean that Acts 2:38 applies to us? Not necessarily.

The Jews had just crucified Jesus Christ less than 2 months prior to the events in Acts 2. It was fresh enough in their collective consciousness to be remembered with clarity, but distant enough that they could look on it objectively. They had believed, up until this point, that they were right in what they did, and had most likely begun to rationalize and justify the action. When confronted by the miraculous works done by the Disciples in Acts 2, as well as Peter's assertion of Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT prophecies concerning the Messiah, they were shocked into a place of receptiveness. It is at this point that Peter tells them they must be baptized in the name of the very person they had crucified. There is more to this seemingly simple command than meets the eye however.

To the Jews, being baptized in any name other than that of Jehovah would be sacrilege or blasphemy UNLESS they identified this other name as being of God. Jesus said that if any were ashamed of Him before men, He would be ashamed of them before His Father in heaven, and thus implies that any who are ashamed of being identified with Him on earth will not live eternally with Him in heaven. When Peter told these devout Jews to be baptized and therefore publicly identified with Jesus, he was putting them in a position where they couldn't sit on the fence and play both sides. They were required to prove that they believed and had repented by doing something that went against everything they had believed prior.

All this DOES NOT make baptism a requirement for everyone. It was only required of the Jews, and can be argued that it only applied to those present. To make it a requirement of salvation requires other scriptures that simply do not support it as an absolute. Jesus said "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned." This scripture would appear to place far more emphasis on the necessity of belief than that of baptism. Further, in Acts Chapter 10, the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles BEFORE they were baptised, and in Acts 15:9 Peter says their hearts were purified by FAITH, not baptism. In Acts 10, Peter commanded them to be baptised after they received the Holy Ghost, but did not preach it as a commandment or a requirement for RECEIVING the Holy Ghost. So we see that it is a proper WORK of the believer, but does not in any way affect salvation, as salvation is not procured through works. If someone receives the Holy Ghost and dies before they can be taught about baptism or before it can be performed, there is no scriptural evidence to support the belief that they are lost.

So back to the text: Peter was making it a commandment to those hearing the sermon, and, by extension, to the Jewish nation. He did not preach it to the gentiles as a requirement, only as a post-salvation work of belief.

In verse 39, Peter says the following: "For the Promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Many modalist, legalistic cults use this verse to justify the universal application of the preceding verse. To do so however, you must ignore two very important grammatical constructions in the sentence:
-1st, it starts with the word "for"...this word means "because", not "because of". He is saying that the Jews have been given the opportunity for Salvation because the Promise is universal...not that the Promise is to everyone because of the preceding sentence.
-2nd, the word "Promise" is preceded by the definite article, not by the word "this". The distinction is very big, because "The Promise" refers to the universal promise of Salvation, where "This Promise" would refer to the preceding verse as the Promise, which we know grammatically is not correct.

Acts 2 does not require baptism for Salvation in any permanent way. Ignoring the arguments about the usage of plurals and tenses in the original greek, it can be easily shown that verse 38 is not setting a pattern of required WORKS for salvation, but rather outlining what Peter felt led to tell the Jews present. Yes, baptism is a correct thing for a believer to do. Yes I believe that if you refuse to be baptized after the scriptural evidence is presented, then there are obvious questions as to why you would refuse. But No I do not believe or agree that you go to hell if you are not baptized. It simply cannot be shown. Even Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 states he baptized only three people. In that case, how could he be fulfilling the duties and requirements of salvation for those people? The answer is that he didn't consider baptism essential. I'll take his word and example over that of a legalistic, cultish dictatorany day.

God Bless You

PS I encourage you to check out the references when I include them because they often contain additional info and other points of view. I want people to discover the Bible for themselves, and the only way to do that is to study and discover things. I also sometimes include opposing viewpoints (such as the christiancourier.com one) so that the differences are easy to identify and refute.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hypocrisy of Cultist Authority

I was at lunch with my wife today and two things came to mind that were said and done in a previous cult we attended: 1st, the "pastor" got up after a conference and stated "Shepherds don't beget sheep, sheep do. If a shepherd did, it would be an abomination." on the face of it, he's right. But in the context he said it, he's wrong. What he was teaching on was outreach by the church, and likening himself to the shepherd and therefore stating it isn't his calling to convert everyone, but rather the "sheep" in his cult. I'll examine that a bit later.

The next thing that happened was he started having everyone in his church watch a series of DVDs that were recorded of and by a "pastor" in the USA that has apparently (I have no reason to doubt this claim) converted thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of people to the UPCI in different cities. The series was on how to teach a Home Bible Study using a specific study guide.

The problem with this is that our former pastor states that it is an abomination for a "shepherd" (read pastor in the UPCI allegory) to beget sheep, then commends another "pastor" for doing just that and holds this man up as an example. Now, I agree that a single person converting thousands of people to a belief system is impressive and takes a lot of work. I even grant an amount of admiration for the man's dedication and passion. I disagree with his fundamental doctrines, but I admire the Mormon missionaries as well for giving a portion of their life freely, but I disagree with them too.

But admiration for passion does not change what was said and done. So I have to ask the question: If it's an abomination to do something, then why would you commend someone for doing it? There's many things labelled as abominations in the Bible, but we don't commend those things. So then I started thinking about why he would do these two things, and I believe I came up with the solution: In the Bible, there are places where the calling of Pastor/Deacon/Elder is synonymous with things like Shepherd and Doctor, but it isn't stated that they are literally those things. The problem that arises in a cultist atmosphere is that the "authority" takes on themselves the authority and position of God, rather than the actual position they are to be in, namely, a fellow laborer with ALL of God's people, not just the other elitist authority figures.

Growing up in the UPCI, it was always weird to me that when we went to camp meeting, the ministers all ate in a separate room in the cafeteria with a closed in door. As well, they were to be ushered to the front of the line when it was meal time etc. Now, I know the Bible talks about honour where it's due and all, but Jesus made it clear that the apostles were to wash each others feet, and that commandment was extended to the rest of the brethren as the Church grew. Jesus also said that the greatest among the brethren was to be a servant. How then do you justify the elevation and segregation of the "ministry" to a place where they are not ministering to people, but rather being worshipped as greater than the rest of the Church? I was at a conference about a year and a half ago (UPCI), and there was a special dinner for the ministry and their families. It was not open to the rest of the church, and when I went in to ask my now ex-pastor something rather urgent regarding his children and a youth event, I was informed by a bystander that I wasn't supposed to be there. This person didn't know me or why I was there, and yet was arrogant enough to tell me to leave. What if I was a homeless person desperate for a meal? I was just kicked out of a meal where, supposedly, a whole bunch of "ministers" would have had an opportunity to minister to someone.

Many of the so-called ministry in cultist organizations are hell-bent on living a higher standard than the people "below" them, and even justify this by saying that they have a right to so that everyone knows they're "blessed" (one man apparently said that he should have TWO CADILLACS to prove God's blessing on him...wow), and that because they spend time in prayer and fasting and Bible study to preach, they should be honoured. But wait, there's more: Paul said that they have a right to be sustained by the offerings of the Church. So now, they want to be sustained by your tithes (see a previous post on that one), eat separately because they are apparently above you (seems a lot like what God condemned Peter for regarding eating with Gentiles), and not be required to convert the lost as they are "Shepherds" (many still do which is hilarious in light of the statement about abominations).

Let's turn it around: If a sheep goes and finds a goat (or any non-sheep animal), and brings it back to the flock and makes it look like a sheep, is it a sheep? Heck no! It's a goat! So then now we have sheep deceiving the shepherd!!! The only one that can beget sheep is Jesus Christ, the Lamb. It's our lifestyle and testimony and freedom that will witness to people, not our status in a cult.

A true Elder/Shepherd/Pastor/Deacon would never want to be elevated and honoured in such a way. He would be embarrassed and refuse the attention as the only one worth honouring is God. Even Jesus Himself said there is none good but God, deflecting the statement made by the rich young ruler. Paul, the greatest apostle, said that "in me dwelleth no good thing". The Bible says to pray for our leaders. It does not say they are to receive preferential treatment.

If you are in an organization like this, you are in nothing more than an elitist, Pharisaical, un-Biblical cult. I hope this helps you understand why so much seems wrong in many UPCI "churches".

God bless you

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Ten Commandments and Cults

About 8 months ago, I realized that I was praying for the wrong things in life. I was in a pattern of breaking the legalistic rules of a cult I was in, and then getting down on my knees and asking for forgiveness from God, and getting up only to inevitably fail again. I was always confused as to why it was impossible to keep all these rules that were set when it was "obvious" that everyone else was keeping them. Then I learned the truth. I found a forum online where ex-UPCI (for the most part...there are people from other legalistic organizations on there as well) members talk and post about things that bothered them while in the UPCI, as well as what they have learned from leaving and so forth. It was quite enlightening to realize that I wasn't the only one on the planet that had this problem.

Upon realizing and seeing all this, I went through something that I had always talked about but never experienced...I thought I had experienced it, but nope...sure hadn't: My eyes opened. I began to see some things that simply didn't add up. I was in a legalistic cult that didn't obey the Ten Commandments, and most certainly didn't obey the commandments Jesus gave, namely, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." and "Love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-40 is the reading for this).

James said that the law was a yoke that our fathers couldn't bear, and then proceeded to state the four things that the gentiles were bound to. This passage states several things:

-First off, James states that we are not to be bound by the laws of the "religious elite" because we couldn't keep up with them before Christ and we won't be able to now. So he makes it clear that the phariseeical attitude is not welcome in God's kingdom.
-Second, he states 4 things that are common in that day and age, and that are unacceptable to God. 2 of them are still pretty common nowadays, but the blood and things strangled aren't in our culture. There was a practice in those days of drinking blood in pagan religious ceremonies that we don't face a whole lot of today. I am aware that there are some small satanist cults in North America that practice this, but it is not mainstream and, for the most part, goes unnoticed by society. James also sets a constraint against strangled meat as the blood is still in it and this is another of the pagan witchcraft practices.
-He then states that Moses is taught in the synagogues everywhere as it is, and the new converts don't need further condemnation brought on them by people that are well-meaning but wrong.
-Lastly, the apostles condemn and disown those that told the newly saved gentiles that they had to keep the law. It is clear from the original text that the gentiles were saved by faith in the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Therefore, the apostles had no wish to cancel out the wondrous work of God in the gentile nations. It is important to note that the law was only given to the Israelites...not to other nations. As well, it was not given in the beginning to Adam and Eve, therefore is not incumbent upon all humanity. We must always remember that the Old Testament is mostly a history of the Israelites and points to the Cross as the place where the old would be replaced by a new and better covenant.

With all this in mind, I woke up this morning with something bothering me in no small way. 8 months ago I asked God to show me the truth about Him, and about right and wrong. Well, He is. The Ten Commandments are fairly well known, and the one that really bothered me this morning was "Thou shalt not steal". The reason it is bothering me is because of software and music piracy by people claiming to be living for God. Software and music piracy are defined as "the taking and using of copyrighted or patented material without authorization or without the legal right to do so" (http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/piracy.html). In short, software and music piracy are the THEFT of the intellectual property of someone else. I brought this up once while still attending a UPCI cult, and was scoffed at by a member of the "pastor's" family. The attitude was that "we are not of this world and not bound by it's laws". The actual statement that was made is: "It's only spiritual jaywalking so who cares?" Well let me put this in perspective: If I write a book, then someone else plagiarizes it, they cn be put in jail as well as sued civilly. If I steal your car, then I'm going to jail. If your neighbour comes over and takes your lawnmower out of your shed without your permission, and uses it to cut his lawn, he can be charged with trespassing as well as theft. Theft is theft.

The FBI actually had to create an entire task force dedicated to the fight against the piracy of music, motion pictures, and software. The RCMP has a parallel task force. In Britain, the police have a similar setup. This isn't "spiritual jaywalking", it's a flagrant breaking of one of God's moral standards, and even goes against what He said in person in Matthew: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39) and likens to the commandment to love God with all your heart soul and mind. This puts great emphasis on what we call the "golden rule". As well, the Bible tells us to obey the laws of our country as long as they don't break the laws of God. So if you break a law, you just rebelled against the Bible.

I guess in summation I will say this: I don't pirate software, music, or motion pictures. I have in the past, and this morning I repented of it. I am deleting and destroying anything I find that is pirated, and I suggest that you do the same. I thank God for His mercy and love.'

God Bless you

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Thieves On The Cross

I was reading about baptism today specifically relating to the thief that asked for eternal life on the cross versus the one that didn't. I was reminded of a statement made by a former pastor of mine over the pulpit: "Was Jesus stating that the thief would be saved? or sarcastically throwing it in his face?" The argument was that because the thief had railed against Christ, that Jesus may have been scorning this man and that the verse could have been a rhetorical question based in sarcasm. If you end the verse with a question mark, it becomes a question that would seem to indicate that Jesus was telling the man that He (Jesus) would be in paradise, but He wouldn't be seeing the thief there.

But let's examine the scripture: Luke 23:32-43
"32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

If you notice, the thief doesn't rail on Jesus, but in fact REBUKES the other thief. Then he makes an honest confession and acceptance of responsibility. Also notice that he doesn't ask for earthly deliverance as the other thief demands as a sign, but rather asks for eternal hope...something requiring faith in Jesus as God. Also notice that the signs that accompanied Christ's death on the cross that so affected the Centurion have not happened yet, so the thief has no earthly sign to motivate him.

Thus, Jesus accepts the prayer as sincere and honest and grants the fellow forgiveness...something He had done in the past with others and SOMETHING HE HAD JUST FINISHED PRAYING THE FATHER FOR IN REGARDS TO THOSE THAT CRUCIFIED HIM. He doesn't ask the thief what his theological views are, whether or not he's been baptized, or even whether he understands God. He simply says YES. This is the God of mercy that died on the cross.

I read a paper on a website that deals with whether or not salvation can be had without baptism, and this was one of the scriptures they used. They basically said that the man MAY have been baptized by John, and so had that part of the "Plan of Salvation" covered. But I ask this: if, as according to them, he was baptized by John, and John's baptism was temporary and only in effect during his life and the life of Jesus (they set two different limits depending where they are in the article....typical), then the thief would have been lost the instant that Jesus died on the cross as John the Baptist was already dead and beheaded. The baptism would have been out of force.

However, if we recognize that this apparent vagueness only exists in the English as a cultish, fear mongering, power hungry attempt to induce people to believe a heresy regarding water baptism, then we can see that the original Greek never has this problem. Those verses in the original Greek do not offer the possibility of changing punctuation to fit your mood. It's just another example of UPCI buffet Bible church mentality that is so damaging to those seeking the true God.

Rightly divide the word people; don't accept some self-proclaimed "pastor's" nonsense and let him put questions in your mind about the abundant mercy and grace of our Lord and Saviour.

God Bless you

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leavng a Cult

I am not posting on a specific scripture today, but, rather, a collection of thoughts I've had and statements made by people both in and out of the UPCI. I don't honestly think that someone that has never lived, breathed, and absolutely believed in a belief system created by, and propagated by a cult can ever truly understand the complexity of emotions and feelings that a person leaving such an organization feels. Having been born and raised in a cult, I was indoctrinated from the very earliest possible days, with teachings and beliefs that go against everything the Bible says. Yes the Bible is the reference that was used, but in a twisted, non-Christian way.

As children, we were taught that we were going to hell (which is true) and that we had to receive the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (absolute perfect statement of what the UPCI teaches). The problem with this is that we were taught the judgement and fear of God before we were taught the mercy and grace of God. This, coupled with the constant repetition of the impending return of Christ, creates a spirit and feeling of abject terror in the mind of a young child. Instead of fearing the monster in the closet, a child fears Jesus Christ Himself as the harbinger of eternal damnation. I can remember waking up in absolute terror that the trumpet had rang because we lived beside a highway when I was young and, occasionally, a truck would blow the air horn at an animal in the road.

Even church wasn't a pleasurable or exciting experience to be looked forward to, because I knew that I would be reminded of what was waiting for me when God came back. The UPCI pastor would talk about repentance and damnation without ever mentioning the word mercy. I can count on one hand the times I heard messages by UPCI preachers that were about God's grace and mercy without the inevitable stick of God's wrath and judgement. God was inevitably portrayed as the line in the movie Dogma says: a guy that lives thousands of miles away and is just waiting for us to do something wrong so He can spank us.

When I finally experienced the "UPCI" salvation, I was 14 years old, and I can remember thinking only hours later "there has to be more". I had been given an expectation of exceeding joy and peace and absolute empowerment that didn't click at that point. I spent the next 3 1/2 years attempting to live the teachings, standards, and beliefs of the UPCI, but without success. I was always on this never ending treadmill of sinning-repenting-sinning-repenting-repeat ad nauseum. To top it off, doctrines would change, standards would be loosened in some areas, tightened in others, and the pastor's family did things that were obviously against scriptures in the Bible (gossip, tale bearing, railing accusations without evidence, all out hypocrisy). In a situation like that, how do you know what's right and wrong?

My wife was raised LDS and she once said to me (about that cult): "If new revelations to the prophet do away with other revelations and scriptures, then how do you ever have assurance of salvation because the standard can change at any time?" The same can be said about the UPCI in that the "standard" changes from church to church, minister to minister, and even year to year under the same pastor in a church. I can give names of UPCI licensed ministers that set standards of dress as heaven or hell (everything is heaven or hell in a UPCI church because the pastor is the law and if you disobey him you are rebellious etc) and then changed those standards when their children grew up, when their wives put pressure on them, and even when circumstance forced them to do something against their own standard. These men then ended up looking silly and the people in their churches were still expected to obey and take everything they said as gospel truth. I can talk about men that preach that we are to hold fast what they teach us as "their" saints using the references of 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Timothy 1:12-14, but who also hold teachings contrary to what they were taught by their own pastors. If we are supposed to believe everything we are taught by these men, but they can't keep their family in line with the Bible and don't teach what they were taught (the UPCI claims to be the original church but their doctrines change from generation to generation...), then how do they justify even getting in the pulpit?

So being raised in this with the fear of judgement and the belief that we have to hold all the standards of men has left a very bitter taste in my mouth...especially when the organization I was raised in can't even agree among themselves as to what the standards should be. Since leaving, my wife and I have tolerated the comments and judgements of wilfully misled reprobates that refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the ultimate authority, preferring to accept the word of man as larger than the word of God. It's funny that people who have never attended a UPCI church are far more tolerant and Christian (in the true sense of the word, not just self proclaimed) than the people that claimed to be our spiritual "family". These people my wife and I proclaimed as wrong and misled and deluded while we were in the UPCI have been incredibly kind and forgiving even when we were still saying they were going to hell. They have shown incredible grace and compassion to us in spite of the judgement we heaped on them.

I was recently accused in a text from my ex-pastor's son (pray for him, he's a very nice young man) of having a very "critical spirit". I had sent him a couple texts trying to be friendly and was rebuffed. It's funny that a member of a UPCI church would accuse me of being critical in light of what goes on in their "services" every week. It's true, I am very critical of the UPCI. I have been for quite some time, even while I was still attending one. I had planned on leaving back in January/February, but my wife wanted to stay for a couple conferences and I was hoping that the one conference we went to would renew my faith and show me where I was wrong. So we waited till May to leave, but I was already studying and preparing for the day we left. I learned the critical attitude (one that I now have to pray about almost constantly) from listening to my pastors and other UPCI ministers at conferences and in "revivals". They constantly belittle and deride every other non-Jesus-only organization on the planet as deluded and false. I agree that there are many organizations that are heretical, but there are many many more within the Christian body that aren't. So when that critical attitude was turned against them and their extra-Biblical standards, why were they so upset?

I use scriptural exegesis and logic to show what is wrong with what they teach. I don't just spout off, but I actually examine what scriptures they use in light of the context and other parallel passages. My grandma called me the other night (she's been a huge mainstay in all this for me, and she reads all my posts so HEY GRANDMA, I LOVE YOU :D) and left me a message that said "criticism is the price we pay for moving out of mediocrity". It's true. Whenever someone leaves a false church to find God for real, they have to endure (pretty easy once you get past it) the criticism of people still in that false belief. There are snide comments, arrogant remarks, and the attempt to put down where you are in life. It's funny because they often refer to a "backslider" as a prodigal son, but instead of eagerly looking for the return of that person like the dad in the story, they criticize and attack them.

I was once asked by a member of a UPCI church how I "jump into God's lap so easy". As far back as I can remember, I have been totally in love with God and He is everything I want in life. I have always found it easier than some people seemed to, to talk to God and spend time with Him. There is really nothing more satisfying to me than to talk to God and know He is near. So many times I have been in tough situations in life and just talked to God while going through my day and seen those situations completely resolved within days. It's awesome. I have been so grateful over the past many months that when I asked God to show me the truth, He took me on a roller coaster ride of discovery to bring me to where I am now.

My grandma's pastor said something to me on Sunday when we were passing by about not finding fault. He's right, and I am trying to find the line between finding fault with people, and pointing out and proclaiming hypocritical false doctrine. If I cross the line sometimes, please forgive me in a Christian spirit as my intent is always to point out the wrong doctrines and practices rather than judge the people. The fear that was built into me as a child by the UPCI cult is the reason I sometimes lash out. In reading my Bible and praying, I have found that God really is love and that He doesn't give us a spirit of fear. I believe God will judge the wicked and sinful one day, but in this life I believe we are all called to serve Him and He leaves grace and mercy to lead us all into truth.

Tomorrow or Friday I intend to post on why Acts 2:38 is not the New Testament plan of Salvation, but a statement to the people that crucified Jesus Christ. It will be a pretty strong indictment of the UPCI fundamental doctrine, but it really goes to the root of why they believe they are superior to other organizations. {{{EDIT: I was studying a part of the argument against Acts 2:38 and have been distracted by another topic dealing with the Jewish law and the different sects of Judaism specifically related to John 1:1. I will be addressing Acts 2:38 at some point in the near future, but I intend to continue with the Godhead first as understanding Salvation is foundationally linked to the Godhead before everything else. For those of you that are looking for immediate gratification concerning Acts 2:38, I direct you to the following link for some of the info: http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/acts2.html}}}

God Bless you

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Testament Tithes

Many churches nowadays teach and require their members to pay a "Tithe" of their earnings from jobs or other means to the religious organization they belong to. Most of these organizations that do this pay their ministry out of the tithes and/or offerings that are submitted by the members, and a very few use the monies for the exclusive use of feeding the poor, widowed, orphaned, etc. I was raised in a UPCI congregation, and was taught that 10% (tithe literally means one tenth) belonged to God, and therefore was to be submitted every week or two, depending on my pay schedule. This money was then disbursed by the Pastor at his sole discretion, and that, supposedly, was the way it was supposed to be.

When you are raised being taught something, you will generally accept it as true until you are confronted by someone asking questions. In my case, I was reading an article online, and the author mentioned tithes being used to run the church, with the Pastor's salary coming from the offerings. Of course, if you are familiar with the UPCI format, the opposite is what they teach, with the tithes belonging to the Pastor as his salary, and the offerings being what runs the church (rent, utilities, mortgage, etc).

Having been raised UPCI and attending a
UPCI congregation here in Medicine Hat as an adult, you can imagine my surprise when I heard this other way of doing things. So, in an effort to find out what the truth is, I started reading. There are many many many articles online written by scholars from almost every denomination, sect, and organization on the planet.

Most organizations have a model of a paid clergy. Some encourage giving as Paul did in 1 Corinthians chapters 9 and 16, but don't
necessarily require 10%. Others mandate a minimum 10%. Still other more legalistic ones mandate 10% tithes, with offerings required over and above. Some even more stringent congregations maintain 10% tithes, 5% offerings, and have other amounts that have to be paid or you are ostracized and looked down on. Lastly, some very strict congregations hold to the exact same Old Testament teaching of 10% every year to the Levites, another 10% every year to the Temple for the care of the poor, widowed, and orphaned, and an extra 10% in years 3 and 6 of the 7 year sabbatical cycle to keep the Temple stocked for the charitable work, and to help provide for the 3 feasts totalling 22 days every year that the males of Israel were required to attend. Thus, the people would actually be giving approximately 23.3% to the Temple to be administered by the Levites.

However, the Old Testament Law that required mandatory tithing was done away with twice: first when Jesus lived and died and was raised which removed the yoke that our forefather's couldn't bear (Acts 15:10-11), and second when the Temple was destroyed by invading armies in 70+ AD. Without the Temple, we cannot fulfill the law that required the tithes to be brought to the Temple, therefore the law is done away with. When the Israelites were in captivity they didn't bring tithes....they couldn't. So we have a precedent that when we don't have the Old Testament Temple, we don't bring tithes.

In the New Testament, the word tithe doesn't even appear anywhere as a commandment. It appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke where Jesus is condemning the Pharisees (a breed I wish had died out 2000 years ago but continues to blab away in our day and age) for there ritualistic and silly practices, and in Hebrews where Paul (presumed to be the author of the book) does a fantastic job of showing that the law is of no more effect or requirement, and especially so in chapter 7 where he specifically states the
Levitical priesthood collected tithes, but a new priesthood has been created and ushered in. So if we are no longer under the law, and no more Levitical priesthood exists, who is claiming the right to mandate tithes?

Now, you say: But John, Paul stated that the ministry should be supported by the church in 1 Corinthians. My answer: absolutely. But where does the NT at any point mandate a 10% tithe to belong to the ministry as his/her salary? It simply cannot be shown. It isn't there. If you teach that 10% tithing is mandatory and
Biblically required by the NT church, and belongs to the ministry, you are completely out of line with God's word. Yes the ministry should be supported...but to the extent of their ministry. It all comes back to what a Pastor/Shepherd/Elder is in the Bible, which is completely at odds with what these self appointed Pastors in legalistic organizations state. If you wish to hold to the OT tithing system, then you must hold to the entire OT law. So you better have an appointed (hereditarily chosen by God) priesthood in your organization that also does all the work in the Church/Temple, and does all the ministering, and doesn't have an inheritance, etc. The problem is that we no longer live in a Theocracy. The OT tithing system was God's social tax system to support the Government (Levites), social assistance programs (feeding the poor, widowed, and orphaned etc), and public festivals (feasts). When the Theocracy was no longer the model of government, the tithes were no longer needed.

Yet we still come back to the absolute 10% tithes. As well, a UPCI preacher I know has stated on many occasions that you don't come before God empty handed. This was in reference to offerings. Then he would make comments about 5 and 10 bucks not being very big offerings. This from a guy that claims he is
Biblically entitled to 10% of all monies earned by members of his cult. So, now he is teaching that he is owed (through God of course, because the tithe is for God's ministry, and since he is the minister appointed by God, the tithes are his...blabbety blah blah blah) 10% from each and every penny earned by any living person in his congregation (and gets up to condemn and blast other cults that have monetary requirements). Ridiculous. So now we have to give 10% of our gross income (his teaching), plus offerings (say 20 bucks twice a week to not be in danger of giving too little) so the average house that earns 60,000 a year between 2 income getters, now gives $10160 (if there are two services a week with offerings collected) per year, out of a total of $45600 (approx after taxes) net income, which reduces their entire disposable income to $35440 per year, or $2953 per month. This money then goes to INCREASE the "minister's" salary 500 dollars a month (tithes only, apparently the "pastor" would be entitled to $500 tithes but the House of God is entitled to only $250 offering according to this system). To top it off, these types of "pastors" then claim: "I pay my tithes too you know!" But hang on, if I give money to a fund that belongs to me, then I'm just paying myself...so how does that line up with the Biblical model? The Levites didn't pay themselves tithes. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizidek. So where does the Bible say the ministry pays themselves tithes? It doesn't. Now if they paid tithes to someone else, I would perhaps agree that there's a sacrifice there, but they don't. Absolutely amazing what these guys pull off.

In fairness to the current circumstance, this "pastor" does not get to collect the tithes for personal use as the building they are having meetings in costs more than what comes in as offerings. However, if enough people convert to this cult, then eventually enough would be coming in to support the church on offerings alone. At that point, he could realistically claim his "entitlement" to the 10% tithes, and be making buckets of money: say 20 families (conservative estimate as he thinks he's the only "real" church in his town and wants to convert everyone in the city) all making the above amount of 60000 per year = 1,200,000 gross total
income = 120,000 per year in tithes. Obscene. Jesus had not even a place to lay His head, Paul was a tent maker and died for the Gospel, Peter was a fisherman and was crucified for his adherence to Jesus Christ, but modern day so-called "ministers" are getting rich off the Gospel that Jesus and these men DIED for. Then they get up and preach that we should die to ourselves, all the while living far above the means of many of the people in their congregation.

Often, Acts chapter 5 is used as justification for the mandatory collection of tithes. In this chapter, Ananias and Sapphira were killed because they lied to the Holy Ghost about what was the price they had gotten for the land. This is at a time where people in the early church were selling what they had extra and giving the price of it to be disbursed to those that had need. The sin of Ananias and his wife was not that they gave too little; it was that they said they were giving the entire price of the land when they weren't. They were well within their right (according to Peter) to give less, but they were attempting to gain recognition and status for something they weren't doing. They were being deceitful. Read the story again: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=51&chapter=5&version=9

So that scripture passage doesn't support the tithing model. Paul didn't espouse it, Jesus didn't espouse it as He was the one that did away with the Law....We have no record anywhere of Jesus paying tithes...taxes yes, tithes no.

I guess it comes down to this: what amount should we give to the church? Well that's pretty easy actually. Give what you can. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 - "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." So it says Paul wants a collection "FOR" the saints, not a mandated tithe FROM the saints, and this money would be taken to Jerusalem to help in the ministry of God's word, and FOR the saints that had need. He even says "according to your liberality" not "according to the OT law that you are no longer under but which I use to force you to pay 10% of your gross income with".

We are called to give to support the ministry it is true, and we should support the church we belong to with our funds (how can it exist without them). However, we are not called to make the so-called ministry rich. When you give, pray first, budget, see what you have left after your needs, give up something that is a want rather than a need that month or 2 weeks (depending on your budget) and give that for God to prosper and use in the ministry of His word. Give 10% if you feel that is appropriate. Give more than 10% if you are able. Give less if you aren't. It's possible you may fall under the category of poor, widowed, or orphaned...so then you should be receiving charity from the offerings. But in no circumstance should you be bound by Old Testament law and traditions of men...we are free of it. Jesus did away with the OT law, and if anyone had a right to collect tithes, He did. The law is finished, God doesn't need your money, your church family does. Base your giving on that, rather than someone preaching at you that God wants 10% of your income.

Finally, don't attach yourself to a congregation that has a single person in charge of funds collection and disbursement. Find one that teaches the Bible, lives the NT church model, and has a council of Elders that prays, fasts, and decides the direction of the church. That's Biblical. All else isn't, and is based on traditions of men.

God Bless you


King James Version

Young's Literal Translation





Monday, June 15, 2009


I was recently accused of being spiritually immature. I take that as a good sign, due to to the fact it was someone that is upset I am no longer living phariseeical standards of men. Apparently, the fact that I choose to read my Bible and let it speak for itself is a sign that I am immature. Ah well, no biggie.

The part that DOES bother me is that it's someone that I consider a friend that has said it. It was said in an effort to insult me, although I think I'm beyond being insulted. I've been called backslid, prone to false doctrine, prayerless, etc in the process of leaving the UPCI due to differences in what I was being taught and what the Bible says. It's funny because these are the same people that turn around and tell my wife that I am "articulate and quote scripture well" (their words not mine). I bear these people no ill will in spite of the fact that they obviously don't reciprocate the feeling. The whole point of this blog is to share my discoveries of what and who God really is, without the filters of man made doctrines. It isn't (as I have been accused of) an effort to take potshots at any specific person (if the shoe fits though...), but, rather, the goal is to show the light of God's word to any interested party.

It's true that I have proffered to my ex-pastor the opportunity to email me and I will post his email in it's entirety with the exception of anything the Blogspot Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy prohibit. I will also block the names of anyone that has not provided (to me) written consent to have their names in here. This is an opportunity that he does not allow anyone to have in his pulpit, but I am willing to allow him that liberty. That offer stands firm and will as long as I am the author of this blog.

I have absolutely nothing to hide from anyone as far as my doctrines, my standards (or lack thereof), my beliefs, and my habits (I smoke a Cigar every night while I drink a Scotch or other suitable beverage). That's the point of this blog: to show that the Bible grants us a great deal of liberty because of the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are no longer bound by 613 commandments and the ritualistic washing and cleansing that the Pharisees espoused. We are bound to 10 Commandments, to love our enemies (Jesus said it which is more than good enough for me) and the 4 things that the Apostles bound us to: No drinking of Blood, No eating of things strangled, No Idolatry, and No fornication. To teach otherwise is to miss entirely, the point of the NT. Peter himself said that the law was a yoke our forefathers couldn't bear. Yet legalistic organizations expect us to, once again, put ourselves in that position. The Pharisees added rules and standards to the lesser law because they were attempting to prevent anyone from even coming close to breaking the law. This led to more and more restrictive rules, with more rules added to keep you from breaking those rules, and so on and so on. This is no different than legalistic organizations of today. I have heard it said repeatedly that Doctrines are what's in the Bible, Standards are what aren't. So, going by that, legalistic organizations ADD to the Word of God by creating standards that are supposed to keep us from breaking the law (whose law I'm not sure, because Jesus didn't espouse or condone the Pharisees and their rules), which is precisely what Jesus was mad at the Pharisees about.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with all the rules and regulations of a legalistic organization for one very simple reason: They can't agree even amongst themselves what are and aren't correct standards!!! One Pastor will teach that reading newspapers is a hell-worthy offence (no lie, I actually heard that taught), another will say that rollerskating is, another will say that you have to fast on a specific day of the week or you are rebellious and hell-bound. If all these issues are heaven or hell issues, then why is there not an organization wide ruling on the matter? If they aren't, then why does anyone teach them at all?

I have posted links in previous blogs to stories about UPCI licensed ministers that are caught soliciting homosexual sex in public parks, that are charged with child molestation, and that plead guilty to the continual rape of a young girl. Yet these are men that were allowed to sit in positions of leadership in a legalistic organization that denies (rightfully) all forms of sexual debauchery!!! How can any minister in that organization hold his/her head up with pride and state that they are licensed by such? You wouldn't catch me dead holding a licence with such a group. I am aware that the vast vast vast majority of the UPCI licenced ministers do not have these issues (that we know about, and I refuse to believe there are very many that are still in the closet), but even one bad apple spoils an entire pie. It begs the question: Where was discernment among the "Presbytery" that laid hands on these men and confirmed them to a position that they used to fulfill sexually immoral desires!? How can any right-thinking person have any desire to have this same fellowship confirm THEM as a minister?

They then state "well I wasn't one of those men that were caught or the men that confirmed them"...I know, but you still hold a licence with them. Still in fellowship. If the legalistic model of the church is correct, then where are the men that stand up and publicly (not in a private church group meeting) denounce these men? They feel free to blast the Roman Catholic church as a whole (I don't believe the Roman Catholic church is of God in any way, for the record) for the actions of a comparatively small number of it's "ministers" in regards to children, but they have the same cancer in their own organization.

You simply cannot have it both ways people. God is not mocked. He isn't some old, weak, trembling, senile man sitting in His Heavenly rocking chair wondering what to do about the state of this world. He sits on His throne trying to draw all men to Him, and the legalistic, extra-Biblical, judgemental standards and attitudes of the so-called Jesus-only movement causes more people to stay away from God than to ever come to a place of communion with Him. I am reminded of a song that most Oneness people will know, and here is a verse from it:

They call us Holy Rollers,
they're always poking fun,
but thank God I've got the Holy Ghost,
and spoke with other tongues,
Cause I know God is God,
and God don't never change,
I know God is God,
and Jesus is His name.

This is totally indicative of the level of exclusivity and judgement that the oneness movement is proud of. They are so proud of their long hair, long sleeves, long dresses, and "other tongues", that they fail to see the true nature of Jesus Christ. For instance: Where did Jesus ever speak in unknown tongues? He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, He washed the feet of the Apostles, and He is the firstfruits of the Resurrection...but He didn't speak in other tongues. Oh, you say "the Holy Ghost hadn't been poured out yet, and tongues are the evidence of being filled with the Holy Ghost". I ask you then: Why did John the Baptist never speak in tongues? He was full of the Holy Ghost from birth... If Jesus wasn't providing us with an example to follow, then what WAS He doing? If we are to fulfill all righteousness as He did, then why do "Holy Rollers" add to what He did? If the word "Christian" literally means "Christ-like", then why are we expected and taught to live standards of men and be bound to things Jesus Himself didn't do? When the woman caught in adultery was forgiven, why didn't Jesus say "Go thy way and sin no more, and make sure you don't wear short sleeves, drink alcohol (except cough medicine), smoke Cigars, and you better be in church 4 times a week or you're gonna burn!!!"?

I choose to follow Jesus, not a man-made, legalistic, uninspired, old-boys club. I hope you do the same. I do believe in church attendance and fellowship. I also believe that we are free to choose where to attend as long as they teach the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, so help them God.

"Beware lest anyone rob you through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

I am including a link to another website that I found. I don't espouse everything this man says, but he is very intelligent, and has spent much time like myself in the Word of God trying to find answers. His experiences are typical of legalistic organizations, and I hope that you can be helped by reading his material: http://codybateman.org is the website. He has an article entitled "To hell with church" at: http://codybateman.org/2009/01/23/pastors-2/ He is a bit more militaristic in his feelings than I am, but it's not surprising in view of what he's been through. I have learned a great deal from reading his material.

God Bless you

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Religion and Spirituality

Lightning over the outskirts of Oradea, Romani...Image via Wikipedia

Leaving a UPCI church can be incredibly scary. I know, because I've done it twice. All the way home you expect the ground to open up or a lightning bolt to strike you dead. After all the things you've been conditioned to expect, you are absolutely certain that God is going to kill you for rebelling against the "man of God", and you keep expecting it to happen. Of course, it never does, and eventually you realize that something doesn't add up. As you go on with life, you believe that it is God's mercy that is prevailing against His judgement, and then, eventually, something scares you into returning to some un-Biblically legalistic church.

The hope is, of course, that by doing so, you are fulfilling the story of the Prodigal son that returned to his father's house and to a place of provision and blessing. We hear this story many times over the course of a lifetime in a UPCI church, but it is never actually explained according to the actual meaning of the Parable. Jesus was not talking about someone that left an earthly organization and went to a different one. At the time, there were two basic religious groups in God's eyes: His backslid lost people, and the rest of the world which were heathens or gentiles. The Gospels make it clear that He did not come back only for the Jews, but also for all the people that were outside the covenant. The entire purpose of His coming to earth to dwell among men, was to make possible the return of the entire human race to a place of love and communion with God. So when we hear this taught as an example of someone "backsliding" from a legalistic church and returning, we ought to grit our teeth in disgust. This story is the third in what is commonly referred to as a "trilogy" (oh look, three again...legalistic oneness groups hate when there are 3's in the Bible :D) of parables regarding God's joy and love in heaven for the lost. If we read the parable in the context of the passage, we see that it is more aptly applied to the lost humanity of the world than it is to a single person:

-someone decided to do their own thing and left the place of blessing = Adam and Eve in the garden
-they then spent everything they had on pleasures of the world without regard for the loss of God in their life = the gentile nations of the world that didn't worship God
-they came to their senses and decided to beg for mercy from their father...God is the Father of all creation = the gentile nations that have now come to believe and worship God
-the father said, not so, you will be heirs once again of promise and blessing = God pours out His Spirit on ALL flesh
-elder son was upset because he had been faithful (according to him) the whole time and felt he was being gypped = Jews didn't recognize that Jesus came to save the world, not set up an earthly kingdom for them

The parables in this passage make it plain that the joy in heaven is God rejoicing, not the angels. It does not say anywhere that the angels are joyous, rather it states that "there is joy in the PRESENCE of the angels" (caps mine). The only way for there to be joy in the presence of the angels is for God to be rejoicing as He is the only one in the presence of the angels. If it were the angels that were rejoicing, then the Bible would read that there was joy in the COMPANY of the angels. I believe the angels are happy when God is happy, but the important thing is that God Himself rejoices when lost sheep come back to Him.

To apply any of these parables to someone that leaves a church organization of any kind, then returns to the same, is to apply very poor Biblical knowledge and understanding of God Himself. Let the Bible speak for itself. The father in this parable is God, not a church group. God is our covering, not an organization. You can attend many different organizations and still serve the one true living God of eternity. Ephesians 4:5 says there is "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism". There is one FAITH not one church group or set of standards. Faith towards the God of the Bible. Any other faith is counterfeit. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Word made Flesh, that He died for your sins and rose again, that He is the ONE Lord, and that you are baptized into His love, then you are in complete accordance with the scripture. There is no reason to make that scripture say any more than it already does.

God Bless you, and I hope you enjoyed the picture I added for the fun of it
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]