Are You a True Follower of Christ? Part I
by Wayne Childress 10/08/2013 / Christian Living
What I am about to write will dismay or anger many. I ask only that you read and research it all before drawing conclusions. Those who have read my other writings may have noticed that I feel it is important to know what the Bible actually says. What some may not know, or realize, is that knowing the Scriptures is not enough. Knowledge does not save you. Satan has more knowledge about the Scriptures, about God, about Christ, and etc. than any human who ever lived except Jesus; but, Satan is often referred to as the father of lies (John 8:44) and tried repeatedly to twist Scripture even with Jesus Himself (Chapter 4 of both Matthew and Luke). So, while knowledge will not save you it can help you from being led astray. Satan is not the only prominent figure in the modern Bible to misquote Scripture.
I frequently cite Scripture to show the basis for my beliefs. If anyone bothers to check it out (and I hope they do) they will also note that I rarely paraphrase, but rather cite or directly quote the Scriptures I am referencing. There are several reasons for this. One is to aid readers in following the line of thought being presented. Another is to allow the reader to see for themselves, and verify for themselves, upon what my thoughts are based.
Satan is not stupid. As cited earlier he will twist and use the Scriptures against us just as he tried with Jesus. He has, and will, infiltrate the body of believers with false teachers and prophets Jesus warned us of this in Matthew 7:15, 24:11, and 24:24, in Mark 13:32, and in Luke 6:26; as did Peter in 2 Peter 2:11 and John in 1 John 4:1.
For those that feel that God would not allow our modern day Bible to have been infiltrated or compromised by Satan, consider that God allowed the Garden of Eden and the original twelve disciples to be infiltrated by Satan.
So knowing all this, where does it leave us? We are right where we need to be turning to God as the only source worthy of unquestioned trust. Yes, read and study; but, always in prayer; and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Jesus said in John 15:26 and 16:13. I hope by now the reader is noticing how I reference not just the Bible; but, more specifically, what Jesus said.
We are all human and we can and do err even if only unintentionally. So here are a few thoughts that may throw some off a bit. Anyone who has studied the Bible is aware of the confrontations Paul had with the Apostles. Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever compared the accuracy of Paul's use of Scripture (remember Scripture then meant only the Old Testament) to what the Scripture actually said? See Note1
Many today that claim thorough knowledge and understanding of God's word are very well versed in what Paul had to say. Many will pick Paul's words over the words of YHWH in the Old Testament and even over Jesus in the New Testament as well as over the Apostles chosen by Jesus. Read for yourself and compare Paul's words to what YHWH and Jesus both have to say.
Consider what Jesus said was required to fulfill the law: two things - the first and foremost being to love YHWH, the second to love your neighbor. Paul, twice, leaves the love of YHWH completely out of the equation (Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:8).
Paul claimed that all things were lawful for him (1 Corinthians 6:12), even to eat food sacrificed to idols. Read what Jesus says in Revelation 2:14 about that.
Consider something really simple. How many Apostles were there? Twelve. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as per the requirements given in Acts 1:21 and 22 (Paul does not qualify). How many Apostles are recognized in Heaven? Twelve (Revelation 21:14). Is it any wonder then that the Apostles may have welcomed Paul as a brother but not as an apostle? To aggravate the situation further, consider that Paul proclaimed himself as "the apostle to gentiles"; but, in Acts 15:7 we see that that role was already filled by Peter that all knew was chosen by Jesus Himself.
Consider Paul's constant boasting of being better than the disciples Jesus had chosen i.e. 1 Corinthians 4:15. This even though Paul could have been chosen by Jesus but wasn't he was one of the Pharisees that Jesus spoke against. Paul was so brazen as to tell people to be a follower of him 1 Corinthians 4:16. Paul claimed his gospel took precedence over everyone's even the gospel preached by the disciples Jesus had chosen (Galatians 1:8). He belittled the Apostles and disciples in his letters to other people, particularly James, John, and Peter (Galatians 2:9).
Paul claimed he was chosen to have God's son revealed through him (Galatians 1:15 and 16), not the Apostles Jesus Himself had chosen. John considered himself to be a slave to Jesus (Revelation1:1), while Paul frequently reminded people of his being a prisoner for Christ, he also compared himself to an angel of God, even Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:14). He claimed he was better than any other man even sinless (Philippians 3:6).
Yet, Paul repeatedly felt the need to proclaim he was not a liar i.e. Romans 9:1, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 1:20, 1 Timothy 2:7. No other writers in the New Testament did this. Rather, James and John repeatedly warned of lies and even did so before and after saying some had gone out from them but were not of them (1 John 2:19).
Biblical scholars have long wrestled with Paul's interpretation of the "gospel" and the many "contradictions" introduced into the Bible via his writings. Some go so far as to claim his gospel is the only one relevant for us.
Consider how people would act if they were never to have seen or read the New Testament and heard only the words of Christ. To be saved, the followers of Jesus' words, would know they must repent of their past sins (Luke 13:3 and 5); that they must love God above all else and with all they have and are (Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30), that loving God means to keep His commandments (John 14:15 and 21), and that they must love their neighbors (Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31) and their enemies (Matthew 5:44). The followers of Jesus' words would know that they should care for the sick, hungry, thirsty, ill clothed, imprisoned, and the stranger (Matthew 25:35-46).
Now compare that to how people would act who heard only the words of Paul. They might well think they are predestined to heaven or hell already, no matter what they do. They might well not think of repenting, since they are predestined to heaven, and under grace, and Paul does not say to repent. They might well not be concerned about loving God, since they are already chosen, and Paul does not stress to love God, but instead stresses that God loves them anyway. They might well ignore God's commandments since Paul implies that by grace they are free from the commandments and that they fulfill the commandments anyway by just loving one another other fellow elect here he leaves God and the non-elect out (Romans 13:8). Paul does say to love your neighbors - again saying it fulfills the law and again leaving God out (Galatians 5:14); but, he never says to love your enemies. They might not worry about caring for the sick - unless it is one of their fellow elect since Paul only mentions the sick when it is himself, one of his friends, or someone he is healing. They might not worry about feeding the hungry Paul doesn't mention them either, except when complaining about himself and his friends (1 Corinthians 4:11); well, in a way he does, in 2 Thessalonians 3 he "commands" that if a person won't work let him go hungry and if he doesn't listen to what Paul taught then shun him. As for those needing clothes, again he mentions it only about himself and his friends. As for the stranger, he addresses them to say care for them because they might be angels (Hebrews 13:2). As to those in prison he addresses, most believe, only those bound for Christ sake again like himself or his friends.
Paul even goes against God in the Old Testament. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8 that it is good to stay single like he does (then implies the need for sex is a good reason to get married though). The very first thing God ever says is not good, in Genesis 2:18, is that it is not good that man should be alone. Paul (citing nature as an authority the only person in the Bible to do so) says that for a man to have long hair is a dishonor (1 Corinthians 11:14). In the Old Testament a Nazerite was one separated for the LORD and he was to let his hair grow out and never get it cut while under his vows (Number 6:5, Judges 13:5, and 1 Samuel 1:11).
All this can be rather perplexing for people today. To me the answer is simple I will follow Jesus. John's final thoughts on the matter, to me, are among the most telling words in the Bible not spoken by God or Jesus:
But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you; but, as the same anointing teaches you of all things and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has been taught you, you shall abide in him.
(1 John 2:27)
In Brotherly Love,
The first two examples I give are to illustrate the validity of my statements:
Paul in Ephesians 4:8 states, "Wherefore he says, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men"
What Scripture actually said in Psalm 68:18, "You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men."
Note that received gifts is twisted to become gave gifts.
Paul says in Romans 3:4, "...as it is written, that you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged"
What Scripture actually said in Psalm 51:4, "...that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge").
Note that when you judge is twisted to when you are judged.
There are many, many more. Here are just a few more examples to compare regarding Paul's misuse of Scripture:
Rom. 15:12/Isa. 11:10
1 Cor. 2:9/Isa. 64:4
Rom. 15:21/Isa. 52:15
Heb. 10:7/Psalm 40:7-8
Heb. 10:36-37/Hab. 2:3
Rom. 11:26-27/Isaiah 59:20-21
Rom. 9:33/Isa. 28:16 and Isa. 8:14