Friday, February 11, 2011

#223-Apostolic Heritage (and a course in semi-bad logic)...

To continue with a well intentioned critique of our movement and what Apostolic Identity has come to represent which began in the previous post, let us look now at the History of Our Movement in the Twentieth Century and it's impact on our Identity...

I would need more than two hands to count the number of services that have defended the need for conservation of the Apostolic Tradition via those who have led us here (e.g. "We keep the tradition because it's part of our Identity which was slaved over by those who paved the way for us. Thus we cannot vacate this Hard-Earned Identity Now!")....Generally then, those who preach the need of "carrying the mantle" and "staying the course" preach as if they are certain the history of our movement is on their side....sometimes speaking right in line with the pioneers of our movement, and sometimes butchering the message of those who spoke before us who are rolling over in their grave because their message is being taken out of context....

I love our heritage. I really do. I could lecture at a given instant for a good 15 minutes or so upon request about what I admire about our "Apostolic Pioneers" and how I am in awe at times as I read about their struggles with grasping the revelation of our Truth.

However, I can't help but wonder how these Apostolic Giants from our past would reply to their identities being talked of by us as a Catholic would talk about a Saint. Would it be something similar to Paul's "Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you" response in ACts 14 to the crowds declaring him and Barnabas, "gods?"

But I may be overstating it here....

What I cringe about though is a Pastor's sermons regarding the need to carry the tradition of our past when our very movement was not based on tradition, but rather going directly against Tradition itself. The rise of Pentecostalism in the early 20th century was revolution in it's own right that warred against the fundamentalist tendencies of the time which believed miracles and gifts of the spirit (such as tongues) were no longer available today.

But an even more rebellious stand was made by the Oneness Pentecostals (e.g. Urshan, Ewart, etc...), as they rejected the Trinity, which kind of had upwards of 1650 years of tradition behind it.
I can recall being in a few sessions about doctrine and the person leading the session would quote books from the 1800's of other movements such as the Methodists reading about the modesty of dress and the need for separation of gender and what not, and the session leader was saying that we as Apostolics are more in line with the traditions of doctrine in other movements than the movements themselves currently are....And on the same note the session leader would say our doctrine has centuries of evidence of it's acceptance behind it...longer than our movement had been around...

Every time I hear such logic i want to slam my forehead against a cactus and let the blood from the damage of the cactus needles drip down my forehead as the session leader continues to speak...just know...change things up a little....

Because the reason we are Apostolic is because we are not Methodist....and history....or evidence of traditions through the centuries speaks nothing to us....Because more importantly, while the Methodists of the 1800's may have had similar standards that we do that they have since lost, there is a canyon of difference in our core theologies outside the standards: Primarily, they believed in the Trinity. We do not. We believe in Baptism in Jesus Name. They do not.

So if one wants to demonstrate the power of tradition as a source of argumentation, they cannot logically do so by picking and choosing which points of similarity they will source for their argument, when our entire theological core contradicts at other points, and further once again, to be Apostolic means the loss of power to the voices of history.....So why would we try playing that game?

I know i am being harsh, and I prayed about these past two posts believe you me. But if our movement is going to maintain and even grow, some inconsistencies have to find the exit door now or within the next 15 minutes (I'm looking at you "argument against facial hair").
The other difficulty is the obvious statement that we are in a different culture now than we were 50 years ago and we must adjust our methods accordingly without compromising the Message itself. And we do so...

-Back then, bowling alleys were a no no. Bowling Alleys are generally accepted these days within our movement (though you will never find me in one because I have a personal conviction against them which really means I personally hate the sport of bowling and was looking for a good excuse not to have to go them).

-Movie theaters, while generally not allowed, are becoming more and more popular as acceptable venues for some churches to allow their congregation to attend as a point of relaxation, etc... (and the realization that Make outs don't happen there ever)....

-Shorts are about as acceptable as movie theaters (maybe even more acceptable)...

-Somehow pajama pants for ladies have slipped in the back door as permissible even though the argument for them is entirely self-contradictory and more problematic than any of the above objects of debate listed above.

What I am getting if we are preserving the Apostolic Identity as much as we say....but at the same time allowing some freedoms via cultural expectations, etc... Are we not just dictating what the definition of the Apostolic Identity of our Heritage is according to how it fits our own lifestyles/church cultures, etc...To clarify, if I was a Pastor and I said "Maintain distinctions because that is what we are asked to do by our movements forefathers," what those distinctions are is completely up to my discretion. Thus I can say "men wear pants because that's part of our identity" and at the same time say "I don't think there is anything wrong with our youth going to a bowling alley or someone having facial hair on the platform" even though facial hair and bowling alleys were not allowed in past generations by our movement's forefathers. I hope you see the contradiction at this point: History as an authority to our distinctions (as problematic as it is for us to use such rhetoric) does not determine Apostolic Identity, but we are simply determining Apostolic Identity in the Name of history since we are picking and choosing what is and is not taboo in our culture.
Come Back On Tuesday for more...Yes, it's already written....I promise it will be there...


  1. The last year or so, I've really changed my thinking on church. I still attend a UPCI church and I am still a SS teacher. I've been struggling with something and have reached a decision. I will not be defined by my church. I don't want to be defined as a Pentecostal. I just want to follow Him.

    I was driving tonight and thinking about Paul in the book of Romans and how his whole life after conversion was spent trying to convince people that Jesus was the Messiah. You either believed Jesus was the Messiah or you did not. All Paul wanted to preach was Christ and him crucified. I wonder what Paul would think now that in most circles (at least in the US) it's accepted that Jesus was the Christ...yet we've splintered that message into countless religious and are against each other.

    I often see comments on Facebook from people who have lost (or never had?) their focus set on JESUS and have their focus set on church. They attend church, they dress right, they even read their bible and attend prayer meeting. But their heart isn't open to HIM. They listen to the pastor before they listen to God. I think the evidence of that is how quickly a Pastor can turn a church when he changes his beliefs. If they are following God, they won't be as easily moved or duped like they will if they've set up Pastor as the ultimate authority. I think some people don't even realize they've done such a thing...I didn't realize it except in the last year or so. I'm happier and more freedom knowing that I follow God and not a church.

  2. Joel, we've got to figure out a way for these arguments to reach a broader audience. You get about 30-60 readers annually while General Conference and Youth Congress fill stadiums and the hypocrisy spreads like an aggressive form of cancer. Please figure out how to get things like these into the hands, hearts and minds of the people who need to hear it.

  3. I agree in part with this. I do think there is a change that needs to be made. You mention we are in a different culture and listed a few activities that were once forbidden. I know there is no scripture that says "Those who bowl and attend cinemas will surely burn in the lake of fire." Yet, I cannot deny there is a "spirit" in most of these places. Most bowling alleys are arranged to have that club atmosphere. The latest pop songs blaring, lights dimmed, a cloud of smoke coming from the bar that is in most of them. It's probably not a great reminder of who we follow, especially for those of us who at one time succumbed to temptation. The same with theaters. Almost 90% of the movies that come out are filled with foul language, violence, immorality, and thematic elements. Yes, I know you can also buy these in the comfort of your own home. It doesn't matter where you see it. Home, theatre, computer, phone, youtube, or on vacation at your hotel. Im not pointing fingers, or crying out heresy. I just wanted to remind people there are reasons why these activities, or appearances were discouraged. Facial hair in the 60's was considered a rebellion in that era. So apostolic ministers asked their men to stay clean shaven. Obviously, it was not the same for some of our pioneers. Look them up in history and see for yourself. As culture changes so must we. Please, do not take this out of context. I will forever hold up every single teaching of the bible. Please tell me where in the bible it says men should not wear shorts?? Women can wear skirts to the knee, but men can't wear pants? Now im just rambling...and may have been since the beginning. Im much better at speaking then writing. What I really wanted to say is this. There are (or were) good reasons for why they (forefathers/pioneers) set the boundaries they did. Just because they seem irrelevant now doesn't mean they should be thrown out.

  4. Bonnie, its the ideology behind this idea of trying to save ourselves by placing blame on things, rather than dealing with the issue of the heart. Placing blame and avoiding the sin doesn't change the heart and mind, so we end up living defeated by our problems because we haven't overcome them.

    I've have always heard people in church say that we must be set apart and look different from everyone in order to show that we are holier than everybody else. The problem with this is styles change, culture changes, and the way people look is less about godliness and more about one's own idea of self imposed holiness and standards. Often these are our issues that we place on others: ROMANS 4:13-17.

    Another interesting note is that culturally prostitutes worked very hard too look different than everyone else, to be set apart and be noticed for their different attire, and often it had nothing to do with dressing immodestly. There were actually laws written in ancient Rome for prostitutes to insure that they dressed differently than other women and some laws even forbid them from wearing jewelry and required that they dress down how what women of the day dressed.

    My point is traditions are culturally relative and really have no place in church as it comes to setting biblical president. The only way we can be truly set aside from the world and be different, is to change how we think and change our hearts. We need to look in the mirror and deal with our own mess, and not put it on others through standards because then it takes away from the power of the cross to change us. The only justification is through the cross: Galatians 3:10-13

  5. I was thinking about this and my own comments that I've made, and the way the "emergent church" is making waves. Sadly I think lots of pastors are running from anything that might make them seem like they are "letting down" on the standards. So they preach the standards with more fervency. I really like what was said that avoiding the sin doesn't mean that our heart is pure of the it doesn't mean we have overcome it.

    How do we get this message out to a wider audience without being accused of being an Emergent? I don't know.

  6. Amy the message is and has been out, but people have to be willing to receive it and make a change. They are often stopped by fear of what their peers will think or pride and unwilling to let go of their traditions. The more the gospel is spread, the harder some will push fear tactics on people to keep them inline. Religion, fear, pride and traditions are what crucified Jesus on the cross.

  7. Hmm..Interesting post. I sense the same amount of doomsday rhetoric in this one as is prevalent on this blog. Perhaps I would be agreeing with this except for a few things.

    The truth is still truth. Those conservative churches are still conservative, and need to stay so. Some of the most conservative churches I know are in the middle of the greatest revival. Revival is starting to sweep Canada, and souls are being filled with the Holy Ghost at a crazy rate. People are getting a revelation of baptism, the Oneness of God, and living holy lives. So, as much as the "UPC" movement has its faults and flaws, the foundation is the same, and God is still pouring out his spirit.

    Don't discredit the anointing of God. He can still deal with people.

  8. I hate to sound combative, but let us not confuse God's grace, blessings and anointing as something that we have somehow earned because of our own goodness and self-proclaimed goodness. God doesn't pour out His spirit because we are good, but because He is good. There seems to be this thought that because we speak in tongues, or God spirit has moved on us that it is because of our own righteousness, when its because of His grace and mercy for us.

    By the same token God's power, grace and mercy has seen fit to bless other denominations and revival is spreading in non-UPC churches all over the world and an even bigger rate, with churches growing into the thousands in just a few years here in the US. Healings, anointing and power are not limited to the UPC or even the oneness movement.


  10. Are makeup and unnatural cosmetics grounded in "traditionalist" preaching or is there biblical precedent for this?

  11. Just because "non-oneness" churches are growing into the thousands, Aaron, is NOT indicative of revival! When are you folks going to get that???!!! Unless the "spirit" in these churches brings the people into the FULLNESS OF TRUTH...(that being the ONENESS of God AND Acts 2:38 AND living a separated life....ALL OF IT) then the experience they are receiving will only make them a two-fold child of hell. Yes, I believe God can move in these churches in hungry hearts. But it ultimately won't be to keep them there.

    Do UPC (or other oneness, Acts 2:38) churches have it all right? NOT BY A LONG SHOT!! But you do NOT change what's wrong by TEARING DOWN WHAT'S RIGHT!!!

    Let the stoning begin......

  12. Anonymous, sadly your statement can run back the same way. "Just because "oneness" churches are growing into the hundreds, is NOT indicative of revival! When are you folks going to get that???!!!"

    See it works both ways. There are many evangelical churches, spirit filled that aren't exclusive to your way of thinking. God moves, God heals, and God blesses just the same.

  13. So you don't believe the foundational truths anymore, is that it, Aaron? Yes, I've read your blog and your testimony and know where you came from. If a church with foundational truths is growing, then yes, it is having revival. Does that mean there isn't rottenness in it and things that need to change? NO! Because we are but weak flesh! If a church WITHOUT foundational truth is growing then it means a whole lot of people are flocking to a building but it cannot be called revival if true SALVATION isn't even preached!

    Bottom line is this: I am sick-to-the-eyeballs tired of people disenchanged with UPC (or other such like organizations) thinking the answer is to throw out FOUNDATIONAL TRUTHS! Instead of realizing that NO church is perfect, NO pastor is perfect and working from the foundational truth UPWARD, they throw away foundational truth and feel JUSTIFIED BECAUSE OF MAN'S WEAKNESSES!

    Just because men/women are stinky from "within" doesn't mean GOD IS!! If we've got to work on "grace", "mercy" and "love", then folks it IS possible to do so AND still believe Acts 2:38, One God AND separation! That will never, ever be an excuse to throw out foundational truth!

    Sorry for hijacking this post, Joel, which has some valid points. I got inflamed when I read Aaron's statement.

  14. Anonymous I am merely giving you a different perspective by redirecting your rhetoric back at you, sorry if I offended you.

    We too often get caught up in how right we are and forget how wrong we usually are. Its only through Jesus that we are saved and not because of our own wisdom or might. Truth isn't found in self-proclaimed doctrines of men, or in standards, its found in Jesus and Him alone.

    I think this is what the heart of this article is about, truth and salvation isn't going to be found in a denomination or Apostolic Heritage or any heritage because these things will not save you. One of the main themes of the NT was Jesus trying to help people understand that religion and the law didn't save. People were so caught up in the law, and the appearance of righteousness that they forgot about their hearts and to make it about Jesus. Tonight in Bible study we read through Isaiah 58, which is a great read about how God saw the people's appearance of righteousness, but they forgot about dealing with their hearts.

    We often speak of truth in religious circles, but who's truth? The truth often varies from pastor to pastor, church to church, even within the same denomination. There have been various splits within the UPC over who had the better truth. The fact is that truth within the movement has changed and evolved over the years and it is still changing.

    Truth is in most churches most of the youth do not stay in church, the numbers are heart breaking. Most boys by the time they reach 17 (driving age) stop coming to church. The turn over rate for new converts within the first 6-10 months is sad. People are hungry for Jesus, but we need to get out of the way.

    I spoke with a evangelical pastor a few months ago with a church of over 14,000. He said this. If we added up all the people who go to church on Sunday in this city, maybe 5% attend church weekly. If you took a test and got 5% right, you would fail. He looked at me and said, as big as this church is, we are failing, we have to do more.

    So we can argue about who has the right truth, or the right Holy Ghost, but truth is there is a big world of people who need Jesus and we have yet to reach them.

  15. Anonymous whose comment i just deleted,

    (i dont know if it is the same anonymous who is in conversation with Aaron, but i am going to assume it is, even not, apologies)

    I had no problem with yours and Aaron's ongoing dialog simply because you guys were discussing your view points. Disagreement without insult is not only welcomed here, but I seriously think it's needed more...

    However, the comment I just deleted was insulting of Aaron's personal life and accusatory of his spirituality. That will not be tolerated, (yet, I am more patient with comments directed at me)....

    I hope you understand it was not in disagreement because it was not that controversial in that regards, but simply because it got personal.

    If you want, i will repost an edited version of your comment with the accusations omitted.


  16. Joel,
    If this blog is indicative of apostolics, no thanks. Not interested. I'll be involved with people who love truth, the word of God, and aren't bent on critiquing every single aspect of apostolic people.

    Your blog should be entitled "The Discontent and Disillusionment of people who don't really know what they believe, and don't want to submit to pastoral authority."

    Yes this does sound harsh. However, I find it absolutely insulting as someone who is Apostolic to see the Apostolic label on rhetoric like this.

  17. Just for clarification: the post deleted by Joel was not from the same "anonymous" as the two comments above directed to Aaron. However, I do understand the frustration of the last anonymous poster. An apostolic is one who teaches the apostolic doctrine....a very clear message in Acts...of Acts 2:38 salvation. Aaron, a previous apostolic, does not believe that exclusively anymore. It gets tiresome hearing those who now believe a watered down version spouting out how we must "love the lost". Yes...we certainly must, but it must begin with the fullness of TRUTH, as taught by the apostles. No trinity. No easy believism-feel good only-misunderstood grace only....gospel that ultimately doesn't save anyone.

    We don't love them at all if we don't tell them the whole truth.


  18. It is disappointing when brethren in Christ pass judgment on one's walk with God with comments like "water down", "easy beliefism-feel good"...ouch, really?

    First let me say this what I am about to write is in no way a sad attempt at self-justification, rather an offering of a testimony and a different point of view. I am sharing this with you all because I know many of you are in the same place I was a few years ago. You may disagree with my journey, my point of view, but this has been my journey and it is my point of view grounded in my faith, love for God and the scriptures. If you share another and are living for God happily, praise God and be happy. I share this with you all humbly, meaning no malice or pride, for in truth I am only a sinner saved by grace.

    This may come as a shock to some who would believe I’ve left the truth, but since leaving, my walk with God is far from watered down; in fact I would say my walk has be come less compromised by "stuff". My love for God has deepened, I am at peace, and I am excited about Jesus and can't stop talking about the greatness of God. I am excited everyday to share my love for God with others, and to live my life as a servant in His service.

    My journey began with frustration with rules that made no sense, that were un-biblical, and always seemed to change from church-to-church and pastor-to-pastor. I saw people who kept the rules (Matthew 5 and Matthew 15:6-9), their hearts were unchanged (Matthew 23:8). Growing up in ministry, I saw people struggle in their walk with God because the heavy demands of law we placed on them (Colossians 2:13-16), when all the while nothing was done to actually help them get closer to Christ and change. Instead of teaching them to overcome their sins through Christ, they were taught to place blame on things for their sins, and live avoiding their sins; forced to bear the burdens of other people’s sins and issues by taking on the legalisms of others.

  19. As a married man I saw the struggles my wife went through, as the burden of debt and atonement was often placed on the women to carry the sins of men on them for the entire world to see. I saw burdens that became difficult for many to bear, their heartaches, and their struggles. I would often ask myself, "Didn’t Jesus come to break the yolk of religion and make living for Him easier" (Matthew 11:28-30)? "Doesn’t the word gospel mean "good news"?

    I wanted more of God and less of religion, but I hadn't known anything else but what I had grown up in and been taught. I wanted a life free in Christ, a life of daily worship and a closer walk with Him, unyoked from the heaviness I had just gone along with most of my life (Colossians 2:20 – 23). I began to read and study the bible with an open heart and a mind ready for what even God had for me in my life.

    I found a God that understood that legalism doesn’t work and the law doesn't save (Jeremiah 31: 31, 33-34). Jesus died for us to cover our debt of sin, atone for our mess, and we didn’t do a thing to earn it. Sure I had heard this growing up, but for the first time in my life I realized what this meant, and that this was not the life I had been living or taught to actually live because by living by the law, rather than by faith through the blood of Christ that had atoned for my sins, I was essentially taking away from the power of the cross (Romans 4:13-17).

    Grace had new meaning for me, understanding that we are all sinners, and there were none righteous (Romans 3). No matter how what I did to try and justify myself unto God, I was still a sinner who was saved by grace, living a repented life.

    Now, contrary to what some believe as "watered down" gospel that the compromisers have gone after seeking the easy way, grace isn’t a license to sin, but instead its understanding that we no longer live under condemnation and that the appearance of holiness doesn’t mean a thing to God compared to a heart and mind changed to live a holy life (Romans 12:2). This meant that rather than covering up my issues by blaming them on things, I was dealing with my heart and letting Jesus change the way I thought, removing the sin from my heart (Matthew 5).

    Freedom in Christ isn't freedom to sin, but freedom to overcome sin by the power of the cross, rather than living under your sin. Freedom in Christ means we no longer have to be our own savior by justifying ourselves through works, but instead letting God make the change in us (Galatians 4:22-24).

  20. Anonymous(es) and Aaron may I try create some middle ground.

    I think is is safe to say that will all agree that there is some minimum level of personal standards required for salvation and that there is some some what higher minimum level of personal standards needed to maintain a close relationship with Christ. Furthermore, personal standards alone do not lead to salvation or to a relationship with Christ. More work is needed.

    I also hope that we would all agree that it is possible to hold to a particular standard that does not aid our relationship with Christ. Furthermore that if we hold to too many of such non beneficial standards the standards can get in the way of our relationship with Christ.
    Anonymous(es) and Aaron I suspect that you are more on agreement on this topic then you think.

    A problem comes when you have saints that have spent a part of their lives in a Christless darkness and have come in to His light. For many the darkness is from conventional sin and when they come to Christ they wish nothing to do with it since they have seen the darkness. There are others that have come to Christ from a darkness of a non-conventional sin such as worshiping rules instead of God. They have seen the darkness of legalism and wish nothing to do with it. Nether side can understand the other since they have not seen the darkness of the type sin the other was involved in.

    Further complicating things is that the symbolism that culture places on things changes over time and with place. For example where I went to grad school waring formal attire after dinner on Friday and before lunch on Saturday was a sine of promiscuity but in the next town over it had no such meaning. Because waring formal attire Friday nigh / Saturday morning had an ungodly meaning in that town I considered it inappropriate to walk around in town with a tie on during that time. I did not considered it inappropriate to walk around in town with a tie at other times and in other places since their was no added meaning to the formal attire.

  21. Aaron: your decisions are between you and God. I don't know what kind of "Apostolic" church you went to, but it isn't like any that I know of. However, people often twist things when they leave church because they cannot handle pastoral authority.

    John, I do see your point. However, the pastor has the right and the responsibility to decide on holiness standards with the consultation of the church. If personal standards get in the way of our walk with God, there is an attitude problem, not a standard problem.

    A few months back, I was talking a lady I just met who is currently attending a very conservative (no internet type of thing)church. She had not fully committed to the church, and not fully conformed. However her words to me were, "I like that about a church where they have no compromise. They tell it like it is and there is no wavering. People forget the freedom a pastor has with God-given authority. And, I firmly believe an annointed, One God preacher is going to have God on his side before you will. Not only is that Biblical, it is proven through people who get crossed up with their pastor and end up leaving the truth.

    Those who are emergent, and enlightened to Trinitarianism are forgetting one thing: Jesus was never wishy-washy, and He was never anything but black and white. Yes, He showed mercy, but there are times where He showed very strong judgment.

  22. I appreciate your remarks, John. I was not raised in church. The world had been tried. I have relatives raised in the church and they struggled with the "untried". There is merit in your statement. However, the point I was making to Aaron was simply about the foundational truth of Acts 2:38 salvation/One God. EVERYTHING must start from the foundation. Standards, or separation means nothing if the foundation is not even there.

    Aaron, maybe you know people who justify their sin by their works. I really don't. And I'm from a conservative church. I fully understand that no neck-high collar and wrist-length sleeve is going to save me when my heart stinks. I willingly practice conservative standards BECAUSE I need so much work on the inside. The OUTSIDE is the easy part.....why make it harder when I have so much work to do inside? I believe standards can be "overkill", but I sure ain't gonna take a chance when I don't exactly KNOW what is gonna make me stumble.....

    God bless.

    Anonymous #1. (the anonymous above must be anonymous #2)

  23. John, I am entitled to agree with you, here is an article I wrote a while back about it:

    I grew up in Pentecost. I also have been in ministry most of my life. My problem isn't with authority, but with the method that I saw was not working in leading people closer to Christ. Several of my good friends are pastors and my mentors. No matter what church I have served, I have never been a rebel. We all need somebody we can go to, a pastor, somebody we answer to (Ephesians 5:19-21).

    Standards always differ from church to church, typically set by the pastor, typically because they are not biblical and are built around the idea of sin, or the appearance of Godliness or self-justification. I once heard a pastor give reasoning for why he and other pastors are able to change rules and enforce them on the church. He said "the Bible isn't enough…". this statement is contrary to the word of God.

    Regardless of denomination, some churches teach that the pastor is the ultimate authority and that he is the mediator between God in man; this thinking is heavily rooted in Catholicism. The the Bible says that the only mediator between God and man is Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

    Did you know that the word Pastor isn't even found in many of the translations and is only found in the NT 1 time Ephesians 4:11-12 in the KJV and NKJV? In the ESV it uses the word "teachers" and "shepherds". In the early church, churches had several pastors/teachers or elders, & some were women.

    It was never God's plan for pastor's to lord over His people or create their own plan for salvation (Galatians 1:11, Mark 10:42-45). When you create rules outside of the Bible, you are no longer trying to please God, but the one who created the rules (Galatians 1:10, Thessalonians 2:4).

    A pastor's service is to teach, disciple, lead, help and bring others to Christ. It was one of the gifts given to the church for the uplifting of the saints. Pastors are only human, and can and will be wrong; it happens. This is why our faith and trust should be in Jesus. Remember that the Bible says we are all a royal priesthood and have been given authority from the Holy Spirit.

    There isn't some special Holy Ghost super power placed on our pastor's that makes them infallible, although they have been called and anointed to do God's work, and not because they are perfect. We are persuaded to mirror the walk of our leaders as long as they are living according to the God's word (Hebrews 13:7). We are also asked to submit to the word of God they speak, meaning what is Biblical (Hebrews 13:17-19):

    Do we all need personal legalisms? Yes, but they aren't meant to something we live by forever, our personal legalisms should only training wheels until we can overcome our sin through Christ. If we feel that we feel more modest wearing longer sleeves, great, but we can't impart that on others who don't feel the same. In truth we'll need to overcome our fixation or shame with arms because as we walk through this world we are going to see a lot of short sleeves and if we don't overcome this sin, it will consume us.

    I would encourage you to take some time to read through the scriptures from my last post. God Bless.

  24. Anonymous #1 Justification through works or by scapegoating means this. If we have an issue with pornography on the internet, instead of placing blame on the issue (us) we assign blame to the computer/Internet and created a law that the Internet is sinful and stay away from computers. This is called scapegoating. We have not actually dealt with the sin or overcome it, we have just avoided it and made something atone for our sins. The sin is still there and we will continue to struggle with it through other means or media. Jesus died to be our scapegoat, take the blame and atone for ours sins. This means you can't overcome come it without Jesus.

    Justification through works is trying to obtain holiness or the appearance of holiness by our own means. There is nothing we can do to justify ourselves to God, this is why He died for us; our only justification is through Jesus. An example of justification through works would be Jesus's chastising of the Pharisees who loved to appear holy, and created laws of holiness that people could not bear.

    Matthew 23:3-5
    3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long

    Another example of works would be thinking if we shout loud enough, pray enough, fast, dancing enough, or speak in tongues that some how it makes us more justified than our brother. The truth is we all do it in some way, at one time or another.

    Isaiah 64:5-6
    We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

  25. I love this site as the members are willing to look openly at the flaws and are constantly searching for truth. Aaron, I am in total agreement with you and hats off to you for your desire to lead others to the Gospel.

    In a nutshell, I was born and raised UPC but have been out of the movement for more than 20 years. My grandfather was one of the early founders of the movement. I was taught to worship the "truth" as in Acts 2:38. Sadly, it didn't work out so well for someone like me.

    I can remember having to stand up during youth camp year after year because I hadn't received the Holy Ghost yet. I'd often be the only one standing. The only one not going to Heaven. I'd spend hours in the altar begging, pleading, crying for tongues. I'd repent again and again and do all the things they asked of me to get those tongues required for salvation. I'd just simply ask for the holy ghost and then see if tongues might naturally come. I'd repent of doubt, known and unknown sin...but I just couldn't speak in tongues. I still held to the truth although it became harder and harder through the years to love a God that seemingly couldn't stand me. I couldn't do enough works to earn that "gift" that everybody talked so much about.

    There are many, many details to my story, but I finally gave up on that God. Any God who wouldn't let me go to heaven couldn't be real. I hated all of it and I ran wild. It's not that I was wanting to wear pants and cut my hair so much it was just that the God of the UPC was vindictive and mean and judgemental. I didn't believe in Him so what did all the legalism matter anyway?

    After 10 years of living as I pleased, a tragedy brought me to my knees. I was able to open my eyes and read the Bible for the first time without my UPC lenses. Guess what I saw? Grace, even for ME!!!!! What was the whole New Testament about? It was about Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection. It was about the excitement of telling everyone in the world about salvation being free and unearned. Our righteousness is as filthy rags and there is absolutely nothing we can do to be saved. But if we believe, His blood will cover us and He becomes our righteousness. It is absolutely free and you don't have to beg and plead. When the fullness of the simple gospel message becomes clear to you, you ,will be more thankful than you've ever been in your life. I had years of yucky baggage. I was saved immediately upon asking, but He has slowly shown me How to be more like Him. The gossip stops feeling right so I change it. The drinking no longer feels right so I quit it when He nudges me to. I am now a VOCAL Christian and it's so EASY!!! Before, it was so hard to get people to understand all the nuances of the "foundational truths of the UPC". Now, I am living my life to tell others about His free gift of salvation to all that will accept it and the transforming work of grace. Excitement, thanksgiving and evangelism just flow out of me because I can't help but tell others about the God who saved even me.

  26. Is there no on here? Guess this blog has become defunct. Joel, where are you?

  27. I am here....

    Expect blog today or tonight....

  28. Grace - beautiful testimony. Its an awesome and powerful thing to realize that there is a big difference between who God is and what religion makes Him out to be.

  29. Thanks, Aaron. That's the condensed version for sure. And yes...when you realize who God is and how His blood has covered us, we understand the Bible and understand the excitement of the early church. Believe me, they weren't telling everybody about tongues! They were telling everybody that Jesus Christ was really the Messiah and we could have eternal life when we put our trust in Him! What a message!!!