May 31, 2009
Whenever we read about evolution, it’s usually preceded by the word theory. A theory, according to Webster’s, is described as “speculation, an idea, hypothesis or a scheme.” A theory then is an unproven statement.
Darwin’s theory of evolution teaches that the first life upon the earth came by “spontaneous generation,” or by “electrochemical action,” or some unknown process millions of years ago in the warm ocean slime. Thus it is the theory of evolution that life sprang out of dead matter, or that the living came from the non-living.
Now probability is the mathematics of chance, and therefore probability should have a great deal to do with evolution.
Given a monkey, a typewriter and a stack of paper, by chance alone, words, sentences, even whole books could be written, right? This is a doctrine deemed holy by a not-insignificant number of educated men in the biological and geological sciences today. (more…)
The Bible gives no specific command regarding suicide, nor does the word itself appear in the Bible. There are, however, references to seven people who killed themselves: Samson (Judges 16); Abimelech ( Judges 9); Saul (I Samuel 31); Saul’s armorbearer (I Samuel 31); Zimri (I Kings 16:18); Ahithophel (II Samuel 17:23); and Judas (Matthew 27:5). The earlier conduct of all seven was morally corrupt, and except for Samson their suicides were simply attempts to escape their well-deserved fates.
“Suicide means self-murder and murder is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt do no murder.” God has not given an individual — even one who could rightly judge himself deserving of the death penalty (as could most of the above) — the right to pass such a sentence. Suicide is not an acceptable way of escaping punishment, dishonor or the like.”
In a different case, however, Samson died a hero, because his suicide was in fact a dedication of his life, at long last, wholly to the service of God in the liberation of Israel from the Philistines. His motive was not just to kill himself to escape. Christ Himself similarly gave His life for others.
Since a suicide experiencing quick death or unconsciousness has no opportunity to repent of his murder in this life, some have wondered if suicide is the unpardonable sin. The answer is no, because the unpardonable sin is only unpardonable because it is something a person refuses to repent of.
God is merciful, not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), but He simply has not called most people to repentance in this life. They will have their chance in a resurrected life after the millennium in the period known as the White Throne Judgment.
May 29, 2009
May 26, 2009
Why do most observe Sunday as their day of rest? Not because they can prove that they should from the Bible!
“You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday.”
That’s a quote which came from Catholic James Cardinal Gibbons in The Faith of Our Fathers (1917 ed.).
A Catholic study course states: “If we followed the Bible only, we would keep holy the Saturday … Well, did Christ change the day? … We have no record that He did … The Church … transferred the obligation from Saturday to Sunday” (Father Smith Instructs Jackson).
The Catholic church makes no secret that it is responsible for replacing Sabbath keeping with Sunday observance.
And the Protestants? At the time of the Reformation they protested against many teachings of the Catholic church. But few protested against Sunday observance. One of those who did was named Carlstadt. So striking were his writings on the subject that Martin Luther admitted in his book Against the Celestial Prophets: “Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath — that is to say, Saturday — must be kept holy.”
But Luther did not want to go to that extent in rocking the ecclesiastical boat of his time. His reasoning, as found in his Larger Catechism, was that “to avoid the unnecessary disturbance which an innovation would occasion, it [the day of worship] should continue to be Sunday” (Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article “Sunday”).
Martin Luther did not take issue with Sunday observance. The Protestant reformers as a whole accepted the Catholic position on Sunday. This is the real reason Protestants observe Sunday today!
When was Sunday substituted?
It didn’t happen all at once. It was gradual. “For some time it [Sunday] was observed conjointly with the Sabbath, verbal and ritual relics of such observance still remaining in our liturgical books and customs. But as Jewish habits [an admission that the early true Church kept some of the same customs as the Jews] became disused [On whose authority? God’s? No, man’s!] by the gentile [pagan-influenced] churches, this practice [Sabbath keeping] was generally, though slowly, discontinued” (Blunt’s Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, article “Sunday”).
Even while the original apostles were alive it was necessary to warn of “certain men … crept in unnoticed” (Jude 4) who were trying to introduce pagan ideas into the Church. Worshiping on the day of the sun was but one of those ideas. Multitudes in the world were being deceived by an expanding counterfeit “Christianity” based on the ancient Babylonian mystery religion.
In the early years of the Church many fraudulent epistles were circulated, masquerading as apostolic letters. Notice how a letter written to gentiles shortly after the turn of the century and attributed to one Ignatius reveals that they, gentiles, were keeping the Sabbath:
“Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner … But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body [a deliberate attempt to water down God’s Sabbath law] … And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day [Sunday] as a festival … the queen and chief of all the days of the week.”
Both days were being kept, but observance of Sunday was being emphasized by Ignatius.
Not all early Catholics, however, favored Sunday observance. Around 230, Catholic Origen wrote to fellow Catholics of the gentile churches in Egypt:
“But what is the feast of the Sabbath except that of which the apostle speaks, ‘There remaineth therefore a Sabbatism’ [Hebrews 4:9], that is, the observance of the Sabbath by the people of God? [Notice how this man understood his native Greek tongue!] Leaving the Jewish observances of the Sabbath, let us see how the Sabbath ought to be observed by a Christian. On the Sabbath day all worldly labors ought to be abstained from. If, therefore, you cease from all secular works, and execute nothing worldly, but give yourselves up to spiritual exercises, repairing to church, attending to sacred reading and instruction … this is the observance of the Christian Sabbath” (Origen’s Opera, Book 2, p. 358).
Council of Laodicea prohibited Sabbath keeping
In 321 the Roman government issued an edict making Sunday a civil day of rest. The paganized, counterfeit “Christian” religion, which was becoming the empire’s dominant religion, supported the edict.
Sabbath keepers were forced to flee the confines of the western Roman Empire. Only in the east did Sabbath keepers remain. Eventually, however, Sabbath keeping was to be stamped out of the eastern Roman Empire as well.
About 365 the Council of Laodicea was called to settle, among other matters, the Sabbath question! One of its most famous canons was the 29th: “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found Judaizing, let them be anathema from Christ” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. XIV, p. 148).
The force of the Roman state had already been utilized in 325, after the Council of Nicaea, to confiscate the property and to destroy the lives of any who obeyed God’s command to keep the Passover. So the heavy hand of the state fell upon any who would be faithful in resting on the Sabbath and worshiping God as commanded in the Bible.
Why give such a command if there were no true Christians observing the Sabbath at that time?
Although Sabbath keeping was absolutely prohibited by this council, yet the whole Greek world still continued to attend church services on the Sabbath and work the remainder of the day! Saturday then was observed much as Sunday is observed now!
Public worship on the Sabbath was far from expelled in the churches of the east even four centuries after Christ.
Gregory, Bishop of Nyassa, a representative of the eastern churches, about 10 years after the Council at Laodicea, dared to tell the world: “With what eyes can you behold the Lord’s day, when you despise the Sabbath? Do you not perceive that they are sisters, and that in slighting the one, you affront the other?”
Sunday finally made a rest day
Observance of Sunday as a day of total rest was not strictly enforced for almost two centuries more. We even find Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, working after the Sunday services several years following the enactments at Laodicea.
But Augustine, around 400, declared: “The holy doctors of the church [not the Bible, but men] have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it [Sunday]. Let us therefore keep the Lord’s day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath” (Sabbath Laws, p. 284).
It was the Roman church that sanctioned the Roman Sunday as a rest day, and not merely a secular holiday. It was that church that transferred the law of the Sabbath to Sunday. Another 600 years passed before the last recorded semblance of public worship on the Sabbath was completely extirpated from the eastern churches.
Meanwhile Pope Gregory of Rome, who reigned from 590 to 604, anathematized “those who taught that it was not lawful to do work on the day of the Sabbath” (History of the Popes, vol. II, p. 378).
That stamped the Sabbath out of the churches of the British Isles and the Continent where, according to Webster’s Rest Days, “The Celts kept Saturday as a day of rest, with special religious services on Sunday” (A. Bellesheim, History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1887-1890, i, 86).
That’s the record of history!
Source: The Good News, August 1983
May 24, 2009
The central doctrine of most Protestant and Catholic churches for many centuries has been that of the trinity. This doctrine is so important that the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
“This [the trinity], the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God’s nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she [the Catholic Church] proposes to man as the foundation of the whole dogmatic system.”
Both Catholic and Protestant theologians quote Theophilus of Antioch (circa 180 A.D.) as the first person to write about this most important doctrine. But isn’t it strange that such a major doctrine was avoided in religious writings for nearly two centuries?
Furthermore, Theophilus’ allusion to the traditional trinity — “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” — is quite nebulous at best. Notice what Theophilus wrote in commenting about the fourth day of creation in the first chapter of Genesis:
“And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, “Theophilus to Autolycus”).
Here is the first statement by a theologian that is supposed to teach the doctrine of the trinity. But does his statement really teach this? Read it — simply. He does not say that God is a trinity of PERSONS, or that the Holy Spirit is a part of that trinity. He just refers to God, His Word and His wisdom. Theologians have tried to imagine into this unusual statement “their trinity” — and yet even the editors of the Ante-Nicene Fathers state in a footnote that the word translated “wisdom” in English is the Greek word sophia which Theophilus elsewhere used in reference to the Son, not the Holy Spirit. Theophilus could not possibly have gotten the idea of a trinity from the Bible — if he really did have a trinity of persons in mind, which appears unlikely from the preceding statement — as the Bible nowhere even alludes to God being a trinity.
From the time of Theophilus, it was several hundred years before this doctrine became a part of the Catholic dogma. It was in the last twenty-five years of the FOURTH century that “what might be called the definitive trinitarian dogma ‘one God in three persons’ became thoroughly assimilated INTO Christian life and thought” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Holy Trinity”).
From this it is evident that this “central doctrine” of Catholicism and Protestantism was not a part of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) during or prior to the time of Jude, but was ADDED by later theologians. The doctrine of the trinity was not what Jesus Christ “came upon the earth to deliver to the world.” He came to preach the Good News of His soon-coming Kingdom, to establish His true Church, to give His life as a sacrifice for all who repent, and to give God’s Holy Spirit to those who are baptized — the Spirit that empowers believers to be ONE with the Father and the Son!
Source: Tomorrow’s World, September/October 1970
God is invisible (I Tim. 1:17), being made of Spirit. We can’t see Him, but He is nevertheless very real. In fact, if we looked upon God’s face, we would actually die (Exod 33:20). That is why no one has ever seen God (John 1:18), except for Jesus Christ. However, when we are spirit being like God, we will be able to see Him, and we will have the same glory as God.
“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, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).
True Christians must learn to control what comes out of their mouth. Proverbs 16:23 says:
“The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.”
Educate yourself in good things, so you will have good, upbuilding things to say:
“The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.”
So don’t speak hastily. The things you say are very important; and many people aren’t careful about that. But God is highly concerned! (Ps. 37:30-31).
Sometimes what we say results in arguments. The root cause is usually pride (Luke 22:24) – a result of someone thinking too highly of himself. Lust is also a huge factor in division among people (Jam. 4:1). God says He resists the proud and give grace to the humble – not to the loudest, the most powerful, or the quickest of wit. Remember, if we’re looking out for the other person instead, that will eliminate a lot of arguing.
May 21, 2009
Decades ago, the Plain Truth magazine – under its founder, the late Herbert W. Armstrong declared that two events would dominate the prophetic horizon:
- The resurrection of Germany at the helm of a Eoropean superstate that would revive the Holy Roman Empire for one final rule over world affairs.
- A great social upheaval, triggered by the collapse of the global financial and economic system.
Mr. Armstrong prophecied that this socio-economic upheaval would cause a strong and forceful leader to again arise in Germany to lead European nations to suddenly unite as a powerful world empire larger than the Soviet Union or the United States. That, in turn, he said could suddenly ignite nuclear World War III and lead directly to the coming of Jesus Christ.
Now, if we have a common sense look clearly around us, we can easily see that this scenario has already significantly advanced toward fulfillment. In in doubt, have a look at these specific prophecies of Mr. Armstrong which have already come to pass:
- 1945 – he forecast Germany’s rise from ashes to become the economic and political powerhouse of Europe. This is now an undisputed fact.
- 1954 – Russia would give East Germany back to the Germans and relinquish Eastern European countries.
- 1960 – he foretold the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- 1967 – he said Europe would adopt a common currency.
- 1972 – he prophecied the integration of Yugoslav states into a united Europe.
The reason Mr. Armstrong was right in these events was because he based his view of current events on inerrant Bible prophecy. And events prohecied for the next few years will violently affect Britain, the United States, Western Europe and the Middle East.
May 20, 2009
Roman Catholics claim that a supernatural event occurred in 1917 in which the “Virgin Mary” appeared repeatedly to 3 little children in Fatima, Portugal. Supposedly, the Virgin Mary gave a message to the 3 little children. The Message of Fatima consists of an alleged number of precise predictions, requests, warnings and promises concerning the Faith and the world which were conveyed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children–Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco–in a series of apparitions at Fatima, Portugal from May to October 1917.
While I have no reason to doubt that the children experienced a vision, it is the source of this apparition I question. The Bible warns that people will witness miracles and supernatural phenomena which will mislead them (Matt. 24:24; Rev. 13:13). We also find a biblical example of this kind of false miracle in I Samuel 28:7-20. King Saul believed the dead prophet Samuel appeared, giving him a message; but it was really an evil spirit impersonating Samuel!
The Message of the Virgin of Fatima is nothing more than the invention of the Roman Catholic Church, counter to what the Bible really says. It does nothing but further their own pagan traditions. No cosmic miracle happened, despite the testimonies of people who THOUGHT they saw one. Catholics adherents tend to see things others do not. What they actually saw in 1917 was an astronomical event which occurs repeatedly every 11 years. The Vatican used the event to dupe the ignorant masses who thought they had seen a “miracle” of nature.
The Catholic Church thrives on biblical ignorance. Most people do not question the “traditions” and “claims” of the Vatican, they just blindly believe it’s structured, non-spirit based doctrines. But religion without the Bible is participation without faith, a sort of make-believe spiritual game where deceivement is easy to panhandle. How else do we explain the unbiblical error of Mary appearing from heaven? The Bible reveals that the righteous dead remain in their graves until the resurrection at Christ’s return (see I Corinthians 15:22-23, 50-54; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; Hebrews 11:39-40). Mary is still awaiting the resurrection and cannot appear to anyone. Not only are Catholics praying to mere human being while ignoring their only intercessor – Jesus Christ – but they are praying in foolish idolatry to nothing more than a pile of dust.
So despite the incessant baying of critics, I can say without hesitation that the message and miracle of Fatima is a lie and a hoax contrary to the Word of God! Roman Catholicism has it’s origins in a heathen Babylonian religion which worshipped the “Queen of Heaven” (Jeremiah 44:19,25). Participate at your own risk.
Is Michael, the archangel, is the individual who later became Jesus Christ? No, Michael is not Christ. He is the spirit being, “your prince” (Dan. 10:21; 12:1), sent to serve Israel. Michael and the other princes over the nations are all subject to Christ, who is Ruler under the Father.
The chief princes among God’s created spirit beings have great power and authority over the nations. But what is the limit of their authority? How far does their authority and power extend? In Jude 8 and 9 we read: “These filthy dreamers [evil men] … despise dominion [authority], and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil … about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord [Christ — who is Michael’s superior] rebuke thee.”
While evil men have little or no respect for those in authority, Michael, who is an archangel, showed respect to the office of authority of Satan the devil. By this scripture we can see very clearly that MICHAEL DOES NOT HAVE GREATER RANK THAN SATAN. If he did, he would have given the devil a command — he could have done the rebuking himself, instead of saying, “The Lord rebuke thee.” But Christ does have greater rank.
Matthew 4:10 records Christ’s statement to Satan: “Get thee hence, Satan.” Christ gave Satan a sharp command. He was in authority over Satan because He created him as the cherub Lucifer (Ezek. 28:15). Christ is the One through whom the Father created all things (Col. 1:15-16; John 1:1-3).
It is obvious that Michael could not have been Christ. Rather, he is an angelic being who is in authority over other
lesser angelic beings in God’s Government. He is one of the leaders among God’s faithful angels.
Before I answer the question about men wearing earrings, we should first see that there is a need to keep a clear distinction between the two genders (male and female). God made two sexes. There is no third category, such as transsexuals.
Even today, there is a vast difference between men and women clothes and fashions, with each culture holding a clear distinction between male and female apparel. We need to accept that there is a gender distinction, a God-given male/female distinction that is defined by a culture and needs to remain a firm standard.
Zephaniah 1:8 states, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains “strange apparel” as “…garments forbidden by the law—e.g., men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa.”
Is it biblically permissible for men to wear earrings?
The Bible does not speak directly about the matter of men wearing earrings. However, we find guidelines in God’s Word to follow in such matters. For example, we read where the apostle Paul says that even nature (common sense) should teach us that “if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (I Cor. 11:14). When considered in context, it is obvious that Paul was saying it is shameful for a man to look like a woman.
This, then, is a basic guideline. Men and boys should appear obviously masculine and not easily mistaken as feminine. Or, said another way, men and boys should not look like women and girls. Even more clear, however, is the clear command not to cross-wear, that is, men are not to wear women’s clothes and women not to wear men’s clothes.
A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)
So why is it now common to see men wearing an earring? One is tempted to conclude that because men now wear them, then there is no longer any feminine association with this action. But getting caught up in fads is wrong and it is precisely here where Christians can get caught off guard. Woman’s apparel should never become acceptable to both men and women.
God’s Word does mention earrings worn by men in several places, but they ALL involve God’s servants telling people to remove or give up earrings. There were pieces of jewelry worn on the ear lobe in Bible times (Gen 35:4). While these were generally worn only by Israelite women, the men among the ancient ISHMAELITES apparently wore earrings too (Judg 8:24-25). There is one incident where the Israelites (young men and women) brought their earrings to Aaron in order for him to make an idol out of it. It must have been an Egyptian (pagan) custom for young men to wear earrings. See Exodus 35:22, Numbers 31:50,; and Judges 8:24-26. Also, recall the story of the golden calf ( Exodus 32). Aaron fashioned it out of the Israelites’ earrings—including the men’s (verses 2-4). In this account, idolatry is linked to earring-wearing!
Popularity does not make gender cross-wear permissible.
Christians need to accept that certain things which are acceptable to people within a culture are not acceptable to God.Why? Because it has crossed gender lines and distinctions become blurred every time men or women wear other clothing or apparel like earrings from the other gender.
Wearing earrings is traditionally a feminine thing. Men just did not wear earrings (in the modern Western context). Women can wear big or small earrings. Both are considered feminine even though one might be popular and the other not. On the other hand, men can wear all sorts of hats or jeans, but not feminine hats or jeans. When men blur the line of gender distinction, they are rebelling against God’s command to not share styles and customs. This is why there should not be any cross gender custom change. It is not popularity that makes it right or wrong, it is God’s word. Because it started off in rebellion, it will remain an item that displeases God.
The Christian attitude should be one of modesty, humility, and service to God and neighbor. Making a male look like a female or vice versa, or going to extremes — being motivated by personal vanity — is condemned. Our CHARACTER, rather than our outward appearance, should be the outstanding and memorable quality about us.
Modesty is the biblical admonition
According to the Word of God, a Christian is not to appear strange or outlandish, either in his actions or attire. In that light, men should also not become all fussy, have their nails buffed and dye their hair. A man bag is still a pocketbook and nail polish is nail polish even if it’s clear and you’re an aggressive stock trader with a firm handshake.
The Bible does not encourage us to call undue attention to ourselves, and it certainly speaks against rebellion (see Romans 1:28-32 and II Corinthians 12:20). Instead, we are to avoid “all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22), and to be a light (Matt. 5:13-16). In short, God wants us to be good citizens and to set a clean and wholesome example of modesty and right behavior based on His law. Therefore, we ought to consider how our appearance will affect our relationship with others.
May 18, 2009
Many people today preach about an eternal hell fire and eternal punishment. First, here’s the terse and brief summation of this popular belief, which I quote from the Encyclopedia Americana:
“… As generally understood, hell is the abode of evil spirits; the infernal regions…whither lost and condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishment… Some have thought of it as the place created by the Deity, where He punishes with inconceivable severity, and through all eternity, the souls of those who through unbelief or through the worship of false gods have angered Him. It is the place of divine revenge, untempered, never ending.”
Now where, and how, did this popular belief about hell originate? The Encyclopedia Americana states further:
“The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian and Christian theologians are essentially the same.” The Western religious leaders from Roman times through the Middle Ages borrowed the doctrine of eternal torture from the pagan philosophers. Certain writers of the Middle Ages had such tremendous influence on the Christian-professing world, that their writings and teachings came to be generally accepted and believed, until it became the doctrine of the Christian-professing world. Among these influential writers were Augustine and Dante Alighieri.”
An interesting book titled Dante, and His Inferno summs up the history of the Christian-professing doctrine of hell. This factual history is rather amazing! Dante lived A.D. 1265 to 1321. Dante, remember, wrote a tremendously popular book, titled Divine Comedy, in three parts – “Hell,” “Purgatory” and “Paradise.”
This from the aforementioned book of history:
“Of all poets of modern times, Dante Alighieri was, perhaps, the greatest educator. He possibly had a greater influence on the course of civilization than any other man since his day… He wrote, in incomprehensible verse, an imaginative and lurid account of a dismal hell – a long poem containing certain phrases which have caught the attention of the world, such as, ‘all hope abandon… ye, who enter here!’ This had a tremendous impression and influence on the popular Christian thought and teaching. His Inferno was based on Virgil and Plato.”
Dante is reported to have been so fascinated and enraptured by the ideas and philosophies of Plato and Virgil, pagan philosophers, that he believed they were divinely inspired.
Here is an article on Virgil, from the Americana: “VIRGIL, pagan Roman poet, 70-19 B.C. Belonged to the national school of pagan Roman thought, influenced by the Greek writers. Christians of the Middle Ages, including Dante, believed he had received some measure of divine inspiration.”
Plato was a pagan Greek philosopher, born in Athens, 427 B.C., a student of Socrates. He wrote the famous book Phaedo, on the immortality of the soul, and this book is the real origin of the modern belief in the immortality of the soul. In it, he acknowledges . .. three kinds of gods: superior, inferior, and intermediate.”
There is the general statement of the popular belief about hell, and where that belief came from – actually from the imaginations of pagans who DID NOT not God!
What about the billions of non-Christians?
Before we examine the common idea about hell to see whether it is true, consider one or two facts. On this earth are some 6,790,062,216 people (US Census Bureau). The most populous lands are China, India and other parts of Asia. In spite of missionaries from the West, actually more than half of air the people on this earth have never so much as heard the only name by which men may be saved – the name of Jesus Christ! Now is there some other way by which men may be saved? The Bible says there is not!
That means that thousands of millions of people on this earth have lived, and died, without ever having known anything about Christian salvation – without saving knowledge – never having heard the ONLY name by which men may be saved! Now think what that means! IF all unsaved go immediately to hell at death – the hell commonly believed in – then more than HALF of the people who have lived on this earth have been consigned there – and they are there, now, without ever having been given so much as a CHANCE to escape it!
Ask yourselves candidly, do you believe THAT is the plan by which an all-wise, all-merciful, loving GOD is working out his purpose here below?
Now what is the TRUTH?
We face this alternative: Either the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, by which the Creator reveals the truth on the subject, or else we must fling up our hands and confess we just don’t know – we are ignorant on the question – because no one has ever come back from such an ever-burning hell to tell us about it, and science knows nothing about it. We must believe what the Bible says, or we can believe nothing, if we are rational and honest!
Source: The Plain Truth, a955, Herbert W Armstrong
So why does Math. 25:41 quote an everlasting fire?
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”
The word translated “everlasting” in verse 41 is “aionion” in the Greek. This word comes from the root “aion,” which can mean “eternal” but often means “age.” In verse 41, the correct translation into English should be “age-lasting” fire.
During the Millennium — the “age” of Christ’s rule with the saints on the earth — the valley of Hinnom will be kept perpetually burning. The incorrigibly wicked, those who set their wills in persistent rebellion against God’s laws, will be thrown into that fire as a stern witness to the rest of the world (Isa. 66:24).
Gehenna was a place of destruction and death – not a place of living torture. Jesus was talking to Jews who understood all about this Gehenna or Valley of Hinnom. Utter destruction by fire was complete. Nothing was left, but ashes! Every text in the Bible translated from this Greek word gehenna means complete destruction – not living torture – not eternal life in torment! The Bible says, in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is DEATH” – not eternal life in torture. The punishment revealed in the Bible is death – the cessation of life. Eternal life is the gift of God!
Then why have we been believing that punishment is eternal life in fire? And why have we been believing we already have eternal life and don’t need to come to God through Christ to receive it as His gift?
When Jesus spoke of being cast into “gehenna fire,” he was using this expression as an illustration of the “lake of fire.” This everlasting punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 is what the Bible elsewhere calls the “second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:3). Death for all eternity is eternal punishMENT. The Bible nowhere teaches eternal punishING. The wicked will be burned up and will become ashes under the feet of the righteous (Mal. 4:3).
That fire will be much hotter than Dante’s imaginary hell!
Matthew 7:6 is an analogy Jesus used to show how people who have not had their minds opened by God to receive spiritual understanding will often react when they hear the true Gospel.
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Put another way, Jesus was teaching His disciples not to try to convert those who are not yet being called (John 6:44). Such people are likely to respond by treating God’s truth like dirt.
Just as a pig would trample fine pearls into the mud because it doesn’t know any better and cannot appreciate such worth, the person whose mind is not yet receptive cannot grasp the awesome value of the truth. To them, the truth would be meaningless and would be discarded. They would just trample it underfoot, so to speak.
God’s truth should never be forced upon anyone, but true Christians should “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [us], with meekness and fear [gentleness and respect]” (I Pet. 3:15).
In other words, it is right to explain what he believes when someone sincerely asks. Such interest may indicate that God is opening the person’s mind.
Notice how, at another time, Jesus used pearls to express the value of the truth and of God’s Kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46). God wants us to treat His truth like a priceless gem.
Christ did not intend that his instruction of Matt. 5:29-39 and Mark 9:43-48 are to be taken literally.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
The eye, the hand, or the foot cannot sin of and by themselves. Sin originates in the mind. A person who is totally blind, for example, or one who is missing a limb can still sin.
Jesus was simply using parts of the body to illustrate an important principle. He was explaining that a Christian SHOULD NOT TOLERATE SIN as an integral part of his life.
If, for example, an individual has a sinful habit, he ought to totally eradicate that habit even though the process may be as painful as losing an arm or a leg. What Christ is saying is that it would be far better to give up a sinful pleasure than to lose out on salvation(also see Colossians 3:5-17)
Jesus was not a Nazarite.
Some have been misled by an erroneous interpretation of Matthew 2:23:
“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Many have concluded that this prophecy had to be a written prophecy recorded somewhere in the Old Testament. This is an unfounded assumption.
Since they could not find anything in the Old Testament about Nazarenes, they guessed that some similar word must have been intended. Using this erroneous reasoning, they went one step further in their folly and assumed that this scripture was referring to the LAWS (NOT prophecy ) about Nazarites.
Notice that the prophecy said that Christ would be called a NazarENE, not a NazarITE. A NazarENE is one who lives in Nazareth; and a NazarITE is one who has a nazarite vow, which is described in Numbers 6. Many Bible students have been confused by the similarity of these two words, although they are not at all related in their meanings. They are just as unrelated in meaning as some of our English words of today that have similar sounds, such as “encumber” and “cucumber.”
Christ was a Nazarene, a man from Nazareth. He was not a long-haired Nazarite. A Nazarite was forbidden to drink wine, but Christ drank wine on numerous occasions. Either He was never a Nazarite — or He broke His vows!
The prophecy — that the Saviour would be called a Nazarene — was not “written” in the Scriptures. Matthew says it was “spoken by the prophets.” It was a universally recognized ORAL prophecy that was authoritatively preserved from generation to generation by the priests. It became a WRITTEN prophecy only in New Testament times.
One verse, however, contains an interesting play on words — Isaiah 11:1. The word “branch” here is from the Hebrew “nezer.” This word is very similar to the Hebrew word for “Nazarene.” Perhaps the Jews at that time understood this verse to refer to someone from Nazareth.