Habakkuk’s famous statement “but the just shall live by his faith [‘ĕmûnȃ 530]” (Hab 2:4), isn’t about faith but faithfulness as rendered correctly in some versions, “but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV). The Hebrew noun ‘ĕmûnȃ appears about 50 times in the Old Testament and without exception, expresses faithfulness. The Greek noun pistis in “The just shall live by faith [pistis 4102]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38) is wrongly translated as “faith” in accordance with the Reformer Martin Luther’s false salvation message of sola fide or faith alone.
The absurdity of sola fide becomes apparent when introduced into the context of everyday life. Take the workplace as somewhat of an example of our walk with God. Our time belongs to our employer. We abide by the company rules. We do the work we’re told to do while being dependable, honest, and faithful. We don’t always know why our employer wants us to do specific things but we trust that they know the bigger picture and how it will positively affect the overall health of the company and the community. We also know that since we’re simply doing what we’re told, we trust that our employer has our back if we were to experience any repercussions from doing an assignment. If we’re doing a good job we’ll be rewarded but if we’re doing poorly, then it can result in disciplinary action and possible termination. All of that makes perfect sense.
Now, let’s interject “faith” or “belief” as the sole requisite for employment. Employees get hired because they express belief in their employer. After getting hired many of them argue among themselves about whether they were hired because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they were hired. Some even dare to claim that their employer gave them the belief they needed to get hired. They also squabble about whether they do a good job because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they do a good job. Of course some claim that performance has a direct bearing on their job security but others claim Once Employed Always Employed. Therefore, when someone quits or gets let go, those that embrace OEAE have to say, “Well, I guess they never really were employed, because if they had been they would have continued to be employed. Therefore, they never truly believed the employer!”
In his letter to the Romans, Paul was expounding the gospel Jesus Christ Himself preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom 1:16), “the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25). And the gospel Christ preached is faithful service to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21); “Who then is that faithful and wise steward” (Luk 12:42); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10); “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luk 19:17); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46).
Paul’s statement, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), has been turned into a salvation formula—just call Him “Lord” from our mouths. However, Paul had already taught earlier, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom 6:16). We’re servants of whom we obey as Lord, not just call “Lord.”
Furthermore, Romans 10:9 must be understood within the context of its preceding quotation: “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deu 30:12-14). Moses was prophesying about Christ’s coming as Lord, “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). Confessing Him as Lord is a commitment or pledge to do what He said. The pledge itself doesn’t save, faithfully keeping the pledge does.
The apostles and early church called themselves “servants,” “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1); “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 1:1); “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2Pe 1:1); “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” (Jde 1:1). They never once called themselves “believers” but translations have been doctored to read as though they did.
We’ve been sold the lie of sola fide. And to discourage us even further from obeying the Lord, we’re told that anything we do is our own meritorious works and not faith. It’s a devious and absurd “gospel” message that assures we won’t be saved.
What God and gospel do Trinitarian ministers preach? Is it the God that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself preached? Is it the gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself preached? If it’s not, then what does that say about them? Jesus preached the truth, and anyone preaching different is wrong. Since no subjects are more important than God and the gospel, if Trinitarian ministers are wrong about what’s most important, why listen to them about anything else?
Several times Christ called Himself “the Son of God,” and twice from heaven His Father called Him “My Beloved Son.” The Son never called Himself “God” and the Father never called His Son “God.” The Son did, however, call His Father “God” and called Him the only true God, “thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent” (Jhn 17:3). Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that the Father is the only true God but preach that Christ is also God.
Christ taught that He was begotten of God: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son … the only begotten Son of God” (Jhn 3:16,18); “I proceeded forth and came from God” (Jhn 8:42); “I came out from God. I came forth from the Father” (Jhn 16:27,28). It’s His own words “begotten,” “proceeded forth,” and “came out from God” about Himself that attest to His begetting and His beginning. Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that the Son had a beginning but preach that He has always existed as God Himself.
Christ called His Father “my God” before He died, after He was resurrected, and after He was seated next to Him: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34); “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and tomy God, and your God” (Jhn 20:17); “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God” (Rev 3:12). Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that the Father is the Son’s God but preach that the Son is co-equal with the Father.
Christ stated that His miracles were not of Himself: “I cast out devils by the Spirit [breath] of God” (Mat 12:28); “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (Jhn 5:19); “I can of mine own self do nothing” (Jhn 5:30); “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (Jhn 14:10). Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that Christ was given the power to work miracles but preach that His miracles were by His own power as God Himself.
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, He said nothing of believing but everything of obeying. He began the main portion by declaring, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20). He said that if we don’t live righteously according to the standard He taught in this Sermon, then in no case, without exception, will we enter His Kingdom. We must live righteously to be saved. And He ended His Sermon, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). It’s simple—we’re saved by doing what He said but perish if we don’t. Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that we can live righteously but preach that we must only believe.
Christ preached faithfulness to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things” (Mat 25:21); “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luk 19:17); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10). Trinitarian ministers, however, deny that we’re saved by faithful service to Christ as Lord, and translate the Greek noun [pistis 4102] throughout the New Testament as “faith” rather than “faithfulness” to preach salvation by faith alone.
Trinitarian ministers transgress what the Son of God Himself taught about God, and what the Savior Himself taught about salvation. John wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2Jn 1:9). The view of God and the gospel preached by Trinitarian ministers transgresses the doctrine of Christ—He didn’t teach them. And according to John, whoever transgresses what Jesus Christ taught doesn’t have God.
The litmus test of any minister is if they preach the same God and gospel that Jesus Christ Himself preached. Trinitarian ministers, however, preach a different God and gospel, and therefore don’t have God. If they don’t have God, why listen to them?
When Paul began his letter to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (1:16), he didn’t mean the gospel about Christ but the gospel Christ Himself preached as evident by how he ended his letter, “the preaching of Jesus Christ” (16:25). The true gospel message, the message that saves, is the message the Savior Himself preached. Paul’s entire letter of Romans is defining and explaining the gospel Christ preached. Salvation or eternal life isn’t according to our beliefs but according to our actions, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds [actions]: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (2:6-7). “I know thy works [actions]” (Rev 2:2,9,13,19,3:1,8,15), “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work [actions] shall be” (Rev 22:12).
Jesus Christ preached, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17), “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Mat 7:12). That “this is” the law and the prophets is that this one commandment of doing good is the satisfying of all that was required in the law and the prophets. With regards to the requirements of the Old Covenant law, there’s a distinction between the moral and the formal, the righteous and the ritualistic. There’s no change in what’s morally and righteously required of God’s people from the Old Covenant to the New—Christ preached the same righteous standard. What changed is the formal and ritualistic from which Christ set us free, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal 5:1).
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, He said nothing of believing but everything of obeying. He began the main portion by declaring, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20). If we don’t live righteously according to the standard He taught in this Sermon, then in no case, without exceptions, will we enter His Kingdom. Toward the end of His Sermon, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [anomia 458]” (Mat 7:23), “you lawbreakers!” (NET), “you who practice lawlessness!” (NKJV). The Greek anomia is contempt, transgression, or violation of law. And He ended His Sermon with, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). It’s simple—if we do what He commanded we’ll be saved, but if we don’t we won’t be, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them … But he that heareth, and doeth not” (Luk 6:46,47,49).
Jesus Christ preached that we must fulfil the righteousness of the law: “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17); “That except your righteousness” (5:20); “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (6:33); “this is the law and the prophets” (7:12). And this was Paul’s gospel: “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law … if it fulfil the law” (Rom 2:26-27); “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (8:4); “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law … love isthe fulfilling of the law” (13:8,10).
Jesus Christ preached faithfulness to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things” (Mat 25:21); “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luk 19:17); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10). And He preached that unfaithful servants will perish, “The lord of that servant … shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” (Mat 24:50,51), “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness” (Mat 25:30). But to convey a different gospel message, throughout the New Testament the Greek noun [pistis 4102] and verb [pisteuo 4100] have been translated as “faith” and “believe” respectively, rather than “faithfulness” and “trust.” But Abraham isn’t our example of faith but of faithfulness: “because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18); “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5); “So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9). Furthermore, not even once were the early Christians called “believers,” but translations have been fudged to read that way: “All the believers were together” (Act 2:44 NIV); “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (4:32); “And all the believers used to meet together” (5:12).
The gospel of Christ is obedience to Him: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom 10:16); “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8); “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9).
Salvation has always been by trusting and obeying God. The Greek noun pistis and verb pisteuo appear some 250 times each in the New Testament but have been mistranslated as “faith” and “believe” respectively rather than “faithfulness” and “trust.” We’re not saved by believing some facts are true but by trusting and obeying the one true God—Him being the God of our lives.
Many times God’s people were told to keep His commandments: “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10); “Therefore shall ye keep my commandments” (Lev 22:31); “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (Lev 26:3); “That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God” (Num 15:40); “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God” (Deu 6:17); “Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments” (Deu 7:11); “Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God” (Deu 8:6).
It’s taught today, however, that God’s people couldn’t keep His commandments and neither can we because we all were born with a sin nature inherited from Adam. But that’s simply false doctrine that keeps us from obeying and being saved. Jesus Christ Himself taught that we must live according to the righteous standard He taught or we won’t be saved: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (7:23); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (7:24,26).
The gospel isn’t only to be believed but also obeyed: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom 10:16); “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9); “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (Jas 4:12); “And this is his commandment, That we should believe [trust] on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1Jo 3:23).
It’s taught today that Abraham is our example of faith but Paul taught his trust in God and faithfulness to Him, “Even as Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness … So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:6,9). And God Himself commended his obedience, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18), “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5).
Paul taught that to be counted righteous as Abraham, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3), we must trust God as he did, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe [trust] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom 4:23-24). This is what he meant later in his letter, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). It isn’t just believing the resurrection happened but trusting in God who made it happen, “Who by him do believe [trust] in God, that raised him up from the dead” (1Pe 1:21).
It was for lack of trust that God’s people were destroyed, “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed [trusted] not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief [distrust].” (Heb 3:18-19), “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not” (Jde 1:5).
Salvation is ultimately about the one true God being the God of our lives: “I will be their God” (Gen 17:8; Jer 24:7,32:38; Eze 11:20,37:23; Zec 8:8); “will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33); “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Jer 32:38); “ye shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Eze 36:28); “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Eze 37:27); “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2Co 6:16); “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb 8:10); “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb 11:16); “they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3); “I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev 21:7). And being the God of our lives means that we trust Him to provide for us, protect us, and defend us, and that we obey the commandments of His Son Jesus Christ.
Trinitarian ministers teach and preach extensively about Christ’s death on the Cross, burial in the tomb, and resurrection from the dead but hardly utter a peep about His ascension to heaven and current position as our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator at the right hand of God. They push the doctrine of Sola Fide or “faith alone”—that salvation consists only of believing the historical facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. What they apparently don’t want us to know, however, is that salvation is contingent upon faithfully serving the living Lord seated at God’s right hand.
That salvation isn’t dependent upon believing some facts are true is easily debunked by what Jesus taught about forgiveness, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mat 6:14-15). Regardless of our beliefs, if we don’t forgive others, we won’t be forgiven by God. Jesus illustrated this by a parable about a king that forgave one of his servants, “Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt” (Mat 18:27). However, the king later un-forgave him because he was found to be unforgiving, “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” (Mat 18:32-34). This man was forgiven but later unforgiven. So much for Once-Saved, Always-Saved!
We can believe some facts are true until the cows come home so to speak but will perish if we’re not obeying what Jesus Christ commanded and taught. We must faithfully serve and obey Him as Lord because He is the Lord seated at the right hand of God in heaven. Salvation is about pleasing God the Father in heaven, and the only way to please the Father is to faithfully serve His Son.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:14-18).
In the beginning, even before having created the first man, God showed figuratively in the heavens that His Son would be the Greater Ruler at His right hand. That He would “rule over the day” speaks of His Lordship over those called “Day” by God, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Gen 1:3-5). As foreseen by Him speaking “Let there be light” in the beginning, His Son came into the world and preached the truth to deceived humanity as if light was shining into the darkness, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (Jhn 1:1-5).
Profoundly, a staggering amount of matter is being prophesied and foretold in the concise statement “the greater light to rule the day.” The 4,000 years of human history that would follow had to have transpired essentially as it did for this statement to have been fulfilled and accomplished. The geographical, political, religious, and social state of humanity had to be precisely as it was for the Son of God to become human and consummate God’s plan from the beginning—His birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seating at His Father’s right hand as the Greater Ruler! He is now the Lord, Master, and Ruler over the “Day”—God’s people that agree with the truth He taught and preached, publicly repent and confess Him as their Lord, and faithfully obey Him seated at God’s right hand in heaven.
This prophecy from the beginning is what Paul meant in the opening statement of his letter to the church at Ephesus, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). Since the Greek adjective epouranios rendered “heavenly” doesn’t include a noun for it to modify, the translators dutifully supplied “places” in its place. However, a different noun that helps our understanding of Paul’s intended message isn’t a place but a thing—the heavenly body of the sun, “There are also celestial [epouranios] bodies [soma], and bodies [soma] terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [epouranios]is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” (1Co 15:40-41).
The subject of First Corinthians chapter 15, of course, is the resurrection of the human soma or body. But Paul ascribed the glory of bodily resurrection to that of the sun’s heavenly body—it rises and “rules” over the day by shining its light into the darkness. This lends to our understanding that the Son of God’s resurrected flesh and bone body now seated at God’s right hand in heaven is what is heavenly. The realm of the firmament of the heavens where the sun rules the day figuratively portrays the place of heaven itself where the Son rules from God’s throne at His right hand. Paul carried this thought on through his letter to the Ephesians:
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios] places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all thingsunder his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:16-23)
He had been praying earnestly that the Ephesians would come to understand these truths from the Scriptures, particularly from the creation account. The “revelation in the knowledge of him” is that Jesus Christ personally revealed to Paul the message about Himself that had been hidden within the creation narrative—that the Greater Light is Him ruling in the heavenly at God’s right hand over “all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.” At God’s right hand, His enemies are “under his feet” as David prophesied, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psa 110:1).
Seated together with Him
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace [favor] ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace [favor] in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
Twice in this passage, Paul said “by grace [favor] ye are saved” (v. 5), “For by grace [favor] are ye saved” (v. 8). This is the favor God bestowed on His chosen people over all other people, “According as he hath chosen us in him” (1:4). He favored them by sending His Son to shed His precious blood for their sins, “To the praise of the glory of his grace [favor], wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace [favor]” (1:6-7). Therefore, when he said, “For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]” (2:8), it’s not about our faith or belief but about Christ’s faithfulness to shed His blood, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access [prosagoge] to God because of Christ’s faithfulness” (3:11-12 NET). We were dead in our sins “Even when we were dead in sins” (2:5), but were saved by Christ’s faithfulness to His Father to come into this world and shed His precious blood for our sins, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace [favor]” (1:7).
Although salvation was accomplished for God’s favored people from which Gentiles were alienated, “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph 2:12), but now Gentiles can be joined with them, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Both now have access to God the Father, “For through him we both have access [prosagoge] by one Spirit [Breath] unto the Father” (Eph 2:18), “access [prosagoge] to God because of Christ’s faithfulness” (Eph 3:12 NET).
This access to God is by His Son seated at His right hand advocating, mediating, and interceding for us. Because we have access to God by His Son seated “in heavenly” as our Representative, Paul spoke of this as though we’re seated there ourselves together with Him, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace [favor] ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6).
Principalities and powers
In the beginning, however, God made not just one but two great lights that depict two rulers, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” (Gen 1:16). The first three times Paul used epouranios in his letter to the Ephesians, he was teaching about “the greater light” (Gen 1:16) seated at God’s right hand: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ” (1:3); “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set himat his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios] places” (1:20); “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). Christ seated on God’s throne was given authority over all principalities and powers in heaven and in earth, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat 28:18), “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set himat his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion” (Eph 1:20-21), “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1Pe 3:22).
However, the last two times he used epouranios in this same letter, Paul was teaching about “the lesser light” (Gen 1:16) of principalities and powers: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [epouranios] places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (3:10); “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios] places” (6:12).
Principalities and powers are evil spirits operating through flesh and blood human beings primarily in positions of political and religious power: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [arche], against powers [exousia]” (Eph 6:12); “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates [arche], and powers [exousia], take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say” (Luk 12:11); “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power [arche] and authority [exousia] of the governor” (Luk 20:20); “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities [arche] and powers [exousia], to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Tit 3:1).
It was the corrupt religious leaders that conspired together and persuaded the political powers to have Jesus Christ falsely sentenced to death. But His empty tomb and the outpouring on the Day of Pentecost publicly exposed and shamed their miscarriage of justice, “And having spoiled principalities [arche] and powers [exousia], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2:15). Also, the prophets in the Old Testament and apostles in the New suffered frequently at the hands of religious and political leaders on account of the truth they preached.
As we march headlong toward the end times, all over the world evil is escalating and heightening by principalities and powers working through religious and political authorities. What God has been withholding, He has increasingly been allowing, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2Th 2:6-7). God limits and sets bounds for what the devil and his cohorts are able to do. We see this illustrated with His handling of Satan in Job’s case, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:12), “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6).
God allows us to suffer to a limited extent at the hand of the enemy to test our faithfulness to Him. During the end times, in particular, we will suffer for not taking the mark of the beast. However, as with Job we’re guaranteed a happy ending, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (Jas 5:11). Although we will suffer, we don’t have to fear principalities and powers when we’re faithfully submitted to the Greater Light seated at God’s right hand.
The whole armor of God
Of course, the “two great lights” (Gen 1:16) created in the firmament of the heavens by the Son of God are the literal sun and moon by which the temporal life-cycle on this earth is sustained and perpetuated. But He created them to also represent figuratively His message of eternal life, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). This woman is the corporate body of God’s people consisting of Jews joined by Gentiles—all nationalities and ethnic people groups. And it’s only because she’s clothed with the sun that the moon is under her feet. At God’s right hand, Christ has been given absolute power and authority over all principalities and powers, and the expression “under his feet” conveys that message: “thou hast put all thingsunder his feet” (Psa 8:6); “For he hath put all things under his feet” (1Co 15:27); “And hath put all thingsunder his feet” (Eph 1:22); “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet” (Heb 2:8).
Although the principalities and powers are under Christ’s feet, they’re said to be under the woman’s feet as well by virtue of her being “clothed with” or “putting on” Christ: “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet” (Rev 12:1), “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom 13:12-14). What she is “clothed with” or has “put on” is the armor of God:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios] places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Paul had already laid the groundwork for teaching about this armor earlier in his letter, “And hath put all things under his feet” (1:22), “and made us sit together in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). Christ seated at God’s right hand has all principalities and powers under His feet, and the woman—the collective body of God’s people—when clothed with His armor, also has all principalities and powers under her feet as if seated together with Him. This is the essence of what it means for Christ to be our Advocate, Interceder, and Mediator.
Now obviously, this armor is only metaphorical and was intended by Paul to simply help our understanding of salvation, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (1:18). He was equating Christ’s advocacy in our defense to that of a protective suit of armor and even correlating specific spiritual truths to individual pieces of the whole: “having your loins girt about with truth … the breastplate of righteousness … your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace … the shield of faith [faithfulness] … the helmet of salvation … the sword of the Spirit [Breath] … Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit [Breath]” (6:14-18).
These pieces of armor toward the end of his letter are the aggregate of Paul’s teaching permeating throughout it. For example, he had already instructed, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (4:20-21), which is the sense of the first piece of armor, “having your loins girt about with truth” (6:14). The only way we are “able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (6:11) and overcome his deceptions, is by learning the truth Jesus Christ taught. If we don’t hear the truth from Jesus and live by it in faithful service to Him, we will be deceived and perish.
Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:42-46)
And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly. (Mark 12:35-37)
En route to the Cross, Jesus silenced the religious leaders with a conundrum from David’s writings, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psa 110:1). He was making it known beforehand that this was a prophecy about Himself that would be fulfilled in Him. His ensuing death would be consummated by resurrection, ascension, and seating at God’s right hand.
John chapters 14-16 records Him teaching His disciples about His coming advocacy at the Father’s right hand: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate [parakletos] to help you and be with you forever” (Jhn 14:16 NIV); “But the Advocate [parakletos], the Holy Spirit [breath], whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jhn 14:26 NIV); “When the Advocate [parakletos] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit [breath] of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (Jhn 15:26 NIV); “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate [parakletos] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jhn 16:7 NIV).
The Greek parakletos for “advocate” was used only these four times by Christ and once many years later by John, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate [parakletos] with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1Jo 2:1 NIV). An advocate is one that speaks in favor, support, or defense of another—similar to armor! Christ’s advocacy for us at God’s right hand means that we’re favored, supported, and defended by God when falsely accused or maligned. He is our Representative before God.
Of course, since Christ used the personal pronouns “he” and “him” for the Holy Breath in His discourse, it’s the favorite passage of Trinitarian ministers to support their claim of a literal third person. But Christ was only speaking figuratively as He said so Himself: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs” (Jhn 16:25), “I have told you these things in obscure figures of speech” (Jhn 16:25 NET), “Though I have been speaking figuratively” (Jhn 16:25 NIV), “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language” (Jhn 16:25 NKJV). He was talking about His advocacy in the third person, not of a third person! It was only a figure of speech.
Regardless of what He said about His own words, Trinitarian ministers take Him literally, making Him say something else. The doctrine of the Trinity not only misrepresents the correct view of God but also the correct view of salvation. By turning Christ’s words about the parakletos into a teaching about another person rather than about Himself, His intended message of His position as our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator at the right hand of God is cloaked. This leaves a vacuum for the message of salvation by faith or simply believing some facts are true to be taught.
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:7-11 NIV)
The apostle John, present when Christ taught about the Advocate, later identified Him as the Advocate, “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate [parakletos] with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1Jo 2:1 NIV). When Jesus said “about righteousness, because I am going to the Father,” He was indicating that the only means of righteousness before the Father is through His advocacy at His right hand. The outpouring of God’s Breath on the Day of Pentecost proved to the world His righteousness—it vindicated His unjust execution as a criminal by publicly displaying that He did indeed go to the Father and was now seated as the Righteous One at His right hand.
The Day of Pentecost
The main thrust of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost was the reality of Christ now seated at the right hand of God, “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved” (Act 2:25), “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Breath], he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Act 2:33-35).
These statements Christ made before His death, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate” (Jhn 14:16 NIV), “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father” (Jhn 15:26 NIV), “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jhn 16:7 NIV), He fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost by sending the Holy Breath from the right hand of the Father. The Breath is called “the Advocate” because the Breath was sent from the Advocate. It isn’t literally another person but denoted as such by virtue of the person from whom it was sent. Since we have God’s Breath in our hearts by Christ’s advocacy before God, the Breath itself is equated metaphorically with the Advocate Himself. The presence of God’s Breath can be regarded as Christ.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul taught about those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath]” (Rom 8:1, 4). This flesh versus breath antithesis isn’t material versus non-material but rather two distinct classes or categories of people differentiated by the indwelling Breath of God, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit [Breath], if so be that the Spirit [Breath] of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9). Those that have God’s Breath in their hearts belong to God as one of His favored people. However, the Breath of God comes only through Christ, “Now if any man have not the Spirit [Breath] of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom 8:9). And the Breath of God can be called “the Breath of Christ” because it was sent by Christ from God’s right hand, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate,” “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father,” “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you,” “having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Breath], he hath shed forth this.” Therefore, those that belong to God affirm and follow the message Peter preached on the day that Christ sent God’s Breath from His right hand.
The Day of Pentecost with the accompanying sign of tongues, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isa 28:11), is the foundation of Christianity, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isa 28:16). Jerusalem is Zion—the city of David. Around 50 days after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, while Christ’s empty tomb itself was still preaching loudly just outside Jerusalem and while David’s tomb was still occupied with his remains, Peter preached the gospel message of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seating at God’s right hand. This was also the message of his first letter: “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost [Breath] sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1Pe 1:12); “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1Pe 2:6); “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1Pe 3:22).
The saving gospel message is the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, seating, and current advocacy of Christ at God’s right hand. This is the “sure foundation” that was laid on the Day of Pentecost. Trinitarian ministers, on the other hand, preach only part of this saving message. By delivering a message that stops short at the resurrection and proof-texted with various Scriptures, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), they make a convincing case that we need only to believe in His resurrection to be saved.
Christ our High Priest
That Paul didn’t mean we need only to believe in Christ’s resurrection as a historical fact by his statement “believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead” (10:9), is evident by his references to Isaiah’s prophecy about the Day of Pentecost preceding and following his statement, “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth [trusts] on him shall not be ashamed” (9:33), “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth [trusts] on him shall not be ashamed” (10:11). The “Whosoever believeth [trusts] on him,” are those trusting on God that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand as Lord, “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe [trust] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (4:24). We must publicly confess Him as our Lord and from that point forward faithfully obey Him as Lord in a trusting relationship with God. That Paul didn’t mean to simply believe in Christ’s resurrection as a historical fact is also evident by what he taught earlier in his letter about Christ’s intercession for us at the right hand of God:
Likewise the Spirit [Breath] also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Breath] itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit [Breath], because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. … Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:26-27, 33-34)
Christ’s intercession at the right hand of God is His current role as High Priest. This message of Him as High Priest at God’s right hand was interwoven throughout the letter to the Hebrews: “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3); “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (1:13); “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet” (2:8); “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1); “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace” (4:16); “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb 5:6); Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb 5:10); “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb 6:20); “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb 7:17, 21); “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (7:25); “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (8:1); “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament” (9:15); “but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (9:24); “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (10:13); “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:19); “set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2); “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (12:24); “if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” (12:25).
This statement in particular, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:23-25), correlates with what Paul taught the Romans, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath].” (Rom 8:3-4). The Law of Moses, with its endless stream of animal sacrifices and priests sinful themselves that were continually replaced due to death, is what was “weak through the flesh.” However, “God sending his own Son” in the flesh to be the one and only perfect sacrifice for our sins, then seating Him at His right hand as our sinless High Priest that “ever liveth to make intercession” for us, is what is meant by “the Spirit [Breath] itself maketh intercession for us.”
Those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath],” are God’s people that no longer live under the Law that was “weak through the flesh” but have turned to the Lord with God’s Breath in their hearts, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit [Breath] of God dwell in you” (8:9). Since the Breath of God was sent from God by Christ at His right hand, it can be called “the Spirit [Breath] of Christ” (8:9). Therefore, “if Christ be in you” (8:10) by God’s Breath being in us, then “the Spirit [Breath] itself maketh intercession for us” (8:26), “at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (8:34). This is also what Paul taught the Ephesians, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit [Breath] unto the Father” (Eph 2:18), “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit [Breath] in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith [faithfulness]” (Eph 3:16-17).
Faithful unto death
The messages to the seven churches in Asia recorded in Revelation chapters 2-3 are from Christ in His position of authority at the right hand of God. Speaking as our Advocate, Interceder, and Mediator, He called Himself “the Breath” seven times, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit [Breath] saith unto the churches” (2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). And Paul had also called Christ “the Breath” in His intercession for us at the right hand of God, “the Spirit [Breath] itself maketh intercession for us” (Rom 8:26), “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom 8:34).
As Advocate at the right hand of God, Jesus demanded five of the seven churches in Asia to repent: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (2:5); “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (2:16); “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds” (2:22); “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (3:3); “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (3:19). It’s because He is our Advocate before the Father that we can be forgiven of our sin when we repent, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1Jo 2:1).
When we disobey the Lord Jesus Christ, we’re being unfaithful to Him in our sin. But so long as He allows us to repent and continues to advocate for us before the Father, we remain in faithful service to Him as Lord and in a standing of righteousness before God. He said that eternal life is to those faithful to Him unto death, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10). He also commended one of His servants by name that had given his life in faithfulness to Him, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith [faithfulness], even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth” (Rev 2:13). And Paul’s last words before his death were that he had remained faithful, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith [faithfulness]” (2Ti 4:6-7), “I have remained faithful” (NLT).
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews warned them against being unfaithful, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief [unfaithfulness], in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb 3:12-14). Later in chapter 11, he cited many examples of Old Testament saints that were faithful unto death, “By faith [faithfulness] Abel” (v. 4), “By faith [faithfulness] Enoch” (v. 5), “By faith [faithfulness] Noah” (v. 7),
“By faith [faithfulness] Abraham” (v. 8), “These all died in faith [faithfulness]” (v. 13). All of these examples of faithfulness culminate with Jesus Christ’s faithfulness unto death, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of ourfaith [faithfulness]; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
The reason we all need to be exhorted and warned to stay faithful to the Lord unto death is because it’s difficult to do. If it was easy there would be no need for warning. And if faithfulness to the Lord is unnecessary for salvation then the warnings themselves are also unnecessary. Why would anyone nullify these very warning passages in Hebrews given to help us remain faithful to the end? Yet that’s what many ministers do.
Since salvation is by faithfully serving the Lord and trusting God from our hearts, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), therefore the Lord searches and examines our hearts, “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts” (Rev 2:23). Anyone can say they’re trusting God and can appear to be trusting God, but truly trusting God comes from the heart and is discerned through overcoming trials, “that ye may be tried” (Rev 2:10), “to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10). James and Peter both said the same, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:3), “That the trial of your faith [faithfulness], being much more precious than of gold that perisheth” (1Pe 1:7).
The greatest assurance of salvation is when our faithfulness to the Lord is tested and we pass the tests. Tried and proven faithfulness is more precious and valuable than any amount of gold and riches on this earth. On the other hand, if salvation is simply by believing some facts are true, then suffering doesn’t make much sense and serves no apparent purpose. But when we begin to understand that our willingness to suffer in obedience to the Lord demonstrates what’s truly in our hearts, then suffering takes on a whole new perspective. And Jesus is our preeminent example by willingly suffering faithfully unto death, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (Jhn 10:17-18).
Furthermore, Christ said to each of the seven churches: “To him that overcometh” (2:7); “He that overcometh” (2:11); “To him that overcometh” (2:17); “And he that overcometh” (2:26); “He that overcometh” (3:5); “Him that overcometh” (3:12); “To him that overcometh” (3:21). And at the end of His seven messages, He defined what it means to overcome, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit [Breath] saith unto the churches.” (3:21-22). Salvation isn’t about simply believing some facts are true but about overcoming in a similar manner that Jesus Christ Himself overcame—to willingly suffer as He did, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jhn 10:18). We look to Him as our example of faithfulness unto death, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [faithfulness]” (Heb 12:2).
Trinitarian ministers don’t teach much, if at all, about Christ’s current position as our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator at the right hand of God. Instead, they fill that void with the message that salvation is by simply believing some facts are true. It seems they don’t want us to know that salvation is contingent upon faithfully serving the living Lord seated at God’s right hand.
It was foretold in the very beginning, through the creation itself that the Lord Jesus Christ would be seated at the right hand of the Father as “the Greater Light” ruling over His people “the Day.” Human history was later orchestrated and caused to unfold the way it did to consummate the fulfillment of that prophecy. The salvation of mankind was accomplished by “the Greater Light” at God’s right hand and procured by our submission and faithfulness to Him.
The Day of Pentecost became the underlying foundation of Christianity. From His position at the right hand of God, the Lord Jesus Christ sent God’s Breath from heaven for those that repent and are baptized into His name, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Act 2:38). Those with God’s Breath in their hearts have turned from their former way of life unto faithfulness to His name until death.
When we live in faithful obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God, it’s as though we’re shod with a suit of armor in defense against our enemy the devil. And the very first piece of this metaphorical armor is the truth Jesus Christ taught. Without the truth from Him, we will be deceived and we will perish. Our salvation depends upon hearing the truth from Jesus and doing it, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them” (Mat 7:24), “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:26). It’s because Jesus is seated at the right hand of God as our Advocate that we’re said to be seated together with Him, “And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). We overcome the deceptions and temptations of this world only by sitting with Him on His throne, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3:21). And when we’re seated together with Him, all things under His feet are also under ours.
Trinitarian scholars, theologians, and pastors hold a tight grip over mainstream Christianity by masquerading as the purveyors of the truth and denouncing true teachers gifted by Christ as unlearned and uneducated. They’re full of tactics and schemes to magnify themselves and minimize others in the eyes of their followers. They persuade their followers against true teachers to keep them deceived and on the broad way that leads to destruction.
True teachers, on the other hand, are gifted by Jesus Christ to teach His message. They remain faithful to Him and His teaching regardless of being ridiculed, defamed, and silenced. While false teachers abound and can be easily heard, true teachers are few and censored from public hearing.
Unlearned and uneducated men
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Act 4:13). Instead of “unlearned and ignorant men,” other versions have “uneducated and ordinary men” (NET), “unschooled, ordinary men” (NIV). Two of the greatest disciples and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ were belittled by the religious leaders as unlearned and uneducated.
It’s true that Peter and John were uneducated when compared with the religious leaders of the day. They had both been fishermen before leaving behind the family business to follow Jesus. However, they became two of the three that were Christ’s “inner circle” of the 12 that witnessed His transfiguration on the mountain. Peter was the apostle that preached on the Day of Pentecost and established the Jewish body of Christians through the first half of the book of Acts. John was entrusted with the care of Christ’s mother and was the last living apostle to lead the Christians. Between them both, they wrote 7 of the 27 books in the New Testament.
Not only were two of His greatest disciples demeaned as unlearned but so was Christ Himself, “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (Jhn 7:14-16). If Christ Himself had “never learned” according to the Jewish leaders, then it’s no wonder Peter and John were esteemed unlearned as well—they learned from the unlearned! But Christ replied, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” He learned from God Himself.
Christ and His apostles were scorned by the religious leaders as unlearned and the same is true today. Essentially, this same dynamic is at work today where the doctrines of men are disguised and hailed as teaching the truth while any nonconformists are discredited. Trinitarian scholars, theologians, and pastors with their systematic theology boast of being the experts in Christian doctrine while degrading any outside their circle that didn’t graduate from seminary. They perpetuate their false doctrines to the simple under the façade of being the learned and educated.
As with the media feigning objectivity in order to push their liberal agenda, Trinitarian seminaries likewise are corrupt. When students go to these seminaries to get a theological degree, the doctrine of the Trinity is incessantly drilled into them. Anyone raising questions or objecting to this view of God is dealt with and eventually pressured to leave or even discharged if deemed nonconforming. The bottom line is that those finishing seminary and receiving a degree are pledged and devoted to Trinitarianism. It’s not that they’re necessarily smarter or know more than those that didn’t finish but that they succumbed and bowed the knee: “bowed down to their gods” (Num 25:2); “they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them” (Jdg 2:17); “fall down and worship the golden image” (Dan 3:10); “bowed the knee to the image of Baal” (Rom 11:4).
This doesn’t mean that every person graduating from seminary has passed the point of no return and can never repent and turn back to God. For many, this is the case but some might still have hope although it’s extremely difficult for them to ever depart from Trinitarianism. Leaving means essentially losing everything into which they’ve invested their lives, then setting out like Abraham not knowing where they’re going, “and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Heb 11:8). But this is what it means to walk in Abraham’s steps of faithfulness to God, “who also walk in the steps of that faith [faithfulness] of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised” (Rom 4:12). Abraham was faithful to God in obeying Him and walking away from everything into what appeared to be nothing.
Moses forsook his name, position, and wealth in Egypt in exchange for a life of suffering with the people of God, “By faith [faithfulness] Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Heb 11:24-26).
Paul relinquished everything he had built his life upon, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” (Phl 3:5-7). He not only gave up his life of wealth, power, and prestige but exchanged it for a life of tremendous persecution and suffering:
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11:22-27)
Tactics of Trinitarian theologians
Rather than sincerely seeking the truth and submitting to it, Trinitarian theologians fight to defend their system of theology. They’re full of ploys to intimidate their followers and keep them dependent on themselves and their system. Their tactics alone should be enough to convince us that something is seriously wrong. They’re threatened by anyone trying to understand the truth from the Scriptures for themselves and will employ an arsenal of tactics against them.
They make their followers dependent upon them. Their credentials and degrees are from Trinitarian seminaries and they’re endorsed by a strong support system of highly esteemed Trinitarians. Anybody not endorsed by them is a “nobody” and we shouldn’t listen to them. They use big words and theological jargon to make their doctrines sound official and authoritative. They’re proficient in apologetics, not to defend the truth, but to defend their theological system.
They misuse the Scriptures. They start with their system of theology as their basis of “truth,” then impose it upon the Scriptures. They mistranslate certain words like pneuma as “spirit” rather than “breath” and pistis as “faith” rather than “faithfulness” to conceal what’s being said. They also find statements that sound like or can be made to sound like, support for their Trinitarian system such as “making himself equal with God” (Jhn 5:18), but ignore or explain away statements that disagree with their system such as the very next verse “the Son can do nothing of himself” (Jhn 5:19). And those sincerely trying to understand the truth from the Scriptures for themselves get scoffed that they’re not using sound hermeneutics or that they’re allegorizing the Scriptures.
They act as the arbiters of the truth. They appoint themselves to act as the “doctrine police” over everyone else to make it appear that they have the truth. They tell us which ministries and teachers to avoid. They tell us what beliefs are supposedly essential and non-essential for salvation. By fighting what’s false, they appear to be crusading for truth.
They make false claims. They claim that their system of theology is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3) and that the Trinitarian view of God is the historical view established by the early church. They also claim that Trinitarianism is essential for salvation and that blasphemy against the Spirit is denying that the Spirit is a person. But these are simply false claims they’ve been largely successful at pawning as the truth.
They appeal to the majority. They point to large numbers and the majority as evidence of the truth. After all, they balk, 2 billion Trinitarians couldn’t all be wrong, could they? But by the same argument, could 2 billion Muslims all be wrong? Of course! They’ll also appeal to great Christian men and women in history as being Trinitarians and that libraries and bookshelves are full of published works by Trinitarians.
They make false comparisons. By pointing to Arius as obviously wrong (and he was!), therefore the doctrine of the Trinity must be right. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are obviously wrong (and they are!), therefore the doctrine of the Trinity must be right. It’s simply a dishonest tactic posing as a champion for the truth.
They intimidate and instill fear. They make us fear falling into error by studying the Scriptures on our own when really they just don’t want us falling into the truth. We supposedly need a group consensus which, of course, must be a group of Trinitarians! They warn us that if we deny the doctrine of the Trinity we’ll be categorized with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Unitarians. Also, we’ll be branded a heretic and seen as leading our family into a cult.
They silence and censor. They proclaim that the doctrine of the Trinity is a closed case that’s not open for discussion and even questioning this doctrine is the danger of blasphemy against the Spirit for which they will never be forgiven. They acclaim and praise those that agree with them but won’t recommend, acknowledge, or support anyone that’s not a Trinitarian.
They belittle and mock. They appeal to their credentials and discredit those without. They’ll say, “Why should anyone listen to you? Did you graduate from seminary? Are you smarter than the scholars and theologians? Why would God allow you to understand the truth?” Their favorite saying is, “If it’s new it’s not true, and if it’s true it’s not new.” However, when the truth is finally taught it only seems new because they haven’t been teaching it!
They sway the people
Corrupt religious leaders don’t fear God, they fear the people: “And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet” (Mat 14:5); “But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet” (Mat 21:26); “But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed” (Mar 11:32); “And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way” (Mar 12:12); “And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them” (Luk 20:19); “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people” (Luk 22:2); “Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned” (Act 5:26).
Because of their power and influence over the people, religious leaders persuade and move them to accomplish their agenda: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus” (Mat 27:20); “But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them” (Mar 15:11); “But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people” (Act 17:13).
The same is happening in churches today—leaders are swaying people to keep them loyal to their system. The name Barabbas means “son of a father” while, of course, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father. People today are being moved and stirred to “ask Barabbas” but “destroy Jesus.” This is what the writer of Hebrews was warning his readers about, “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb 6:6). It’s tantamount to rejecting Christ when rejecting His gifted teachers that are delivering His message. But simple and trusting people in churches today are being told a narrative about the true teachers so that they’ll refuse them but keep Barabbas.
Christian bookstores are full of glossy paged books and commentaries that seem very appealing and helpful but ultimately communicate a different God and different message than the Lord Jesus Christ preached. It takes much time and effort to find the truth. This is why we love shortcuts consisting of study guides, outlines, modern translations, footnotes, devotionals, reading plans, and 30 days to this or that. But it’s just another tactic of the devil and his ministers—to make his doctrine as easy, convenient, and appealing as possible. When speaking of false teachers Peter said “they allure through the lusts of the flesh” (2Pe 2:18). They appeal to our laziness by making things easy and comfortable. We work hard at our jobs to feed our stomachs yet don’t want to exert much effort for our souls. Our enemy is all too eager to make everything smooth and effortless so that we’ll stay blinded and belonging to him. If we’re not willing to work hard at finding the truth by studying for ourselves and asking God to help us, we’ll stay deceived and perish.
Letters of recommendation
We’ve been hoodwinked into believing that credentials issued by men is the main qualifier for teaching the Scriptures. But this is nothing new. The same trickery was peddled in the early church.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
The Corinthians had begun looking to “credentialed” men to teach them. But Paul’s qualifications as a true minister of God didn’t come from any man’s writing on a piece of paper whether it be a signed letter of recommendation from an upper-echelon or a graduate diploma from a theological school. The Corinthians themselves were his “writing” of qualification so to speak. The fact that they even existed as a church is on account of the Lord calling Paul to them, “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Act 16:10). This made them “the epistle of Christ” or Paul’s letter of recommendation from Jesus Christ Himself!
The persecution and resistance Paul experienced on his way through Macedonia to reach the Corinthians also qualified him as a true minister of God: “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely” (Act 16:23); “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea” (Act 17:10); “But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people” (Act 17:13). Delivering the truth requires suffering and sacrifice.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Mat 5:11-12). At the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was saying that the same pattern of persecution experienced by the true prophets in the Scriptures is what would also be endured by men of God in the church age. He carried forward this same idea toward the end of His Sermon when He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). These “false prophets” aren’t men professing to be prophets necessarily, but false teachers that don’t fit the pattern of the true prophets in the Scriptures, “for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” And this is how Peter understood Christ’s words, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you” (2Pe 2:1). True teachers fit the mold of the prophets—they’re persecuted in the same way.
The measure of faithfulness
For I say, through the grace [favor] given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith [faithfulness]. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace [favor] that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesyaccording to the proportion of faith [faithfulness]; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8)
In the statement, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith [faithfulness],” the Greek pistis is mistranslated, as in almost 250 other places throughout the New Testament, as “faith” instead of “faithfulness.” It makes no sense to have been given a measure of belief. What has been given, however, are different measures or portions of the Lord’s “goods” over which each of His servants have the responsibility of faithfulness, “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” (Mat 25:14-15), “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:21).
God’s people are shown special favor through His Son Jesus Christ over all other people on the earth—He forgives their sins and counts them right with Him. But within the collective body of His favored people, God also bestows varying measures of favored gifts to each individual member, “But unto every one of us is given grace [favor] according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph 4:7), “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11). Obviously, the apostles and prophets were highly favored and uniquely gifted with more “talents” than the rest of us. Consequently, Christ required more from them, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luk 12:48).
Those that teach the Scriptures will be held to a higher standard of judgment than other Christians, “My brethren, be not many masters [didaskalos 1320], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (Jas 3:1). The Greek didaskalos means “teachers.” Personally speaking, teaching isn’t something that I chose to do or particularly care to do but it’s what I’ve come to recognize that I’ve been gifted with. I don’t relish the responsibility but approach it very seriously and soberly. I enjoy studying the Scriptures and teaching either in writing or speaking more than anything else in life. And I’ve learned that Christ has gifted me with being able to understand the truth communicated through the Scriptures beyond what others are capable of. It’s not a matter of intelligence or credentials but of gifting. I’m simply trying to follow the example of other unlearned men of God.
True teachers are silenced
True teachers gifted by Christ are hard to find because there aren’t very many relative to the plethora of false teachers lurking everywhere. And they’re censored from public hearing by the false teachers. They don’t want true servants of Christ to find each other and join together. Therefore, there are many of us struggling to serve Christ without an assembly for fellowship and support.
Those that bow the knee to the Trinitarian theological system get endorsed, supported, funded, and praised while the true teachers get derided, suppressed, and silenced. I’m not a fan of the internet at all. I would love to go back to the days during the first 25 years of my life when it didn’t exist. However, these are the times in which we now live and we don’t have much choice but to use the internet as our main means for communication.
Peter and John, two of the greatest disciples and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, were belittled as unlearned and uneducated men by the religious leaders of their day. And the same pattern is at work today—Trinitarian theologians, scholars, and pastors tout their credentials while undermining teachers truly gifted by Christ. Trinitarian leaders are full of tactics and ploys to exalt themselves and debase those esteemed as threat to their message and agenda.
We should be listening to the teachers Christ has gifted. These are men that have refused to bow their knee to the false view of God and false doctrines coerced by the Trinitarian leaders of mainstream Christianity. They fit the mold set by the prophets in the Scriptures, “for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mat 5:12). They’ve walked away from everything into nothing, “and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Heb 11:8). They don’t need to commend themselves or be recommended by others, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?” (2Co 3:1). Their credentials aren’t in writing on paper—a diploma hanging on the wall or affirmation by other ministers. Their credentials are the gifts from Christ Himself.
The message of faithfulness to God was declared from the beginning by the Son of God through the creation itself. It was later proclaimed to Abraham, and again to God’s people under Moses. And it was the message preached by the Son of God in the flesh. Salvation is by faithfulness to God in submitting to His only begotten Son Jesus Christ—obeying His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for His sake.
The message of sola fide or “faith alone” conceived about 500 years ago during the Protestant Reformation isn’t the message the Son of God preached. Its purpose all along is to be just another means of keeping people on the broad way that leads to annihilation, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14).
The message of faithfulness from the beginning
God’s message of salvation from the beginning is faithfulness to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. In the creation account narrative, He showed that He would choose a people to Himself, separate them from all other people, and seat His Son at His right hand to rule over them and advocate to God the Father on their behalf. His people would be saved by their faithfulness in submission and obedience to His purpose and plan from the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. (Genesis 1:1-5)
The Hebrew verb bāḏal means “to divide,” “to separate,” or “to sever.” These very first words of God were figurative and prophetic of what He would later perform by dividing, separating, or severing His people from all other people, “I am the LORD your God, which have separated [bāḏal 914] you from other people … have severed [bāḏal 914] you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev 20:24,26). God’s people would be light which He called “Day,” and all other people darkness which He called “Night.” Then God proceeded to distinguish them both by the ruler over them.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide [bāḏal 914] the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18)
This is what Paul meant by “in heavenly” at the beginning of Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios 2032] places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:3-4). God’s chosen people were shown by the Greater Light in heaven ruling over them while all other people are ruled by the lesser light, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios 2032] places” (Eph 6:12). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are yelight in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). The Greater Light shown in the beginning is now sitting at the right hand of God, greater and far above all principalities and powers, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set himat his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios 2032] places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21).
Salvation, therefore, is by faithfulness. It’s becoming one of God’s people, separated from all other people by faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ at God’s right hand in heaven. It’s being ruled by Him in faithful submission—obeying Him, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him.
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). Abraham’s faithfulness was tested and proven.
And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [Yehovah Yireh]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:11-14).
The Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God in heaven—saw Abraham’s faithfulness by his actions. James said, “shew me thy faith [faithfulness] without thy works [actions], and I will shew thee my faith [faithfulness] by my works [actions] … Was not Abraham our father justified by works [actions], when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (Jas 2:18, 21). The Hebrew Yehovah Yireh means “the existing One sees.” And this is what we were told in the beginning, “And God saw the light, that it was good” (Gen 1:4). God hid in a mystery the message of faithfulness—that He sees the light when He sees the faithful actions of His people. There was nobody on that mountain to see Abraham’s sacrifice except, of course, the existing One, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen 22:14). Faithfulness consists of sacrifices made that nobody but God sees.
And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)
As God’s people hoping in the promises made to Abraham, we partake of the same heavenly calling when our faithfulness is tested and proven, “Wherefore, holy [separated] brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle [apostolos 652] and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house” (Heb 3:1-2). The Greek apostolos is someone that is sent. In this case, it’s the Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God sent from God the Father.
Five times in Hebrews the Son of God is said to be seated at the right hand of God: “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3); “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (1:13); “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (8:1); “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); “and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2). That we’re “partakers of the heavenly calling,” is that when our faithfulness is tested, we’re blessed with the same calling from heaven as Abraham, “And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham” (Gen 22:11). Our Advocate at the right hand of God in heaven, calls us by name and blesses us, “So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9).
The faithfulness once delivered unto the separated
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace [favor] of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not. (Jude 1:3-5)
When Jude said, “earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jud 1:3), he wasn’t talking about a body of doctrinal beliefs that was delivered to the early church by the apostles, but the faithfulness that had been delivered to God’s people in the Exodus, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt” (Jud 1:5). God delivered His people from slavery, separated them from all other people to favor them, and began teaching them faithfulness to Him as soon as they crossed the Red Sea.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (Exodus 15:22-24)
This was the first of a series of hardships orchestrated by God to test and prove their faithfulness to Him, “and there he proved them” (Exo 15:25). However, they didn’t trust Him but continually complained: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exo 16:2); “the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD” (Exo 16:8); “And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses” (Exo 17:3). These tests of their faithfulness continued a total of ten times until culminating with their failure to trust God to defeat their enemies in the promised land.
Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice … How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. (Numbers 14:22,27-29)
Their unfaithfulness was cited as an example to us, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith [faithfulness] in them that heard it” (Heb 4:2). The vast majority of God’s people joined themselves with those that brought up the evil report and not with the faithful—namely Joshua and Caleb—that trusted God. This is “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3).
Many times God proved or tested His people’s faithfulness to Him: “and there he proved [nāsȃ 5254] them” (Exo 15:25); “that I may prove [nāsȃ 5254] them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exo 16:4); “God is come to prove [nāsȃ 5254] you” (Exo 20:20). It’s the same Hebrew word nacah as when He tested Abraham, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [nāsȃ 5254] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). The difficulties He caused His people to suffer humbled them and proved what was in their hearts, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, andto prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to know what wasin thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2), “Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to do thee good at thy latter end” (Deu 8:16).
God’s people today are saved by the same faithfulness that was delivered to them. Therefore, our faithfulness is also tested, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:2-3), “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith [faithfulness], being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 1:6-7).
The good message of Jesus Christ
The Greek euangelion translated as “gospel” means “good message.” It’s the message that Jesus Christ Himself preached: “preaching the gospel [euangelion 2098] of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23; Mar 1:14); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ” (Rom 1:16; 1Co 9:18; 2Co 4:4,9:13,10:14; Gal 1:7; 1Th 3:2); “Christ’s gospel [euangelion 2098]” (2Co 2:12); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8).
The message Jesus Christ preached is that we’re to obey His commandments: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26); “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20); “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jhn 14:15); “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (Jhn 14:21); “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jhn 15:14).
His good message wasn’t sola fide or just believing some facts are true—it’s obedience to Him and His commandments: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel [euangelion 2098]” (Rom 10:16); “that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8); “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9); “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of God” (1Pe 4:17).
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
Paul taught that when God said “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3), that it was figurative and prophetic of the good message Jesus Christ would preach 4,000 years later. The truth He taught and the commandments He gave made a clear division between God’s people and everyone else, “and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen 1:4-5). God’s people—the “Day”—would be ruled by His Son Jesus Christ, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:16). The gospel message from the beginning is that we must be one of God’s people, separated from the world by the hagios pneuma or separated breath of God in our hearts and keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being ruled by Him.
Paul quoted from Psalm 19 about the gospel, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel [euangelion 2098] of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things … Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:15,18). The creation itself has been preaching the good message of the Greater Light ruling over the day and the lesser light ruling over the night, “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There isno speech nor language,where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun” (Psa 19:2-4). Every day and night for 6,000 years—almost 2.2 million times—the gospel has been preached to all people regardless of language by the orbiting and rotation of the sun, earth, and moon. Salvation is a change of master, from being ruled by the lesser light to being ruled by the Greater Light.
This is also what the apostle John taught, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (Jhn 1:1,5). The light that shone in the darkness by Christ preaching His good message was in fulfillment of “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3). He is “the greater light to rule the day” (Gen 1:16), “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe [trust]. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jhn 1:6-9).
Jesus Christ taught faithfulness
Jesus taught that we must be faithful servants to Him as our Lord: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Mat 10:24); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Mat 24:45); “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:21); “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:23); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46); “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luk 12:42); “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters” (Luk 16:12-13); “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luk 17:10); “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luk 19:17).
Jesus taught faithfulness toward God, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith [faithfulness] toward God” (Heb 6:1). He healed and forgave the people’s sins that were faithful to God in receiving Him as their Messiah: “When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith [faithfulness], no, not in Israel” (Mat 8:10); “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith [faithfulness] said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mat 9:2); “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith [faithfulness] hath made thee whole” (Mat 9:22); “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us … Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith [faithfulness] be it unto you” (Mat 9:27, 29); “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith [faithfulness]: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Mat 15:28).
Jesus taught the fear of God, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5).
Jesus knows our actions, “I know thy works [actions]” (Rev 2:2,9,13,19,3:1,8,15), and will render to us accordingly, “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works [actions]” (Rev 2:23). As with Abraham, He sees our faithfulness by our actions.
Jesus was teaching faithfulness when He said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me … Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (Mat 25:40, 45). We’re going to be judged, not by how we treated those esteemed by society as more important but “the least of these.” As James taught, “My brethren, have not the faith [faithfulness] of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (Jas 2:1).
God routinely tests our faithfulness and ultimately what’s in our hearts, “to humble thee, andto prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2). At the time it’s happening, we don’t even realize we’re being tested which is why we’ll say later, “when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” (Mat 25:37-39). He puts us in situations, for example, where two people cross our path—one is rich and influential while the other is poor and needy—and He is watching how we treat them both. Our hearts are shown in how we treated the least esteemed, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Faithfulness to Him is shown by how we treated them.
The just shall live by faithfulness
The Greek pistis appears about 250 times in the New Testament and is almost always translated as “faith” but should be “faithfulness” instead. The key statement that indicates this is Habakkuk 2:4, “but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV). This is quoted three times in the New Testament but as “The just shall live by faith [pistis]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). But it’s not about our faith but Christ’s faithfulness, “his faithfulness.” Christ was faithful to His Father in always doing His will, culminating in His faithfulness to die for our sins on the cross.
In Romans, Paul quoted Habakkuk indicating that he understood “faithfulness” as the good message Jesus Christ preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [trusts]; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith [faithfulness] to faith [faithfulness]: as it is written, The just shall live by faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 1:16-17). And he reiterated this at the end of his letter, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel [euangelion 2098], and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25).
Jesus taught that most people are on the broad way that leads to annihilation while only a few are on the way that leads to eternal life, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life [eternal life], and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14). And the determining factor is either doing or not doing what He commanded, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26).
The word is near you
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
In these last words to God’s people from Moses, he was referring to the instructions he had given them to carry out once they entered the land, “These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people … And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse” (Deu 27:12-13), “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deu 27:26). And this they did under Joshua, “half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (Jos 8:33-34). Since all the people said “Amen” to the commandments they heard, the word was now in their mouths! They couldn’t plead ignorance later for not doing because they had affirmed from their mouths that they heard with their ears and understood with their hearts. Paul quoted Moses and applied it to the faithfulness we are to have toward the Lord Jesus Christ:
But the righteousness which is of faith [faithfulness] speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above🙂 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, evenin thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith [faithfulness], which we preach. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:6-9)
The hearing and doing of which Moses spoke, “that we may hear it, and do it … in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:11-13), was prophetic of hearing and doing the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26). Therefore, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), isn’t a confession of faith but of faithfulness. We’re essentially saying “Amen” from our mouths that we’ve heard His commandments and we’ll do them.
Baptism is our commitment to do everything Christ commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:19-20). Being baptized into His name means that we’ve died to our name and have committed ourselves unto death glorifying and defending His. It’s confessing our commitment to faithfulness, then keeping that commitment.
The Protestant Reformation
Paul’s last words about the time that would come have indeed become what we have today, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; 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 [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The Greek noun mythos is where our English “myths” is derived. The teaching of Protestant churches that God is a Trinity of Persons, man is an immortal spirit being, and salvation is by faith are simply myths.
The Protestant Reformation was an apparent split from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) about 500 years ago and is hailed as the point where the church finally returned to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3). However, it wasn’t a reforming at all but a rebranding. The Reformation kept the same wrong view of God and man, then simply formulated another false gospel message from it. Protestant churches today are essentially the RCC rebranded under a new name and image with a new message—the same “product” but new packaging.
The Reformation also wasn’t a protest but was by agency and design of the RCC. Its own Martin Luther appeared to lead a dissent from the mother church after having come to the “enlightenment” that justification is by faith. The true intent of this event, however, was that in the course of diverting everyone’s attention to the noble endeavor of getting the gospel message right, it was covertly reinforcing the Trinitarian view of God as right! In other words, it was a deflection from the underlying issue while buttressing it in the process. Though both sides have been hotly debating for hundreds of years whether salvation is by faith plus works or by faith alone, hardly a peep has been chirped about the correct view of God. This was never in question. Fighting passionately against certain things that were wrong left the false impression that everything else was substantially right.
A false view of God and a false view of man can only result in a false view of salvation. The Protestant doctrine of justification by sola fide or “faith alone” is just as false and damning as the RCC doctrine of “faith plus works” because it’s based upon the same underlying false view of God and man. It only sounds more appealing because it’s the view that supposedly glorifies the finished work of Christ on the cross by excluding our meritorious “works.” But in reality, working versus believing is a fabricated false dichotomy—an artificial antithesis concocted to support sola fide. There is no working versus believing juxtaposition in Scripture because all three of the main passages used for support are about the Law of Moses versus the faithfulness of Jesus Christ:
“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works [actions] of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (although it is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction” (Rom 3:20-22 NET)
“yet we know that no one is justified by the works [actions] of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works [actions] of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16 NET)
“and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness” (Phi 3:9 NET).
The doctrine of sola fide is a dangerous double-edged sword in that it not only falsely assures of salvation by simply believing some facts are true, but also discourages obedience to Christ’s commandments—the good message of salvation He preached—as trying to save ourselves by our merit. The doctrine of sola fide conjoined with once-saved-always-saved is aimed at diminishing the fear of the Lord and promoting unfaithfulness, because if salvation is by believing some facts are true and salvation can never be reversed, then there isn’t much reason to fear God as Jesus warned, “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5). Add to all of this the myth of being born with a depraved sinful nature that prevents anyone from living righteously, and the masses are kept marching devotedly down the broad way leading to destruction.
Initiatives to keep people on the broad way
The Reformation wasn’t about finding the way to eternal life but keeping people from it. As the Bible was beginning to be translated and released to the world, it was an initiative pushed to continue the containment of the truth under the fog of myths. Its goal was to expunge God’s people from the plan of salvation thereby leaving a vacuum to change the message of salvation from faithfulness to faith.
The Reformation effectively displaced God’s people from the New Testament by three main tactics. First, it suppressed and concealed “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3), by turning it into the concept of a body of doctrinal beliefs delivered to the church by the apostles. And that body of beliefs is the systematic theology they teach—a system foreign and disconnected from the promise made to Abraham and hope of God’s people.
Second, it directed Bible translations that shrouded God’s people by rendering vocabulary about them with generic or inaccurate words: ekklesia as “church” instead of “assembly” or “congregation,” eklektos as “elect” instead of “chosen,” charis as “grace” instead of “favor,” pistis as “faith” instead of “faithfulness,” pisteuo as “believe” instead of “trust,” ergon as “works” instead of “actions,” hagios as “holy” or “saints” instead of “separated,” and pneuma as “spirit” instead of “breath.” It’s not that they just got a word or two wrong by mistake. The consistent pattern and genre of “mistakes” betrays their agenda.
Third, it formulated the ideology of Calvinism to suppress doctrines about God’s chosen people. God elected who will be saved rather than chose a people to Himself. God predestined each individual rather than predetermined to adopt children to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. God has foreknowledge of the future rather than knows His people in time past. And God chose in eternity past before the creation of the world rather than showing His chosen people in a mystery before casting down the system.
Besides these initiatives to remove God’s people from the Scriptures, Protestant leaders enforce their control by Trinitarian seminaries training and commissioning the pastors that oversee the churches, sending and supporting missionaries bound to their Trinitarian organizations, and maintaining Bible translation groups using only the Alexandrian tradition of manuscripts while ensuring the finished product conforms to their theological system.
Probably the most disheartening and discouraging undertaking is their missions efforts cloaked as a virtuous endeavor to bring the gospel to the unreached when it’s just a sinister scheme to poison the well. They arrive first with their myths so that the people will turn away their ears from the truth when it ever comes, “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos]” (2Ti 4:4). They masquerade as chauffeurs of the narrow way only to drive people down the broad way.
Deceiving, distracting, and diverting doctrines
Protestant Trinitarian leaders—theologians, pastors, missionaries—keep people on the broad way that leads to destruction by falsely assuring them that they’re on the narrow way that leads to life. They give them everything they need to be thoroughly convinced they’re on the right road but withhold from them just enough to keep them on the wrong road. They teach many things that are true and helpful but not what’s necessary for eternal life. And they also teach a plethora of nonsense intended to keep them busy wasting their time and diverted from the truth.
The entire Calvinist and Arminianist war is a hoax. They’re both on the same side fighting the truth by feigning an internal conflict designed to do nothing but divert attention from God’s chosen people. It’s all about distracting, confusing, and wasting precious time and resources. The babbling practice under the pretense of the gift of tongues has been another colossal means of diverting and squandering time. And more recently the doctrine of the rapture has detoured people from the hope of eternal life at the return of the Lord to an escape to fly around in heaven.
They want people engaged in hearing and debating about all kinds of foolishness because it deceives, confuses, and distracts from doing God’s work. What they don’t want is anyone teaching the true view of God and man, or helping others keep Christ’s commandments because they don’t want them on the narrow way that leads to eternal life. They love having Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, and Unitarian churches around that they can cite as to what happens to those that aren’t Trinitarians—therefore, it’s best to stay home with them where it’s safe and cozy.
Hearing, and hearing, and hearing
Protestant leaders teach the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They teach topically, expositorally, and verse-by-verse. They teach Theology, Christology, Soteriology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Bibliology, Angelology, Harmartiology, Pneumatology, and Eschatology. They teach good things about marriage, family, and morality. They teach sermons, classes, podcasts, and webinars. They hold camp meetings, revivals, conferences, and retreats. They write books, commentaries, study Bibles, and magazines. It’s all about hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing Christ’s commandments. They’re always learning but not learning the truth, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti 3:7).
It’s very sobering and heavy to realize Jesus said that if we don’t keep His commandments, one day He will ban us from His presence, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:23-24, 26). Multitudes in churches are hearing and learning week after week but they’re not being taught Christ’s commandments. They’re being taught that salvation is by “faith alone” and that faith comes by hearing, “So then faith [faithfulness] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). So they keep hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord” (Mat 7:22). Multitudes of people are going to be aghast to stand before the Lord one day and be told by Him that He doesn’t know them. They’re going to be crying, pleading, and begging “Lord! Lord! Please!” But He isn’t going to be showing mercy anymore, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
We must reach people with the gospel Christ preached. This begins with being unashamed of His good message, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 1:16). It’s being unashamed that salvation is by faithfulness to Him—keeping His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him. It’s being unashamed of Him and His words, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luk 9:26). It’s being unashamed that there is one true God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. It’s being unashamed to gather with and be associated with God’s people, and suffering for His sake, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner” (2Ti 1:8), “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2Ti 1:16).
It’s being one of God’s people separated from the world by the hagios pneuma–the separated breath of God in our hearts—and obeying His Son Jesus Christ. It’s being on the same side of the truth as Jesus, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (Jhn 18:37 NIV). It’s being set apart from the world by Him, “For both he that sanctifieth [sets apart] and they who are sanctified [set apart] areall of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11). That we’re “all of one” is that we’re all in unity and agreement with Him about the truth. We must be faithful to Him as He is to His Father.
Alright, the title of this article is meant to get your attention. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever try to memorize Scripture, only that it should have its proper priority in our walk with God. Some ministers endorse Scripture memorization as one of, if not the most fundamental and important of all spiritual disciplines. I humbly and respectfully disagree. I contend that memorizing Scripture should be regarded as one of the least important endeavors in which to occupy our time.
Suppose, for example, that you work an office job where your boss emailed you instructions for a special project. A couple of days later she follows up with you for an update on the progress of the project. But instead of having worked on it you spent all the allotted time memorizing the email she sent! Do you suppose she’ll be happy that you can quote back to her verbatim everything she wrote? Most likely she couldn’t care less that you can quote any of it and was never expecting you to do that. The only thing that matters to her is your progress in doing what she told you to do. Now, why would it be any different with God? Do we think He is pleased that we’re not doing what He said yet we can quote it?
Probably the most common verse cited to teach Scripture memorization is: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Jos 1:8). But notice that the entire objective is that we do it! Granted, if speaking God’s word, meditating in it, and even memorizing it helps to obey then by all means we should do these things. But as James said, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas 1:22). We’re deceived if we think that hearing and even memorizing God’s word without doing it is accomplishing anything in God’s sight.
I know some ministers that start new converts with a regiment of Scripture memorization. They have them purchase a verse packet or have them write verses on index cards to carry around with them and read throughout the day. I’ve even heard them claim that “make disciples” in Christ’s statement, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Mat 28:19-20 NKJV), means that new Christians are to discipline themselves particularly in Scripture memorization. However, Christ stated that it means “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” True discipleship isn’t teaching them to memorize but to obey.
Understanding the Scriptures
Now, in case you might be thinking that I haven’t memorized much Scripture and that I’m just making excuses here, I assure you that I can quote my fair share. In fact, not only can quote many verses but even many entire chapters. But most of this retention didn’t come from trying to memorize but simply from disciplined reading and studying in order to understand the Scriptures. I’ve found that the more I understand what God is saying, the more it sticks with me.
Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Eph 1:18). He didn’t pray for them to memorize it but to understand it. God’s word is the message He intended to convey through the Scriptures. If we don’t have the correct understanding God meant to communicate, then we don’t have the word of God. What good is it to quote something that we don’t even understand and aren’t applying correctly?
Also, what about languages? Am I quoting God’s word when I quote it in English? If so, which English Bible Version? Would it not be better to memorize and quote it in the original languages it was written? It’s quite instructive that Paul usually quoted from the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew. This indicates that he esteemed the intended message to be what matters. In other words, what’s important is that the message God intended to communicate is being conveyed correctly whether it be through Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, English, Chinese, Spanish, or some other language. God’s word is His message to us.
Furthermore, what about people in false religions? Many Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses can quote a lot of verses as well. Does it really do them any good? What about Jewish people that reject Jesus as their Messiah? Many can put us to shame with their Scripture memorization yet they’re not saved. What does it ultimately accomplish for them?
Even when I can quote particular verses or passages when around other people, I almost never do. For example, if I’m in a class or a Bible study where a certain passage or reference is mentioned that I know I can quote, I almost always look it up in my Bible and read it instead. I don’t want anyone knowing that I can quote it. God’s word is just as effective whether I read it from my Bible or quote it from memory. There’s no need to try and impress anyone by quoting it.
I used to have an elementary school teacher who would have each student in class read out loud a paragraph from a book then explain it back in our own words what we just read. This was to test our reading comprehension. And this same principle applies with Scripture. It’s more important that we can correctly paraphrase in our own words what the Scriptures are saying rather than quoting it verbatim.
Hypothetically, what if we memorized the entire Bible and could literally quote it all verse by verse? Paul said that without love “I am nothing” (1Co 13:2). If we’re not obeying Christ’s commandment to love others, then quoting the entire Bible means absolutely nothing. Some are deceived into thinking they’re really doing well because they can quote verses yet they’re not treating others right.
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deu 11:18); “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psa 119:11); “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer 20:9); “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jhn 15:7); “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2); “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17); “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16); “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
These are the most common proof-text verses for memorization yet actually say nothing of the sort. Having His word in our hearts, for example, isn’t about memorizing but living because our hearts are where the motives for our actions are stored. Some people do and say the right things but with the wrong motives—it’s ultimately about benefitting themselves in some way. As servants of the Lord, on the other hand, we should be doing and saying what’s right with the intent of pleasing God even when displeasing people. This is what it means to have His word in our hearts.
Furthermore, renewing our minds isn’t about memorizing Scripture but about having a mindset of no longer being conformed to the ways of this world. Earlier Paul had urged the Christians in Rome, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:11). It’s in our minds that we reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and therefore live righteously in obedience to Christ as Lord. This is what he meant later by “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:6). A renewed mind is a spiritual mind. It’s having the mindset and attitude of a servant like Christ Himself, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phl 2:5). Those who are of the world are carnally minded—they ultimately live for what they can have in this life.
Reasons given to memorize Scripture
People come up with all kinds of reasons to push Scripture memorization on others. One is that it supposedly sharpens our witnessing skills to make us more effective. Actually, what’s far more important is that we’re sharing the true saving gospel message. What good is it to quote a lot of Scripture to someone yet ultimately communicate to them a false message? Besides, sometimes one of the best things we can tell someone is our own testimony of how God changed our lives. We don’t need to be able to quote verses to do this.
Another reason is that memorization supposedly strengthens our prayer life. But prayer is simply talking to God as our normal selves, being sincere and transparent before Him. What He really wants when we approach Him in prayer is a broken spirit and a contrite heart, not quoting verses back to Him. Living a life of obedience to His Son in striving to always please Him is what’s conducive to a strong prayer life.
I heard one man tell about having memorized the first three chapters of Ephesians and what an unspeakable blessing it was to him. But my question would be how much of those three chapters does he really understand? I can quote most of Ephesians—more than just the first three chapters—yet I don’t really find it to be a great blessing. And most of my retention of it didn’t come by trying to memorize but from many years of studying the letter intently to understand it. For me, the true blessing comes with understand the message from God that Paul revealed in Ephesians.
Finally, one last popular reason given for memorizing Scripture is that it supposedly helps us resist temptation. Of course the main example of this is when Jesus quoted verses to the devil. But most all orthodox Jewish men can quote at least the Torah—the first five books written by Moses—yet this doesn’t give them victory over temptation. Everyone except Jesus has sinned. Just memorizing and quoting Scripture doesn’t keep us from sinning.
The trial of our faithfulness
Some think of discipleship as “connecting” with a new convert over coffee and helping them memorize Bible verses. But when suffering persecution, and when tragedies in life occur, being able to quote a few verses is superficial and does little good. What we really need is spiritual maturity and the fear of God.
James began his letter “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:3), then said toward the end, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (Jas 5:11). Job’s faithfulness to God was sorely and severely tested far beyond anything any of us will ever endure. He had 10 children and lost all 10 in one day! I cannot even fathom having to go through something like that. He was a real person with real feelings and emotions who loved his children dearly just as we do. He was also ruined financially then later was stricken with a terrible disease that almost took his life.
How did he patiently endure these trials? Did he quote Bible verses he had memorized? Actually, none of the Bible had even been written yet! He was strong through it all because he lived righteously in the fear of God and avoided all appearance of evil, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). Notice that this was God Himself praising Job. What gets us through the trials of our faithfulness is having God on our side defending us against the attacks of the enemy. This only comes by living in faithful service to Him by striving to always please Him. It doesn’t come by simply quoting, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phl 4:13).