- SOCIETY & LIFESTYLES
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Similar in style to our “Seven Questions” articles, this three-part series analyzes 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.
Millions talk about the “love of God”—and believe they love Jesus. Sunday sermons are filled with the subject. How does Jesus define love?
Millions are aware of John 3:16, perhaps the most recited verse in the Bible. Is there a hidden element in this verse indicating that human beings do not have immortal souls?
Millions believe Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday—two days later. Did Jesus teach He would be in the grave for three full days?
Millions believe that tithing is no longer in effect. Ministers teach that Jesus never mentioned it in the New Testament. But is there a verse in which Jesus specifically addresses tithing?
And millions of professing Christians assume they are “saved” upon being “born again”—and that their salvation cannot be lost. Did Jesus teach otherwise?
As was the case in Part 1, be prepared to learn things very few ministers accurately teach and very few people truly understand!
If you are one of the roughly two billion people who profess to be Christian, and someone asked whether you love Jesus Christ, you would no doubt answer yes. But what would you do if asked to prove it? What solid evidence would you provide?
To most, love is little more than a feeling, a vague idea that cannot be properly defined. Ask 100 people to define love and you will receive 100 different responses—everything from a feeling in the heart to just “doing good” to others. Diversified ideas occur because few consult the only source that provides an absolute definition.
Notice how the Bible defines love: “Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).
What law? The Law of God—as expressed overall in the Ten Commandments! The Bible defines love as obedience to God’s laws. It is that simple. There is no ambiguity or confusion whatsoever! Yet those who profess to be Christian are confused about, or ignorant of, the true definition of love.
Also read I John: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (5:3). Many who claim to have love believe that God’s Commandments are grievous. But God clearly states they are not! The apostle Paul called the Law of God “holy, and just, and good…spiritual” (Rom. 7:12, 14).
The first four Commandments—not serving false gods, not making or worshipping images (idols) of God, not taking God’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath—reveal how to love God; the remaining six—honoring one’s father and mother, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not bearing false witness, and not coveting—reveal how to love other human beings. When one obeys the Law of God, he automatically shows love—toward God and toward others. And it is easily verifiable that one is showing love either toward God or others because action is required in obeying God.
When one obeys any of the last six commandments, he—whether knowingly or not—is outwardly indicating love toward his fellow human beings. Consider the seventh commandment for a moment. Though an ever-increasing number of people are breaking it, most would agree that committing adultery is not showing love toward one’s spouse. Few, if any, would suggest otherwise. Think of the devastation that results: broken trust, broken marriages, broken homes, broken relationships with children, etc. By not committing adultery, a man or woman shows love toward their spouse.
Similarly, when a person obeys any of the first four commandments, he is showing love toward God. Sadly, however, most do not live according to these commandments—and thus do not truly love God, despite what they may proclaim.
Jesus knew full well that most only profess with their mouths that they love Him—but their hearts are far from obeying Him (Matt. 15:18). This is why He said, “If you love Me, keep [obey] My commandments” (John 14:15). Six verses later, He added, “He that has My commandments, and keeps them, He it is that loves Me” (vs. 21). Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “He who professes He loves Me—yet breaks My commandments—is He who loves Me.”
What about you? Do you believe Jesus’ plain words that, to truly love Him, you must be obedient—you must keep His commandments—which requires action? Or will you believe the smooth, cunning words of false ministers who teach that it is not necessary to obey God—despite Jesus’ plain statements to the contrary?
To learn more about love, you will want to read our article “Love – What It Is and Is Not.”
One could make a case that this is the most popular verse in Scripture. Seemingly, everyone is able to quote it verbatim, even those who are not familiar with the Bible. This verse is usually mentioned in the context of explaining the love that God has for mankind. He sacrificed His Son so billions of human beings would have an opportunity to receive eternal life.
But most fail to notice a subtle point in this verse: Human beings do not possess immortal souls!
The vast majority of professing Christians believe that within every individual is an immortal soul that goes either to heaven or hell upon death. Most ministers, evangelists and religionists speak of “when we all get to heaven” or the “reality of an ever-burning hell” waiting to eternally roast those who do not “give their hearts to the Lord.”
What most fail to recognize is that if human beings possess immortal souls, then it means they already have eternal life! But Jesus said that “whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). There is a definitive contrast in this statement between perishing and eternal life.
How is it possible that human beings could perish if they have immortal souls? The answer: impossible! Otherwise, Jesus’ statement in John 3:16 is not sensible. Why state that His death and resurrection opens the door to eternal life if everyone already has it within them?
Those who do not believe in Jesus—which means those who fail to submit to His authority over their lives, who reject the Law of God—will perish for eternity! They will not be given eternal life. See Revelation 21:8.
Notice that Romans 6:23 also contrasts death from eternal life: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is in perfect harmony with John 3:16.
The Greek word translated from “perish” is apollumi, which means “to destroy fully, to die, lose, perish.” There is no doubt what these words mean. “Perishable” items, such as fruits and vegetables, are those that rot—until they are “fully destroyed” or “lost.” This is not hard to understand when one is talking about anything other than a human being. Those who receive salvation are promised that they “should not perish” but “have everlasting life”!
If hell was a place of eternal torture, then the people suffering there have eternal life. But John 3:16 says, “should not perish,” which does not mean “should not suffer eternal life in torment.” If it did, then the rest of the verse—“but have everlasting life”—would not make sense.
Have you ever thought about John 3:16 in this light?
Of course, some will say that the words “perish” and “death” do not mean we cease from being alive. Rather, they contend we are simply alive somewhere else, either in heaven or hell, despite plain biblical teaching to the contrary. See Psalm 146:3-4, 115:17 and Ecclesiastes 9:5.
This article does not permit an examination of all the clear verses indicating what happens upon death. For much more detail, read Is There Life After Death? and What Is Your Reward in the Next Life?
Every spring, the world of professing Christianity celebrates the Good Friday/Easter tradition. Millions put on their “Sunday best” and attend Easter morning services to supposedly honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The commonly held view is that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on Sunday.
Yet in Matthew 12:40, Jesus said that He would be in the grave for three days and three nights—a total of 72 hours—just as the prophet Jonah. Can we be sure that Jesus meant three full days?
Jonah 1:17 plainly says, “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Most scholars acknowledge that this Hebrew phrase must mean a 72-hour period. Without getting into specifics, there is no room for any “approximations of time” theories in the Hebrew.
Jesus said His time in the grave would be “as Jonah.” The word “as” means there is a comparison. In other words, just like Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three entire days, Jesus was to be in the grave for three entire days. This comparison does not allow one to “negotiate” the meaning of the Greek, as some like to do, since the Hebrew phrase can only mean three full days.
Did Jesus understand the length of a “day” or the length of a “night”?
He did! In John 11:9, He asked, “Are there not twelve hours in a day?”
In several places, the Bible mentions that Jesus rose “the third day.” How long was this? The first half of the creation chapter, Genesis 1:4-13, plainly states that God “divided the light from darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. And the evening [darkness] and the morning [light] were the first day…And the evening [darkness] and the morning [light] were the second day…And the evening [now three periods of darkness called night—three nights] and the morning [now three periods of light called day—three days] were the third day.”
This is the Bible’s definition of the length of time accounted for within the phrases “the third day” and “three days and three nights.” It spanned three periods of darkness and three periods of light. Six times 12 hours equals 72 hours!
Why then do so many believe that Jesus was dead for less than 48 hours? How is it that intelligent, well-educated Bible scholars seem to “know” that Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday? What is it about Christ’s clear, straightforward statement they cannot accept?
The answer lies in the comfort of long-held—but clearly false—traditions!
To learn much more on the timing of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, read our booklet Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday and reprint article “Christ’s Crucifixion Was Not on Friday.”
Most professing Christian churches teach that, among other laws of God, Jesus abolished tithing. The thinking is that tithing was an Old Covenant law, and Jesus’ death supposedly freed us from such “harsh, legalistic rules and regulations.” Many will cite a lack of a clear tithing command in the New Testament as proof it is no longer in effect.
In Matthew 23, Jesus does give a clear command to tithe! But most overlook it. In verse 23, when Jesus said, “and not to leave the other undone,” He meant that the Pharisees were correct in tithing—and should continue to do so! In other words, tithing is still in effect! Notice that Jesus did not say, “These [judgment, mercy and faith] ought you to have done, and not concern yourselves with the other [tithing].”
The argument is often raised that this verse teaches tithing is not important—that it is least among God’s laws. But verse 23 does not state this. It merely states that the Pharisees neglected weightier aspects of God’s Law. Jesus was pointing out to the Pharisees that they should have been as meticulous in areas of faith, mercy and rendering proper judgments as they were in tithing. A careful reading of the verse and context reveals Jesus was not saying that tithing is “unimportant,” as many claim.
Within God’s Law, there are small and large points. Some commands carry more “weight” than others. Jesus clearly acknowledges this. If one were to assign importance to tithing compared to judgment, mercy and faith, the latter are indeed more important in building God’s holy, righteous character, which is necessary for entering the kingdom of God. But this does not mean tithing and all other “lesser” laws are of no value or no longer binding!
Jesus explained that tithing is something that people must not “leave undone”!
In Matthew 24, Jesus gave an extraordinary prophecy of what His Church would be doing at the end of the age. Notice: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (vs. 14).
Taking the true gospel to the world (doing “the Work,” as it is often called) requires money. God’s Church must continually hire more staff to perform the many functions of running a growing worldwide organization. It publishes a vast number of booklets, magazines and other types of literature, teaching God’s truth. Also, the true Church has members around the world who need to be fed the spiritual truth of God by faithful ministers and elders (John 21:15-16; Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:2). The number of those whom God is calling is expanding and will continue to expand as the age draws to a close.
Yet both preaching the gospel and feeding the flock require money!
It is through the biblical principle of tithing that God finances His Work and feeds His flock. This is how He finances all that He does. Doing His Work is how He chooses to spend His tithe. Without tithes, there would be no Work—no good news of the soon-coming kingdom of God being announced to the entire world!
For much more on tithing, read End All Your Financial Worries. This thorough booklet will clear up any misconceptions you may have about this most crucial subject and help you determine to whom God’s tithes should be given.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Once saved always saved”? It is a common saying in the realm of traditional Christianity. The belief is that once a person acknowledges Jesus as their Lord and Savior and “accepts Him into their heart,” they are “saved”—their salvation sealed, and on their way to heaven upon death. No matter what a person may do from that point forward, religionists claim his salvation cannot be lost.
Yet Jesus said, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). The end of what? A person’s life! In other words, only those who endure—persevere!—the many tests and trials associated with being a true Christian either until the end of their lives or the Return of Christ will be saved—and no one else! According to Jesus, salvation does not occur at the moment of conversion, but culminates at the end of one’s life.
Contrary to popular belief, a Christian can lose salvation. He can be truly converted—receive the Holy Spirit—and then spiritually “abort.” This is because salvation is a process, not a moment.
Romans 6:23 explains that the wages of sin is death. At repentance, baptism and conversion, a Christian is forgiven by the blood of Christ and is immediately saved from the penalty of past sins. In one sense, it can be said that the person has been “saved,” at that precise moment, from death.
But this is not the end of the story. There are two more applications of when and how a person is saved.
The second way is the most obvious—receiving eternal life—the pinnacle of salvation. This occurs at the resurrection of the dead in Jesus (I Cor. 15:50-55; I Thes. 4:13-18), upon His Return. This is to occur in the future!
But no one receives eternal salvation now. All must first undergo a life of trial, testing, learning, growing and overcoming, thus building the very character of God!
The third way one is saved is that he is “being saved”—a process that occurs throughout his lifetime. Many verses reveal that spiritual begettal of the Holy Spirit does not mean one will automatically receive salvation. Only a careless reading of the Bible would indicate this. To believe that salvation is complete upon conversion is to ignore all of the scriptures clearly indicating that salvation can be lost, such as Hebrews 10:26-27 and I Corinthians 9:24-27, among many others.
Consider. If human beings are saved at the moment of conversion, then what would be the point of continuing to live? Why would God not immediately take you directly to whatever is the afterlife after you “accept the blood of Jesus”? Furthermore, why would God inspire a book—the Bible—that is thousands of words? The Bible would only need to be a sentence or two. And why all the scriptures about striving against sin?
Will you believe Jesus’ plain statement that you must endure to the end to be saved?
Be sure to read our booklet Just What Is Salvation? to gain the complete picture on salvation, and learn why most are deceived.