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In this three-part series, similar in style to our “Seven Questions” articles, we will analyze 14 statements made by Jesus Christ, found in the Bible. Some are well-known; others are overlooked. Hundreds of millions who claim to be Christian assume they understand and therefore accept—believe!—these statements, but the reality is that virtually no one does.
Do not allow yourself to discount this series or any of its explanations simply because you are accustomed to a particular belief system, even one you have held your entire life. And do not permit your minister to use shallow assertions or smooth “answers” (or non-answers) to dismiss this series. Instead, diligently investigate in the pages of your own Bible what is stated herein, and ask God for understanding. Throw aside all preconceived ideas. Be like the Bereans in the book of Acts, who “received the word [Paul’s preaching] with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Recognize that a three-article series cannot address every conceivable issue pertaining to each of these 14 statements. To gain a fuller picture of each, it is imperative you study the referenced literature. This material will expound upon each subject in thorough detail.
In our “Seven Questions” series, we addressed 14 questions ministers do not want to be asked. Based upon numerous letters we received from our readers, we have found that many, including ministers, hastily jump to conclusions before thoroughly reading a particular explanation in its entirety, with some assuming their church agrees with our positions, when this is not the case. It is evident that few took the time to study the literature referenced in both articles—or even to read each article closely.
Consider. Millions call Jesus “Lord,” which means “Master.” But how many truly view Him as their Master?
Millions worship Jesus according to what is commonly taught, without thoroughly proving it from their Bibles. But what did Christ say about “traditions of men”?
Millions observe Sunday, believing it to be “the Lord’s Day.” But what did Jesus say about the Sabbath?
Millions believe Christians are not to judge. Did Jesus say otherwise? If so, how are they to judge?
And millions believe they are “born again”—but are they? Or is one born again later, at another time?
Be prepared to learn things very few ministers accurately teach and very few people truly understand!
Jesus asked this question near the conclusion of His well-known Sermon on the Mount. Have you ever deeply considered it? Have you ever asked yourself whether Jesus is talking directly to you? Or do you assume He is talking to others?
More than two billion people refer to Jesus as Lord, and many more have done so throughout the past 2,000 years. By calling Jesus Lord, they are saying He is their Master, whether knowingly or not. Here are the implications: The Greek word translated Lord is kurios, and it means “supreme in authority, controller, master.” Jesus is to have complete control over Christians. He is to be the supreme authority in their lives. He is to be their Master! Just as a servant is subject to his master or a child to his parents, Christians are subject to Christ. As servants (John 13:16), they are not permitted to choose to obey commands that are convenient for them, and disregard the rest. They are to obey His commands—all of them!
Countless numbers profess Jesus to be their Master, yet the reality is that almost none treat Him as One having authority over their lives. (This article will explain the many commandments of God that people disobey.) Few yield to His commands—few really obey Him. Though millions call Jesus their Lord, their actions demonstrate He is not. Most do little more than pay lip service to Christ. (More on this later.)
This is why Jesus asked, “Why call you Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). He is asking why individuals profess Him to be their Master, and as such accept His authority over their lives, but do not do—obey—believe—His words. They fail to properly acknowledge Him as their Master by doing what He says.
In verses 47-48, Christ explains the wisdom in hearing His words and doing them. (Keep in mind that these verses immediately follow Jesus asking why people call Him Master but do not obey Him.) “Whosoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock [Jesus Christ].”
In verse 49, however, Jesus shows the folly of hearing His words and not doing them. “But he that hears, and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
Not believing—or obeying—Christ is likened to foolishly building a house on shifting sand: Eventually, the disobedient, like the house, will fall. When storms (trials and temptations) come, they will not stand.
Sadly, most people are building their houses upon sand. They neither believe nor obey Jesus Christ. What about you? Are you obedient to the words of Christ? Are you sure?
To learn more about why obedience is necessary, read The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation? and What Is True Conversion?
Just prior to this statement, in verses 1-5, the Pharisees noticed Jesus’ disciples eating food with unwashed hands. They, seemingly innocently, asked, “Why walk not Your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” (7:5).
The Pharisees were extremely meticulous in regard to washing items used in consuming food, such as their hands, cups, bowls, pots, utensils, etc. Over the years, they added numerous regulations—traditions—to God’s commandments, statutes and precepts. These traditions sometimes even superseded the laws of God, though He never authorized this.
Cutting to the heart of the matter, Jesus responded, “Well has Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (7:6-7).
This is quite an indictment of the religious elite! Jesus stated that the Pharisees professed to worship God with their lips, but inside they were far from Him. He realized they were not looking for an explanation. Instead, they sought an opportunity to accuse Him and His disciples of breaking tradition—or “commandments of men.” Christ’s disciples were not breaking any laws of God, yet the Pharisees acted as if this were the case. As such, Jesus labeled their worship vain, which means “to no purpose, fruitlessly.”
Do you grasp this? Christ said the Pharisees worship was pointless! They may have believed they were worshipping God, but Jesus revealed otherwise. Their worship was fruitless because they obeyed laws of men rather than laws of God. They were hypocrites because they appeared to be holy men who obeyed God. The “religious authorities” had an outward appearance of religious holiness. But inwardly, they were “full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27).
Jesus further elaborated, saying, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do…Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:8-9).
The Pharisees made the laws of God of no effect by establishing and following man-made traditions. (While God does authorize the use of traditions [II Thes. 2:15], they are never to supplant, or contradict, God’s laws.) Even more so, they rejected God’s commandments. Take a moment to read Mark 7:10-13, in which Jesus gives an example of the Pharisees nullifying the Law of God.
Like these of Christ’s time, today’s “religious elite” reject God’s laws and instead hold to and teach the traditions of men: the trinity, Easter, Christmas, Sunday-keeping, the fallacy that God’s Law has been “nailed to the cross,” tithing is “done away,” among a host of others too numerous to mention. In fact, most of the teachings of orthodox Christianity are man-made! The ministers of this world preach false doctrines and lead people away from God, just like the Pharisees did. If Jesus were alive today, He would indict these ministers in the same manner as the Pharisees!
Ask yourself whether you are worshipping Christ in vain. Do not assume this statement applies to others. Start with the assumption that it applies to you! Investigate why you believe as you do—why you perhaps observe traditions of men, rather than laws of God.
To learn more about common traditions of men, be sure to investigate the extensive website of The Restored Church of God, rcg.org. There, throughout the vast library of material, you will begin to learn the truth of God and what He truly desires. Perhaps begin with God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays? to learn the truth of popular religious holidays. Also, you will want to read an article addressing vain worship that will appear in the next issue of The Real Truth.
Other than perhaps the trinity, no other doctrine is as widely accepted and staunchly defended in the world of traditional Christianity than Sunday-keeping. Though few who profess to be Christian can agree on biblical teachings, they almost always agree that the Saturday Sabbath has been superseded by Sunday worship. To be accepted as a “mainstream Christian,” one generally must keep Sunday, to one degree or another.
If asked which day is the Christian Sabbath, most will answer, “Sunday.” Perhaps they will add, “Sunday is the New Testament Sabbath because Jesus rose from the dead that day. By observing this day, we honor Jesus.” They might even say, “The New Testament speaks of Christians going to Church on Sunday or Revelation 1:10 speaks of the apostle John being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, which is a reference to Sunday.”
Numerous clever arguments exist as to why Sunday is supposedly the day Christians are to assemble together and worship God. This unbiblical practice has been in effect so long—over 1,600 years—and is so common that few are able—or willing—to recognize clear scriptures that reveal the true Sabbath day, and its permanence. Most start with Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” and then search for verses to support this idea—if they study at all—rather than beginning with an open mind and searching for clear passages on the subject, of which there are many. Even a quick study of the topic, with an open mind, will reveal the truth of the matter. Sadly, however, most are too steeped in this popular “tradition of men” to leave its grasp.
For those who read the Bible, how many times have you glossed over Mark 2:27-28? Or perhaps, with the Sunday fallacy as your basis, you have erroneously assumed this statement means that since He is Lord (or Master) of the Sabbath, Jesus must have changed it from Saturday to Sunday. Be honest with yourself.
Jesus’ statement that He is “Lord of the Sabbath” is simple to understand when one considers who created the Sabbath day. As the Creator of all things (Col. 1:16), Jesus sanctified the Sabbath after re-creating the earth, as seen in the book of Genesis: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work” (2:2-3).
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath because He created it, and set it aside as a day of rest! No scripture even hints that He set aside Sunday, which is why He did not say He is “Lord of Sunday”—or any other day.
Do not allow shallow arguments to persuade you that the Sabbath was “only for the Jews” or that Christ “did away with it”! It has been in effect—as holy time—since the foundation of the world. Man does not have the authority to establish or take away time that God has set aside as holy.
Many will argue that they keep the Sabbath “in their hearts” or “in Jesus.” Similar to other physical realities, such as the kingdom of God, they spiritualize away the Sabbath.
Considering that the Sabbath is a day of rest, ask yourself, how is it possible to keep the Sabbath, even “in the heart,” while performing daily duties? Can you keep the Sabbath while running a marathon? While building a home? Or while performing any other activity? Of course not. Read Exodus 20:8-11. This human reasoning allows a person to obey the Sabbath as he or she sees fit—rather than as God commands! What He desires is not part of their thinking. They make the Law of God of no effect—just like the Pharisees!
Some might cite the account in Matthew 12 (a parallel account of Mark 2:23-28) as proof that Jesus did away with the Sabbath. Yet Christ was trying to make clear that it is lawful for a person to satisfy immediate hunger on the Sabbath, as David did, even though it was not lawful for anyone other than the Levites to eat the showbread (I Sam. 21:1-6).
The Pharisees concocted numerous man-made regulations governing the Sabbath that made it a burden on people rather than a blessing. This is what Christ condemned, not the day itself. How do we know? Because “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, Christ created the Sabbath day for man to enjoy. He did not create man for the Sabbath to enjoy. The Sabbath is to serve man, not the other way around! However, the Pharisees—who were not authorized to amend God’s laws—made the Sabbath into a day for man to serve; thus it became a burden.
This is yet another example of Mark 7:7-9. The only difference today is that, rather than making the Sabbath a burden, false ministers have made the Sabbath of no effect! They have jumped to the other extreme.
To gain a complete understanding of the Sabbath, we recommend you thoroughly study the book Saturday or Sunday – Which is the Sabbath? You will be surprised from where the practice of Sunday-keeping originated and who authorized it.
Some will quote Matthew 7:1—“Judge not, lest you be judged”—to claim that it is “unchristian” to identify people’s sins or those that plague a society. How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t judge me” or “Christians are not to judge others”?
Ask yourself, how can a Christian be expected to stay away from people of bad character, as the Bible commands (I Cor. 5:1-5; I Tim. 6:3-6), if he is not allowed to judge their actions—in other words, identify their inappropriate behavior? Also, how could Paul instruct Christians to “mark” and “avoid” divisive people (Rom. 16:17) unless the conduct of such people be examined—unless judgments were made?
The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 comes from the Greek word krino, which can mean “to try, condemn, punish” or “to distinguish, decide.” The context depends upon how the word is used.
The apostle John wrote, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn [krino] the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Yet, Paul used this same Greek word to teach that true Christians are in training to judge the whole world—including angels: “Do you not know that the saints shall judge [krinos] the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall judge [krinos] angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” (I Cor. 6:2-3). Four chapters later, he added, “I speak as to wise men; judge [krinos] you what I say” (I Cor. 10:15). Obviously, Paul did not intend for the Corinthians to condemn his words, but rather to judge—“decide”—whether he was teaching sound doctrine.
When Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” He meant that you can sometimes avoid judgment coming upon yourself by avoiding judging others. This does not mean that Christians are never to judge. Rather, in certain situations, it is better to avoid rendering a judgment—a decision about, an evaluation of, conduct or behavior—lest you bring judgment upon yourself. If you decide to judge, be careful, as whatever standard you use to render a decision will be used on yourself: “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2).
Consider. If Jesus had meant Christians should never judge, period, then He would have contradicted Himself when He said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge [krinos] righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Christ clearly stated that Christians are to judge others. However, we are to use righteous judgment. If a person judges righteously, he will avoid judgment coming upon himself.
The key to understanding John 7:24 is found beginning three verses earlier. Referring to His healing a man on the Sabbath day, to which the Pharisees vehemently objected, “Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and you all marvel.” According to the Pharisees, healing on the Sabbath was considered work, so they accused Him of breaking the Sabbath.
In verses 22-23, Jesus continues His discourse: “Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision…and you on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. [According to the Law of Moses, a male child was to be circumcised eight days after being born, which would sometimes fall on the Sabbath.] If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at Me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day?”
The Pharisees constantly accused Christ of deviating from the Law of Moses. They claimed to uphold this law down to the last jot and tittle. Jesus used this to His advantage and asked them why they considered it lawful to circumcise a child on the Sabbath, but unlawful to make “a man every whit whole”? Christ pointed out the hypocrisy of such “logic.” (Recall the example we examined earlier concerning Mark 2:27-28.)
This brings us to verse 24: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Jesus said this to the Pharisees in this context because they were judging his actions according to sight, and not by God’s Law. In other words, they used human reasoning rather than God’s standard of righteousness, defined by His Law! Thus, they brought judgment upon themselves!
While Jesus was in the flesh, He too had to rely on God to judge righteously: “I can of My own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me” (John 5:30). Since the Pharisees were not seeking the will of God and were not obeying His commandments, they could not judge correctly.
Finally, consider Christ’s statement in John 8: “You judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me” (vs. 15-16). These verses reveal that Jesus did not judge after the flesh or according to sight. Instead, He judged righteously, because He relied on the Father, just as Christians are to do. The Father did the judging through Jesus. But this occurred only because Jesus sought the Father’s will and obeyed Him, as Christians are to do.
Like so many of the Bible’s teachings, the subject of judging is widely misunderstood. This is because the majority focuses only on Matthew 7:1 and does not take into account the numerous other verses on the subject. Again, most fail to put all of the pieces of the large biblical puzzle together (Isa. 28:10).
It is widely taught and believed that, to be a true Christian, one must be “born again” by the Holy Spirit. Millions of professing Christians define themselves as having experienced this “spiritual rebirth,” claiming it occurs when an individual accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. Being born again is reduced to a spiritual feeling that supposedly occurs at conversion, rather than an actual “real life” birth. A series of statements spoken by Jesus in the book of John is used to support this popular teaching.
In an exchange with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is clear that for a person to see God’s kingdom, he must be born again. There is no other way.
This idea of being born again confused Nicodemus. He could not understand how a human being could experience a second birth, as verse 4 indicates: “Nicodemus said unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (vs. 4).
This is certainly a fair question, one that would naturally come to mind when learning that a person must be born a second time.
In verse 5, Jesus responded, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Here, Jesus begins to expound upon His statement in verse 3. Rather than merely saying that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God, He explains that a person must be born of water and of the Spirit.
The mention of water in this statement applies to baptism—being fully immersed in water. Baptism symbolizes a person’s old self being buried in a “watery grave.” The person is then raised from the water a new individual and is to live the remainder of his life in obedience to the Father and Jesus Christ. In effect, such a person is “born of water.”
The mention of the Spirit references the moment of being born again, or born of the Spirit. Most people believe this occurs when one supposedly accepts Jesus into his heart. They believe it is possible to be born again and remain a flesh and blood human being.
But notice Jesus’ statement in verse 6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” How clear! This means it is impossible for anyone who is a human being—flesh and blood—to have been born again. Those who are born of the flesh, or of a woman, are flesh—period! But those who are born of the Holy Spirit are Spirit. It is that simple.
To remove all doubt, in verses 7 and 8, Jesus elaborates, “Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
You need not marvel at these words. Jesus compared those who are born again to the wind. We can see and feel the effects of wind—trees swaying, debris being tossed through the air, etc.—but cannot see wind itself. Likewise, when an individual is born of the Spirit, other human beings will not be able to see him, because he will be composed of spirit—not flesh and blood. God is a Spirit and cannot be seen; the same will be true of Christians at the resurrection.
We must ask: Of those who claim to be born again, do you see anyone who is a spirit being? No. They are still flesh! Yet they erroneously assume they are born again, despite Jesus’ plain teaching.
When is one truly born again? At the resurrection of the dead, when Christ returns in full power and glory! “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (I Cor. 15:22-23).
Christians are born again “at His coming”—not before!
Now here is what happens at the resurrection: “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [the moment of Christ’s Return]: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [body from human birth] must put on immortality [divine body at spirit birth]” (vs. 51-53).
Just one verse prior, Paul stated, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (vs. 50). Paul clearly revealed that those who believe they are born again and in the kingdom of God now, while in the flesh, are in error. Human beings cannot inherit the kingdom of God before they have been changed—born again!—into spirit beings.
Will you believe your Bible? Or will you cling to traditions of men?
To learn more on this subject, you will want to read What Does “Born Again” Mean? This extensive booklet thoroughly addresses every vital question you may have about this subject.
In the April issue of The Real Truth, we will look at five more statements from Jesus. We will see what He said about tithing, love, the gift of eternal life versus perishing, how long He would be dead in the grave, and when salvation is achieved. You do not want to miss it!