The Apple Of God's Eye

October 31, 2009

Contradiction: Did The Wise Men Visit Jesus In A Manger Or House?

www.finntradeservices.comThe scriptures say as a baby, Jesus was laid in a manger, yet it also mentions that the Wise Men saw Him in a house. Is this a contradiction?

When Jesus was born, the SAME night shepherds were given the news by angels. “And there were in the same country shepherds day in the city of David a Savior” (Luke 2:8-11). That very day the shepherds saw Christ in the MANGER (Luke 2:15-16). The need for a manger was due to the temporarily crowded conditions.

Several weeks after the visit of the shepherds Jesus was taken to Jerusalem by His parents. “And when the days of her [Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22). According to Leviticus 12:2-4, Jesus was taken to Jerusalem nearly six weeks after His birth. “If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man-child: then she shall be unclean seven days. And she then will continue in … her purifying three and thirty days.”

When Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem they then moved into a HOUSE, where the Wise Men finally saw Jesus for the first time. “And when they (the Wise Men) were come into the HOUSE, they saw the young child with Mary his mother” (Matt. 2:11).

So now we can see that the Wise Men and shepherds did not visit Jesus at the same time. They saw Him weeks after the shepherds did, and therefore visited Jesus in the house.

As further proof that the Wise Men saw Jesus after His parents took Him to Jerusalem, we find that Joseph in a vision was ordered to go into Egypt as soon as the Wise Men LEFT (Matt. 2:12-14). Therefore they saw Jesus sometime after He returned with His parents from Jerusalem, and just before they fled to Egypt. Upon their return to Palestine from Egypt, Jesus’ parents resided at Nazareth, not Bethlehem.

So now all the Christmas myths of Jesus in a manger being visited by the wise men can be laid to rest!

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October 30, 2009

What Happened To The Biblical Office Of The Apostles?

www.creationism.orgThere are some who say Christ only ordained the original twelve, that the apostleship was then sealed, and there would be no more apostles after the original twelve. Was this an office that would end after their death?

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says on the subject of apostle, “One sent with a special message or commission…. As regards the apostolic office, it seems to have been preeminently that of founding the churches, and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose.”

The Companion Bible says, “One sent forth with a special mission or errand.”

And Clarke’s Commentary says, “The word apostle comes from a Greek word that means, I send a message.” He goes on to say, “Those who were Christ’s apostles were first His disciples; which means that men must first be taught of God before they are sent of God.”

Was the Apostolic Office Sealed?

The first apostles were chosen, just as any of us must be chosen, for God to use. Halley’s Handbook points out that the training of the first twelve was not an easy task, for they were being trained for a work utterly different from anything they imagined. They had no thought at first of becoming the preachers they turned out to be. They were expecting the Messiah to establish a political world empire of which they would be administrators. When they were told that Christ was to be crucified instead of establishing a throne at that time, they were stunned. Even at the last Passover, their minds were still on who was to have the greatest office. It was not until after Christ’s death, resurrection, and sending of His Holy Spirit that they understood His Kingdom was to be set up at a much later time. Notice in Acts 1:6 that they asked Christ before He ascended to heaven if He would, “at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

Let’s look into the Bible to see if there is any evidence of this office being sealed with these original twelve. In Matthew 10:1 Christ called them disciples. Then in verse 2 they are called apostles, and in verse 5 they are “sent forth.” There is nothing in this chapter saying that the office was sealed. Mark 3:13-14 states that He ordained twelve. Luke 6:12-13 tells us He prayed all night before choosing and ordaining them. John’s account tells us the disciples were excited that they had found the Messiah and they willingly followed Jesus Christ as His disciples (John 1:37-41). Again, in all these accounts there is nothing about the apostleship being a closed office or a sealed office.

The Companion Bible tells us there are four places where the Bible lists the apostles in the New Testament: three times in the gospels which we have just read, and one time in the book of Acts. In fact, the word apostle or apostles appears eight times in the gospels, 68 times in Acts and the epistles, and three times in the book of Revelation. When used in the gospels, it refers to the twelve chosen and commissioned by Christ during His ministry. It was from this office that Judas fell. Remember the question is, was this office sealed with the twelve? Could there be others ordained to this office?

More Apostles Ordained

In Acts 1:13-26 we read the account of how the office from which Judas fell was given to Matthias. So here is the account of another apostle being chosen, though nothing more is said about him.

In Acts 13 and 14 we are given an account of some of the work of Paul and Barnabas, but notice in Acts 14:14 Barnabas and Paul are called “apostles.” We see further proof that the apostleship wasn’t sealed. In Romans 11:13, Paul says, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” So we see in God’s inspired Word that Barnabas and Paul were the first and second apostles mentioned after the first twelve.

We can also find others mentioned in the Bible. Notice the third and fourth ones mentioned: Romans 16:7 says, “Salute Andronicus and Junia…who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” Here are two more mentioned.

Let’s look at the account of another apostle. We know that of the original twelve, two were named James, one was the son of Zebedee and the other the son of Alphaeus. There was yet another James who later became an apostle who was not numbered among the original twelve. This was James the half-brother of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:17-19 gives the account of Paul returning from Arabia after his three years of training in the desert with Christ. In verse 19 he says, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” Here is a fifth one mentioned after the twelve.

Two more apostles are mentioned by Paul which will take a little more study. In I Thessalonians 1:1-6 notice how Paul words the letter: “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of Thessalonians….” Notice in verse 2 that he say “We give thanks,” grouping all three together. He says the same thing in verses 5-6. Then in chapter 2, verses 2 and 5, Paul still lumps all three together and in verse 6 he refers to them all as apostles: “Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” We can see that Silvanus and Timothy are mentioned as apostles, bringing the number to seven, who were ordained after the original twelve apostles.

Epaphroditus and Titus are given the label of “messenger.” Notice Philippians 2:25: “Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger….” The same is said of Titus in II Corinthians 8:23. The Greek word for “messenger” here is apostolos, translated apostle in other places. The Diaglott of the original Greek translated “messenger” as “apostle” both times in these two scriptures. This brings our number of additional apostles to nine. It is rather evident that Christ did not seal the office of apostle with the first twelve.

Paul called himself an apostle nineteen times and even defended himself concerning this office in II Corinthians 10:13. The only time the word apostle and seal are used together is when Paul is defending his office (I Cor. 9:2). Read verses 1-5 and notice that Paul is saying that the seal or proof of his apostleship was the conversion to Christianity of the brethren. Paul used the analogy of a seal or stamp which was a figure cut in stone and then set in a ring by which a letter or document would be stamped, showing by whose authority the said document was sent. Paul used this analogy to show that God had sent him and placed him in the office of an apostle.

If this office was sealed and no one else was to hold that office, then why is it listed among the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11-13? These are offices to be held in the Church and this was written over 20 years after Christ ascended to heaven and after most of the original apostles were either dead or sent to other places. Also keep in mind that the Bible was written mainly for us in the end time.

Notice in Revelation 2:2 that the Ephesus era was commended for testing those who claimed to be apostles. Wasn’t this an ideal spot to say there were no apostles, if the office had been sealed? No, the office of apostle has not been sealed and completed with the original twelve. Someday we may be surprised to learn just how many apostles there have been down through the centuries.

October 29, 2009

Universal Facts

universeIf you could count all the stars just in our galaxy alone at the rate of 125 stars every minute, it would take over 3,000 years to count them. There are a great number of galaxies and a vast amount of space between them. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is the Andromeda, and to reach there traveling at the speed of light would take you 2.3 million years. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars—some with as many as 1 trillion stars.

The most distant galaxy ever observed is estimated to be around 13,000,000,000 light-years away. Discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2004, it is located behind the galactic cluster Abell 2218, which bends the object’s light. It is a small, energetic galaxy whose light that is seen on Earth now would have set out when the universe was just 750 million years old. This is the most distant object that can be observed consistently; some ephemeral gamma-ray bursts have been observed that are slightly more distant than this object.

And man has only begun to explore outer space with our modern telescopes today. Conservative estimates of the known universe’s size place it at over 20 thousand million light years (the distance light travels in one year at a velocity of about 9,500,000,000,000 kilometres) wide. That is about 120 million million million million miles. The number of galaxies is estimated to be a few trillion. If we use the figure 3 trillion, and estimate that each galaxy has about 100 billion stars, that means that the known universe has stars that number over 30 with 23 zeros behind it, or 300 thousand million million million million individual stars. That figure is virtually impossible to comprehend.

Yet even this does not tell the real size. With all those bodies crowding the space up there, you would think it would get a little clustered. Not so! The universe is so vast in relation to the matter it contains that it can be compared in the following way: A building 20 miles long, 20 miles wide and 20 miles high that contains 1 grain of sand.

Only God knows the size of the universe. And get this, God says that He has named and numbered each one of those innumerable (to us) heavenly bodies (Ps. 147:4). Why did God create so many stars? Was it for no reason at all? Or was it for an incredible reason? When I read Rom. 8:17, it seems to me that man has an awesome potential that is almost beyond words to describe.

Paul wrote in Romans 11:26 that all Israel shall eventually be saved. That’s quite a lot of people. It has been estimated that since Adam and Eve there have been 25 to 50 billion people who have lived on this planet. It is almost mind boggling to think what God has in mind for puny human beings.  He says He will resurrect all to (spiritual) “glory.”

If all these people make it, and become spirit-born God beings, where would we all fit? Would there be enough “space” to go around? Certainly! There is a good possibility that some day we could rule over an entire galaxy. Just think: God created a universe so huge that He could actually give you an entire galaxy to manage and rule over, along with its millions or billions of stars and its orbiting planets around each of these stars.

If an estimated 200 billion sons of God is taken as a possibility, that means each would be responsible for maintaining and developing 50 billion stars and their attendant planets—enough to form an entire galaxy.” Now that’s a potential worth debating with those who believe the evolution hoax.

October 28, 2009

Our Incomprehensibly Large Universe!

stevekanaras.blogspot.comThe Hubble telescope has shown us countless billions of galaxies in areas of the universe which we once thought were empty. For example, by focusing on a small speck in the sky in an area that was thought to be void of stars, astronomers soon discovered that this small speck actually contained 1,500 galaxies! And remember that each galaxy can contain untold millions of stars and some astronomers now believe that there may be as many galaxies in the sky as there are stars in our own galaxy.

Space travel

In an effort to learn more about space, mankind has put men on the moon and brought them back home safely, built a space station where astronauts can stay for months at a time. But space travel carries some great risks, and is quite costly. And these adventures of man into space are merely flying hundreds of miles into the sky—they come nowhere close to probing the true depths of space!

After reaching the moon, astronomy’s next goal is to put a man on Mars—a planet in our solar system about 150 million miles from Earth (compare to the moon at only 240,000 miles away). Even if this journey is successful, the trip of 150 million miles is a mere jog compared to the vastness of space. We might intrude into space, but we as humans cannot even begin to conquer it. Getting to Mars is only one planet of a vast solar system, part of an even larger galaxy—one of trillions of galaxies in this huge universe which are billions of light years away from Earth.

Light travels at over 186,000 miles per second; a light year is how far light can travel in a year moving at 186,000 miles per second, which figures out to be close to 6 trillion miles. (To travel just one light year at 100 miles per hour, it would take almost 7 million years.) Another measurement astronomers use is an au (astronomical unit). An au is the distance between the Earth and the sun—about 93 million miles.

The Giant Milky Way

All the space vehicles, manned or unmanned, still travel within our one galaxy—the Milky Way—one of millions or billions of galaxies. The Milky Way is considered a giant galaxy and contains about 400 billion stars. It is a spiral galaxy, which means that from a distance it looks like a pinwheel, or a big disc in the center with flat arms going out in all directions.

To get an idea of how vast this galaxy is, to travel the distance from the outer end of one disc to the outer end of another would take 100,000 years traveling at the speed of light.

Located on one of these discs—which is rotating around the center of the galaxy—is our solar system: the sun, moon, Earth and the planets. The star of our solar system, the sun, is located about two thirds of the way out from the center of the galaxy—roughly 28,000 light years from the center. Whereas it takes the Earth one year to orbit the sun, it takes the sun 250 million years to make just one orbit of the center of the galaxy.

Unmanned Spaced Probes

1Voyagers 1 and 2 were launched in 1977 to explore where nothing from Earth had ever been before. Now they each are much farther from Earth than any space vehicle has ever been. Speeding outward at more than 38,000 miles per hour, both continue to send back scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space program.

Voyager 1 remains operational, currently pursuing its extended mission to locate and study the boundaries of the Solar System, including the Kuiper belt and beyond. Its original mission was to visit Jupiter and Saturn; and it was the first probe to provide detailed images of the moons of these planets.

“Voyager 1 is currently the farthest human-made object from Earth, and as of August 28, 2009, it is about 110.94 AU (16.596 billion km, or 10.312 billion miles) from the Sun, and has passed the termination shock, entering the heliosheath, with the current goal of reaching and studying the heliopause, which is the known boundary of the solar system. If Voyager 1 is still functioning when it finally completes the passage through the heliopause (effectively becoming the first human-made object to leave the solar system), scientists will get their first direct measurements of the conditions in the interstellar medium. Its primary targets were the planets Jupiter and Saturn and their associated moons and rings; its mission was the detection of the heliopause and particle measurements of solar wind and the interstellar medium. Both of the Voyager probes have far outlasted their originally-planned lifespan. Each probe gets its electrical power from three radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which are expected to continue to generate enough electric power to let the probes keep communicating with Earth at least until the year 2025.” (Wikipedia)

By that time, Voyager 1 will be more than 12.4 billion miles from the sun. In some 296,000 years, if Voyager 2 was still traveling, it would pass Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, at a distance of about 4.3 light years (25 trillion miles).

Even more amazing were the Pioneer projects. Pioneers 10 and 11 were launched in 1972 and 1973—the fastest man-made objects to leave the Earth, launched at the incredible speed of 32,000 miles per hour. That is fast enough to pass the moon in 11 hours, and Mars’s orbit (50 million miles away) in just 12 weeks.

“Pioneer 10 (also called Pioneer F) was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt, which it entered on July 15, 1972, and to make direct observations of Jupiter, which it passed by on December 3, 1973. By some definitions, Pioneer 10 has become the first artificial object to leave the solar system. It is the first human-built object to have been set upon a trajectory leading out of the solar system. However, it still has not passed the heliopause or Oort cloud. The last weak signal from Pioneer 10 was received on January 23, 2003, when it was 12 billion kilometers (7.5 billion miles) from Earth. It is now heading in the direction of the star Aldebaran (about 68 light years away) in the constellation Taurus at roughly 2.6 AU per year. It will take Pioneer 10 over 2 million years to reach it. (Wikipedia)

Pioneer 11 was to go on after passing Jupiter 400 million miles away. Using this giant planet as a sling shot, Pioneer 11’s speed now reached 108,000 miles per hour. By 1979, Pioneer 11 flew within 13,000 miles of Saturn. In November 1995 the last communication from Pioneer 11 was received, as the Earth’s motion carried Saturn out of the view of the spacecraft antenna. Pioneer 11 is now headed toward the constellation of Aquila, just northwest of the constellation of Sagittarius and may pass near one of the stars in the constellation in about 4 million years.

Conclusion

We can barely begin to imagine how vast our universe is by how vast our own galaxy is! Manned and unmanned spacecraft can barely cover any significant ground in the area called “space.” Despite the incredible speeds of some of these vehicles, they are still millions of years away from the closest stars. The more we venture out into space, the more the immenseness of it staggers our imagination. That’s why I find it amusing when scientists make definitive statements about something that is so hard to comprehend. It’s better to keep the attitude humble, allow God to reveal truth to us and realize on our own, we really don’t know what we are talking about.

October 27, 2009

Who And What Is God?

The basic doctrine  The Bible clearly reveals God's nature, to those who will listen and believe. God is the eternal, supreme Creator. He is one God, but at present a Family of two beings, the Father and Son, who are alike as the loving, kind, merciful rulers of all reality, and who have opened their Family to all those humans who will be saved. Everyone knows His name,” observed one wise man, speaking about God, “but no one seems to know Him!”

True words, those. And ironic words, too. For in a modern world packed with Bibles of every translation and description, and even having the Word of God on computer, millions have indeed heard God’s name. But precious few seem to know much about the living God!  What a pity, because He reveals Himself fully in the Bible and we do not need to remain in ignorance of this absolutely foundational principle of Christianity. We have to know who the real God is and what He is like.

The usual teachings of this world

The non-Christian world has images of God — or of “gods” — that cover virtually every possible (or, rather, impossible) conception.

Some view God as an animal-like creature, or as the sun, or like a man but with six arms. Others think God is “everywhere,” meaning He is in water or sand or the wind. Still others think of Him only as a force, a great beginning power that has no personality, form or shape.

Even Christians argue among themselves. Usually, though, in Christian circles, believers think God is a trinity — a three-in-one God that they admit is a “mystery.” Further, they believe that this trinity is closed, that none shall ever enter within this sacred triumvirate of the God-realm.

Some, especially those who fancy themselves as cosmopolitan and educated, don’t believe God exists at all, or if He did, that He is now dead! Which, if any, of these ideas is correct?

The Bible teaching

Probably the place to begin is with God’s composition. We, of course, are human — that is, mortal and made of the elements. It is not so with God, for Scripture plainly says that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24, Authorized Version).

We know from other verses that beings composed of spirit, including angels, for example, are on a higher level of existence than we, and that such spirit is not limited by the physical laws of nature to which humans are bound (John 3:5-8, Deuteronomy 4:12).

But, although composed of spirit like the angels, God is not a mere angel. He is in a class, quite literally, by Himself: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).

And not only is God in a class by Himself, but He is higher in rank than all other things, since He is the Creator of all things, and it follows that the creator is above the creation.

Notice this very point, made by the author of Hebrews: “He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:3-4).

Time and again God confirms He is the only God, and a God above all else: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 45:5). “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:11).

God is also eternal (having no beginning or ending) and immortal (lives forever). Notice Deuteronomy 33:27, where God is called “eternal,” or Deuteronomy 32:39-40: “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I lift My hand to heaven, and say, ‘As I live forever… ‘ ”

Of course, it is natural for humans to want to see God or, if we cannot, to at least know what He looks like. Unless we can see at least a mental image of God, we cannot feel we know Him. Yet Scripture, contrary to the beliefs of many, says plainly and pointedly, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

Clearly, the prospect of seeing God in the flesh is nonexistent. But we are not left in darkness, for the very one who said no one has seen God, the apostle John, also said in the same verse, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He [Jesus Christ] has declared Him.”

One way Jesus declared the Father was through Jesus’ very presence on earth as a visible person. In response to Philip’s request that He “show us the Father,” Jesus said: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9).

We know from this verse and many others (such as Genesis 1:27) that the Father resembles human form, although He (like Jesus Christ, pictured in Revelation 1:13-16) is glorified in flaming brilliance, with hair white as snow, “eyes like a flame of fire,” with “feet … like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace,” and His face “like the sun shining in its strength.” And Ezekiel 1:26-28 says, ““Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.”

So according to various scriptures, God has a face, hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth and ears. He also has hair on His head and has a mind. Even though God is composed of spirit and not visible matter, He does have a definite form and shape. If you know what a man looks like, you have a good general picture of God.

Clearly, God is no pagan symbol – a rock or fish, no washed-out, pale stone statue dead on an altar, without any life whatsoever except for moss clinging to it through the centuries. He is like the sun, while retaining the general features found in humans.

Yet, such a powerful, brilliant, eternal, immortal, omnipotent being would be but a terror to us all if such a one were evil and wicked, a spiritual despot who wreaked havoc through the universe and only made humans to torment or to provide entertainment for His own fiendish schemes.

But our God is not such a God. He is the very opposite of that worrisome picture, so much so, that John, unable to find stronger words to describe God’s goodness, says, merely, “God is love” (I John 4:8).

And love is an outgoing concern for others — is God’s greatest single attribute, His greatest quality. Yet, it is not God’s only character quality, for, as the Bible shows, He is also full of “joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

And even that is not all, for it would require many more pages to quote verse after verse describing all God’s attributes — God’s loving forgiveness and mercy, His power, His zeal, His eternal, positive, immortal, immutable, unstoppable greatness!

God is filled only with desire to do good for us. In the face of such great news about God, it’s hard to imagine what could be said further. But the best is yet to come. And that “best” is this: God is a Family — a Family you can enter as a full member and child!

The fact that God is a Family should not have eluded so many professing Christians for so long. The Scriptures abound with references to God the Father and God the Son. Yet most have simply chosen to ignore the plain meaning of these verses and instead interpret such words as merely symbolic.

A great block to understanding that God is a Family is found in the common misconceptions about the Holy Spirit (misnamed “Holy Ghost”) being a person. Such a nonbiblical belief must be handled in detail elsewhere, but suffice it to say that such a belief chokes out the truth about the God Family by 1) adding a third person to the Godhead who has no assigned role as Father or Son, and hence does not fit the Family scheme (and thus diverts one’s understanding from it) as revealed in the Bible, and 2) creates the familiar closed trinity that so many Christians believe in.

Such a belief contradicts the greatest truth of God, that mankind can enter the God Family, under the authority of the Father and Son. This incredible truth is the plain teaching of God’s Word (John 1:11, 12, II Corinthians 6:17, 18, Galatians 4:5-7, Romans 8:14-17, I Corinthians 15:35-55, John 17:20-26).

Key verses

Although this is a large subject, it helps comprehension to remember, or even memorize, a few key verses. John 4:24 shows God is a spirit being. Isaiah 45:5 shows He is the only God. John 1:18 reveals that no one has seen God, but that the Son has declared Him. Revelation 1:13-16 describes God’s glorified body that shines with tremendous brilliance. And John 1:11-12 conveys the astounding truth that we can enter the God Family.

Yes, this world knows God’s name, but does not know Him. But those who will hear and believe the simple but exciting truths that flood from His Word can know both His name and who and what He is.

October 25, 2009

Vatican Announcement: The Reformation Is Dead!

graspingthecross.wordpress.com

graspingthecross.wordpress.com

In a move with potentially sweeping implications, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.

The Traditional Anglican Communion—a group of around 400,000 conservative Anglican churches that broke away from the Anglican Communion in 1990 to protest the liberalism creeping into that organization—has announced that the process toward full unity with Rome “will begin at once.” It is unhappy with liberals in the Anglican Communion who have allowed the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the ordination of openly gay clergy and bishops, and the blessing of same-sex unions.

According to the Vatican, former Anglican clergy who are married may serve as priests in the new ordinariates, but they may not be ordained as bishops. The details will be presented in a new apostolic constitution from Pope Benedict XVI, expected to be issued shortly and which will amend the church’s Code of Canon Law.

The new structure to absorb these Anglican “daughter” churches is very interesting, and required the apostolic constitution [creating a new structure] as a  recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. The fact that the Catholic Church—with the pope’s personal involvement—is making such major concessions to Anglicans shows just how much it wants the Anglicans back under its control.

Still, and probably shockingly to many, it happened. The Vatican note described the new “personal ordinariates” as separate dioceses, presided over by a bishop and with their own priests, seminarians, and faithful. This of course, is also similar to the canonical status of “personal prelature,” currently held by only one Catholic group: Opus Dei.

Though appearing to happen suddenly, such an invitation to disgruntled Anglican conservatives has long been in the works, with unity dialogues going back fourty years. The Vatican was careful not to have it seen as poaching, with Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s top ecumenical official, stating during  a Vatican news conference, “We are not fishing in the Anglican lake.” Yet out of respect for freedom of religion, the Catholic church has a responsibility to respond when someone knocks on its door.”

The bigger implication of course is that Protestantism will be absorbed into the ‘mother’ church—and despite the new legal framework, or apostolic constitution – will eventually be totally abolished. John Broadhurst, bishop of Fulham and chairman of the group Forward in Faith, formed to oppose the ordination of women bishops, said that up to 1,000 clergymen in England alone could move to Catholicism. Entire parishes or dioceses could make the switch.

A Deceptive Attack

This apostolic constitution represents a swift and brilliant (divide and conquer) attack on the Church of England—orchestrated by the pope himself—that will leave it mortally wounded. The Catholic Church deliberately kept its plan secret from the Church of England for as long as possible. Usually proposals like these are debated for months ahead of time, but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the most senior bishop in the Church of England, only found out about them two weeks ago. The press conference regarding the constitution was announced less than 24 hours before it took place—the Vatican usually announces such conferences several days in advance.

Britain’s Times newspaper declared that “Rome has parked its tanks on the archbishop of Canterbury’s lawn.” And little wonder, as this is a mortal blow to a shrinking and increasingly irrelevant Anglican church. The Vatican has added a potent spice to the integration soup by changing the power balance in the Church of England.  Catholics already outnumber Anglicans in their respective regular church services. With this switch, Catholicism would become by far the most dominant religion in Britain by marginalizing the Anglican Church’s role in British life. Anglicans will then have most of what they desired – a church full of liberals and modernizers, who aren’t really sure if God exists, but who attend church only a few times a year. It is a death knell of the Reformation, pure and simple.

Contrarily, the stage is being set for the greatest revolution in religion the world has witnessed. The final short-lived triumph of Catholicism, as recorded in literally dozens of Bible prophecies, is almost upon us as we see reconciliation of the Orthodox Schism of 1054 that divided the churches in the East, and the restoration to the Roman Communion of all Protestantism which developed from 1517 onward.

How can we know all this? It is prophesied in the Bible.

October 23, 2009

Parables Of Jesus: The Kingdom

As Jesus sat in a small fishing craft just offshore on the Sea (or lake) of Galilee, He began to address the large crowd assembled on the shore. He spoke in parables about the Kingdom of God.

In this first group of parables, Jesus gave to the people six parables without any explanation. Later, He privately explained the meaning of all these to His own disciples. He also gave the disciples four additional parables, which were self-explanatory. These last four parables contained a special message within the overall theme pertaining directly to the disciples’ future apostolic ministry.

It is important to realize that the parables were doctrinal in nature: “And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine” (Mark 4:2).

A doctrine is a biblical principle, teaching or truth that is accepted as authoritative. It constitutes part of the dogma of real Christianity. Therefore, we cannot underestimate the importance of seeking understanding of the parables of Jesus!

The first parable Jesus gave is of special significance because it is a pacesetter of sorts. It is typical of all such parables, and the method of explanation also follows the same basic pattern. Jesus said to His disciples: ” … Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13.)

The parable of the sower

“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred” (Mark 4:3-8).

This first parable is a simple story liberally laced with local color. It is found in three of the four gospel accounts — Matthew, Mark and Luke. Each gospel mentions a point or two not found in the other accounts. We will use Mark’s more concise gospel as our basic reference.

Jesus describes a scene very familiar to His audience: A sower went out to sow grain in his field. The seed falls on four different types of ground: 1) the wayside, 2) stony ground, 3) among thorns and 4) good ground. Each represents a different category of person who hears the Word of God at some point in his life. Each responds differently.

We are not told who the sower is, but it is explained that “the sower soweth the word” (verse 14). We must assume that whoever disseminates God’s Word (God or one of His human instruments) is the sower. The seed in the parable, then, represents the Gospel message and all that it includes.

Each person who hears it reacts differently. Not everyone responds with equal enthusiasm. Nor does the Word of God bear the same fruit in each individual it touches.

Those by the wayside

The people in this first category hear the Gospel message, but they are immediately dissuaded from doing anything about it. God’s truth is never allowed to take root in their lives. They are easy prey for the devil, who subtly convinces them to disbelieve what they hear. ” … Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts” (verse 15).

There are many ways by which this happens: A snide remark about the message from a “friend” who is supposedly in the know about such things. A sudden change of personal circumstances may lead to a temporary diversion — which becomes permanent.

A minor disagreement about a small point can lead the prospective Christian to “throw out the baby with the bath water.” It could be any number of things, but the result is always the same! The person rejects the Gospel of the Kingdom of God before it gets a chance to take root.

On stony ground

These persons advance somewhat further than those in the first category. Their initial reaction to the Word of God is enthusiastic. They are happy to hear the truth preached. They may even become baptized. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized … ” (Acts 2:41).

But unfortunately, their enthusiasm soon wears thin. They ” … have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:17).

These babes in Christ never allow their spiritual roots to go down quite deeply enough to draw on the pure, nourishing water of God’s spiritual power (John 7:38, 39; Acts 1:8). When persecution comes along, they are not strong enough to withstand. They have no persevering power in the face of the ridicule and derision of those who do not share their beliefs.

Such people are only willing to obey God as long as it does not cost them anything in terms of personal prestige and respect. They are willing to compromise the Word of God rather than suffer for it.

Did not Jesus say in another place: ” … If any man will come after me, let him … take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24)?

Among thorns

The third type of person progresses somewhat further. He too begins to bear fruit and live a life of obedience to Christ. His life changes as he yields to the Word of God. But he too has a hang-up. At some point in his Christian life, “… the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

In order to become unfruitful, he must have at one time been fruitful. Here is someone who has actually begun to bear substantial fruit as a result of God’s Word. He has made spiritual progress. He may have been in the Church for some time. Others may even consider him well established in the Body of Christ.

But sooner or later, plain old materialism or sensuality creeps in and smothers his spirituality.

Perhaps it is a craving for material success in the world of business or industry. A desire to be at the top of the financial heap can divert a person’s focus of attention from spiritual to material things.

For this reason, the apostle Paul warned the Colossians about drifting into materialism: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). He also said that “… to be carnally [physically] minded is death …” (Romans 8:6).

There are many pitfalls that can tear a person away from the abundant life to which God has called him. It could be money, the desire for financial success, another woman or man, a job or an inordinate desire of any kind. It could be a craving for liquor or food (not that eating and drinking are wrong, but drunkenness and gluttony are) or possibly even narcotic drugs.

Whatever it is, it diverts one from his life in Christ — choking out the influence of God’s Holy Spirit and any further bearing of good fruit.

On good ground

This category describes people who are converted and who make continual growth and progress in the faith. They bear the good fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

But not all bear the same amount of fruit. Some are much more productive than others. Many do not realize their maximum potential as Christians — they merely get by with a modicum of effort.

Yet it is Christ’s will that we bear much fruit. Those who are closest to Jesus Christ bear the most fruit. Jesus said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Which category are you in?

The wheat and the tares

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servant said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:24-30).

The second parable is also taken from a description of rural life in the province of Galilee. Any farmer of the day would have known about tares (darnel). They were weeds that grew with the wheat and looked much like it as long as the wheat remained in the blade stage. When they grew to maturity, however, they were readily distinguishable.

This is a simple illustration pointing out that both the converted and unconverted have to coexist in the same society until the time of the great harvest of lives at Christ’s return. During that time Jesus Christ will make a separation between those who are His and those who are not.

The best account of this parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30. (The explanation is given in verses 36-43.) Each element has vital meaning. Notice Matthew’s explanation:

“The field is the world; the good seed [true Christians] are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one [Satan — compare John 8:44, I John 3:8]; The enemy that sowed them is the devil [the god of this society, II Corinthians 4:4]; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [Greek: aionos, meaning age].”

This parable graphically shows the fate of those who insist on following the devil when they know better! Those who are incorrigibly wicked will be thrown into a lake of fire and be burned into ashes (Malachi 4:3).

John spoke of this in the book of Revelation: “And death [the dead] and hell [the grave — hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). In order to die twice, one must first live twice. This means a resurrection must occur.

This is not immortal life as a “soul” in an ever-burning hellfire — it is complete extinction and oblivion forever! And this is doctrine!

The Good News, April 1979

October 21, 2009

Where Did God Come From?

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apod.nasa.gov/apod

We are used to living in a limited world. Everything around us has limitations-beginnings and endings. We are aware of infants being born. We are aware of grandparents dying. We observe animals, plants and insects beginning life. We see their lives come to an end. We speak of the birth and the death of civilizations, of storms, volcanoes and comets. We are accustomed to seeing things get old. Clothing and furniture wear out. Automobiles fall apart. Buildings deteriorate. Our bodies become wrinkled and slow. To mortal man everything has a beginning, a period of usefulness and an end. We mark this progression of events on our clocks and calendars.

To us, only what is measurable by hours, days and years seems to have real significance. So when we hear that God is eternal, that He always has been and always will be, our minds balk. The words tend to be meaningless because we have nothing familiar to relate them to. And that is just the problem: we are trying to relate what cannot be related in physical terms. We are trying to apply the limitations of the physical existence we know to the unlimited spiritual plane on which God lives. The two cannot be compared. Our minds can encompass an hour, a century, a millennium, but we cannot grasp past eternity. They are not big enough to fully comprehend spiritual existence. We can’t even fully comprehend the physical universe! As an illustration, let’s consider for a moment what God has created.

Astronomers estimate that 100,000 million galaxies each with 100,000 million stars dot the universe. And who knows how many planets and moons? God says He counts and names them all (Ps. 147:4). Now if we allow God one full second by our reckoning of time to count and name each star in the heavens, do you know how long it would take Him to name them all? Working nonstop, by our clocks and calendars, it would take more than 300,000 billion years just to count and name them. How long must it have taken Him to design and create all those stars?

To us these figures are inconceivable. But not to God. God is eternal. One of His names in Hebrew is Yahweh-the “Everliving One.” The Creator is not bound by the laws of space and time as we are. While men are able to theorize about time warps and the relation of energy to the speed of light, God masters it all. To Him, according to His wishes, “one day … is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). God “inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15). That is to say He comfortably dwells in what we might think of as beginningless and endless time. Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 show that at whatever point in the past we wish to consider as the beginning-no matter how far back we try to stretch our finite minds-God already existed. “In the beginning God…” Where did God come from? He didn’t “come from” anywhere. He was always there!

What Does The Hebrew Word "Elohim"(God) Mean?

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“”In the beginning God!”  The Hebrew word from which this word God is translated is Elohim and it occurs 2,570 times. The one which occurs most frequently is the word in the King James Version translated Lord [LORD], and in the American Standard Version, Jehovah.” (Translated from the tetragrammaton [YHWH], sometimes called Yahweh or Jehovah.)

Elohim, pronounced el-o-heem’, is translated “gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: -angels, exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), and (very) great judges, and mighty (Stone, p. 10)”

Family Name

Elohim is a collective noun. It is similar to such English words as group, church, crowd, family, or organization. Take, for example, the word “church.” We find in 1 Corinthians 12:20 that there is only one church-the “one body” yet composed of “many members.” Even though it takes many persons to constitute the church, it is not many churches-it is only the one church! A family is made up of more than one person, yet it is only the one family.

In like manner, God is not merely one person, but a family. God is the supreme divine family which rules the universe! The Gospel Jesus brought to mankind is the good news of the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is a family-a ruling divine family into which humans may be born!

Who Wrote The Book Of Genesis?

special.lib.gla.ac.uk

special.lib.gla.ac.uk

The Jewish community, which has the responsibility of preserving the Hebrew Old Testament (Rom. 3:1-2), ascribes this book to Moses. There can be no doubt that Moses is the author of Genesis as well as the rest of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).

Jesus verified this by saying to certain religious leaders of His day, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my works?” (John 5:45-47). Here is Jesus’ own personal testimony that Moses wrote scripture.

But what part? Jesus gave the division of the Old Testament in Luke 24:44: All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms…” A little earlier, Jesus, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets… expounded unto them (the disciples) in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (verse 27). Jesus began with Moses because it was Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible. This does not, however, preclude the fact that Joshua and later prophets added further comments to the law as Moses wrote it. See Deuteronomy 34:5-12 for the account of Moses’ death. Also Genesis 14:14 where the later name Dan is used instead of Laish (Judg. 18:29).

Definition of Genesis

Genesis is the “book of origins.” It constitutes that part of the Bible which is commonly called the introductory book of the Old Testament. The name Genesis is derived directly from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word bereshith, meaning “in the beginning.” The book of Genesis starts with a brief statement about the pre-Adamic world and goes on to cover the first 2,000 years and more of man’s history, from the creation of Adam and Eve to the settlement of the children of Israel in Egypt. The highlights of the first eleven chapters are a description of creation; God’s instruction to the first man and woman; the account of their disobedience which cut them and their progeny off from God’s Holy Spirit; man’s sinful degeneration which resulted in total destruction of human life, except for Noah and his family, by a Flood; and the disbursement of the races at the tower of Babel after the Flood.

Chapters 12 through 50 contain the account of Abraham’s calling and God’s promises to him due to his faithfulness; the story of Isaac and Jacob; and the account of Joseph and his family in Egypt. Genesis can rightly be summed up in the following words: “The book of Genesis is the true and original birthplace of all theology. It contains those concepts of God and man, of righteousness and judgment, of responsibility and moral government, of failure and hope, which are presupposed through the rest of the Old Testament, and which prepare the way for the mission of Christ” (The Foundations of the Bible, page 155). The record of Genesis is written in abbreviated form, and certain questions, as a result, have been frequently asked about its content. It is the purpose of this publication to answer a number of these questions in the light of the entire Bible (Genesis to Revelation).

Population Explosion, Command To Multiply: Are They Irreconcilable?

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). However, that command in no way obviated the need for intelligent planning and birth control. The Bible does not condemn family planning.

By focusing attention on the population explosion, there is a need to get across the seriousness of the overpopulation dilemma — and resulting famine — facing mankind. However, I am not necessarily espousing human solutions that others may advance. Rather, I mean to show that man cannot effectively solve the problem as long as he is largely motivated by selfishness, greed and vanity.

Children are a heritage of God (Ps. 127:3). All married couples should intelligently plan — unless there are extenuating circumstances — to have children. However, it is also plain that God never intended man to procreate like a mindless animal.

Man’s mind is patterned after the mind of God Himself — in whose physical and mental image man was created. Man’s mind should be exercised toward the intelligent direction in every facet of life.

The cost of caring for children also enters the picture. Paul told Timothy: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Tim. 5:8). And, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children [grandchildren] …” (Prov. 13:22).

If a married couple has more children than the family head can comfortably support, the children may never reach their full potential in later life.

October 20, 2009

The Seven Laws Of Success

1In the beginning the Eternal Creator designated and set in motion living laws for the very purpose of producing happiness, abundant living, pure and continuous joy, in all humans who would follow them. These are the seven great laws of success” (The Seven Laws of Success, p. 17). Let’s look at these seven laws.

Fix the right goal

As Christians, God tells us what our focus must be: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness… (Matt. 6:33). We must allow the living Christ to instruct us, to change us and to build within us God’s holy righteous character. All other goals (building and maintaining a good marriage; rearing our children properly; working productively) must be secondary to that one! No exceptions!

Preparation

All Christians must pray diligently, study the word of God enthusiastically, meditate often and fast according to a pattern. They must attend holy day services regularly and fellowship with people of like mind. Getting ready for membership in the God Family must be paramount.

Good Health

In order to pursue the Kingdom of God, we need both bodies and minds that are in good working order. Factors include: proper diet, adequate sleep, exercise, plenty of fresh air, cleanliness, proper elimination, right thinking and clean living. We need to be temperate in all things and strive to avoid accidents and taking in of substances harmful to our bodies and minds.

Drive

We must constantly move forward. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). We all fall short, but God tells us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). In short, we must believe we have been forgiven by God, then forgive ourselves and move ahead. The primary focus is driving toward eternal life and ruling with Jesus Christ, not some secondary objective.

Resourcefulness

We will face obstacles in the process. What must we do? Mr. Armstrong summed it up briefly: “To succeed, you need to cultivate the ability, and the habit, of remaining unexcited, yet leaping to action on high tension, reaching the right decision, then acting on it!” (the Seven Laws of success, p. 31). We must not let the obstacle get our minds off our major objective in life: sharing the glory of Jesus Christ. Moreover, we should use the Bible as the primary source for knowledge, wisdom and understanding. The book of Proverbs contains many excellent principles for right living, for example.

Perseverance

We must keep on track as the days move into weeks and the weeks move into months and the months turn into years. God tells us that He will test us. The apostle James states: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2). The apostle Peter warns us: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:12-13). We must realize God allows trials in order to build godly character within us. Our loving Father must also correct us. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:5-6). Through all these trials and chastisements, Christians must not quit. Jesus admonishes us: “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). We must never turn back to the slop of Satan’s world.

Contact with, and the Guidance and Continuous Help of God

Christians must allow the Spirit of God to guide them daily. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). The apostle Paul adds: “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). To whom should we go for help? Hebrews 4:14-16 gives us the answer: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Only with Jesus Christ living within us can we hope to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

What is joy? It is an emotion. It is a by-product of an action and it is a gift of God. Each Christian should ask: Is my life filled with joy? Am I living an abundant life? Each of us needs to examine himself and truly take the time and meditate on each of these questions.

To achieve more and to reap even greater happiness we must work hard to overcome human nature, this present evil society and Satan. Also, struggle valiantly for growth and consistency in Christian living, constantly apply the seven laws of success to accomplish your primary objective—the Kingdom of God. We must work hard to accomplish the secondary goals in our lives. We must diligently apply the principles leading to success to these lesser important objectives. We must never allow any secondary goal to distract us from our prime objective and partaking of the joy that is a characteristic of our God.

Fruits Of the Spirit Lead To Real Abundant Living

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thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

Why do some religious people feel that their religious life must be one of giving up all the fun and enjoyment of living — that in order to please God, they must endure a life of morbid gloom? For that matter why do some nonreligious people feel that to become a Christian would mean a life of living painful penance?

Much of traditional Christianity traditionally has preached the many don’ts — don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t play cards, don’t go to the theater, don’t drink a drop of wine, don’t do this, don’t do that!  Where do people get all these distorted ideas about the religion of Jesus Christ? Certainly not out of the Bible.

They know nothing of the Jesus of the Bible, who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Somehow a lot of people have received a lot of weird and false ideas about Jesus Christ — I mean the Jesus of  your Bible. Actually, I think almost no one knows what the Bible says about him.

It seems most people think sin is the thing that is best for us, but which a stern, wrathful God denies us. Why don’t people know that God our Creator has never forbidden us a single thing that is good for us — never said “don’t” about a single thing except that which is going to harm us to our own hurt. What God does command us not to do are the very things that bring on unhappiness, frustration, pain, suffering and a life of morbid gloom.

Let’s get this matter straight. The real Jesus Christ said he came to bring us happiness and joy! Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). And he came that we might enjoy full, abundant life eternally. God Almighty intended the real Christian life to be happy. Jesus said, “My joy I leave with you” (John 15:11).

There is a way of life that causes peace, happiness and joy. God the great Creator set that way as an inexorable law — an invisible spiritual law — to produce peace, happiness, joy, abundance! There is a cause for every effect. In this unhappy confused world we have discontentment, unhappiness, wretchedness, suffering. The world is full of that. It should be full of peace, happiness and joy. There’s a cause. People don’t like God’s law. That law is the cause of peace and everything desirable and good. People want everything that is good and desirable. They just don’t want to obey that which would cause it! They want to be right, but they don’t want to do right.

Christ came to call people to repent. Repent of what? Repent of causing unhappiness, strife war and pain — and then to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And what kind of results will the Spirit of God produce in you?

I’ll tell you first what it won’t produce. It won’t produce the morbid, unhappy, painful, gloomy life that many think is the Christian life. Let the Bible tell you what “fruit” it will produce in you. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal.5:22-23)

Look at that more closely: “the fruit of the Spirit”– this is the Spirit of God. This is the Holy Spirit that God imparts only to those who have repented — that is, turned from that which has caused unhappiness, morbid gloom. discouragement, frustration, emptiness. On the contrary, that fruit of the Spirit is first of all LOVE. And the second fruit is JOY! Joy is happiness, brimful and running over. That doesn’t sound like an unhappy, empty, gloomy life, does it? And God’s Spirit is not static. It flows spontaneously from God into and through His people, and out from them, making others happy and joyful.

The very first result produced in your life by God’s Spirit is love. Love is a righteous love of and for others. It will mean your face is beaming. It’s an outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others. It will mean that you are really giving out — that you are radiant and happy. And love results in joy — that’s the second of these fruits. The third is PEACE. Instead of an attitude of hostility, instead of going around quarreling, being resentful and bitter, angry and arguing, you’ll be in an attitude of peace — peace in your mind and with your neighbor and with your God.

Next comes longsuffering. That means patience. How much has impatience made you unhappy? Probably impatience makes more people unhappy than almost anything else! If you can really come to have patience, you’ll be acquiring one of the things that will allow you to be happy and make life worth living.

Then next is gentleness. That makes others happy and automatically adds to your happiness. And then goodness and faith! Faith is confidence — not self-confidence, but reliance on the supreme power. It means that the supreme power of God is working for you. It means reassurance. It means assured hope instead of doubt, fear, discouragement.

Now this is not to say that there are never troubles in the Christian life. Far from it. There will be persecutions. Jesus Christ was persecuted. He said, “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” That comes from without. But unhappiness is something that springs from within. Happiness is a state of mind; happiness is within. And the person who does have this inward peace — this joy, this patience and love, and absence of resentment and bitterness isn’t going to be anywhere near as disturbed and unhappy as when he didn’t have them. You’ll always face problems — but you’ll have faith and God’s help in solving them. But problems and tests of faith are good for us — the very building blocks of perfect spiritual character.

I know that the Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” but the same scripture adds, “but the [Eternal] delivereth him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19).

It’s true Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” It’s true he suffered — he knew what suffering is. But his suffering and grief were not caused by pain others inflicted on him — not from resentment, or being hurt by others — but by his love for others. He suffered because they were bringing so much suffering on themselves. But he also was a man of boundless joy, and he said, “My joy I leave with you.”

Yes, he said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Source: Plain Truth, 1983

October 19, 2009

Seven Supplements That Comprise Living Faith: Do You Know Them?

The apostle James devoted practically his whole epistle to the subject of faith — living faith, faith that always produces fruit. But he also revealed a much neglected truth that holds the key to living faith. He wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

While the epistle of James deals primarily with faith, the two epistles Peter wrote put the accent on hope; as for the apostle John, he, in his three letters, expounded on what love is.

These three virtues combined — faith, hope and love — reveal to us the works of faith.

Interestingly enough, the apostle Peter groups these works in three simple verses, as he writes: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (II Pet. 1:5-7).

Do you actually understand the full meaning of these words? Peter mentions seven supplements — seven important works — that are to be added to faith. These seven works make our faith a living faith, not a dead one.

In any language, words are used to express ideas, but they often have different connotations in people’s minds. God expresses His ideas through the Bible. We must therefore grasp the spiritual intent of His words to fully understand the Bible’s meaning.

Virtue

Peter wrote, under God’s inspiration, that the first supplement to faith — the first of the required works — is virtue.

In the original Greek, this word appears four times in the New Testament, but it is not always translated “virtue” in the various English versions. Some translate it as “excellence,” “strength,” “right conduct” or even “wonderful deeds.”

In essence you must conduct yourself according to God’s way in order to have living faith. You must show courage and strength, and you must excel in your task.

Peter also wrote, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9). Here the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated as “virtue” is rendered “praises.”

Interesting, isn’t it? The words “praise” and “wonderful deeds” (Revised Standard Version) are used as equivalents of the Greek word elsewhere translated “virtue.”

Therefore, to have living faith (remember, “Faith without works is dead” — James 2:26), you must produce “wonderful deeds” or have a “praiseworthy conduct” in God’s sight. That’s what God wants you to do.

Knowledge

Let us now examine the second work that must be added to your faith to make it live. Peter states, “And beside this, giving all diligence. add … to virtue knowledge” (II Pet. 1:5).

Why should knowledge come right after virtue? The answer is obvious: to enable us to rightly determine just what are good and praiseworthy deeds. That knowledge only comes from God.

Consequently, you need to study the Bible and learn what God wants you to do. Your deeds must be evaluated by His standards and not your human standards. Without divine revelation, you cannot have this essential knowledge.

Today humanity as a whole has much knowledge of material things, but is lamentably ignorant of spiritual truths. Men can send highly sophisticated spacecraft into space and take remarkable pictures of the planets. Astronauts can set foot on the moon and return to earth safely.

Nevertheless, that kind of knowledge, however awe-inspiring, does not produce living faith. It cannot save a person. Your faith must be supplemented with the knowledge of God’s will and His ways.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” says your Creator. “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).

The prophet Micah clearly shows what is the true knowledge that needs to be added to your faith: “He [God] hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Mic. 6:8).

Simple and beautiful words, provided you grasp their spiritual intent. To do justly is to live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth; to love mercy is to be good to your neighbor — to love him as you love yourself; to walk humbly with God is to do His will, and to have no other gods before Him.

Unfortunately, ever since the beginning, the world has rejected this knowledge.

Temperance

After supplementing your faith with virtue and knowledge, you must exercise temperance or self-control. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add … to knowledge temperance” (II Pet. 1:5-6).

Of what value can knowledge be if you don’t put it to use — or if you lack self-control? More often than not, people know what they are supposed to do, but they lack the character to do it.

Misuse of anything leads to sin. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with eating and drinking. But too much eating and drinking can be sin.

Do you now see why God wants you to add to your faith — as a working part of it — self-control? You must learn to resist temptation, to stop before you come anywhere near breaking God’s law.

The best and surest way to resist temptation is to get closer to God, but you can only get closer to Him by doing His will. That’s having self-control or temperance.

God’s Spirit in you will give you all the help you need, because “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Patience

To virtue, which is good conduct or praiseworthy deeds, you must add godly knowledge; to knowledge, self-control or temperance in order to resist evil; and to self-control, steadfastness or patience (II Pet. 1:6).

Patience is one of the most important — and one of the hardest — things to practice. Without it you cannot grow in grace and knowledge, practice virtue, acquire knowledge or exercise self-control.

That’s why the apostle James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:2).

To one degree or another we all lack patience. We often get upset and irritated when others don’t do what they are supposed to do, but we are very tolerant with ourselves.

How grateful we should all be to God that He does not lose patience as we do!

To have patience is to set your ideas, your goals, your mind on positive things — with faith — all the time. Patience never gives up, no matter what. It enables you to remember that God loves you and that He always knows what’s best for you.

Throughout history, all the people of God and every disciple of Christ had to learn to be patient. true Christians must not forget that God’s timing is always best, and that our faith is strengthened when we patiently wait on Him.

Godliness

Just what is godliness (II Pet. 1:6)? How does the Bible define it?

To be godly is to have a godlike attitude. You must learn to gradually think like God and behave like Him. God commands you to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:2).

Indeed, you have to endeavor to be godly and respectful in every way — to think and act as God does — to be patient and kind as He is. Unfortunately, the much misunderstood words pious or piousness have been substituted for godliness in some English versions of the Bible, and people are confused.

Godliness is synonymous with true Christianity or true religion. In fact, in the Revised Standard Version, this is how the same Greek word has been translated in I Timothy 2:10: “But by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion [godliness].”

As you can see, to practice godliness is to have godlike religion — the true religion. Faith without godliness is dead.

Kindness

The “brotherly kindness” mentioned in this verse is translated from the Greek word philadelphia, which literally means “brotherly love.” This love is one of the works of your living faith. Philia love is the love of friendship—brotherly love—love of parent, or child. Strong’s Concordance says it means “to have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling).”

Though philia and agape are related in many ways, there is a fundamental and distinct difference between the two. Man can express philia love, but not agape. Philia love is prompted by a sense of emotion. God’s love is not an emotion. The simple difference is this: All men can express philia whereas agape love is attained by choice. God made us free moral agents. He gave us minds to direct our actions. For right actions, we must submit to His law of love by choice. Doing so will bring us happiness. But it also requires that we go against what is normal or natural for the carnal man.

All men were created with a natural love toward self. Remember, we are commanded to love neighbor as self. Philia love can be an unselfish, outflowing love, but only when combined with the agape love God gives you.

But for the most part, philia love is something man, without God’s Spirit can express, because it revolves around self. It means “fraternal affection, brotherly love”; in other words, the natural affection you have for those who relate to you in a special way.

Love

The final supplement — the seventh work — to living faith that Peter lists is charity, or the love of God (II Pet. 1:7). God’s love is concerned about that neighbor who is the absolute farthest away from any kind of natural, brotherly affection. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love is much more than just a natural affection you might have for those closely related to you. It is more than philia.

Do you really love everyone, including your enemies? Don’t you sometimes criticize others, see the evil in them, overlook their good deeds? Don’t you judge them instead of being a light to them?

Without question, there is much wrong in the world, and you, as a Christian, should not be a part of it, nor should you judge it. The whole world today desperately needs God’s Kingdom to come. Christ didn’t only die for His true followers. He died for every single human being.

Conclusion

Examine your heart. Is your faith truly supplemented with the seven works the apostle Peter mentions in this section of his second epistle?

In concluding this section, Peter wrote, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things [if you practice these works of faith], ye shall never fall” (II Pet. 1:10).

What a tremendous promise! If you have living faith — faith supplemented with these seven works — you will never, never fall. You will never give up. “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (verse 11).

That’s your precious, ultimate reward. Let your faith be truly supplemented with the works of the Holy Spirit!

Research Source: The Good News, February 1982

October 17, 2009

Sabbath Questions: How To Keep God's Sabbath Day Holy!

Do you keep God’s Sabbath holy? Do you find the Sabbath a real delight and joy? Or is it a day of “bondage” or question to you? How often have you wondered if you have broken the Sabbath by a particular act or thought? How many times have you felt condemned about the Sabbath?

Should you attend a funeral, a wedding, a movie on the Sabbath? How do you take care of unconverted relatives who drop in unexpectedly on the Sabbath? Is it okay to have a family outing on the Sabbath? How many dishes should you wash? This is just a sampling of some of the many questions asked regularly about the Sabbath.

Since God’s Sabbath is special HOLY time set aside by God, you need to understand it, know its purpose and meaning to you as a true Christian. Too often, the tendency is to the two extremes — either treating the Sabbath too lightly as the world does, or becoming completely Pharisaical — afraid to move on the Sabbath.

Petty Arguments

Because of the many supposed complications in keeping the Sabbath, men have excused themselves from keeping it — saying it is too difficult. Of course, these are only their puny excuses to keep from obeying God, but many of the questions which come up are derived from these petty arguments. You need to understand them. Once they are cleared up completely in your mind, you will be ready to understand how to keep the Sabbath as God intended!

Fire on the Sabbath

They say you cannot build a fire on the Sabbath according to Exodus 35:2. Then what about people who live in cold climates? Won’t they freeze to death? If this is true, then God made the Sabbath too harsh, and it should not be kept — according to the rebellious, carnal mind!

Notice Exodus 35:2 with the context around it. Verse three says, “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” From the original Hebrew, this word, “kindle,” means a consuming flame, a flame that would devour — that is, a great, roaring fire! The question is why would you need such a fire on the Sabbath? Read the rest of Chapter 35 and you will see. They were building the tabernacle and needed a fire large enough to work metal!

Haven’t you ever looked out on the Sabbath day and noticed some trimming you would like to get done on your lawn, or have a job you would like to get finished — and catch yourself wanting to get it done in spite of the Sabbath? This is exactly what the Israelites were doing. They were so zealous for the tabernacle that Moses even had to tell them to stop bringing materials. God knew that if He did not stop them, they would work right through the Sabbath on the Tabernacle.

This was not a cooking or household heating fire! It was an industrial fire. The same principle holds true today. There should be no industrial fires kindled on the Sabbath. On the other hand, fires of the proper type were commanded by God to be kept burning! Notice Leviticus 6:13: “The fire shall be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” Hence a sacrificial fire (from which the Israelites cooked their meat and grain) remained burning on the Sabbath! God was not even discussing a cooking, sacrificial or personal heating fire — but a fire which is used for work that should be done only on one of the other six days provided for that purpose.

Sabbath Day’s Journey

The Sabbath day’s journey question seems to stipulate that a true believer should travel no more than the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12) about 2,000 cubits or approximately seven-eighths of a mile. But yet almost all the Sabbath keeping people who attend church around the world travel many times that distance each Sabbath! Does this mean they are breaking the Sabbath each week by attending church?

If you will check carefully, you will find that this reference is the only place in the entire Bible a “Sabbath day’s journey” is mentioned. This was a common expression of the Jews at that time, but was never employed by Christ and his disciples. It was derived as a custom by the legalistic Jews from Exodus 16:29: “…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

The explanation of this is found in Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, page 573, under “Sabbath day’s journey”: Acts 1:12. The law as regards travel on the Sabbath is found in Ex. 16:29. As some departure from a man’s own place was unavoidable, it was thought necessary to determine the allowable amount, which was fixed at 2,000 cubits or about 1,000 yards, from the wall of the city. The permitted distance seems to have been grounded on the space to be kept between the ark and the people, Joshua 3:4, in the wilderness, which tradition said was that between the ark and the tents. We find the same distance given as the circumference outside the walls of the Levitical cities to be counted as their suburbs. Num. 35:5. The terminus a quo was thus not a man’s own house, but the wall of the city where he dwelt.

Notice it is not a law of God, but simply a tradition of the Jews! Since God required attendance at Sabbath services, they had to leave their homes or tents and travel to the tent of meeting. It just happened that the distance from the fringe tents to the center of the encampment where the tent of meeting was, measured about 2,000 cubits. Rather than strive to understand and obey the principle of the Sabbath, they punctiliously set about on their own to draw up definite physical limits for Sabbath observance.

God has never set on his people a “Sabbath day’s journey”!

Ox in the Ditch

Christ said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”  (Luke 14:5.) From this, many have argued that their job was an ox in the ditch because it requires them to work, or they work at a job which has “regular emergencies” requiring work on the Sabbath.

They reason that God surely would not want the men to lose their jobs which provides for their families and also enables them to continue to give offerings to God’s Work. Some have gone so far as to work on the Sabbath, then give that whole day’s pay as an offering, to avoid losing their jobs. But these persons have not known that God says, “Hath the Eternal as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Eternal? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam. 15:22).

God is not interested in sacrifices or offerings at the expense of disobedience to His laws!

But what about the ox or ass in the ditch? How often should you expect it to happen, and what does it really mean and how does it apply today to people who don’t own oxen and asses?

First, you need to understand literally what an “ox in the ditch” means. Since the ox and the ass are rather sure-footed creatures, the odds against them regularly being stuck in a ditch are quite high. When you add the fact that the Sabbath is only one day out of a total of seven, the odds go even higher. Normally, in order to have an ox in the ditch, you have to have the following factors: It must be Sabbath, you must have some kind of severely inclement weather (snowstorm, rainstorm, etc.), and you need a clumsy ox!

Rest assured that if the ox is in the ditch on the Sabbath, Christ makes it very clear you should pull it out. But an ox in the ditch on the Sabbath is a very rare occurrence — that is, a genuine emergency.  Normally, a farmer can go through a whole lifetime and be able to count on one hand the number of oxen (cattle) or asses he has pulled out of a bog or ditch — and the odds are seven to one against it being on the Sabbath.

The principle of the ox in the ditch obviously includes such genuine emergencies as personal injuries, burning houses, power failures, accidents and other occurrences which would entail injury, loss of life or personal property.

The principle does not include, however, the person who “pushes his own ox into the ditch” by acquiring or keeping a job where he knows he will be required to work on the Sabbath each week, or by “putting off” work which should have been done during the week. Nor does it include harvesting or plowing on the Sabbath — even if there has been bad weather or machinery breakdowns during the week. God says, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing [better translated, “plowing” — see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #2758} time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Exodus 34:21).

Jewish Ritualism — Pagan Permissiveness

By their strict adherence to certain physical limitations they (not God) placed on the law, the Jews consistently broke the spirit of the law. One story is told of how the Pharisees, to prohibit a profit from milking on the Sabbath, decreed that the cows should be milked on a rock so the milk would not be gathered in a bucket and sold. This apparently worked fine until one enterprising person began milking his cow on a rock — which had been placed in the bottom of a bucket!

Christ scorched them with the truth, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers”  (Mat. 23:4). They were totally carnal and could not see nor understand the principles behind the law.

On the other hand, the pagans have rejected completely God’s laws, thinking they could make up for it with self-flagellation, pilgrimages, enforced fasts, assuming that is what God wants. They have completely forgotten what God is like.

Our so-called “Judeo-Christian” society has inherited a strange mixture of this ill-conceived “marriage.” This is what the people of God must come out of! We have grown up being too lax in some things — thinking we had to be punished for nonsensical things — and too strict and legalistic in others. We must come out of this and strive to learn the right balance of living and keeping the Sabbath from God!

From the Beginning

God ordered the Israelites at Mount Sinai to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy! (Ex. 20:8.) They were to remember how the Sabbath began and what it was all about from the beginning. Genesis 2 describes the Sabbath as the day God hallowed by resting. He rested the seventh day after working six — thereby setting the perfect example.

It was done for man — for his well-being and benefit. It is not nearly as complicated as some think!  “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” states Christ (Mark 2:27). It was created after man for his good and physical and spiritual health — not before man with a long list of stringent requirements and harsh bondage!

FIRST a Day of Rest and a SIGN!

It is a day of rest for God and man! God set us a positive example by taking extra pains to set aside this special space of time — holy to Him — as His time, belonging to Him, It was so important to Him that He set it up as a special sign to man, to be observed throughout his generations.

Notice Exodus 31:12-17: “… Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations…. Ye shall keep the Sabbath…for it is holy unto you… It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel FOREVER: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

A sign is an identifying mark, or brand. God’s people were to have been identified throughout their generations by the keeping of God’s Sabbath. A mark or brand shows ownership. God “bought” the children of Israel out of the bondage of abject slavery to the Egyptians. His token of ownership became the Sabbath Day! “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual COVENANT” (Ex. 31:16).

Why would His people be different, strange and even “peculiar”? Because of this covenant! “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine,” says God! (Ex. 19:5.) He continues, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:2).

In an evil world fraught with wretchedness, misunderstanding, and separation from God the Almighty Creator, only His people, Israel, would have His sign, His identifying mark or brand of the Sabbath day. The world lost sight of the Creation and the True God because they did not have His sign of Creation, the Sabbath!

God worked six days creating physical masterpieces on earth, and rested the seventh,  creating the spiritual masterpiece — the everlasting sign and symbol of creation with Him as Master of creation! When rebellious man lost sight of that sign of creation, he lost sight of God!

When Israel later lost sight of the Sabbath, they too lost sight of God with disastrous results! Notice Jer. 17:27, “But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched!” The result was the sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (See Jer. 52:12-30). God’s people lost His protection!

Type of the Millennium

God’s people today still are to have this sign and covenant with their Creator! “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). The original Greek word for “rest” here is “Sabbatismos” which means a literal Sabbath observance! It denotes a literal cessation from labor as a type of the far more important meaning of the Sabbath.

But notice Heb. 4:5: “… As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest [Gr. “Katapausin“]” — and again, “And God did rest [“Kata­pausin”] the seventh day from all His works” (verse 4). In addition to a Sabbath observance, “Katapausin” literally means “the act of giving rest; a state of settled or final rest” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon by Bagster). It can also mean a place of rest, place of abode, dwelling, habitation.

“For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest [i.e., final rest or habitation], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day?” This is the millennial rest, a time of final settling down, cessation from the 6,000-year struggle of man in a sin sick world. “For he that is entered into His [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (verse 10). A day with God is as a thousand years (II Pet. 3:8), and this represents that final SEVENTH-thousand-year rule of peace and rest under Jesus Christ!

The Personal Application

Theologists have for years argued the technical “meanings” of the Sabbath, but how does it apply to you, personally? How does it affect your weekly life? You cannot understand the ultimate meaning of the Sabbath without first knowing and applying the Sabbath properly in your own life!

It is a time of relief and relaxation from your regular daily work and cares. God did not intend man to slave his life away seven days a week. He made man to need a day of rest and recuperation from a vigorous, work-filled week. Far from a day of bondage, it is a day of freedom — freedom from daily cares and problems; freedom from the stress and frustration you have already endured for six long days.

Notice God’s positive instruction on the Sabbath: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:13-14). Here are three important facets to keeping the Sabbath.

Let’s analyze them:

1. YOUR ways. This means course of life, mode of action — that is, your employment, enterprises, finances, the more serious business of making a livelihood. You should not involve yourself in doing what you normally do during the week — those things by which you feed, clothe and care for yourself physically. This includes working at your job or business, working around the house, sewing, cleaning, washing the car — all the things that pertain to your physical maintenance during the normal course of the week.

This is the day to be about God’s ways! You rest from doing your ways. Devote this time to God’s business of eternal life. The Sabbath gives you extra time to study and meditate about God’s course of eternal life, His principles and mode of action. You will need all the knowledge about God’s business you can acquire if you hope to be an active and living part of it one day!

2. YOUR pleasure. Your desire, delight, that which you take extra pleasure in doing — hunting, fishing, golfing, swimming, cards, movies, boating — those things which take up the majority of your “leisure” time. This would also include the many time-consuming hobbies such as the “ham” radio operator, woodworking shop, stamp collecting, etc. Of course, it would be impossible to list all the hobbies and activities available, but you know what yours is. Whatever your pleasure, or leisure-time activity is, you should not engage in it on the Sabbath.

You should engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. What is God’s pleasure? It is His creation — planning, working and building for the future of eternity! “… for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Just as you have or may have had an absorbing interest in your hobby or leisure-time interest and all of its interesting facets and details, God has an absolutely absorbing interest in His creation and all its myriad facets! He gives us the Sabbath to learn to have an interest and pleasure in His creation. His pleasure — the true and lasting pleasure — is to become our pleasure!

3. YOUR words. This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We talk about what we are thinking. Our words show what is going on in our minds and hearts. This is obviously the most difficult of all! We may cease our ways and our pleasures, but it is much more difficult to cease thinking or talking about them!

Really, it is no problem just to rest and do no physical exertion on the Sabbath. Some people regularly do this seven days a week! You must serve God with your mind. Those who can’t or don’t control their minds call the Sabbath bondage, because they can’t wait ’til sunset to be about their ways and pleasures which they have been thinking about all day anyway!

Once you are able to get your mind and thoughts on God’s pleasure and God’s ways on the Sabbath, you will find out what real delight and joy in the Sabbath is! “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:14).

How do you accomplish this? Devote your Sabbath time to Sabbath service, extra Bible study,  extra prayer and especially extra meditation! This is your one time in the week when you don’t have to worry about getting to the job, making payments, working out schedules, cleaning house and all the other things you find that takes away from your study, prayer and meditation during the week. This is free time — free from all your daily cares and worries — free to be completely absorbed in God and His word.

However, there is one more basic element necessary to make all this possible — that is preparation.

Preparation for the Sabbath

Many do not or cannot properly observe the Sabbath because they have not understood when or how to prepare for it. On the Sixth Day of the week— Friday to us—God said, “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe (boil) that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” (Ex. 16:23).

The preparation day is the time to get everything ready for the Sabbath so you won’t even be tempted to do it on the Sabbath. Specifically mentioned are baking and boiling — or, the heavier cooking and household duties. The principle here includes everything which can be done before the Sabbath begins such as cooking a roast, baking a cake or pie, cleaning house, getting chores done, etc.

Obviously, there are some things which cannot be done before the appointed time on the Sabbath. Common sense will tell you which would be easier, to fry an egg on Friday, store it in the deep freeze, thaw it out the next morning and eat it, or to simply wait until Sabbath morning to cook and eat. But the items which will keep for a period of time such as roasts, bread, etc. should be prepared ahead of time.

Keep a Checklist

Many find themselves run “ragged” on Friday trying to frantically get everything done only to collapse in a heap Friday night to discover something they forgot to get done! This can all easily be avoided if each member of the family will make a checklist of everything he must get done to prepare for the Sabbath. Then, each week, all he has to do is run down the list in a rapid, organized manner to get everything done.

But remember, the preparation day is only one day. Don’t make the mistake of leaving everything — house-cleaning,  baking,  cooking,  grocery shopping, car washing, etc. — until that day! Do this and you will find the Sabbath a day of total collapse rather than a peaceful day of rest and relaxation with enough energy to communicate with God! It is to be a day to prepare for the Sabbath, not a day to catch up on what you should have been doing all week.

Plan to have everything in readiness to truly greet God’s Sabbath — making sure there are no other things pressing on your mind or schedule. Only when you have everything done and out of the way can you really become absorbed in the Sabbath as you should. Plan it this way and you will be amazed at how much more you delight in the Sabbath. You don’t have to go to work, nor worry about the endless trivia which clutters up every normal week. This is the day to completely put all that away from you!

A good checklist will help you accomplish this. Just sit down and think it over carefully. Then prepare a list you can use every Friday, and you will be amazed at how much easier and more simple your preparation becomes.

What About the Many Questions ?

The main reason God has never “listed” in the Bible any “do’s and don’ts” for the Sabbath is that He wants us, as individuals, to learn to think, be personally responsible and use the principles He has given us. It is too easy to lose sight of the goal when you have a myriad of legalistic lines drawn up for you. But once you know and can apply the principles, you will be able to almost automatically answer your own questions.

Just remember some very basic questions to ask yourself: “Is this in God’s service? Is this a genuine emergency, or can I put it off till tomorrow? Should I have already done this as a part of preparation? Have I prayed about this and thoroughly gone over the principles in my mind?” If you find there is some question which still bothers you after thoroughly studying it out, you should seek advice from one who should know more about the principles of Sabbath-keeping — your local minister.

Apply these principles and you will soon find that God’s Sabbath is one of His greatest gifts to mankind — a gift for rest, peace, knowledge and true delight!

Source: The Good News, 1968

Global Warming Hooey

patsdailyrant.blogspot.com

patsdailyrant.blogspot.com

I recently read in the Toronto Sun that every left-of-centre journalist in the country has managed to become an instant expert on the arcane subjects of global warming and the science of climate change.

Folks, global warming (or climate change nutism) is becoming a religion in its own right. And isn’t that the way it always is with subjective speculation requiring little scientific proof? The more sympathy we can exhibit for Al Gore’s polar bear or David Suzuki’s whining, the more trendy and acceptable we become.

There are, however, an increasing number of peer-reviewed and intensely credible scientific minds who believe conventional thinking on global warming is nonsense, even going so far as to call environmental activists such as Al Gore (prime promoter of the global warmist nut factor) “bedwetters.”

There are more than 700 major scientists who steadfastly refute the notion that the climate is changing to any worrying degree, that global warming is a reality and that the planet is in danger.

Yes, climate does change but it’s minor and it has little if anything to do with man’s intervention. It’s more about money and control of the so-called green economy. None of the bad science promoted by the green crowd makes sense, and policies to deal with it will cause terrible problems. But people keep being indoctrinated and critics are intimidated into silence.

Read the full article here.

October 14, 2009

Now For Some Truth In News: The Earth Is Cooling!

What happened to global warming?,” the BBC News headline asks. The lack of scientific evidence to support man-made global warming has been reported on for several years, but now more and more mainstream news outlets and scientists are admitting that global warming is just not happening. The BBC News goes on to report:

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise. …

What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth’s great heat stores.

According to research conducted by Prof. Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (pdo).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years. …

Professor Easterbrook says: “The pdo cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.”

Committed advocates of the man-made global warming theory, however, adamantly insist that their science is solid. Last month, Mojib Latif, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc)—which claimed that man’s responsibility for global warming is not even in question—says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10 to 20 years. But, reports bbc News, Professor Latif “makes it clear that he has not become a skeptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.”

The reality is, the politics of the global-warming debate have long overshadowed the science of the debate.

Furthermore, political decisions are being made based on shoddy science that could potentially have a far-reaching economic impact. The American Thinker reported last month, for example, that prior to the passage of “cap and trade” legislation by the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman and co-sponsor of the bill, said at a May 22 hearing:

I certainly don’t claim that I know everything that’s in this bill. I know we left it to … we relied very heavily on the scientists on the ipcc and others and the consensus they have that there is a problem with global warming, it’s having an impact, and that we need to reduce it by the amounts they think we need to achieve in order to avoid some of the consequences. That’s what I know, but I don’t know the details. I rely on the scientists.

So, costly legislation is being passed based on a “consensus” in the scientific community, when no such consensus exists. American Thinker points out some of the economic costs (September 27):

Since then, the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate a major piece of legislation which both Republicans and Democrats agree will heavily tax certain industries, significantly raise prices on energy consumption, and increase the cost of almost all produced goods.

America’s climate-change legislation is based upon the ipcc’s findings—findings that don’t hold up under scrutiny: “It turns out that work done on several fronts over recent years casts serious doubt upon the IPCC work and, in fact, may make a case for claiming scientific fraud” (ibid.). The American Thinker goes on to detail the evidence that

What is becoming clearer is that the concept of “man-made global warming” may be one of the greatest hoaxes in world history. How soon this will become generally known will depend on how forcefully the political effort seeking both national and international control of industry and wealth redistribution can keep the hoax hidden by intimidation and forcefully amplified rhetoric while systematically jeopardizing the economies of America and other developed nations.

Souce: this website

For more on what is behind the global-warming debate, read their articles “The Politics of Global Warming,” “A Really Inconvenient Truth” and “Global Cooling Is Coming!

October 12, 2009

Really, Really Weird, But Highly Interesting!

Filed under: Humour — melchia @ 8:17 pm

Editors Note: This is a little on the comical side of writing as I’ve been trying hard to clean up my spelling mistakes. Seems there’s more to writing than my little phobia. Check it out!

——————————————————-

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

October 9, 2009

The Earth: The Only "Goldilocks" Planet!

Mixing astronomy and fairy tales isn’t commonly done, but scientists studying the “Goldilocks Zone” may have found the perfect spot, and it’s right in our back yard. It’s a spot in space that’s inhabitable to life forms — not too hot and not too cold — just right!

Many scientists are now realizing that the factors required for a civilization to exist are almost impossibly complex – and must be exceedingly rare, even in a universe as incomprehensibly vast as ours. Consider the following facts and how perfectly aligned they had to be to even entertain the notion of life. Then realize how foolish it is to believe that life on earth came from nothing:

The Earth

  1. Is the perfect distance from both the sun and moon to have a stable, predictable orbit. Twenty four hour days ensure the earth’s entire surface is properly warmed and cooled daily.
  2. It is the perfect size and mass. If it were less dense, an atmosphere wouldn’t form and remain. If it were more dense, the atmosphere would be uninhabitable. As it is, our atmosphere allows just the right amount of radiation to keep us warm, but not kill us.
  3. Earth’s metal core produces a magnetic field that protects the surface from radiation from space. Radioactive heat from the core, mantle and crust creates plate tectonics necessary for life.
  4. Humans need 27 elements to live. Earth has just the right mix of them.
  5. Earth has just the right amount of water in the proper ratios of liquid, solid,  and gas. A little more and the continents would be drowned. A little less and the planet would probably be too hot to host life.

The Moon

  1. The mass ratio of the moon compared to the earth is 50 times greater than that of any other known moon-planet combination. Yet it is the perfect size to stabilize the tilt of earth’s rotational axis. Without our moon, the tilt of our planet would vary from zero to 85 degrees, producing catastrophic climate changes.
  2. The gravity of the moon creates tidal movement. Thus, ocean waters do not stagnate – they clean the waters on the coasts from toxins and enrich them with nutrients. Yet these massive ocean movements never spill over across the continents.
  3. The ocean currents also regulate climate by circulating enormous amounts of heat.

The Sun

  1. Most stars (2/3 to 3/4 of them) are found in groups of two, three, four and more. If we had more than one sun, it would make life far less stable on earth because of erratic gravitational effects, and/or possible dangerous eruptions of tidal gas passing between the stars.
  2. 95% of all stars are less massive than the sun. A smaller, less dense sun would mean we’d have to be much closer to it to stay warm. The tidal locking would create synchronous rotation – where the same side of the earth always faced the sun. Thus, half the planet would freeze.
  3. It has the perfect luminosity. Because it is a yellow star, its energy lies mostly in the visible part of the light spectrum – not even 10% of its energy is ultraviolet. If it was much hotter, producing mostly ultraviolet light, life would be impossible. If it was a small red star, the supply of visible light would be inadequate.
  4. The sun’s size and distance from earth creates stable temperature fluctuations that allow the earth’s water to remain in perfect balance among its three phases: liquid, solid and gas.

Solar System

  1. Giant planets act as “comet and asteroid catchers.” Their gravity cleans up our solar system of space junk that might otherwise collide with earth. Cosmic collisions can cause mass extinctions.
  2. Our solar system is unusually rich in metal content, necessary for advanced life.

Cosmic Location

  1. Evidence suggests that elliptical galaxies lack enough elements heavier than helium to host advanced life. Spiral galaxies like ours have enough.
  2. Within the Milky Way, we sit in the “galactic habitable zone,” – far enough from the center that we’re not killed by radiation, but close enough that sufficient heavy elements needed for life are present.
  3. We’re nowhere near dangerous star clusters, quasars, nebulae, neutron stars, or supernovas.
  4. Real estate brokers often say the key to property value is location, location, location. If this principle applies to the cosmic scene, earth’s location would be considered way beyond prime. The earth appears to reside in the only neighbourhood in the universe where human life can exist and thrive long enough to enjoy a global, high tech civilization and to discover how rare they are.

For decades, scientists have been debating the conditions needed to replicate an Earth-like probablility of complex beyond the microbial level. We now know that the number of planets in our own galaxy alone could easily tally in the hundreds of billions. Astrobiologist vainly cling to the faint hope that a number of these could be carpeted in the  chemistry we call life, thus proving that life on Earth may be unique, but not miraculous.

Well, good luck because as I’ve shown, there needs to be an exceedingly (and almost impossible) complex host of conditions present for such a scenario. This cannot happen by fiat, nor can it be sustained. Yes, scientists will keep looking, but they won’t find a penny’s worth of evidence otherwise.

October 7, 2009

Catholic Sex Abuse: A Fraternity Of Sin, A Brotherhood Of Shame

1At this point, any stories about Catholic priests and sex abuses probably cause an immediately disconnect with readers because of the sheer volume of news stories that have been published. This is especially so since 2003’s landmark settlement against the Boston Archdiocese.

It’s interesting also how every time a sex scandal comes up, two varying points of opinion rear their head: those who say the Catholic church is rife with sexual scandal and those who say it is no worse there than any other sector of society.

Recently, news broke about Bishop Raymond Lahey and another sex scandal. Lahey, the 69-year-old bishop for the Antigonish diocese, is charged with the possession and importation of child pornography.

Yes, this is the same Bishop Raymond Lahey that negotiated a $15-million out-of-court settlement for sex abuse victims in his Antigonish diocese.

Now it is found that a Catholic priest said he warned an archbishop about allegations Raymond Lahey had shown pornography to a young man in the 1980s.

“Father Kevin Molloy says he was told of the allegations by Shane Earle, then 16, in Portugal Cove, N.L. in 1989.

“I never had any further details except the boys saw pornographic material in Father Lahey’s house,” Molloy told CTV News in Florida, where he now lives. “That’s the only thing I had to go on.”

Molloy said he soon brought up the allegations with then-Archbishop Alphonsus Penney, and assumed the Church would deal with the matter. He never heard about it again. “What we’re dealing with today gives every indication that nothing happened, nobody followed up,” he told the Globe and Mail. “I don’t know if it was that nobody believed me at the time, but here we are 20-odd years later dealing with the same issues.” (CTV News, 2009)

Archbishop Anthony Mancini, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the Antigonish diocese after Lahey’s resignation, said there’s no simple solution to preventing priests from sinning.

Here’s an incredible quote from him that makes the head spin:

‘So is it gonna happen again? Yeah, of course it’s gonna happen again … all we can do is try to prevent and try to make sure that we put up all the safeguards that we can possibly put up.’—Archbishop Anthony Mancini

“You think, and many people think, that all we got to do is throw more money at it, throw more structure at it, throw more psychiatrists at it, and at the end of it all, we’re going to come up with this wonderful, perfect structure. And you know what? That’s never going to happen.”

Then, he simply asked the parishioners to pray for Lahey and not to lose faith, asking them to get together and share what they have in their hearts.” THAT is a statement relying on human faith, rather than the faith of God. This man does not understand that God says what is in our hearts (minds) is evil (Jer. 17:9). Where is a plea for God’s help in such a statement?

Now, isolated cases, though frustrating, can happen, but it is not so with the Catholic church. Over several decades in the 20th century, priests and lay members of religious orders had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations eventually reached into the thousands. This happened not just in the US, but also in Ireland, Canada, Italy and Australia.

A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops in responding to allegations of clerical abuse. It was revealed that some bishops had facilitated compensation payments to victims on condition that the allegations remain secret. In addition, rather than being dismissed, the accused were often instructed to undergo psychological counseling and, on completion of counseling, reassigned to other parishes where, in some cases, they continued to abuse minors.

Supposedly both ecclesiastical and civil authorities had implemented procedures to prevent sexual abuse of minors by clergy and to report and punish it if and when it occurs. But when listening to Archbishop Anthony Mancini, nothing more can be done. The question is, has enough been done?

Church should be above conduct of society

While any sex abuse is atrocious, inside or outside a church, it is particularly heinous with a member of the clergy supposedly representing God. There is a huge measure od respect and trust with the public who believe these men represent God. ANY church suffering from such an outbreak, and then merely defending it by saying it is no worse than society fails to understand that it lacks the Holy Spirit of God.

In June 2002 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Dallas and approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter created a National Review Board, which was assigned responsibility to commission a descriptive study, with the full cooperation of the dioceses/eparchies, of the nature and scope of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.The National Review Board engaged the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a study analyzing allegations of sexual abuse in Catholic dioceses in United States.

The John Jay report indicated that some 11,000 allegations had been made against 4,392 priests in the USA. This number constituted approximately 4% of the 110,000 priests who had served during the period covered by the survey (1950-2002). The report found that, over the 52-year period covered by the study, “the problem was indeed widespread and affected more than 95 percent of the dioceses and approximately 60 percent of religious communities” (1) A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States” National Review Board. February 27, 2004. (2) “John Jay Study Reveals Extent of Abuse Problem)

“Catholic authorities have constantly railed against abortion rights, against same-sex marriage, birth control, stem cell research and fertility treatments. They cite the word of God as their authority. By definition, anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong, but immoral and a sinner. Yet there is strong evidence that those same clerical authorities were aware of abuse allegations against priests and clerics. Rather than cleaning up the mess, they covered it up. That meant many offenders were moved around and protected by senior Church authorities, often to repeat their abuses in other parishes. That the Church evidently knew that and did so little to stop it suggests hypocrisy on a global scale. (ChronicleHerald.ca).

On July 19, 2008,  Pope Benedict XVI made a full apology for child sex abuse by priests and clergymen in Australia, in front of  3,400 people. He called for compensation and demanded punishment for those guilty of the “evil”:

“Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering. … Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people.”

Notice that here is the highest authority of the Catholic church, and in this serious apology, made not ONE mention of the name of God or His power, but rather said the evil should be brought to justice, implying the justice of man rather than God.

Philip Jenkins, Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University asserts that his “research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy.

However, this study clearly misses an important point, namely that if the Catholic church supposedly is the true church of God, it should have a dramatically lower level of crime than the outside world. Why? BECAUSE of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. Merely stating that statistics are about the same inside the church and outside of it clearly proves that God does NOT reside in that church. Yes, all men sin, but with Christ leading His Church, that type of conduct with God’s ministry should be almost non-existant, rather than rampant. Paul describes their conduct this way:

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God….by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth…(II Cor. 6:3-7).

In the Catholic Church, priests and bishops are the ultimate authority figures, their word and deeds held in utmost respect. To doubt the priest is to doubt the holy Church and the authority of God.

In the wake of these latest allegations, what’s left of that power? What authority has any priest in that church to preach about morality or ethics when the brotherhood that goes back 2,000 years has now been cast as a fraternity of sin and a brotherhood of shame?

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