Was Jesus a Friend of Sinners?
By James P. Shelly
“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
We read in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.‘” The Greek word rendered “company” means, association, conversation, companionship, intercourse, or communion. We are here taught that evil companionships, or “friendships” with the ungodly, will have a destructive influence on our moral behavior. There is a direct correlation between a person’s character and the company he keeps. Few would disagree, even in the unbelieving world, that such is undoubtedly the case. It is, therefore, a common practice among loving parents to forbid their children from being friends with other children whom they think would be a bad influence. Would we expect our heavenly Father to have any less concern for His beloved children and not prohibit them from friendship with sinners? We read in Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” We read in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “…what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? …Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” If Jesus was a friend and companion of sinners would He not, according to these and many other passages, be living contrary to Scripture and setting a dangerous and perilous example for his followers? Continue reading Was Jesus a Friend of Sinners?
The Related Ideas of Patriotic Nationalism, Militarism, Violence, Retaliation, Refusal to Bear the Cross or Endure Suffering, the Active Seeking and Holding of Worldly Power and Focusing on the Things of This World in General. Are These Things in Harmony with the Way of the New Covenant or with Following Christ and the Teachings Contained in the New Testament?
Consider the Implications of the Scriptures Given Below: Continue reading Nonresistance & Politics in the N.T.
On the Value of Remembering Our Sins (according to John Chrysostom)
Anyone who is truly repentant should never forget their own sins. While it is good & proper for repentant souls to beg God not to remember their sins, it is beneficial for us to always remember them—for as long as we are in this life. For if we humble ourselves now by purposely & regularly calling our sins to mind, then God will purposely forget our sins on Judgment Day. Therefore, let us not be squeamish about exacting punishment from ourselves by remembering our sins. Let us accuse ourselves, and in this way, we shall propitiate the Judge. For sin that is confessed becomes less, but sin that is not confessed becomes worse. For if a person adds shamelessness & ingratitude to their pile of past sins, then how will such a person—who has purposely forgotten that they used to indulge in sin—be at all able to guard themselves from falling back again into the same sort of evils? Continue reading The Value of Remembering Our Sins
John Chrysostom Exhorts the Laity to Look Out for Each Other’s Souls
(rather than leaving the entire responsibility for this in the hands of the clergy)
While speaking to the laity about their responsibility to watch out for each other, i.e. to edify & comfort one another, as well as to reprove & exhort each other, Chrysostom says…
If you were willing to do such spiritual work, you would have more success with each other than we [clergy] can have. For you spend more time with each other, and you know more than we [clergy] do about what is going on in each other’s lives. You know more about each other’s failings, and you have more freedom of speech, love & intimacy. These are no small advantages when it comes to teaching someone, but are great openings for moments of timely teaching. Therefore, you will be more able than we [clergy] both to reprove and to exhort. You also have an advantage in that I [John Chrysostom] am only one person, whereas you are many–and you will be able to be teachers. Because of these things, I implore you: do not ‘neglect this gift’ (1 Tim 4:14). Each one of you has a wife, a friend, a servant, a neighbor; if you love them, then reprove & exhort them. Continue reading Look Out for Each Other’s Souls
Anger in the Writings of John Cassian (with ten remedies)
(as seen in The Institutes & The Conferences)
By posting this article, am not attempting to explain away the Scriptural exhortation to “Be angry, and do not sin,” but I only want to remind myself and others that the Apostle Paul also said, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26). In fact, according to Scripture and the teachings of the early Christians, anger (whether it is a short eruption or a long, slow burn) is spiritually dangerous. However, we plainly read of God being angry, and of Jesus having anger (Mk 3:5). We also read of incidents in Jesus’ life where His zeal for righteousness & justice cause Him to act and speak in such a manner that it is hard to imagine Him doing it with a big smile and with His face lit up with joy (cleansing the Temple; rebuking the Jewish leaders, etc). I am inclined to believe that we, the adopted sons & daughters of God, are more prone to err in this particular passion than Jesus, but this article is not an exhaustive Scriptural study on the subject of anger. Instead, in order to fulfill a requirement for a seminary class I once enrolled in, I had to “Compose a research paper on a particular topic from the readings in John Cassian,” and so I am sharing the results of it. Other Christians who desire to purify themselves as He is pure (1 Jn 3:3) might be interested in this subject. Maybe they’ve had some of the same struggles I’ve had, and might benefit from what John Cassian had to say on this matter, because after completing the first block of reading that was assigned for the class, it became VERY obvious what topic would be most fitting for me to write about because it kept jumping off the pages of The Institutes, clamoring for my attention. Continue reading John Cassian speaks on Anger
Drunkenness is a MORTAL SIN in the Official Teachings of the Catholic Church!
Among the many Bibles I own are a few “official” Roman Catholic Bibles. One of them, the New American Bible (St. Joseph Medium Size Edition), contains a commentary note many Catholics might find surprising. Concerning the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Cor 6:9-10, the note reads (in part): “A catalogue of typical vices [including drunkenness] that exclude from the kingdom of God & that should be excluded from God’s church” (emphasis mine). Continue reading Attention All Catholics! Drunkenness is a Mortal Sin!
The Original Christian Teaching on Divorce & Remarriage
By examining the evidence below, it can be easily discerned that the original Christian teaching concerning the issue of divorce & remarriage was very different from that of most modern-day churches. The Scriptural and historical evidence supplied below clearly demonstrates what the orthodox Christian position was from the very beginning. It was held to from the time that Jesus taught it clear up until the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. The norms of professing Christian society may have changed, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). This is not a comfortable subject to deal with, but it is an eternally important one. Please consider the evidence given below:
Matthew 5:31-32—31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality [porneia: i.e. fornication] causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” Continue reading Divorce & Remarriage
The Sin of Homosexuality
It is very easy to prove from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ Himself and the New Testament (as a whole) teaches that sexual immorality will cause a person to be cast into the lake of fire or be shut out of ‘heaven’—unless they repent of their sin and follow Jesus for the remainder of their lives. It is also clear that the Bible teaches that sexual relations between people of the same sex is a type of sexual immorality. But what exactly was taught by the earliest followers of Jesus concerning the subject of homosexuality, or same-sex relations? How did the ancient followers of Christ interpret their Master’s words about sexual immorality? Did they believe Jesus allowed or authorized sexual relations to be practiced between people of the same sex? Or did they consider it to be sinful? Can we know what is true on this issue? See the evidence below. Continue reading The Sin of Homosexuality
Nonresistance in the Writings of Barton W. Stone
Barton W. Stone (b. 1772; d. 1844) was a key leader of a Christian movement in the United States (called the “Christian Church”) that sought for unity among all those who professed to be followers of Christ. “In 1832 Stone led many of the Christians in the West to unite with the followers of Alexander Campbell, known as Reformers or Disciples of Christ, forming the Stone-Campbell Movement.” Both of these men were against Christians killing other human beings whether in a time of war, or otherwise. But Stone went further and asserted that Christians should not participate in civil government. He was an advocate of Christian nonresistance, and some of his thoughts on the subject can be seen in the following selections from his writings. Continue reading Barton W. Stone’s nonresistance
The Seriousness of Sexual Sin
It is not the purpose of this article to list and address every mention of sexual sin in the Bible, but merely to show that sexual sins are indeed portrayed as being serious and defiling in the New Testament in a similar way as they were in the Old Testament. In ushering in the New Covenant, Jesus & His Apostles and the writers of the New Testament did not suddenly begin winking at such sins. They taught that sexual sin, unless repented of and forsaken, would disqualify people from finally entering the eternal kingdom of God. There are various sorts of sexual sin. Sometimes sexual sin is spoken against in a general manner in the New Testament, and sometimes we find such sins being spoken against very specifically. However, it is very clear that whatever type of sexual sin is being practiced, it is all defiling (i.e. it all causes spiritual uncleanness). For example: Continue reading The Seriousness of Sexual Sin