The Apple Of God's Eye

August 31, 2009

Was Jesus Striving To “Save Souls” While On Earth The First Time?

Was Jesus striving to “save souls” while on Earth the first time?  Let’s notice just a few verses that show Christ was not trying to save every soul He could find. Matthew 5:1: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.” Christ had a tremendous opportunity to preach His message before the multitudes. But notice, instead of speaking before them, He went up into the mountains so He could teach just His disciples.

Despite this, Christ did attract great crowds, mainly due to the miracles He performed. But even when He did attract great crowds, He spoke in parables. Not so the multitudes could understand—but that they 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” (Matt. 13:10-11).

Can you imagine Christ intentionally allowing Himself to be misunderstood if He was only concerned about saving as many people as possible? Not once in the teachings of Jesus do we ever find Him pleading with or begging individuals to be saved! Why not? Because Jesus knew, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him …” (John 6:44). If Christ had been coming to save the world, that is precisely what He would have done.

So why exactly did He come? Jesus came with a message to proclaim—that of the gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14).

What Is The Difference Between Advice And Gossip?

thephoenix.com

thephoenix.com

What is the difference between getting advice from others, and gossip.

Advice is an opinion given about what to do or how to behave. Gossip is casual talk about someone else’s behaviors or affairs. The difference is easily understood by adding up the numbers.

When a person truly desires to help another person in their affairs or with a behavior, they will only talk about the matter with one person. It is a serious talk loaded with concern. Generally that one person is more mature or wise and has proven they can keep even the smallest personal matters secret. This one person is often one in authority, like a parent or a minister.

Gossip on the other hand is considered the domain of fools:

“Hate is covered up by the lips of the upright man, but he who lets out evil about another is foolish” (Prov. 10:18).

This type of behaviour kills friendships and relationships. It is often discussed with many people and the numbers grow quickly. Two become four, four become eight, 16 quickly become 32. Another’s problems are often discussed among peers who are eager to hear the latest about anyone’s bad behaviors or failures. The conversation has either an overtone of a put-down or joking. With gossip, no secret is kept silent. In fact, the real truths are often clouded over. No advice is given because no real advice is sought after.

Advice from the wise, when followed, often produces positive results. There are good fruits. But gossip, when it runs its course, hurts everyone—especially those who spread it!

Is Keeping The Sabbath A Ritualistic Law?

riovidafoundation.wordpress.com

riovidafoundation.wordpress.com

Is the Sabbath a ritualistic law?

The short answer: no! It is one of the basic Ten Commandments (Ex. 20; Deut. 5). When a young man asked Jesus how he could enter into eternal life, Jesus replied: “Keep the commandments.” Jesus then proceeded to quote several of the commandments of the decalogue to show which law He meant (see Matt. 19:16-19).

Second: Since the Sabbath is one of those decalogue commandments, the breaking of which is sin (I John 3:4), a person who has knowledge of the true Sabbath must observe it to avoid sinning.

Third: Jesus Himself talked about the liberty of the gospel. He said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Not understanding what Jesus meant, the Pharisees retorted that they “were never in bondage to any man” (verse 33). So “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin [transgression of the law] is the servant of sin” (verse 34).

Some of the Pharisees were indeed in bondage to sin. And anyone who knowingly breaks God’s Sabbath is committing a sin and is, therefore, in spiritual bondage. James said: “… To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Fourth: It is fulfilling God’s law of love to keep the Sabbath. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments [including the Sabbath] are not grievous” (I John 5:3). Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Further: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me …” (verse 21).

In summary, keeping the Sabbath is one of the four basic ways in which we love God. It is an unchanging moral law — not a ritualistic law.

Did Jesus Christ Own A House?

Did Jesus Christ own a home? Traditionally, the consensus seems to run counter to the entire idea of Jesus having a home. Some have attempted to use Matthew 8.20 and Luke 9.58 as proof texts to argue such claims.

By way of a brief background to this question, remember that Luke, the author of Acts and his own Gospel, wrote (as a historian naturally would) in chronological order (see Luke 1:1,3).

Checking the context of the passage in question, we read in Luke 9:51-56: “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him [make arrangements for a place to stay]. And they [the residents of the village] did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.”

The Samaritans in this particular village did not allow Jesus to stay there because He was on His way to Jerusalem. The location of the Temple was a bone of contention between the Jewish people and the Samaritans (see John 4:20). The Samaritans maintained a rival “holy site” on Mount Gerizim.

Now read Luke 9:57-58, remembering the preceding verses: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

So how do we understand these verses in context? Jesus had wanted to lodge in a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem. The citizenry wouldn’t allow it. Therefore, Jesus — in the light of their denying Him overnight accommodations — told the young man that He had no place to stay at the moment.

In other words, at that particular time (“as they went in the way” [verse 57] from one Samaritan village to the next [see verse 56]) He was having difficulty in finding a place to stay overnight on His journey to Jerusalem. It was exemplary of His, at times, difficult ministry.

We also have to remember that when this statement is made, it is when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (to die). Logically, then, it only follows that Jesus has left His home for good. He was definitely not going back! These should be taken as narrative markers which reveal the urgency of Christ making His way to Golgotha. He knows it is going to be hostile and He knows He will die. Thus, when He makes this comment to the scribe, He essentially is asking Him to make a choice: Follow me, with the potential of dying or stay here where you are comfortable.

Thus, Jesus did NOT say in Luke 9:57-58 that He did not have a home. More evidence is revealed in John 1:35-39 where John and two others followed Him to where He stayed.

“The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. As he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. But when Jesus turned around and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” (which is translated “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.’

Mark 2:1-2 also says he stayed in a house and a plain English reading of this verse leaves no room for speculation really that Mark places the event he’s speaking of, in the home of Jesus (the Greek seems to suggest the same). There is no pause in the story and no other people mentioned whose home it could have been (it is commonly argued that this is the home of Peter but the text makes no such claim; further, when Jesus did go to Peter’s home just a few verses earlier, Mark didn’t hesitate to make that known). The International Standard Version says “He was at home,” as does the Moffat, and Revised Standard Version. The New International Version even says “He had come home.”

Most scholars believe that Jesus lived and worked in Capernium prior to his ministry. He did travel a lot and many people get all caught up in the idea that Jesus Christ could not own property. They want to hang on to the stereotype of Jesus as a wandering, homeless, peasant preacher. This notion needs to be put to rest. The gospels tell us to open up our homes to the poor and I see no Biblical reason reason to believe that Jesus did not own a home or that He did not open it up to people. People are simply misreading and misanalyzing the scriptures. The original Greek gives no implied meanings stating otherwise.  Jesus always returned to one general area and so it certainly is not out of the realm of possibility that this was where He lived.

August 30, 2009

Explanation: "If Your Right Eye Causes You To Sin, Pluck It Out … "

Filed under: Sin — melchia @ 2:48 am
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What does it mean: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out … ?” Once in a great while we may have heard a news report where someone has applied this scripture literally, by cutting off or poking out a body part. This is an example of someone who unfamiliar with the spiritual intent of this passage.

First, it is obvious that Christ did not intend this instruction to be taken literally. The eye and hand cannot, of themselves, sin. Sin originates in the mind. Therefore, a person who is totally blind or lame can still sin. Jesus was simply using vital parts of the body to illustrate a principle. He was explaining that a Christian should not tolerate sin as a part of his life.

If an individual has a sinful habit, he ought to totally eradicate that habit, even though the process may be as painful as losing an eye or a hand. If, for example, looking at something tempts someone to sin, he shouldn’t look at it — he should turn his eyes elsewhere. What Christ is saying is that it would be better to give up a sinful pleasure than to lose out on salvation (Col. 3:5-17).

What Is The True Name Of God's Church?

1The Bible gives the true name of God’s Church in 12 different places.

In five passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ — the Church as a whole — is indicated. Thus when speaking of the entire Church, including all its individual members on earth, the name is “the Church of God.” Here are these five passages:

1.  Acts 20:28 — the elders were admonished to “shepherd the church of God.”

2.  I Corinthians 10:32: “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.”

3.  I Corinthians 11:22: “Or do you despise the church of God…?”

4.  I Corinthians 15:9 — Paul wrote, “I persecuted the church of God.”

5.  Galatians 1:13 — here Paul repeats the statement he made to the Corinthians: “I persecuted the church of God.”

Nowhere is the true Church called after the name of some man or doctrine.

Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is called “the Church of God,” often in connection with the place where the congregation was located. Here are four more passages:

6.  I Corinthians 1:2: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

7.  II Corinthians 1:1: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

8.  I Timothy 3:5 — in speaking of a local elder in a local congregation, Paul wrote Timothy, “For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

9.  I Timothy 3:15: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.”

In speaking of the local congregations collectively — not as one
general Body, but as the total of all local congregations — the Bible name is “the churches of God.” Here are the final three verses:

10.  I Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

11.  I Thessalonians 2:14: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus.”

12.  II Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God.”

These verses prove the name of the true Church. Denominations not bearing this name could not be God’s true Church. And of all the churches that do bear the name, only one could be the true Church of God — that one that obeys all the commandments of God and maintains the faith delivered once for all time. All others are counterfeit, even though some know about the true name.

Since Christ is the Head of the Church, Paul also called the various congregations “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). But the actual name is “the Church of God.” It is kept in the name of the Father (John 17:11).

How Do We "Bless" God?

kenk3n.wordpress.com

kenk3n.wordpress.com

God rules the universe supreme! He owns everything that exists. Yet each of us can bless God and bring Him pleasure, delight and joy. How?

If we examine the context of the passages that instruct us to bless God, we find exactly what this term means. Notice Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

To bless God, therefore, means to praise Him.

But why do we praise God? Just because He tells us to? No. The true, wholehearted praise God desires is the praise of sincere thankfulness and appreciation for all the blessings He first gives us: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

The awesomeness of God is worthy of continual praise:

“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3).

Psalm 96 shows us that God is also blessed in song and worship, and by declaring His salvation to all the world. Psalm 100:4 shows that we bless God by coming before Him in worship, praise and thanksgiving.

This attitude of reverence, fear and respect for God and the laws He has given carries over into our daily lives as we obey Him and become living sacrifices for Him (Romans 12:1). God wants us to be living witnesses to others around us of the true way of abundant Christian living (Matthew 5:16). In this way we set an example and bear fruit, which glorifies God (John 15:8).

Jesus said there is great joy in heaven over every sinner who, being called by God and seeing the good example of true Christians, repents and begins on the way to salvation and membership in God’s own Family (Luke 15:10).

God created humankind to ultimately become His children (Revelation 21:7). The greatest blessing we can give God is to fulfill our purpose in life — yield to God, overcome and qualify for salvation — become a child of
God!

August 29, 2009

America’s Decline—From Sinatra to Michael Jackson

Editors Comment: Thought I would post this article, from TheTrumpet.com in its entirety. It effectively shows how America has lost its moral compass, and how it has glamorized the cult of celebrity worship to the point of dragging most of the free world along with it. A good read indeed!
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Media coverage of the funeral for Michael Jackson was massive and global. Such was the almost universal appeal of the Jackson entertainment machine. Yet, just a single lifetime ago, the style of “entertainment” embraced by generations of Jackson worshippers would have been relegated to the world of the weird and the perverse, if not the downright demonic.

How did the sense of taste and the social values of society descend to such a morally destructive level?

Reading David Gates’s article on Michael Jackson, the cover story for the July 13 newsstand edition of Newsweek, brought back memories of the timeless piece written by Herbert W. Armstrong about society’s reaction to Beatle John Lennon’s murder.

Gates placed Jackson in order of descent in a line of pop idols that have emanated from postwar Anglo-American “culture.” “True, for a while he was the king of pop,” he wrote, “and he’s the last we’re ever likely to have. Before Michael Jackson came Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles ….”

Thirty years ago, Herbert Armstrong nominated the same entertainment icons of the postwar era as being part of a trend that indicated “[t]his world is fast losing all sense—if it ever had any—of true social values. The lower the standard of social values, the more popular they become in a misguided and deceived humanity” (Worldwide News, Dec. 22, 1980).

Ever one to seek the cause of a phenomenon, rather than just highlight its effect, Herbert Armstrong traced the history of the postwar trend to idolize the human icons of entertainment:

In a way, the Beatles started this modern trend in a new Satan-influenced lifestyle of a degenerating culture and sense of social values. But John Lennon was their band-leader in this.

It picked up what had been started by Frank Sinatra, when teenage girls ran screaming half out of their minds for his autograph. It was revived and intensified by Elvis Presley. Then the Beatles delivered Satan’s knockout blow to any public sense of social values in the world.

It is interesting that journalist David Gates would choose exactly the same trend, employing exactly the same examples, as Herbert Armstrong to describe this postwar phenomenon. But Mr. Armstrong highlighted the result, in his lifetime, of 35 years of pop idol worship—each one of those “idols” becoming more degenerate than the rest.

Commenting upon the powerful influence of the Beatles on society, Herbert Armstrong observed:

The hippie fad followed. Down went morality, rising triumphantly was promiscuous sex, “pot,” drugs, divorce, broken homes.

The world will deify and worship one who can start humanity on such a downward plunge. Lennon left a fortune, managed by his Japanese wife, of some $230 million—but that’s OK with the public as long as he was in “show-biz” and leading a misguided humanity further into Satan’s way of life.

Lennon even made the statement at one time that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. He had millions—untold millions—of worshippers.

Clearly, the spirit that uses the entertainment industry as a tool to aid in the destruction of the moral fiber of whole nations was not finished when John Lennon met his demise. There would be one more “idol,” and his influence on generations of children would mold their minds into a state where no longer could they differentiate between that which was clearly manly and upright on the one hand and soundly feminine on the other. A whole confusion of spirit as to the intended orientation of God-created humanity would result.

“As the prepubescent frontboy of the Jackson 5, he sang in a cherubic mezzo-soprano of sexual longing he could not have fully felt. As a young man … he seemed to never fully inhabit himself—whoever that self was. In middle age, he consciously took on the role of Peter Pan … with what he seemed to believe was an ageless, androgynous physical appearance … thanks to straightened hair and plastic surgery. … He did his best to construct an alternative reality on top of what must have been an initially miserable life …” (Newsweek, op. cit.).

In essence, Jackson ultimately embodied elements of the two pop idols who preceded him, by marrying Elvis’s daughter and buying the Beatles’ catalog of songs. But as David Gates points out, Jackson was to descend even further down the slippery slope of decadence than Elvis and Lennon, becoming “the most sinister of superstars” (emphasis mine throughout). He was to eventually morph into what looked “like both a vampire and a mummy—Peter Pan’s undead evil twins.”

In its eulogy for Jackson, the Economist noted that “He told his biographer, Randy Taraborrelli, that he had ‘deep, dark secrets.’ They were encased in a voice as soft as a whisper, a handshake that felt like a cloud, a face as pale and delicate as plastic surgery and Porcelana skin-bleach could make it. Dark glasses and surgical masks kept the world away from him. … He shared his meals with a chimpanzee and his bed with young boys …” (July 2).

To a pre-baby boomer, that’s just plain weird!

Then again, I hail from a generation when men were, overwhelmingly, really men, and women really women, and very happy to be so! To appear as anything else, to in any way have the slightest doubt of one’s gender—or very humanness for that matter—would have then rendered one ostracized from society … for the good of society!

As to dining with a monkey? The great problem with presenting such a confusing image to the world, wrapped in the trappings of huge success as an entertainer, is the effect on the minds of the young. The Economist noted, “But he had sold 750 million albums and, from Riga to Rio, children danced like him.”

Yes, children all over the world danced like Michael Jackson—their idol. What effect does having such a confused individual as their “idol” have on young minds?

Believe it or not, it has a deep effect on the molding of a child’s mind, particularly influencing what it ultimately accepts as normal. It creates an impression in the mind that the perverse—going far beyond the bounds of acceptable norms—is acceptable behavior. It places the stamp of approval on social behavior that is way beyond the bounds set by generations of the past when a nation was great, a nation founded upon clear guidelines as to what is truly male and truly female behavior—true social standards.

The all-too-ready acceptance by parents of the “appeal” that outlandish behavior has on impressionable, immature minds clouds the judgment of adults when faced with a choice between permitting their children exposure to entertainment which is educational, uplifting and morally sound and that which is clearly perverse. In short, it creates confusion—and that points right to its source (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The upshot is we now have a generation in their 30s and 40s who, having grown up exposed to Jackson idolatry, their social standards shaped by such weirdness as portrayed in his top-selling Thriller album, make decisions at government and corporate level that affect multiple millions. The White House currently has in residence a president who has stated he grew up with Michael Jackson’s music and is happy he’s “being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people ….” “Still have all his stuff on my iPod,” the president said.

Herbert Armstrong was right: “This world is fast losing all sense—if it ever had any—of true social values. The lower the standard of social values, the more popular they become in a misguided and deceived humanity.”

It’s that loss of true social values, once reflected in Anglo-American society during the heights of its greatness, that now results in the leading lights of the gender-bending movements being entertained at the White House and at Number 10 Downing Street. It’s such a degenerative influence in society that leads the oldest political party in the world, the British Tories, to strongly endorse perverse lifestyles and even predict that one day they shall place one who embraces confusion of gender at the helm of the nation.

Most worrying of all to those who embrace the fundamental virtues upon which successful societies are built is the inference by a world leader that he will work to endorse historically anti-social behavior, “step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind.”

Trouble is, these days it takes a really enlightened mind to see such an insidious process for what it is and to deduce where it is ultimately leading.

Then when one does see it, comes the question, as asked by Herbert Armstrong in the article previously quoted, “What hope is there in such a world?”

It truly takes a mind enlightened by the Creator of mankind to provide the answer to that burning question. Herbert Armstrong gave the only patently true answer 30 years ago, upon the death of an earlier pop icon, in words that are even more appropriate today in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death.

Of that hope, Herbert Armstrong declared, there is just one. It’s time we all pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And put our hearts and energies in our prayers, as disciples, like this now dead “hero” put his into the raucous loud squawk and scream with the fast beat. The world can put real energy into the things of Satan. Can we put some real energy into our prayers?

How seriously do we really want God’s Kingdom to come? Let’s put some energy into our prayers for it!

August 28, 2009

God, The Failed Hypothesis?

1I recently ran across a book entitled: God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. It is the author’s conclusion, after examining the scientific data relating to every attribute, that the empirical scientific evidence is overwhelmingly against the existence of any being possessing any of them. In short, none of the standard attributes accepted by most believers as being true about their god can be salvaged in light of known facts about the universe. This, in turn, prevents any rational, reasonable, or justified belief in such a god from being salvaged.

Life, he says, was not designed, it evolved naturally. The universe was not created, it arose naturally. Morality was not divinely created, it evolved naturally. The universe was not fine-tuned, it’s just what we would expect to find.

As usual, this type of book rambles about on with a crude sense of cynicism, arrogance and hostility wrapped up in the cloak of science. I did not however find that the author knew much about theology, philosophy and history and found at least a dozen logical fallacies and false generalizations.

For example, the arguement that no indisputable evidence of God has been found in nature, therefore God must not exist is futile, since God is spiritual and cannot be seen by human eyes (Col. 1:15). God is everywhere in nature, since it is His creation. He says in Rom. 1:20:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

“The expression “his invisible things” refers to those things which cannot be perceived in an intellectual way, by the faculty of the understanding; things which may be known of him, though not discoverable by the eye. We judge of the objects around us by the senses, the sight, the touch, the ear, etc. Though we can’t judge God this way, we may come to the knowledge of him by, ‘his eternal power and Godhead, by means of the material universe which he has formed. The argument implies that is enough to leave mankind without any excuse for its ignorance.” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible).

So, the power of God is evident in invisible things, and yet clearly seen in creation. The workman is known by his work. The variety, multitude, order, beauty, harmony, different nature, and excellency of the things that are made, the direction of them to certain ends, and the concurrence of all the parts to the good and beauty of the whole,  abundantly prove a Creator and his eternal power and Godhead. The proof is not weakened because we don’t see the process of creation constantly going on. It is rather augmented by the fact that he sustains all things, and continually controls the vast masses of matter in the material world.

God has given us so much clear evidence of his existence and claims, that man is without excuse for his denial. We have all the modern discoveries of astronomy, and no one thing more proves the stupidity of people, than the sad forgetfulness of Him that made the heavens and the earth.

Is archaeological proof lacking?

The book also argues that no archaeological evidence exists of a certain Biblical person, place or thing, therefore he/she or it must be mythical. In other words, the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, and a lack of outside evidence places the Biblical account in doubt. This standard is far different from that applied to other ancient documents, even though many, if not most, have a religious element. They are considered to be accurate, unless there is evidence to show that they are not.

Contrarily, when archaeological findings show “supposed”proof of  “discrepancies,”  we find when these are examined in detail, it is found that the problems lie with misinterpretation of evidence, lack of evidence, or poor scholarship, and not with the Bible.

Although it is not possible to verify every incident in the Bible, the discoveries of archahaeology since the mid-1800s have certainly demonstrated the reliability and plausibility of the Bible narrative.

Here are some examples:

  • The discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970s has shown the Biblical writings concerning the Patriarchs to be viable. Documents written on clay tablets from around 2300 B.C. demonstrate that personal and place names in the Patriarchal accounts are genuine. The name “Canaan” was in use in Ebla, a name critics once said was not used at that time and was used incorrectly in the early chapters of the Bible. The word tehom (“the deep”) in Gen. 1:2 was said to be a late word demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. “Tehom” was part of the vocabulary at Ebla, in use some 800 years before Moses. Ancient customs reflected in the stories of the Patriarchs have also been found in clay tablets from Nuzi and Mari.
  • The Hittites were once thought to be a Biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey.
  • Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon’s wealth were greatly exaggerated. Recovered records from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon’s prosperity was entirely feasible.
  • It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Is. 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon’s palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Is. 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
  • Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzarr was Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make  Daniel “third highest ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position. Here we see the “eye-witness” nature of the Biblical record, as is so often brought out by the discoveries of archaeology.

Source: Christiananswers.net

The universally accepted nature of science is that it is always evolving, with old theories and hypothesis being revised or discarded in favour of new ones, on the basis of the latest evidence. Therefore scientists do not believe in absolute proof, because new evidence might turn up which alters an old model, theory or law.

However, the existence of God can be proven. It is evident in the power of His creation; it is evident through archaeological evidence; through records of accounts written even after the facts by enemies of Christ, by the Roman Catholic church; it is evident by faith; and certainly will be evident through eschatological verification – when Christ returns, or when we die – whichever comes first. We will then have conclusive proof.

I find it pitiful that evolutionists or atheists believe that religion is a mere superstition: irrational folk beliefs that arose from fear and the human need for meaning and control of our surroundings. Science and our ability to control our environment has supposedly made us the captain of our own fate – no need for God anymore. But our control is a mere illusion. God says:

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Pet. 1:24-25)

So you see, we have only a few years on this earth and then we die. Without God, we have no hope, no future, no reality. It is only the word of God which is truth (John 17:17), not the ego filled vanity of atheistic nonsense. If all we have is hope in the present life, we are indeed hopeless.

But God promises eternal life, and He (unlike man), cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). I’ll take that statement above the fables foisted upon man by evolutionary science. At least I know where I’m going.

August 27, 2009

Why Does God Get The Blame, But Never The Credit?

claimdynamics.com

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We live in a funny world. When things go wrong, God is to blame, but when they go right, we will not give due credit. Take for example the innocent deaths of children dying the world over: It must the fault of God, because he created us and now has deserted mankind, right?

Or what about when a devastating tornado or hurricane hits a small town and wipes it off the map, or the 9-11 disaster: “Where is He when we need Him,” is the oft repeated cry, or “it’s an act of God,” putting God in the position of being accused. Airlines also invoke God when weather causes flight delays or accidents – it’s not the fault of the airline – blame God.

Then there’s insurance policy clauses, contracts or wildfire’s, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. Some people scream at the heavens, or bury their head in their hands and cry, “Why, God?”  Others seek to cast blame, even for those things which are not of human origin.  In legal and insurance realms the reference is made to Acts of God, which may or may not be insurable. Someone’s got to be blamed, even if no fault is found!

Conversely though, when we find ourselves in a life threatening bind, a big financial constraint or when we are emotionally distressed, we invoke God’s name for help. At this time, we may have no other recourse – no one is watching so what harm can a small prayer do, right. If He exists, then perhaps he will help us, because we’re essentially good aren’t we?

Process theology to the rescue

Now comes the school of religious thought called process theology. These modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these tragedies, or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them, has vexed religious counselors for centuries. And well it may. Because people simply do not understand that question!

If God is all good, if God is love, he wouldn’t want humanity to suffer, would he? And if God is all powerful, as the Bible says he is, why doesn’t he stop suffering? Why doesn’t he prevent it?

The credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they contend, has grown weary of religious spokesmen trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things – and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, God is all powerful and he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called process theology in an attempt to explain this apparent paradox.  God, they say, is entirely loving, but is lacking in power.

They say nothing of the real purpose of life. They say nothing about the restoration of the kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

The Origin and Purpose of Life

But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering?

In all the religions of this world – the many different religions we call non-Christian, and even the religion of Christianity – not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is he a trinity? Is God one person? They just don’t understand.  Not one religion on earth fully knows what and why man is. Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any?

Notice what God says about all this in Isaiah chapter 40, beginning with verse 17:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?… It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers [that is to God]; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

“… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might [there it speaks of God’s might, his power], for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (verses 17, 22, 25-26).

The earth turns on its axis. The different seasons regularly come. It is the power of God that is causing all of that. And that is mighty power.

And God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind, but in form and likeness of God. There is a very special purpose for man on earth and when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today.

Notice, now, Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God [Lord there is the name of the one that became Christ] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul.”

Man Must Choose

The man that God created now had to make a choice.

Character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right as from wrong, of truth as from error, of good as from evil. To choose the right, or the good, and to reject the evil – even though he might want to do the evil – to have the will to do the good, that is character.

God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And He is reproducing that character in man. How is that divine character going to get into something made out of the ground? God placed a human spirit in the first man. That human spirit could have a relationship with God, who is spirit.

But God placed before that man two choices, symbolized by two trees in the garden of Eden. The one tree was the tree of life. How does God give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. The person that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are his (I John 5:11-12).

If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are “none of his” (Rom. 8:9, last part). And, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make immortal] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

God made us mortal, but he made us to become immortal. And God required that the man had to make a choice, because character had to be built in the man! Character is built through choice.

The other tree, the other choice before man, symbolized the way of man’s taking to himself – deciding altogether by himself – the knowledge of good and evil. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians 2:9 we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” – in other words, spiritual knowledge.

God reveals these things to us only by his Spirit. The Spirit of God reveals God’s knowledge – spiritual knowledge and spiritual character. But man decided to take the basis of that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error, by himself.

So, in punishment, God at that time closed up the tree of life. In other words, he shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

God had set out a 7,000-year plan and purpose in which to develop the godlike character in man, made from the dust of the ground. God’s purpose is to make us immortal like God, until we become God as he is God. That has got to come through human experience, but it has to come from God, with our consent, our desire, our decision and our wills.

I John 3:1-2 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [here is the fact that God loves us], that we should be called the sons of God [ultimately to be born of God, though now begotten of God; for God is reproducing himself, and we’re called the sons of God]:… now [even right now] are we the sons of God [but only begotten, not yet born], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in other words, what we shall be one can’t see yet]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Man is clay to be molded

The purpose of God is character building. That is why he made man of matter. We could be molded spiritually, in a body of earthly clay, into divine character. We read in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Even Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait [meaning in the grave], till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:14-15).

Job knew he was the work of God’s hands. We all are the clay. God is the potter. A potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants. Now God will – if we put ourselves in his hands, if we surrender to him, and to his will – take us and mold and shape us into the godlike character of love.

God is love. God will put his divine love in us, a love with which we were not born. It is a gift of God through his Holy Spirit.

We sow what we reap

Notice Isaiah 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!… Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?… ”

What about the theologians reasoning that today’s divided Christianity is God’s religion, that this is God’s world, and God isn’t powerful enough to stop all of evil?

God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said whatever we sow we shall reap. God has told his people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that. He told ancient Israel that. And Jesus Christ told us that. If we sin we will have to reap the consequences. God allows it. He allows suffering and the pain of sin for a good purpose.

God has given man a mind to think with. He gives man revealed knowledge in the Bible. Man can take that knowledge and learn to go God’s way. That is necessary for the development of character so we can become like God.

In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name [Jesus said], saying, [that] I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.”

How can they do that? Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They make the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition (verse 3).

The commandments of God are the right way to live; they reveal God’s way of life. Human beings have not kept the commandments of God. They have said, and many preachers are saying today, that the commandments of God are done away.

The commandments of God are the way of love, of love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God, the last six how to love your neighbor. That is the way God lives and the way Christ lived while on earth.

But in Jeremiah 50:6 God says that the shepherds, the ministers of this world, lead his people astray and deceive them. That is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the deceived theologians can’t seem to understand why God allows all this suffering from disobedience till we learn our ways are wrong.

God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves, and because we have failed to develop the kind of character needed to become his children, to be glorified, to be given the gift of eternal life so as to live in happiness and peace and joy. There’s no other way for peace.

Man has brought all this on himself, in defiance of God! Man has been shaking his fist at God, telling God he won’t obey God and going his own way, the way that has seemed right to a man. It’s all a matter of cause and effect. It’s the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God.

But God will show man whether he has power. God will finally deliver man from the evils of today’s civilization by his divine powers and establish his kingdom of peace over all the earth.

August 22, 2009

What Is God's Name?

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God’s name is important! We must not use it lightly or irreverently — but with a genuine sense of reverence and awe (Exodus 20:7). But what is the name of the heavenly Father? What is the name of His Son, our Savior, the Messiah? It is important that we know. For there is only one “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Must we, as some claim, use only Hebrew names when speaking of the Father and the Son? Is salvation based on the pronunciation of God’s name in a certain language, or on a certain set of sounds? Are we unwittingly transgressing the Third Commandment when we say “Jesus Christ,” “God” and “Lord” — because these are not Hebrew names? There is no need for confusion. Read on and understand!

Sacred names?

The notion that we must use only God’s Hebrew names is of no ancient origin. Actually, the Hebrew-names teaching had its beginnings less than 50 years ago, in the late 1930s. At that time, proponents of the idea began to claim that it is gross sin to say the name Jesus Christ, which is an anglicized spelling of the Greek words lesous and Christos. Likewise, they declared it a sin to utter the phrase God the Father, for the English word God was said to be linked etymologically with pagan worship.

The Deity’s name, they alleged, must be spoken only in Hebrew. This is an important prerequisite for entering God’s Kingdom, they claimed. These same few teach that the sacred personal name of our heavenly Father is Yahweh (or, in its contracted form, Yah) and that the name of His Son is Yahshua the Messiah. The word Elohim, too, must be used instead of our equivalent English word God. They declare that when we pray or speak about the Father and the Son, we must use only these Hebrew names. It is wrong, they say, to translate the names of the Deity into English or any other language. In other words, we may freely read and discuss the Bible as translated into the English language in all terms except the names of God or Jesus Christ. Then we must speak Hebrew. Using substitutes for the names Yahweh and Yahshua, we are told, could deny us salvation.

Are Hebrew names the only ones acceptable to God? Is He insulted by anything else?

The tetragrammaton

First, let’s examine the name Yahweh, said to be the personal name of the Heavenly Father. In Exodus 3:15, the Creator introduced His name — YHWH — to Moses. (In many English versions of the Bible, YHWH is translated as LORD, usually printed in capital letters.)

Unrealized by many, the text of the Old Testament consists of consonants, no vowels. The original Hebrew of the Creator’s name as written in the consonantal text of this verse is spelled simply YHWH, not Yahweh. YHWH is often referred to as the “tetragrammaton,” meaning the “four letters.”

The name YHWH is derived from a form of the Hebrew verb to be. It has the same meaning as the name I AM, mentioned in the previous verse (Exodus 3:14). Hebrew scholars say YHWH could mean “he exists” or “he causes to be.” The English equivalents of this word would be “the Ever-living” or “the Eternal.”

Though we cannot be absolutely certain what the missing vowels in YHWH should be, many scholars believe that YHWH was probably vocalized originally as Yahweh.

The Jews, thinking the name YHWH too sacred to be uttered, ceased to even pronounce it after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, it was considered unlawful and blasphemous to utter it. When a Jew reciting orally came to YHWH in a scripture, he substituted the word Adonai (a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or “Master”) instead. The name of God, in other words, was written YHWH, but pronounced Adonai.

But one thing is certain. The pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH was not “Jehovah.” This familiar but erroneous name is a comparatively recent invention, devised by Peter Galatin (the confessor of Pope Leo X) in 1520. Galatin interjected the vowels of the word Adonai (a-o-a) between the four sacred consonants YHWH, producing the hybrid monstrosity YaHoWaH, which later became “Jehovah” in some English Bibles. It is a totally artificial name, formed by adding alien vowels to the Tetragrammaton. It has no claim to legitimacy.

Yahshua is Yahweh!

The first point that must be made in answer to those well-intentioned but misguided advocates of “sacred names” concerns their labeling the Father Yahweh as distinct from His Son Yahshua (which means “Yahweh is salvation”). They claim YHWH is the Father, and that the Son later had to be revealed.

The truth is that the YHWH of the Old Testament is the very One who became Jesus or, in Hebrew, Yahshua! Yahshua, or Jesus, IS Yahweh!

Jesus was the Word (Greek, Logos, “spokesman”) who was with God the Father from the beginning (John 1:1). The Logos was the Creator — “All things were made through Him” (verse 3). That Logos — the Creator — later became flesh and dwelt among us (verse 14). He then declared the Father (verse 18), whom no man had heard or seen before (John 5:37).

Notice further: In Deuteronomy 32:3-4, we read that YHWH (translated “Lord” in many Bibles in verse 3) is “the Rock.” In I Corinthians 10:1-4, we discover that the Rock was none other than Christ. In John 8:58, Jesus reveals that He is the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. In Hosea 13:4, YHWH says there is no savior but Him. YHWH, then, clearly is Jesus (Acts 4:12)!

Jesus (or Yahshua) was the God of the Old Testament. He was YHWH. With this understanding, one of the major tenets of the sacred names doctrine falls flat! Now look, at another major error in this false teaching.

Evidence from Old Testament

Though the vast majority of the Old Testament was inspired in the Hebrew language, Daniel and Ezra wrote portions of their books in Aramaic or Syriac, the prevalent language spoken throughout the Persian Empire and elsewhere during their time. It had replaced Hebrew as the language of common speech of the Jews.

When these men of God referred to the Creator in those passages, did they use the old Hebrew names, or did they translate them into Aramaic?

Nowhere in the Aramaic passages do we find the names YHWH or Elohim. An examination of the manuscripts reveals that in dozens of places the writers rendered the Hebrew names for God into the Aramaic word Elah. And it is just as proper that the Hebrew El and Elohim should be translated into the English word God.

Moreover, it should be noted that the name El was in use among the pagan Canaanites long before Moses penned the Pentateuch. In the cuneiform religious tablets excavated at Ras Shamra (the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit in northern Syria), for example, El (El the Bull) is described as the head of the Canaanite pantheon, husband of Asherah and father of all the other gods. If it is a sin for us to use the English word God because pagan Druids used it to refer to their idols, then, by the same reasoning, it is also a sin to use the Hebrew words Elohim and El.

Also notice that the Hebrew word Elohim is used 240 times throughout the inspired Old Testament to refer to pagan, heathen idols (see Exodus 12:12, Deuteronomy 6:14 and Judges 11:24, for example). This usage shows that it is just as permissible to use the English word God today for both the Creator and for pagan idols.

Apostolic example

But what about the New Testament books? The original inspired language of the New Testament was Greek. Greek was virtually a universal language in the first century, widely understood by both Jews and gentiles.

Much of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul, the apostle sent to the Greek-speaking gentiles who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. When Paul wrote in Greek to Greek converts, did he pause in mid-sentence and switch from Greek to Hebrew to write Yahweh or Yahshua when faced with a sacred name? Never!

Paul invariably used the Greek words for “God” (theos) and “Lord” (kurios). And he used the Greek name Iesous (Jesus). And so did the other writers of New Testament books, as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. In 665 places in the New Testament, the apostles translated the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word kurios.

There is not one New Testament Greek manuscript with the names of the Deity written in Hebrew!

In the face of these clear facts, “sacred names” proponents have no choice but to deny the New Testament was originally written in Greek. They assert — wrongly — that the whole of the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic (some even say Hebrew), and only later translated into Greek. At the time of this alleged translation, they claim, the sacred Hebrew names were wrongly removed and pagan Greek names substituted. The burden of proof is on them. The evidence? There is none — for it is a totally false notion, devised out of necessity to justify a false premise!

The Aramaic version of the New Testament available today is clearly a later translation from the original inspired Greek. The only copies of the original New Testament writings that have been preserved are in Greek — none in Aramaic or Hebrew.

More proof

Jesus said He came to reveal and declare the name of the Father to men (John 17:6, 26). Yet where do we find any discussion of its pronunciation? Where did Jesus say that Hebrew is the only name we must use? If pronunciation is so all-important, why did Jesus never say so?

Another point: Jesus prophesied that “many [deceivers] will come in My name” (Matthew 24:5). If the only proper form of his name is Yahshua, then Jesus’ prophecy has utterly failed — and He is a false prophet! Have many come in the Hebrew name of Yahshua? No — hardly any. But many deceivers have come in the name of Jesus Christ, which Jesus in this verse clearly calls His name.

In other words, Jesus was saying that false churches would use the true name. Jesus obviously is not concerned with the language in which His name is spoken; it remains His name. There is power and authority in Jesus’ name — the only name by which we may be saved.

Consider further: In John 17:11, Jesus asked the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” As we trace the history of the true Church through the ages; what name do we find it using? “The Church of God,” or the equivalent name in the native language spoken by members of the Church at any particular time! We do not find through history the name “Church of Yahweh” or some other Hebrew form. Either it is acceptable to use the non-Hebrew word God — or the Father failed to answer Jesus’ request!

What’s in a name?

What does the word name really mean, anyway? In Bible usage, a “name” signifies much more than merely a set of vocal sounds. Names convey meaning. They are given for a purpose. “Abraham,” for example, means “father of many nations.” “Israel” means “prevailer with God.” And Yahweh means “the Eternal.”

One’s name summarizes one’s authority, power, reputation and character. It is not merely a certain set of sounds or vocal vibrations that is important, but the meaning and power behind the name.

God’s name has profound significance. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains many divine names (some in Hebrew), each descriptive of some aspect of God’s character. Among them is El Shaddai, “almighty God,” as in Genesis 17:1, and Eloheseba’ot, “God of hosts,” as in Amos 5:27. The meaning of each of them is infinitely more important than its mere sound in Hebrew. God’s character remains the same — whatever the language may be.

Moreover, you need to understand that Elohim (God) is a family name (Ephesians 3:14-15)! It has a plural ending — allowing for more than one member in the one divine Family. We may also bear that name — the very name of God! We may enter the God Family by a resurrection.

Performance, not pronunciation

Salvation is not based on pronunciation! Those who would worship the sound of a name — treating it with superstitious and mystical reverence — make an idol out of that sound. Thinking they have some gift of greater knowledge, they actually miss the whole point and intent of the Scriptures, and engender needless strife and division.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Performance, not pronunciation, is of paramount importance to God. We honor His name by obeying Him, not by mouthing a certain sound. Do not be misled by the naive and misguided “scholarship” of those who would make a “show of wisdom.” Their teachings are not substantiated by the Word of God, but are based on a multitude of woefully misapplied scriptures. Speaking the names of God in Hebrew is not a prerequisite for salvation.

Take reassurance from the statement of the apostle Peter, who declared, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ [Christos in the original Greek], blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:14).

Source: The Good News, January 1986

Christian Conduct: Good – But Good Enough?

Nobody’s perfect — but compared to the world around you, you must rate pretty high.

You don’t curse, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink too much. You are faithful to your mate and you are honest. You go to church regularly, you pray, you study the Bible and you try to put it into action. That has got to make you better than the average person. After all, many people today aren’t even trying to be good.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The apostle Paul warned that the end-time society would be a place of falling standards and collapsing values. “Know this,” he wrote, “that in the last days perilous times will come” (II Timothy 3:1-5). Paul warned that people would become more greedy and selfish. He predicted the brutality and mindless violence of our age, when people would love pleasure more than God, and when even those who were “religious” would not understand God’s truth. “From such people turn away!” he thundered.

If you are serious about serving God today, you must indeed turn away from this world before it collapses. But that is hard, and it is all too easy to relax and slip back into your old ways. And so the Bible tells those who are real Christians to examine themselves from time to time (and particularly during the Passover season) to see if they are indeed “in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

When you measure something, you compare it with an accepted standard — a weight, a ruler or perhaps a thermometer. Then you can know how heavy, how long or how hot it is. But how do you measure how good you are?

How good are you?

If you compare yourself with the standards of the world around you, you would probably pass with flying colors. But is that good enough? There is a serious flaw in such reasoning. Obviously this world’s standard of what is “good enough” is not reliable, but do you know why? It is not just because it is wrong. It is also variable — or, to be more specific, it is declining.

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Paul warned in II Timothy 3:13. He realized that the end-time world was not just going to be bad — it was going to get steadily worse.

Today crime is increasing, and violence and perversion are becoming commonplace. Young people are becoming ever more disillusioned and older people more frustrated. The world has its ways of hiding the truth from itself. Everyone wants to believe that things are getting better, and so more and more evil is tolerated. The unacceptable is made acceptable and the illegal becomes legal. What was once wrong is now accepted as “OK.”

But legislating away sin and squelching the penalty never solves problems. All it does is ensure that more people are going to be harmed.

Declining movie standards

The entertainment industry gives us a good example of how this society gradually tolerates more and more evil. Back in 1939, when Clark Gable used a rather mild (by today’s standards) expletive in the movie Gone With the Wind, audiences gasped. But that was only the beginning.

In 1968 the Motion Picture Association of America decided to regulate itself, adopting a set of standards by which new films could be rated. “G” meant the film was suitable for general audiences. “M” indicated that some of the material might not be suitable for children and that mature guidance was required. Then there was the “R” rating, signifying that children were restricted from seeing the movie unless accompanied by parents, while an “X” determined that no minors would be allowed to see the movie under any circumstances.

But did that action lead to more good films and less obscene rubbish? No — today half the films produced in the United States get an “R” rating, and many that now get a “PG” (which replaced “M”) would have been rated “R” back in 1968. A “PG-13” rating has now been added to indicate that a film is more violent or sexual in content than a “PG” movie, but not enough to earn an “R.”

Standards have dropped. What was unacceptable is now considered acceptable. Today you are probably allowing yourself to be entertained by movies with themes and language that would have appalled “good Christian folk” as little as 15 years ago. Explicit four-letter words and blasphemies glibly roll off the tongues of actors, even in “PG” movies. We barely notice them, and it takes a lot to make us gasp now.

So if you measure yourself by the rating standards of the world around you, you are kidding yourself. Even if your standard of righteousness is always better than the average, it doesn’t take a genius to see that soon “good people” are actually worse than the average had been only a little time before. Those who consider themselves “righteous” by society’s standards are kidding themselves.

A lesson from the Pharisees

That was exactly the situation into which Jesus Christ came nearly 2,000 years ago. The standards of “good behavior” in that society were set by the Pharisees, a sect of self-righteous religious leaders. By their standards, the Pharisees looked good. They prayed. They studied the Scriptures. They gave tithes and alms, and they fasted often. The average man in the street, seeing a Pharisee in action (and the Pharisees made sure they were seen) would have thought that they were indeed righteous people.

But Jesus saw right through them. He gave a parable that showed what He thought about these hypocrites:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Jesus showed that the goodness of the Pharisees, although seemingly better than average, was just not good enough. “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” He explained (Matthew 5:20).

Measuring accurately

Is there, then, a standard by which Christians can measure themselves? There is indeed. God’s law is a standard you can trust, a standard that never varies. With God there is right and there is wrong, and He commands us to do what is right.

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4), and God doesn’t grade sin. There are no “X,” “R” or “PG” transgressions. The penalty of sin always has been and always will be the same — death (Romans 6:23).

Now that is too strong for some, and there have been many attempts to liberalize or even do away with God’s law across the centuries. But God does not move His standards up and down to conform with changing times, or to agree with what some liberal theologian chooses to define as sin. He doesn’t alter His values to accommodate “progress” in a “more enlightened” world. He never condones sin. (He does, of course, forgive it, if we repent.)

Jesus summed up God’s standard in Matthew 5:48: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

In that case, perhaps we should just give up. Who can become perfect like the great God? But God is reasonable and understanding and does not hold out an impossible standard to thwart and frustrate us. He sets this standard to prevent His people, who are trying to stop sinning, from falling into the insidious trap of self-righteousness.

We must always remember that just reaching a better than average standard isn’t good enough.

By all means be encouraged if in your Christian life you are showing some progress. That progress should spur you on to keep going. But remember, you have not passed the test yet. God has a high standard.” He has promised to help you grow toward it — but not if you bog down into smug self-satisfaction. Don’t be fooled by the collapsing standards of a world that has lost sight of reality. You aren’t “good enough” yet.

The Good News, April 1986

August 21, 2009

How To Remember Scriptures!

Many have suffered needless frustration because of fruitless efforts to retain certain passages of Scripture in their memory. Perhaps you have tried and repeatedly failed to commit to memory important verses from our Maker’s Instruction Book.

On the other hand, the ability to remember chapter and verse and to dazzle others with this skill becomes a fetish with some! There are those who delight in “showing off” their capacity to quote from memory long sections of Scripture or even whole books of the Bible. Some might claim to have “the fastest Bible in the West” (or the East as the case may be!). On a moment’s notice these individuals will fire a rapid series of scriptural verses at their helpless victims, hoping to impress them with their spirituality.

Is this a proof of spiritual mindedness? Or is it rather merely evidence of great, toadishly swollen vanity?

Is Memorizing Word for Word Necessary?

Let’s be balanced! Let’s understand that salvation does not depend on one’s ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible! If it did, it is conceivable that none of the original apostles and authors of the New Testament would ever have qualified for the Kingdom of God!

Why? Because in the days of the twelve apostles and the writers of the New Testament, the Old Testament writings had not yet been divided into chapters and verses. In fact, it was not done until long after those men were all dead!

The sole exception to this was the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are actually songs. They were composed by a number of authors and originally intended to be set to music. Therefore it was necessary to divide them into chapters and verses for musical and poetical expediency. And as songs, of course, they were intended to be memorized. For ease of memorization the verses were sometimes arranged acrostically (alphabetically).

Now consider this fact: The New Testament authors quoted directly from the Psalms 116 times — yet in only one instance did they mention the chapter from which they were quoting! This one case is Acts 13:33: “…as it is also written in the second psalm…” The remaining quotes from the Psalms make no mention of either the chapter or the verse.

Other than those from the Psalms, the New Testament contains 167 more direct quotations from the Old Testament and, of course, no chapter or verse is referred to in a single instance. In some cases, when quoting from the Old Testament, the speaker or writer did not even mention the name of the person or the book he was citing. Take, for example, the time when Jesus Christ was being tempted by the devil. Jesus quoted directly from the Book of Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses, yet he did not even mention the author or the name of the book! Check that for yourself in Matthew 4:4, 7 and 10.

In other instances where the prophets of old are referred to, they are simply mentioned by name, but, of course, no verses or chapters are given. For some examples, read Matthew 2:17; 8:17; Luke 4:17.

The Bible was not divided into chapters until about 1250 A.D. when Cardinal Hugo composed a Latin concordance or index of the Scriptures. Over 300 years later, in 1560 A.D., the first Bible translation wholly divided into chapters and verses was produced in Geneva, Switzerland. It was known as The Geneva Bible.

It should be apparent, then, that the ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible like a human computer is not necessary, and is in some cases nothing more than sheer vanity! If, however, a person is gifted with an exceptional memory for scriptures, it is certainly to his advantage if he exercises his ability in right humility and for an honorable purpose. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an excellent memory!

It IS Important to Retain Knowledge

We are told to “grow in grace and in knowledge” (II Peter 3:18). As Christians, we should be continually increasing our knowledge of God’s Word. Peter also instructs us, “… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

Memory is therefore one of the important attributes that God has given to humans. For most people, however, remembering does not come easy. It seems many have difficulty retaining even the simplest things! Perhaps you have that difficulty.

If so, then you can take heart from this fact. Even though most of the Bible was not originally written with chapters and verses, the Bibles we use today are! And since they are, we can certainly take advantage of this valuable aspect of modern translations.

The present chapter and verse divisions do make it easier to locate the scriptures we need, and to do it in a systematic way without having to wade through whole books and sections of the Bible to find them. By increasing our memory of scripture locations, we can improve our overall knowledge of God’s Word and be better able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

We should stand in awe of the authority of the scriptures inspired by the great Creator of mankind! We should tremble before the Word of the living God! (Isa: 66:2.) We should fear to misuse, twist, or misquote the Bible! A fast, flippant answer, hastily given to “save face,” is often inaccurate and wrong! Therefore it is important that we come to really know our Bibles and develop the ability to use them correctly as Peter said.

Understanding More Important Than Rote Knowledge

It may be impressive to be able to “rattle off” dozens of scriptures from the Bible. But it is more impressive and vastly more profitable to have a good understanding of the Scriptures!

Of what value (spiritually speaking) is a man who has the capacity to cite from memory a large number of scriptures without understanding? An inexpensive concordance may be purchased for about eight dollars and likely contains a far greater list of scriptures than any man could normally memorize.

Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, recognized the transcendant importance of gaining understanding. He said, “… lift up your voice [pray] for understanding….” “… Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding.” He said we should “… get understanding” (Prov. 2:3; 3:13; and 4:5). There is a tremendous joy and a sense of exhilaration in realizing you have grasped and understood a spiritual principle for the first time!

Why is it so much more important to have understanding of the Scriptures than merely to be expert in locating and quoting them? Simply because the ability to cite verses and chapters from the Bible is merely a mechanical operation. But comprehending their meaning is a spiritual accomplishment! Read Romans 7:14 and I Corinthians 2:14 in connection with this.

Surely you can see that the important thing is to study for understanding, and not merely to memorize by rote!

Of course, it is also fine to want to increase your skill and ability in rapidly locating and citing scripture verses. And since it is, here are some pointers that will help you — if you practice them habitually — not only to understand, but also to be better able to recall verses of the Bible.

Get the Overview of the Bible

Many have failed to recall the location of certain scriptures because they have thought of God’s Word as a disjointed and disconnected collection of thousands of unrelated verses. Therefore, you should strive to see the Bible as an organized whole. Get the big picture! Learn the books of the Bible first and try to have a general idea of what they are about. Become familiar with the basic divisions of the Bible, the types of books, and the general subject of each book.

In order to get the overview of the Bible, you should at your earliest opportunity quickly read through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Studying just bits and pieces, here and there, will never enable you to grasp the broad picture — the panorama of the Bible.

To read the whole Bible through, you need to set up a program of Bible study. You should set aside a certain period of time each day to read perhaps five chapters. In order to be sure you don’t bog down, read rapidly to get the general idea of what each chapter is about. Don’t worry about little details. Skim more rapidly over genealogies and those areas where you may be tempted to lose interest.

As you read you’ll find the Bible coming alive with fascinating stories about the lives of godly men of old, gripping true exploits of Biblical heroes, and containing encouragement, exhortation, and valuable instruction in every part!

Study by Subject or Chapter

Many chapters in the Bible were made chapters because of a natural subject content. For example, I Corinthians 13 has been called the “love chapter” because it primarily deals with that subject. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 both discuss the Ten Commandments. Revelation 20, I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4 are concerned with the resurrection.

Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith” chapter. Psalm 51 is David’s psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 119 deals extensively with the Law of God. Isaiah 11 speaks in detail of the millennial reign of Christ. On and on I could go.

It is easier to remember the subject of an entire chapter than individual verses. But to really remember what is in entire chapters, you need to familiarize yourself with them by studying and poring over them. Doing this will help your overall ability to retain Bible knowledge! And when you do learn the overall content of some of these basic chapters, you will begin to more rapidly locate individual scriptures on the subjects covered in them.

Be Impressed With the Verses You Are Studying

If you were driving a nail into a board and you tapped very lightly on it with the hammer, it would not penetrate the wood very deeply. Your mind is the same way.

Our minds adequately retain for instant recall only those things that have left a deep impression on them. Unless you are sufficiently impressed with something the first time you hear or study it, chances are it will soon fade from memory. Therefore, you must allow the verses you are studying to make a deep mental impression!

If you merely read superficially over verses, simply skimming them, they will leave little or no impression! There is a proverbial saying to the effect that if you eat Chinese food, half an hour later you will wonder what you ate. If you study superficially, half an hour later you will wonder what you read!

It is imperative, therefore, that you dwell on and concentrate intensely on what you are studying! Let the words of the Creator sink deeply into the innermost recesses of your mind.

Associate What You Study with Real-Life Situations

Do not allow your Bible study to be merely academic or impractical. Relate what you are studying in the Bible to actual situations in this life. Relate it to history or future events in world affairs.

When you study prophecy (about one third of the Bible deals with prophecy) ask yourself, “Has this ever happened? Is it happening now? Or is it yet future?” Then, as you read the daily newspaper, and as things happen on the world scene, certain verses from the Bible will spring to mind!

When you study a section in the Book dealing with a law or some aspect of Christian conduct, ask yourself, “Am I obeying this? How can I perform this?” Then when you come up against a situation in daily life which involves that principle, the verse will come to mind.

If in your mind the Bible is relevant to life, both past and present, its verses will spring to LIFE! They will become living oracles which have a definite BEARING on human life in general — and yours in particular! This will make them much easier to retain and recall.

Meditate and Think on the Verses You Have Studied

The old cliché “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. After you have closed the Book, unless you continue to mentally digest its words, they will tend to fade from conscious thought. They will be crowded out by other things.

The example of King David of Israel applies in this case. He said, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my MEDITATION ALL THE DAY” (Psalm 119:97). David’s mind was perpetually on the things of God. Not to the exclusion of his responsibilities as administrator of the kingdom, but including those principles in his rulership as well.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). We are admonished by the Apostle Paul to think on (meditate on) the truth. (Phil. 4:8.) The more you do this, the more the verses and chapters of our Maker’s Instruction Book will become real “mind stickers”!

Drill Yourself in the Scriptures

To “drill” is to indulge in mental exercise aimed at perfecting facility and skill by regular practice.

Drilling yourself in the verses of the Bible is one of the finest ways of committing them to memory. Many have found the use of “flash cards” helpful in this respect. These can be made very simply by purchasing a supply of 3×5 index cards and writing or typing the scripture out in full on one side, and then the chapter and verse location on the other side. Use these cards for key scriptures you wish to recall.

Go through the cards regularly by reading the quote and then trying to recall its location by chapter and verse. Then turn the card over and check on yourself. You could reverse this process by reading the chapter and verse first and then trying to recall its wording. Since every translation varies, don’t necessarily try to memorize word for word, but just the key thought, subject, or point of the verse. This method will provide you with a helpful review of the scriptures and is a valuable means of aiding your memory.

Drill yourself also on the subjects of basic chapters such as those mentioned earlier in this article. You’ll find that repetition is indeed the best form of emphasis!

Ask God For Help

Jesus Christ promised His disciples: “But the Comforter (Greek paracletos — “one called alongside to help”) which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

God’s Spirit is intended to help and assist you in both understanding and recalling to mind the words of Jesus Christ. Utilize that help! ASK God to help you apply the principles in this article daily. Practice them and work on them faithfully. Develop right study habits and stand in awe of the words of the living God. As you continue to submit to God and respect His Word, He will help you in your efforts to study and retain scriptures.

But don’t become discouraged if you don’t become a “walking concordance.” Remember the ability to understand Scripture is vastly more valuable than the ability to merely quote it!

Source: The Good News, January-April 1971

August 19, 2009

Twelve Reasons Why Jesus' Trial Was Illegal

The trial of Jesus was without legal precedent. He was fraudulently convicted by the courts of His day. He was executed by crucifixion even though His judge found Him innocent!  Why?

It is time we understood what was behind Jesus’ crucifixion and learned the 12 outstanding reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

Atheists and agnostics today try to prove that Jesus was legally crucified. Here are surprising statements from a book entitled The Prosecution of Jesus, by Richard Wellington Husband.

Concerning the trial of Jesus, he charges on page 281: “The arrest was legal … The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal … The course of trial in the Roman court was legal … The conviction was legal, and was justified.”

The author, a lawyer, was undoubtedly sincere in his convictions. He was a professor of classical languages at Dartmouth College. Here is how Mr. Husband justifies his beliefs:

“The arrest” of Jesus “was legal, for it was conducted by the proper officers, acting under instructions from the Sanhedrin. There was no illegality in the circumstances under which the arrest was affected. The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal, for it was merely a preliminary hearing, and was not a formal trial. The course of trial in the Roman court was legal, for it harmonized with the procedure shown in the sources to be pursued by governors of provinces in hearing criminal cases.”

Pilate conducted himself as other judges did, contends Mr. Husband. That made it legal! It is a strange way of reasoning. Now here is Mr. Husband’s final conclusion:

“The conviction was legal, and was justified provided the evidence was sufficient to substantiate the charges, and the records,” he writes, “do not prove the contrary.”

Here a former professor in one of America’s leading colleges contends that there is insufficient evidence in the Bible to show that any reversal of Jesus’ conviction was justified. Here is a man who, if he had sat on the Sanhedrin, might have sincerely said, “He is guilty.”

The Jewish point of view

I have another book before me. It contains the traditional Jewish point of view. The book is entitled The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth. It is by Max Radin. He was a professor of law in the University of California. From page 229, I quote the following: “If he [Jesus] had said only a tithe (tenth) of the things credited to him it was enough to make an indictment.”

From page 109 of this same book, I quote the following about the trial of Jesus. Mr. Radin says there is “no clear statement of how the knowledge of the trial came to those who reported it.” Mr. Radin has been taught to believe that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John had any personal evidence because the trial was private, a secret affair.

What he does not discuss, of course, is the possibility that Jesus, who was condemned — the One who heard everything, who was there on trial — rose from the dead and told the disciples what occurred so that they could report it to us that we might know today.

But let us continue with Max Radin’s point of view. On page 231 you will discover the following statement as to what a trial in Judea was like in Jesus’ day:

“We are, most of us, familiar with the procedure of criminal investigations. The accused person is arrested, arraigned before a committing magistrate, specifically accused and formally tried. He may, and he generally does, appeal to a higher court, if he is convicted. All these things take time, and there is almost necessarily an interval of weeks and months between the later stages of the procedure. But above all, the procedure is strictly regulated by law, and any serious deviation is not merely an irregularity but will probably prevent punishment from being inflicted.”

Notice that most trials involving criminal procedure take weeks, if not months. Jesus’ trial was completed in less than nine hours after His arrest. And it was all done in private so that there would not be any witnesses who could testify on His behalf. How does Mr. Radin reconcile these conflicting sources of evidence?

On page 241, he reasons: “Mark’s version, even by his own testimony, cannot be more than a guess. Instead of a hurried night meeting, a harsh and brief interrogatory, a disregard of established rules of evidence and procedure, the trial may have been formally correct, and the judgment even from the point of view of an upright judge just though severe.”

Mr. Radin assumes that Mark was guessing. Then he assumes it could have been conducted in an entirely different manner. Yet the only extant sources of evidence for the trial come from the Bible. There is no other record to justify another point of view.

Limits on Jews’ authority

What legal authority did the Jews have to try Jesus?

“According to the common view,” reports Mr. Husband in his book, page 210, “the right to try capital cases,” that is, cases involving death penalties, “and even the right to pronounce sentences, still rested with the Sanhedrin, but the actual penalty could not be inflicted until the governor” — that is, the Roman governor, in this case Pilate — “had given his sanction.”

But this view is hardly true. The Jews not only had the power to try certain crimes, but they had the power to convict and the power to execute in all but cases of treason or sedition against Rome and Roman authority.

The assumption that Jesus’ opponents had no power to execute is incorrectly based on John 18:31-32. Here the Jews had said that, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Lifting it out of its context, critics have assumed that the Jewish nation had no lawful right whatsoever to put anyone to death. But this does not happen to be the case.

Have we forgotten how Stephen died? His enemies said, “He blasphemes,” and they stoned him to death. The Romans didn’t disapprove. When Jesus first preached His sermon the day of Pentecost in Nazareth, the Jews sought to stone Him to death. If it were illegal, they wouldn’t have tried it. The Romans would have pounced on them.

The elders of the nation on one occasion brought to Jesus a woman who was committing adultery. They said: “Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

If they had no right to stone any to death, Jesus could have said simply, “Don’t you know under what law you are living?” And what would they have felt like before the Romans if that would have reached Pilate’s ears? But Jesus didn’t say any such thing. Jesus accepted the fact that the right to execute adulteresses and other criminals existed. He told the guiltless to cast the first stone.

Paul was stoned in Asia. Not only in Judea, but in other areas of the Roman world, wherever the Jews were settled, it is plain the Jews had the legal right to execute the penalty of their law. The Romans allowed it. But why did the Jews make the statement that we find recorded in John 18:31-32?

Here is the answer: “From the earliest period the Roman governor took cognizance of all matters that had any relation to the public security or the majesty of the Empire. Consequently there was no time at which the Roman magistrate would not step in when a charge of treason was made, or a seditious movement begun. The case against Jesus is one especially in point, for the charge against him [treason] could under no circumstances be tried by any tribunal except that of the governor.”

Only when it came to treason, civil disobedience, incitement to revolution or attacks against the majesty, that is, Caesar, did the Roman government decide that it was proper that its governors or representatives should intervene. Otherwise, all local administration was carried on by the people and the regular, constituted courts of the conquered nations, of the provinces or of the allies of Rome.

The opponents of Jesus accused Him of blasphemy. But they did not want to execute Him. So they charged Him with treason before the Romans.  What the religious leaders had to do was create charges of treason against Jesus in order to bring it up to Pilate so that they would not be responsible for His death.

Summary of events

After the last supper on Passover, Jesus went out and prayed. Then Judas came with a mob. Accompanying that mob were the high priest, the judges and jury, inciting the mob as they went out to arrest Him.

After Jesus was arrested, Annas examined Him alone. He was ex-high priest.

They next took Him to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, before sunrise while it was yet night, where He was informally condemned. After sunrise, the Sanhedrin quickly condemned Him formally to make legal their previous conduct.

Then they took Him to Pilate on different charges. Pilate wanted to wash his hands of the whole affair. When Pilate found Jesus was of Galilee, he sent Him to Herod. After Herod saw Jesus and could not get anything but silence from Him, Herod decided to let Him go back to Pilate. Then, at the second time before Pilate, the Roman governor, under pressure, gave sentence — even against his own will.

These are the six steps through which Jesus went from after midnight to nearly 9 o’clock. And at 9 o’clock He was crucified. At 3 o’clock that afternoon, He was speared in the side and killed (Matt. 27:49, Moffatt). Shortly before sunset, He was carried to the tomb. That’s how quickly the world got rid of the Savior!

Judas’ betrayal

“Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. Then he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:3-6).

Judas’ treachery developed as a result of Jesus’ rebuke for having condemned the woman who anointed Him with oil. Judas had said to Jesus, “Why didn’t you give that to the poor?” Judas wanted that money himself. He would have taken the oil, gone out and sold it, then claimed he gave it to the poor and pocketed the money. That is what he wanted to do, for he was a thief (John 12:1-8).

So he went to the chief priests and the captains, who bribed him to deliver Jesus in the absence of the crowds who listened to Jesus. The idea was to have Jesus seized privately, so the public, especially the Galileans, would not know until it was over. The plan was to get Jesus at night, try Him at night, sentence Him just after sunrise, to make it look legal, take Him to Pilate, incite a mob to get Pilate to condemn Him, have Him crucified, if possible, in the morning, before those favoring Him would be about.

Who made up the mob that arrested Jesus? The answer to this question brings us to the first error in Jesus’ conviction. We should now examine, point by point, the 12 primary reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

First reason

The principle on which any trial may be considered illegal is that it is prejudicial against the man who is tried — that it does not allow him to have full recourse to law so that he might present his part of the case.

Now notice the steps in Jesus’ arrest, trial and conviction. The first point is that Jesus was arrested illegally.

Consider John 18:2-8: “And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place” — where Jesus was that night — “for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore … went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him [by a kiss], also stood with them. Then — when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ — they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ ”

Now continue with Luke 22:52: “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?’ ”

Those who went to have Christ arrested included the priests and elders — His judges! Among them were the very ones who bribed Judas!

Jesus was arrested secretly, by night. He was not arrested on the formal charge of any crime. There was no charge presented here. There was no warrant for His arrest, no statement of what He had done. They just simply took Him.

Contrary to what Mr. Husband said in his book, The Prosecution of Jesus, there was no legal basis on which Jesus was arrested. Nobody had presented testimony or evidence of guilt to the Sanhedrin whereby they could have requested His arrest.

Here is what Jewish law declares. Mendelsohn says in his Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 274: “The testimony of an accomplice,” that is, Judas, “is not permissible by Rabbinic law … and no man’s life, nor his liberty, nor his reputation can be endangered by the malice of one who has confessed himself a criminal.”

The very fact that Judas took a bribe from the judges was certainly proof that Judas was guilty of a criminal offense.

Second reason

The first step in Jesus’ trial was a preliminary examination in a private night proceeding before Annas (John 18:12-14, 19-23).

Notice the Jewish law on this point from Dupin’s book, Jesus Devant Caiaphe et Pilate (a French work): “Now the Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.”

Salvador in his Institutions de Moise, pages 365-366, declares, “An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination.” Yet Jesus was.

According to the law, as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Sanhedrin sat from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice. And Lemann says in his book, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, page 109, “No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice.” No night meetings were permitted.

The law permitted such an investigation only upon daylight.

Third reason

The indictment against Jesus was itself false and therefore illegal.

According to the law of the Jews, declares Edersheim in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume I, page 309: “The Sanhedrin did not, and could not, originate charges.” But in Jesus’ case, it did.

Here was the proper procedure, as stated by Innes in his book, The Trial of Jesus Christ, page 41: “The evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. There was no other charge; no more formal indictment.” In Jesus’ case there at first had been no witnesses presented. Opponents simply arrested and started to accuse Him.

Continuing: “Until they [the witnesses] spoke, and spoke in the public assembly, the prisoner was scarcely an accused man. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed a legal charge, libel or indictment, as well as the evidence for its truth.”

Next consider that Mendelsohn writes, page 110: “The only prosecutors known to Talmudic criminal jurisprudence are the witnesses to the crime. Their duty is to bring the matter to the cognizance of the court, and to bear witness against the criminal” — after he is arrested. “In capital cases, they are the legal executioners also. Of an official accuser or prosecutor there is nowhere any trace in the laws of the ancient Hebrews.”

In the case of Jesus there were no witnesses who presented their evidence to the court. The court took it upon itself to secretly arrest Jesus; then they had to find false witnesses.

Fourth reason

The Sanhedrin court illegally proceeded to hold its trial of Jesus before sunrise.

Notice that the preliminary investigation before Annas brought forth no evidence whatsoever. Instead of dismissing the case they proceeded to hold an illegal court.

Why was it illegal? Mendelsohn states: “Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during day time only, and by the Lesser Sanhedrins from the close of the morning service till noon, and by the Great Sanhedrin till evening” (page 112).

The trial of Jesus was begun at night in the hours of early morning, without any witnesses to defend Jesus.

Here is what Maimonides writes in Sanhedrin III: “The reason why the trial of a capital offence could not be held at night is because … the examination of such a charge is like the diagnosing of a wound — in either case a more thorough and searching examination can be made by daylight.”

The Mishna says, Sanhedrin IV, 1: “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend it at night.” Once more the opponents of Jesus violated their law in order to rid themselves of Jesus and His teachings.

Fifth reason

In the case of Jesus, the Sanhedrin was illegally convened to try a capital offense on a day before an annual Sabbath.

Notice why: “They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on any festival,” says the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, I.

In Wise’s Martyrdom of Jesus, page 67, we read the following conclusive — and shocking — evidence: “No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or on any of the seven biblical Holy Days. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any Holy Day, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than overnight, or to continue them on the Sabbath or Holy Day.”

The opponents of Jesus even violated their law by arresting Jesus on the day before an annual Sabbath. They arrested Him at the beginning of Wednesday in A.D. 31; the first annual Sabbath that year was Thursday.

Sixth reason

The trial of Jesus was illegal because it was concluded in one day.

We read from Jewish law: “A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 1).

This was to allow sufficient opportunity for any witnesses in support of the accused to present themselves.

The court did not want to allow Jesus this opportunity.

Seventh reason

The indictment against Jesus was false and its use illegal because it was founded upon Jesus’ uncorroborated statement. The court pronounced sentence on Jesus with no supporting evidence whatever.

Consider: The only evidence presented by witnesses to the court was given by two false witnesses. But their testimony was not even used by the court in sentencing Jesus to death. Here is what happened:

Two false witnesses testified that Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

The Jews used this belated statement as an indictment against Jesus. But this piece of evidence was not what Jesus said. He never said the words that is made with hands. Jesus was not referring to the physical Temple of Herod erected by human hands, but to His body (John 2:19, 21), which would be raised in three days.

Then “the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God’ ” (Matt. 26:62-63).

The question the high priest asked Jesus had nothing to do with the indictment! Jesus was indicted on the false charge that He would destroy the physical Temple and rebuild it in three days’ time. But the court condemned Him on another matter altogether.

Notice the facts. They asked: ” ‘Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’

Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?’

They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death’ ” (verses 63-66).

Jesus was indicted on one charge, tried on another and condemned on His own testimony.

Jesus was not condemned because He said, “Within three days I will build this temple.” He was immediately condemned on the charge of blasphemy.

Here is what the Jewish scholar Maimonides wrote in his book: “We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence, that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 2).

Jesus was condemned on His own testimony, even though His testimony was not proved blasphemous. The court didn’t even examine Him according to the law to see whether His statement was blasphemy. They only demanded, “Are you the Son of God?” And He responded: “You’re going to see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Was this blasphemy? Of course not! Jesus did not even refer directly to Himself. He merely said: “the son of man.” The court did not seek to prove who the “son of man” was.

They knew, of course, that Jesus meant Himself. For all through His ministry, they came and purred in front of Him, and asked: ” ‘How long do you keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe.’ ”

But as soon as Jesus even gave an indirect statement at the trial, they did not doubt whom He meant by “son of man.” On this testimony Jesus was condemned despite the scripture in Psalm 110. Even Mr. Radin admits that Jesus’ testimony was not blasphemy. On pages 248 and 249 he says:

“The ‘blasphemy’ which the Pentateuch mentions is a literal cursing of God or a direct defiance of him. The only pentateuchal reference makes this clear. It is in Leviticus, chapter 24, and the incident which gave rise to the statute indicates the character of the offense of blasphemy in Jewish law. The half-Egyptian had cursed God — the Israelitish God — as under the circumstances of the quarrel there described, he would have been likely enough to do. No such thing could have been charged against Jesus by his most inveterate enemies.”

Yet the religious leaders did this very thing! Now consider another violation of law in extracting this testimony from Jesus:

“No attempt is ever made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his [the defendant’s] part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 133).

Eighth reason

The condemnation of Jesus was illegal because the merits of the defense were not considered. When they heard Jesus’ statement, the high priest shouted, “He has spoken blasphemy!” But the law in Deuteronomy 13:14 says, “Then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.”

The law in the Mishna says, “The judges shall weigh the matter in the sincerity of their conscience” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 5).

Ninth reason

The condemnation of Jesus by part of the Sanhedrin was illegal because those who would have voted against the condemnation of Jesus were not there.

Notice what took place at Jesus’ trial before dawn, according to Mark 14:64: ” ‘You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be worthy of death.”

It was unanimous. There was no investigation, no examination to see if He did or did not blaspheme. They just used His testimony against Him without further investigation. They all did it immediately, instantaneously, simultaneously. It was mob spirit that condemned Jesus!

Here is what Mendelsohn states of such a procedure: “A simultaneous and unanimous verdict of guilt rendered on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal.”

The verdict against Jesus was simultaneous and unanimous, although the law required at least one of the council to serve as a defense counsel.

The proper method of voting was to have “the judges each in his turn absolve or condemn” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” XV, 5). “The members of the Sanhedrin were seated in the form of a semicircle at the extremity of which a secretary was placed, whose business it was to record the votes. One of these secretaries recorded the votes in favor of the accused, the other against him,” states the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 3.

“In ordinary cases the judges voted according to seniority, the oldest commencing; in a capital case, the reverse order was followed. That the younger members of the Sanhedrin should not be influenced by the views or the arguments of their more mature, more experienced colleagues, the junior judge was in these cases always the first to pronounce for or against conviction,” says Benny, in Criminal Code of the Jews, pp. 73-74.

Furthermore, the high priest rent or tore his clothes at the trial (Mark 14:63, Matt. 26:65). In Leviticus 21:10 the high priest is forbidden to do so: “And he who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes.” See also Leviticus 10:6. He tore his outer garment to stir up emotion, to prejudice others.

The high priest should have remained calm so that no mistake in judgment would be made. In Jesus’ trial none of these requirements were followed.

Let Wise’s book, Martyrdom of Jesus, page 74, explain the law on this point:

“If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e., all pronounce him guilty, having not defender in the court, the verdict guilty was invalid and sentence of death could not be executed.”

Jesus was condemned contrary to the law! Now notice which members of the Sanhedrin were missing during the trial.

Take the case of Joseph of Arimathaea. After Jesus was crucified, we read from Luke 23:50-51, Authorized Version, “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just.” The word counsellor is admitted by all hands to represent a member of the Sanhedrin. “The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them” — and neither had Nicodemus.

In Mark’s account we learn that all those present condemned Jesus instantaneously and unanimously.

But since the night meeting was illegal, Joseph of Arimathaea was not present. The opponents of Jesus wanted to make sure he could not defend Jesus. Think of the utter lack of any fairness in this trial!

Tenth reason

The sentence against Jesus was pronounced in a place forbidden by law.

After the mob seized Christ, they led Him away, after having been at Annas’, and brought Him into the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. The trial of Jesus wasn’t held in court! Read Luke 22:54: “Then, having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house.”

The court building wasn’t legally to be opened until after sunrise.

According to the law, “A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds its sessions in the appointed place,” says Maimonides, in his book, Section XIV.

The Talmud says, “After leaving the hall Gazith [the court] no sentence of death can be passed upon anyone soever” (From Bab. Talmud, “Abodah Tarath” or “Of Idolatry,” ch. 1, fol. 8).

A sentence of death may be passed only in a legal court, not in some private home, as occurred in Jesus’ case.

Eleventh reason

Most Sanhedrin members themselves were legally disqualified to try Jesus.

According to Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, page 182, “The robe of the unfairly elected judge is to be respected not more than the blanket of the ass.”

Some of the judges were elected unfairly. We have the names from the Bible and from Josephus of most of the men who were on the Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus.

Such men as Caiaphas, Eleazar, Jonathon, Theophilus, Mathias, Ishmael, Simon, John, Alexander, Ananias and many others were, according to Josephus, recipients of bribes and appointed by members of the family who themselves had no right to sit on it, bought their offices and were disrespected by their people.

There were 12 ex-high priests living at this one time, all part of the Sanhedrin. The Bible expressly requires a man to be high priest throughout his lifetime, at the end of which another took his place. But under the Romans, high priests could be voted into office year by year.

The whole official arrangement — the whole choice of offices — was wrong.

But there was another reason that disqualified almost all Jesus’ judges. It is this: “Nor must there be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser,” writes Mendelsohn, page 108.

Many of the judges were Jesus’ enemies. They even paid bribe money to betray Him.

In Benny’s work, Criminal Code of the Jews, page 37, this surprising statement is found: “Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused person permitted to occupy a position among his judges.”

Everybody knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees were at outs with Jesus. Yet they were permitted to try Him.

Twelfth reason

The court illegally switched the charges against Jesus from blasphemy to sedition and treason before Pilate. Observe how it was done!

The next step in Jesus’ trial was to take Him to the legal court for a mock, private trial at sunrise.

“As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council” — now that they had already condemned Him of blasphemy, they were going to take Him to court for a mock trial! — “saying, ‘If You are the Christ, tell us.’ ”

Notice that they repeated the same questions over again.

“But He [Jesus] said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.’ ”

They had to make this trial look legal.

So “they all said ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ And He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’ And they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.’ Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate” (Luke 22:66-71, 23:1).

This meeting probably didn’t last any more than a few minutes! Now their trial, which was illegally conducted in the private home of Caiaphas, was outwardly legalized.

But instead of taking Jesus out to be stoned for blasphemy, they switched the charges after the court was dismissed!

They took Him to Pilate, and here is what we read in John 18:28-31:

“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium [hall of judgment], and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’ Then Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and judge Him according to your law.’ ”

Pilate was difficult to convince. He didn’t want to be bothered at this hour in the morning. But the enemies of Jesus replied, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Why wasn’t it lawful? Let Luke give the surprising answer:

“And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2).

Notice that the Jews did not charge Jesus with blasphemy. Had they done so, Pilate would have told the Jews not to bother him, but to deal with Jesus according to their own law by stoning. The religious leaders were afraid of their own people! So they trumped up other and new charges against Jesus before Pilate.

Pilate now had reason to be surprised. The only cases for which the Jews could not try a man involved sedition or treason.

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself on this, or did others tell you this about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew?’ ” He didn’t like the Jews, did he? ” ‘Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ ”

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants [the disciples] would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’ — not of this time, not of this world order.

“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ ” Jesus chose not to answer that.

Pilate finds Jesus innocent

“And when he had said this, he [Pilate] went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all’ ” (John 18:33-38).

When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he told the Jews to take Him to Herod: “And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time” for the Passover (Luke 23:7).

After an interview with Jesus, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. To frighten the Roman governor, the opponents of Jesus stirred up the mob outside.

Pilate began to see that there was trouble brewing. He had a mob on his hands. This was trial by mob rule! So Pilate took Jesus, terribly scourged Him, let the soldiers plait on Him a crown of thorns and array Him in purple.

Pilate brought Jesus out again and shouted to the mob: ” ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him… when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.’ ”

The opponents answered and said, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die” — and now for the first time they reveal to Pilate why they condemned Him — “because He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:4-7). They were getting very angry.

Pilate became frightened. He didn’t want to have anything happen for which he would be held responsible by the Roman gods. Upon this, Pilate definitely sought to release Him (John 19:12), for there were no witnesses whatever in this trial before Pilate. The mob had commenced accusing Jesus without proof, without witnesses, without testimony.

Then the ignorant mob cried out: “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” They were threatening Pilate with loss of his office.

Matthew 27:24-26 picks the story up:

“When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’ ”

The ignorant mob responded: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

What they were really saying is: “You execute Him. We don’t want to stone Him; we want you to execute Him.”

Then Pilate “scourged Jesus, [and] he delivered Him to be crucified.” The purpose of scourging was to prepare a criminal for death.

But notice — Pilate did not even give a formal decision against Jesus Christ. He just turned Him over to the soldiers to do what the mob wanted.

Jesus was crucified, though found innocent by Pilate

That is where the trial of Jesus abruptly broke off. No justice here! An innocent man condemned by mob violence! The dastardly act of crucifixion followed. Yet some today would still falsely claim, in the face of all this evidence, that Jesus’ trial was legal, and His crucifixion justified.

Most of us have not really examined the trial of Jesus before. Just look at this trial. What a mockery of justice it was! Can you imagine what it would be like if you had been on trial, to be spitefully treated as these thrill-seeking soldiers treated Jesus? What consideration, what fairness would have been given you?

All this suffering Jesus endured to pay the penalty of sin for you! Yet not you only, but to pay the penalty of the sin of the whole world. It is time you personally were made to look at the last hours of Jesus in mortal flesh to see what a miscarriage of justice led up to the crucifixion — what a mockery was made of trial — and to understand the reasons why the conviction of Jesus was an utter fraud — all voluntarily endured by Christ to pay the penalty of your sin in your stead!

Source: The Good News, February 1983

Your Faith: It May Be The Death Of You!

MILLIONS of people already claim to believe in Jesus. Hundreds of thousands more in all parts of the world will “receive Christ” this year — or rather, they will think that they have received Christ.

They will, as they say, “give their hearts to the Lord,” and believe that they are at last saved. And they will be wrong!

It may come as a shock, but the gospel that is commonly preached today is not the same message that Jesus brought nearly 2,000 years ago. He was not then — and he is not now — trying to convert the world. Neither is he trying to get people to “accept him,” “believe in him” or “receive him” before it is too late.

This is a deceived world. Deceived people are sincere. They don’t know they are deceived. If they did know, they would not be deceived! It is because many are deceived that we read of those who have a “zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

“Not According to Knowledge”

That statement is as true today as it was when the apostle Paul wrote it more than 1,900 years ago. You’ll see ample evidence of it just by looking at the religious book department of nearly any bookshop. Never before have so many Bible translations, Bible helps, Bible dictionaries, Bible atlases, concordances and commentaries been available. But the world is as confused as ever.

Many new translations of the Scriptures have been published. They have been painstakingly executed by scholars with a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages.

The faithful Authorized King James Version, with its “thees” and “thous” and “verilys,” has been somewhat cumbersome for many.  These modern versions are rendered in modern English, with contemporary grammar and punctuation. They have corrected, in general, the few translation errors that crept into the older versions, and overall, they are useful tools for Bible study.

But although they have solved certain translation problems, they have unfortunately created some new ones. You need to know about one of them in particular. It is not a case of the translators misunderstanding the original word, as sometimes happened in the Authorized Version. Rather, they seem to have misunderstood what was meant by what was written, or worse, eliminated references to some words, while inserting others to conform to wide held, though erroneous beliefs.

The Problem of Translation

You see, translation — any translation — is to some extent an interpretation. Language is not just words — it is also thoughts. Translation is not just a case of swapping words — the translator’s job is to convey the thoughts expressed by one language into another.

Bible translation is particularly complex. The structure of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages is different from modern West European languages. It can therefore be difficult to render the exact thought and nuance of expression of the ancient Scriptures into modern languages. There are some places where modern theologians and scholars have made a significant error in their rendering into modern English some verses in the epistles of Paul.

“In” or “Of”?

When Paul discussed the subject of faith and its relationship to salvation, he frequently used the Greek expression “pistis Christou.” In the Authorized Version, this was translated “faith of Christ.” Most modern versions, however, change this to “faith in Christ.”

Grammatically, it is an arguable point, since the original Greek does not use either of the prepositions in or of. The grammatical sense is derived rather from the ending of the words themselves. However, in English, a preposition is needed. It should not surprise us that the translators of the modern versions preferred in to of. It seemed to them to make more sense, since the focus of modern Christian belief is a gospel about Christ, accepting him and believing in him.

From that point of view, it was presumably felt that “pistis Christou” could adequately be rendered “faith in Christ.” Consequently, the expression and thus the thought, “faith of Christ,” does not appear in these modern versions, as it did in the older Authorized Version.

What difference does it make? It makes all the difference in the world — the difference between being a real Christian, and thinking you are one.

Preposition Changes Meaning

Remember that old expression “For the want of a nail the battle was lost”? It could also be said of these new translations, “For the want of a preposition, a life could be lost.” Perhaps I can demonstrate the difference it makes by this analogy.

Suppose your wristwatch breaks. You take it to a reputable watchmaker, whom you know you can trust, and you ask him to repair it. You leave your watch with him, in complete confidence that he will return it to you in good working order.

You have, in other words, complete faith in that watchmaker. He has learned how to repair watches, and he will do it for you.

This, in effect, is how many people are taught to look to Jesus Christ. They trust in him, and believe that his love, his goodness, and his mercy and holiness will save them when the time comes. But that kind of faith — however sincere — is not enough to save you.

But supposing, when you took your broken watch to be repaired, this happened:

The watchmaker agrees that your watch is broken. But he says, “If I just repair this for you, you have learned nothing. I know how to repair watches, but it is important that you learn something about it, too. We will repair it together.

“I will do a part of the work, the part you cannot do by yourself, and I’ll show you how to do what you must learn to do.”

Now the situation is different. No longer do you just need faith in the watchmaker’s skill — you are going to need some of his skill as well.

It is the same with faith in and of Christ. Of course, we must have faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter, speaking to the crowds in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, urged them to believe that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).

Many believed Peter, and asked, “What shall we do?” (verse 37, Authorized Version). “Repent, and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ,” replied Peter, “for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].”

So far so good. As a result of having faith in Christ, many today are told to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Then they think they are saved. But there is more to it than that.

After Baptism — What Then?

Many scriptures show what you do after you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice will determine whether you will be ultimately saved.

Let’s now take a close look at some of these scriptures that have been mistranslated in the generally excellent new translations and see exactly what it was that the apostle Paul taught. Then you will understand why the phrase “faith of Christ” carries the right choice of preposition when rendering these verses into English.

First, Romans 3:22. This verse is breaking into the middle of a thought. We should go back two or three verses to pick up the thread of Paul’s discussion. The church at Rome in Paul’s day was a mixture of different ethnic groups, and there was a controversy among them.

The Jews thought that they were superior to others since they had had the law of God delivered to them. The non-Jews on their part were critical of the Jews for not keeping that law. Note that the discussion did not center around whether or not the law should be kept, but rather, how it could be kept.

Paul’s epistle put everything in perspective. He showed that a Christian must quit sinning. Breaking God’s law is sin (Rom. 3:20, and see also I John 3:4). Paul pointed out that all — Jews and gentiles — had broken the law. Nobody (except Jesus Christ) ever lived a life without sinning in some way. Therefore, no one could consider himself justified — guiltless and worthy of salvation — as a result of his conduct. Let’s pick up the story in verse 21.

The New International Version explains it rather well. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law [apart from human “righteousness”], has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify” (Rom. 3:21, New International Version throughout, except where noted).

In other words, there is a way to come up to God’s standard of righteousness (the Ten Commandments) apart from the impossible task of trying to keep the law perfectly through your own strength or your own faith. How can you do it?

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in [should be translated of] Christ to all who believe” (verse 22).

Do you see what a difference the preposition makes?

Having repented of your past sins, you can’t continue to sin. Paul makes that very clear in Romans 6:1-2, in any version or translation. You are to live a new life free of sin (Rom. 6:4). But how, if you can’t keep the law by your own strength or your own faith? The answer is you have to have an added faith. But from whom, and what kind of faith?

Since you can never be justified by your own unaided attempt to keep God’s law or attain his righteousness, if you have believed in Jesus Christ you have a new way to become righteous. Instead of relying on your own strength, you can ask God for the help to become righteous (i.e., to obey the law). God has promised to develop in you the same faith that Jesus had — the faith of Jesus Christ!

This is an important point. If you look up the word faith in a dictionary, you will find it says something like this: “confidence, trust or belief in the promises or statements of another.”

Everyone has some faith — although it varies from individual to individual. Some find it easy to believe — others, perhaps because of previous letdowns and betrayal, find it hard to put “confidence, trust or belief” in anyone or anything.

But even the most faithful are not faith-full enough by their own strength or their own faith to save themselves from sinning in the future. Look at Ephesians 2:8. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves …. ” How then?

Continuing in Ephesians 2:8, … it is the gift of God.”

Here is then a level of faith that goes far beyond the “confidence, trust or belief” that your human mind must first exercise in having faith in Christ to forgive your guilty past.

This new, higher level of faith is the gift that God gives, through the Holy Spirit, which one receives through the laying on of hands after baptism.

Jesus had that kind of faith. And because he did he had total trust, confidence and belief in God. Thus he was able to live a life that was blameless. Jesus never sinned. He was often tempted, but he always resisted. He knew how to get the strength he needed to reinforce his own inadequate human strength.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death …” (Heb. 5:7).

Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven for the strength to resist sin. And such was the relationship of trust, love and confidence between Jesus and his Father, that he always received that help.

Jesus Christ and the Father had lived in harmony for an eternity before Jesus came to earth as the Son of God. He had no doubts that what his Father promised, he was able also to perform (see Romans 4:21).

That is the kind of faith that we must have if we are to receive our eternal reward. God expects us, if we are his sons and daughters, to live as Jesus did.

Jesus set the example. His life is the standard by which we must measure performance — not in some dreamy, sanctimonious way, but in the practical down-to-earth circumstances of daily life. A true Christian should ask, Is this the way Christ would react? Is this what he would have done? Am I following his example?

If not, your behavior must be changed to conform with Jesus’ example as recorded in the Scriptures. You will need to ask God for the faith to do this — the same faith that he gave Jesus Christ to face and conquer problems.

With that faith, when temptation comes, you will have the strength to put aside your natural human impulses and make the same kind of decision that Jesus did in similar circumstances.

That’s why Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [you guessed it — it should be of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, Revised Authorized Version). Once the right preposition is put in, these modern versions become clear.

Think back to the analogy of the watchmaker. Christ wants you to learn to do the things he did. He wants you to share in his skills. He wants you to know the same confidence and trust in God that he had.

He doesn’t want you just to be grateful to him for doing it. He wants you to have the experience of overcoming sin, looking to God for the spiritual strength, just like he did. Why?

Why You Need the Faith of Christ

Look at Philippians 3:8-11. Here we find Paul explaining to the Philippians how grateful he is to be called as a part of God’s Church.

He had to give up many things, including a position of power and prestige, in order to be an apostle. “… I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in [read of] Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

So Paul knew that his resurrection from the dead would be preceded by God building in him the same kind of faith that Christ had. He knew that only then would he know the “power of resurrection,” as Jesus Christ has known it.

Paul was not saying that he was trying to earn his salvation by his own faith. That is what those who are deceived by a false gospel do when they rely only on their faith in Jesus. It is plainly evident throughout his writings that Paul knew he could never do that.

A Christian cannot gain salvation by his works through his own faith any more than he can by simply having faith in Christ. This is a vital point that so many who claim to be Christians do not understand.

Salvation is God’s free gift, but he will not give it to those who cannot handle it properly (any more than you would give a bicycle to a child who refuses to obey the traffic signals).

Ministers today concentrate on getting people to “accept Christ,” while they neglect to teach the need for receiving Jesus Christ’s faith as a free gift to enable us to obey God.

Putting Faith to Work

When Jesus Christ returns to this earth to enforce peace, the world is going to be in a terrible condition. But thankfully, the worst will be over. Jesus Christ will begin the task of guiding and teaching all mankind God’s way of life and the way to eternal life.

There will be a lot of work ahead for those whom God has called in this present life to understand his purpose. They will be resurrected and made immortal when God intervenes in world affairs to reestablish his government over the whole earth. They will be working with Jesus Christ, doing what he does. They will be teaching, helping and encouraging others to overcome human weaknesses, that they also may be given eternal life.

Such teachers must be experienced — there will be no place for enthusiastic amateurs. The time to build that experience through the faith of Jesus imparted by the Holy Spirit is now.

That is why a Christian, whose hope is the resurrection from the dead, needs more than just his faith in Jesus. He must share in the life of Christ, living as he did, learning as he did. To do that successfully, he needs the faith of Jesus Christ.

The Plain Truth, 1984

August 17, 2009

Note To Evolutionists: The Bible Supports Modern Science

Creation Of The Earth - www.examiner.com

Creation Of The Earth - http://www.examiner.com

God gave the Bible to man as the basis of all knowledge. Any “knowledge” contrary to the information revealed by God in his word is untrue.

But what about the scientists’ claim that the earth is perhaps billions of years old, and that the fossil record in the rocks proves their theory of evolution? Is there any truth in either of these statements?

The Bible nowhere tells us when the earth was created. However, biblical chronology reveals that man has been on this earth for almost 6000 years. How can we use this knowledge to understand the record in the rocks?

Genesis 1 the key

Using the facts of science, let’s compare them with the teachings of the Bible. In Genesis chapter one, the six days of creation are well known to Bible students. These were six literal days of 24 hours duration. Let’s examine the Bible’s account of events on these days and see what they reveal. We will dwell on animal and plant life mentitioned in the account and note the description of this new creation.

On the third day, God said “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so” (Gen. 1:11).

Now let’s examine the geology books again and discover what the facts of science reveal. We’ll find a direct correlation between the revelation of the Bible and the findings in the rock layers! Notice this admission:

“Suddenly, a rapid diversification and radiation of the flowering plants occurred. Seward called the upper Cretaceous ‘the dawn of a new era’ and Lasquereuz many years ago observed that ‘the flora of the globe has become modified as by a new creation.’There has been no adequate explanation for this apparently sudden modernization of the earth’s flora. The angiosperms appear in familiar form, not in small variety but in great numbers: of existing families and genera. It is this perplexing paradox which has obscured the origin of the angiosperms” (Principles of Paleobotany, William C. Darrah, page 219).

Here then is direct geologic confirmation of the scriptures. The plants described in Genesis 1:11 appear suddenly in the geologic record.

https:/.../bvghosting/garden/flora_fauna.html

https:/.../bvghosting/garden/flora_fauna.html

Gen. 1:11 would also include  the grasses of the field, the fruit bearings shrubs, vegetables, cereals, and the other seed and fruit bearing shrubs, which are known as angiosperms. Is it only coincidence that all these suddenly appear in the geologic record? Of course not!

There are many other “coincidences” when we compare the geological record with the Bible account of Creation in Genesis 1. The fifth day of creation saw the addition of fish and birds to the earth (Gen. 1:20-23). All geology books assert that fish have been on this earth long before man existed. If this is true, then why are fish included in the creation account in Genesis? Remember, the animals and plants in general, as described in Genesis, are those which are associated with man.

The plain truth is that when geology books mention fish in the Paleozoic Era, they are not generally referring to the fish which today populate the waters of the earth.

“Most of the modern families [of fish] and a few existing genera probably date from the Eocene {a sub-division of the modern era]” (General Zoology, Storer, page 610).

This is further substantiated by the following admission from the book “Creation by Evolution:

“In the following Cretaceous seas there were a few fishes that had the bony support of the tail as well formed as that of most existing bony fishes; indeed the reign of the modern thin-scaled bony fishes, completely adapted for rapid movement in water had begun, and the only subsequent changes where those which have given almost endless variety to this thoroughly efficient race” (page 131).

Thus, those fishes associated with dinosaurs did not have the thin scales of modern fish, but had hard enamel like plates. The modern fish which we have today, appeared at the time of Adam, as Genesis records and geological findings validate.

As we have already noticed In Gen. 1:20, the bird family was also created on the fifth day. However, this does not include the winged reptile – with wings, claws, teeth and long tail bone – which scientists named Archaeopteryx. It was not until the modern era that true birds appear

Modern types of birds, all toothless, appeared before the close of the Cretaceous, and in the Eocene [a division of the Cenozoic – the era of man] most of the present orders were represented” (Historical Geology, page 435).

Thus, modern true toothless birds definitely were not present before the Cretaceous Period which basically divides the world of the dinosaur from the world which existed after Adam’s creation. Here again, the findings of geology substantiate the teachings of the Bible!

On the sixth day, God created the cattle, and creeping things [insects], and the beasts of the earth after his kind” (Gen. 1:24). Modern classification of animals places the cattle and beasts in the class of Mammalia. These, as we have seen previously, are so characteristic of the Cenozoic (modern) Era that it has been rightly called “the age of mammals.”The curtain which rang down suddenly on the disappearance of the reptilian world, just as suddenly introduced the “age of mammals”- the creation described in Genesis :24-25!

Why the sudden change of life forms?

Something mainstream religion does not understand is that there is a time lapse which occurred between Gen. 1:1 and 1;2. The earth was created at an indefinite time – perhaps millions or even billions of years ago. Man however, has been on this earth only about 6000 years, as proven by biblical chronology and supported by the historical records of many nations.

Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 tell of the time when the great archangel Lucifer – who ruled the earth before Adam’s creation – rebelled against his Creator and fought God’s loyal angels for control of the universe. In his rebellion, he led away one third of the angelic world (Rev. 12:4). Jude 6 tells us of this very same time. Satan did not want to remain on the earth as the angelic servant of God – even though the whole earth was then as beautiful as the Garden of Eden – but he became jealous and tried to take away the authority of God (compare Is. 14:13-14, and Jude 6). It was at this time that the archangel Lucifer became Satan.

This great battle for the control of the universe caused massive destruction upon the earth. Animals and plant life of the types that then lived were destroyed, rapidly buried, and fossilized. The earth became chaotic and void (as Gen. 1:2 is more properly rendered). Life was taken from the earth so that when God rebuilt the surface of the earth and created man and the many new life forms described in gen. 1 and 2, God commanded man to replenish – or repopulate – the earth (Gen. 1:28).

The word replenish literally means “to refill”and would not have been used if life had not been on the earth in an age before Adam.

The same word is used in Gen. 9:1 after the flood in Noah’s time had completely destroyed all animal life except that which survived in the ark. The earth had to be once again “replenished”at the time of Noah! Thus, this sin of the angels was therefore before the time of Adam’s creation. Remember, it was very soon after Adam’s creation that Satan tempted Eve (Gen. 3). Lucifer had alreadyfallen.

Remember also, that it was on the first day of creation – shortly before the creation of man – that the earth was without form and void (Gen. 1:2). The first six days recorded in Gen. 1 describe the surface of the earth being reformed out of a chaotic condition. Yet, Isaiah 45:18 plainly tells us that God did not create the earth in this condition of a void wasteland. The earth became chaotic at the rebellion of Satan BEFORE the creation of man.

The truth now becomes clear. The earth had been populated by various forms of plant and animal life before Adam. At the rebellion of Lucifer against the authority of God, the earth was thrown into chaos and a time of “great dying” and “time of trial” ensued. Many animals vanished from the earth at the end of the Mesozoic, never again to be found in the later rock strata. God did not give man a hostile reptilian world – filled with dinosaurs – to inhabit! Instead, He provided man with a special creation suited for man and his needs.

Present world for man

Let’s now examine more closely why many new forms of life appear in the Cenozoic Era with man. Gen. 1 & 2 will again provide the key. Notice the importance to man of these plants and animals in Gen. 1:11-12, that were created with man in this admission:

“They [the angiosperms, or our modern plants] supply nearly all the plant life for the mammals [which also, remember, appeared suddenly at this time] that now dominate all other life upon the earth. Angiosperms provide the nuts and fruits of the field, the grasses of the prairies, the cereals which furnish fodder and grain for man and his domestic animals, and all the vegetables and fruits that man has cultivated, to say nothing of the flowers that add so much pleasure and inspiration to human surroundings” (Historical Geology, page 336).

These plants did not inhabit Lucifer’s world before man because Lucifer and the angels did not need them. God not only created man, but He created with and for man a world suitable for him. Man could not have survived on the earth before this time.

In relation to sea life, notice this quote from the book Creation by Evolution:

“It is also interesting to note that the fishes which achieved these latest developments [thin scales] include nearly all those that are used as food by man today”(page 131).

As we have seen previously, the modern thin scaled fish – edible for man – appear in the Cretaceous rocks. Here again we see scriptures wholly backed up by the facts of science. Both the time elements of their appearance and their usefulness to mankind are again confirmation of God’s word.

The same is true concerning the true birds which appear in the Cretaceous rocks. Birds are very useful to man for food – as in domestic birds – and for holding a check on insects, weed seeds, and rodents. The beauty and song of birds were especially designed to please man’s senses. The flying reptiles of the pre-Adamic worlss would hardly appeal to man’s tastes or compare to the modern birds in usefulness.

The importance of mammals to man in immense – in the role of providers of food, clothing, and beasts of burden. The same could never be said of animals existing in the pre-Adamic world.

Dinosaur mystery made plain

In summary, we have seen how the Bibe does not tell us earth’s age, but does tell us that man has been on the earth about 6000 years. Before the age of man, the earth was filled with animals and plants which characterized Lucifer and his host. The great dinosaurs and other forms of Lucifer’s world were buried in vast fossil graveyards as a result of Lucifer’s rebellion. Later, just before God created man, the earth had to be made into a liveable habitation for him (Gen. 1 & 2. God created the animals and plants necessary for man during the six days of creation week.  Fossils of all plants and animals are , generally speaking, the result of Noah’s flood or other events which have occurred in the past 6000 years.

We have briefly seen how the two great divisions of life on this earth as recorded in the geological record coincide with the teaching of God’s word. There is no contradiction between the facts of science and God’s inspired revelation to man.

But mankind has rejected God from his knowledge and wishes to substitute his own theories for the goodness of God (Rom. 1:18-22, 28). The beginning of true knowledge comes only from a fear of God (Prov. 1:7).

Evolutionists – without God’s word as a guide – are “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7). Evolutionary scientists will continue to devise and discard one theory after another, but the true facts of science  – without distortion – will always agree with God’s word.

Source: Dinosaurs Before Adam, Ambassador College, 1963.

August 16, 2009

The Myth Of The Geological Time Scale!

Scientists say evolution is a very slow process. Therefore the evolutionist, in order to prove his theory, creates different “eons, eras, periods, epochs and ages” to allow for what he considers sufficient time for evolution to occur. However, these vast theoretical units of time allowed for in the geological time scale do not represent a succession of life forms in successive eras. The show instead, the relative order in which life died died during two great worldwide destructions – both which are mentioned in the Bible.

So called geological eras

Is This Time Scale Really Proof? - www.daviddarling.info

Is This Time Scale Really Proof? - http://www.daviddarling.info

What geologists label the “Cenozoic Era” is in reality the age of man’s existence on the earth. It is characterized by the abundance of animals and plants essential for human survival. Livestock and other mammals, and fish and fowl, which provide meat for man, are found buried in this strata.

Fruits, vegetables and grains are entirely missing from the pre-Adamic or “pre-Cenozoic” world. All edible food that is essential for man suddenly appears in the era scientists have dubbed “Cenozoic.” Even the atmosphere, the climate, the seasons and the modern topography – including the present limits of the oceans – are characteristic only of the Cenozoic era.

Our world, the so called Cenozoic, was re-fashioned from the shambles left after Lucifer’s rebellion against God. Fossils found in so called Cenozoic rocks are generally due to the rapid burial of life forms at the time of Noah’s flood (Genesis Seven & Eight) or other events since man’s creation 6000 years ago.

These Cenozoic deposits are found above other earlier strata laid down in a terrifying catastrophe that befell the world before man existed. The deposits of that earlier world end with the first “time of great dying.””

Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras

Fossil remains from the pre-Adamic world are found buried in a relative order – with the rocks on the bottom generally containing sea life – because the sea life was first destroyed and buried. Then later, as the terrifying destruction of life enveloped the land, the dinosaurs and other  land life forms were covered by heavy sediments from raging water. These last deposits of the pre-Adamic world, the so called “Mesozoic Era,” are termed “Cretaceous.” Some Cretaceous strata have been mislabeled and, in reality, belong in the Cenozoic, or age of man.

listverse.com

listverse.com

The Mesozoic world – the time before man’s creation – was so characterized by dinosaurs and other reptiles that  that scientists have rightly called it the  “Age of Reptiles.” Giant reptiles – some weighing up to 40 tons – not only roamed the land, but flew in the air, while yet others excelled the fishes in the sea. Gigantic insects filled the air. Giant tree ferns, horsetails, club mosses, cycads and conifers covered the face of the earth, creating vast forests unlike any we know today.

In that world were no true mammals, no fish with true scales, no feathered fowl, no grass, no grains or fruits for man. Man was not then in existence.

The so-called “Paleozoic” rocks – layers containing sea life – therefore do NOT represent a separate time apart from the Mesozoic. Paleozoic rocks merely contain the buried remains of sea life that was first to be destroyed consequent to Lucifer’s rebellion. The characteristic fossils found in Paleozoic rocks are ammonites, trilobites, sea scorpions, sharks and other inedible fishes. Many were giant varieties.

This was an entire world unfit for human habitation and enjoyment. All life was suddenly buried. Most life forms were never re-created when God re-formed the earth and made this world habitable for man (Gen. 1:2-31).

August 13, 2009

What If Adam Had Taken Of The Tree Of Life?

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

“What would have happened to the world if the first human, Adam, had taken of the tree of LIFE?” That is a question I have never heard or read of being answered. But elsewhere than in Genesis the Bible does at least imply the answer, partially. It seems almost no one ever thought to ask that question. Would we not have lived in a different world?

You now live in a world of awesome progress, development and accomplishment. Yet this same world is filled with appalling evils. Crime, violence, immorality multiply. Discontent, unhappiness, frustration fill human minds. WHY this astounding paradox?

Amid 20th century scientific and technological advances approaching the miraculous — amid tremendous advances in production of increasing knowledge and its dissemination, we live in a world half literate, and half in abject poverty, living in filth and squalor.

WHY? Why cannot mankind solve his problems and eradicate his evils?

The die was cast at the very foundation of the world. Late 19th and 20th century intellectual progress has turned to and accepted the theory of evolution as the basic premise on which knowledge production and advancement is based. But knowledge development has been paralleled with escalating evils. Evolutionary ideas have not led to the increasing of, but the rapid elimination of well-being. Evolution cannot give us the answer to this mysterious paradox. It gives humanity NO HOPE for the future.

The only answer lies in the incident of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. The only explanation of this world’s paradox and the meaning of the purpose of human existence lies in understanding of that incident, which in fact was the foundation of this world.

Yes, WHAT IF the first man Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, instead of the forbidden fruit?

Adam was required to make a choice. In that choice the die was cast on the whole 6,000-year human society up to this time. The CAUSE of every evil experienced by the billions of human lives during these 6,000 years lies in the decision made by the human father of all mankind.

Yes, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of LIFE?

Look at that pivotal incident of all human existence. The forbidden tree was to result in DEATH. It was the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. On man’s taking to himself that knowledge, God closed off the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24) from all mankind until Christ, the second Adam, came. The exception to this were the prophets of ancient Israel for the writing of the Bible.

What did the forbidden tree really mean? That knowledge has no connection with material knowledge. Man was created with a mind capable of acquiring knowledge concerning matter — dealing with wood, metals, agriculture — the sciences and technology. Good and evil are concerned with relationships with other minds.

Man was made to have and need a relationship with his Maker — the supreme mind. He was made to engage in relationships with fellow humans — who have minds. Good and evil concerns MIND in relationships with other minds. But man’s mind was not a finished creation. It contains a spiritual content, not present in the brains of nonhuman vertebrates. Animals are equipped with instinct, but not thinking, reasoning, knowing minds. The human mind not only can receive knowledge of the material and its use, but also ATTITUDES in relation to other minds. That is, attitudes of love or of hate. Attitudes of self-centeredness and vanity; attitudes of envy, jealousy, animosity, competition, strife and violence; attitudes of rebellion or, on the other hand, attitudes of outflowing love, humility, reverence for God, obedience, cooperation, helping, serving, sharing — concern for the welfare and good of others.

God Lives and Works

God the Creator from eternity has existed as God — a supreme spirit Personage — and the Word — also a supreme spirit Personage, willingly and by nature subservient to God in love. Constituting the God family, these two exist eternally (John 1:1-5, 14). They lived! How did they live — by what relationship? God loved the Word who 1,986 years ago became Jesus Christ. The Word loved God. Two can’t walk together except they be agreed. They were in perfect harmony. Neither can two continue happily together except one is leader or head. God has always been head over all.

Living, they were doing. What have they been doing? They have been CREATING. Planning, designing, bringing into existence — positive constructing, not destroying. They worked thus together in love, peace, harmony. God created all things BY the Word who became Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

This way of LOVE, peace, cooperation always was their way of life. That way of life became the supreme LAW of the universe — for law is merely the WAY of life. People make laws to regulate their lives. There is a basic law or constitution on which every government is based. Even games in sports have rules. So outflowing LOVE is the foundational LAW of the government of God. Sin is the transgression of that law.

Adam transgressed that law — he sinned — when he rejected the tree of LIFE and continuing contact with God and chose, instead, to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil — the knowledge of HOW to live in relationship with other MINDS — both God and human. Thus he rejected the law of God.

Now, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of life? God closed off the tree of life until Christ the second Adam came to redeem mankind. Jesus said, “I will build my Church.” He chose 12 disciples. (The word disciple means student, one being taught.) Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He promised them they would receive the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31, the Holy Spirit came with a supernatural display (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is the divine spiritual sperm, which impregnates with eternal LIFE (Rom. 8:11). Also it is the LOVE of God shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

What Did the Tree of Life Symbolize?

Therefore, the tree of life in Eden symbolized the Spirit of God, which imparts eternal LIFE. Adam was not created with eternal life. In that respect, his creation was not yet complete. Human creation is still going on!

IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, he would have received that LIFE just as the true Christian may today — by receiving the Holy Spirit. Only, Adam had not yet sinned — until he disobeyed. He would have needed no repentance as we do today. But he would have BELIEVED God. He would have received the Holy Spirit — the LOVE OF GOD, which divine love fulfills God’s law.

What more? Like Christians today, he would have become an HEIR of God. He would have been begotten to become a child of God, not yet born.

In I Corinthians 2:9, we read that the knowledge of spiritual truths, attitudes and purposes of God cannot be seen by the eye nor heard through the ear. All knowledge receivable by humans enters the mind through the five senses. But (verse 10) God reveals spiritual knowledge through his Spirit. Without the Spirit of God in combination with our human spirit, no human can comprehend spiritual knowledge. That is the reason the greatest, most intellectual, most highly educated minds CANNOT UNDERSTAND the Bible — which imparts spiritual knowledge.

Therefore, as the forbidden tree was one of knowledge leading to death, so the tree of LIFE was one of spiritual knowledge leading to immortal LIFE. What Adam took to himself was spiritual knowledge, which his mind, without the Holy Spirit of God, was not capable of comprehending. He decided for himself what is right and wrong. But Satan influenced him, through Eve, to decide selfishly.

Consequently, he decided what he thought was right or wrong in relation to others from an attitude of self-centeredness — not from that of outflowing love toward others.

The tree of LIFE — symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit — was shut off and CLOSED to humans until Christ. Thus the foundation of this world — this civilization — was laid. Man has acquired material know-how to produce awesome progress, especially in this 20th century. But his progress is materialistic and physical. The uncompleted human mind has been capable of that. But the human mind has been only HALF there!

In relationship to God, what little mankind knows has been perverted by Satan. Man has been selfish in his relationship with people. He has lived the way of GETTING, not GIVING. He has been filled with greed, animosity, competition, violence, destruction. He has destroyed all of God’s earth his hands could touch or change — polluted the air and the water, worn out the soil. But WHAT IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE which God freely offered him?

“He Would Have … “

He would have received the Holy Spirit of God. He would thus have been given a spiritually comprehending mind. He would have continued in close relationship with God, especially in the Person of the Word, later designated as Yahweh, who would have revealed knowledge and truth progressively to Adam as he was able to absorb and understand it. He would have received the LOVE of God, God’s divine love for fulfilling the law. He would have received the FAITH of God, and even spiritual POWER to resist evil and for self-control.

But, would Satan have been banished from the earth at the time? From here on many questions may arise that God has not as yet revealed to us in the Bible. But some answers are evident, and others indicated by what is revealed.

Christ, the second Adam, resisted and rejected Satan in the great temptation (Matt. 4). But he did not take over the throne of the earth from Satan at that time, although he had qualified to take it over.

We, who do receive the Holy Spirit, are not made immortal at once, nor even in this mortal life. We must continue to overcome, to grow in grace and spiritual knowledge, and we must endure to the end of this mortal existence before we shall be made immortal. So it is indicated surely that Adam would have continued as a mortal, having God’s Spirit, until God’s righteous character had been developed in him. Eventually he would have been made immortal, Satan would have been deposed and Adam would have sat on the throne of the earth.

He would have been taught by God continually. He surely would have learned to teach Cain, Abel, Seth and other children, from the cradle, in God’s way of life and in resisting Satan.

God has not revealed it all. But we may know it would have been a far different world than that which Satan has deceived.

What DID and WILL Happen

But the first human, Adam, did not take of the freely offered tree of LIFE. So what is important to us is what did, and will happen.

God’s PURPOSE in creating and putting on earth the human family was and is to reproduce himself — to create in and through the human family his own GOD FAMILY WITH PERFECT SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, to have the human family born into the GOD FAMILY. God’s PURPOSE stands. It shall be accomplished. But how?

God’s own perfect character can only be created in us by him, but with our own individual free choice, decision and will. The first Adam did not then acquiesce in that decision and free will. He yielded to Satan and opposite character through his wife Eve.

Thereupon God moved swiftly to do certain things.

First, he shut off access by humans to the tree of LIFE — to immortality. God was not willing that humans should live eternally in the unhappy torture of perverted minds and the consequences of sin.

At the same time, so that sinning man be not lost from God-like happiness and the possibility of being born into the God family, it was thereupon necessary — at the very foundation of the human world — that Christ should come, be born human, and through death pay the penalty for the sins of all humans who repent and turn to God’s way of life.

Simultaneously, it was appointed that all humans should die, but after this, through a resurrection, come to judgment (Heb. 9:27) in which the book of life could be opened (Rev. 20:12) — and, that as in Adam all should once die, so in Christ should all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22) and then judged.

In due time, nearly 4,000 years from the foundation of this world, Christ came. He said, “I will build my Church.” As a foundation (with the prophets), he called and taught his 12 disciples. He commissioned them, as apostles, to teach all whom God would call. To them, upon repentance and belief, the Holy Spirit would be given, begetting them as sons of God. Even then, the Holy Spirit was still closed off to all except those chosen and drawn by God.

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium.

After this shall come the Great White Throne Judgment when all not called previously shall be resurrected in the judgment and come to understand what only a privileged few, who are called now, already understand.

Undoubtedly, billions of humans finally shall be born into the God family.

Source: The Plain Truth, March 1983

The Spiritual Significance Of Numbers

Numbers are used in Scripture, not merely as in Nature, with supernatural design, but with spiritual significance, which may be summarized as follow. (The whole subject may be studied in Dr. Bullinger’s work on Number in Appendix 10 from the Companion Bible).

One – denotes unity, and commencement.  The first occurrences of words or utterances denote their essential significance, in interpretation.  Words that occur only once, in the originals, are emphatic and important.  First day, Light.  The first occurrences of all important words and expressions are noted in the margin.

Two – denotes difference.  If two different persons agree in testimony it is conclusive.  Otherwise two implies opposition, enmity, and division, as was the work of the Second day.  Compare the use of the word “double” applied to “heart”, “tongue”, “mind”, etc.

Three – denotes completeness, as three lines complete a plane figure.  Hence, three is significant of Divine perfection and completeness.  The third day completes the fundamentals of creation-work.  The fourth, fifth, and sixth days are the counterpart and repetition of the first, second, and third, and correspond respectively.  (See the structure of Gen. 1, p. 3.)  The number, three, includes resurrection also; for on the third day the earth rose up out of the deep, and the fruit rose up out of the earth.

Four – denotes creative works (3+1), and always has reference to the material creation, as pertaining to the earth, and things “under the sun”, and things terrestrial.

Five – denotes Divine grace.  It is 4+1.  It is God adding His gifts and blessing to the works of His hands.  The Heb. Ha’aretz (the earth), by “Gematria” (i.e.  the addition of the numerical value of the letters together) is a multiple of four, while Hashamayim (the heavens) is a multiple of five.  The Gematria of Caris (charis), the Greek for Grace, is also a multiple of five.  It is the leading factor in the Tabernacle measurements.

Six – denotes the human number.  Man was created on the sixth day; and this first occurrence of the number makes it (and all multiples of it) the hall-mark of all connected with man.  He works six days.  The hours of his day are a multiple of six.  Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah six years.  The great men who have stood out in defiance of God (Goliath and Nebuchadnezzar and Antichrist) are all emphatically marked by this number.

Seven – denotes spiritual perfection.  It is the number or hall-mark of the Holy Spirit’s work.  He is the Author of God’s Word, and seven is stamped on it as the water-mark is seen in the manufacture of paper.  He is the Author and Giver of life; and seven is the number which regulates every period of Incubation and Gestation, in insects, birds, animals, and man.

Eight – denotes resurrection, regeneration; a new beginning or commencement.  The eighth is a new first.  Hence the octave in music, color, days of the week, etc.  It is the number which has to do with the LORD, Who rose on the eighth, or new “first-day”.  This is, therefore, the Dominical number.  By Gematria (see above), ‘JJjjIhsous (Jesus) makes the number 888.  It, or its multiple is impressed on all that has to do with the Lord’s Names, the Lord’s People, the Lord’s works.

Nine – denotes Finality of judgment.  It is 3×3, the product o 989 f Divine completeness.  The number nine, or its factors or multiples, is seen in all cases when judgment is the subject.

Ten – denotes Ordinal perfection.  Another new first; after the ninth digit, when numeration commences anew.

Eleven – denotes disorder, disorganization, because it is one short of the number twelve (see below).

Twelve – denotes Governmental perfection.  It is the number of factor of all numbers connected with government :  whether by Tribes or Apostles, or in measurements of time, or in things which have to do with government in the heavens and the earth.

Thirteen – denotes rebellion, apostasy, defection, dis-integration, revolution, &c.  The first occurrence fixes this (Gen. 14:4); and the second confirms it (Gen. 17:25).  It, and its multiples, are seen in all numbers, and in the Gematria (see above) of all names and passages that are associated with rebellion, &c.

Seventeen
– denotes a combination of spirit and order (10+7).  It is the seventh prime number (as 13 is the sixth prime number).

Other numbers follow the laws which govern the smaller, as being their factors, sums, products or multiples :  e.g.  24 is 12×2, a higher form of 12.

25 = 52.     Grace intensified.
27 = 33.     Divinity intensified.
28 = 7×4.    Spiritual perfection in connection with the earth.
29 = 33.     Intensifying of Divine judgment.
30 = 3×10.  Divine perfection, applied to order.
40 = 10×4.  Divine order applied to earthly things.  Hence, the number of probation.

The four perfect numbers, 3, 7, 10, and 12, have for their product the remarkable number 2,520.  It is the Least Common Multiple of the ten digits governing all numeration; and can, therefore, be divided by each of the nine digits, without a remainder.  It is the number of chronological perfection (7×360).

August 12, 2009

Genealogy: Adam to Queen Elizabeth II

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Genealogy of Adam to Queen Elizabeth II - stevne.telelaget.com

Genealogy of Adam to Queen Elizabeth II - stevne.telelaget.com

GENEALOGY –  Adam to Queen Elizabeth II

GENERATIONS

1 Adam, Eve

2 Seth

3 Enos

4 Canaan

5 Mahalaleel

6 Jared

7 Enoch

8 Methuselah

9 Lamech

10  Noah, Naamah

11  Shem

12 Arphaxad

13  Salah

14  Heber

15     Peleg

16     Reu

17  Serug

18  Nahor

19 Terah, Amtheta

20  Abraham, Sarah

21  Isaac, Rebekah

22  Jacob, Leah

23     Judah, Tamar

24  Hezron

25 Aram

26  Aminadab

27  Naasson

28  Salmon

29  Boaz, Ruth

30     Obed

31  Jesse

——————–

KINGS  IN  PALESTINE

32  K David, Bathsheba

33    K Solomon, Naamah

34  K Rehoboam, Maacah

35  K Abijah

36  K Asa, Azubah

37    K Jehoshaphat

38  K Jehoram, Athaliah

39    K Ahaziah, Zibiah

40  K Joash, Jehoaddan

41  K Amaziah, Jecholiah

42  K Uzziah, Jerusha

43  K Jotham

44  K Ahaz, Abi

45 K Hezekiah, Hephzibah

46  K Manasseh, Meshullemeth

47  K Amon, Jedidiah

48  K Josiah, Mamutah

49 K Zedekiah

——————–

KINGS OF IRELAND

(Number in parenthesis denotes length of’ reign of’ Irish Kings)

50  Q Tea Tephi, marries Herremon, a Prince of’ the scarlet thread

51    K Irial Faidh (10 years)

52    K Eithriall (20 years)

53 Follain

54 K Tighernmas (50 years)

55    Eanbotha

56  Smiorguil

57 K Fiachadh Labhriane (24 years)

58  K Aongus Ollmuchaidh (21 years)

59   Maoin

60  K Rotheachta (25 years)

61  Dein

62  K Siorna Saoghalach (21 years)

63  Oholla Olchaoin

64  K Giallchadh (9 years)

65  K Aodhain Glas  (20 years)

66  K Simeon Breac  (7 years)

67  K Muirteadach Bolgrach (4 years)

68  K Fiachadh Tolgrach (7 years)

69  K Duach Laidhrach (10 years)

70  Eochaidh Buailgllerg

71  K Ugaine More the Great (30 years)

72     K  Cobhthach Coalbreag  ( 30 years )

73  Meilage

74  K Jaran Gleofathach (7 years)

75  K Coula Cruaidh Cealgach  (25 years)

76  K Oiliolla Caisfhaichach  (28 years)

77  K Eochaidh Foltleathan (11 years)

78  K Aongus Tuirmheach Teamharch (30 years)

79      K Eara Aighneach (28 years)

80  Labhra Suire

81  Blathucha

82  Easmhuin Eamhua

83  Roighnein Ruadh

84  Finlogha

85  Fian

86  K Eodchaidh Feidhlioch (12 years)

87  Fineamhuas

88  K Lughaidh Raidhdearg

89  K Criomhthan Niadhnar (16 years)

90  Fearaidhach Fion Feachtnuigh

9l  K Fiachadh Fionoluidh (20 years)

92  K Tuathal Teachtmar  (40 years)

93       K Coun Ceadchathach  (20  years)

94 K Arb Aonf’lier  (30 years)

95      K Cormae Usada (40 years)

96     K  Caibre  Lif’f’eachair  (27 years)

97        K Fiachadh Sreabthuine (30 years)

98  K Muireadhach Tireach (30 years)

99        K Eochaidh Moigmeodhin (7 years)

100  K Nail of’ the Nine Hostages

101  Eogan

102  K Murireadhach

103  Earca

——————–

KINGS OF ARGYLESHIRE

104 K Fergus More (AD 487)

105  K Dongard (d 457)

106  K Conran (d 535)

107  K Aidan (d 604)

108  K Eugene IV (d 622)

109 K: Donald     IV    (d 650)

110  Dongard

111   K  Eugene V ( d  692)

112  Findan

113  K Eugene VII (d AD 721), Spondan

114  K Etfinus   (d AD 761), Fergina

115  K Achaius (d AD 819) Fergusia

116  K Alpin (d AD 834)

——————–

SOVEREIGNS OF SCOTLAND

117  K Kenneth II  (d AD 854)

118  K Constantin II (d AD  874)

119  K Donald VI  (d AD 903)

120  K Malcolm (d AD 958)

121  K Kenneth III (d AD 994)

122  K Malcolm II (d AD 1033)

123  Beatrix m. Thane Albanach

124 K Duncan I (d AD 1040)

125  K Malcolm II Canmore (A D 1055-l093), Margaret of’ England

126  K David I (d  AD 1153), Maud of Northcumberland

127  Prince Henry (d AD 1152), Adama of Surrey

128  Earl David (d AD 1219), Maud of’ Chester

129  Isobel m .Robert Bruce III

130  Robert Bruce IV m. Isobel of’ Gloucester

131  Robert Bruce V m. Martha of’ Carrick

132  K Robert I Bruce (AD 1306-1329), Mary of Burke

133  Margary Bruce m. Walter Stewart III

134  K Robert II (d AD 1390), Euphemia of Ross (d AD 1376)

135  K Robert III (d AD 1406), Arabella Drummond (d AD 1401)

136  K James I (AD 1424-1437), Joan Beaufort

137    K James II (d AD 1460), Margaret of Gueldres  (d AD 1463)

138 K James III (d AD 1488), Margaret of Denmark (d AD 1484)

139 K James IV  (d AD 1543) , Marþaret of England (d AD 1539)

140  K James V  (d AD  1542) , Mary of’ Lorraine (d AD 1560)

141  Q, Mary (d AD 1587), Lord Henry Darnley

——————–

SOVEREIGNS OF GREAT BRITAIN

142  K James VI, and I  (AD  1603-1625), Ann of’ Denmark

143  Princess Elizabeth  (1596-1613), K Frederick of’ Bohemia  (1632)

144  Prince Sophia m Duke Ernest of Brunswick

145  K George I (1698-1727) Sophia Dorothea of Zelle (1667-1726)

146  K George II (1727-1760), Princess Caroline of’ Anspach (1683-1737)

147  Prince Frederick of’ Wales (1707-1751), Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha

148  K George III (1760-1820), Princess Sophia of’ Mecklenburgh-Strelitz (1744-1818)

149 Duke Edward of Kent (1757-1820), Princess Victoria of’ Leiningen

150  Q, Victoria (b 1819, crowned 1838, d 1901), Prince Albert of’ Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

151  K Edward VII

152  K George V

153  K George VI

154     Q. Elizabeth II

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