More chats with myself online, again, I thought people could just do with a bit of human interaction instead of just reading!
More chats with myself online, again, I thought people could just do with a bit of human interaction instead of just reading!
Posted this on Wednesday by mistake instead of Thursday but it’s all good 😄
Now you know me and my juxtaposition of sexual activity and expressive worship. Well in my travels in academia doing my PhD in Womanist Theomusicology I came across something quite insightful that has really changed the way I worship. The idea came from a response to an interview question found in an ethnographic study by Travis Cooper (2011) Masters Thesis from Missouri State University: “Ecstasy and the Kinesthetic Body: An Ethnograhpic Study of Contemporary Pentecostal Worship”.
When analysing the responses Cooper received from the qualitative questionnaires regarding the worship techniques and ideas of Pentecostal Christians, Cooper found that one Pastor said something that really struck me. He related worshipping Jesus to a husband and wife having sex. Now, stay with me….!
The Pastor warned that when worshipping Jesus we should not perusing a good knees up with some songs that make us feel good. Instead, the pastor said we should be pursuing a relationship with Jesus. The same way a husband should not be having sex with his wife just for his own sexual gratification he should be having sex with his wife because he loves her.
The pastor said the following:
“…the ultimate goal for sexual relations between a husband and wife is not simply pleasure or childbearing, but facilitation of love between the two agents in the physical act of intercourse, so it is with worship.” (Cooper 2011, pp.182)
I learnt soo much about worship and love in that one profound sentence. There’s just so much I could say but I really think that sentence says it all. We should be thinking about Jesus when we are worshipping not looking to pleasure ourselves with little ditty’s that make us feel good.
So here’s how my worship practice has changed: Instead of sitting there singing/playing songs that make me feel good I think of Jesus more of a lover that I am pursuing. So I think well this should be about Jesus, what does Jesus want? How can I make Jesus happy? What can I do to make us closer?
Sometimes I just play the guitar to Jesus now because I think well, maybe Jesus just wants to listen to some music same as we humans do! Also, I try to improve my professional practice because I feel like Jesus wants me to improve.
When we worship and love our spouses it should be about the other person and getting to know them better not about ourselves.
Remember, pleasure should be a consequence of the pursuit not the other way around!
Here’s what I’ve been getting up to since the Prime minster made stricter rules about social distancing:
* Exercising twice a day – this has been painful maybe don’t do this… lol
* Cooking – trying out new recipes with things already in the house to try to be economical with food due to recent shortages
* Blogging and social media – I find this cathartic
* Reading the Bible – and making notes!
* My PhD – obviously
* Tidying and throwing away stuff I don’t need
* Paperwork including emails
* Volunteering with the online efforts with my church e.g. helping with content and editing
What are you up on to? 😛
My University is closed for a while as of today, as well as my church but my blog is very much open! 😊
My PhD is still going to continue. Might as well stay ahead!
In the mean time I have a bit more time to play guitar as the pressure is less bad
I’m using some Ethnographic methods and so I’m doing a chapter on that atm it’s a very interesting field which I have avoided up till now because it seemed awfully involved but my whole PhD really is an ethnographic investigation
Does anybody know where I can get some toilet paper?
I’m busy again. I’m doing some work on Ethnographic methodologies (something I have been avoiding since 2013 when I had an ethnography seminar during my Masters…), it’s a tricky thing to navigate for me because it’s not my area of expertise, also, I have Qualitative methodologies in my PhD and there is overlap in the two areas of academy. I am trying hard not to double up on certain things and end up writing the same thing twice from a different angle because I don’t want to give myself more work than I need to.
Believe it or not, avoiding writing stuff to stop giving yourself too much work is just as hard as writing stuff in the first place.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(I wrote a new song it’s at the bottom)
Sorry it’s late I was still doing work. I need to learn when to stop lol.
Anyway, remember the song I wrote based on Song of Songs called “I hope The Neighbors Don’t See? It was about marital sex in the garden. Follow this link to read my previous post on that song.
Anyway I wrote a Part Deux to that song, it’s a medley of another song I wrote called Right Here and a new part to I Hope The Neighbors Don’t See I affectionately call I Hope The Neighbors ALL See… heh heh 😏.
It’s still based on Song of Songs and mirrors follows the tripartite-metaphor in that the love poem represents love between:
1.) Women and Men
2.) King Solomon and a dark skinned woman and
3.) Jesus and the church.
However, this time I remembered the verse of scripture in the Bible that says:
Luke 8:16 NLT
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.
So I thought yeah, hoping the neighbors don’t see you in the garden doing it with your spouse fits our Western sense of propriety, however, the lovers in Song of Songs are very public about their connection and hiding your love away doesn’t seem to be biblical, especially when it comes to your relationship with Jesus. (No I am not advocating public indecency, do have sex behind closed doors but do aspire to show your love for your fellow man, spouse and God publicly).
It also says in the Bible that we are not supposed to be ashamed of Jesus, if we are ashamed of Jesus and the message of the Gospel Jesus himself said He would be ashamed of us:
Luke 9:26 NLT
If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man* will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
*a title Jesus gave to Himself.
But what does this talk about, marriage, sex and public displays of affection have to do with Jesus? There’s something you need to know about Jesus and our relationship with Him. Psalm 1:6 says:
Psalm 1:6 KJV
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The Hebrew word used for “knoweth” is “yada” it’s also the Hebrew word for sex. In the Torah sex is not just something necessary for procreation but it’s about intimate knowledge of another individual it’s about knowing, recognizing and understanding each other (Gold 2020).
The word is used both in reference to a man and wife having sexual
intercourse and—get this—in reference to a person being in deep
fellowship with God (Gresh 2020).
Indeed Paul says that:
Ephesians 5:31-33 NLT
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.  So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The mystery of sexual and romantic relationships explains to us the depth of relationship we are supposed to have with Jesus.
Additionally, the church is described as the bride of Christ in Revelation. What do husbands and wives do? Yada yada… heh.
Properly understanding and appropriately practicing sex within the covenant of marriage is actually vitally important in understanding the Gospel and our relationship with Jesus. That’s why I’m so open about the topic.
So, we s supposed to be in an intimately deep relationship(sex metaphor) with Jesus (husband metaphor), in covenant(marriage metaphor) which would be the covenant of Salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus and acceptance of that and Jesus does not like it when we are ashamed of Him .
So the same way you would show your love publicly to your spouse, have intimacy with your spouse and not be ashamed of the person you’re with its the same with Jesus.
Therefore, in light of the above I have come to the conclusion that, metaphorically, you would want the neighbors to see your relationship with Jesus publicly.
Therefore, I have written a new version as an add on to the original I Hope The Neighbors Don’t See to reflect this. In keeping with the husband and wife metaphor from Song of Songs, it’s actually about relationship with Jesus. It sounds raunchy but with a revised theology on sex it makes sense:
Ok here’s the Original:
HERE’S THE NEW SONG:
Gold, M. D. 2020. The Purpose and Meaning of Sex in Judaism
<https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-purpose-and-meaning-of-sex-in-judaism/> 02 January 2020
Gresh, D. 2020. Yada yada. <https://liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/yada-yada-yada/> 02 January 2020
So, as we know I am egalitarian in that I believe that men and women are equal and they can make equal decisions in marriage etc. Of course, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to donate sperm and if I ever find that I can, I need to see a doctor… So we can’t always do the same thing but in our humanity we are equal.
I know many people who are complimentarians, this is the idea where the man is the head and the woman is the neck “eugh” anyway… So this stupidness runs deep. I found out the stupidest thing happened, which just explains the stupid of that heterodoxy:
How do some people manage to finish school?..
Does anyone but me see what’s wrong with that scenario? It is of course the logical conclusion to that heterodoxy. Ok sooo there are a MANY things wrong with this scenario. Where do I start, hmmm let’s deal with the whole diminished responsibility thing first. I’m just going to let the Bible do the talking!
So the Bible says that everyone is personally responsibly for her or his sins. We see that individuals suffer for their own sins:
(Ezekiel 18:20 NLT) “ “ The person who sins is the one who will die. … and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.”
I don’t know where that woman got her silly views from but it was informed by a false doctrine that was part of another false doctrine regarding women’s unfailing submission to beings equipped with peniii (pronounced peen-eye lol I love the top definition here https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Penii). However, I’m on a roll with the whole sin thing so I won’t be tackling that today (it would literally be around 60k words worth of explanation) let’s carry on ->
In fact, in the Old Testament, not only were individuals responsible for their sins but their sins could also have an effect on their children as well! Looky looky!!!
(Exodus 34:7 NLT) “ I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations.””
(Numbers 14:18 NLT) “ ‘The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations.'”
These verses show that the sin of an individual can affect the other generations that come after them, which is true take the Holocaust for example, to this day Germany is still not allowed to have an army. Also, think about jail time. If someone’s Father does something that means that he goes to jail then the family is affected because the home becomes broken when one parent leaves. What you do affects yourself as well as others.
We also see verses of scripture that show us how we can be judged as accomplices to other people’s sin:
(Luke 12:47-48 NLT) “ “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.  But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
She knew what her husband was doing was wrong, the man was an idjit (click here for the definition: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=idjit) but she went along with it anyway.
(Lol flock of penises https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Penii Ok ok ok I’m going to be serious now… * slaps hand * bad Catherine ! naughty!! Lol I’m in such a strange mood right let’s carry on. I think I’m just so unimpressed and angry with that woman I’m struggling to take this seriously. Anyway…)
She knew what her husband was doing was wrong and she just went along with it. Pfft… Women were designed to be the ezer that is the helpmeet. B. Boyd (2013) explains this function quite well:
“…women were not created as afterthoughts, add-ons, or additives, like the kind I put in my truck’s gas tank, to give me a little boost. No, they were an integral part of the deal, from the very beginning of time…God welcomed His first divine daughter in a pretty powerful way: He referred to her by the Hebrew term ezer kenegdo, which translates in English to “helpmeet” or “helpmate”. As the NIV version of the famous verse has it: “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helpmeet suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)…twenty-one times the phrase ezer kenegdo is used throughout Scripture, sixteen of them are used to refer to God himself [examples: Psalm 30:10; 33:20; 115:10; 146:5.] God uses the same name for Eve that he uses for himself, which means that unless God had a massive inferiority complex, he had something more in mind than women as congenital add-on to man…“If Adam must think for, decide for, protect, and provide for the woman, she actually becomes a burden on him – not much help (which is why people in certain cultures just sell or abort their daughters), when you think about it. The kind of help man needs demands full deployment of her strengths, her gifts, and the best she has to offer. His life will change for the better because of what she contributes to his life” (Boyd 2013, pp. 18-20).
If we are not opening up our mouths and telling our husbands when they are wrong (provided that they aren’t the kind of men that will give you a beating for it) then we are in the wrong too. Partly because, as Boyd (2013) shows us, we are failing to fulfil our God ordained purpose to “help”. You are not helping him by not telling him the truth when he is wrong, that’s not faith its gosh darn stupidity. We are missing the mark when we do that and that is the definition of the term used for “sin” in the bible.
Yes pray by all means but open up your mouth, if your faith leads you to a place where you can’t council your husband then
1.) You’re not mature enough to be married
2.) You shouldn’t be married to him, especially as his mistake cost them sooooooooooooooo much money and it was foreseeable.
3.) You need to question the type of Christianity you are practising, if your faith practices are leaving you bound, leading to sin and are not leading to any personal transformation within individuals that practice it then it is an occult form of Christianity.
That kind of inappropriateness leads to “sin” and everybody missing the mark.
The noun חטא (het’) means sin and comes from the identical but differently pronounced verb חטא (hata’), which means to miss a mark, target, goal, objective. The word sin literally means “a missing.” examples include:
Judges 20:16, “Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.”
Proverbs 19:2, “…and he who makes haste with his feet errs.” (Abarim Productions 2019, Romans 7)
You don’t confront your husbands sin you, him and your marriage fails and you get to a place where you shouldn’t be and you miss your goals or objectives and this is “sin”. Again, if the kind of Christianity you are practising is making you do that it’s not Christianity at all and it’s heterodoxy. This is the logical conclusion to the Submission theological perspective she was practising it expertly and it led to it’s logical conclusion.
Christianity is all about taking personal responsibility for the things that you have done wrong. That is part of being a mature Christian. Jesus showed us the ultimate example of taking responsibility when He died on the cross for us. If we continue to sin willingly there is no other sacrifice for that.
At the end times we will all have to give account of everything we have done. You will be alone, confronted about what you did and more than likely naked because that is the way that God sees us:
(Matthew 12:36-37 NLT) “ And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.””
(Romans 14:12-13 NLT) “ Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. … Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”
(Revelation 20:11-15 NLT) “ And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.  I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.  Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.  And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
We are all responsible for our actions, just because your husband told you to do it and you are willingly “submitting” to him like a twit doesn’t mean that you are not going to get punished if the thing is wrong especially if you are NOT in a situation where he is going to beat you if you say something. Women whose lives are in danger if they say something to or about their husbands is another issue and I am not talking about them. I am talking about those who are in loving relationships and all they have to do is open up their mouths and say no to their husbands. Those women are going to get themselves into trouble with God if they do not say something.
Besides, Paul said if you do something that you think is wrong then you are sinning:
(Romans 14:23 NLT) “ But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”
You will have to give account of your actions to God, God isn’t going to excuse you because your husband told you to do it, God is not interested in what your husband did or told you to do God is interested in what YOU, what did YOU do of your own volition. Why do people keep adding things to the Bible?
Abarim Productions. 2019. ‘Romans 7’ Abarim Productions Web site, at: <http://www.abarim-publications.com/Bible_Commentary/Law_And_Sin.html#.XTCC9IXfv7g> 18 July 2019
Boyd, B. 2013. Let Her Lead: Creating a Better Future for Women in the Church. Colorado: Bonfire Books, LLC.
Here’s a whistle stop tour of why Christians sing in church:
A History of Christian Worship
The early church was comprised of Jews who had accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah. Therefore, to understand what contemporary Christian worship is and why it is there, one must look at historical Jewish worship, as this is the foundation that modern Christian worship is based on.
The beginnings of Jewish music are not known, what is not shrouded in mystery is known by what the Bible tells us (Barton 2014, p.7). The book of Psalms is full of many musical directions of how to worship God, however, as there are no sound recordings or musical notation related to the musical directions in the psalms, we can only speculate as to how they would have sounded. The first mention in the Bible of music, a musical instrument and a musician is when a woman called Adah gives birth to her son whom she named Jubal, in Genesis 4:20-22:
“ Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the first of those who raise livestock and live in tents.  His brother’s name was Jubal, the first of all who play the harp and flute.  Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to a son named Tubal-cain. He became an expert in forging tools of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain had a sister named Naamah.” (Genesis 4:20-22 NLT)
Here, we are introduced to three primary professions on earth, apart from tending the Garden of Eden, like Adam. Those who work with livestock (v.20), the musician (v.21) and the craftsman in bronze and iron (v.22) (Barton 2014, p.9).
The Hebrews, (as they were known before they arrived in Israel), were given instructions to worship God in the books of the Law, which, at the time, also involved animal sacrifice. They were told what to sacrifice and when but no specifics was given regarding worship (Williams 2018, Origins of Christian Worship).
There are a few examples describing how worship was lead in the Bible but again we do not know how it sounded. We read early on in the Bible that after leaving Egypt, Miriam, the sister of Moses, took a timbrel and led the other women, who also had timbrels and to praise God in Exodus 15; 20 and 21. In Leviticus, we are introduced to the Shofar, this is a Rams horn which was blown by a priest on feast days. The Shofar is still played today and sounds like a trumpet or horn. In Numbers 10:1-10, we are introduced to another kind of horn, the silver trumpet, like the Shofar, this is not strictly a musical instrument but is also only used by the priests who blew it to signal to the Hewbrew’s that they were moving the camp.
Fast-forward many generations to the book of Samuel we discover that there were prophets who were also musicians. Saul met them following an encounter with Samuel:
“When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. (1 Samuel 10:5 NLT)
Music was also used for therapeutic reasons, David played the harp for King Saul, conducted under what has become known as the Psalmist anointing, which is “…the power coming from God in the music to drive evil spirits away” (Barton 2014, p.9):
And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away. (1 Samuel 16:23 NLT).
Later, once David became king and he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem there was dancing; singing; they were playing lyres; harps; tambourines and other percussive instruments (2 Samuel 6:5) and Rams horn’s were played in 2 Samuel 6.15. David also assigned men from the Levite clans to sing and play music in worship to God in the tabernacle, (which at the time was a tent), 24 hours a day and they did so until his heir and son Solomon built a temple made of brick (1 Chronicles 6:31-32). In fact, the whole of 1 Chronicles 25 also shows us that David appointed entire families from the Levite clans to play music, this would have amounted to several thousand singers and musicians (Barton 2014, p.9). David also appointed a choir leader, who functioned, I imagine, much in the same way as a modern choir leader (1 Chronicles 15:16) (Nehemiah 12:46). When David established the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, he personally paid for musicians out of his treasury:
“ David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the LORD–to invoke his blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel.  Asaph, the leader of this group, sounded the cymbals. Second to him was Zechariah, followed by Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel. They played the harps and lyres.  The priests, Benaiah and Jahaziel, played the trumpets regularly before the Ark of God’s Covenant.” (1 Chronicles 16:4-6 NLT)
Before David’s Tabernacle (tent) was erected worship was quite solemn, as directed by Moses and involved animal sacrifice. In David’s Tabernacle worship livened up. This could have been because David was quite a creative and passionate person. The Bible tells us that he was a poet, harpist and singer, as well as a shepherd, King and warrior. The Bible also tells us that David also appeared to enjoy dancing as well, see 2 Samuel 16:14 (Barton 2014, p.15).
Once, Solomon, David’s son and heir had built the Temple of the Lord, he celebrated this with music, 120 priests playing trumpets and God responded to this by filling the Temple with His presence:
“ And the Levites who were musicians–Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers–were dressed in fine linen robes and stood at the east side of the altar playing cymbals, lyres, and harps. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets.  The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the LORD with these words: “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD.  The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:12-14 NLT) (Barton 2014, p.9).
The instruments used in the Temple worship in King Solomon’s times were:
Kinnor – A Harp or Lyre – a plucked string instrument probably with 12 strings. It is the national instrument of Israel still today.
Ugav – a flute or shawm – a wood instrument
Tof – a small tambourine-type instrument often played by women
Machalat – The nature of this instrument cannot be established
Shofar – Ram’s horn
Pa’amon – Bells
Chatzotzerah – The Silver trumpet which God told Moses to make and used to signal the onward movement of the Hebrews in the wilderness and at other festival times – blown only by priests.
The tabret (or trimbrel) – was probably a small hand held percussion instrument (Rothmüller 1967) (Barton 2014, p. 16).
Following the destruction of this temple and the exile and return of the Israelites to Israel, worship changed slightly but the basic elements remained the same and there were still many musicians, Ezra records that 128 singers returned from exile with him (Ezra 2:41), later there were 200 women and men singers (Ezra 2:65). Nehemiah records in Nehemiah 7:67 that the singers were so numerous that they built villages around the capital to accommodate them and they were given a quota of food each day (Nehemiah 11:23) (Barton 2014, pp.17-18). What changed was the tone of worship during the exile of the Israelites from their own country to Babylon by the Babylonians. Singing in the synagogues was briefly banned, possibly due to the sorrow of exile as well as the rise of emphasis on the law by the Pharisee’s Some things were added, like the formalized order of public prayers, still used in Synagogues today, was established by the Great Assembly of Jewish leaders. This is known as the synagogue system (Barton 2014, p.19).
Historical Liturgical Synagogue Worship
The following are institutionalised liturgical practices from the synagogue system:
The Cantor was the leader of chanting prayers, psalms and scriptures in the synagogue, which became the dominant form of music in the synagogues for many centuries, following the lifting of the ban on singing in the synagogues. The chant was a liturgical practice that involved a number of syllables being sung to each note of a short melodic line that is repeated throughout the passage being read/sung. The cantor would take contemporaneous melodic patters or compose his own melodies. Chanting of Psalms was often done antiphonally with two choirs groups to lead the congregation. Rabbis did not allow women to sing, so all music was male led by men and boys and chanting was monophonic. The scales differed depending on the spatio-temporal location of the synagogue as the local folk music culture often influenced the Cantor’s musical creations (Barton 2014, p.21).
In the Cantillation the cantor or leader singer of a synagogue sings the declamatory form of the weekly text of the Torah, and the Prophets (Nevi’im) using pre-existing musical phrases. The musical phrases are chosen according to the text and book of the Bible being cantillated. There is no rhythm as different musical motives are combined together. Although there is reason to believe that cantillation goes back as far as Ezra in the Bible times – about 2,500 years ago – most melodies used today are no older that about the 15th or 16th century (Rubin and Baron 2006, pp.67-69) (Barton 2014, pp.21-22).
Jewish Liturgical Modes
A set of musical modes are called ‘Nusach’ which can refer either to a set of modes, melodies and also a set text or prayer. These modes or melodies link the prayer to a time of year or day and also indicate what prayer is to be sing or recited. These melodies became standardized, as did the prayers associated with the melodies. The Three main modes are: Ahavah Rabbah, Magein Avot and Adonai Malach. Today they are improvised from time to time) (Barton 2014, p.22).
The prayers of the Synagogues were chanted usually led by a Cantor and a male choir (if available). The Cantors usually sang in a florid and melodious style that was either of their own devising (before the modes became formalized) or influence by the local culture’s melodic lines. After the formalizing of the prayers the following forms emerged and remain until this day in the modern synagogues:
Piyyut: – a Jewish liturgical poem that is sung, chanted or spoken. A lot of Piyytim are poetic in character and often follow the order of an acrostic poem using the Hebrew Alphabet in order at the beginning of each line.
Zemiros: Jewish Hymns sung in Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish or Ladino, sung at holidays, the Shabbat meal on Fridays or any other day.
Nigun: religious songs sung by groups that involve voice and with no formal words; syllables such as bim-bim-bam or ai-ai-ai are sung.
Pizmonim: Traditional Jewish songs associated with Middle Eastern Sephardic Jews – but are also among the North African and Mizrahi Jews. Texts may come from the Old Testament or by poets. They are composed to praise God and contain traditional teaching. They are often sung at religious rituals or festivities such as circumcisions, weddings Bar Mitzvahs or other ceremonies.
Baqashot: a collection of songs and prayers sung by Sephardic Jewish communities during Shabbat, but also may be recited during the long weeks of winter) (Barton 2014, pp.22-23).
That’s all folks!
Barton, B. 2014. The Music of the Jews: An Overview. Fellowship Diploma dissertation. National College of Music, London.
Rothmüller, A. M. 1967. The Music of the Jews; an Historical Appreciation. South Brunswick: T. Yoseloff.
Rubin, E. and J. H. Baron. 2006. Music in Jewish History and Culture. Sterling Heights. MI: Harmonie Park.
Williams, B. ‘Origins of Christian Worship’ Academia Web site, at: <https://www.academia.edu/26562401/Origins_of_Christian_Worship > 15 October 2018
I hope you have fun reading this!!! Its something to refreshen you 🙂
This document has been written in response to the legalistic heterodoxy I recently encountered that states that: “…our sins are forgiven only upon baptism.”. This article begins by confronting the initial misunderstanding and then provides clarification on how we actually obtain the forgiveness of our sins by faith in Jesus. Following that, I give reasons why the heterodoxy of thinking that our sins are forgiven only upon baptism does not correlate with our post-resurrection era of grace and is an attempt to bring us back to the Law of Moses and why this is not desirable. After that, I explain what grace is, why it’s important for the forgiveness of our sins and I put forward arguments against the forgiveness of sins being earnable through works such as baptism. The latter part of this article is focused on equipping, showing the reader how individuals can achieve forgiveness of their sins through faith, made possible by grace and concludes with an explanation of key scriptures related to the topic.
We are saved through “faith” in Jesus and this is made possible by “grace”. Our sins are not forgiven at baptism, as this would mean that an individual has to do an action to earn their salvation and salvation cannot be earned. Salvation is not transactional like the Law of Moses. The whole point of Grace is that it is unmerited favour from God, which is transformational as opposed to the transactional like the Law of Moses. If you have not grasped this you have totally misunderstood the Bible, misplaced yourself amongst the Godhead and you do not understand what Jesus did on the cross. This is basic Christianity 101 and all Christians should have a firm grasp on this concept not only for your own information but also so you can teach and educate other Christians who do not have a full understanding of this revelation from the Lord (Bradley 2019, i)
You are justified/saved/forgiven through faith ONLY. Your baptism, although it is a command, comes as a desire to live out of your faith. The heresy of salvation through baptism in the cult I encountered arose from their leaderships misunderstanding of the NIV translation of verses pertaining to baptism such as:
(Acts 2:38 NIV) “ Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
This does not mean that your sins are forgiven at baptism, it is saying that you repent then get baptised as a public sign that you believe that through your belief in Jesus, confession of your sins to Jesus and your repentance to Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
Only Jesus can forgive sins not your actions qualifying you for forgiveness. If your actions could qualify you then there would have been no need for Jesus to die and the Law of Moses would have been enough to save you. We see from Galatians that that is not the case:
(Galatians 2:16, 21 NIV) “ know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. …  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!””
Clearly the above verse alone disproves any notion that salvation can be earned by works of any kind. It says we are justified by faith. Let us discuss further what it means to be “justified by faith”.
When we use the term, “justified by faith” what we mean is that we are made right, (atoned) with God, by our faith in Jesus and not our actions. Abraham, the forerunner of all Christians was justified by his FAITH, not by his actions. His actions were brought about by his faith, look what Romans says:
(Romans 4:3-4, 13-16 NIV) “ What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. …  It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.  For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless,  because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
The promise of salvation and the forgiveness of your sins comes by FAITH not a law like “you must receive baptism” for our sake because not everyone would be able to fulfil it. Think about it, baptism cannot be the thing that means that your sins are forgiven because some people do not have a sufficient source of water due to poverty and drought. If being baptised is when your sins are forgiven poor people who can’t afford water/water is scarce/dry wells will never have their sins forgiven, only rich/middle class people, (who can afford to waste water), will go to heaven.
Jesus can forgive your sins before baptism, take Luke 23:39-43, Matthew 9:1-6, Luke 7:47-48 Jesus just forgave those people, they didn’t get baptised first).
(Luke 23:39-43 NIV) “ One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””
Jesus forgave him without him being baptized, he didn’t get the chance to be baptized as he died before he could get baptized, after believing in Jesus. Let’s look at another example in Matthew:
(Matthew 9:1-8 NIV) “ Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.  Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”  Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”  Then the man got up and went home.  When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.”
Jesus forgave that man of his sins without him getting baptized. Jesus also said that He has the authority to forgive sins. Why are we trying to strip Jesus of His own authority of forgiving sins, by saying that there are other man made things that you have to do before achieving salvation? This next example is quite important:
(Luke 7:47-50 NIV) “ Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””
Look what Jesus said; it was the woman’s faith in Him that led to her salvation not something that she did, her actions were informed by her faith but her salvation was only received at the point of faith.
Saying that your sins are only forgiven upon baptism is dangerous heterodoxy that has come about by gotten caught up in legalistic semantics, making a human idea fit on to Gods word. Therefore, missing the point and complete mercy of the grace of God. It’s God who calls us not the other way round (Still 2019).
It is the “Grace” of God that allows us the opportunity to receive salvation, if we have “faith” in Jesus. Faith is belief, it is not an action, it is a feeling or a conviction and has nothing to do obeying a law. It is merely a transaction as opposed to a transformation.
Let’s just confront the elephant in the room. God didn’t always express a deep fondness for the Law of Moses. God always preferred humans to have faith and to love one another, look at what God said in Isaiah:
(Isaiah 1:11-17 NIV) “ “The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?  Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations–I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.  Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!  Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
The same sentiment is reiterated in Jeremiah:
(Jeremiah 7:22-23 NIV) “ For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices,  but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”
Again in Hosea:
(Hosea 6:6 NIV) “ For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Then in Amos:
(Amos 5:21-24 NIV) “ “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.  Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV) “ With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Lastly, if it’s not clear enough that God did not care for the law, we are taught in Hebrews that Jesus himself expressed God’s dissatisfaction with a legal, transactional salvation:
(Hebrews 10:5-8 NIV) “ Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;  with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.  Then I said, ‘Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll–I have come to do your will, my God.’ ”  First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”–though they were offered in accordance with the law.”
So why did God ever give us the law? Well, as we see in Romans, it was just necessary to show US how sinful humans are and how much we need God as it says in Romans:
(Romans 3:20-22 NIV) “ Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,”
When the law was followed it didn’t mean anything to God unless their hearts were right. God wants faith, love and obedience above everything else, like it says in Psalms:
(Psalm 50:7-15 NIV) “ “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.  I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.  I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,  for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.  If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.  Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?  “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,  and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.””
We make a mockery of Jesus’ death when we think that we need to add anything to the gospel and do any special actions other than believe that Jesus can forgive our sins in order to receive the forgiveness of our sins. If we needed to do extra things to receive forgiveness then Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough and this does not align with what the scriptures clearly say:
(Hebrews 9:9-12 NIV) “ … the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.  They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.  But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.”
If the bible says in the above verse that Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins, once and that action was enough to ensure the forgiveness of our sins who are we to say otherwise? Physical actions such as baptism and any actions prescribed in the Law of Moses (See Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) were never enough to cleanse, they only dealt with the outside. This idea is reiterated later on in this chapter of Hebrews:
(Hebrews 9:24-28 NIV) “ For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,  so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
Again, it makes it clear here that Jesus’ death and resurrection was enough and belief in Jesus and repentance all you need. Jesus did this one time, for all and it does not need to be added to by humans, by saying you need baptism to have your sins forgiven. Beliefs like that take us back to the Law. Look what it says in Romans about the Law:
(Romans 3:19-28 NIV) “ Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–  he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.  For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
To believe that your sins are only forgiven when you are baptised is to resurrect the Law of Moses and we are not living under that now, we are living under grace. The Law was never designed to sanctify you anyway; it was just designed to show you how sinful you were. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection what the bible advocates for the forgiveness of sins is Faith made possible by “grace”.
Lastly, when it comes to any kind of ceremonial washing, such as baptism, we need to remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees when they confronted Him on this issue:
(Matthew 23:25-26 NIV) “ “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
Here Jesus shows that external washing does not make a difference to the inside. It is an internal transformation of faith and love, aided by grace that makes the outside clean.
Let’s have a look at Grace for further understanding. The classic definition of Grace is that God’s grace is unmerited favor. Grace means that God showered favor and blessing on those who did not in any way deserve or earn it. They deserved God’s judgment and wrath but He showed them favor. (Cole 2019).
The best way to look at this revelation is to look at it like you are looking at a two-sided coin. On the one side of the coin the grace of God is the “unmerited favour and mercy” of God and as mentioned earlier, we are saved by “grace” through our faith in Jesus Christ. The second definition of the word grace, which will be the other side of this same coin, is that the grace of God is referring to the divine life, power and ability of God flowing and operating through us (Bradley 2019, i)
The first definition of grace is what this article is concerned with, the idea that God created an opportunity for our sins to be forgiven through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This opportunity is something that we did not deserve, it was something that we could not go through and it is certainly something that we can never earn. Initially, sin was dealt with through the law, as mentioned earlier but now we have an opportunity to have salvation through faith because of God’s grace.
To understand why grace was necessary we need to go back to the beginning of the bible. If we look at what happened to humanity in the beginning we would come to the conclusion that the truth of the matter is that every human after Adam is dead in her or his trespasses and sins. Paul explains this to the Church at Ephesus, as follows:
(Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV) “ As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”.
And Paul goes on to give us great news:
(Ephesians 2:4-10, 14-15 NIV) “ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–  not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. …  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,”
There was a time, after Adam and Eve first sinned, that God’s law was expanded into more than 600 things that the people could and could not do. The people could not obey these laws and at one point God wiped out all of mankind because they were so evil. He saved only Noah and his family because Noah was righteous in God’s eyes. Even after Noah, man continued to disobey and because God’s chosen people, Israel (the Jewish people), rejected God’s eternal plan of salvation, it was offered to the Gentiles (those who are not Jewish). Paul writes about this in his letter to the Church at Rome:
(Romans 11:30-32 NIV) “ Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,  so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”(Williams 2019)
It is not that God’s grace is missing from the Old Testament. No one was saved in the Old Testament apart from God’s grace but John 1:17 shows the contrast between the two terms of engagement between God and humans in the two testaments:
(John 1:17 NIV) “ For the law was given through Moses [Old Testament*]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ [New Testament*].”
*Note added by author of this article.
This is because:
(John 3:17-18 NIV) “ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”(Cole 2019)
If you think that your sins are forgiven only at baptism it shows that you do not believe that Jesus alone has the power to forgive sins and you don’t understand Grace. It clearly says here that anyone who believes in Jesus is not condemned. What’s another word for believe? It’s faith, so to reiterate, your sins are forgiven in your faith in Jesus, that Jesus has the power to forgive sins, which is why we go to Jesus and ask Jesus forgiveness of our sins and that is enough. This opportunity to be forgiven is called Grace.
This opportunity to receive salvation just by faith due to the grace of God means that grace is available to all. Instead of only just those who have the ability to waste water and be baptized.
Paul says that the appearance of God’s grace brought “salvation to all men.” The KJV and the NIV err by translating that God’s grace has appeared to all men. That never has been true, in that there have always been many that have never heard of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
Paul means that God’s grace that appeared in the person of Christ offers salvation to all that hear of it. In the context, Paul has just spoken of various groups: older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves. So when he goes on to say that God’s grace brings salvation to all men, he means, “to all types of people, including those whom the world despises, even to slaves.” No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
This does not mean that all people are saved or will be saved. The Bible is uniformly clear that there are two separate final destinations for all people. Those who by God’s grace have the faith to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior will go to heaven. Those who do not believe in Christ will pay the penalty of eternal separation from God in hell.
But the good news of God’s grace is that no sinner is beyond the reach of God’s grace. The apostle Paul was a persecutor of the church. He called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:13, 15). But he experienced God’s grace through the cross. If the chief of sinners found mercy, so can you! (Cole 2019).
The idea that you have to do anything extra other than believe that Jesus can forgive your sins in order to achieve the forgiveness of your sins, like getting baptized or being circumcised is pharisaical heterodoxy that comes from adding human ideas and mixing them with the pure gospel.
God’s pure grace gets polluted from two sides. On the one side, grace runs counter to the way the world works, so it is difficult for us to grasp it and get used to it. The world works on a transactional meritocratic system. If you do well in school, you get good grades and win awards. If you do well in sports, you make the team and get applause. If you get into university, the merit system continues to reward excellence. This carries over into the business world after university. Exceptional performance earns promotions and raises. Sloppy performance will get you fired.
In the spiritual realm, all of the world’s religions, except for biblical Christianity, work on the merit system. Even the major branches of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church teach a system of meritocratic-salvation, where you have to add your works to what Christ did on the cross in order to go to heaven.
This merit system of salvation permeates the public mind. Ask anyone on the street his opinion of how a person gets into heaven and you will hear something about being a good person. It was at the heart of pharisaic, legalistic religion in the times of Jesus and Paul (Willams 2019).
We see time and time again Paul rebuffing these ideas that you have to add something extra other than faith to the gospel in order to receive forgiveness. Take the issue of circumcision for example.
(Genesis 17:11 NIV) “ You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”
(John 7:22 NIV) “ Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath.”
Some Jewish converts to Christianity were telling the Gentiles (non-Jews) that they had to get circumcised (a prescription of the Law of Moses) in order to receive salvation. Paul rebuffed this saying:
(Romans 4:9-13 NIV) “ Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.  Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!  And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.  And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.  It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.”
We see here that Paul is saying that Abraham’s circumcision was a sign that he was justified by his faith and that justification came before the action not after. In the same fashion Baptism is a sign that you are justified by faith and that justification/sanctification and forgiveness of sins came before you were dunked in water not after.
Again, Paul discusses the issue of Pharisaical individuals trying to pollute the concept of grace in Galatians stating:
(Galatians 3:2-6 NIV) “ I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  Have you experienced so much in vain–if it really was in vain?  So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?  So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.””
This is true, we begin by faith and then some people who misunderstand the Gospel and what Jesus’ death and resurrection meant for us and insist that there is another step or so that we need to do in order to achieve forgiveness. This is not true and I ask the same metaphorical questions that Paul asked. Did you receive the Gospel, miracles and the Holy Spirit by going through an action or did you receive those things by FAITH?
Let’s see further examples from Galatians regarding obtaining salvation through any other action other than faith.
(Galatians 3:8-12, 14, 18-19, 21-24 NIV) “ Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”  The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” …  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. …  For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.  Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. …  Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.  But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.  Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”
We see that we are justified through faith. The opportunity to be justified through faith is called Grace. We also see that if we live by the law and if we could achieve salvation through the law we are also forced to face the consequences of the law and we make God a liar because the promise given to Abraham would be nullified:
(Galatians 3:14-18 NIV) “ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.  Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.  The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.  What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.  For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.”
So if you could achieve forgiveness of sins, through a law like “you must be baptised” then we make out God to be a liar because God promised that the righteous would live by faith:
(Habakkuk 2:4 NIV) “ “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright–but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness–“
Every step of the way the bible talks about belief being and faith being synonymous with salvation:
(John 3:31-36 NIV) “ The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.  For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.  The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
We also condemn ourselves to the consequences of the law because if you don’t fulfil it there are consequences. So if you are not able to get baptised you will never have your sins forgiven. However, if we live by faith, we will be able to partake in the promise of an inheritance of the Spirit and become true children of Abraham and receive justification, salvation and forgiveness of our sins through Jesus.
The opportunity to receive this promise is called Grace. Which as we have seen, cannot be earned, it is only achieved through faith and not works. The patriarch of Christianity, Abraham, was justified through his faith before any of the works, that confirmed his faith, took place.
Everyone loves receiving gifts but for a gift to be yours, you must accept it. When you believe the truth of the gospel – that Jesus died for your sins, was buried according to the Scriptures and was raised again on the third day and that by believing this, accepting Jesus as your saviour and asking Jesus for forgiveness of your sins – according to the Scriptures, you are guaranteed eternal life and you receive the gift. God seals your name in the Lambs Book of Life and leaves the Holy Spirit as the Promise that Jesus will return to redeem you into eternal life with Him and His Father in Heaven. Your death sentence is lifted and you are no longer condemned. One bible passage to study about the results of this salvation include: John 3:16-18:
(John 3:16-18 NIV) “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Grace does not mean that we may now do things that displease the Lord. Under the Law we saw death and we were bound as a slave to that Law. Under grace we have freedom through the leading of the Spirit. We needed the Law to convince us of our personal need of a Saviour (Gal 3:23-26).
(Galatians 3:23-26 NIV) “ Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,”
Under grace we are no longer focused on the “dos” and “don’t”, rather, when we follow the Spirit we always do what pleases God (Willams 2019).
There are key verses that Christians can study that have to do with our own personal salvation in the Lord. Each one of these are verses have to do with the classic definition of grace – which is that grace is the unmerited favour and mercy of God towards mankind. This mercy is what allows us to have the forgiveness of our sins and justification through FAITHin Jesus, not through some kind of extra activity.
These verses provide an overview of exactly what our eternal salvation in the Lord is really all about. If you can grasp what the Lord is trying to tell you in these specific verses, you will then be able to walk away with a much better and clearer understanding as to who you really are in your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and exactly how you were saved in the first place.
This is a list of the verses together, highlighting the key words and phrases in these verses so you can see exactly what God is trying to show you.
(Ephesians 2:8 NIV) “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“
(2 Timothy 1:8-9 NIV) “ So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”
(Romans 11:6 NIV) “ And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
(Romans 5:1-2 NIV) “ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
(Titus 2:11 NIV) “ For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.”
(Acts 15:11 NIV) “ No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.””
(Ephesians 2:4-8 NIV) “ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“
(Titus 3:7 NIV) “ so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
(Romans 3:22-26 NIV) “ This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–  he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
(John 1:17 NIV) “ For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:16 NIV) “ May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,”
(Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV) “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,”
(Romans 5:15 NIV) “ But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”
(Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV) “ For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
(Romans 5:20-21 NIV) “ The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,  so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(Galatians 2:21 NIV) “ I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!””
The first thing to pick up from these verses is that our personal salvation in the Lord is not earned by any type of good works that we can do in this life – no matter how many good works we may end up doing and no matter how good and holy those works may end up being, like baptism. The quantity and quality of our works for the Lord do not matter to Him.
The very first verse:
(Ephesians 2:8 NIV) “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“
is the absolute number one verse on exactly how we are to receive eternal salvation from the Lord. This verse specifically tells us, without any other possible spin or interpretation you can possibly put on it, that our individual personal salvation –which is the forgiveness of our sins and our atonement to God – can only be received by “grace” through our personal faith in Jesus Christ.
This first verse and the two that follow right after it, specifically state that our eternal salvation is simply received by grace through faith – not by any type of works/actions.
(Ephesians 2:8 NIV) “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“
(2 Timothy 1:8-9 NIV) “ So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”
(Romans 11:6 NIV) “ And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
The first verse tells us that our eternal salvation is a direct, free gift from God and “not of works.” The second verse once again says that God has saved us through His grace and not “according to our works”. The third verse then really hammers this point home when it literally shouts out that both grace and works cannot save us. It says if we are saved by grace, then works has no part in our salvation whatsoever. You cannot have this revelation both ways. If we are saved by grace, which we are, then works has absolutely no part in our personal salvation with the Lord. It’s all Him and none of us. The first verse says that being saved by grace through our faith in Jesus all comes direct from God and that it is “not from yourselves” because it is direct from God!
As simple as this revelation is to fully grasp and understand, there are still some Christians who are walking around thinking that they still have to try and earn their way into heaven by doing as many good and holy works as they possibly can or by being baptized. As a result, they spend most of their life in misery and torment, as they never know for sure if they will make it into heaven after they die and “cross over”.
The first set of verses above are an absolute top priority for any newborn Christian or any unbeliever you may be witnessing to. Bottom line – eternal salvation, that is the forgiveness of your sins and atonement to God is received direct from the Lord as a free gift and it can only be received by grace through our personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross.
Salvation is simply just a matter of believing – and then accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour once you are ready to admit that you are truly a sinner in need of a personal Saviour to save you from your sins.
I am going to highlight some of the key phrases in the above verses so you can see how the Lord is really trying to drive home the point that we can only be saved by and through His grace.
Notice in every single one of these key phrases the word “grace” is specifically being used in reference to our own personal salvation in Jesus. With the basic definition of the word “grace” being “unmerited favour,” there can be no question that the forgiveness of our sins and atonement to God can only be received by God’s grace through our faith in His Son Jesus.
No amount of works or baptism, no matter how good and holy we think baptism and good works may be, will ever be good enough to ensure our sins are forgiven by our Lord Jesus Christ.
They have no place in our personal salvation with the Lord – and they have absolutely no place when working with an unsaved person in an effort to try and get them saved. God has made accepting His free gift of eternal salvation/forgiveness of sins through His Son Jesus Christ as easy possible.
These Scripture verses are as clear as they can possibly be on this issue (Bradley 2019, ii).
It is the personal opinion of this author that teaching salvation through any means other than faith is a dangerous heterodoxy that is going to leave Christians and early converts confused.
It diminishes the power of Jesus by assuming that God needs help to forgive our sins by an extra action.
It diminishes the suffering of Jesus by assuming that Jesus’ death and resurrection was not good enough for the absolution of our sins and this is a painful insult to Jesus.
It puts man on the same level of the Godhead by assuming that salvation is only achieved when we are baptised, as it is man that baptises us, therefore, man and not God completes the final step of salvation.
It makes assumptions that diminish the meaning and power of Jesus.
It makes Christianity and righteousness transactional instead of transformative.
It also ignores what the rest of the bible says about salvation, which is feckless.
It is also a Eurocentric if not racist reading of the bible, as it elevates the English translation and understanding provided in one version of the English bible, above the original Greek text, (I did not go into this issue in this article).
It recklessly creates a doctrine that is based on only one verse in the bible as opposed to taking in the whole bible in context.
It also creates further mental and physical barriers between humans and God, as not everyone has access to water that they can waste, also, some people like the disabled may not be able to be baptised at all or easily and they will be excluded and never achieve the forgiveness of their sins.
It focuses on acts to achieve righteousness as opposed to faith as the bible says.
It also makes God to be a liar because it nullifies all of the promises that humans would live and be justified by faith and that we would all be children of Abraham’s by faith and as we know, God cannot lie.
It generally takes focus away from Jesus and His power.
It also brings Christianity away from Christ and into the realm of the occult because it is at odds with clear and plain instruction in the bible.
Finally, it forms a barrier to people developing a sense of humility, something that God desires. This is because an individual would have felt that they “earned” their salvation through baptism, completely missing the fact that salvation is something that we do not deserve, we cannot earn and we can never thank Jesus enough, understanding this situates our minds and spirits correctly in a place of humility and thankfulness before God, fully understanding God’s overwhelming mercy.
I have been a Christian for many years and I have been in Christian leadership and Christian study for many years and frankly, searching the scriptures, I cannot say with any certainty that anyone teaching or propagating this heterodoxy will go to heaven. God will have mercy on whomever God will but what we do know is that it says in the scriptures that the teachers, the ones who are in charge of teaching Christian doctrine, well… they will be judged more harshly.
(James 3:1 NIV) “ Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
For those of you who made it to the bottom here is a music video that sums up this entire article:
Sorry my blog posts have been a bit sparse for the last two weeks, as you know I’m self employed so I, like every other self employed individual in the country, have been frantically trying to finish my Tax Return (and gathering money to pay my taxes lol) before the deadline to avoid the £100 fine! Blogging came second to that I’m sorry lol. Anyway, it’s submitted now and I can get back to blogging.
I’ve been meditating on something someone said to me a while back. “Why don’t you just find a nice guy from church?”
Well….. that’s making some pretty big assumptions, like the idea that they are all “nice” for a start:
They are only men
Christian men are just that… they are men. They have the same stupidness festering at the back of their minds that other men do, it’s just the way they deal with it is different. Or at least it’s supposed to be. Don’t expect too much from them hah hah! They have the same struggles. Any Christian guys reading this, well… whatever naughty thoughts they were ever going to have about me, trust me, they have already had them as soon as they saw I posted something on FB/Twitter/LinkedIn… In fact, it’s probably the reason why they even read my blog in the first place… regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not.
A guy could be one thing leading worship on stage and then behind closed doors he’s a gimp! Women have literally died, literally, when they just assumed that a guy was one thing because he said he was.
I’ve always said that the only difference between a Christian guy and a guy who isn’t a Christian is thus – they both want to have sex with you in the back of their car it’s just you expect the Christian guy to have the decency to marry you first… and that’s it!
The moment some exegete find any scrap of evidence that you CAN in fact have sex before marriage, they are all going to be at it like no body’s business… Do not be under any illusions, that nice church boy wants to put his penis in your daughters vagina. Yeah he’s waiting but with the end game of penetration.
The problem with being a woman is that a man who just wants a place to park his penis for the night wants to have sex with you and a man who is attracted to you, utterly loves the very ground you walk on and is completely dedicated to your personal and spiritual development is also a man who wants to have sex with you. When both kinds of men are expressing the same kind of desire towards you it can be difficult to tell which man you should be with! Some Christian guys are just getting married JUST so they can have sex with the young woman they like. I’ve heard these horror stories and they all ended in divorce unfortunately because they slept with each other, then immediately realised that all they had in their relationship was the anticipation of sex, they had sex and then relationship was done literally within a few hours of marriage. It’s sad but this is happening in the church, right now because there are guys whose motivation is not what it should be.
You cannot make assumptions about anyone’s Christianity
Not every person who says they are a Christian is a Christian. Only Jesus knows not who but WHAT is actually sitting in the pews. It says in the Bible:
(Matthew 7:21 NLT) “ “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”
Some people are just IN the church but they are not OF the church. On more than one occasion I’ve had guys, church guys, who seem soo nice and sweet at church and good, call/fb message/etc me to ask to see me naked… I’m not even joking. I wish I was, this has happened people! I’ve just stopped taking certain peoples calls/whatsapp/fb friend requests now lol. We’re not supposed to have sex or do highly intimate and sexual things before marriage! I’ve blogged about this! (follow this link for more information). I’m not saying we can’t kiss but good gracious! Stop asking! It’s not going to happen! These people are not Christians, soo many guys I’ve met and I’ve realised that they are just there (as in at church) so as not to upset their mum or their grandmother but they don’t believe it and at the first opportunity they misbehave.
Some guys they just think that it’s ok to go up to the boundary but it’s not ok to cross the boundary. The boundary is a marker of where you should not be, it’s a warning sign that you are going to the outer limits and YOU NEED TO TURN BACK! So many times guys who I thought were Christian tried to encourage me to do things with them that I should not and I’m thinking “…what’s going on?!!?? I thought you and I went to church??…”.
You have got to be careful. Only Jesus knows what is really going on in a man’s mind.
Male headship and female submission theologies make Christian men mistreat women (this bit is in my PhD)
Christianity, like mainstream European/British/American culture is patriarchal (men leading follow this link for a dictionary explanation) this mixture of religion and male headship/female submission ideals have been proven to be dangerous for women, as religion and spirituality can overtly and covertly promote abuse (Yick 2008, p.1289) and the greatest predictors of violence against women are environments that support male control and male authority over female behaviour (Heise and Kotsadam 2015, e333). As a result, the Christian environment can be predicted (and proven) to be an abusive atmosphere for women, as it is already known that Christianity is patriarchal in nature and patriarchy fosters and cultivates environments where men seek to control or abuse women (Wall 2014). Furthermore, Christian teachings can be used to enforce patriarchal marital roles, e.g. male leadership/control and female submission (Aune & Barnes 2018, p.10).
The cocktail of sexist ideas towards women and faith have been proved to be unsafe for women in churches. In a study conducted in Christian homes in North America, it was found that physical abuse rates of Christian women are similar to societal rates (Annis and Rice 2001). This was found to translate in UK churches where a study conducted in Cumbria found that when all forms of domestic abuse are included, the evidence (e.g. Wang et al. 2009) suggests that there is not a significant difference in rates of abuse when churchgoers are compared with non-churchgoers. Conservative ideas on female submission and male headship and a culture of silence were found to blame in many of these cases (Aune & Barnes 2018). Shockingly, it was also found by S. Tracey (2008) that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group, even more likely than secular men, to assault their wives (Tracey 2008, p.16). Knickmeyer et al. (2010) interviewed Christian women who said their husbands used conservative Christian theological ideas of male headship and female submission as sanction to abuse them (Knickmeyer, Levitt & Horne 2010, p.102), compelling their wives to submit to their authority because they said the Bible required it. Christian teachings can also be used to pressure women to forgive too quickly or to see abuse as their “cross to bear” (Nason-Clark 2004 p.304). Interestingly, mainline protestant churches have been quicker to respond to the issue of domestic abuse than evangelicals, the most conservative of whom continue to publish marriage advice literature that ignores the problem (Aune & Barnes 2018, p.12).
The Bible, when properly translated, is egalitarian but as men are often holders of knowledge and therefore… power, they are not forthcoming with this information. This is because if the women understood that they are equal as leaders to men they would rise up, become more independent and the men would loose their ability to control them. For further reading on this topic I suggest starting with “What Paul Really Said About Women” by John Temple Bristow. I say start here because it’s not super long but is still academically rigorous – here’s the link for the book on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Paul-Really-about-Women/dp/0060610638.
If there is a Christian guy who is interested in your daughter you should exercise the same level of caution and suspicion that you would with any man. Some Christian guy’s are in fact a larger more pressing threat, more dangerous than your normal man because he appears non-threatening and “safe” so you trust him more and scrutinize him less, then happily leave him alone with your daughter, not realising that she is actually just his prey. He knows you are more willing to look away and trust him because he’s a “good church boy” and you want your daughter to be with someone “nice” and “successful”. He uses this to his advantage. However, if it has a penis it will try and find a vagina to put it in so be careful how much freedom you have with him. Everyone has a point in which they will just give in.
Arm yourselves with knowledge and stop being so gosh darn naive.
P.S. some are really nice this is not true of every Christian man you just have to pray that you found the right one and use discernment.
Annis, W. and R. R. Rice. 2001. A Survey of Abuse Prevalence in the Christian Reformed Church. Journal of Religion and Abuse. 3:3-4, 7-40
Aune, K. & R Barnes. 2018. In Churches Too: Church Responses to Domestic Abuse – A case study of Cumbria. Coventry: Coventry University and Leicester: University of Leicester.
Heise, L. L. and A. Kotsadam. 2015. Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: an analysis of data from population-based surveys. The Lancet Global Health. 3, e332-340.
Knickmeyer, N., H. Levitt, & S. G. Horne. 2010. Putting on Sunday Best: The Silencing of Battered Women within Christian Faith Communities. Feminism & Psychology, 20:1, 94-113.
Nason-Clark, N. 2004. When Terror Strikes at Home: The Interface Between Religion and Domestic Violence. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 43:3, 303-310.
Tracey, S. R. 2008. What Does “Submit In Everything” Really Mean? The Nature And Scope Of Marital Submission. TRINJ. 29, 285-312
Wall, L. 2014. ‘Gender equality and violence against women: What’s the connection?’ Australian Government, Australian Institute of Family Studies Web site, at: <https://aifs.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/ressum7.pdf> 2 March 2018
Wang, M-C, S. G. Horne, H. M. Levitt & L. M. Klesges. 2009. Christian Women in IPV Relationships: An Exploratory Study of Religious Factors. Journal of Psychology and Christianity. 28:3, 224-235.
Yick, A. G. 2008. A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Findings on the Role of Spirituality and Religiosity Among Culturally Diverse Domestic Violence Survivors. Qualitative Health Research, 18:9, 1289-1306.