The Apple Of God's Eye

June 5, 2011

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

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Practice does not make perfect. Yes, you read that right. It is perfect practice that makes perfect. If we practice wrongly, we will not become perfect. God expects us to practice in a perfect way and if we aren’t practicing perfectly, we have no shot.

Matt.5:48 says we are to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. These instruction come from Jesus Christ. This takes a lot of practice and work, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is expected of us.

Humanly, success is neither a function of genetic uniqueness nor hard-work.  It is instead a function of taking our inherent endowments and refining our craft through deliberate practice. According to Geoff Colvin’s book “Talent Is Overrated: What really Separates World Class Performers From Everybody Else,” the defining characteristic of the deliberative approach to practice are: (1) designed to specifically improve performance; (2) can be repeated; (3) provides continuous feedback; (4) is demanding mentally; and (5) is hard and pushes us continously beyond our comfort zone.  Top performers are detail oriented and never satisfied.

And so it has to be with the Christian. We have to view ourselves differently from the way other people do, become more specific in spiritual goals and strategies and set ourselves against a standard that’s impossible for others to achieve. None of this can be done by human power alone. As God states:

“…. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech.4:6)

Jesus Christ does not want a bride that is not ready (Eph. 5:20). He wants one without spot and blemish. We are in training to become perfect.

So You Think You’re Safe Under God’s Grace?

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The chances are that you, if you believe you are a Christian, are today on mighty dangerous ground!

You’d better STOP—and check up!

Open your Bible! Take a look at the real Christians back in the days of Peter, John and Paul—and compare! Take a look at the power in the original true Church—in the lives of those Christians. See how your life stacks up!

. . . But are you sure?

You think you are under God’s grace? Safe and secure for all eternity? Well, listen! “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he FALL”! So warns God’s Word (I Cor. 10:12). It’s time to realize you are going to be finally judged by the very word of God. You need to see to what standard you must measure up.

Jesus told His disciples, just before He ascended to heaven, that they should receive power when they were converted.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” (Acts 1:8).

Do you have that same POWER today? Did you ever study closely to see what that power is? Have you ever been concerned about how you may receive it?

Have you ever checked to see whether you need it? It’s time you did, for without it you are not truly Christ’s! (more…)

February 18, 2010

What Is Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit?

Only three places in the Bible mention “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”: Matthew 12:22-32, Mark 3:20-30 and Luke 12:10. The Greek word in these verses means “to speak abusively, defame, vilify.” Certain people of Jesus’ day blasphemed the Spirit by attributing the power and works of God to the devil — by saying Jesus cast out demons by an unclean spirit.

Blasphemy against the Spirit of God is not pardonable. The reason is this: We can come to repentance only when the Holy Spirit convicts us that our ways have been wrong and that God’s ways are right. If we reject, by not repenting, the Holy Spirit and the works it does, we are rejecting the only channel through which we could qualify for God’s gift of grace. The unpardonable sin is the one unrepented of.

Falling away after once having the Holy Spirit is also unpardonable (Hebrews 6:4-6). Falling away means turning from God’s way of life after sincerely embracing it, or rejecting Christ’s sacrifice, which makes it possible for humans to receive God’s Spirit after repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). It is possible, as I Thessalonians 5:19 shows, to quench the Spirit in us.

Many have worried needlessly about this question. No one who has blasphemed the Spirit of God wants to do the works of God. He hates them! But as long as one is truly repentant, wants to live God’s way of life and strives to overcome, he or she has not committed the unpardonable sin.

January 21, 2010

The Human Mind Versus Animal Brain: Is There A Difference?

Did you ever wonder about the vast difference between human mind and animal brain? The physical brain of the higher vertebrates in the animal kingdom is essentially the same in physical form, design, constituency, as human brain. The brains of whales, elephants, dolphins are larger–and chimp almost as large. Yet the output of the human brain is indescribably greater.

Many passages of Scripture show that there is a spirit in man (e.g., I Cor. 2:11). Spirit is not matter, and man is matter. To distinguish it from God’s Holy Spirit. For simplicity, we can call it the “human” spirit,” which imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain. The spirit cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel. The brain sees through the eye, hears through the ear, etc. The “human” spirit cannot of itself think. The physical brain thinks.

What, then, is the function of this “human” spirit? It is NOT a “soul.” But, 1) it imparts the power of intellect–of thinking, and of MIND power, to the human brain; and 2) it is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human MAN and divine GOD.

Many speak loftily of human worth as of supreme value in itself. They speak of the “god” within you–of tapping the innate hidden resources within yourself. They teach SELF-reliance, self-glorification. But in fact, they are smugly ignorant and unaware of the true values and the incredible but real human potential. Human life is at once of infinitesimally less value than they suppose, and at the same time of supremely greater potential than they know.   (more…)

October 7, 2009

Is The Holy Spirit A Person?

HolySpiritMillions  believe it fervently. Some of the world’s greatest minds have pondered and written about it. So why shouldn’t you also believe and accept the doctrine of the trinity — that the Holy Spirit is a person, just like God the Father and Jesus Christ?

But wait! What did they believe and what have they pondered? Did these “great minds” really prove the doctrine of the trinity to themselves, not to mention to others? Let the record speak for itself:

“We cannot doubt the existence among orthodox Fathers of different opinions on this mysterious subject until its final definition by the Church” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

It has always been a mystery, filled with controversy and difficult for everybody to comprehend. All scholarly attempts at understanding have only added misunderstanding! All theological attempts at clarity have only added confusion. See if you can understand this:

“Some said that there was but one substance in the God-head, others, three. Some allowed, some rejected the terms … according as they were guided by the prevailing heresy of the day and their own judgment concerning the mode of meeting it… Some declare that God is numerically three; others numerically one; while to others it might appear more philosophical to exclude the idea of number altogether in the discussion of that mysterious Nature which is beyond comparison, whether viewed as One or Three, and neither falls under nor forms any conceivable species” (The Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 127, ed. 1854).

Such ecclesiastical confusion reigned supreme until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. It was a hotly divided issue that had to be decided by a special meeting of that church almost 300 years after the crucifixion! Why?

Because all scholars admit that there is no reference to the trinity in the Bible, but it is only, as they say, “implied.” And even though the church had theoretically “decided” the issue in 325 A.D., scholars have still held differing opinions throughout the ages ever since that time!

Again why? Because this doctrine cannot be proven! “A fruitful cause of error in ancient and also modern times is owing to an attempt to explain or illustrate this doctrine, forgetting that it is a mystery to be received on faith, which cannot, from its own nature, be rendered intelligible to man’s intellect” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

Admittedly then, the trinity can be neither explained nor understood. Yet much is still written — and a topical Bible will give as many as sixty-five scriptures — to “imply” that the trinity exists and that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person!

Many Bible dictionaries, on the other hand, do not even mention the subject. The ones that comment on the “trinity” do so historically, not Biblically. Now that’s very interesting. Think about why. Why? Because the trinity is not in the Bible.

Why such confusion? Because of the age-old practice of attempting to interpret clear scriptures by unclear scriptures! Who would think to do it the other way around — to analyze and understand unclear scriptures on the basis of what can be easily understood from clear ones !?!

Let’s examine some of those clear, understandable scriptures to see what God’s Holy Spirit actually Is.

First: it is the power of God!

“Not by might, nor by power [of humans], but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). “I am full of POWER by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of MIGHT . . .” declared the prophet Micah (Micah 3:8).

Second: it has tangible assets:

It is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear (deep reverence and respect — not craven fear) of the Lord (Isa. 11:2).

Third: it is a gift.

After baptism, you are to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). It Is poured out. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17).”… On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:45).

Fourth: to be effective the Holy Spirit must be stirred up.

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God,” Paul reminded the young evangelist, Timothy (II Tim. 1:7).

Fifth: the Spirit of God can be quenched (I Thes. 5:19)

This language is taken from the way of putting out a fire, which may be put out by pouring on water; or by covering it with any incombustible substance; or by neglecting to supply fuel. If it is to be made to burn, it must be nourished with proper care and attention. So, the the Holy Spirit in a true Christian is here compared with fire (or a power) that might be made to burn more intensely, or that might be extinguished.

Sixth: it is the begetting power of God (Matt. 1:18; Rom. 8:9).

Seventh: it is God’s guarantee to us that He will fulfill His promise to us (Eph. 1:14) .

Eighth: it sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Ninth: it must be renewed (Titus 3:5-6).

And on and on. With not one characteristic even “implying” a “person.” Read these very clear scriptures describing the Holy Spirit again. Does a person do any of these things ? Is a person poured, quenched, renewed? Does a person live IN someone else or live IN people’s hearts? Hardly!

Some are confused by such scriptures as John 14:16-17; 16:7-8, 13. They ask why does the Bible use the pronoun “he” to describe the Holy Spirit if it is not a separate entity? In the above passages the Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Comforter.”

“Comforter” is masculine in the Greek — just like the many other inanimate objects, like stone, which are also masculine. According to Greek rules of grammar you must use a masculine pronoun to refer to a masculine noun. Since “comforter” is masculine in Greek, a masculine pronoun is used. That is why “he” is used in many cases where it refers to the antecedent “comforter.”

In some cases “he” is used in the King James Version where the original Greek uses “it.” The reason is that the translators believed in the Trinity themselves and interpreted rather than translated. John 14:17 is a good example. The pronouns “he” and “him” should have been rendered “it” as they are in the Greek. They refer to the word “spirit,” which is neuter in the Greek. Therefore, the pronouns which refer to them must also be neuter.

Notice Romans 8:16: “The Spirit itself beareth witness….” Here the King James translators have correctly translated the Greek pronoun in the neuter gender.

For further evidence proving that the Holy Spirit is not a person, see Matthew 1:20. Here we read that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Yet Christ calls God His Father, not the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). If the Holy Spirit were a person, it would be Christ’s Father. Proof positive that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the power God the Father uses — much as a man uses electricity.

Consider further! If the Holy Spirit were a person, Jesus Christ prayed to the wrong individual. Throughout the four Gospels, we find Christ speaking to God — not the Holy Spirit — as His Father.

Source: Tomorrow’s World, 1970

August 13, 2009

What If Adam Had Taken Of The Tree Of Life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Lives and Works

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

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

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

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

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

What Did the Tree of Life Symbolize?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He Would Have … “

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

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

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

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

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

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

What DID and WILL Happen

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

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

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

Thereupon God moved swiftly to do certain things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Plain Truth, March 1983

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