The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 3)

Let’s look now at Matthew 3.  Here is the first mention of the Pharisees and their kind in Matthew’s Gospel –

Matthew 3:1-17, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.  Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

First of all, where did these guys come from?  We have not met them in the Old Testament.  Malachi spoke some 400 years before, and then the OT canon ended.  The 400 silent years, this era is called, because God sent no prophet during that time.  And then John the Baptist came on the scene in the spirit of Elijah.  John was the last OT prophet, a real transitional figure between the Old and the New covenants and, as Jesus said, John was the greatest of the prophets (Matthew 11:11).  But who are these vipers – the Pharisees and the Sadducees?  How did they develop during this time that is also called the “Intertestament Period”?

Continue reading “The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 3)”

The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 2)

Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Acts 15:10, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

There is so much material in the Gospels (and really, in the whole Bible) about the false religion of the Jewish religious leaders and rulers, that we must conclude that the Lord is giving us a sober warning about its danger.  Jesus specifically warned His disciples, and therefore He warns us –

Matthew 16:6, “Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees….. 6:12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

What is this leaven?  What did the Pharisees and Sadducees teach and practice?  Whatever it was, and is, it’s ability to quickly spread throughout the entire church is inherent in it.  It is a highly infectious spiritual disease.  How possible is it that we ourselves as conservative, Bible-believing Christians have been “leavened”?  Watch!  Beware!  Those are pretty strong words of warning.  If you hear someone say aloud – “Watch out!  Beware!” – you would be snapped to full attention immediately, right?  This leaven, whatever it is, is something our Lord considered to be extremely dangerous.

Continue reading “The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 2)”

The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 1)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

This subject has been on my mind now for some months.  I keep seeing it crop up in the stories that many of you tell us. In particular, the stories about your experiences with your church when you asked for help with an abusive marriage. Issues of divorce, marriage, separation, remarriage, submission and headship – all of these and more arise in these kinds of scenarios, and what is so often being applied to them as God’s Word just doesn’t seem to ring true with what Jesus says is His easy yoke.

Continue reading “The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 1)”

What Not to Do or Say When Helping a Domestic Abuse Victim in Economic Need

1Ti 5:5  She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,

Lev 23:22  “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

1Ti 6:17-18  As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  (18)  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

Most all of us know that domestic abusers use economics as a weapon. They like to keep their victim in poverty so that they are easier to control, enslaved to the abuser. This is why very often abusers will sabotage their victim’s efforts to obtain employment or to keep a good job once they have it. It is quite alright, according the abuser’s double-standard handbook, for him to buy most anything he wants, but there is hell to pay if his victim spends a dollar.  Economic abuse, you see.

Now, this means that most victims of domestic abuse are poor. Legally they own half of what their spouse has, but getting hold of it is another thing. Abusers withhold payment for healthcare, for decent groceries to feed the children, for clothing and most any other necessity. So when we set out to help domestic abuse victims, we are going to be faced with the need to provide money and the necessities for her and the children.

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The Harems of the Evangelical Church

1Pe 5:2-3  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  (3)  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

It has been my experience with evildoers who parade as Christians to be betrayed by many who I was sure were my genuine brothers or sisters in Christ. Hard lessons learned. Many of you have “been there done that” as well.  As a result, I have had occassion to give serious thought to what such people really were all the time. They wore a mask, yes. But why?

Just like Judas, and like all false pastors and elders who “domineer” over those in their charge, people like this are self-serving as they pretend to be a fellow saint, your right hand man, etc. That is to say, they are getting something out of the deal. They are getting something from you. You are being used. What looks like genuine love, isn’t, and that becomes apparent on the inevitable day of the betrayal. “Love” turns to hate and contempt. They are done with you, as if no real friendship ever existed at all.

It didn’t.

Let me give you a very common example of this kind of dynamic of evil. It is from this brand that I draw the title of this article: The Harems of the Evangelical Church. You all know what a harem is. It is an owned company of women who exist for the sole pleasure of the king/rich man, owner. Harems are always made up of women. I have never heard of a male harem though I suppose some female tyrant of old somewhere may have had some male slaves for a very similar purpose.

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A Typical Horror Story from an Old Box of Church Records

Prepare to be freaked out:

When a separation has taken place by the desertion of one spouse, the other is not automatically free to marry someone else. Paul’s counsel is to remain unmarried or be reconciled. The primary point is that reconciliation of a divided couple is always God’s will, not the seeking for someone who is a more compatible match. [From a study of divorce and remarriage by the board members and pastor of Idaville Bible Church, Tillamook, Oregon, 1986].

I have been the pastor of Christ Reformation Church (once known as Idaville Bible Church) for 26 years now. Not long after I came here, I was nosing through some old church records that were stuffed away in boxes in an attic. I couldn’t read them for very long. I saw turnover after turnover of pastors and I myself was in the midst of efforts to drive me away at that time. Recently, in cleaning out the old records, our church secretary found a file labeled “Divorce and Remarriage – Special Study by the Deacon Board.” Yikes! I checked it out. The above quote is taken from it.

Here are some more things I found. This is the typical stuff that turns into a horror story for victims of abuse who are Christians and who go to their pastor and church body for help.

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The Love of Money: Why Churches, Denominations, and other “Christian” Entities Abuse the Abused

As criminal investigators often say, “follow the money” if you want to get to the crooks. In this post I want to expose a chief and leading motive which explains why “christian” entities (denominations, seminaries, churches, missions organizations, Bible colleges, pastors, etc) so typically abuse the abused. Why do they cover up the evils of the wicked? Why do they try to silence the victims? Why is the wicked man so often allowed to remain in a church while his victim is ostracized? I think the answer is largely right in front of us and it is far more base and disgusting than we might realize when all the fog of excuses is blown away.

Continue reading “The Love of Money: Why Churches, Denominations, and other “Christian” Entities Abuse the Abused”