It's SHOCKING — but it's TRUE! Most professing "Christians" today are not really PRACTICING Christianity! Instead, hundreds of thousands are believing and practicing the same old pagan customs which Christ and the apostles vigorously condemned — and all the while calling it "Christianity"! Your Bible said this present generation would be almost totally DECEIVED! Christ said, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For MANY shall come in my name [coming as IF they were the servants of Christ] SAYING, I am Christ, and shall deceive MANY"! (Matt. 24:4, 5.) Christ said only a very FEW — the very elect of God, who were being kept from the clever deceptions of Satan — would not be deceived. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, IF it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). SATAN has deceived the world — and God has warned repeatedly through the New Testament that this would be so — in this age, NOW! In Revelation the twelfth chapter, the devil is described as a great dragon "which deceiveth the whole world!" (Verse 9.) Either this world is deceived, or your Bible is not true! But the Bible IS true; and this world is in the grips of a tremendous deception! A deceived person doesn't KNOW he's deceived! He's sincere! But he's sincerely WRONG! And so it is that scores, hundreds and thousands of SINCERE, well-meaning people — believing themselves to be in a "saved" condition, believing they are "Christian" — are actually in tacit disagreement with REAL Christianity!
The Sermon on the Mount
No simpler teachings, no clearer meanings can be found in the Bible than in the much-loved and often quoted teachings of Jesus Christ in the "Sermon" on the Mount, found in Matthew's 5th, 6th and 7th chapters. In the last issue, we began with the very first of the "beatitudes" and began seeing the MANY direct OPPOSITES in these CLEAR teachings of Jesus from the commonly accepted "brands" of "Christianity" today. Christ said the meek would inherit the EARTH, not heaven, as is supposed by millions. He pictured Himself as the young nobleman, who went into a far country to get for himself a kingdom and RETURN. He said the saints would rule on EARTH. His feet are to stand on the Mount of Olives — on this earth, at His return. Here, then is one of the very BASIC DOCTRINES of the Vast majority of all professing "Christians" of today, which Christ refutes by very PLAIN statements, even in the Sermon on the Mount! But let's continue!
Do You HUNGER for Righteousness?
Jesus said, in the next of the "beatitudes," "Blessed are they which do HUNGER AND THIRST after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6). Just what IS righteousness? It is to be RIGHT rather than wrong. It is to follow the RIGHT way, rather than the wrong way, which seems "right" to a man. But more than that — what is the Bible definition of "righteousness"? It's this! "ALL THY COMMANDMENTS ARE RIGHTEOUSNESS!" (Psalm 119:172.) The perfect, holy Ten Commandments of God are RIGHTEOUSNESS! In this same fifth chapter of Matthew, Christ said, "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am NOT come to destroy, but to fulfill" (verse 17). And yet, haven't you always heard the exact opposite? Haven't you always heard Jesus came to no AWAY with the LAW? WHY have you heard this? The Bible doesn't say so; rather, it says the EXACT OPPOSITE! Notice it! "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men SO, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO AND TEACH them, the same shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven" (verse 19). Christ was talking about the LAW of God — and in the same breath, in the same thought, He explained He was talking about the WAY TO BE RIGHTEOUS!" For I say unto you, that except YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS [DOING AND TEACHING GOD'S LAWS] shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (verse 20). Christ said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Jesus inspired Paul to write, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but [on the other hand, that which IS important] THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD"! (I Cor. 7:19.) This does not say some supposed "new commandment" of Jesus Christ. There is no way around it. There is no "spiritualizing" this plain statement away. Later, we read in I Corinthians 13 that without God's LOVE we are NOTHING! Unless we have real LOVE in our hearts, we are not Christians! And it is LOVE that will LEAD us TO KEEP GOD'S TEN COMMANDMENTS — ALL OF THEM! "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore LOVE IS the fulfilling of the law"! (Rom. 13:10.) God inspired John to confirm this fact further, when he wrote, "For THIS IS the love of God [HERE IS THE BIBLE DEFINITION OF LOVE), that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and His commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3). To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to yearn, to strive, to STRUGGLE FERVENTLY to BE OBEDIENT TO GOD! To KEEP His laws, which are given in LOVE, for our GOOD. Those who are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness will be studying constantly for new light, being willing to change when they see they've been wrong, admitting their wrong beliefs, their mistakes, their sins. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God" (II Tim. 2:15), wrote Paul to Timothy. "Prove ALL THINGS" (I Thes. 5:21), Paul said to the Thessalonians. Do modern Christians really KNOW their Bibles? Are MOST professing Christians YOU KNOW studying diligently, searching the scriptures daily, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11), hungering and thirsting for God's righteousness? Are MOST professing Christians you know praying, fasting, getting closer to God daily by a constant contact with His word? "Thy word is TRUTH" (John 17:17), said Jesus. But most "modern" Christians DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT HIS WORD SAYS! You would be amazed to realize a vast percentage of professing Christians can't even name the four Gospels. They don't KNOW the Bible — they aren't studying the Bible — because they don't really HUNGER AND THIRST for it! Do you? If you really are "hungering and thirsting" for righteousness, you'll be doing as the ones Jesus described in Matthew's 13th chapter. You'll be like the merchant who sold all to gain the one pearl of great price. You'll be like the man who found the treasure in the field, and sold everything to buy that one field! ARE you like that? Most professing Christians today are not. If you want to really begin to UNDERSTAND your Bible better, to really see it made gripping, INTERESTING — then start our Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. It's free of tuition — no charge whatever. You can have it FREE, if you really hunger for it! Yes — here is another great opposite! Instead of hungering and thirsting for God's Word, most professing Christians hunger and thirst for physical things, for satisfaction of the physical senses. Instead of understanding the truth about God's law — that His perfect law is the WAY to' righteousness, most believe His Holy law has been done away. Instead of believing the straightforward statement of Christ that He DID NOT come to destroy the law, most believe the exact opposite, that HE DID come to destroy it! How utterly DIFFERENT is the real truth of your Bible!
"Blessed Are the Merciful..."
Surely you know what it means to be merciful. But WHEN do you ever really SHOW MERCY? It's one thing to agree tacitly with Scripture, and another thing to put it into practice! James said, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). He also wrote, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all!" (James 2:10.) God says HIS mercies endure forever! But when do YOU ever have an opportunity to show mercy? It is merciful to give instead of get! It is merciful to say nothing at all about someone, if you can't say something good about them. It is merciful to forgive a debt or obligation, rather than take a brother into court over it. It is merciful to treat all others as you want them to treat you! Are most Christians merciful today? Is it showing MERCY to an enemy to send a bullet plunging into his vitals? Is it showing MERCY to envy, to hate, to kill? Christ meant what He said! "BLESSED are the merciful, for they shall OBTAIN mercy" (Matt. 5:7). He shows further what He means when He gives an outline for prayer in the "Lord's prayer." "And forgive us our debts AS [AND ONLY AS - IN THE SAME MEASURE AS] we forgive our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).
"Blessed Are the Pure in Heart..."
But there aren't many of those around today! Paul wrote, "Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15). Nowhere, it seems, is there MORE debate, envy, ridicule, argument, deceit, hypocrisy and disagreement than among some who make a profession of religion. More wars have been fought in the name of RELIGION than for any other reason. More people have been BUTCHERED, hanged, burned, wantonly slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other reason. Jeremiah reveals that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9.) An individual with the natural, physical, carnal mind has a defiled mind. He sees EVIL motives rather than good ones, he sees wrong implications behind every action, he sees suggestive or shabby meanings behind others' words. Paul said, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). The carnal mind is a resentful, defiant mind — a mind which is hostile to God and His perfect laws, and a mind with a defiled conscience! It's about time we began to WAKE UP and quit "kidding" ourselves we're converted when many who sincerely BELIEVE they're "Christians" have never even BEGUN on the road to real Christianity! (Read our free reprint article, "False Conversion — A Mortal Danger!") Paul wrote, "Charity... doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, IS NOT EASILY PROVOKED, THINKETH NO EVIL..." (I Cor. 13:4-5). Yet it seems there are no more easily provoked people than those in various religious fields. A paradox? Or another exact opposite between the plain teachings of your Lord and Saviour and the common practices and habits of most professing "Christians" today?
"Blessed Are the Peacemakers..."
Western fans are familiar with the famous six-shooter produced by Colt in the "wild West" days, called the "peacemaker." Presumably, the name was taken from the Bible. And herein is the philosophy of a "Christian" world. The way to peace, it believes, is through WAR! If you go to WAR, you will have PEACE! But THINK for a moment. The world has always known war. The world recently fought "the War to END all wars." But is WAR ENDED? Has man's way been PRACTICAL? Has man's way WORKED? Are ALL WARS over? Think! Man has irrevocably marched, step-by-step, along the route he has chosen to stand on the brink of COSMOCIDE! Man now stands, in his superior, "enlightened" state, on the verge of WORLD SUICIDE! Answer honestly! Has man been able to solve his problems through WAR? Jokingly, some Westerners in the United States began to call a gun the "peacemaker." BUT HAVE GUNS BROUGHT PEACE? Jesus said, "LOVE your enemies, bless them that curse you, DO GOOD to them that hate you, and PRAY for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you!" (Matt. 5:44.) Do most "Christian" people BELIEVE this scripture? CERTAINLY! BUT DO THEY PRACTICE IT? Isn't it about time we quit "kidding" ourselves? YOU KNOW the professing "Christians" of today do not practice these things! When a REAL Christian gives this teaching of Christ as a REASON for His belief that he should not kill, others who are CHURCH MEMBERS will RIDICULE him. It seems RIDICULOUS to most "Christians" today to really FOLLOW the teachings of Christ. And yet, they still appropriate His name!
What Is a Real Christian?
During World War II, German mothers and fathers flocked to their churches and cathedrals to pray for their boys at the front. In England, France, or here in the United States, other parents went to their churches to pray for their boys at the same front. In many cases the boys at the front, though of different races and speaking different languages, were of the SAME RELIGION! If in the same community — they would have gone to the SAME CHURCH! "Christians" everywhere use the same book. They use, preach from, write about, and read — once in a while — the Bible! And regardless of in which land you find it, or in which language, the Bible says the same thing! Jesus said, LOVE your enemies! How many 'Christians" BELIEVE THEY SHOULD LOVE THEIR ENEMIES? Let's stop "kidding" ourselves! You don't show LOVE to someone by sending a bullet ripping, tearing, gouging its way through his vitals, leaving him to die retching out his life's blood! You don't show "love" to your enemy by VAPORIZING him! Yes, Jesus said, "BLESSED are the PEACEMAKERS!" And He DIDN'T mean blessed are those who take up GUNS and then DECEIVE themselves they're making PEACE! Listen! If GUNS MAKE PEACE — WHERE, YES, WHERE, OH WHERE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH TODAY IS THE PEACE THEY HAVE BROUGHT US? Yes — we call ourselves "Christian" but it would EMBARRASS US TO TEARS TO PROFESS OPENLY TO REALLY FOLLOW, TO LIVE BY, THE WORDS OF THE ONE WHOSE NAME WE APPROPRIATE! Yes, BLESSED are the real PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be called the children of God! God is producing CHILDREN! John wrote, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Therefore the WORLD [the society, the age, the people around Us] knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear [NOT immediately at our death] we shall be LIKE HIM for we shall see Him as He is!" (I John 3:1-2.) To be BORN of God is to become LIKE God, to become a member of the GOD FAMILY! Paul wrote, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be COMPARED with the GLORY which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). Jesus is called the FIRSTBORN of MANY BRETHREN! (I Cor. 15:20, 23; Cot. 1:15, 18; Rom. 8:29.) Those who make peace are promised inheritance of the very family of God!
Are YOU Being Persecuted?
Jesus said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10). Remember, He said, "In the world, ye SHALL have tribulation..." and also prayed to His Father, saying, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are NOT OF the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 16:33 and John 17:14). Christ told His disciples to SEPARATE themselves from the society around them — to come out of the world, and to do, believe and practice DIFFERENT things! Notice the strong language about this in God's Word! "You adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"! (James 4:4.) John commands TRUE Christians, "Love NOT the world, neither the things that are IN the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that DOETH THE WILL OF GOD [which will is expressed in His WORD] abideth for ever"! (I John 2:15-17.) Do most "Christians" today really COME OUT of the world, separating themselves from its customs, its habits and ways? Do most really become so strikingly DIFFERENT that their former business associates, their relatives, neighbors and friends are actually STARTLED by the great CHANGE in their lives? Paul says, "I beseech you... that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice...and BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2). God thunders His warning through John, "COME OUT OF HER, my people, that ye be NOT partakers of her sins, and that ye receive NOT of her PLAGUES" (Rev. 18:4). If you really come out of the world — you will suffer PERSECUTION! Jesus SAID so! Notice it! "Think NOT that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:34-36). If you really begin to CHANGE — if you really SURRENDER your life to God — if you really begin to DO AS CHRIST DID, to LIVE AS HE LIVED — you will be persecuted! And if YOU'RE NOT BEING PERSECUTED, the chances are, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN!
"BLESSED Are Ye"
Jesus goes on to describe how really converted ones will REJOICE when they receive this persecution that comes from living righteously, Godly, in this present evil world. He says, "GREAT is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you"! (Matt. 5:12). Yes, GREAT, and INCOMPREHENSIBLE is the reward of God's true saints, reserved for them in heaven, which is to come down OUT of heaven, to this earth! Jesus tells us to PRAY, THY KINGDOM COME [not that we'll go to IT]. THY WILL BE DONE, IN EARTH as it is in heaven"! (Matt. 6:10.) How PLAIN are the true teachings of Christ! And HOW DIFFERENT from what you've grown tip believing and assuming! Yes, right here in the BEATITUDES, the "Sermon on the Mount," you can see clearly the majority of professing Christians just DO NOT RELIEVE OR PRACTICE what Christ SAID! Do you see how DIFFERENT the REAL Christianity of the BIBLE is from today's PROFESSING brands? May God help you to really see, and CHANGE before it's too late!