We live in a world where many people use the same words to mean very different things! As such I wanted to include a section that gives more clarity on what I believe. Below are some commonly disagreed upon beliefs within the Body of Christ and where I stand. That being said, please remember that:
- Faith is a journey, we should always be growing and learning new things. Therefore as I grow in understandng and surrender to the Holy Spirit's convictions, some things might change.
- This blog was created in 2012, many things have already changed. At the time of writing this, there are ~1400 posts on the blog; even if I wanted to, I cannot remember every post I've ever written, let alone update older posts with new understanding. I do, however, tend to publish new posts on old topics as I learn more. Personally, I think being able to witness the growth (and see the time lapse from beinning a study to the point of action or fruit) is a valuable thing. So, if you find yourself reading a post from say 2013, you might want to look for a more recent post.
- Special Days
- The Sabbath Day
- Feast Days
- Religious “Holidays”
- On Denomination
- The Name(s) of God
- Jesus vs. Yeshua
- KJV Only?
- On Diet
- Once Saved, Always Saved?
- Saved By Faith or Works
- Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
- Who Can Be Baptized?
- Emersion vs. Sprinkling
- Free Will vs. Predestination
The Sabbath Day
The Sabbath day was created by God in Genesis 2 and is the 7th day of the week (corresponding to the time between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday). I believe the fourth commandment, which instructs us to "keep the Sabbath holy" is still in effect in the New Covenant and still applies to the day God hallowed in the beginning. I do NOT believe the holiness of this day was transferred to another day. I have several posts on the blog going in to more detail on this topic; you may find them here.
During the Exodus from Egypt, God commanded the Israelites to keep 7 holy days, also known as feast days. The most well known of these days is the Passover. Most Christians don't celebrate these feasts (I didn't know about any other than Passover until I was in college!) Others believe we are meant to keep these days just as we are to keep the Sabbath. I believe that the passage in Colossians 2:16 is speaking of these holy days, for three main reasons:
- These days are referred to as Sabbaths in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23)
- The Spring feasts were fulfilled by Messiah—there is no reason to sacrifice a lamb for Passover as Messiah is our perfect lamb—and many cannot be correctly celebrated as described now that the physical Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed and the priesthood given to Christ.
- In Acts 18:19-21 Paul tells the church in Ephesus that he must return to Jerusalem for one of the feasts but does not suggest they keep the feast
I think it would be great to celebrate them in remembrance and acknowledgement of what has happened and will happen, but I do not think it is required of us.
I do not celebrate Christmas or Easter nor do I recognize them as Christian holidays. Posts that elaborate on this subject can be found here
As a child, I bounced between African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.), United Methodist, and Missionary Baptist churches—my mom's family is United Methodist, but due to old traditions in the South it was not "normal" for black people to attend the United Methodist church prompting our family to attend the A.M.E. church; and my dad's family is Baptist. During those years I primarily attended the Baptist church, not out of favoritism for Baptist doctrine but because it was across the street from my house and all my cousins went there. In college I attended a non-denominational church and took a few theology classes to try to understand the Bible better. After starting my "deep dive" into the Word and my relationship with God, I ended up attending a Seventh-Day Adventist Church, primarily due to the fact their services are on Sabbath as opposed to Sunday; and it was a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor who performed my baptism. However, my official position is I do NOT adhere to nor believe in denominations. Denominations are man-made creations that follow man-made traditions; so far I have not found a denomination that I can say I agree 100% with everything it teaches. Like the disciples, Paul, and the early church, I simply let the Holy Spirit interpret the Word and follow.
The Name(s) of God
Like "king," "god," is a generic term. This leaves much room for confusion when we speak of God. What god? Whose god? As such, many refrain from calling our Creator God. I have seen preference given to "The Most High" or "The Most High God," "Creator," "YHWH", "Yahweh", "Elohim" (which actually is just the Hebrew word for God—in the plural, but that's a more lengthy discussion), "Father", and many more. You are likely to see me refer to the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham by many names as He is given many names in scripture. I do NOT hold to the belief that it is inappropriate to call Him God, as that is His title, the same way Creator and Father are also His titles. So at times you will also see reference to Him as simply "God;" note that if you see God with a capital G, I am speaking of YHWH. I think it is important to be precise with our language so in settings where there is little or no context for someone to know Who I am speaking of when I say God, I believe it is both necessary and appropriate to use specific language to identify Him.
Jesus vs. Yeshua
Many people are preoccupied with whether a person calls our Messiah by his Hebrew name, Yeshua (though some will claim it's Yahawahsi or Yahoshua or something along those lines)—I am not one of those people. You will see Jesus, Yeshua, Messiah, and Christ all throughout the blog, maybe even in the same post. I believe it is more important to know who He is and what He taught than to worry about Hebrew vs. Greek vs. Latin vs. English renditions of His name. Just as the Father has many names, so does the Son. Just as your mother answers you when you say "mom," and answers to others when they call her by her first name, so the Messiah understand that we all speak different languages and were raised calling Him different names. As laid out in Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 8:9, and 1 John 2:10, when around those who are bothered by the English "Jesus"—which, I can fully understand, as this is the name people associate with the corrupted version of Christianity most often taught, making it easy to assign the false practices of apostate Christianity to Jesus, who then becomes an anti-Christ, thus necessitating a different name for the true, Biblical Messiah—I use Messiah or Yeshua exclusively. The reason I do not carry this over into the blog, podcast, and YouTube channel is because people from various places in their journey are interacting with the content. It is not a given that readers and listeners are familiar with His Hebrew name (I used to be dumbfounded when lifelong Christians were unfamiliar with YHWH and Elohim). A post on the history of His name (and the controversy surrounding it) is on my todo list.
Believe it or not, there is a spectrum in the KJV only debate. There are those who only read the King James translation of the Bible, and within this group you have a dichotomy of people who believe it is more accurate than other translations versus those who believe it is a perfect translation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who believe that is absurd and may even hold that the KJV is less accurate. However, there are people in between. These are the people who acknowledge that translation does matter and not all translations are created equally. Within this group you will have those who favor the KJV but are not strictly KJV only, and those who favor other translations placing the KJV further and further down the list in terms of accuracy. I am one of those people who exist in the middle of the spectrum. The Baptist church I attended as a child was a KJV only church so I tend to favor the KJV even if only out of habit. There are definitely superior and inferior, as well as horrible translations of the text but I do not believe the KJV is the only translation worth reading. Language changes over time, thus even if you translate word for word perfectly, context is always needed to truly understand what is being communicated. For instance, depending on inflection when spoken and the surrounding context, the sentence, "Man, she bad!" could have two very different meanings. It could mean the person in question is poorly behaved or extremely attractive. If said 1,000 years ago, I'd wager a 99% chance it means the former. Time, culture, dialect, etc. all have an effect past the literal definitions of words. Even if we assumed the KJV was perfectly translated, much has changed about our language, culture, and world today such that we would still need translate the context. This is why the Holy Spirit is needed to truly understand the Word of God. That being said, it is important to research the translations and how they came in to existence, because all Bibles to do not say the same thing…
An entire section of this blog (though admittedly neglected) is dedicated to health and food. Our Creator took the time in His Word to define the optimal diet for us and I believe it is in our best interest to follow it. You Are What You Eat is a series I did on the blog that breaks down the verses most commonly used to justify eating unclean meat. I believe that unclean meat is still unclean. Throughout the blog you will also see posts discussing my journey to becoming vegetarian and the benefits I have experienced from doing so. Vegetarianism is a personal choice. While I do believe that in God's original design mankind was completely vegan, I do NOT believe it is wrong to eat clean meat. God granted us to eat clean meat after the flood (in Genesis 9) due to the trauma the Earth suffered during the flood. To this day, some people may not have access to the proper variety of fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes to maintain their health on a vegetarian or vegan diet, and that is why God has allowed flesh into our diet. When you see posts discussing vegetarianism or plant-based diets on the blog, please do not take them as moral law.
Once Saved, Always Saved?
This doctrine is mainly held by Baptists, as I believe it is a doctrine officially embraced by Baptist theology whereas in other denominations it is rejected by the governing body though may be embraced by individual adherents. I think this doctrine is interesting because it hinges on what it means to be saved. While most believers will point to John 3:16 as the definition of being saved, in practice a large number of Christians think being saved is simply believing in Christ. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum you have legalistic Christians who believe you have to confess your sins to a priest, or do penance for your transgressions. If your definition of being saved is at either end of this spectrum, I would say I disagree with the idea that you can't lose your salvation.
However, the true definition of salvation is in the combination of believing and surrendering (or accepting). Once we believe that Christ has died on the cross for our sins (John 3:16), we surrender to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to define our thoughts and actions (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20; Romans 6), which allows us to change constantly as we become more like our Messiah (Romans 12:1-2). When you have truly met the Father, know the love of the Son, and have surrendered to the correction of the Spirit, I'm not sure you would ever do an about face and walk away. Most people I have met who were believers but are no longer, didn't have a healthy relationship with Him in the first place.
So, while it may sound judgmental to say, not everyone who claims to be saved is actually saved. Take Judas and Peter, for example, both messed up. However, Peter came back but Judas didn't. If you have the relationship Peter had with Christ, I am inclined to believe that while you may have peaks and valleys, in the end you will remain at the top of the hill. If your relationship with Christ is closer to that of Judas, I am inclined to believe that you can "believe" and attend Church service everyday for 40 years and then wake up an atheist who is most definitely not saved.
Saved By Faith or Works
This is always a fun topic. The Bible confirms that we are justified by faith alone, however, it also explains that faith without works is dead. Essentially, you cannot earn your way to Heaven; we are inherently sinful and we cannot keep the law or be good of our own accord. We are given grace through our faith. That being said, when we accept Christ's sacrifice, part of that acceptance is submission which causes us to emulate Christ. I am not saved because I don't kill people; however, because I am saved, I don't kill people. I am not saved because I obey the Father, but because I am saved, I obey the Father. It's a critical nuance in understanding cause and effect. We are not saved because of anything we do, however when we become saved, our desire is to please the Father and that influences what we do.
There are a couple of divisive beliefs in the church when it comes to baptism. Three in particular come to mind: is baptism necessary for Salvation, who can be baptized, and baptism by emersion vs. sprinkling.
Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
The thief on the cross told Christ he believed and died moments later without being baptized; Christ confirmed that this person was saved and will be in the Kingdom. I believe physical baptism (emersion in water) is symbolic of spiritual baptism (acceptance/belief in the Messiah and surrender to the Holy Spirit). The latter is crucial for salvation while the former is something that is encouraged (Messiah, our example, was baptized) but not the definitive indication of salvation.
Who Can Be Baptized?
Some churches practice infant baptism, though it may be called a "christening" instead. In the Catholic church this infant form of baptism is "confirmed" at a later age (I believe around 12 or so). While I do believe in baby dedications (re: Hannah dedicated Samuel, Samson's mother dedicated him, Elizabeth dedicated John the Baptist, etc.), I do NOT believe you can baptize a baby. Baptism is the decision to follow Christ. It is symbolic of you dying to the flesh and being reborn in the Spirit. You cannot do this until you understand what you are claiming to believe. Many people thought it was odd that I didn't get baptized until I was 30 years old, but Messiah was also 30 years old when He was baptized. I have heard many people tell me their parents forced them to get baptized or they got baptized because all the other kids got baptized—this is not a Biblical baptism. True baptism requires choice and understanding. I will talk about this in more depth in the future.
Emersion vs. Sprinkling
In a Methodist Church they sprinkle water over your head, in a Baptist Church they push you under water. Which is correct? Well, technically speaking the only form of baptism shown in the Bible is that of emersion. Since it symbolizes death and rebirth, it also makes sense that a person is fully submerged during the baptism. However, one thing that is not discussed in the Bible is what happens when there is no water? Everyone in the Bible was baptized in a naturally occurring body of water, usually the Jordan River. Arguably, the only way we can live in places where there are no natural bodies of water is that we create bodies of water (presumably these are still valid for Baptism), but is there ever a case for simply sprinkling water on a person? What if a person converted on their deathbed? Are you supposed to carry them to a pool (or a river, etc.) and fully submerge them? Can you dunk them in a bath tub? What was the protocol before bathtubs were normal? When I got baptized I chose to be baptized in the ocean (there wasn't a river nearby, that would have been calmer water for certain!), and generally I believe we should be following the example set by Christ to the best of our abilities. Ultimately though, only the Father can judge was is or isn't a valid baptism, and I imagine He is more concerned with the heart than how much water is taken on.
Free Will vs. Predestination
In the beginning God placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden, knowing that Adam and Eve would eat from it. He could have never created it and we would still be in the garden. Was it predestination or free will that led us here? I believe it’s both. Hear me out. If we didn't truly have a choice, God would be a dictator and the statement that He is not willing anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9) would be a lie—but if He is a liar the entire Bible falls apart (Numbers 23:19). However, He is omniscient, so He does know exactly what will happen for each of us. There must be some level of predestination otherwise prophecy would not come true. Let me give you a Biblical example. God asked Jonah to go to Ninevah. Jonah disobeyed God, only to end up in a tempest and subsequently swallowed by some sea creature. Eventually he ended up in Ninevah. Now, one could argue he didn't have a choice because God "made" him go to Ninevah, but I disagree. I believe we are given multiple chances to obey the Father, and each time we fail the test there are consequences (hopefully not as extreme as being swallowed!). Most of us, like Jonah, see the correction for what it is and then choose to do what God has asked us to do. However I do believe that Jonah still had the choice to go a different way. I believe if Jonah still had not complied, God would have called another person to preach to Ninevah because it was His Will that Ninevah be warned. Our world, our society at large is moving in a particular direction, that is out of our control; it is predestined. However how we handle it is our choice. You get to decide if you want to follow the Most High and be saved or not (free will) and God already knows what you will ultimately choose.