The Apple Of God's Eye

December 30, 2009

Jesus' Birth: The Untold Story

In late December of each year, thousands of tourists flock into the small town of Bethlehem in the Judean Hills south of Jerusalem to participate in annual Christmas celebrations there. Some make the 6-mile journey from Jerusalem on foot. Upon arrival, they crowd with silent awe into the paved expanse of Manger Square in front of the revered Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth.

Inevitably, some of these tourists arrive in Israel unprepared. They have not thoroughly studied their guidebooks. As they step off their plane, they receive a real shock!  November through early March is “winter” in Israel! The weather gets cold, especially at night. Often it rains — or even snows! Yet many arrive in Israel carrying luggage bulging with summer attire, reasoning that it is always hot and arid in the Middle East. So they hurriedly purchase coats and sweaters in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for their pilgrimage down to Bethlehem.

Nevertheless, most of those who stand in Manger Square on December 25 each year — prepared and unprepared alike — fail to perceive the message being proclaimed by the very weather around them!  Notice this plain testimony of your Bible: On the day of Jesus’ birth “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). (more…)

The Plain Truth About New Year's Eve!

askmatthewpotter.com

How did the celebration of New Year’s Eve begin? Why is the beginning of a year placed in the middle of a dead winter? And where did the many customs surrounding it originate?

Most people carelessly assume that celebrating New Year’s Eve is a Christian custom.  But did the practice of “waiting the old year out” really come from the Bible?  Is January 1 the true beginning of a new year? Who has the authority to determine when a new year begins?

New Year’s is one of the oldest and most universal of all pagan traditions! The custom of celebrating it has remained essentially unchanged for 4,000 years! “There is scarcely a people, ancient or modern, savage or civilized,” writes Theodor H. Gaster, in his definitive book “New Year”, “which has not observed it … in one form or another. Yet no other festival has been celebrated on so many different dates or in so many seemingly different ways.”

In ancient Babylon, New Year’s festivals were closely bound to the pagan feast called “Christmas” today. When and how did New Year’s celebrations originate? Who began the custom? (more…)

December 27, 2009

Is Jesus Christ's Honour The Same As The Father's?

thelightandthetruth.com - Honour to the Father is revealed from the Bible.

A common thought today is that Jesus Christ deserves the same honour as God the Father. I believe this thought is rooted in the doctrine of the trinity, which of course makes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit one and the same. I won’t address this false doctrine in this article, as I have spoken of it here and here in detail already.

There is a scripture which some use to make Jesus Christ out to be on an equal level to God the Father. It is John 5:23, which states:

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

If we look at this verse superficially, then yes indeed, it does seem to point out that honour is applied the same way to both God beings. Now no one will deny that honour is due to Christ. He is the Spokesman, the Word of God and very God Himself. He has preeminence in all things, but NOT of Himself.

I know many will immediately jump on my saying as blasphemy, because the doctrines of mainstream Christianity teach the centrality of the gospel is Jesus Christ. But they are wrong, and their Bible proves it so. (more…)

December 25, 2009

Bible Chapter Summations: Book Of Genesis

Editors Comment: This is the first of many summations I will post on the books of the Bible. I couldn’t find anything like it that was exhaustive on all the book of the Bible, and so decided to do a study outline myself. Although not all inclusive, these points will highlight the main chapter points for the reader. Look for more in the future….

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THE OLD TESTAMENT

There are 39 books in the Old Testament, generally separated into 4 divisions:

The Pentateuch, traditionally designated as the 5 books of Moses.

Historical Books, number 12, from Joshua to Esther.

Poetical Books, number 5, from Job to Song of Solomon.

Prophetical Books, including the writings of the 5 Major Prophets, from Isaiah to Daniel, and the 12 Minor Prophets from Hosea to Malachi.

GENESIS

The word “genesis” signifies “generation” or “origin” and comes from the Greek translation of Genesis 2:4. It is an appropriate title for the first book of the Bible, which contains the record of the origin of the universe, the human race, family life, nations, sin redemption, etc. The first 11 chapters, which deal with primeval or pre-Patriarchal times, present the antecedents of Hebrew history from Adam to Abraham. The remaining chapters (12 – 50) are concerned with God’s dealings with the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob’s son Joseph, all “fathers” of the people whom God has chosen to carry out His plan for the redemption of mankind. The book closes with these “Chosen People” in Egypt.

CHAPTER SUMMATIONS: BOOK OF GENESIS

Genesis 1 – Re-creation – God creates heaven and earth, plants, animals and man in six days

Genesis 2 – Sabbath creation, revelation of law; extra details of creation and the newly created earth (more…)

Are The Saved Always Saved?

open.salon.com

To “save” means “to preserve alive.” The Bible clearly shows death faces all human beings because we consist today of corruptible physical matter (Heb. 9:27; I Cor. 15:50). Inasmuch as human bodies run down and decay, it is simply not possible for humans to live forever in the fleshly state.

However, a loving God has provided a method by which we might be granted eternal life. This is salvation. Like most English words ending with “tion,” salvation is a process. And as a process salvation is analagous to birth (John 3:1-8). Before a baby is born, it must be begotten or conceived. I Peter 1:3 shows we are begotten to a hope, the hope of being resurrected, just as a baby is begotten in hope it will be born.

At the resurrection, those to whom God will grant salvation will be given incorruptible spirit bodies that can never be destroyed (I Cor. 15:42-54). At that time, it will be impossible for those saved to become “lost.”

In this age a truly converted person is still flesh and blood and can die. Being converted, he has the begettal agent, God’s Holy Spirit, in him. In II Cor. 1:22, 5:5 and Eph. 1:14, the Holy Spirit, is described as an “earnest.” This is a legal term meaning a guarantee or surety. If we have God’s Spirit within us today and continue to have it, it is our guarantee that we will be saved. However, if we lose it, we no longer have the guarantee.

And we can lose it! God warns, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thes. 5:19). He further warns, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance” (Heb. 6:4-6). So it is possible for one begotten of God’s Spirit to “fall away.” That, is called the UNPARDONABLE SIN.

"What is the Jewish Holiday Hanukkah All About?

Hanukkah is a Hebrew word meaning “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee following the expulsion of the Seleucid Syrians under Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 B.C. The full account of the story can be found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, chapters 5-11.

Hanukkah is a Jewish national feast of rejoicing. We read that Jesus was present at the festival of Dedication (since he was a physical Jew) in John 10:22. We learn from Christ’s example that acknowledging national holidays not emanating from paganism (such as the American Thanksgiving Day) is not wrong and does not violate God’s higher Law.

Many have noticed that Hanukkah customs are similar to Christmas, because many Jews, especially in the United States and Canada, have adopted Christmas customs and attached them to the celebration of Hanukkah. This is a fact that many Jews themselves regret.

The Truth About Christmas

wonderfulthings.info

Where did the world get Christmas? … from the Bible, or paganism? Stop and think a moment! Very few have ever reflected on why they believe what they do — why they follow the customs they do, or from where those customs came. We were born into a world filled with customs. We grew up accepting them without question.

Why? By nature we do tend to follow the crowd, whether right or wrong. Sheep follow others to the slaughter. Humans ought to check up where they are going.

So ask yourself some questions: Does Christmas really celebrate the birthday of Christ? Was Jesus born on December 25th? Did the original apostles, who knew Jesus personally and were taught by Him, celebrate His birthday on December 25th? Did they celebrate it at all?

If Christmas is the chief of the Christian holidays, why do so many non-Christians observe it? Do you know? Why do people exchange presents with family members, friends, relatives, at Christmas time? Was it because the wise men presented gifts to the Christ-child?

Most people have “supposed” a lot of things about Christmas that are not true. But let’s quit “supposing” and get the facts!

What Encyclopedias Say

The word “Christmas” means “Mass of Christ,” or, as it came to be shortened, “Christ-Mass.” It came to non-Christians and Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church. And where did they get it? NOT from the New Testament — NOT from the Bible — NOT from the original apostles who were personally instructed by Christ — but it gravitated in the fourth century into the Roman Church from paganism.

Since the celebration of Christmas has come to the world from the Roman Catholic Church, and has no authority but that of the Roman Catholic Church, let us examine the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, published by that church. Under the heading “Christmas,” you will find:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church … the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt.” “Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.”

And in the same encyclopedia, under the heading “Natal Day,” we find that the early Catholic father, Origen, acknowledged this truth: “… In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners [like Pharaoh and Herod] who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world” (emphasis ours). (more…)

December 23, 2009

God's Eyes And Ears Are On You!

space.desktopnexus.com

Until very recent times man has depended on slow and comparatively limited means of communications — word-of-mouth, hand, flag or smoke signals, or homing pigeons. None of these means was usable over great distances.

It was not until 1835 that Samuel B. Morse’s telegraph, an electrical device using wires, provided the first rapid method of moving a message long distances. He did it by the use of “code” — long and short pulses called dots and dashes.

Alexander Graham Bell’s “telephone,” a method of transmitting the voice via wires, soon followed. Then near the turn of the century the first means of communicating without wires, the “wireless” or “radio,” was invented. Television closely followed and now we have cell phones, the internet and other means of communications which transmit pictures, writings, sounds and voices anywhere to earth in seconds, as well as reaching to other planets. Like God, man is able to command and be obeyed at a distance.

Someone greater than man put the laws and forces in motion and sustains them to make this possible. If man has been able to use God’s laws governing electronics and communications to place a TV camera on the moon which allowed him to see, count and identify tiny particles no larger than 1/50 inch in diameter a quarter million miles away in the heavens, how much clearer and better can God see over great distances. And how much easier can He accomplish things on command through the power of His Spirit!

Now if God opens up the means, via His creation, for man to accomplish such awesome things, then we should know that know God has even better perception to see, count and identify each hair on your head or mine (Matthew 10:29-31):

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

But what about keeping up with ever-traveling sparrows? Let’s see how man keeps up with man-made objects he has rocketed into space.

At the U.S. Government’s Space Center at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, with the aid of sophisticated electronic devises, men are able to keep track of a satellite, or a hunk of abandoned space junk — as small as six inches in diameter (the size of a grapefruit) and up to 2,700 miles from earth. They can spot and keep up with every man-made object which has been rocketed into space!

Correlating this ability with the ever-watchful eyes of the North American Air Defense Command using the latest in photographic cameras, men can photograph clearly the light reflected from a basketball-size satellite 50,000 miles away!

With all this in mind, can you more fully understand God’s ability to keep up with sparrows when they fall to the ground? Can you grasp God’s ability to keep track of you? “Ye are of more value than many sparrows,” Jesus declared (verse 31), “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (II Chron. 16:9).

God’s Communications Center

Perhaps God’s communications system is similar to the one man has developed. Let’s take a glimpse at God’s communications center at His heavenly throne and compare it to the North American Air Defense Command.

The Apostle John wrote: “And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne…. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 4:2, 4, 5). This is God’s heavenly throne!

John continues: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts [living beings], and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb [Christ] as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6).

Since the Lamb — Christ — stood in the midst and had the seven “eyes” of God sent forth into the earth, do we not have an indication that God the Father may use Christ as chief director, coordinator and controller of His heavenly communications system? Could God’s central communications system be basically comparable — as an analogy — to a super-sophisticated spiritual computer supervised by 24 operators and spiritually tied in with seven spiritual surveyors (“eyes”) — “Surveyor I, Surveyor II,” etc. — each one of which can instantaneously be shifted wherever the action is?

Of course, none of these spirit beings needs sophisticated electronic gear with their attendant malfunctions, however few they may be. Each of these beings has been perfectly designed and manufactured from pure spirit. Since these highly mobile units are not bound by physical laws and use spirit power, they move at speeds infinitely faster than light, which, we are told, travels at the “slow” speed of 186,000 miles per second.

Messages which travel via interference-free spirit rather than radio or television waves are never garbled — always crystal clear and INSTANTANEOUS! Crystal clear “eyes” delivering perfect pictures to the heavenly throne not only make it possible to “measure particles 1/50 inch across,” but 3/1000 inch hairs on human heads!

We need have no doubt God can see, count and record any and all information about us that He may require! But what about your thoughts?

Are Your Thoughts Really Private?

In July 1965, 135 million miles from the earth, the Mariner IV spacecraft swung close to Mars so its television camera could snap close-up still photos of the red planet and relay them to earth. “These pictures were scanned and broken into 64 different shades of gray. Each shade became a number, and the numbers in sequence were transmitted to the tracking stations of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab.

“The signals were faint when they reached earth — only one quintillionth of one watt strength. They were amplified, taped, and fed into computers. Each sequence of 6 ‘zeros’ and ‘ones’ became a piece of visual information, which was then reconverted into one of 64 shades of gray to make a picture, much like the tiny dots make up the picture on your TV screen at home” (Reader’s Digest, October 1965).

Can your mind comprehend how little power “one quintillionth of one watt” is? Most ordinary light bulbs in your home are probably rated at 100 watts. If written in decimal form, “one quintillionth” would be .000000000000001. Yet man was able to receive, amplify and decipher the message carried by one quintillionth of a watt of power.

Is it conceivable God could receive your thoughts in His heavenly communications center, amplify them, record them, read out and understand them by and through His Spirit?

Notice in Malachi 3:16-17 that God definitely does record certain of man’s words and thoughts: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

God read Job’s thoughts. Job was self-righteous. God was so interested in Job He let him go through much grief to learn to recognize and overcome that self-righteousness. Finally, Job said, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee” (Job 42:2).

God Also Broadcasts Commands

When King Ahab and the whole nation of Israel sinned grievously, God allowed a three and one-half year drought to overtake the nation as punishment — to wake up the nation and its king. During this period, to keep His prophet Elijah alive, God “commanded” ravens to bring food to Elijah. God told His prophet:

“And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook” (I Kings 17:4-6).

How did God “command” the ravens to feed Elijah? He may have done it by altering their instinct which regulated their behavior patterns. Regardless of how He did it, the Scriptures show us that God has the ability to give long-distance commands and cause them to be obeyed by His creation!

From the “miracles” of modern science and God’s Word, YOU CAN KNOW that a Living Being in the heavens can clearly see and hear the activities of any and all human beings on this earth!

God Uses His Power to HELP US!

True Christians have been chosen by God and are being scrutinized by Him. Much more than the sparrows, God, through His spiritual assistants and master spiritual communications center, watches, hears and keeps track of you, for your good.

Said Jesus Christ, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you” — why? — “that ye should go and bring forth fruit” (John 15:16).

And what goal does He have in mind through that? Christ told His disciples: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

That is your destiny. That is the reason God watches and hears you — to help you and guide you so you can qualify to one day be instantaneously changed, or resurrected, to join Jesus Christ and the Father in their all-powerful Family for eternity!

Source: Good News, Jan/March 1973

December 22, 2009

Does Luke 16:16 Prove God's Law Is Abolished Today?

http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org - The link between the Old and New Testament is the law of God!

Many make long and eloquent arguements to prove that Luke 16:16 means God’s law has been done away.

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”

Some say the “law and the prophets” is a clear reference to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and that the New Covenant is dramatically different from the ‘ministration written on stones. So here, critics of God’s law wish to separate the Ten Commandments from what they say is a new moral code of the heart. But this is not what Jesus meant at all.

What, then, did Jesus mean by the statement, “The law and the prophets were until John?” When Jesus spoke of the “law and the prophets,” He was referring to the Old Testament, and meant that, until the coming of John the Baptist, the Old Testament scriptures were all that was available. The New Testament had not yet been written. It says nowhere that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God does away with the law of God. In fact, Christ says in the very next verse:

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”  (verse 17).

Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Jesus said it would be easier for them to perish or be destroyed than for even one tiny part of God’s law to pass away! THAT is the clear interpretation, and this is backed up by very clear scriptures throughout the New Testament – scriptures which are conveniently ignored by critics.

Christ is indeed talking about obedience to the law of God. Those who disagree say the Old Covenant is no longer in force, which of course by their interpretation nullifies God’s law through the New Testament covenant. No one can deny that the Old Covenant is dead, but that does not mean the law of God is dead. Let’s explain!

Which laws are in force today?

How can you know which laws are no longer binding today? Which laws are we to observe?

The Bible is a book about law, and even a cursory read of this book shows that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with His Father’s law! You can find many references in the Bible to the Ten Commandments, but you can also read a lot about the statutes and the judgments. Then there are the ceremonial rituals and offerings. But which laws are we supposed to observe today?

The mistake lies in assuming the Ten Commandments make up the Old Covenant and that when Christ came, the New Covenant did away with the Ten Commandments and established only grace and promises.

Another mistake is to assume that the Ten Commandments didn’t even exist until God gave them to Moses on tablets of stone; that are simply part of the ritualistic law of Moses.

To begin to understand the truth about the laws discussed in the Old Testament, we must first establish the fact that God’s law existed long before Moses at Mount Sinai! In fact, God’s law existed long before Adam and Eve. Few people realize this fact.

Statutes and Laws Prior to Moses

Abraham was commended for obeying God’s commandments. But it also said he kept God’s statutes and laws. What was this referring to?

Webster’s Dictionary defines statute as, “an established rule or law.” God’s statutes usually command or forbid certain things, in addition to the Ten Commandments. Gesenius’ Lexicon says this about statutes: “An appointed law, a statute, an ordinance…used of the laws of nature [as prescribed by God]…a custom observed as though it were a law.” God’s statutes are based upon the Ten Commandments.

Judgments are binding decisions by judges based on God’s previously revealed law. These decisions are used to settle similar future disputes and to render a sentence or verdict.

God gave statutes and judgments for the general well-being of the people—for the protection of everyone’s legal rights. They are all based on the principle of love toward God and love toward your neighbor.

The difference between them is summed up in these terms: “In general, the Ten Commandments apply to individual conduct, the statutes to national or church affairs, and the judgments to decisions rendered according to the principle of the Ten Commandments and the statutes.”

Law in effect prior to Moses

God’s law was very much in effect prior to the establishment of His covenant with Israel. God revealed His commands and laws to Israel because during their captivity, Israel had lost much of the knowledge of God’s way. They were in bondage to an idol-worshipping nation (Exodus 16:28). This was said before the nation even reached Mount Sinai! God gave them His truth at Mount Sinai because they had lost it. God had to reveal His law to them again before entering into His covenant with them.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exod. 16:28-30). God had to remind them that this was holy time and they weren’t to violate it by looking for manna. They had lost the knowledge that it had been established long ago (Gen. 2:2-3). Again, this instruction occurred before the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai.

The commandments were NOT instituted at Mount Sinai and were NOT part of the Old Covenant. So once the New Covenant arrived, it cannot annul what was never ratified under the Old Testament. In other words, the dissolving of the Old Covenant could not destroy what it did not bring into existence! The Ten Commandments, which God gave in written form to Moses on Mount Sinai, were not new. Only the codified form in which God wrote them was new.

What is the law of Moses?

The Bible, on several occasions, refers to the law of Moses, but it never says the law of Moses is the Ten Commandments. The law of Moses comprises the statutes and judgments God gave to Moses to give to the Israelites. The difference between the law of Moses and the law of God is that God spoke the Ten Commandments. Moses delivered the statutes and judgments.

Yet we read in Luke 2:22, 39 that the “law of Moses” is called the “law of the Lord.” This is because all law comes from God. He is the lawgiver. Remember that these statutes and judgments had no sacrifices with them originally. The sacrifices were added later. The law of Moses then had two parts: civil and ritualistic. The part given before the sacrificial laws we are to keep and never forget (Mal. 4:4).

When Christ defined the two great commandments in the law in Matthew 22, He quoted out of the “book of the law” (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), which we are told to remember. Christians are told to obey these two basic laws which God gave to Moses for the people. The civil law of Moses expounds how the Ten Commandments are to be applied. We are to keep this part, not in the letter only, but now in the spiritual intent, as brought out in Matthew 5-7.

Then why are we told in Acts 15 that the Gentile converts do not have to observe the law of Moses, except for four points? (Acts 15:5, 28-29). The answer is cleared up in Acts 21:21. The law called into question involved the customs, mainly circumcision, which were instituted long before the law of Moses. The spiritual intent is not done away today. Just like the Ten Commandments, they are still in force; but like the Passover, the manner of circumcision has been changed. It is now of the heart (Rom. 2:29).

This controversy did not involve the spiritual intent of the civil law of Moses, but the ceremonial additions to it. These scriptures are not saying that adultery or murder is okay now. The Ten Commandments are not being discussed or done away with here.

The four points mentioned here were originally part of the civil law; but they were also added to the ceremonial law to prevent these pagan customs from being practiced by Israel with their sacrifices. The Gentiles ate their sacrifices with the blood. They strangled their animals, presented them to their idols and committed fornication in their religious ceremonies. Because these four points were also included in the ritual laws, some new converts may have thought they were abolished along with the sacrifices when Christ fulfilled them. So the four points mentioned in Acts 15 had to be specifically declared to still be in effect. They remained binding after the abolition of the physical sacrifices and washings.

The civil laws regulating tithing, clean and unclean meats, sexual cleanliness and the annual Sabbaths, for example, are still in effect for the New Testament Church because they help explain what sin is.

Conclusion

God’s spiritual laws describe God’s character and enable us to know what God is like. Since the character of God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8), God’s spiritual law is unchanging. God has lived by this way of love for all eternity.

The only laws that are no longer binding are the ceremonial laws, fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2) in obedience to God’s eternal spiritual law.

We can’t ignore what Christ told a young man seeking the way to eternal life, “If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS” (Matt. 19:17). How clear!

December 21, 2009

What Did Paul Mean By The Expression, "The End Of The Law" In Rom. 10:4?

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http://www.ukapologetics.net - Is The Law Of God Really Done Away With, As Many State?

Those who attempt to do away with God’s law often turn to Romans 10:4 to justify their theory. In the previous verse Paul explains how the Pharisees were going about trying to establish their own righteousness, apart from God’s righteousness. They ignored the sacrifice of Christ and thought that mere commandment-keeping would be enough for anyone:

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

But, as Paul points out in verse 4:

“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

What does “the end of the law” mean? It means the aim, the purpose, the fulness or outcome of the law. Christ in Christians gives the power to keep God’s holy, perfect law, since they lack the spiritual strength, themselves.”

Apart from Christ, no one can manage to keep God’s law in the spirit. By his very nature, man falls far short. But through Christ who strengthens us, we can (Phil. 4:13). The aim or end of the law is to make us like Christ.

This word end, used in Romans 10:4, is also found in James 5:11: “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

Now, did James mean that Christ’s end had come? Of course not. Rather, James explains it himself. They had seen the purpose or aim of the Lord — “that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

Do Christians Become Dead To The Law By The Body Of Christ?

What did Paul mean in Romans 7:4, when he said, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God”?

Notice carefully what Paul said. He did not say, “The law is dead.” He clearly said, “Ye … are become dead.” The law of God did not perish. But the people became dead to the law by the body of Christ.

Verse 5 helps explain it. “For when we were in the flesh” — that is, before we were converted, and while we were living according to the pulls of the flesh — “the motions of sins, which were [manifest, revealed for what they were] by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” Thus, when we were yet sinners, we were worthy of death in God’s sight, having transgressed His holy law.

“But now,” Paul explains in verse 6, “we are delivered from the law” — that is, from the inexorable death penalty of the law. Christ paid it for us — in our stead. The law of God no longer claims our lives, “that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

While sinners, we were worthy of execution. But, now, Paul says, we are dead to the law — that is, the penalty of death has been paid by another, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us. So far as the law is concerned, the penalty is paid — we are dead, in Christ — and there is no further date with death for us, if we continue to live in Christ.

This verse in no way says the law is done away. It merely shows that Christ paid the penalty of the law for us. He died for us. We are dead with him (Rom. 6:3-4). No longer does condemnation await us (Rom. 8:1), because we are also made spiritually alive with Him through His resurrection (Rom. 6:4-5, 11).

No longer, then, are we in a sense married to sin, the way of the flesh, but we are to be “married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead [in newness of life], that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4).

So rather than doing away with the law of God, Rom. 7:4 actually magnifies the effect of the law on the life of the Christian.

Grace: Do You Really Understand It?

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Few professing Christians really understand what grace is. And no wonder, because rather than searching the Bible on the subject, they get bogged down in debate over whether it does away with God’s law, as God’s unmerited pardon for sin.

The New Testament Greek word translated “grace” is charis and holds a variety of meanings not dealing directly with the grace of God toward man. It can denote pleasure towards someone (Luke 2:40), kindness or goodwill toward another (Acts 7:10), favor (Acts 2:46-47), or express thankfulness (I Corinthians 15:57). Finally, charis can also be used to denote a gift or favor done as an act of goodwill (Acts 25:2-3).

But the New Testament writers applied this word in a new sense to describe what God is doing for humanity. Those whom God calls (John 6:44) are given the chance to repent and accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Then, upon being baptized, they are given God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), which enables them to develop godly character and ultimately be born into the very Family of God (I John 3:1-2). Charis is an all-encompassing word for this whole process of conversion that is being accomplished by God’s power.

Why is grace necessary?

Grace essential to salvation because it is the free gift of God, through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and all efforts to earn salvation are futile (verse 9). This is because of several obvious reasons:

  • First, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) — sin being the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4) — and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We have all earned the death penalty. And just as any government today realizes, the violation of law cannot go unpunished, or anarchy would ensue. Similarly, our regret and subsequent good behavior can never pay the penalty for sin, because the penalty is death. And God’s laws are enforced. God does not compromise with sin by allowing a way of life that leads to unhappiness, misery and death to go unpunished. The penalty for our sins must be paid.
  • Second, not only have we sinned, but man by himself is incapable of overcoming sin. Paul said in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Our best efforts are futile unless God gives us the help we need.

God’s grace toward us begins when God begins calling us. Unless God opens our minds, we cannot understand His purpose (John 6:44). Paul commented, “God … called me through His grace” (Galatians 1:15).

The very fact that one understands the truths of God as revealed in the Bible is because of God’s grace. But being called is just the beginning of grace.

The process of conversion requires more than understanding. It requires change, or repentance. We must freely choose to obey God — and unless God shows us what to repent of and the importance of obeying Him, we cannot repent. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance,” Paul explained in Romans 2:4.

But being sorry for sinning, and changing, is not enough. So God’s grace continues with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [an atoning sacrifice] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness” (Romans 3:23-25).

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin, which is death, in our stead. Christ’s sacrifice is the supreme expression of divine grace. It is totally unmerited (Romans 5:6-8).

Christ’s sacrifice frees us from the penalty of breaking God’s law. But it does not do away with the law! Think: Would God now allow the violation of laws that necessitated the death of His own Son? Of course not.

Grace does not nullify God’s law. Rather, grace is necessary because God’s law is eternally binding. As Paul explained: “Shall we continue in sin [the transgression of God’s law — John 3:4] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) Continuing in sin would mock Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice.

Unmerited but not unconditional

Here is where many misunderstand. Grace is unmerited but it is not unconditional. There are two conditions: repentance and faith (Mark 1:5, Acts 2:38). Although we can never earn salvation, God does set certain requirements for receiving His grace.

Once God, by His grace, reveals to us the need to repent and humbly accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, we must do our part. We must voluntarily yield ourselves to God, admitting where we have been wrong, and make the necessary changes. Then we must be baptized as an outward expression of our repentance and faith (Romans 6:3-6).

Don’t misunderstand — God’s grace is free and unmerited, but if we refuse to change our lives — to obey God — He is under no obligation to bestow His grace upon us. God will not allow Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be taken lightly.

The process continues. Peter tells us we must now “grow in grace” (II Peter 3:18, Authorized Version). Grace is unmerited pardon for sin, but it is much more. For if grace were merely the unmerited forgiveness of sin, how could we grow in grace except by sinning more? No, we must, while coming under God’s grace, overcome sin.

If you are truly under God’s grace, you will be striving diligently to obey God’s commandments. Paul said: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

We are to develop godly character by growing and overcoming in order that we can ultimately be born into the very Family of God. But we cannot do this alone (Matthew 19:25-26). We need God’s Spirit. And His Spirit, by His grace toward us, is a gift (Acts 10:45, 11:17).

God’s Spirit gives us the power we need to develop character. But we must work at it. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10).

To grow in grace is to overcome sin through coupling God’s Spirit with our own efforts. Without God’s help, overcoming sin would be impossible.

Finally, after we have developed godly character through God’s Spirit, one final act of grace is bestowed upon us — eternal life! We deserved death, but will receive life eternal. As Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The world is deceived into believing in a shallow, limited concept of God’s grace. True grace is more than the forgiveness of sin; it is the total process of salvation.

Peter summed it up beautifully: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen…. I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand” (I Peter 5:10-12).

December 19, 2009

The Truth About Masonry

Filed under: Pagan Customs — melchia @ 9:04 am
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Darwin vs. Genesis: A Literary Smackdown

I recently came across an article in the Toronto Star, a Canadian (liberal) newspaper. The title was: “Analysis: Darwin vs. Genesis, a literary smackdown.” The writer, Stephen Marche, makes a comparison between the authority of the Bible vs. Darwin’s book. Darwin supposedly wrote a masterpiece  which has only peer: the book of Genesis, the only other book that explains all of nature in a few terse sentences.

Why the comparison in a mainstream paper? The 25th of November 2009 was the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Darwin’s “Origin of the species.” So the article, I suppose was timely, but it is the way it was written that surprised me.

Marche writes, “You can spot the difference in the quality of the writing from the very first lines of the respective books. The first line of Genesis – ‘In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth’ – is simply the best sentence ever composed: strong, active, concise, clear, complete and yet turgid with hidden depths.” He cites Genesis as being full of delicious wordplay, humour, succinct expression , health and strength and possessing “real character.”

This, he says is unlike The Origin of Species, which opens with a lead sentence stuffed with vagueness and weakness. “When on board HMS Beagle, as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species – that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.”

Marche states, “this is a perfect model for what not to do with a lead sentence. Not only does it contain a passive construction, it is also a tissue of conditionals, stuffed with “seemed to me,” “some light,” and “one of our greatest.” The consequence of this, he states, is to lead the Kansas school board trustees and ex-U.S. Presidents to believe that there’s reasonable doubt about the ideas in The Origin of Species.” Therefore, he concludes, good writing matters.

Of course, he totally derails at the end of the article. He deftly hooks the reader with a little bit of reverse psychology, stating: “And so we are forced to the conclusion that, in almost every respect, Genesis is a better book than The Origin of Species, in the purity and intensity of its style, in its recognition of human realities” (Ibid). Then, the real depth of his beliefs are spewed out: “It’s just that Genesis is a pack of lies that has served the cause of bafflement for millennia, while The Origin of Species is true and has done more to liberate us from ignorance than any other book” (Ibid).

So ironically, Marche gives many reasons why the Bible is a superior literary read, yet, when coming to defend Darwin’s book, he simply makes a limp statement of conclusion. Having  painted himself into a corner, he doesn’t  realize his clever language only showcases his lack of spiritual substance.

The authority and power of the Bible is evident, showing that God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness….” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Though powerfully packed with history, it’s also the only book on earth that has consistently revealed in advance what will come to pass. It reveals an amazing hope and potential for all mankind; one that reaches the furthest corners of the universe. In contrast, belief in “The Origin Of The Species” leaves us hopelessly stranded in the past, giving us no more hope than the animals we have supposedly evolved from. Perhaps there is a reason why God is the superior author?

December 17, 2009

Does God Compromise His Word?

Many today think to change the Bible to suit their own needs, desires, wants or beliefs. Some even say that we should throw out the Old Testament because it is not in force today. Nonsense! God says His word is truth (John 17:17), which means “all that God has spoken” (Barnes’ Commentary), or properly, “the word which is yours” (Vincent’s Word Studies). All the Bible is words spoken by the Word, later to become Jesus Christ.

In Gen. 2 we are introduced to the term “the Lord [YHVH] God” as the designation of the acting and speaking member of that “us.” This Being — the Eternal (which is the meaning of YHVH) — is every time the one who deals with mankind as the biblical message progresses. In Genesis 14:18, we meet this Person as the “king of righteousness’ (Melchizedek, in Hebrew), the “king of Salem” (peace). Proof? Suffice it to say here that of this Melchizedek “it is witnessed that he liveth” — that he is the Eternal (Heb. 7:8).

The point to notice, however, is that this Melchizedek, the YHVH, the one who later became Jesus Christ, becoming God the Son, was at that time the priest (compare Hebrews 7:1 and verses following with Hebrews 8:1) of “the MOST HIGH God” (Gen. 14:18-22). Now who was God MOST High, the one to whom the Eternal Himself was priest? Let Jesus Himself answer: “…My Father IS GREATER than I” (John 14:28).

Of course. But let’s be sure. Who was Jesus Christ the son of? “The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,” the angel told Mary before Jesus was begotten, “therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God…. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest …” (Luke 1:35, 32).

Luke 8:28 and Mark 5:7 verify that Jesus is the “Son of God most high” and “Son of the most high God.” The Father is mentioned twice more by this term in the New Testament — Acts 7:48 and 16:17.

One of the purposes of Christ’s coming to earth as a human was to reveal the Father (see John 1:18; 5:37; 8:19; 14:7; Luke 10:22). He would not have had to reveal Him if the God of the Old Testament, whom the Israelites had known, had been the Father.

Christ the Word

So as we have established, Jesus Christ is the Word of both the Old and New Testament. This word is both “tried” (Psalm 18:30 and “pure“(Prov. 30:5), and both words mean refined as a metal, purity.

John 10:35 has an interesting dilemma for those who wish to take parts of the Bible and throw it away. It says that the scripture cannot be broken (destroyed, dissolved, put off, # 3089 Strong’s).That’s a powerful statement of irrefutability. It’s all an issue of faith, which “comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17 ). If we don’t hear and obey, we will not have the faith added unto us to comprehend the word of God. That is why it is so easy for unbelievers and those weak in faith to understand the deep things of God. These people cannot understand because God has to bridge the gap between the physical and spiritual with His spirit. These people handle the word of God deceitfully II Cor. 4:2), which means “they may falsify; deceitfully corrupt or disguise the truth of God, The phrase seems to be synonymous with 2 Cor. 2:17 (falsify, adulterate, corrupt, etc)” – Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible. In other words, they compromise it for their own gain, not handling it in truth, as the very word of God (1Th 2:13).

Commentators are greatly divided concerning what part of the  word of God is meant to be adhered to; some supposing only revelation; others, the NT Gospel; others having varying interpretations. But God says all of His sayings are the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). Jesus Christ consistently referred back to OT scriptures. Why, if they have no value? Isaiah 40:8 says God’s word will endure forever and we are to live by every word that comes out of the mouth (Bible) of God (Matt. 4:4, Luke 4:4)). God also says He blesses those who hear His word and keep (obey) it (Luke 11:28).

True Christians do not pervert and wrest scripture, take from it or add to it. They point out the truth in it, without keeping back anything that is profitable, declaring the whole (Old and New Testament) counsel of God. Prov. 3:6 says we are to acknowledge God in all our ways  in order for Him to properly direct our path. Do we ignore this commandment because it is Old Testament? Doing so would be nothing less than self serving nonsense and ignores the fact that the entirety of the Bible is a plain and open interpretation of the word of God

Jesus Christ, the God of the Old AND New testaments, is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Heb. 13:8). He does not change, He does not compromise and expects us to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). There is no wishy washy middle ground, only a straight and narrow middle path (Matt. 7:14). Even a small compromise cause sa great stink (Ecc. 10:1). So in conclusion, it can be said that true Christians cannot compromise the word of God and still pretend to walk with Him (Amos 3:3). At this point, the Christian would only be fooling Himself, no matter how vigorously.

December 15, 2009

Human Reproduction Pictures Spiritual Birth

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians you find a husband-wife relationship pictured as corresponding to Christ and the Church. Scriptural teaching assures us that, at His coming, Christ is going to marry the Church. Also, the Scriptures teach that the Church will, at His coming, be born of God, by a resurrection of all who have died, and the instantaneous conversion from mortal to immortal of those then living (I Cor. 15:50-53).

Immediately the question arises: “If those in the Church are to be just then born of God, how can they marry Christ before they grow up?”

Let’s understand!

Why were we born in the first place? What is the real purpose of human life? God Almighty the Creator is reproducing Himself! As truly as we mortal humans have been given power to reproduce ourselves–to bring forth progeny in our own image, born with our very nature–even so the Great God is bringing forth sons in His image, born with His very divine nature! The very purpose of our existence is that we be begotten as God’s children, and become born of Him.

And human reproduction is the very type of spiritual reproduction. What God created at the time described in the first chapter of Genesis was a physical creation. You’ll find nothing spiritual there. In physical man, made of the dust of the ground, God created the material with which He may mold, shape, form, and create the spiritual being. He pictures us as the clay, Himself as the Potter–forming us into the spiritual image of His designing.

Now human reproduction pictures spiritual reproduction. Each human, since Adam and Eve, started from a tiny egg, called an ovum, the size of a pinpoint. It was produced in the body of the mother. The egg is incomplete, of itself. It has a life of only about 48 hours, according to some authorities. Unless fertilized by the life-giving sperm cell from the human father within that limited lifetime, it dies.

Each human, spiritually speaking, is like an egg. The average human lifetime is said to be 70-80 years. Adam was created incomplete, and each of us was born incomplete–that is, we were made to need the Holy Spirit of God. And unless, within our limited lifespan of some 70-80 years, we are begotten of God–by His Spirit which is His immortal divine LIFE, entering to impart eternal life to us–we shall die–and that shall be the end–except that God has appointed a resurrection of all who have lived, and, for those who reject His gift of eternal life, the final second death in the lake of fire.

But, in the case of the human ovum, once fertilized as a begotten human, the egg–now called an embryo–is kept within the body of the mother, and is nourished and fed material food through her and protected by her. And there it must grow, being fed physically through the mother, large enough to be born. After a number of weeks, the embryo is called a fetus, and at birth it is a human baby.

In like manner, the Bible calls the Church the “mother of us all.” That is, the mother of Christians–those begotten of God. It is the function of the Church to protect and feed, spiritually, on the spiritual food of God’s Word, those begotten children of God, so that we may grow spiritually, in the divine character, ready to be born.

Surely this is a wonderful comparison. Yet types and antitypes are not always alike in every detail.

When a physical baby is born, it is not ready for marriage. When the spiritual child of God is born he will be fully mature for the spiritual marriage. How can this be?

The unborn human fetus is only growing physically. At birth the human baby knows nothing. He is helpless. He must be taught. He must learn. He is born merely with a mind capable of learning, knowing, thinking. He is not yet of mature size physically or mentally. Many do marry who are still entirely immature spiritually and/or emotionally. But we do assume that one has reasonable maturity physically and mentally before marriage. In the human, this development takes place in the human state after the human birth.

Therefore, the human baby is not ready for marriage at birth.

But the spirit-born are different!

Just as the fertilized ovum–the embryo which becomes the fetus–must grow physically from material food, so the Spirit-begotten child of God must grow spiritually before he can be born. But there is a difference!

The fetus does not attain to complete physical maturity before birth, and has no mental maturity. But, in the spiritual rebirth, one must attain reasonable spiritual maturity before he is spirit-born.

Now what is spiritual growth? Just as the physical embryo-fetus must grow physically large enough to be born, so the Spirit-begotten Christian must grow spiritually or he will never be born of God. But spiritual growth is CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

The Spirit-begotten starts out with a MIND from the beginning. God is perfect character–divine, spiritual character. God is also love. And perfect spiritual character is the way of love! Such character is the attainment of the ability, in a separate independent entity of free moral agency, to be able to discern right from wrong–the true values from the false–truth from error–the right way from the wrong, and then to make the right choice or decision, even against self-desire, impulse or temptation; plus the will and self-discipline to resist the wrong and to do the right.

No human, with human nature, has the power–alone by himself–to do this. But God has made available the spiritual power and help man lacks. Man must desire to know–must hunger and thirst for truth; man must make his own decision, exercise his own will, even against the pulls of his nature. But without the help of God–without spiritual power from God–man is utterly unable.

That is why truly converted Christians sometimes actually do sin. They are like the apostle Paul, as he describes himself in Romans 7. With his mind he wanted to go the way of Gods law, yet he found himself unable. Another law warred within him against the good resolutions of his mind. But the sequel to Romans 7 is Romans 8–the Holy Spirit chapter. Who, Paul cried out, could save him from this body of death he struggled against in vain? The answer is, God, through His Holy Spirit.

A true Christian doesn’t want to sin–should not. But sometimes he finds himself caught in the vise of habit, or overwhelmed by temptation or by circumstances from which he is unable to free himself. Surely, had such a one been continually praying, keeping himself close to God, and detached from the world or its lures or the temptations of the flesh, he probably would have had sufficient divine help to have prevented the sinning. But only Jesus Christ ever did keep that close to God!

God looks on the heart. In such a case, the Christian does not sin maliciously, with malice aforethought. He is merely caught in the vortex of a temptation which sucks him helplessly down into the sin. Then he is terribly sorry. He is disgusted with himself. He repents. He goes to work to overcome. He may not succeed, due to human weakness, at once. But he remains determined and finally does, with God’s help, overcome completely. Many a true Christian has had such a struggle over a particular human weakness and temptation, and after even several setbacks, finally, through God’s power, won the victory and fought his way free.

God looks on the heart. God forgives in such cases. The living Christ, our High Priest, has compassion, is filled with mercy–as long as the attitude is right, the desire of the inner man is to conquer the flesh and overcome the temptation and be free from it entirely. In the end, it is God who gives the victory. But, in such a struggle, the Christian develops character.

Now character, I have said many times, is something God does not create automatically. It is developed through experience. The development of that character is the very purpose of our being alive. Also the development of that character, unlike the purely physical growth of the unborn baby, actually is growing toward spiritual maturity, right now in the begettal stage prior to spirit birth–in this present mortal human life.

Notice how the “mother of us all,” the Church, is to protect and feed those in it, until they reach spiritual maturity. In I Corinthians 12 you’ll read how God gives spiritual gifts for various administrations, or functions of service. In Ephesians 4:11-14, Christ has given special spiritual abilities or talents to certain ones in a chain of authority under Him in the Church–and notice for what purpose:

“And his [Christ’s] gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ [the Church], UNTIL we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (RSV).

In other words, to full spiritual maturity!

Now why should we count the troubles and problems and temptations that beset us as all joy?

Simply because we cannot hurdle these obstacles successfully in our own power. They drive us to seek help from God. To go to God for the wisdom to know what to do, and the power to be able to do it, requires faith. This is a living faith. It is alive. It is active.

When we meet such trials, we often do not know what to do. We lack the wisdom to make the right decision. So open your Bible to the first chapter of James. Notice verse 5.

If you lack wisdom, in such trials, go to God for it! But ask in faith–no wavering–no doubting. Be sure God will not fail, but will give you this wisdom. Depend upon Him for it. If you waver, you are like a wave in the ocean–tossed back and forth–going nowhere! So, instead of wavering, be steadfast. And if you don’t get the answer immediately from God, have patience. Don’t give up. Trust Him.

Now notice verses 2-3: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (Revised Standard Version). These trials force you to your knees. You must have faith to meet them. They test your faith. They develop spiritual character!

In the King James Version, it says the trying of your faith produces patience. It produces that kind of patience that is steadfastness. That is character!

Sure, it may be unpleasant for a while. But, Paul assures us that if we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with Him–and the glory to be revealed in us is so incomparably greater than anything we now are, that this promised future for eternity is something to rejoice over!

Yes, count it all joy! Even if unpleasant. It is maturing you, now, for the marriage to Christ. The Church of God shall be born into the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom of God will not be composed of spiritual know-nothings and infants.

When we are born again–born of God–resurrected in spirit bodies, those bodies will not be small, like a human physical infant which must grow to full physical size. We shall look as we do now, so far as form and shape and features are concerned. But the resurrected body will be a different body–composed of spirit instead of flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:35-44).

The original twelve apostles were Christ’s witnesses. That is, they were actual eyewitnesses that Jesus rose from the dead–that the living resurrected Christ was the same Jesus who had been crucified. They were with Him forty days after His resurrection. But nobody will be foolish enough to suggest that when Christ was born very Son of God by the resurrection (Romans 1:4) that He was resurrected in a tiny infant’s body composed of spirit. He was resurrected full grown, as He had been when crucified. How did the apostles know He was the same Jesus? Because they knew what Jesus had looked like–and in His born-again, resurrected body He looked the same, except He now was composed of spirit instead of matter!

The resurrected Christ was perfect–He was very God! But He did not grow up into perfection after He was resurrected. It was during His human lifetime, setting us the example, that He was made perfect, as you read in Hebrews 2:10 and 5:8-9.

Thus it is plain that we must develop spiritual character, growing to spiritual adulthood, during this life–not after our resurrection in glory! This is the spiritual growth, of which the physical growth of the unborn child, from tiny embryo to a size and weight of some six to eight pounds at birth, is a type. The physical growth of the unborn human is a growth of physical size and weight. The spiritual growth of the begotten but yet unborn spiritual child of God is a growth in spiritual character, not of physical volume, size or weight. The human baby merely grows large enough to be born prior to birth–not to physical or mental maturity. But he does grow. And this physical growth is the type of the spiritual growth by feeding on the Word of God, and prayer, and Christian fellowship, and participation in the Work of God in the life of the begotten child of God.

The difference is merely the difference between matter and spirit. One is a material growth. Material growth is measured by volume, size, weight. The other is spiritual growth, measured by character development.

Jesus was born very Son of God by His resurrection (Romans 1:4). He was born fully mature. He was born in a spirit body, which was manifested to His apostles in the same apparent size and shape as when He died. When He appears on earth the second time, in His spirit glorified body, we shall be resurrected, or instantaneously changed, to a body that will be like Him (1 John 3:2)–full grown–adult!

Source: Plain Truth, 1978

December 14, 2009

The Virgin Birth: Fact Or Myth?

Liberal theologians have long denied the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection story and other tenets of traditional doctrine.

It’s easy enough for traditionalists to assign blame to two or three outspoken theologians. But what the theologians really represent is a surfacing of deeply felt, usually unexpressed, doubts in the hearts of the clergy. Increasingly the so-called poetic nature of the nativity stories is stressed in the media. A strict interpretation of the Bible text is summarily dismissed.

Perhaps a little historical perspective on this problem will clarify the controversy.

Brief Modern History

Adolf Harnack was a German liberal scholar. In 1892 he remarked to his students that he did not believe the virgin birth. In his view Jesus of Nazareth was no more than a very capable teacher. Harnack touched off a heated controversy that has ebbed and flowed ever since.

Then Emil Brunner wrote a book about Jesus Christ in 1927 in which he questioned the virgin birth.

After World War II Rudolf Bultmann began his now famous approach of “demythologizing” the Bible. To him New Testament myth had to be separated from New Testament fact. Miracles were indeed statements of faith — but not factual stories.

Students training for the priesthood and ministry have read the published works of these theologians as a regular part of their educational routine. Many have absorbed such teachings, however unconsciously. They have become unsure. They do not understand who or what Jesus Christ really was and is. Their disbelief now extends to the virgin birth.

Thinking men and women are now examining the New Testament documents for themselves. They have no option but to test what they hear, as did the Bereans, who searched “the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Can one honestly believe the virgin birth? Two accounts of Jesus’ birth appear in the gospels — one by Luke and the other by Matthew. Space only allows for an analysis of Luke’s version.

Luke as Gospel Writer

Luke was a physician who conducted himself like the professional he was. His gospel was written for a prominent Roman official. He chose his sources carefully. He talked to eyewitnesses. He recorded truth.

It is unthinkable that Luke would produce a careless assemblage of half-truths. Notice Luke’s prologue: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of what you have been informed” (Luke 1:1-4, Revised Standard Version throughout remainder of article).

Luke’s sober intention was to convey truth — not myths or half-truths. This Greek-speaking physician was nobody’s fool. He was a well-educated man.

Here is the thoughtful conclusion of Professor A. Plummer about Luke the physician and gospel writer and the apostle Paul: “It is not improbable that it was at Tarsus, where there was a school of philosophy and literature rivalling those of Alexandria and Athens, that they first met. Luke may have studied medicine at Tarsus. Nowhere else in Asia Minor could he obtain so good an education” (St. Luke, pp. 20-21, T.&T. Clark, 1896).

Luke is one of the most versatile and prolific of all the New Testament writers. He uses 800 Greek words not employed elsewhere in the New Testament. He spent valuable time with another prolific writer — the apostle Paul who, like Moses, was not only educated in biblical doctrine, but in this world’s secular and legal knowledge as well.

Only Luke sets the birth and ministry of Christ in the wider context of the Roman Empire. Considerable historical and chronological data are used in his account. He is conscious of the impact of Christ’s teaching in the whole of the civilized world. He realizes the gospel goes far beyond Palestinian borders.

The point is, here is a man uniquely equipped to write an account of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ to one in high office. Luke understands the Graeco-Roman world. He possesses literary gifts and historical awareness. He has professional experience.

Luke’s Birth Accounts

The birth stories of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ are set in the days of Herod (Luke 1:5). The account begins with Zechariah, who is approached in the Temple by the archangel Gabriel while Zechariah is performing his priestly duties. Gabriel predicts the birth of John. Not unnaturally, Zechariah protests his and his wife’s advanced age. Nevertheless Elizabeth conceives (verse 24).

This crucial account follows: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (verses 26-27).

God is director of this entire scenario. Gabriel was sent by the Creator. The archangel said to the betrothed virgin Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (verse 30).

What is to happen to Mary as a result of God’s favor? “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (verse 31).

Tripartite Testimony

Notice the account carefully. Notice how Scripture affirms Mary’s virginity. In verse 27 Luke says that Mary was a virgin. In verse 34 Mary herself states she was a virgin. In verses 35 through 37 the archangel Gabriel affirms her virginity.

But what was Mary’s reaction to the angelic greeting? Just what you’d expect in a real life situation. Luke records that “she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (verse 29).

And when Gabriel tells her of the coming birth, her reaction is very human. “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” (verse 34). Mary was betrothed, but not yet living with a husband. She presents the natural difficulties. Then Gabriel proceeds to strengthen her faith. Notice how.

He focuses her attention on Elizabeth’s miraculous experience. “And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible” (verses 36-37).

A Miracle-working God

Such is the crux of the whole matter. God is a miracle-working God. Miraculous biblical incidents are recorded from Genesis to Revelation. Of course, God did create natural law. But the Creator is superior to the created and can transcend natural law.

Birth is not normally possible after menopause. It occurred twice in biblical history. The first occurrence involved the patriarch Abraham and his wife Sarah. Again the reaction was typically human. Abraham said: “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Gen. 17:17). Sarah said: “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” (Gen. 18:13).

Notice how God answered these questions. “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son” (verse 14).

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Each must answer this question for himself or herself.

Must we reject miracles because they are not the norm in secular human experience? Notice the wisdom of Winston Churchill: “The idea that nothing is true except what we comprehend is silly, and that ideas which our minds cannot reconcile are mutually destructive, sillier still” (My Early Life, page 126, 1930, MacMillan & Co.).

Which Is the Greater Miracle?

It is foolish to view the virgin birth in isolation. The virgin birth is not inherently less plausible than the physical resurrection of Jesus.

The virgin birth is no harder for God than resurrecting Jesus Christ — and certainly no harder than creating the first man from the dust of the ground — or fashioning Eve from Adam’s rib. Which miracle is harder for God?

Let’s put it another way. God created the heavens and the earth “out of things which do not appear” (Heb. 11:3). Visible matter is therefore not eternal in nature. God created Adam out of dust, without any father or mother. God created Eve out of a rib, without any father or mother. Was it then impossible for God to be the Father of Jesus without benefit of a human father? Which is the greater miracle?

But what was the archangel Gabriel telling Mary? Simply this. If God could make it possible for Elizabeth and Zechariah to have a son John in their old age, Mary could bear a child as a virgin. “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Questions on the Virgin Birth

Why does John Mark, the writer of the gospel of Mark, fail to report a virgin birth?

Mark is the briefest of the four gospels. He simply omits the first 30 years of Jesus’ life — beginning his gospel with Jesus’ ministry. Says Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (Revised Standard Version throughout). Even here a virgin birth is inferred.

What about the silence of the apostle Paul?

Paul’s epistles were all what theologians term “occasional” letters. That is, they were written to either inform or correct a specific congregation or an individual because of problems that arose during the course of his apostolic duties. None is a catalog of Christian doctrine.

Certainly nothing in Paul’s epistles contradicts a virgin birth. Notice Galatians 4:4: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman…. ” At the outset of every one of Paul’s 14 letters, there is a reference to the Father-Son relationship in the God family. Note an excerpt from the salutation in II Corinthians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Also in Colossians 1:3: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Draw your own conclusions.

What about Matthew’s quotation of Isaiah 7:14 in the Old Testament? Is not the word virgin a mistranslation? Does not the Hebrew word almah mean “young woman”?

The Hebrew word almah can be translated “young woman,” “girl” or “maiden,” as well as “virgin.” As The New Bible Commentary Revised puts it: “It presumes rather than states virginity” (page 596). Almah is used to describe Rebekah as a “young woman” before her marriage to Isaac (Gen. 24:43). She was a virgin (verse 16).

Almah is never used to describe a married woman. Says The New Bible Dictionary: “In using the word alma, however, Isaiah employs the one word which is never applied (either in the Bible or in other Near Eastern sources) to anyone but an unmarried woman” (page 557).

This is not true of btula — the other term that may be translated “virgin.” Continues The New Bible Dictionary, “The word btula may designate a virgin, but when it does the explanatory phrase ‘and a man had not known her’ is often added… the word btula may also indicate a married woman.”

Moses uses both Hebrew words to describe the virgin Rebekah (see Genesis 24:16, 43). But why did Isaiah use almah to describe the one who would bear Immanuel (meaning “God with us”)? Simply stated, the prophet had to choose one of the two terms. Neither always means virgin. There is no precise word in Hebrew that always means virgin. Since almah never means a young married woman, one living with a husband, it is the better term for Isaiah 7:14.

It is interesting to note that the Septuagint — the most important Greek translation of the Old Testament — translates the Hebrew word almah (Isa. 7:14) into the Greek parthenos. This particular Greek word always means “virgin.” This was the judgment of some 70 Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek about 250 B.C.

All that aside, remember that here the Greek New Testament interprets the Hebrew. The angel explained to Joseph: ” ‘Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit… “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matt. 1:20-23).

Just before his ascension, Christ told his apostles: ” ‘These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets [including Isaiah] and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). That last sentence is the key. The apostles — including Matthew — received an inspired understanding of the correct sense of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Many times the Hebrew prophets did not fully comprehend the exact nature of what they were writing (Dan. 12:8-9).

Matthew was given inspired understanding of many Hebrew scriptures concerning Jesus Christ. Isaiah 7:14 was just one.

Matthew’s genealogy begins with the genealogy of Joseph. What is the point of a genealogy of a stepfather?

This genealogy shows something vital about Jesus — as well as about his legal father. Matthew 1:1 simply states: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

King David was founder of the Jewish royal family. Matthew’s genealogy follows the Davidic royal line to Jesus’ legal father. Here are Jesus’ regal credentials.

Why do you think King Herod slaughtered all the male children in Bethlehem age 2 and under (Matt. 2:16)? Herod thought Jesus, as heir to David’s throne, might usurp his kingdom.

It was left to Luke to explain the actual Davidic bloodline through Jesus’ mother Mary.

Source: The Plain Truth, 1985

December 12, 2009

How Did Adam And Eve Learn Right From Wrong?

Adam was not born, he was suddenly created as a full grown adult man. The same applies to Eve. Many would suppose that both were created with a storehouse full of knowledge automatically implanted in their minds. But this assertion is wrong.

Consider: How do adults of today come into possession of the knowledge that they have? They are not born with it. A newborn babe knows nothing at birth, but absorbs knowledge slowly, cumulatively additive. It must learn, must be taught.

Now let’s examine the difference between Adam at the instant of his creation and  a baby at the instant of birth. within a portion of a single day, an adult man was created out of the dust of the ground with a mind, as yet unfilled with knowledge, but capable of receiving knowledge, reasoning and acting upon it. The difference between Adam and a baby is that Adam started off as an adult, with an adult capable mind, but as much without knowledge, and therefore as helpless, as a newborn baby. So he had adult capacity, but no adult knowledge.

Therefore his very first need was to be given essential knowledge. And herein lies a truth even religion has forgotten – that god – besides being a creator, is also an Educator.  God instructed both Adam and Eve in the basic foundation of all knowledge – the same as is available in the bible today. And yes, this includes the Ten Commandments. We know that Adam and Eve sinned and sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). Only by the law of God is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), or else Eve would not have known to say that she and her husband could die if they eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:3).

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jam. 4:17).

Our first parents rejected God’s revelation of knowledge through rebellion. And their children have been rejecting and rebelling against the supreme Educator of all mankind ever since. They reject Him as both Ruler and Educator, and most reject him as Creator.

God the Educator

The very last act of God’s creation by work was the creation of man. It was on the sixth day of that first week and it was the final act of the work of creation. That day, by God’s order, ended at sunset (Gen. 2:2).

Now here is a point of distinction which must be made. God did not end creating at this point, only His work – those things made by work. Now he created the sabbath by rest, not by work, blessing and sanctifying it (setting it apart as Holy from other days). He established the sabbath as the day for assembly and spiritual instruction.

Now this was a good thing, because here was Adam and Eve needing instruction. Did the creator walk off or vanish out of sight, leaving the man and woman helpless and without knowledge? No, the record shows that the Eternal God began speaking to the man – communicating knowledge – giving instruction.  He taught the Gospel to the very first man, giving that man, so far sinless, His fellowship on His Sabbath day.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying…..(Gen. 2:15-16).

The eternal God immediately began speaking to, teaching and instructing, the man. We can know certain things with of what was said, but the inspired record in the first few chapters of Genesis reveals to us only the briefest summary – hits only the high spots. But even though the record omits many of the details, it spans the fields covered. Much of the detailed instruction may be accurately filled in from other parts of the Bible.

The fields covered then were:

  1. the true Gospel (spiritual truth).
  2. the Ten Commandments (God’s way of life).
  3. man’s transcendent potential (gift of eternal life).
  4. necessary physical knowledge to live in a healthy way.
  5. knowledge of the marriage institution and of sex.

One of the trees in the Garden of Eden was the tree of life, symbolized as God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. “But,” continued God, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die”(Gen. 2:16-17). Here, in briefest condensation, we find the teaching of the Gospel – that “the wages is sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23).

The Bible says all have sinned – including Adam and Eve (Rom. 3:23, 5:12). God could not have allowed Adam to sin, without first having taught him what sin is.

Is Man An Animal?

Editors Comment: The following article is from the Trumpet.com and has some very interesting points to make regarding the distinction between man and animals. The author addresses the fact that man is a physical being, with a spiritual attribute and that of the whole man, the mind is the all important factor between him and animals. Science forgets that the body is merely the physical vehicle which the mind directs. With mankind, it is by thought; with animals, it is through instinct. Looking for the connection is simply grasping at the thin end of the straw. The article is well worth the read if you’re interested in the subject.

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psycnet.apa.org

Science is exposing a shocking new truth, columnist Mark Morford declared this past summer: “In the wilds of nature, to not have some level of homosexual/bisexual behavior in a give

n species is turning out to be the exception, not the rule” (San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2009; emphasis his).

You know where he’s going with this. “[E]ither humankind is part of nature and the wanton animal kingdom, a full participant in the messy inexplicable glories of the flesh and spirit and gender play, or we are the aberrant mistake, the ones who are lagging far behind the rest of the kingdom ….”

Morford’s in-your-face arrogance is maddening. But he appears to have science on his side. “[A]s many as 1,500 species of wild and captive animals have been observed engaging in homosexual activity,” noted Scientific American in June 2008. “Researchers have seen such same-sex goings-on in both male and female, old and young, and social and solitary creatures and on branches of the evolutionary tree ranging from insects to mammals.”

Science, according to Morford and his ilk, has solved the contentious question of homosexual behavior in humans: Homosexuality is a scientifically proven, therefore irrevocable, fact of life. To oppose it is to oppose nature itself.

The truth, however, is not that simple. This argument—which is patent liberalism masquerading as objective science—is riddled with flaws.

Animal or Human?

Morford’s reasoning is premised on one of the most pernicious errors ever peddled by science. Canonized into scientific lore long ago, then pumped relentlessly by modern education into believing minds, this lie has been sold as undeniable fact, an irreproachable law of science. What is it?

That man is an animal.

Check any modern biology textbook—they all say the same thing. Humans, Homo sapiens, are classified as members of the animal kingdom. Scientists classify man this way because of similarities between the physical characteristics and workings of some animals and the physical characteristics and workings of humans.

What about the gargantuan—and, at least to scientists, inexplicable—mental differences? Animals don’t think or reason, write, read, listen to music (let alone compose it or perform it), drive cars, or understand mathematics and chemistry. They lack the mental capacity to do any of these beyond even the most rudimentary level.

Aren’t the extreme differences between the mind of animals and the human mind greater than the meager similarities between the physical makeup of humans and some animals? Of course. Yet rather than give us our own kingdom, scientists lob humans into the animal kingdom.

A Slippery Slope

The unqualified classification of man as an animal is founded on an error and ends in moral confusion, and, ultimately, social breakdown.

Consider Morford’s reasoning, borne of this error. Many scientists and intellectuals like Morford, using this as their premise, have moved far beyond merely studying the physical similarities between humans and animals. Today we have “advanced” to the point of actually studying the behavior of animals to determine what is normal and abnormal behavior for humans. Since, Morford says, animals the world over supposedly engage in homosexual behavior, he reasons it’s neither unnatural nor abnormal for humans to practice homosexuality.

Such reasoning is more pervasive than you might imagine. Regarding such human proclivities as promiscuous sex, single motherhood, even child rearing, leading scientists and intellectuals are actually looking to animals to determine what is normal behavior and what is not.

Tragically, this “progression” has resulted in the sweeping acceptance, even promotion, of animalistic behavior in human society!

Where does it end? Many animals practice cannibalism—does this mean human cannibalism is all right? Animals fight and kill each other all the time—does this justify fighting and murder among humans? Of course not, reasonable people would reply. Yet scientists and radical liberals use precisely this logic to justify homosexuality.

Increasingly, this reasoning is being used to undermine the traditional family. A growing contingent of anti-family, anti-traditional radicals argue that since no other animals possess the marriage institution, why should humans? Some, in an effort to undermine the traditional role of the human male, argue that while male animals are generally involved in conception, most never stick around to protect, provide for and educate their progeny—so why should men be any different?

Such pitiful reasoning exposes the absolute degeneracy of the human mind today.

Humans laud themselves for being smart and progressive. We can easily recognize the vast gap that separates us from other living creatures—the uniqueness of our intelligence, our culture, our ability to think and reason, and our countless impressive achievements. Yet despite these magnificently unique qualities, we willfully lump ourselves in with the dumb animals.

We possess the most powerful instrument on the planet: the human mind. It sets us miles apart from every other life form. Yet we look to animals—creatures devoid of any ability to think or reason, creatures driven by basic instinct—as a means of determining human morality and conduct, and establishing societal norms.

There is an explanation for such thinking: Mankind has been deceived into rejecting divine revelation from God!

We Have Been Deceived!

The classification of humans as animals, and the resulting justification of animalistic behavior among humans, goes beyond being illogical and perverted.

At its core, it is motivated by an evil spirit being who is determined to undermine and destroy the existence of God, the traditional “Christian” beliefs, morals and institutions that underpin many Western societies, and, most importantly, the incredible potential God has created within every human being.

Unsurprisingly, Morford, like many of the scientific surveys, failed to define how “homosexual behavior” was classified among animals. Animals do not have the varied and complex emotional make-up of human beings. Just because two bottlenose dolphins are seen briefly mounting each other, this does not make them homosexual. Did two squirrels wrestling make them homosexual? If the definition of “homosexual behavior” is as broad as it appears, then it’s no surprise the figures are so high.

And if animals are exhibiting homosexual tendencies, we would strongly challenge the notion that God made them to do so. God created this planet flawless, meaning it was created within the boundaries of His law. This is why, after six days of labor, God looked back on His handiwork and said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Just look at the way animals behaved in the Garden of Eden, before the curses associated with man’s sin entered the world (e.g. Genesis 2:19). Then look at the prophecies of how they will behave again once God’s Kingdom is established and those curses are removed (e.g. Isaiah 11:6-9). God did not make the animals wild, violent and bloodthirsty. They exhibit those qualities—as man does, sadly—because they are in the thrall of this world ruled by the devil (e.g. 2 Corinthians 4:4).

So not only are scientists stupidly looking to the creature rather than the Creator for their instruction in how to live (e.g. Romans 1:25), but they are studying and exalting a Satan-inspired perversion of the behaviors God intended animals to exhibit! “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (verse 22).

We ought to be looking up to the majestic throne room of God and gleaning instruction on how to live from the Being infinitely superior to us in morality, character and conduct. But this evil spirit, using science and other instruments, encourages man instead to turn our gaze downward into the world of brute animals—be they homosexual scarab beetles, or promiscuous dogs, or filthy baboons—for insight and instruction into human behavior.

Instead of relying on God’s Word, mankind relies on his own materialistic observations and classifies himself as little more than a brute beast aimlessly walking this Earth. Can’t we recognize the absurdity of such thinking?

The God Kind

The Bible explains in detail why God made man. It reveals our purpose for existence. It provides instruction on ideal human conduct. It shows our ultimate potential.

Consider God’s instruction in Genesis 1:26-27. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth …. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them.”

Did you notice how clearly God delineates the human kingdom from the animal kingdom?

We’re just scratching the surface. In verse 25, God explained how He made each species of animal after its own kind, the “cattle after their kind,” and “every winged fowl after his kind.” But read verses 26-27 again: God made man after the God kind!

He didn’t just create humans as a separate kingdom higher than that of the animals; He created humans after the God kind, with a colossal potential that no animal can ever have. Notice what the late Herbert Armstrong wrote about this potential: “This revealed knowledge of God’s purpose for mankind—of man’s incredible awesome potential—staggers the imagination. Science knows nothing of it—no religion reveals it … and certainly higher education is in utter ignorance of it” (Incredible Human Potential).

If you’re weary of science and education forcing your gaze downward, it’s not too late to begin casting your gaze upward, into the realm of hope and truth, the realm overflowing with divine instruction and guidance. If you’d like some help, request, then study, our free book The Incredible Human Potential.

Denominational Flavour Of The Day: Cafeteria Religionists!

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal of December 11, 2009, titled “A Hint of This, a Pinch of That” pointed to a very interesting survey survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It found that the U.S. is a “nation of religious drifters,” gravitating toward religious monogamy, pledging fidelity, say, to Methodism in our youth, Catholicism in middle age and Episcopalianism in our dotage.

Americans seem to have no problem flirting with religious beliefs and practices other than their own without officially changing their religious affiliation. “Cafeteria Religionists” are picking and choosing beliefs and practices they choose to uphold at a whim. This is what Boston University’s John Berthrong has referred to as the “divine deli.”

The article says, “Not counting travel, or special events such as weddings and funerals, more than one-third of Americans attend worship services at more than one place, and nearly a quarter attend services held by another religion. Much of this religious infidelity happens in the family, or within the extended family—Lutherans attending Baptist services or Baptists attending Catholic Mass. …

Religion in North America seems to be heading down a slippery slope, under the guise of religious tolerance. Today, it’s not even so much about doctrines as it is between the blurred lines of the actual religions themselves. Traditions have been tossed to the wayside in favour of filling the shopping cart with the religious flavour of the day.

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