The Apple Of God's Eye

July 31, 2009

Did Jesus Hide The Truth About Salvation To The World?

When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was not to set up His Kingdom (John 18:36). Christ did not, at that time, come to restrain Satan from deceiving the world.

Contrary to what many have been taught, neither did Christ come to earth to call everyone to salvation. Rather, he came to deliver His Father’s message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That message included salvation through Christ. But Jesus did not try to get everyone to believe this wonderful message.

Notice the New Testament proof: Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to hide the meaning of what He was saying, so the public would not understand.

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matt. 13:10-15, Mark 4:11-12).

Christ was plainly speaking ONLY to His disciples, not to everyone else. This point is made clear. In case there is any confusion though, the scripture says Christ spoke to the general public ONLY in parables (Matt. 13:34). It was NOT to clarify, but to confuse the issue to the masses. Why? Because it was not the time for most to be forgiven their sins and converted.

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? (Mark 4:10-13).

Even His disciples had problems with some of the parables and needed explaining. Those “without” means those not called at the present time – the masses. Christ preached the Father’s gospel to the masses as a witness. But He worked with only a few purposely called and chosen disciples, or students. They were the ones Whom He really wanted to understand the truth about salvation and His coming government on earth.

In fact, Jesus often tried to avoid the crowds that followed Him daily (Matt. 5:1, 8:18, 13:36, Mark 3:13, John 5:13, 7:10). he often told those whom He had healed not to tell anyone who healed them (Matt. 8:4, 9:30, 12:16, Mark 5:35, 36, 41-43, 7:35-36.  He did not want everyone to know who He really was (Matt. 16:20, Mark 3:1-12).

This is a point most of mainstream Christianity does not understand. For most of His ministry, Jesus actually avoided publicity. It was not God’s will for everyone to understand who Jesus was. Spiritual understanding will not be granted to the world until Christ removes Satan from earth’s throne.

It may freely be accentuated that Jesus Christ was successful in avoiding publicity, as after 3 1/2 years of preaching, and after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, only 120 disciples remained with Him (Acts 1:2-4, 15). The New Testament Church of God was started with these few disciples who would be trained so that they could teach and train others. Christ at first needed only a few teachers, so God called only a few at that time.

Remember, one can only come to Christ if God the Father purposely selects and calls him (John 6:44, 65). Now I know that some will ask, “What about one who really wants salvation – wants to believe in Christ – is willing to truly repent and come out of this world and be led by God’s spirit in a true commandment keeping Christian life? Do you mean this individual cannot come to Christ unless God calls him?”

Answer: That’s exactly what the scriptures say. Such a person is being called by God, otherwise he or she would have no such desire. However, most who think they are in that category have followed a false gospel, a false teaching and are deceived. They have a false idea of what salvation is, a false concept of repentance and a false idea of what God’s way is.

God foretold that He would indeed only call a few into His Church, and that His Church would continue to be small, and even persecuted (Luke 12:32, Matt. 10:16-17, 7:13-14, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12).

So it is that from Christ’s human ministry until His return to earth, God has called only a small minority of people. God’s Church through the centuries has continued to be small – an “embryo” of God’s  new civilization yet to come. That Church, as we learned, is in training to rule and teach the world with and under Christ in the World Tomorrow.

July 29, 2009

What Is A Real Christian?

Jesus clearly explained what a real Christian is like. He left no doubt. As we consider what he said, we need to ask ourselves why the qualities he described seem to be so difficult to find even in the Christian-professing nations of the world.

Take, for instance, one of Jesus’ teachings in what is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Luke 6. Surely nothing is more central to Christianity than this portion of the Scriptures. But how often do you see Jesus’ statement in verse 27 put into practice? It says: “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.”

Some of the most bloody battles in history have been waged by “Christian” nations. “No nations are more warlike than those which profess Christianity,” observed Pierre Bayle, a 17th-century French philosopher.

Professing Christians have even risen up in war against each other. They have impaled each other, burnt each other, blown each other to pieces on the battlefield, all the while praying to the same God for victory.

The English poet Shelley commented: “The same means that have supported every other popular belief have supported Christianity. War, imprisonment, assassination and falsehood; deeds of unexampled and incomparable atrocity have made it what it is.”

How can this be? The one who is supposed to be the Founder of the “Christian” religion — the One whom professing Christians call “Lord” — taught his followers, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28).

This instruction of Jesus certainly is not followed in times of war. But then it is hardly followed in times of peace either. Where is it put into practice in neighborhoods, in social circles, among the people you know on a day-to-day basis?

Jesus also said: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (verse 31). That has been called the Golden Rule. It is thought of as a good slogan to hang on the wall, or to dangle from a charm bracelet, or to teach little children.

But live by it? That’s something else! Jesus, however, did not mean it as a suggestion. He didn’t give it as a thought for the day. For Jesus it was a living law that he commanded his followers — Christians — to apply in their daily lives.

But Will It Work?

“Be ye therefore merciful,” continued Jesus, “as your Father [God] also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (verses 36-37).

Look around you. How often does merciful kindness govern what is said and done? Think of the competition and greed in business — the cheating, the gouging. A primary emphasis in today’s world is to get the advantage over others, even if it is necessary to hurt them a little to do it.

The political sphere resounds with name calling, propaganda and condemnation.

Gossip, judging and backbiting are ever popular themes in private conversation. Movies, novels and television programs — including children’s shows — dwell on the idea of getting even or seeking revenge.

Where is forgiveness stressed? Instances of genuine mercy from one human being toward another are remarkable and memorable because they are so uncommon.

Jesus’ teaching even applies to simple lacks of consideration such as a blaring radio, a loud motorcycle, littering the landscape with rubbish, damaging public facilities, spraying graffiti on walls — factors that make life unpleasant for others. Yet so commonplace are infringements of the principles Jesus gave, it makes one wonder: Where are the Christians?

Is This a Christian World?

The Bible describes what a society is like when its religion is a mere form, not having the power to change people’s lives. It reads like the front page of a newspaper.

“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it (II Tim. 3:2-5, RSV).

It all sounds so familiar! As Jesus was speaking, he knew there were some listening to him who would call him their “Lord,” who would profess to belong to him, but who would not put his teachings into practice.

These are the words of Jesus to them: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46.) A “lord” is a ruler, a master, one who is to be obeyed. In plain words, Jesus said: “If you don’t obey me, don’t call me ‘Lord‘!”

Too often people talk about “the Lord,” or “the Lord Jesus,” when they don’t have the faintest idea what Jesus said his followers are to do. Jesus exclaimed: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

That, in simple terms, is what makes a person a Christian. He or she does what Jesus said to do. He or she follows Christ. The ones who are allowed to become members of his spiritual family are “these which hear the word of God, and do it (Luke 8:21).

“Ye are my friends,” Jesus stated, “if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

Again, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Clearly, only a person who does what Jesus said to do has the right to call him “Lord.” That is the biblical definition of a real Christian.

A Way of Life

True Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs. It is not joining a church. It is not something to be practiced one day a week or at odd intervals.

It is a way of life. Early Christians referred to original Christianity as “the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25) and “the way of God” (verse 26). “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Christ declared (John 14:6).

True Christianity is the Christian way of life. No one can follow what Jesus taught without experiencing a marked change in life and life-style.

Notice how this fact is illustrated in the following example: A rich young man once came to Jesus and asked: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16.)

This man knew following Christ involves doing something. He asked: “What good thing shall I do?

Many today would have answered: “Why, there is nothing to do. Just accept Christ and it’s all done for you. There are no works involved in salvation.”

How different was Jesus’ answer! “And he [Jesus] said unto him … if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (verse 17).

There was no doubt that Jesus was talking about the Ten Commandments. When the young man asked, “Which ones?” Jesus named specifically the commandments having to do with showing love toward one’s neighbor. To this, the rich man responded that he had been keeping those commandments since childhood (verse 20). The young man, of course, had been reared a Jew. But he wanted to become a follower of Christ.

Which church today would not welcome with open arms such a wealthy and moral individual into its ranks?

But Jesus did not do so. He required in his followers true depth of conversion. He knew the young man had a problem — keeping in their true intent those commandments regarding love toward, giving to, one’s neighbor. So Jesus bluntly told him that his wealth was an obstacle to him, that he needed to get rid of it. Only after that could he become a follower of Jesus — a Christian.

Sadly, the young man departed, unwilling to change his attitude toward life.

Most people, it is true, do not have excess wealth as their major problem. The fact remains, though, that literally keeping the Ten Commandments is essential if you are to inherit God’s free gift of eternal life. So said Jesus!

Maybe you think you have been keeping the Ten Commandments fairly well — like the rich young man. Have you really? Try something. Read them off one by one (they are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) and see if there is not room for improvement in your life. In this materialistic, industrial age, you may be especially surprised at what the fourth and tenth commandments have to say.

True Conversion

Being a real Christian involves every moment of every day.

Every activity, every social situation, every endeavor, every goal and plan — Christ has revealed laws that bear on every facet of life. We are even to let our thoughts be ruled by the Lord Jesus, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” as the apostle Paul expressed it (II Cor. 10:5).

To some that sounds extreme. But it’s in the Christian Bible. The apostle Paul was only repeating what the Bible says time and again: To do God’s will is to follow his way of life totally. There is a price to pay, however, and for some that price may be too high. That price is surrender of the SELF.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts … ,” God says through the prophet Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:7-9).

A real Christian is one who seeks God’s way of life, his thoughts, his will. What Isaiah was describing was genuine repentance — the kind of repentance necessary to begin the Christian way of life. When multitudes asked the apostle Peter how to become Christians, Peter responded with the same thoughts (Acts 2:38).

But these inspired instructions are seldom followed today. Why? Why in the mass evangelistic campaigns of the world are people encouraged to make a spur-of-the-moment “decision for Christ” and to come forward in an “altar call,” and to be pronounced “saved” or “born again”? — when that is not how Peter said to receive the Holy Spirit, which is God’s free gift that leads to eternal life. No wonder such “conversions” often last only a matter of days or weeks!

Why Do So Few Know?

Here is where many people stumble. They begin to grasp what real Christianity is all about, then they look around them at the people they know. Or they think of individuals they have known in the past — friends, relatives, perhaps. And they use them as standards of comparison.

They say to themselves: “Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and my friend John did not literally obey Jesus’ instructions. But they weren’t ‘bad’ people either. They lived the way they thought was right. I’ll take my chances along with them and with the millions and millions of other professing Christians who are just average people. Surely God won’t deny eternal life or salvation to them! God is merciful.”

God is merciful. That’s true. But then what did Jesus mean when he said keeping the commandments and other lesser requirements are necessary to inherit God’s free gift of eternal life? He meant exactly what he said. Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and friend John and all the millions who have professed Christianity without ever understanding what it really is to become a Christian — a follower of Jesus Christ — will eventually have their opportunity to understand. They too will learn that it is necessary to keep the commandments. If it doesn’t happen during this life, then it will happen in a future period of judgment when God’s government rules the earth and all the dead who have not had an opportunity for salvation will be resurrected and given the opportunity to choose the way of life that is based on obedience to God’s laws — the only way to true happiness. That period of time is described in Revelation 20:11-13.

Every human who ever lived will have an opportunity to receive salvation. For most people that time comes after they have lived their entire lives and died. God is just not trying to save the entire world now. That’s why the Scripture says that in general, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this [in a future resurrection!] the judgment [not a sentencing, but a period of testing and judging — their first and only genuine opportunity for salvation]” (Heb. 9:27).

Jesus told his disciples: “Enter ye in at the strait [restricted] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many [the millions, the hundreds and thousands of millions] there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW [during this present age] there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). You probably have not understood this before.

Don’t make the mistake of judging what the Bible describes as true Christianity by the lives of people you have known who may not even have understood what real Christianity is.

To be a real Christian is simply to do what Jesus said to do. He showed the way to truly abundant living. His words are recorded in the Scriptures. But they will only profit someone who reads them there and follows them. “If ye know these things,” Jesus exclaimed, “happy are ye if ye do them (John 13:17).

Source: The Plain Truth, January 1983

What Do The Words And Symbols Between Verses In Psalm 119 Mean?

Filed under: Bible — melchia @ 9:08 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

There is an ongoing question concerning the words and symbols found between the verses of Psalm 119.

These words are the names of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In this psalm each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is
spelled out in English, and in many Bibles the Hebrew symbol is written before it. Here is the reason.

Psalm 119, like the majority of the psalms, was written to be sung as a song of praise to God. But, unlike most other psalms it was written in a unique style. It is divided into twenty-two sections or strophes, each composed of eight lines or verses. In the first strophe (verses 1-8) the first word in each line in the original Hebrew begins with Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the second strophe (verses 9-16) the same style is used and each line begins with Beth, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This system is continued until all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet have been utilized.

As you can see, Psalm 119 in the original Hebrew is really an intricately written poem. The alphabet was used by translators to separate its twenty-two sections for the reader, because in the English translation this acrostic pattern is not possible to duplicate. Today, in English, we have an accurate translation of the original, even though it is impossible to duplicate the poetic Hebrew form.

July 28, 2009

Why Will Satan Be Loosed At The End Of The Millennium?

transatlantica.wordpress.com/

transatlantica.wordpress.com/

Why will Satan be loosed at the end of the 1000 years of Christ’s rule on earth? God is working out a great purpose here on this planet. And He is doing so according to His master plan!

For 6000 years God has allowed man to work things out for himself. He is permitting human beings to try every conceivable way to solve world problems in their desperate attempt to find peace and happiness. Men have chosen to follow the way of Satan, the god of this world.

When men finally come to their wits’ end and are facing utter annihilation, God will intervene to save them from
themselves. Then Satan will be restrained from deceiving the world, and there will be 1000 years of utopia on earth. All people will be taught to follow God’s law — the only way to true happiness.

But familiarity breeds contempt. After 1000 years of real happiness, some will forget or will ignore the lessons of history and the record of how miserable it was when Satan ruled. Some few just won’t agree with God — they will insist on having their own way.

Satan will be released from his prison for a very short time to demonstrate to those minds the fact that God rules supreme — that His way alone brings true happiness.

Satan will be allowed to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. The nations Gog and Magog are a type of all rebellious peoples who have not yielded themselves to the Government of God (Rev. 20:8).

Those who choose to follow Satan and knowingly refuse eternal life can’t be allowed to be around when the next part of God’s plan occurs.

Why Did Jesus Curse The Fig Tree?

gbcdecatur.org

gbcdecatur.org

Why did Jesus curse a fig tree in Mark 11:12-14?

“At a distance, Jesus saw a fig tree WITH LEAVES, and, being hungry, He approached it hoping to find some fruit, for figs will quite often appear EARLIER than the leaves. Upon reaching the tree, all He found were leaves; the tree had produced no fruit. Mark, the author of the book, added the comment that “the time of figs was not yet” (verse 13). This statement is somewhat puzzling — until we understand the growing and fruiting cycles of fig trees.

Notice the following interesting information about the fig season in Palestine: “It has been asked, ‘How could our Lord expect to find ripe figs in the end of March?’ Answer, Because figs were ripe in Judea as early as the PASSOVER. Besides, the fig tree puts forth its fruit FIRST, and afterwards its leaves. Indeed, this tree, in the climate which is proper for it, has fruit on it all the year round, as often seen” (Clarke’s Commentary).

Fruit tree growers know that ordinarily a small amount of fruit ripens prior to the main crop. It is referred to as the first ripe fruit or the firstfruits. When Jesus approached the tree, it was the time of the firstfruits of figs, but it was not yet time for the main harvest. Mark 11:13 must mean that the particular tree on which Christ expected to find figs was barren, because it had no figs on it at all. It did not fulfill its purpose, and, as any diligent orchardist would do, Jesus simply eliminated an unproductive tree, not with an axe or a saw, but by faith.

Please compare Luke 13:6-9. Jesus used this incident to teach His disciples — and all Christians today — that the outward appearance does not count with God. Instead, what really counts is whether or not one produces godly fruit in his or her life (Luke 13:6-9; Gal. 5:22-23; John 15:8, 16).

Why Did Jesus Call Peter "Satan?"

Filed under: Spirits - Evil — melchia @ 7:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
tasaweer.wordpress.com

tasaweer.wordpress.com

There is a question that naturally pops up with novice Bible students regarding Mark 8:33 and why Jesus called Peter “Satan.”

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23).

We should realize that Jesus did not mean that Peter was Satan. Rather, He was rebuking the one who influenced Peter to speak to Him in that manner. He was rebuking Satan the devil. Jesus went to the source and rebuked the one responsible for Peter’s contrary attitude (Eph. 2:2). Of course, Peter himself needed to learn a lesson that he must not allow human reason, which can be influenced by Satan, to contend against the will and purpose of God.

Who Wrote The Ten Commandments?

frmarkdwhite.wordpress.com

frmarkdwhite.wordpress.com

Exodus 34:28 is often misunderstood. Notice what this verse says: “… and HE wrote upon the tables the words of the
covenant, the ten commandments.” Some have assumed the word “he” here refers to Moses — that Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone.

This assumption is wrong. Notice Exodus 24:12. God told Moses, “Come up to me into the mount … and I will give thee tables of stone … and commandments which I have written.” God “gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, WRITTEN WITH THE FINGER OF GOD” (Ex. 31:18).

In Exodus 32:16 we read, “The tables were the work of God, and THE WRITING WAS THE WRITING OF GOD, graven upon the tables.” Moses broke THESE FIRST TABLES of stone (verse 19). Then God commanded Moses, “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest” (Ex. 34:1). Here God plainly said that HE would write them again.

Near the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, Moses rehearsed in the ears of the Israelites the great things God had
done for them. He said, “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount … and he [God] wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me” (Deut. 5:22). Those were the first tables of stone, which Moses broke when he came down from the mount and saw the people reveling in idolatry. Moses then repeated to the Israelites the fact that GOD wrote the Ten Commandments a second time (Deut. 10:1-5).

God, not Moses, wrote the Ten Commandments both times. Those who claim that Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone are denying the Word of God.

Why Are Animals Dangerous?

There is a reason the world — including the animal kingdom– suffers strife and violence. In chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis, we see that in the beginning, before sin entered the world, God’s creation had been one of total harmony and peace! God offered our first parents a way of life which would lead to every blessing imaginable and, ultimately, to eternal life.

However, they rejected God’s way and chose the way of Satan the devil instead. Because of their disobedience and rebellion, God told Adam and Eve the earth would come under a curse (Gen.3:17-19). The result of sin is misery, suffering, violence, and death. This is why even the nature of most wild animals was changed, becoming fierce and hostile toward man and each other. Instead of assisting man during his lifetime, the earth became a hostile environment in which to live.

Thankfully, Jesus Christ will soon intervene in the affairs of mankind and establish God’s Kingdom on earth. When this occurs, there will be a restitution of peace and harmony between all living creatures. God’s creation will be restored to its original state before sin entered the world. Then the nature of animals will again be gentle and tame. You can read of this in Isaiah 11:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (verses 6-9).

When Jesus Christ establishes God’s Government on the earth, the cause of sin will be removed. The nature of the animals — including poisonous snakes and spiders — will be changed, and the entire earth will experience peace and prosperity undreamed of by man!

July 27, 2009

Is The Wearing Of Rings Anti-Biblical?

Filed under: Marriage,Pagan Customs — melchia @ 12:32 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

The wedding ring, that most famous and instantly recognizable symbol of the joining of a man and a woman as husband and wife in the institution of marriage, has a long history. Some state that this history is pagan, though the Bible does not support this theory.

Exodus 35 records that rings were included with the offering the Israelites gave for the building of the Tabernacle. There is not the slightest indication that God was displeased with their wearing rings.

The Bible records that God was with Joseph when he was sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph served God, and God caused him to find favor in the eyes of the Pharaoh. In Genesis 41:41-42, we find that Joseph accepted a ring from the Pharaoh. It is plain from the context that the ring was a symbol of the very high office which had been bestowed upon him. God was not displeased with this, and the next few chapters show that God continued to bless and guide Joseph.

In principle, the ring given to Joseph served much the same purpose as that of a wedding ring. A wedding ring is merely a symbol of the marriage vows that have been made.

One further example is the famous story of the prodigal son. Jesus used this parable to illustrate God the Father’s love toward a repentant sinner. The father, who pictured God, ordered a ring to be put on the son’s hand (Luke 15:22). This act would not have been canonized if it was anti-biblical.

All of the evidence is positive. The Bible nowhere criticizes the wearing of rings in general or wedding rings in particular.

Was The Apostle Paul A Jew?

Filed under: Apostles,Jews — melchia @ 12:10 am

www.creationism.orgWhy did Paul refer to himself as a Jew, when he was actually from the tribe of Benjamin?

The word Jew came to be applied in two ways. It refers to any descendant of the literal tribe of Judah. Jew is a nickname; it is merely a shortened form of Judah.

But, Jew also referred to anyone who refused to join the rebellion at the time the twelve tribes split into two separate
kingdoms. As it turned out, all of the tribes with the exception of Judah, Levi, and Benjamin — formed the northern kingdom under the rule of Jeroboam. Their national name became Israel. The three remaining tribes, under King Rehoboam, formed the southern kingdom, called Judah. You may read of Benjamin’s alignment with Judah in I Kings 12:21.

Paul was a descendant of Benjamin. Nationally, however, he was a citizen of the kingdom or house of Judah. Thus, he was both a Jew and a Benjamite.

Of course, we also have to consider this question spiritually, as all converted Christians are called spirituals Jews.

July 26, 2009

Was Jesus A Jew?

The word “Jew” is a shortened form of the old English word “Judean,” referring to the descendants of the patriarch Judah. In the New Testament genealogies, both Mary and Joseph are listed as descendants of Judah, through the line of David (Matt. 1 and Luke 3). Jesus was not only a descendant of Judah — He was not only a Jew — but He was of the Davidic — the kingly — line of Judah. Numerous verses refer to Jesus as the son of David.

The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda” (Heb. 7:14). In Revelation 5:5,
Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Juda.”  Long before His birth, it was prophesied that Shiloh — the Messiah, the Prince of Peace — would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).

In His conversation with the woman at the well, Jesus said, “Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what: we [Jews] know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Jesus used the pronoun “we” and clearly considered Himself to be a Jew. But the Jews rejected Him — He came “unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

Paul wrote about God’s sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3). Christ took on the flesh and blood of His physical parent Mary (Heb. 2:14). Jesus was born as a human being by a divine begettal into the nation, area, and family of Judah. Jesus was a Jew!

Was Abraham A Jew?

Filed under: Jews,Patriarchs — melchia @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Was Abraham a Jew? The answer is that he was not. Notice who the Jews were and where they originated.

The word JEW is a nickname for the Israelite tribe of Judah. It was first used in the Bible in II Kings 16:6 (King James Version), a time long after that of Abraham.

The tribe of Judah descended, as the name indicates, from the man named Judah. This man was one of the twelve sons of the patriarch Jacob (Gen. 35:23). Jacob, as you know, was a son of Isaac (Gen. 25:26). Isaac, in turn, was a son of Abraham (Gen. 21:3). We can see, then, that Judah, the progenitor of the Jews, was a great-grandson of Abraham. Thus, Abraham was not a Jew, but an ancestor of the Jews. Abraham is properly referred to as a HEBREW.

Water Dowsing, Water Divining, Water Witching: Are They Biblical?

Water divining, also known as “water witching” and “water dowsing,” is practiced all over the world. It is the craft of seeking underground water by means of a divining rod, commonly a forked stick which is held by the twigs, one in each hand with the stock pointing outward or upward. Many first-time observers of the ancient art of dowsing have watched in mute fascination as a dowser walks over the ground, and the stick will suddenly twist in his hands and point downward, supposedly indicating the presence of underground water.

Although millions of people have come to accept dowsing as a unique ability or even a divine gift, few have examined this widespread and seemingly innocuous practice critically — with an eye to uncovering the real source behind its power. The fact that dowsing is also increasingly accepted in the church as a spiritual practice adds to the need for an evaluation of this technique.

Dowsers claim that they possess a natural sensitivity to alleged earth magnetism, water “radiations,” or some other natural phenomenon. They believe their dowsing stick or other device somehow “focuses” or otherwise identifies this energy so that one is able to find water or other substances or things that one is seeking — including oil, treasure, and lost persons or objects.

The fact that dowsing works is clearly its major defense. Dowsers think that if it works it must therefore be both a helpful and legitimate method: “What interests us about all dowsers is not the theories they develop but the results they obtain. It is these results which will attract more and more adepts [initiates] as well as less and less convinced adversaries.” (Otis Brickett, “The Gift of Healing,” The American Dowser, August 1979, 116. )

Hosea prophesied that divining rods would be used in our time. He wrote, “My people ask counsel at their stock and their staff declareth unto them” (Hos. 4:12). According to the “Critical and Experimental Commentary,” by Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown, “staff” here refers to a divining rod.

What is the origin of this practice? How did it come to be used so extensively in our western, so-called Christian nations? In his book titled “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science,” Martin Gardner admits:

“The employment of various shaped rods for divination purposes goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians …. In the Middle Ages, it was associated with the power of Satan, although many churchmen made use of divination rods. The forked twig, for finding minerals, apparently did not appear until the fifteenth century when it was used by German prospectors in the Harz Mining region. When German miners were imported to England in the century following, they brought the practice with them. It was in England that the use of the twig was transferred from minerals to the search for water.”

Water witching is outright divination — a practice of ancient paganism! God absolutely forbids and condemns it. He says, “Thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone … that useth divination” (Deut. 18:9-10). And God adds, “I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people” (Lev. 20:6).

We cannot practice divination and still be Christian! It is high time that we look into the Bible and begin to live by every word of God! We must quit trusting in the superstitions of ancient heathenism.

There are a few guidelines which can help one find a source of water. A Christian should first ask God in prayer to aid him in locating the right place to drill. Then he should analyze the lay of the land and drill in the most suitable area. Asking the advice of an experienced well driller — one who does not consult “witchers” — should also be helpful.

Visions, Dreams, Or Premonitions: Are They From God?

The Bible reveals that in times past servants of God were given visions and dreams for specific reasons and/or to convey special messages. For example, Jesus gave a vision of the future Kingdom on earth to Peter, James, and John, no doubt as a witness and encouragement both to them and to us (Matt. 17:1-9).

While God has used this means of communication in the past and will do so again (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28), we must realize that He uses it only when the circumstances warrant. Even then, such revelations are ordinarily directed to His ministers and specially chosen servants such as Jacob, Joseph, Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel (see Amos 3:7).

Today God speaks to us through the Bible. Please notice the following passage carefully: “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days [today] spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2, NKJV). Jesus Christ is the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14), and the Bible is the Word of God in written form. God the Father gave it to Christ. Christ, in turn, inspired both the prophets and the apostles, and they preserved it for us. Please see II Peter 1:21, Luke 1:70, and John 16:13. The Father’s will, commandments, and specific promises are revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. God, then, is actually speaking to us through His Word, the Bible.

It is not always easy to determine the origin of a vision, dream, or premonition which one might experience. Therefore, we must be very careful about ascribing to God any such communication — even if it is supernatural! We are warned to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1, NKJV).

Here is the way we should test the spirits: “When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony [the Bible]! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20, NKJV). Unless a dream or vision agrees completely with the Bible in its message and content, we can know it is not of God.

Some visions and dreams may simply be caused by mental or physical stress or the pressures of daily life. The Bible reveals that dreams may result from an upset mind (Eccl. 5:3.) If one has had a very troubled or busy day, he might be more likely to have vivid dreams that night. Ill health or memories of unpleasant experiences may also cause such dreams.

In situations where an unpleasant dream or vision causes distress, fear, physical sickness, or any such thing, I would advise seeking God’s intervention and healing. If Satan bothers us with bad dreams, we should ask God to rebuke him (Jude 9). We should also stay close to God in prayer and Bible study so that Satan cannot bother us (Jas. 4:7-8). God will grant us peace of mind if we walk with Him each day (Phil. 4:4-9; Isa. 26:3).

July 25, 2009

The Plain Truth About Speaking In Tongues

Editors Comment: I was going to write on this subject, but this article from TheTrumpet.com is so insightful, I would have a hard time covering more bases. Therefore I have posted it in its entirety, with a live link back. Happy reading!

——————————————————

002520_id2520w360h240_ju2t0oA little over 100 years ago, the modern Pentecostal Movement began in the American Midwest and gained popularity a short while later during the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California. The new religious movement soon spread across the country and even overseas. Today, the Pentecostal Movement claims over 500 million adherents worldwide, nearly half as many as Roman Catholicism. Pentecostal churches comprise the second most powerful denomination among all professing Christians.

Many Pentecostal groups claim that their religion is of God, and that the “latter rain” of the Holy Spirit is now falling on the souls of men. Some believe that “speaking in tongues”—i.e. the intense shouts, babbling and utterances of members of certain of their congregations—are modern demonstrations of the New Testament “gift of tongues.”

But is the presence of “speaking in tongues”—or glossolalia, as it is termed technically—evidence of God’s Holy Spirit? Or are these outlandish manifestations of emotional shouts, dancing, speaking gibberish, and fainting spells a ridiculous and dangerous counterfeit?

This question is of no small importance. Many feel such “speaking in tongues” is proof that one has the Holy Spirit, or at least evidence that one has achieved some superior level of spiritualism. Is this true? You need to know.

The Basic Doctrine

The late Herbert W. Armstrong made it plain that “the gift of ‘tongues’ spoken of in the Bible is the ability to speak of God in other languages—languages that are foreign and previously unknown to the speaker” (Tomorrow’s World, February 1972).

In other words, the gift of tongues is the God-given, miraculous ability to speak in a human language that one has not learned in any normal manner. But it is certainly not those demonstrations of emotional and indecipherable gibberish that some religious groups today call “speaking in tongues.”

Usual Teachings of This World

The 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the “gift of tongues, also called glossolalia (from [the] Greek glossa, ‘tongue,’ and lalia, ‘talking’), [includes] utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious excitement. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected, the tongue moves without the conscious control of the speaker, and unintelligible speech pours forth. According to religious interpretations of the phenomenon, the speaker is considered to be possessed by a supernatural spirit, is in conversation with divine beings, or is the channel of a divine proclamation ….

“In addition to the religious interpretations of glossolalia as a supernatural occurrence, various psychological interpretations have attempted to explain it as a natural occurrence. It has been suggested that it is a charlatan’s technique, a neurotic or psychotic symptom, a form of epilepsy, or, most commonly, a hypnotic phenomenon resulting from religious excitement.”

Often, the so-called “tongues experience” occurs at an intense, emotionally charged religious revival called a “tarry meeting,” where the “spirit” is said to be “called down” or “worked up.” Generally such “working up” consists of frenetic repeating of certain phrases like “Glory, hallelujah!” or “Sweet Jesus!” With jazzy hymn-singing and the rhythmic, ecstatic chant of these repetitious utterances, the congregation is gradually whipped into an emotional frenzy.

Suddenly one or two or more in the group are “overcome with the spirit” and begin shouting gibberish. Usually this includes waving of the arms, jumping around, shouting or even writhing on the floor. One or another of the congregation may rise to “interpret” what a speaker is saying, usually attributing to the person great praises for God and other spiritual insights.

Some groups view this experience as absolute proof one has the Spirit of God. Others allow that Christians who do not speak in tongues in this manner may have the Spirit, but that those who do speak in tongues have obtained a higher degree of the Spirit with such “inspired” speaking. Glossolalia is a greatly prized spiritual goal in all tongues-speaking circles.

Some believe that such tongues-speaking is related to the episode of the “tongues of fire” in Acts 2:3. Others believe it to be the “baptism of the Spirit” predicted by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). Beliefs differ, too, as to whether the utterances mean anything in any language. Some believe the utterances to be the “tongues of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Others say the languages are unknown and cannot be known. Still others believe such utterances to indeed be known foreign languages spoken today, or at least previously known languages such as ancient Hebrew.

Most all who do such speaking take the greatest pride in the fact that they “spoke in tongues”—not in what they babbled that might have been meaningful. Few, it seems, stop and ask themselves whether their “gift” agrees with the biblical definition of tongues.

Let us “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and see what the Holy Bible reveals about the tongues question.

The Bible Teaching

The place to begin is in Acts 2. The first 21 verses of this chapter form the crux of the Bible doctrine of tongues. Here, written nearly 2,000 years ago, is a record of the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a multitude.

Prior to the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, and shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ promised the original 12 disciples—who later became apostles—that they would receive miraculous spiritual strength after the Holy Spirit had come into their minds following His resurrection (John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 1:8-9).

While Christ was with His disciples in the flesh, He was their actual, physical “Comforter.” For about three and a half years, the Holy Spirit had been dwelling with the disciples in the person of Christ. Jesus told them that after His death and ascension they would receive “another Comforter”—the gift of the Holy Spirit; and it would dwell within them even as it had been evident in Him.

Notice that the receipt of this Holy Spirit was conditional upon the disciples’ obedience. Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 show us that they were instructed to wait (or “tarry,” as it states in the King James Version) in Jerusalem until the appointed time. (The word tarry comes from the Middle English tarien, meaning “wait.” It does not imply a “tarry meeting” or modern “revival.”) The disciples would not have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit had they ignored or disregarded this specific command. After all, God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

The day God established for this special bestowing of His Spirit was on His annual festival of Pentecost—also known as the feast of weeks or feast of firstfruits—which was observed 50 days after the day on which Christ was resurrected. The word pentekoste is a Greek word meaning “50th [day],” or “count fifty.” Leviticus 23:15-21 tells us that Pentecost is an annual holy day which true Christians are commanded to observe every year in the late spring. Strangely, and significantly, the modern Pentecostal groups of this world do not even keep this biblically commanded day!

After Christ’s ascension, Acts 2:1 shows that 120 of His own disciples were faithfully and harmoniously gathered “in one accord” at church services in Jerusalem, as they had been directed, on that day of Pentecost in a.d. 31. Also assembled in Jerusalem on that special holy day, besides the disciples, were other devout men—Jews from all over the Roman Empire. Some were Parthians, some Medes and Elamites; others were from Mesopotamia, Rome and Arabia. Though they were not yet disciples of Christ’s, all of them understood that if they had not obeyed Jesus’ specific command to meet there in Jerusalem on that particular day, they would not have been eligible to receive the Spirit of God.

Pentecost, A.D. 31

At last, when the day of Pentecost had “fully come,” something truly amazing happened. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit arrived with a great display of power! (Acts 2:2-4, 8, 11).

With a loud sound, as of a mighty windstorm, the Spirit of God entered the room wherein the disciples were seated! It also came with the appearance of divided tongues of fire!

Have you ever seen anything even remotely like this in your life? I certainly haven’t. Yet, in this instance, this supernatural event happened—so says your Bible!

Imagine the excitement that ensued. Word of this momentous experience must have spread over the city. A multitude of Jews, amazed, came hurrying to the place. They wondered, for something mind-dazzling began to happen: God’s Spirit filled all 120 of Jesus’ disciples and enabled every one of the Jews—though they hailed from many different regions and spoke diverse dialects—to understand what was said! (Acts 2:6).

Every man, woman and child who came near heard the disciples speak in his or her own language! Those of the Parthian dialect heard the disciples, all of them, speak the Parthian language. The Medes, on the other hand, heard the same disciples speak the language of the Medes. Of course, what the disciples were saying was actually “all Greek” to those who had traveled in from Greece!

Then Peter, the chief apostle, stood and delivered a sermon (Acts 2:14-21). Again, the tongues he spoke in were known languages of the day that were clearly understood by those listening. The listeners marveled because Peter, to their ears, seemed to be speaking in their native, local dialects, although he obviously hadn’t learned all these languages by going to school or through some other normal method of study.

Obviously, Peter was not speaking incomprehensible, meaningless clack. He did not work up the crowd with rhythmically chanted, vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Further, we see no descriptions of wildly gyrating bodies, waving hands or people rolling around on the ground.

Concerning this utterly unique and amazing account of the gift of tongues, Mr. Armstrong concluded that “the miracle was in the hearing as well as the speaking” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Other Biblical Accounts

Besides the account in Acts 2, other instances of speaking in tongues are recorded in the Bible. One such time was on the occasion of the first outpouring of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). The account is brief, but verse 46 clearly states that those listening heard those speaking in tongues “magnify God.” In telling the apostles of it, Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning,” and, “God gave them the like gift as He did unto us” (Acts 11:15, 17).

On this occasion, the Gentiles received the power of the Holy Spirit by the ceremony of baptism and the laying on of hands by an ordained minister—in the same manner God gives the Holy Spirit to His begotten saints today. Peter did not say that the Holy Spirit came unto them with the same manifestations as it did on Pentecost in a.d. 31.

The gift of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles did not come suddenly from heaven, as the sound of a mighty wind, appearing as cloven tongues of fire. Aside from being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, the nature of which is not here described, there is no similarity between these two experiences. The only reasonable conclusion is that these tongues again were known languages of the day.

In one other recorded case, men spoke with tongues upon being filled with the Holy Spirit. That was after Paul had baptized the Ephesian believers and laid his hands on them (Acts 19:1-6). Again, these tongues were known languages of the day; there is nothing to indicate the other accompanying manifestations as upon the original day of Pentecost.

Some modern tongues-speakers quote Matthew 3:11, contending that glossolalia is evidence of the “baptism of the Spirit.” John the Baptist’s reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit however, does not refer to tongues as some separate baptism in addition to one’s initial receipt of the Holy Spirit. It is, instead, a reference to that very act of receiving God’s Spirit after repentance, which baptizes us into the true Church of God (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Gift of Tongues

The book of 1 Corinthians has much to say about the subject of tongues. The gift is mentioned in verses 1 and 10 of 1 Corinthians 12, but verses 27-31 are the most critical.

In verse 28, Paul lists the governmental offices of the church, including the ranks of apostle and prophet. Then, beginning in verse 29, through a series of rhetorical questions, Paul decidedly proves that not all have the gift of tongues (or any of a number of other gifts for that matter). Clearly, having the gift of tongues cannot be the only proof one has God’s Spirit. Nor is it proof of superior righteousness, for verse 31, along with 1 Corinthians 13, declares absolutely that love is a greater gift of the Spirit than speaking in tongues! 1 Corinthians 13:1 says that even if one has the power to speak in the “tongues of … angels,” he is spiritually worthless unless he has love.

It is important to note that these verses do not imply that the Corinthians spoke in angelic language. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, Paul lists a number of incredible feats, all of them beyond human capability (i.e., moving mountains with faith, and understanding every single mystery of life). He wanted the Corinthians to see that even if they could do certain things far beyond their normal abilities, it still wouldn’t make them righteous unless they were filled with and expressing godly love—which is an unselfish, outgoing concern for others (agape in the Greek). It is clear that Paul spoke of the tongues of angels also as something beyond the Corinthians’ natural abilities, just like moving mountains.

Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is devoted entirely to the tongues topic. Numerous verses defeat the arguments of modern tongues-speakers, proving that Paul wrote these words to downplay and control the gift of tongues, not to exalt it.

Verse 1 encourages normal, inspired preaching over the gift of tongues. The following verses stress that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to edify and benefit the audience, not the speaker. This, of course, is vastly different from modern tarry meetings and revivals, where the one who speaks in tongues is in the limelight while the rest of the congregation just sits back and watches the strange goings-on. These modern acts of glossolalia are generally more like freakish circus sideshows than a proper church service. No real educating takes place.

Verses 10-17 stress the need for the audience to understand the words, and thus make plain that the words should be capable of being understood. Paul is clearly writing of common human languages of the day.

Verse 23 makes the same point a different way. Paul warns against speaking in a language the audience doesn’t understand, saying that to do so would make one who is an unbeliever or unlearned think the believers were crazy. It wouldn’t make sense for a minister of God to speak Spanish to an audience if they didn’t understand the Spanish language!

The remaining verses clear up any modern misunderstandings on this question.

Verse 27 limits the number who may speak in tongues at any one time to two or three who must take turns. (This is what must have occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-11.) It demands calm order in the service—all things being done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40), in a godly manner and with proper decorum—which is the very opposite of the emotionally charged atmosphere of a tarry meeting.

Verse 31 says that tongues should be used one by one in turn—not at the same time in devilish confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is not the author of confusion and disorder.

Verse 32 states that the one who speaks in tongues is in control of his faculties at all times. This is the very opposite of certain Pentecostals, who give themselves over to tongues-speaking and are for a while controlled by the phenomenon, so much so that they may not remember or even know what they said “while under the influence”!

Finally, verse 34 states that women are forbidden to preach in the church at all. Such is not the case today as many “tongues-speakers” are women.

In summary, we’ve looked at the commonly accepted beliefs about modern “speaking in tongues,” examined the pertinent Bible verses and extracted the key points. Obviously, modern tongues and biblical tongues are not only different, they are in fact opposite.

The biblical gift of tongues is given for instruction; the modern display of “tongues” is enacted for display and vainglory. One is at a preaching service where people are to be edified by the content of the speech; the other at an emotional tarry meeting. One is vocal only; the other is linked with wild physical movement and uncontrolled shouts. One is considered a lesser gift; the other a badge of “righteousness” to brag about. The Bible tongues are real languages; modern tongues are not. One is always under control; the other is worked up to uncontrolled frenzy. One is done in turn by two or three men at the most; the other usually degenerates to disorderly confusion.

What About Today?

Have you ever wondered why God ever gave the gift of tongues, and whether the genuine gift still exists today?

Evidently the gift of tongues was given for the same reasons as other miraculous manifestations in early Church history. It was to call attention to the initial outpouring of God’s power, to attract attention to the gospel message—not to the speaker—and to aid in the spreading of the gospel in a part of the world peppered with people who spoke many different languages (Acts 2:5).

Despite claims to the contrary, people today are not seen to speak miraculously in languages they did not learn through formal instruction. However, the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, cited by Peter in Acts 2:16-21, may indicate God’s servants will again exercise that gift at a future time of God’s own choosing.

Key Verses

The main Bible verses about this subject of tongues are contained in a few easily remembered sections of Scripture. Acts 2:1-21 shows the first outpouring of tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost. Acts 10:44-48 describes the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentile Christians.

1 Corinthians 12 contains various scattered statements about tongues, while chapter 14 records the Apostle Paul’s instructions about and limitations regarding tongues.

Undoubtedly people can be led astray from the truth if they allow their own thoughts and emotions and evil spiritual influences to dictate their beliefs, rather than God’s precious word. Though these modern “tongues-speakers” may be sincere, they are sincerely deceived.

As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We have no word of condemnation for these ‘Pentecostal’ people, as they call themselves, because they are unable to repeat the same accompanying manifestations as described for the day of Pentecost in a.d. 31″ (ibid.). Modern tongues-speakers are utterly incapable of reproducing the incredible miracles which occurred that day. At best, all they can do is pretend to imitate, or counterfeit, the gift of tongues.

From the beginning, Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), has blinded most of mankind to God’s truth. The devil has led many astray through counterfeit spiritual experiences. In fact, Satan has deceived the entire world (Revelation 12:9). But true Christians are told to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the true litmus test. God’s word is the standard by which we should judge all things (John 17:17). “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19-20). The “law” and “the testimony” are the Old and New Testaments—the Bible!

Those who search for deeper spiritual experiences by trying to “call down another Pentecost” or “work up the spirit” in their tarry meetings today are simply deceived by Satan.

Satan the devil has been cast down to this Earth (Revelation 12:10). True Christians cannot be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18), and must be wise enough to discern that the “tongues” experience witnessed on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, is not being repeated today.

Ten Crucial Daily Questions For Spiritual Survival!

herbert_w_armstrong

These questions below are crucial for every true Christian to ask daily in their life of battling Satan, society and self. I strongly believe that Herbert W. Armstrong was spiritually inspired to pose these questions to the Church of God.

Source: by Herbert W. Armstrong, Co-Worker Bulletin, February 14, 1941.

——————————

1.  Did I awake spiritual, in a happy, prayerful attitude, and was I watching to keep my mind from wandering this morning?

——————————

2.  Have I, this day, kept my mind clean, my thoughts and contemplations on “the things above,” in continuous happy, positive, prayerful attitude?

——————————

3.  Have , as a “babe in Christ,” partaken three times today of spiritual food by submissive Bible study and earnest prayer ALONE with God? Have I grown closer to God? Have I grown today in grace and knowledge?

——————————

4.  Have I walked by faith, asking God for wisdom and guidance in all things, committing every little problem to Him, trusting Him with it?

——————————

5.  Have I exercised self-discipline, denying impulse, doing what God’s word shows I aught to do instead of what I wanted to do?

——————————

6.  Was my speech and conversation today kind, cheerful, soft?

——————————

7.  Have I exercised patience today? Have I been charitable towards others, showing tolerance and love, or resentment, jealousy and anger?

——————————

8.  Have I, while putting spiritual interests first, been diligent in performing regular material duties today, doing my very best?

——————————

9.  Have I made the most of my time, or been weakened by unwatchfulness?

——————————

10.  What have I done for God’s work and for others? Have I spent anything today to please myself that could have been saved for God’s cause?

July 24, 2009

Book Of Urantia: Further Confusion For A Deceived World!

the_urantia_book_foundation_300The Urantia Book (sometimes called The Urantia Papers or The Fifth Epochal Revelation) is a spiritual and philosophical book that discusses God, Jesus, science, cosmology, religion, history and destiny. It originated in Chicago, Illinois, USA, sometime between 1924 and 1955, but its authorship is unclear. There has been much debate and speculation on how the papers were produced.

The writers introduce the word Urantia as the name of the planet Earth and state their intent is to “present enlarged concepts and advanced truth” in an “endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception.” Among many other topics, it expounds on the origin and meaning of life, describes humankind’s place in the universe, discusses the relationship between God and people, and presents a detailed biography of Jesus. (Wikipedia)

The Urantia Book contains four parts, composed of individual essays supposedly contributed by celestial beings of various orders:

  1. Part I: The Central and Superuniverses.
  2. Part II: The Local Universe.
  3. Part III: The History of Urantia.
  4. Part IV: The Life and Teachings of Jesus.

“The Urantia Book” also contradicts the Bible. It calls the creation week a legend and the Flood of Noah’s time a lie devised by a Jewish priest during the Babylonian captivity. It states that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a myth, that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life, that Jesus Christ and Michael are one and the same, and that Jesus was not tempted in the wilderness for forty days.

These are but a few of the ways in which “The Urantia Book” disagrees with the Bible. The Bible tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Tim. 3:16). God does not contradict Himself. From this I can conclude that “The Urantia Book” is not inspired by God. In fact, my observation is that it is incompatible alongside the Bible and would only tend to confuse and deceive.

July 23, 2009

The Destruction Of Satan?

gonelental.blogspot.com

gonelental.blogspot.com

Satan and his demons are spirit beings, created with inherent immortality (see Luke 20:36). They cannot die.

So why did Paul write that Jesus Christ would “destroy” the devil through His sacrifice? (Heb. 2:14) Paul was not saying that Christ will kill Satan or completely blot him out of existence. According to “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary,” the word “destroy” can also mean “neutralize” or make “subject to a crushing defeat.” The original Greek word, “katargeo,” translated as “destroy” in this verse, means “to render inactive” or “idle.” Notice I John 3:8: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the WORKS (evil effort or occupation) of the devil.”

Revelation 20:10 reveals that God will condemn Satan to the lake of fire after the Millennium. Many cite this as proof the Bible contrdicts itself, since it also says spirit beings cannot die. But notice that this verse does not say that Satan will remain there forever. It says only that his torment will last forever. The lake of fire will end when the new heavens and new earth are established (Rev. 21:1). But, the punishing of Satan and his demons will continue through eternity.

The Bible gives us only a clue as to the nature of Satan’s punishment. Jude describes some as being “wandering stars [stars are symbols of angels], to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (verse 13). Apparently, God will banish Satan and his demons from the universe into a place of restraint that would be likened to solitary confinement in a darkened room (though bigger), with no availability of any stimulus. They will never again associate with or influence the glorified inhabitants of God’s realm.

Simon Magus: The Real "Peter" Of False Christianity!

Simon was the Samaritan sorcerer who professed conversion to Christianity and sought to buy an apostleship. The Bible records this historic event in Acts 8:9-24.

In spite of Peter’s stinging rebuke (verses 20-23), Simon presented himself as an apostle. He invented a new religion by blending his own version of the doctrine of grace with elements of the old Babylonian mysteries and attaching Christ’s name to it. This false religion swept the world and became the visible “Christian” church — incredible as that may seem.

There are veiled references to Simon’s false Christianity in the New Testament. Jude 4, for example, is rather pointed against Simon’s principal doctrine — the heresy that one does not have to obey God’s laws after conversion. John, the apostle who completed the Bible, placed great emphasis on Christians keeping God’s commandments (I John 2:3-6).

Persecution against God’s Church

Much of the early persecution against God’s true Church came as a result of Simon Magus. Acts 8 is the earliest record of the true Church/false church conflict that was to rage through the centuries. Let’s first get an overview of this chapter.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

The chapter opens with the final comments related to the stoning of Stephen. Acts 8:1 shows that Saul (or Paul) consented to Stephen’s death. Verses 3 and 4 show that Paul led the Jewish persecution against the Church, personally imprisoning many men and women. Rather than stop the preaching of the Gospel, this action advanced it to other localities (verse 4).

Now verse 5 begins Simon Magus’ history. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:5-8).

Luke gives us an incredible amount of detail concerning Philip’s activities in Samaria. He performed many miracles there, causing much joy among the people because they were heavily oppressed with demons (verse7).

“But there was a certain man, called Simon which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God” (Acts 8:9-10).

Verses 8 and 9 reflect an extraordinary encounter with a man professing conversion to Christianity. Luke gives more detail about this man than he does concerning some of the other ten apostles not mentioned in the book of Acts. Why?

That man was one of the greatest religious figures in Samaria at that time. He is know in secular history as Simon Magus. The surname “ magus” reveals that he was a member of the priestly caste of ancient Persia, or in other words, a pagan priest. (See any encyclopedia or dictionary ).

Simon Magus Exposed

So Simon was nothing more than a priest of the Babylonian mystery religion, who used used sorcery and magic to bewitch the people of Samaria. He actually believed he was “some great one,” because the whole population of Samaria believed him and worshipped him as the “great power of God.” He had been doing this for so long, they believed that he was God in the flesh. “And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries” (Acts 8:11).

But Philip’s preaching also had great impact on the people of Samaria. Many believed and were baptized by him. Even Simon was impressed: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:12-13).

So great was Philip’s success in Samaria, that news soon reached Jerusalem. “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy [Spirit]: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy [Spirit]” (Acts 8:14-17). The news from Samaria was so exciting that the chief apostle, Peter, went to observe the events. He also took the apostle John with him.

Peter’s Prophecy

When Peter and John arrived in Samaria, they had to complete the work that Philip started. Even though most of Samaria believed Philip and were baptized, the Holy Spirit had not been given to any of them (v. 16). Peter and John prayed for God to give the Samaritans the Holy Spirit.

Simon, ever watchful, noticed this powerful demonstration of the giving of the Holy Spirit. Although he had been a highly respected magus, Simon continued to be impressed by the remarkable powers of the apostles and their ability to heal and to manifest miracles. When he saw Peter and John baptizing people by the laying on of hands, he asked that he might be taught the power of transferring the Holy Spirit to others. Eagerly, Simon offered to pay the apostles a fee to teach him how to manifest the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:9–24).

However Peter severely rebuked him for trying to buy his way into God’s Church. “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23).

Peter recognized that Simon’s heart was not right with God and that he had plainly revealed his true intentions. It is evident he was never converted because he tried to buy access to God’s Spirit and the office of an apostle because he was obsessed with the idea of power.

Looking at verse 23 a little closer, we see that Peter revealed what this man would do in the future to God’s Church.

“For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” Lange’s Commentary says of verse 23, “Peter’s words, literally mean: ‘I regard you as a man whose influence will be like that of bitter gall [poison] and a bond of unrighteousness [lawlessness], or as a man who has reached such a state’” (vol. 9, p. 148).

Peter not only understood the twisted thinking of this man’s mind, he knew that Simon was to become a great adversary of God’s true Church. Simon did not repent of his grave sin.

“Then answered Simon and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me” (Acts 8:24). He only asked Peter to intercede for him, for forgiveness. But he never actually repented and “after this incident, appears no more in the book of Acts. Later literature shows him reappearing in Rome in the time of Claudius in a new movement of his own, curiously combining Christian and pagan elements, and in which he figures as a god” (p. 927, New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language).

The book of Acts was written about around a.d. 62, and Luke took great pains to record much about Simon Magus for us, because of the man’s fame and danger and the damage he had done to the true Church of God. Even the letters of Paul reflected much of this trouble. Luke showed that Simon Magus was not part of the Christian Church, and recorded the prophecy that Simon Magus was to become the founder of Mystery, Babylon the Great—the great false church of Revelation 17. Simon formed a unique league with the government in Rome, which proved to be very deadly for many of God’s true people throughout history.

Interestingly, the term “simony” to describe the ecclesiastical crime of paying for offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church has come down through the ages.

“The intertwining of temporal with spiritual authority in the Middle Ages caused endless problems with accusations of simony. Secular rulers wanted to employ the educated and centrally organized clergy in their administrations and often treated their spiritual positions as adjuncts to the secular administrative roles. Canon Law also outlawed as simony some acts that did not involve the sale of offices, but the sale of spiritual authority: the sale of tithes, the taking of a fee for confession, absolution, marriage or burial, and the concealment of one in mortal sin or the reconcilement of an impenitent for the sake of gain. Just what was or was not simony was strenuously litigated: as one commentator notes, the widespread practice of simony is best evidenced by the number of reported ecclesiastical decisions as to what is or is not simony.” (Wikipedia)

Simony was a serious moral problem of the Roman Catholic Church, the very same church whose “Peter” is the Simon Magus of biblical history.

Additional information about Simon Magus can be found in these reference works:

  • The eleventh edition of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica”
  • Schaff’s “History of the Church”
  • Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Apostolic Church”
  • Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Bible”
  • “Dictionary of Christian Biography”
  • The “Encyclopaedia Biblica.”

July 18, 2009

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.