The Truth... What is it?





COMMANDMENTS

Reflecting the teaching of the Bible, Rev. Tony Evans, of the Urban Alternative in Dallas, Texas, says that the commandments are working like a mirror to show us our sinfulness. To fix our sin, we run to our Savior, Jesus (via the only religion offering a savior). In the "fallen" general condition of all of humanity, sin is like a downward-pulling law of gravity for man. And Jesus is the way [becoming a true Christian] to launch toward superseding that law. Do the rules of your church currently dwell on "straw-man sins" (easy to define & see & easy for the pridefully devout to follow) or do they (1) dwell on the 10 commandments PLUS (2) those others listed below as commands? The Old Testament recounts God's chosen people trying & failing to be righteous & justifying their worthiness before God by obeying...and failing to obey...commands & rules. By the way, Jesus did not call people primarily to make & do churches; He called us to (1) understand the Good News (the Gospel) and to (2) follow Him (follow His Way...The Way).

The good news is that Jesus paid the price for our failures already. Still, (1) because we love and respect our God, we aim to "walk the walk" in keeping with the stuff noted below. And, (2) the commands are about relationships IN THIS EARTHLY component of each human's personal eternity.

Failing to "obey" causes static and distance (throws an impediment) between a person and God and therefore consitutes sin. As we sin (create relationship distance), we "open the door" to bad/dark/demonic influences which are sure to take us to an even greater distance from God. God defined...through commands...those things that open such negative, hurtful doors. Parents warn children, "You can't hang out with so-and-so, they are the wrong crowd & will get you in trouble with bad consequences." God's commands speak similarly to us.

  1. The First Commandment of Jesus, Matt. 6:33 (and see Proverbs 2):.......a command of Jesus "But seek FIRST [this is your job] His kingdom and His righteousness [seek Him], and all these things [all those things you want] will be given [this is what God delights in doing...His job] to you as well." (The command of Jesus Christ). [Note that this has to do with forming a relationship...nothing about (1) doctrines, "thou shalt not", (2) which denomination does it right, or (3) what types of relationships with humans are best. That is, firstly, seek God. Therefore, it is a matter of your will! You must will yourself to seek God. By the grace of God, you then WILL find Him; and He will prove Himself to you! And this cause and effect sequence goes on and on through your lifetime as you seek Him and He provides for you. Your job of "seeking", by the way, is never finished; yet, God's blessings begin to come to you right away!] Righteousness is all about "right relationships"!
  2. The two facets of "The Great Commandment" of Jesus: Again, note that this has to do with forming a relationship...nothing about doctrines, "thou shalt not", which denomination does it right, or what types of relationships with humans are best. Matt. 22:37-40 and Mark 12:28-34 :........commands of Jesus Christ speaking..."Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart [center of our affections], and with all thy soul [center of our will power], and with all thy mind [center of our intelligence] [Deut. 6:5]". This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (the Law of Love...Commands of Jesus Christ) Righteousness is all about "right relationships"!
  3. The Golden Rule of Jesus: Matt. 7:12 (and Luke 6:31) Jesus Christ speaking..."So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." As many mothers have taught us, put (or imagine) yourself in the other persons place. Even deeper and more profound is Paul's divine charge to believers in Colossians 3:23...do all you do as if it were unto The Lord. What is this rule all about?...RELATIONSHIPS! Righteousness is all about "right relationships"!
  4. The Great Commission of Jesus: Matt. 28:19,20 "Therefore go [those personally and directly sent by Jesus were called apostles] and make disciples [learners of Jesus & his Gospel of The Way to right relationships (righteousness)] of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age". (The words of Jesus Christ) Evangelizing the Gospel, missions, and discipling are, therefore, not just programs of the Church, they are the fundamental, commanded purposes of the Church! Spreading the gospel has been likened by someone as being like one beggar telling another beggar where to find the endless supply of bread. It is the commanded job of every Christian to spread the Gospel by the verbal and living witness of their lives and by teaching others...discipling...about their faith. This planting of "seeds" depends on Christians; the harvest...conversions, soul saving, Christian growth...these results depend on, and are left to, the will and wisdom of God directed by Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. Amy Carmichael said, "We have all of eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them!" You are blessed when you are allowed to witness the change of heart, the onset of hope, or conversion of a human. Oswald Chambers suggests that Christians are most blessed when their energy focuses on taking the message of Redemption/The Gospel to others rather than focusing on efforts to make oneself more holy. I was surprised to find out that Luther and Calvin (1530AD) thought and taught that this command only applied to the Apostles...so that by 1800AD, when the world's population reached 1 billion, there were only 100 Protestant missionaries in the entire world! Protestant local evangelism had only begun 75 years earlier with the Great Awakening in North America. And George Whitefield began evangelical campaigns in 1738. The 1800's would be the Great Century of evangelical missions. The year 2000AD will mark about 66 generations since Jesus came to earth, and about one third of the population (1.8 billion people) are identified with some form of Christianity. A sobering thought: Jesus never promised you that you would always, or even frequently, see positive results from your Christian outreach. Remember, righteousness is all about "right relationships"!
  5. The continually assuring command of Jesus: Matthew 6:34 (KJV), "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". In other words,[don't worry about tomorrow!]...[explained further HERE]. Similarly...and one of the most repeated commands in the Bible by others and Jesus, "fear not".
  6. The Ten Commandments of God...by the great I AM: These are ALL about right relationships (righteousness). By the way, historians cannot find any historical precedent for the Ten Commandments. The 10 Commandments personally delivered by God to Moses & inscribed by God on two tablets of stone were to be housed in the Ark of the Covenant, a 4 by 2 by foot box made from Acacia wood and covered internally & externally by gold. The Ark was mysteriously powerful; it was stolen by the Philestines but returned after plagues. Solomon built the first Temple to house it as of about 955BC. That Temple was sacked in 587BC. Priests may have hidden the Ark when the pagan King, Manasseh (687-642BC) took over (2 Kings 21:16) & installed a pagan idol in the Holy of Holies of the Temple! The Ark was not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible after about 620BC; it is lost. Exodus 20:1-17 quotes God as He gave them..."I am the Lord your God,"... to the Israelites as they were gathered by Moses en mass at the base of Mt. Sinai, God (speaking to the people) issued The Law... abbreviated:

    Man-to-God relationships:

    1: I am the Lord your God...have no other Gods before me. [see #1, above]

    2: Have no idols for yourselves. (Watch out that aids to worship don't become objects-of-worship idols. Those things that give dictation to you on how to live life may be idols. If you revolve your life around it, if you give primary loyalty and attention to something or someone other than God [family, children, career, wife, marriage, good works], it may be an idol. When your priorities become inverted...lots of things ranking ahead of God...there is always an element of idolatry.) This has good or bad consequences on following generations of your family!

    3:Do not misuse the name of the Lord. (cursing it or flippant, casual use)

    4:Remember the Sabbath. (Saturday, the last day of the week...the Holy Day of God under Old Testament, The Law...and keep it holy [Jesus arose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week. So, Christians "keep Sunday holy" as the Holy Day of God under the promise of Grace. Sunday was also the Roman...Gentile...day of rest.]) New Testament leaves off any recap about the exact "day of worship" (Matthew 19:18; Romans 13:9).

    Man to parents relationships:


    5:
    Honor your father and mother.


    Man (human/neighbor)-to-man (human/neighbor) relationships:

    And, King Solomon, great philosopher and the wisest man ever (past, present, or future) created, finally advised all: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments." (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Can you perfectly keep these commandments? What is your answer? A holy God expects righteous perfection; since you aren't perfect, you NEED a savior!

    Moses went up on the mountain to be with God for 40 days (40 days only) and to receive the two stone tablets on which, front and back, the commandments had been inscribed by the finger of God. On coming down and finding the people already turned to worshipping a cast golden calf, Moses threw the tablets down and broke them into pieces (Exodus 32:19). Moses later received a second set of tablets, "the First Law" (Exodus 34:28).

    THE LAW was given by a good God for our own good, who wants us to choose to do what is best for us. THE LAW, for us "fallen" humans, is so impossible to perfectly follow for a lifetime that it is thought to have been designed as a "mirror" to convincingly prove to us that we can't qualify on our own...that we ARE "lawbreakers"... and that we must have a savior...that we NEED a savior. Then God provided Him in His son Jesus of Nazareth.

    Moses was subsequently required by God to put down what is known as "the second law" (Deut. 31:24) for Israel and the Jewish people and which lasted for his chosen people until the time of Christ when it became possible for anyone (Jew or non-Jew) to be a chosen person of God through Jesus. [More law alluded to, Joshua 24:25 and 26]

    But, the Apostle Paul instructs the Church that the above were only a fore-shadow of what was to come, THE WAY, Jesus, to supersede and/or cancel the specifics (rather than the intent) of The Law (Colossians 2:16,13-14) by providing a direct and straightforward way to eternal life with God...by Jesus being our savior.

    6:You shall not murder. (I John 3:15..."anyone who hates his brother is a murderer..."; do you know anyone who has killed the spirit of another?) Did you know that some have calculated that, between 1976-2001 in the USA, at least 1000 death-row, capital-punishment convicts were released because they were found not proven guilty (one calculation is that for every 7 death-row convicts executed, 1 was exonerated (a 12% false conviction rate)? Did you know that in 1994, in the USA, there were over 34,000 suicides (self-murders), 30% more deaths by suicide than by homicide?
    Did you know that from 1973-1998, in the USA, the live and innocent blood of over 30,000,000 live fetuses was spilt in elective abortion (baby murder)?
    [check out classification of killings and murders] I wonder what the meaning of the ancient Hebrew word for murder (written down by Moses) actually fully meant in that day, in that culture.

    7:You shall not commit adultery.

    8:You shall not steal. (Do you regularly steal from God? See Malachi 3:8-12...what is your answer? Martin Luther noted, relative to Revelations 3:17, "It is the worst kind of vice and the most demonic kind of pride for us to pat ourselves on the back if we see some special gift in ourselves. We steal and rob God of His glory this way, and we make ourselves an idol without seeing the trouble we cause by all this.")

    9:You shall not give false testimony. (Lies, inaccurate gossip, slander or libel; bend the truth in any way that causes negative effects in any other person or thing.)

    10:
    You shall not covet. (Envy is an attitude of discontent with what God has already given you. He knows what's best for you at any given time in your life. Your covetous dissatisfaction is a sinful affront to Him.)
  7. The Disciples' Commandment, John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (Jesus Christ speaking) Remember, righteousness is all about "right relationships" (and love reflects the righteousness of those right relationships)!
  8. Matt. 5:19: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments (#5 above), and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Jesus speaking)
  9. Acts 15:29: James brother of Jesus writing for the Jerusalem Council to disciples won by Paul & Barnabas: "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."
  10. Proverbs 6:16: Probably King Solomon writing for the ages, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among the brothers.
  11. Matt. 19:17: "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life [experience earthly salvation], keep the commandments." (Jesus speaking)
  12. The recipe Jesus has given for ethics for the Christian life: the Beatitudes, in the Sermon on the Mount. Matt: 5:1 thru 7:29; Luke 6:17-49, laying out the Beatitudes and a review, by Jesus, of the ten commandments. Acts 20:35 is referred to as "the missing beatitude". On the other hand, Oswald Chambers suggests that the Christian who has totally opened himself up to God's will actually becomes much of the Sermon on the Mount through the supernatural transforming of his life by the new indwelling of the disposition of Jesus Christ himself (he is blessed to become more of a peacemaker, etc.).
  13. John 15:12..............LOVE
    "My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life [die? stop and help? interrupt your life and get involved?] for his friends." (Jesus speaking) key]
  14. John 15:17...............LOVE
    "This is my command: love each other." (Jesus speaking)
  15. John 15:10..............LOVE
    "If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in his love." (Jesus speaking)
  16. I John 3:11,18,23-24...............LOVE
    "This is the message you heard from the beginning: we should love one another...Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (actions speak louder than words)...And this is his (God's) command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them." (Apostle John speaking)
  17. I John 4:21.............LOVE
    "And he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (Apostle John speaking).
  18. John 14:21..............LOVE
    "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (Jesus speaking)
  19. John 14:15................LOVE
    "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (Jesus speaking). John 14:24 "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." (Jesus speaking)
  20. Matthew 18:10.....as to CHILDREN
    "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones." (Jesus speaking) [Children are, like adults, created in the image of God but are terribly vulnerable to their surroundings and to parents and other adults. Parents and adults are commanded to take their responsibility to children seriously and positively, keeping in mind their example...hopefully holding up the example of Jesus as the only true benchmark for comparison...to the children.]
  21. John 14:11 (a command of Jesus)....JESUS is GOD
    "Believe me that I AM..."
  22. Hebrews 10:24-25............CHURCH WORSHIP
    The various translations of this divinely-inspired writer to the early Jewish Christians (the first Christians were converts from Judaism...and he warned them not to turn back to Judaism) amount to a command to NOT neglect the important gathering together to worship. It's not nearly safe enough in this life on earth to just worship God at home or outdoors in the beauty of his creation and NOT being involved and growing in a body of believers. Satan prowls & entices away more easily those who lack corporate fellowship, worship, and work.
  23. Matthew 7:12................ THE LAW more discussion...see #5)
    In addition to "the 10 commandments", the Mosaic Law (law of Moses) included 603 additional laws/commands within the first 5 books of the Old Testament (the books inspired through Moses about 1445 BC). It was hard to abide by all of these commands; so, after the 500 BC exile into Babylon, the Sophrim devised a "shield" of additional "breakable" oral rules (250 additional commandments and 365 prohibitions) as a fence around the 613 specific laws of the Torah (10 + 603= 613).

    Man's tendency to sin could be vented on these perimeter rules and eliminate any rebellious need to break the 613 (by the way, it is said that the pomegranate...a Biblical fruit... tends to contain 613 seeds at full development). Over time, however, these Sophrim laws loomed in ever more importance. The Tanaim later added an additional fence of laws to solve the problem; but, the same thing happened. This proliferation of "law" and love for "The Law"...legalism...was at its height at the time of Jesus. While Jesus didn't desire The Law to be broken (see Matthew 5:12), he disputed the FOCUS on all the details which clouded the intent of The Law and refocused his people to the "bottom line" in Matthew 7:12.

    Plus, later adding on the traditions (Mishnah) of the ancient Fathers and the Elders...(completed in 210 AD)...loomed in great influence and additional law-like importance. Up to modern times, Jewish Rabbis are trained in the above plus other additions...such as Amoram; the Jerusalem Talmud of 390 AD; and the Shulham Arulsh (code of Jewish law) of 1564 AD...which altogether constitute The Talmud. In the weight of all of this, the ability to discern the prophecies about the Messiah and their fulfillment in Jesus is effectively obscured so that the vast majority of Jews are unable to consider Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. The value of The Law had/has been lost in "legalism", fulfilling Romans 8:1-4. Plus, the Jews yearned, and continue to yearn, for a political Messiah.

    Is legalism afflicting our society today...did President Clinton even try to split legalism hairs over what constitutes sexual relations? By way of Jesus, Christians (Jewish or non-Jewish) are covered from lawbreaker judgment by The Covenant of Grace which superceded The Law. The Jesus-believer has an eternal-salvation guarantee!
  24. Malachi 3............THE TITHE and OFFERINGS
    Actually, everything on this earth is God's. No one takes anything with them when they die! During the earlier dispensations...especially the dispensation of law...rules stated what and how much was "given back to God" each year. In modern times we tend to think of 10% of income. But under the current era or dispensation of grace, giving back of money, fruit of talents, efforts, and commitment is considered to reach its loftiest potential because of the internal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, God is not in need...He doesn't NEED your money or offerings. Through grace-based giving back to God, the believer prayerfully enlists the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to determine what and when to give: to the church, to parachurch ministries, to charities, to individuals in need, etc. Yet we know that God values and honors "first fruits" and "fatted calf" (not leftovers; not defective gifts) giving as well as sacrificial giving. An attitude and lifestyle of generosity and giving is part of what makes the believer more and more blessable to God. God doesn't need it; we need it as part of being blessable! Dr. Carl Menninger is said to have observed (as to believer and non-believer alike): "generous, giving people are rarely mentally ill and rarely end up living negative lives." (also see I Corinthians 16 and II Corinthians 9)
  25. Luke 22:17-24 (Matthew 26:27-30; John 6:53-54): The Last Supper...Holy Communion
    The major branches of Christianity variously follow the command to "do this in remembrance of Me [Jesus]". Some [Orthodox & Catholic) hold that the bread and wine are the literal substance of Jesus, changed to such during the sacrament service ("transubstantiation"..."real presence"). Some (Lutherans) believe that Jesus somehow (mysteriously) inhabits the bread & wine during the sacrament service ("consubstantiation"). And most Protestant denominations believe that the bread & wine are symbolic & hugely/importantly so. Some have communion every church service, some monthly, some quarterly, etc. I see no real harm if one segment of the believers is "right" & the others "wrong" on this issue. For the sake of our love and honor for Christ (and being able to live The Way rightly), we try to discern The Word correctly, however.

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In summary, Jesus showed us that the key to the commands is the word, attitude, and state of all LOVE. Most interesting of all to me is that there is no mention at all that the breaking of one particular commandment is worse than the breaking of another. Failing to recognize God (#1) is just as bad as murder (#6). For #9, there is no distinction between a "white lie" and a big lie! All wrongs are wrong, both big and small. Ephesians 2:15 suggests that Jesus, as The Word being lived, set a more complete example for us that, in effect, voided the specifics of The Law and its Commandments! Two more topics:


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Temptation: The words of the great Apostle Paul: I Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man [in general]. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Also see I Corinthians 6:11...as a Christian you've been washed clean of sin...and believing in and abiding in this Christian relationship with the son of God rewashes you over and over for all past, present, and future sins.

Our earthly life will inevitably have hurt and disappointment and contain great amounts of sin (meditate on the ramifications of Jesus' commandments, again); and we see horrible things happen (perhaps to us) to good people. Such is life "in the world." No real difference can be expected until Christ returns. Our Christian life bonds and plugs us into sustaining power in the meantime. And obedience (expressing love to God) of the commands lays the groundwork that God might see fit to put His blessings upon us.

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God's Word: God's Word is available to each person of God's entire creation of mankind. That availability is delivered locally and throughout the world by believers in God and by the writings of the Word. The perfect manifestation of God's Word was through the example of the life of Jesus Christ. Those believers in God and Jesus Christ, Christians, have The Word (from the beginning and including the life of Jesus) in The (Christian) Bible. This Bible has been assembled by humans and is currently considered to be "complete". Is it the complete Word? The interpretation of The Bible continues to evolve, and arguments and differences over interpretation have led to many factional differences within Christendom. But, born-again Christians each have the Holy Spirit within themselves as a teacher (John 14:26) and interpreter of The Word, The Bible. As Rev. Billy Graham recently said in a David Frost interview, "There are lots of unanswered questions." Are there also actually many less-certain answers to more common questions...answers to possibly be modified or revised as more information comes to light for interpretation in the future? [How The Word of God is spread]

 

 

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1994 and posted June 1998 [15th modification 23 December 1998; 16th, 13 July; 17th 3 Sept.; 18th 20 Nov. 1999; 7 December 2005; latest addition 3 September 2012; 1 May 2015]