The Mandate for a Grace Filled, Guilt Free, New Testament Church

Arthur’s messages during our Restoring Leaders conference have really challenged me and lifted my thinking.  He is possibly the single most powerful Bible teacher in our generation (yes, I know I have said something superlative there and I have considered my thoughts and words carefully).

Something he said several times was this: we have to take a stand.  And that is so true.  It’s all right claiming that we are a grace church, and that we are a church that take the New Covenant and the complete work of Christ seriously, but then when it comes to worship we sing “I’m so hungry, so desperate, I’m going to the enemy’s camp, I surrender all” when it’s nothing to do with “I” but with “HIM”.  This Sunday I determined to only select songs that would be appropriate in heaven – that led to me rejecting a huge number of songs.  Well over 80% of what is written today is about us, about begging God, and about “warring with the enemy”.

That is not the worship of heaven and it should not be the worship of the redeemed either.

Then we have the offering and we beg and plead for money and make prosperity something you have to “DO” to be prosperous, when prosperity is rooted in the redemptive work NOT IN OUR ACTIONS!

No – I am taking my stand.  This Sunday.  If I lose 1/2 the church, then that is what will happen, but Tree of Life Church is a New Testament Church.  We are not going back to the law.  I have already dealt with a lot of this in the series I did on Witchcraft in the Church, but I am going back to this ground and staking a claim.  The foundation of our church is God’s grace as found in the complete redemptive work of Jesus.

No more do to be.  No more heavy burdens.  No more guilt, no more fear, no more shame.  No more condemnation.  No more law – law was our master until grace set us free.

That nagging, doubting, harsh voice inside you – IT’S NOT GOD!  He loves you.  He adores you.  He only has thoughts to prosper you.  He isn’t angry at you, and he isn’t mad at you, and He isn’t out to get you.  

When people say it’s greasy grace: GOOD!  We need to slide in, we couldn’t even walk in through the door of works, none of us could!

When people try and make you feel ashamed because you preach and believe grace and that the law is over, let them know: you are NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL!

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I believe it will go awesome because God is initiating it, and God is in it. And our church are a bunch that just want to know His Word so they can know Him better.



The Value of the Bible


All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16. (NASB)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them… – 1 Cor.2:14 (NASB)

This means that if we show the Bible to be true in its various parts then the whole must be true and will do what Paul told Timothy it will do. The second quote above, however, shows that the man that does not know the work of God’s Holy Spirit will never understand the full meaning of the Bible. But he will be able to understand a clear presentation as to how external factors show the book to be true.

It is doubtful whether any publisher has the resources to produce such a book today. Written over a period of about 1600 years (about 1,500 BC to about AD 100) with over forty authors from diverse backgrounds, most of whom did not meet, living 100’s of miles apart, in different time periods, with different lifestyles and upbringings, the fact that such a book fits together, develops themes and shows an integrated oneness is evidence itself that the ‘editor’ was not human.

Many people have dismissed the Bible and the first question they need to ask is whether they are willing to leave behind preconceived ideas and check out the facts. If a person is willing to do that, we need to be assured that we can present a ‘reasoned defence’ showing beyond reasonable doubt that the Bible is both reliable and truthful in what it says.

What follows are some of the many ways that this can be done. Although only a sample of what can be said it is a flavour of the material available.

Reliability of NT Manuscripts

Scholar Bruce Metzger, who has written many books on this subject, informs us in The Text of the New Testament, that there are nearly 5,000 copies of early Greek manuscripts containing various parts of the NT. No other ancient book or writing comes anywhere near this figure. Most of the people who want to reject the Bible will gladly accept these other writings but will not face the fact of what that means.

Metzger and others tell us for instance that the work of Caesar written in the 1st century BC has only 10 surviving copies, the earliest dated 900 AD. Homer’s writings from the 9th century BC boast 643 copies. Compare this with the New Testament written during the second part of the 1st century AD that has 5,000 copies, the earliest dated around 130 AD.

Norman L Geisler in his book Christian Apologetics makes some interesting observations on these types of comparison:

Several observations are pertinent… (1) No other book is even a close second to the Bible on either the number or early dating of the copies… (2) The average gap between the original composition and the earliest copy is over 1,000 years for other books. The New Testament, however, has a fragment within one generation from its original composition, whole books within about 100 years…(3) The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for other books… Bruce Metzger does provide an interesting comparison of the New Testament with … Homer’s Iliad. The New Testament has about 20,000 lines.0f these only 40 are in doubt (i.e., about 400 words). The Iliad possesses about 15,600 lines with 764 of them in question. This would mean that Homer’s text is only 95 percent pure or accurate compared to over 99.5 percent accuracy for the New Testament manuscript copies.

Secular Historians & Jesus

Probably the most well known of all secular historians at the time of Christ is Josephus who lived AD 37-100. He was therefore a contemporary of Christ and lived through the period recorded by the letters and book of Acts of the New Testament. We would therefore expect and indeed, we would need to find correlation between the history of the two if we want to use this as evidence. Do we? F F Bruce who has studied the history of the New Testament for many years definitely thinks we do,

Here, in the pages of Josephus, we meet many figures who are well-known to us from the New Testament; the colourful family of the Herods; the Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, and the procurators of Judea; the high priestly families-Annas, Caiaphas, Ananias, and the rest; the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and so on. – The New Testament Documents – Are They Reliable?, F F Bruce, p.104.

We will also add two direct quotations from Josephus’ The Antiquities of the Jews,

“the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James” – XX, 9:1.

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus… Pilate condemned Him to be condemned and to die. And those who had become His disciples did not abandon His discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after His crucifixion and that He was alive; accordingly, He was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders. XVIII, 33.

One other interesting person to quote is Cornelius Tacitus a Roman historian, who wrote of Nero’s attempt to relieve himself of the guilt of burning Rome,

Hence to suppress the rumour, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also. – Annals XV, 44.

Geisler lists many others that could be called upon including; Greek satirist, Lucian (second century), Roman historian, Suetonius (c. A.D.120), Pliny the Younger (c. A.D.112), Samaritan-born historian, Thallus (c. A.D.52) and the Jewish Talmud completed by A.D.500. (Ibid, p.324.)

Archaeological Finds

Archaeology is the science of antiquities and although of course has meaning far beyond the Biblical realm it is one of the clear ‘proofs’ of the truth and reliability of Scripture.

It is in the last 100 years that Biblical sites have been excavated properly. Before that, critics of the Bible scoffed at many of the stories and place names. However today cities such as Jericho, Samaria, Bethel, Shiloh, Bethshan, Gezer, Nineveh, Babylon and Ur are no longer just bumps on the landscape but well excavated sites confirming the Biblical record. Here we just want to give you a flavour of the sort of evidence that is available. Further study into this subject can of course be very rewarding.

Ekron is mentioned more than 20 times in the Old Testament as one of five Philistine cities: Ashdod, Gath, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gaza (1 Sam. 6:17). A five-line inscription in Phoenician script was uncovered in early July 1996, at Tel-Mikne (already thought to be Ekron). The stone block containing the name of city is the first conclusive evidence of the city from archaeological sources.

The Hittites were once thought to be a Biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey. Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon’s wealth were greatly exaggerated. Recovered records from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon’s prosperity was entirely feasible. It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon’s palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorialising the victory were found at Ashdod itself.

Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make Daniel “third highest ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position. Here we see the “eye-witness” nature of the Biblical record, as is so often brought out by the discoveries of archaeology. Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research, 1995.

Just as with cities there have been sceptics who have doubted the existence of some Biblical figures. Some of those who have since been proven to exist through archaeological finds include,

Shishak, the Egyptian king.

Tiglath-Pileser III and Sennacherib, kings of Assyria.

Merodach-Baladan, king of Babylon.

Darius I, king of Persia.

Augustus and Tiberius, Roman emperors.

One event that has often been looked at as a fairy story is the walls of Jericho falling down flat. Between 1907 and 1909, the first major excavation of the site took place. However, it was not until the 1950s that Kathleen Kenyon showed that the city wall had collapsed when the city was destroyed!

There is evidence for a massive fire just as the Bible says and Kenyon wrote,

The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers and household utensils; in most rooms, the fallen debris was heavily burnt.

What is even more interesting is that one part of the wall remained standing. According to the Bible, Rahab’s house would not be destroyed when the rest of the city wall fell. This is exactly what archaeologists found.

OT prophesy fulfilled in NT

This to me is one of the clearest indications of the truth and reliability of the Bible. Prophecies made up to 700 years or more before Christ was born were fulfilled with tremendous accuracy. There would be no way that any man could have organised the fulfilment of these prophecies and the way they were minutely fulfilled would mean that they could only have been brought to fruition in such detail by the overview of God.

Some of the main prophecies with their fulfilments are:

The Messiah would be born of a virgin – Isa. 7:14 and Matt. 1:2.

He would be of the seed of Abraham – Gen. 12:1-3 and Matt. 1:1.

He would be of the tribe of Judah – Gen. 49:10 and Luke 3:23.

He would be of the House of David – II Sam. 7:12ff and Matt l:l.

He would be born in Bethlehem – Mic. 5:2 and Matt. 2:1.

He would be the messenger of the Lord – Isa. 40:3 and Matt. 3:1, 2.

He would cleanse the temple – Mal. 3:1 and Matt. 21:12.

He would have a horrendous death – Isa. 53 and Matt. 27

He would rise from the dead – Ps. 2:7 and Acts 2:31.

He would ascend into heaven – Ps. 68:18 and Acts 1:9ff.

He would sit at the right hand of God – Ps. 110:1 and Heb. 1: 3.

OT quoted in NT

“0f the twenty-two (twenty-four) books numbered in the Jewish Old Testament some eighteen are cited by the New Testament. There is no explicit citation of Judges, Chronicles, Esther, or the Song of Solomon, although Hebrews 11:32 refers to events in Judges, II Chronicles 24:20 may be alluded to in Matthew 23:35, Song of Solomon 4:15 may be reflected in John 4:15, and the feast of Purim established in Esther was accepted by the New Testament Jews. Virtually all of the remaining books of the Old Testament are cited with divine authority by the New Testament. Jesus himself cited Genesis ·(Matt. 19:4-5), Exodus (John 6:31), Leviticus (Matt. 8:4), Numbers (John 3:14), Deuteronomy (Matt. 4:4), and I Samuel (Matt. 12:3-4). He also referred to Kings (Luke 4:25) and II Chronicles (Matt. 23:35), as well as Ezra-Nehemiah (John 6:31). Psalms is frequently quoted by Jesus (see Matt. 21:42; 22:44), Proverbs is quoted by Jesus in Luke 14:8-10 (see Prov. 25:6-7), and Song of Solomon may be alluded to in John 4:10. Isaiah is often quoted by Christ (see Luke 4:18-19). Likewise, Jesus alludes to Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations (Matt. 27:30) and perhaps to Ezekiel (John 3:10). Jesus specifically quoted Daniel by name (Matt. 24:21). He also quoted passages from the twelve (minor) prophets (Matt. 26:31). Other books, such as Joshua (Heb. 13:5), Ruth (Heb. 11:32), and Jeremiah (Heb. 8:8-12), are quoted by New Testament writers. The teachings of Ecclesiastes are clearly reflected in the New Testament (cf. Gal. 6:7 and Eccles. 11:1 or Heb. 9:27 and Eccles. 3: 2).” – Geisler, pp.355/356.

I believe that quote alone sums up the evidence for this point and ones again we see beyond reasonable doubt that the Bible is a unique book full of truth that is reliable.

Personal Experience

Never forget to use this aspect as a final proof whatever else you have said. In other words, you have proved the truth of the Bible for yourself. What has God said to you that has been worked out in your life. What have you learnt from the Scripture that is a foundation for your life today. By itself this may be subjective but along with the other aspects that you have been sharing it will be seen that it is not just theory or mental ideas but reality too.

Of course, you may get accused that such evidence is only subjective and some of it will be. When God speaks through His Word to an individual then it is known to that person and may thus just be the testimony that comes from within. However, when God’s Word is worked out in your life and changes take place then the power of the Word of God can be seen and evidenced by others. No longer is it just subjective but now it can be objective and can be tested and seen to be true.

Tozer on the Word of God and Leadership

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

I knew a man from India who got hold of a New Testament, was converted and started to preach, but he had no background at all. That is, he started from scratch. He did not have a Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Protestant background. He just started from the beginning. He didn’t know anything about churches. He testified, “What I did when I had a problem in the church was to go straight to the New Testament and settle it. I let the New Testament tell me what I was to do.” The result was that God greatly blessed him and his work in the land of India.

This is what I would like to see in our church–the New Testament order of letting Scripture decide matters. When it comes to a question–any question–what does the Word of God say? All belief and practices should be tested by the Word; no copying unscriptural church methods. We should let the Word of God decide. RRR140.

“Lord, help us to lead our churches to seek clear direction from Your Word and Your Spirit. Amen.” (A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership, July 10)

The Highest Virtue – C S Lewis

“If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Understanding the Tithe (Kenneth Copeland)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-11).

This is God Himself speaking and He is saying, “Prove Me in this.” This is the only time in the Word where God instructs us to prove Him, and it is the one area where most people have withdrawn from proving God.

Tithing was instituted under the Old Covenant as a way for God to communicate His blessing to His people. The word tithe means “tenth or ten percent.” Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” Tithes are to be given from the first fruits, from the top— the gross, not the net. A person who does not tithe is robbing God and is operating under a curse (Malachi 3:8-9). The first fruits of our income is God’s; it is not ours to use to pay bills.

Tithing is different from seed-faith gifts and offerings. The tithe is your 10 percent that God commands us to give—gifts and offerings are above and beyond it. Some people want to give “as the Lord leads them” instead of tithing—but the Spirit would never lead you against His Word. The Word says to tithe.

Tithing is not only an Old Covenant command, but also a New Testament blessing and privilege. Hebrews 7:8 says, “Here men that die receive tithes. But there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”

In the Old Covenant, God’s people would place their tithe—the first fruits of their increase—in a basket, present it to the high priest, and say to him, “I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us” (Deuteronomy 26:2-3). They spoke their redemption.

According to Colossians 1:13, we have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. As believers, we are living in the kingdom of God. We have entered into our inheritance in Jesus Christ and possess it in His Name. Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant. When we take our tithes to our High Priest and speak our redemption, He receives them and then presents them to the Father (Hebrews 3:1, 7:8).

When we stand on our covenant with God and exercise our rights as tithers, we lay a foundation for success and abundance. Satan has no chance against us. Tithing the tithe rebukes the devourer! When we resist Satan in the Name of Jesus, God’s rebuke is in action. God told the Israelites their words were stout against Him. They were confessing lack and want. It is important to speak our redemption in order for the tithe to produce.

Where you place you tithe depends on where you are receiving your spiritual food. God says to bring the tithes into the storehouse. That is where the food is—where a pastor, an evangelist, an apostle or some other ministry is in operation. When you give, you are not giving to an individual, but for the furtherance of the gospel. Since your tithe is God’s money and since Jesus is the One who handles and receives it, you should always pray and let Him tell you where it should be put to work.

An Oxymoron (Ray Comfort)

“Dear Ray, Why is it so difficult for you to accept the fact of evolution when it has been universally accepted by the scientific community, and 99.99% of people who dedicate their lives to studying it? Why do you refuse to acknowledge that there are many very very serious bible believing Christians who claim to know God but also accept the fact of evolution? Why is it so difficult for you to think that if your God existed, he might be working through science instead of directly violating it? It merely makes the story of Genesis One allegorical, describing man’s relationship with Jehovah rather then a literal account of how the world was made. Why, Ray, why, you constantly attack scientific discourse with a bumptious attitude, yet you do not let us know the real reasons for it, why?” Mojo

Let me deal with your questions one by one. First, I strongly contest your 99.99%. You are saying that only .01% who study evolution don’t believe it. I think you greatly exaggerate your figures. Still, never forget that there was a time when 100 % of the scientific community thought that the earth was flat. The majority must be right is a fallacy. Only God is right all the time.

Second, no Bible “believing” Christian accepts evolution. Such a thought is an oxymoron. To believe evolution means that the “Christian” doesn’t believe the words of Jesus, when He said, “In the beginning God made them male and female” (see Matthew 19:4). To believe that God made mankind through the process of evolution means that you don’t believe Bible.

Here’s a question for you: Why do Darwinian believers insist on hiding behind the cloak of “science,” when their theory isn’t scientific in the slightest? It’s nothing more than a pseudo science–a fairy tale for grownups, believed by the gullible, and created by the imaginations of secular speculators.

Here’s the bottom line: When anyone comes to know God through the new birth (see John 3:3-5), the issue is dead in the water. I can never convince you that Genesis is the truth, but you can know the truth yourself through repentance and trust in Jesus Christ.

If you are interested, read John 8:31-32.

Atheists confuse God with the Bible
When I said to a believer in the theory of evolution, “Your trust is in fallible man. My trust is in infallible God,” other atheistic believers in evolution replied:

“You trust the Bible, which was written, edited, compiled, interpreted, and preached by fallible man. That is all.”

“No. Your trust is also in something you believe happened long ago that was written by fallible men: The Bible. Then you throw in the subjective feelings that you interpret as a personal relationship with an infallible God.”

“You have trust in a book, written by men, assembled and edited and copied by men, none of them even claiming to be infallible.”

These atheists are mixing apples and oranges. God is the Creator. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books. They are two distinct entities. It’s like thinking that President of the United States is the Constitution. One is a written document, the other is the political leader of our country.

Christians of the first few centuries didn’t have a “Bible” as we know it. Most people of that time couldn’t read. The New Testament hadn’t been compiled, and there was no such things as the printing press. Those who were Christians were converted to Christ through the spoken message of the Gospel. They heard that they had violated God’s Law and that because of their crimes against a holy God, they were justly headed for Hell. But they also heard that God was rich in mercy to all that call upon Him, in that He provided a Savior. Jesus of Nazareth had paid the fine so that guilty sinners could have their case dismissed. Those who repented and put their trust in Him alone for their salvation received everlasting life as the gift of God.

They were saved by the power of God not by reading and believing the New Testament. Their trust was in Him, not in the Bible (again, which didn’t exist as we know it nowadays).

The contemporary Christian has the same experience. But we have the added blessing of having an Instruction Book that tells us what we experienced through our conversion, and how to live now that we have come to know God.

Consequentially, you can take the Bible away from me and burn it, or “disprove” it, or ban it, and it won’t change a thing for me because my salvation doesn’t come from believing the Bible, but through trusting in the person of Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior. Not even death will separate me from Him (see Romans 8:38-39).

An atheist further wrote, “But of course, as I’ve pointed out, you are not infallible; your trust might be in error.” That would be true, if we were simply dealing with another human being. If you said to me that my trust in my wife is misplaced, I would be upset that you are insulting her integrity. I have a wife who is incredibly faithful, very loving, and extremely honest. Yet, she is still a human being and is therefore subject to human weakness. Not so with God. He is without sin. It is impossible for Him to lie. He keeps every promise He makes. You and I can trust Him like an immovable and solid rock.

So, if you are a professing atheist, you are without excuse. God has covered every base. You are dealing with the One who created the genome, the atom, the unspeakable complexities of DNA and this entire infinite universe. You cannot win. Give up. Humble yourself and surrender to His will today and you will come to know Him “whom to know is life eternal.”