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What did God make Christians for?

Wouldn’t we all like to know! Most of us are well drilled in what we’re against and what we’re not supposed to do, but we’re at loose ends when it comes to how we’re supposed to fill in our days.

Happily, God tells us what we’re for, in more than 2,000 verses of the Bible, many of which are extraordinarily practical:

  • If a neighbor’s — or enemy’s — donkey falls under its load, we are to help them raise it up. (Deut. 22:4, Exodus 23:5) That could apply to roadside assistance, but since the donkey was such a basic business tool, it could even refer in today’s context to the wonderful IT guys and gals who come to the rescue when the system crashes.
  • If we build a home with a flat roof, we’re to put a rail around it so no one will fall. (Deut. 22:8) Yes, that is in the Bible! Everyone in building codes enforcement, your work is commissioned by God.
  • Keep sanitary systems at a distance from residences. (Deut. 23:12 — in the original, be sure to dig latrines away from where you are encamped.) Plumbers and those who plan and manage waste water treatment systems are doing work that God has specifically required be done.

The Bible is full of treasures like this that inform my thinking about our purpose in God’s world.

I’m driven by my favorite scripture, Ephesians 2:8-10. In it, we learn that

  • We are rescued out of darkness by God, not by our own good works (so we can’t take any credit)
  • God re-creates us through Christ into what God had in mind all along, God’s own good works of excellent artistry and artisanship.
  • God re-created us in Christ to do good works, which God has laid out in advance, so all we have to do is walk right into them. If we’re looking, we can hardly avoid them. They’re right in front of us: the opportunity to do what God designed each and every one of us to do.

Welcome into this Scriptural exploration of purpose in Christ. God bless us, each and every one!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Carlene H. Byron

Former editor of The New England Christian and New England Church Life, published by Vision New England / The Evangelistic Association of New England

View Carlene Hill Byron's profile on LinkedIn

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5 Responses to About

  1. Leonardo says:

    Hi Carlene,

    I would like you to include this in your collection:

    DWELL IN THE WORD

    Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”.

    What was the primary cause of the corruption of the early church which turned it into Catholicism? Largely the neglect of the scriptures. If you read the early Christian writers you will find that the use of scripture became increasingly neglected in the second and third centuries until it was largely replaced with man made heresies. And the institution that arose around such corruption, namely Catholicism, not only took away scripture from people, which accounts for the large ignorance of scripture historically among Catholics, but also refused to allow itself to be scrutinized, and thus Christianity became entrenched in its heresies. And likely under such conditions, few were saved, for

    “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

    Paul instructed Timothy,

    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2Timothy 4:2-4

    Apart from application oriented Bible study, you cannot be called a disciple of Christ, for Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him,

    “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” John 15:7

    And it is through the word of God that we are born again,

    “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1Peter 1:23

    “You Fools! You Hypocrites! You Snakes!”

    In any language, Hebrew, Greek or Latin, this condemnation of Talmudic Judaism is awesome!

    The title of this paper is taken from the very words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. Let’s take a Scriptural look at a side of Jesus that most Christians will not believe, even when they see Him in their own Bibles.

    Who were the Scribes and Pharisees?
    The Pharisees were not the priests, but rather people from all walks of life who were very pious and strict keepers of the Law of Moses. They constantly adjusted the Law to fit the changing world according to their traditions and own desires. Among the more educated of the Pharisees were the Scribes and the rulers of the Jews:

    “In the modern sense they [the Scribes] were the religious scholars or theologians … sometimes called lawyers … or teachers of the law …could make judicial decisions based on Scriptural exegesis, occupied important positions in the Sanhedrin … played a major role in bringing on the crucifixion of Jesus” and they “mainly belonged to the party of the Pharisees” (WYCLIFFE Bible Dictionary, p. 1536).

    Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees “fools, hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchers, murderers, a generation of snakes,” and many such epithets. Jesus called them “hypocrites” seven times in one chapter. He spoke with scathing derision to the Scribes and Pharisees throughout His ministry; very few of them received a kind word from Him.

    And yet countless Christians write and tell us that Jesus never spoke like this or ever said a cruel or angry word in His life. Therefore when I sometimes write with an edge on my voice I am accused of not following the example of Jesus. Oh but Jesus surely did speak harshly, demeaningly, and with great anger in His voice to the Scribes and Pharisees—the religious Leaders of the Jews. Jesus was not mild and soft-spoken when it came to the sins and hypocrisy of these religious leaders. Too many Christians have read the teachings of Jesus with rose-colored glasses covering both their eyes and their minds.
    When the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples…?” Jesus didn’t softly answer their question, rather He retorted back with, “Why do YOU…?” Jesus was never on the defensive, but always on the offensive. Using the vernacular, He was “IN THEIR FACE!”

    Do any believe Jesus was referencing farm animals when He said not to cast pearls or give what is holy to “the DOGS and PIGS?”
    Jesus referred to the recalcitrant Jewish leaders as, “an EVIL and ADULTEROUS generation,” “SERPENTS and SNAKES,” and “children of the DEVIL.” Why He even told the Scribes and Pharisees regarding the royal and mighty King Herod: “Go ye, and tell that FOX [that JACKAL]…”

    JESUS UPBRAIDS THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS

    There are many examples of Jesus upbraiding the religious leaders for their gross sins [selections from Matthew 23]:

    “But WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… FOR YOU SHUT UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AGAINST MEN…
    …THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS and GRIEVOUS to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but will not move them with ONE OF THEIR FINGERS
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… you DEVOUR WIDOW’S HOUSES… you shall receive the greater damnation.
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES…
    WOE unto you, ye BLIND GUIDES…
    You FOOLS AND BLIND…
    You FOOLS AND BLIND…
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You… have omitted… JUDGMENT, MERCY, and FAITH…
    You BLIND GUIDES, which strain out a gnat, and SWALLOW A CAMEL.
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… within they are full of EXTORTION AND EXCESS.
    You BLIND PHARISEES…
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You are FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES, and ALL UNCLEANESS… and HYPOCRISY and INIQUITY…
    WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES!… you are the children of them which KILLED the prophets. FILL YOU UP then the measure of your fathers.
    You SERPENTS, you GENERATION OF SNAKES… you KILL AND CRUCIFY… you SCOURGE in your synagogues… Behold your house is left unto you DESOLATE”!!

    WOW! Every one of these comments from Matthew. 23 were spoken directly to the “Religious Scholars and Theologians” at the Temple in Jerusalem. Would Jesus speak in the same manner to the Religious Scholars and Theologians in God’s Church today?

    Does Jesus “change”? NO. Has the Church changed in the past 2000 years? YES. It has gotten WORSE.

    The Prophet Malachi bears witness of the corruption that came into the Old Covenant Church of God. Jesus dealt with this same corruption while He was building His own New Covenant Church. Just as the Old, the New also quickly began corrupting from within. Hardly a person alive believes that there is more corruption in the 21st century Church of God than in the 1st century Church of God. Get ready for some startling prophecies that prove what evils lurk in our hallowed halls of Christendom.

    And except your righteousness far exceed the righteousness of the scholars and theologians in today’s world of Christendom; you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Below are some Scriptures describing these conditions spilling over from the Jewish leaders into the Church that Jesus built.

    VESSELS IN A GREAT HOUSE

    Read carefully, for these prophecies are not directed toward the world of unbelievers, but to the Church of God:

    “But in A GREAT HOUSE there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth and some to honor, and some to dishonor” (2 Timothy. 2:20).
    Just what is this “great house” of which Paul speaks? Let Paul answer:
    “But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the House of God which is The Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy. 3:15).
    The Apostle Peter tells us that this House of God definitely needs judging:
    “For the time is come that JUDGMENT must begin at The House of God…”
    (I Peter. 4:17).
    If the “House of God” needed judgment in the days of the Apostles, how much more judgment does it need today? And what did Paul prophesy would happen in this “GREAT House” in our day, “in the LATTER TIMES?” Let’s read it from the source:
    “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the LATTER TIMES some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking LIES IN HYPOCRISY; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy. 4:1).

    And this:

    “This, know also, that IN THE LAST DAYS, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent [without self-control], fierce[brutal], despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady [reckless], high-minded [haughty], lovers of pleasures more than [rather than] lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… EVER learning, and NEVER able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy. 3:1-7).

    Some Christians naively believe Paul and all these prophecies are speaking of the whole world, of mankind in general. Oh no they aren’t: It is not the atheistic heathen world which has “departed from the faith,” who “blaspheme God,” who have a “form of godliness,” or who have “turned away from such.” Oh no. It is the HOUSE OF GOD that has done these things and continues to do them.

    For sure Paul didn’t say that the vessels in this great house would wax “better and better.” Let Paul answer again by continuing his prophecy in 2 Timothy. 3. We ended with verse 7, so let’s pick it up again in verse 8:

    “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do THESE [these vessels of dishonor in God’s House] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the truth. But they shall proceed [Gk: ‘increase, advance, grow’] no further [Just as Jannes and Jambres could resist God only so far and no further, so too, will these corrupt-minded reprobates in God’s House cease to deceive God’s church, when God makes all secrets known to all]: for their folly shall be manifest unto all, as theirs [Jannes & Jambres] was.” (2 Timothy. 3:8-9).

    Notice Paul’s stern warning:

    “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

    WHO IS IT THAT WILL GET “WORSE & WORSE?”

    “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But EVIL MEN AND SEDUCERS [Gk: ‘imposters’] SHALL WAX [grow] WORSE AND WORSE, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy. 3:13).
    And just who is it that grows “worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived?” The men and women of the world? The pagans and heathens? Is this what Paul means? Of course not. These are the leaders of the Church.

    “Preach the word; [the WHOLE Word of God]; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine [Who? The world? The pagans? The atheist? Why they have never had sound doctrine in the first place] but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”(2 Timothy. 4:2-4).
    The heathen nations of the 21st century are not “turning away from the truth unto fables.” They have never as nations had the truth.

    Notice also Peter’s stern warning regarding what was happening in the past in his time, and what was prophesied to continue until our time and beyond:

    “But there were false prophets [a ‘prophet’ can mean one who speaks in behalf of God] also among the people, even as there shall be [future] false teachers among you [and among US], who privily shall bring in [Gk: smuggle in] DAMNABLE HERESIES, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And MANY shall follow their pernicious [destructive] ways; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of [Gk: ‘blasphemed’]” (2 Peter. 2:1-2).

    At the conclusion of this paper we will take a look at some of these: “FABLES AND DAMNABLE HERESIES” that the Church Fathers and Theologians have substituted over the centuries and down to our day in place of God’s sound doctrines.

    Listen: Either conditions in the prophesied Church of today are MUCH WORSE than they were at the time of Jesus and the Apostles, or the prophecies LIE. So which do you believe is true?

    “WOE UNTO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES”

    Many times Jesus called the fraudulent religious leaders of the Church, “Hypocrites.” Here is the definition of a hypocrite:
    “One who puts on a false appearance, to hide his real motives, one who feigns, a play actor, a fake, afraud, a phony.”

    Jesus loathed the hypocrisy of these religious leaders and saw right through these play-acting fakes and frauds, just like looking through a windowpane.

    “FOR HE TAUGHT THEM AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY”

    “For He [Jesus] taught them as one having AUTHORITY and not as the scribes” (Matthew. 7:29).

    Jesus got His authority from His Father, and He used it. In fact, the very words He spoke were the words of His Father and not His own (John 17:8), hence the Father too uses sarcasm and anger in teaching us (our Lord and His God have more personality than most have ever imagined). What a broad range of colorful metaphors, parables, and colloquialisms they used. Add to these sarcasm, exaggeration, satire, irony, and true anger, and we have very powerful, persuasive language and teaching.

    JESUS TALKED NATURALLY

    First, let’s be clear that Jesus did not go around speaking as if He were a performer on a Shakespearean stage. Jesus did NOT speak in archaic King James English! Jesus never said:

    “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (John 21:18, King James Version).

    No, that is NOT what Jesus said in modern English. That is what He would have said had He been speaking archaic King James English to the residents of England back 1611. But to our ears this archaic English now sounds strange and affected. We no longer speak in archaic King James English. If Jesus were to speak to us today in the English of the 21st century it would sound more like this:

    “The truth is when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go” (John 21:18, The Living Bible).

    Jesus spoke the language of the people, the language of the day. He was natural, He was colloquial, He was precise, He was articulate, He was emotional, He was sincere. Jesus spoke EXACTLY AND PRECISELY as He was inside, because it is a Scriptural truth that, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew. 12:34).

    First we will look at a few verses that describe Jesus and His ministry. Notice how mellow and tenderly He spoke to the poor and the humble, and how they record the history of His ministry.

    Following this section we will contrast it with how He spoke to the religious leaders.

    SELECTIONS CONCERNING JESUS—THE HUMBLE SERVANT OF MAN
    “I must be about my Father’s business… I must preach the Kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: Who went about doing good and healing… Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men… Why call Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God…
    Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… You are the light of the world… Love your enemies… I will come and heal him… the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head… Daughter, be of good comfort… Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you… I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…
    But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness… Peace I leave with you… love ye one another, as I have loved you… Neither do I condemn you… He departed again into a mountain Himself alone, to pray… Be not afraid only believe… You are My friends… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself…
    For the Father Himself loves you… In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit… I have spoken openly to the world… Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved… I have compassion on the multitude… Jesus wept…
    Let the little children come to me… Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…
    With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you… he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel… O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings… And when they [and Jesus] had sung an hymn…
    Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done… And being in agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as if were great drops of blood falling down to the ground… Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do… IT IS FINISHED… they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread, Jesus said to them, COME AND DINE” (Excerpts from the Gospels).

    Jesus identified with our humanity when He said: “Simon, Simon… Martha, Martha…” Jesus was profoundly human. He was after all, the humble servant as the Son of man. But He was also the wise and powerful Son of God. Jesus spoke gently with the meek, but His speech EXPLODED with the wicked.

    It is only when Jesus confronts the religious leaders that His tone of voice and choice of words changes dramatically from how he spoke to the people in general. Jesus came to expose evil and hypocrisy like no one had ever done before. His voice was the “voice of a trumpet.” God told Isaiah to:

    “Cry ALOUD, SPARE NOT, lift up your voice like a TRUMPET, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah. 58:1).

    Likewise, as a servant of God I cannot expose the evil and hypocrisy in the Church and in this world with a song in my heart, a smile on my face, and a chuckle in my voice! Sorry, but that won’t get the job done. I laugh considerably more than almost anyone I know. But try to palm off the evil and vile doctrines of the Church to God’s “little ones,” and my countenance changes instantly!

    There is a time for humor and there is a time to get serious. Sarcasm can be serious business. Well did Isaiah prophesy of such:

    “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us SMOOTH things, prophesy DECEITS” (Isaiah. 30:10).

    SARCASM—OLD AND NEW

    I have two favorite Scriptural sarcasms which I find to be sheer genius. One in the Old Testament and one in the New. The first is from I Kings 18:21-39. Elijah told the people that they should choose two bullocks and place them on two altars of wood. He then said:

    “And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answers by fire, let him be God”

    They all agreed, and so the priests of Baal went first:

    “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O BAAL, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they LEAPED upon the altar which was made.
    And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleeps, and must be wakened.

    I think we should read this verse from The Living Bible:

    “About noontime, Elijah began mocking them. ‘You’ll have to shout louder than that,’ he scoffed, ‘to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened.’”

    And the priests of Baal, being as stupid as stupid can be, obeyed Elijah’s mocking sarcasm:

    “And they CRIED ALOUD… there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”

    Remember that God Himself inspired Elijah to mock the priests of Baal with these jeering and demeaning epithets. He went so far as to suggest that maybe their god was “sitting on the toilet” or so exhausted he “fell asleep.” And they were too stupid to even know that Elijah was making public spectacles and fools out of them. But Christians assure me that God doesn’t mock. Excuse me, but I did find this scenario IN THE BIBLE! And let’s not forget this:

    “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration OF GOD [as in: ‘Elijah began mocking them… perhaps he {the god of Baal}… is out SITTING ON THE TOILET], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, forcorrection, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy. 3:16).

    This is not just Elijah taunting the priests of Baal; this is GOD HIMSELF telling Elijah under inspiration: Tell the priests of Ball that “…perhaps your god is out SITTING ON THE TOILET.” God in heaven Himself inspired Elijah to speak that delightful phrase to these pagan priests. What a remarkable insight into the personality of God Almighty.

    And ALL these events were preserved for us:

    “Now ALL these things happened unto them for examples: and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Corinthians 10:11).

    TO WHOM CHRIST WAS COMMISSIONED

    Let’s realize a few axioms before we examine Christ’s actual words. Jesus taught the people of Israel, the Jews, the people around Galilee and Jerusalem, who were all religious people and followed the Law of Moses. Jesus’ most stinging words were to the religious leaders and rulers of Judaism. On the very few occasions where Jesus even spoke to a non-Jew, He often expressed the greatest admiration for their faith, rather than condemnation for being Gentiles. After all, how much faith did Jesus find among His Own people?

    It is essential that we keep in mind to whom Jesus preached. Jesus did NOT berate the atheists or pagan Romans in Judea for their sins, but rather “The lost sheep of the House of Israel.” That is, the Jews—the commandment-keeping people of Judea.

    If Jesus were to come to Ireland today and preach His Gospel Message, little would have changed except for one prophesied difference. Everything has gotten even worse than it was 2000 years ago.

    “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy. 3:13).

    Notice carefully that one word the Scriptures use to tell us how Jesus preached to the hypocritical people of Judea:

    HOW JESUS ‘UPBRAIDED’ THE CITIES

    “Then began He [Jesus] to UPBRAID [Greek: oneidizo] the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not” (Matthew. 11:20).
    “Blessed are ye, when men shall REVILE [Greek: oneidizo] you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you FALSELY, for my sake” (Matthew. 5:11).

    Notice that Jesus “upbraided” the cities TRUTHFULLY while He said men would “revile” His true followers FALSELY. The same Greek word is used to describe both. No matter how stern or cutting our Lord’s words might have been, they were always truthful. As for any sarcasm and anger that Jesus exhibited, your argument must be with Him and not me. Clearly, oneidizo is not a pleasant word, but what does it mean when it says that Jesus began to “upbraid” the cities where He taught?

    I will consult Strong’s Dictionary of the New Testament to help us define this word, because if I were to define it myself and tell you what it means, no one would believe me. Oneidizo is a powerful word of rebuke and condemnation.

    Here is the definition:
    Strong’s Greek Dictionary, “#3679, oneidizo, from #3681 [notoriety, that is a taunt (disgrace): a reproach] to defame, i.e. rail at, chide, taunt:–upbraid, reproach, revile, cast in (one’s) teeth” (page 179)”

    And here is what all those words mean:

    Notoriety: notorious, ill fame, infamous.
    Taunt: reproach, mocking, insulting, contemptuous, scornful, tirade.
    Disgrace: loss of honor, shame, disapproval, disfavor, discredit.
    Reproach: disapproval, criticism, disappointment, shame, disgrace, blame, rebuke.
    Defame: to attack or damage the character or reputation of.
    Rail: to express objections or criticism in bitter, harsh, or abusive language.
    Chide: scold, correct, improve, reprimand, disapproval, strife, contention.

    Let me be quick to add, that not every word used to define the words that define oneidizo are always 100% applicable when a word such as “upbraid” is used to translate that Greek word.

    Now then, let’s see some examples of “upbraiding” used by our Lord in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God: After the High Priest asked Jesus about His disciples and teachings, Jesus said:

    “‘Why are you asking Me this question? Ask those who heard me. You have some of them here. They know what I said.’ One of the soldiers standing there struck Jesus WITH HIS FIST. ‘Is THAT THE WAY to answer the High Priest?’ he demanded” (John 18:21-22, The Living Bible).

    One of the guards felt Jesus was so contemptuous and out of line, that he slapped Jesus in the mouth with the palm of his hand and told Him to WATCH HIS MOUTH when speaking to the High Priest! The guard was letting Jesus know in no uncertain terms that one does not speak to such a dignified person as the High Priest with such a demeaning tone of voice!

    What would you think if someone were to address the Pope with this same tone of voice as Jesus used on the High Priest? Would you too think that someone ought to slap such a person’s face for talking that way to the Pope? Well? Was His language and tone of voice to be condemned by a punch in the mouth? But woe be unto the servant of Jesus Christ who today would suggest that, “…because as He [Jesus] is, so are WE in this world” (I John 4:17).

    Jesus told the truth. Jesus called a spade a spade. And many people thought He was contemptuous! He was not. It was the Truth of His words that cut them; not just the tone of His voice. However, the tone of His voice and the selection of words and analogies that He used were not only highly offensive to those to whom He spoke, but are likewise offensive to people hearing this same approach used today by God’s servants. It is unscriptural foolishness to retort that, “Well, YOU ARE NOT Jesus!” Oh really? And what happened to,

    “…because AS He [Jesus] is, SO ARE WE in this world” (I John 4:17),

    and

    “Let this MIND be IN YOU, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians. 2:5)?
    LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD

    “And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow Me, and LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD” (Matthew. 8:21-22).

    Do you think maybe that disciple was offended by his Master’s words? Jesus was saying that those preparing this funeral and burial were as dead as the corpse they were about to bury! Jesus asked this disciple to “follow Me” and let dead people take care of dead matters. But consider that this was the disciple’s own father. Are we not to “honor our father and mother?” Of course we are, but when Jesus asks us to follow Him then our allegiance to our parents, children, or loved ones take second place to that command. We must be willing to forsake all to follow Jesus! Jesus was leading this disciple to things of life, while this particular disciple desired to sooner attend to things of death. One cannot serve two masters.

    FASTING HYPOCRITES

    “Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance [‘don’t look like those miserable play-actors’ Phillips Translation]: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast” (Matthew. 6:16).

    Jesus could have just told them how to fast properly. But no, He first told them how NOT to fast by exposing the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. He was a Master of sarcasm and satire. He called them “hypocrites” and said their religion was as fake as they were. But it was the truth of His infallible statements that really cut them. After all, the Word of God is like a sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews. 4:12). It cuts to the marrow of the bone. They were, as many still are, fakers and “play-actors” as Phillips translates it.

    CAST OUT THE LOG FROM YOUR OWN EYE
    “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a BEAM [a PLANK, a LOG] is in your own eye?” (Matthew. 7:4).

    What? Talk about exaggeration. Jesus didn’t suggest the first brother had a toothpick in his eyes hindering him from helping his brother to retrieve a small mote, but rather a log, a beam. A log is a billion times larger than a mote, which is a tiny speck. Don’t try and take a speck of dirt out of your brother’s eye when you have a giant redwood tree growing out of your own eye! It is Christ’s gross exaggeration that makes this parable so profoundly clear and truthful.

    Of course this parable cannot be literally true, however, it is absolutely spiritually true. People who often try to remove a character flaw from a friend or associate have themselves giant character flaws far more weighty than those they try to correct in others. Notice the word Jesus uses to describe this character flaw in His disciples, “You HYPOCRITE…” (Matthew. 7:5).

    PEACE OR A SWORD?

    “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew. 10:34).

    Anyone offended by this statement of our Lord? Isn’t our Lord “The Prince of Peace?” Jesus did not come to bring armies of armed men to do battle on this earth, but that is the literal meaning of His statement. We know that by the sword Jesus had reference to God’s Word, but those who heard Him make this statement didn’t know that. The force of His speech by doing so is undeniable. Many years later we are given the following verse of Scripture which teaches us what Jesus really meant by “a sword.”

    “For THE WORD OF GOD is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any TWO-EDGED SWORD, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews. 4:12).

    Well, who then is the enemy of God’s Word that we do battle against with this spiritual sword?

    “And a man’s foes [Gk: ‘enemies’] shall be they of his own household” (Matthew. 10:36). Which ‘household’ includes the church itself (Ephesians. 2:19).

    CHRIST DEMANDS MORE THAN EQUAL LOVE

    “He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew. 10:37).

    Anyone offended by that Statement of our Lord? Do you think it was wrong of our Lord to suggest that we must love Him more than our own parents and children?

    JESUS CALLS THE JEWS WOLVES

    “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…” (Matthew. 10:16).

    Jesus said that among the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea, were “wolves.” Does that offend anyone? Are there yet “wolves” who devour the sheep in the flock of God’s Church? Does a cat have a tail?

    GOD DOESN’T CHOOSE PANSIES TO DO HIS WORK

    “And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, ‘What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment [‘a man dressed in silks and satins?’—Williams Translation]behold, they that wear soft clothing [‘Behold they which are gorgeously appareled {dressed}, and live delicately {in luxury}, Luke 7:25], are in kings’ houses” (Matthew. 11:7-8).

    Is this not a taunting, sarcastic remark? He asked them what spectacle they expected to see out there in the wilderness—a blade of grass swaying in the wind? Some patsy that would be blown away by the softest summer breeze? Jesus was asking these religious sophisticates whether they thought a real man of God would look like some prim and prissy, prudish, punctilious, polished, patrician of the kings court? Is THAT what kind of a man you went out to see? Someone who would never get his fingernails dirty?
    The religious leaders were offended by the rough presence of John the Baptist. But what is the Truth? What kind of a man was this John the Baptizer who was

    “…clothed with camel’s hair, and with girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6)?

    Here’s the Truth:

    “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…” (Luke 7:28).

    WAS CHRIST A COMMON CRIMINAL?

    The Chief Priest, scribes and elders sent:

    “a great multitude with swords and clubs” “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief [robber], with swords and with staves [clubs] to take me?” (Mark 14:43 & 48).

    Why did Jesus have to say anything at all? Why this smart, sarcastic remark? Because He wanted them to see the truth of their ways. They knew Jesus was not a man of violence. They knew He never harmed anyone. They knew he never resisted evil and taught His disciples to “turn the other cheek.” With all that in mind, Jesus asks them if they think they have ENOUGH MANPOWER, armaments and weapons to apprehend one humble, non-combative person as Himself? Suggesting that they looked upon Him as a common criminal who might try to escape or overpower them. Jesus was a Master of Sarcasm! He was “in their face.”

    TRANSGRESSING THE TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS

    The Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus:

    “Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread?” (Matthew. 15:2).

    Most would say the Christian thing to do is answer the question. Maybe by saying something like this:

    “Well, okay, that’s a good and fair question. The reason that the disciples don’t always wash before they eat bread is because…”

    Followed by the reasons asked for. But is that what Jesus did? Did He actually give them the answer? No, He didn’t. Here is how Jesus answered them:

    “But He answered and said unto them, Why do YOU ALSO transgress the commandments of God by YOUR TRADITIONS?… You HYPOCRITES…”
    (Matthew. 15:3 & 7).

    Many Christians just don’t approve of this kind of “in your face” language, yet Jesus used it all the time on the religious leaders. They asked: “Why do YOUR disciples….?” And Jesus answered with “Why do YOU…”!

    THEY PROFESS—BUT THEY LIE

    The Scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites and they were evil. Here’s another definition of hypocrisy:

    “hypocrisy n. 1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness” (The American heritage College Dictionary p. 683). (Underlined emphasis is mine).

    They “professed” to be true, what in their own lives was false. What does Paul tell us about those who “profess,” but are hypocrites?

    “They PROFESS that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being ABOMINABLE, and DISOBEDIENT, and unto every good work REPROBATE” (Titus 1:16).
    ABOMINABLE, DISOBEDIENT, REPROBATE! Are these words strong enough to make Paul’s point? Many, many pastors of the Church profess that they LOVE GOD; they profess that they LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS; then even profess that they LOVE THEIR ENEMIES, but in works they deny Him:
    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man LOVE THE WORLD, THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS NOT IN HIM” (I John 2:15).

    TODAY’S RECRUITS ARE TOMORROW’S HERETICS

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell [gehenna] than yourselves” (Matthew. 23:15).

    This is pure sarcasm. Jesus said that they would scour the whole planet for just one convert that would then continue their heresy with TWICE the vigor of their teachers.

    SOUNDING A TRUMPET

    “Therefore when you do your alms, do not SOUND A TRUMPET before you, as the hypocrites do in the SYNAGOGUES and in the STREETS, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew. 6:2).

    Are we to believe that these hypocrites literally had trumpeters follow them into the synagogues and blast on their horns while they made their contribution? I don’t think so. This is sarcasm, Jesus was saying that in the proud and vain manner in which they gave, calling attention to their alms, it was like “sounding a trumpet.” It was the strongest demeaning sarcasm Jesus could come up with to describe their shameful public acts of vanity. Do not today’s hypocrites “sound a trumpet” when they do some good deed?

    This is in fact how they get more money; by telling everyone on television the many good things they are doing with your money.

    SOMETIMES MAN’S GREATER SIN IS TRYING TO BE HOLY

    “You blind guides, which strain out a gnat and SWALLOW A CAMEL” (Matthew. 23:24).

    Exaggerated sarcasm! One cannot literally “swallow a camel.” But SPIRITUALLY, this is exactly what they were doing. The itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy flaws of their spiritual lives that they attempted to clean up, versus the GIGANTIC spiritual character flaws they did NOTHING to change were truly comparable to a “gnat versus a camel.”

    DON’T WASTE GOD’S WORD ON SPIRITUAL DOGS AND PIGS

    Remember Jesus only taught in parables. Did Jesus say: “Don’t bother teaching the truth to those who don’t want to hear it?” That would have been clear enough. Or, “Don’t try to teach the truth to those who do not desire the truth.” Simple. Oh No, Jesus would never say it like that. Here is how Jesus would say it:

    “Give not that which is holy unto the DOGS, neither cast your pearls before SWINE, lest theytrample them under their feet, and turn again and REND you [‘tear you in pieces’ Goodspeed Translation]” (Matt. 7:6).

    JESUS USED SARCASM ON SATAN

    Jesus once told Satan to: “Get thee BEHIND ME” (Mark 8:33). Why, “behind” Him? Because it was offensive to Jesus to have Satan in FRONT of Him. Satan has no business IN FRONT of Jesus. Jesus told Satan to: Get out of my FACE, Satan; Get thee behind me!

    JESUS WAS NOT COMMISSIONED TO BLESS THE DOGS

    Everyone in ancient Judea knew the Jews likened Gentiles to “dogs.” When a woman of Canaan asked Jesus for help, Jesus said to her in Matt. 15:26-28):

    “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to DOGS.”

    Actually the Greek here is “puppies” (very young dogs), but nonetheless “dogs.” Wouldn’t most consider it a little sarcastic to call a woman asking for help, “a dog?”
    This woman was pretty sharp. Not to be outdone, she answered Jesus back with a little of her own sarcasm:

    “And she said, Truth, Lord; YET the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table!”

    Then Jesus said back to her: GREAT IS YOUR FAITH: BE IT UNTO YOU EVEN AS YOU WILL”!

    WHAT AN AMAZING MAN our Lord Jesus Christ is! How can you not appreciate the marvelous personality and character of our God?

    TRILLIONS OF GALLONS OF WATER TO DROWN ONE MAN

    “But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for Him that a MILLSTONE were hanged about his neck and that he were DROWNED IN THE DEPTH OF THE SEA” (Matthew. 18:6).

    That’s a little “overkill” wouldn’t you think? Like killing a mosquito with a baseball bat? Jesus could have said it would have been better if he “died,” or was “drowned.” Why a millstone and drowned in the depth of the sea? A person can drown by holding his face in a small bucket of water. Jesus used POWERFUL, EXAGGERATED, SARCASM to show His UTTER CONTEMPT for such wicked sins as these!

    WHEN LIGHT IS DARKNESS

    “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore, your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the LIGHT that be in you is DARKNESS, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew. 6:22-23).

    What? If the LIGHT that be in you is DARKNESS? Isn’t that a little demeaning and sarcastic to say that even our own goodness is evil (dark)? This is not only an exaggeration; this is a physiological IMPOSSIBILITY! Yes, a “physiological” impossibility, but NOT A SPIRITUAL impossibility! Jesus is saying that even the supposed “goodness” (light) in us, is actually “evil.” (darkness). How can that be? Because:

    “…None is good, save One, that is , GOD” (Luke 18:19).
    AN ANGRY CHRIST IN A DEN OF THIEVES

    Did JESUS ever get angry over crime and corruption within the church?

    “And they came to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to CAST OUT them that sold and bought in the temple, and OVERTURNED the table of the money-changers, and the SEATS of them that sold doves: And would NOT ALLOW that any man should carry any wares through the temple”(Mark 11:15-16).

    Now then, were any of these activities being performed in the Temple ILLEGAL? No, they were not. The officers of the Temple allowed it according to their laws, and the Roman Government allowed it according to their laws. So these merchants in the Temple were not criminals. Or were they?

    Jesus said they were CRIMINALS! But woe unto me if I should suggest that this same buying and selling in the Churches today is criminal! It IS criminal, I assure you, it is CRIMINAL. And they do FAR WORSE in today’s churches! They not only sell trinkets and religious junk in the Church, they MAKE MERCHANDISE OF THE VERY WORD OF GOD ITSELF. THEY SELL THE WORD OF GOD FOR PROFITS! Here is what Christ said concerning their activities of buying and selling in the Temple:

    “And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the House of Prayer? But you have made it a DEN OF THIEVES” (Mark 11:17)!

    Does anyone believe that Jesus was SMILING while He turned over their tables and accused them of making His House a “DEN OF THIEVES?”

    ANSWERING A FOOL ACCORDING TO A FOOL

    The proverb tells us to “Answer a fool according to a fool.” And Jesus was a Master at doing this. The Chief Priest and Elders of the temple asked Jesus by what authority He did the things He did. Here then is my favorite New Testament sarcasm by Jesus:

    “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which IF you tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; He will say unto us, Why did you not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, we cannot tell.
    And He [Jesus] said unto them, NEITHER TELL I YOU by what authority I do these things” (Matthew. 21:24-27)!

    Sarcasm? Maybe. But SHEER GENIUS! Yet millions and millions of Christians read these verses in Scripture and they don’t get it. They don’t see any sarcasm whatsoever. Well it’s there, and it’s everywhere in Christ’s ministry.

    HEAVY LOADS AND BURDENS

    “For they [Scribes and Pharisees] bind heavy burdens and grievous to be born, and lay them on men’s shoulders…”

    Have all such “grievous burdens” been abolished in the Church of Christendom today? I speak as a fool. And do the Religious Leaders lend a hand and carry equally “grievous burdens” as their parishioners? Again, I speak as a fool. Here is Jesus’ sarcastic answer to this question:

    “…but they themselves will not move them with ONE OF THEIR FINGERS” (Matthew. 23:4).

    Yes, they will CRUSH THE BACKS of their followers, but they won’t even lift a LITTLE FINGER to help. Unbelievable.

    WHITED SEPULCHRES

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES, AND OF ALL UNCLEANNESS, even so ye also outwardly appear RIGHTEOUS unto men, but within ye are FULL OF HYPOCRISY AND INIQUITY” (Matthew. 23:27-28).

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