In John chapter eight, we read the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery, and she was brought before Jesus. The Pharisee said, “Teacher, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap Him.
Early in the morning, Jesus came again to the temple. Al .lthe people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” (John 8:1-5)
If He said, “Let her go”, He’d be ignoring the law of Moses. But if He said, “Stone her”, He’d be going against Rome. And, that would get Him in trouble with the Romans. (The Jews were not permitted to carry out capital punishment.)
Jesus responded by riding on the ground with His finger. When they continued to press Him, He stood up and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Upon hearing this, the Pharisees left and Jesus said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.”
Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. As they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heart it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones. And Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. He stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and from now on sin no more. (John 8:6-11)
This story is commonly used to say, “No one is without sin, therefore no one has any right to judge.”
But Jesus just said a few verses before to judge with right judgment.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7:24)
When Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast the stone,” He was saying, “Which one among you is the dude she had adultery with?”
According to Leviticus 20:10 he’s supposed to be stoned with her.
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adultery and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
Having been exposed that they were ignorant of the law, the Pharisees hightailed it out of there.
Jesus, the Author of the law – represented by Him writing on the ground with His finger – forgave the woman and told her not to sin anymore.
However there’s a problem with this story.
John didn’t write it, and your Bible will tell you that.
John 7:53 through 8:11 didn’t appear in any of the earliest manuscripts, and some put it in the Book of Luke.
(It’s named pericope adulterae. Your Bible likely says, “The earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53-8:11.” In some texts, it’s found after John 21:25, Luke 21:38, or Luke 24:53)
It’s a nice story, but it doesn’t belong in the Bible.
The greatest story of love and forgiveness is found at the cross of Christ.
…when we understand the text
In Revelation 3, Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea for becoming complacent in their faith.
“I know your works”, He said, “you are neither hot nor cold. So, because you’re lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because yo are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)
Now, it’s often interpreted that being hot is having passion for God, and cold is against God. If you have no passion, then you’re lukewarm. Therefore, Jesus is saying, “Either be all in or all out. It’s the ones in the middle that really make me sick.”
But, how does that make sense?
Jesus was not telling a church, “I’d have more respect for you if you were just against me.”
Laodicea was abundant in riches, and the church benefited from the wealth of the city. It got to the point where they thought they didn’t need anything from God. But Jesus said, “You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. You have nothing apart from Christ.”
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (Revelation 3:17-18)
For all of Laodicea’s luxuries, there’s one resource they didn’t have: water.
Nearby, Colossae had refreshing cold water; and Hierapolis had medicinal hot water. But what happens when you channel that water in? It becomes lukewarm.
If you’re expecting a cold drink and it’s warm, or hot water and it cools with all those mineral deposits in it, you’re gonna spit it out.
What Jesus was saying to them was this:
“You are far from the source. You cannot refresh nor offer healing to anyone because you’re far from Me and My word.”
This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are fare from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13)
Many churches today have sought after wealth and prosperity, and they’ve forgotten the word of Christ.
Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent!” (Revelation 3:19)
But, if you cling to this world instead of Christ, He will spit your name out of his mouth on Judgment Day.
…when we understand the text
From a sermon by Dr. Voddie Baucham:
“If the social justice movement went by its actual name, young Christians would not have been lured into it. Because the social justice movement is actually Cultural Marxism. There’s no such thing as ‘social justice,’ people. In fact, in the Bible, justice never has an adjective. There’s justice and there’s injustice, but there’s not different kinds of justice.”
The term “social justice” is an argument for the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges in a society. Sometimes that argument turns loud and violent, though many have good intentions when they speak of “social justice,” a desire for the common good. But who gets to decide what the common good is, and who carries it out?
God is the one who defines what is just and what is unjust.
“The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
Our works are not good.
Why is there in injustice in the world? Because it’s full of unjust people.
All have turned aside; together they’ve become worthless. No one does good. Not even one (Romans 3:12).
So what has a just God told us to do?
He said to preach the gospel to all nations, baptize, and teach them (Matthew 28:19-20).
That is the mission of His church.
Those who have been changed by His Spirit will do good works — the works God defines as good.
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)
But works are not the Gospel. You cannot change the world.
Only God changes hearts, which He does through the gospel.
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put in you. (Ezekiel 36:26)
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
That is the message of justice we should announce, so that all who hear it might be forgiven their sins and will not fall under the righteous judgment of God. He is both “just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
…when we understand the text
In 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, in an effort to resolve 500 years of conflict since the Protestant Reformation, signed a joint declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.
(I’m really not trying to spit rhymes here.)
The statement claimed that the two bodies are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification, by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
“The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue, the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by god’s grace through faith in Christ.” (Preamble, Paragraph 5)
A Methodist council later adopted the declaration in 2006; and a communion of Reformed churches adopted it in 2017.
Many have pointed to this and other ecumenical partnerships and said, “See… the Protestant Reformation is over!”
But is it, really?
Do those churches now submit to the primacy of the Pope?
No. We’re still supposed to be protesting.
The Catholic Church has not changed its position on justification, or “how a person is declared innocent or made guiltless before a holy and righteous God”. They’ve said that if a person believes in justification by faith alone, they are cursed to hell. If a person rejects the Pope’s teaching, they’re cursed. If they’ve not been baptized or attend a Catholic Church, they’re cursed.
“If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious is justified… let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 16, Canon 9)
“Should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of [the Pope’s infallibility], let him be anathema.” (First Vatican Council, Session 4, Chapter 4)
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation.” (Catholic Catechism 846)
“Baptism is necessary for salvation.” (Catholic Catechism 1257)
The Catholic Church says a person is saved by a combination of faith and works. But, the Bible says that a person is saved by grace through faith, and not of works.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Roman Catholicism is a different gospel. The Bible says if anyone teaches a different gospel, they are cursed.
But, even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
We are not fellow workers on the mission field. They are the mission field.
Now, being Protestant doesn’t just mean we protest the Pope. We protest any teaching contrary to the wisdom of God in the Bible.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 assures us:
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God…
…when we understand the text.
Papal infallibility is the belief that the Pope is incapable of error, when speaking from his position of supreme apostolic authority, in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
“The Roman pontiff when he teaches ex cathedra ‘enjoys, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith and morals.’” (P.J. Toner on “Infallibility” from the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII)
This doesn’t mean the Pope is sinless, although there are plenty of Catholics who believe that. Rather, it means that his teaching is perfect whenever he speaks Ex Cathedra, or from the Chair of St.. Peter.
The doctrine was defined by the First Vatican Council, presided over by Pope Pius IX.
“The Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when he, in the exercise of the office of supreme apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith or morals is to be held by the entire Church, he possesses, in consequence of the divine aid promised him in St. Peter, that infallibility which the Divine Savior wished to have His Church furnished for the definition of doctrines concerning faith or morals; and that definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not in consequences of the Church’s consent, irreformable.” (Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council Session 4 [July 18, 1870], Chapter 4, Section 9)
Pius decreed the Immaculate Conception of Mary – the belief that Mary was without sin. (Even though Jesus said, “No one is good but God alone.”)
No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19)
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Now, Catholic apologists maintain that the Pope has spoken Ex Cathedra only one other time: when Pope Pius XII decreed the Assumption of Mary – that she was bodily taken up into heaven.
“While the Pope has always held the power to exercise the Extraordinary Magisterium by speaking ex cathedra, the actual occurrence of an ex cathedra statement is quite rare. It is generally understood to have only occurred twice: Pope Pius IX definition of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in 1854, and Pope Pius XII’s definition of the dogma of Mary’s Assumption in 1950. (Catholic Exchange, The Pope and Infallibility, May 31, 2005)
But, these are not the only occasions papal infallibility has been exercised.
The Second Vatican declared that, even when the Pope is not speaking from the chair, “…his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, and his judgments are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.” (Second Vatican, Lumen Gentium [November 21, 1964] Chapter 1, Paragraph 25)
The Roman Catholic Church believes the Pope’s word is as good as God’s Word.
It was such teaching that spurred Protestant reformer William Tyndale to declare:
“I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God should spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you!”
Tyndale translated the Bible into English so that all could read God’s Word. The Roman Catholic Church had him burned at the stake.
Tyndale understood what the Pope doesn’t: that our only infallible authority is the Bible.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16)
This God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 18:30)
All Scripture is breathed out by God.
As the Psalm says, God’s Way is perfect and the word of the Lord is without error.
…when we understand the text.
“Judge not that you be not judged.”
Does Jesus really say that?
Yes He does, in Matthew 7:1. But, do not miss the context: Jesus is not saying that we shouldn’t judge at all. He’s saying don’t judge hypocritically. Continuing on, He says,
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5)
Did you get that? First take the log out of your eye and then take the speck out of your brother’s eye. By this, the Bible is actually telling us that we’re supposed to judge.
- Better is open rebuke than hidden love (Proverbs 27:5 )
- Open your mouth, judge righteously (Proverbs 31:9)
- If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault… (Matthew 18:15)
- Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24)
- The spiritual person judges all things… (1 Corinthians 2:15)
- Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12)
- All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for reproof and correction… (2 Timothy 3:16)
Now we’re definitely not supposed to be jerks when it comes to judgment. We also read in 2 Timothy that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, correcting opponents with gentleness.
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Titus 3:2 says to be gentle and show perfect courtesy to all people.
Speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy to all people. (Titus 3:2)
The purpose is not to point out everyone’s wrong so that we can show how much more right we are. The purpose is to point them to Christ, who forgives sin and gives eternal life.
Know the Word of God so that we’re able to instruct each other properly!
…when we understand the text.
Romans 4:5 says:
“To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
Justification by faith alone is the gospel, the belief that we are forgiven our sins and made innocent before God by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave. You can do nothing to earn this. It is by the grace of God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)
Whoever teaches that salvation is a combination of faith and works is teaching a different gospel.
“If anyone saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification… let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Canon 9)
“The sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are decisive to salvation… What is the event at which salvation truly takes hold? Baptism!” (Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
The Catholic and Orthodox churches both deny justification by faith alone. Salvation is by faith and the Eucharist, or by faith and baptism. That’s a different gospel.
Galatians 1:8-9 says that anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed.
Galatians 2:16 says:
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Now, when a person has been saved, they confirm their faith by obedience. If they do not obey the commands of Christ, they’re still dead in their sins. This is what James meant when he said faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:26).
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” (1 John 2:4-6)
Someone might say, “Well, what about faith. Isn’t that something that I do?” Nope. Because as you study the doctrine you will find that even faith itself is also a gift from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
As Romans 5:1-2 says:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God
…when we understand the text.
About His return, Jesus told His disciples:
But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36)
Now, if Jesus is divine, why didn’t He know when He’d return? That’s kind of a problem, right? How can we say that Jesus is the all-knowing, all-powerful God – one with the Father – if there’s something he didn’t know?
Well, when Jesus, who is very God and very man, said not even the Son knows the hour of His return, but only the Father, He spoke from His humanity, not His divinity.
Philippians 2:6-8 says:
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
So, Jesus – who is God – willingly emptied Himself and took on human flesh. And He accepted the limitations of being human. He grew hungry and tired, was tempted, experienced sorrow… for crying out loud, He was put to death!
The Creator of the universe willingly laid down His own life, so we shouldn’t be surprised there were things He gave up, knowing in submission to His Father.
Hebrews 2:17 says:
Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet.
We read at the start of Revelation that the Father has revealed to Him what must soon take place. (Revelation 1:1)
…when we understand the text.
It’s the end of the world… again!
Someone else thinks they know the day of the Apocalypse or the day of the Rapture and Jesus returns.
Maybe they’ve got it all figured out based on numbers in the Bible, current events, prophecy and revelation, something to do with Israel, and the alignment of the sun, moon and stars. Many other people have tried to predict the end, but they’ve all been wrong. The Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists were practically built on failed prophecies. Hal Lindsey (said Jesus was going to return in 1988), Pat Robertson (said Armageddon would happen before 1982), and Benny Hinn (predicted the rapture would be in the 90’s) all made “end of the world” predictions. So did Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty University (said God would pour out judgment in 2000), and Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel (said the rapture was going to happen in 1981). And let’s not forget the infamous Harold Camping fiasco in 2011 (he said the world would end in 1994, then in 2011).
But what if this one is correct? What if this person finally accurately predicted the actual day that Jesus will return?
Well, in Matthew 24:36, Jesus said:
But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son but the Father only.
Now, some will try to walk back their predictions by saying something like, “Well, that’s just the day the end starts. That might not be the actual day of Jesus’ return. But, it’s a significant day for something!”
But, they don’t know that either. For Jesus also said:
It is not for you to know the times or the seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. (Acts 1:7)
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44)
Turn from your sin, worship Christ the Lord, and obey His Commandments in the Bible.
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
And, on the day that you stand before Him in judgment, you were born again ready…
…when we understand the text.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Southeast Texas, and with hurricane Irma bearing down on the state of Florida, Kirk Cameron came under fire when he said that hurricanes are sent by God:
“Weather is sent to cause us to respond to God in humility, in awe, and in repentance.” – From a video posted by Kirk Cameron on Thursday, September 7, 2017
So, how about it? Is Cameron correct?
And, Cameron wasn’t merely sharing his opinion. He taught from the Bible. Reading from Job 37, which says:
He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter His lightning. They turn around and around by His guidance to accomplish all that He commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for His land or for love, He causes it to happen. (Job 37:11-13)
Psalm 107 says that God commanded and raised the stormy wind on the sea, and men’s courage melted away in their evil plight. They reeled and staggered like drunken men then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still.
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep. For He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and H brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! (Psalm 107:23-31)
Through the prophet Isaiah, God says:
I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun to its setting in the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:5-7)
This is but a glimpse of the power of God, who will destroy the wicked. But if you cry out to Jesus, who calms the waves in the sea, you will be saved.
Who is this, that He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him? (Luke 8:25)
…when we understand the text.