The Apple Of God's Eye

March 21, 2011

If I Were The Devil

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If I were the devil I’d be an expert at overthrowing people. Don’t forget I caused ancient Israel to be overthrown many times. I conquered persons such as Ananias, Sapphira, Alexander the coppersmith, and Hymenaeus — all true Christians once. I got Demas, a minister under the Apostle Paul, to turn away from God — having incited him to love this world.

Look Into History

The Bible is a book of history. It was written for the profit of true Christians upon whom the ends of the world are come (I Cor. 10:11; Romans 15:4). The devil also knows the history contained in God’s Word. He knows the lessons better than all. He was there.

Do you remember how ancient Israel was overthrown time and again during the days of the judges? In Judges 3 God delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the king of Mesopotamia by the hand of the son of Caleb’s younger brother. Israel was delivered and the land had rest forty years. See Judges 3:8-11.

But what happened during those forty years? Obviously it was a time of peace, of prosperity and rebuilding of Israel. Those were “good” years — like the roaring twenties and soaring sixties!

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Eternal: and the Eternal strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Eternal” (verse 12).

So the children of Israel were taken captive — this time under the king of Moab where they served in captivity and slavery for eighteen years. But when they cried to God, He heard them and delivered them.

“So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore [80] years” (verse 30).

Again ancient Israel had peace. This time for eighty years. Again it was a time of peace and prosperity. During this time the children of Israel became a hedonistic and pleasure-loving nation. And they did evil in the sight of the Eternal.

“And the Eternal sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles” (Judges 4:1-2).

With iron chariots and a mighty army the king of Canaan and the captain of his host mightily oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years.

But God loved His nation. And when they cried to Him from pain and suffering, God’s mercy was extended to them again. This time God used Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, to free Israel.

And when He had freed them God’s Word tells us, “And the land had rest forty years” (Judges 5:31). (more…)

February 13, 2010

Was Pope Pious XII Really Pious?

Editors Comment: Some claim vigorously that Pope Pious XII saved thousands of Jewish lives in secret at great personal cost. But in 1948 the new state of Israel, eager for international recognition, gave the Vatican leverage to get Israeli diplomats and politicians to quote extravagant figures for the Jews rescued by Pius XII. There is a thoroughly discredited statement of Pinchas Lapide, who estimated that Pius ‘was instrumental in saving at least 700,000 but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands. More here – Concordatwatch.eu. This despite it being generally acknowledged that “with few exceptions, he intervened actively only to save baptized Jews”. [Arthur Hertzberg, “The Catholic-Jewish dispute that won’t go away”, Reform Judaism, November 1999].

Indeed, to soften the blow of this man’s actions many decades later reveals that most don’t understand how the Catholic Church thinks. The big picture reveals a church with leaders that have sanctioned two thousand years of official Church anti-semitism which had fueled the pogroms and the Holocaust, as well as the the murder of millions of lives during the Middle Ages.

Rather than Biblical admonition and guidance, the Roman Catholic church circumvents the sayings of Christ when convenient, showing that it cares first and foremost about its own interests. Not only have there never been pious leaders in the Catholic church, there is STILL none pious at the helm.

Read the article below from the Trumpet.com to understand the subject more deeply.

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From the March 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Hitler’s pope is one step closer to sainthood. In December 2009, Pope Benedict xvi issued a decree proclaiming the “heroic virtues” of the 20th century’s most controversial pope. Prior to World War ii, the cardinal who later became Pope Pius xii successfully negotiated the Reich Concordat with Adolf Hitler in 1933, which effectively removed all political opposition to the growing Nazi movement in Germany.

During the war, Pius turned a blind eye to Hitler’s barbarous campaign to exterminate Jews. In October 1943, Hitler’s SS troops entered Rome’s old ghetto and rounded up more than a thousand Italian Jews to be transported to death camps. Before their deportation, these Jews were held captive for two days in a building located less than half a mile from the Vatican. Pope Pius was one of the first to be made aware of the Jewish arrests. Yet he did nothing to prevent them from boarding cattle cars bound for Auschwitz.

Even after the war was over, Pius intervened personally to help Nazi criminals go “underground” in order to escape punishment.

Today, Pope Benedict has placed Pius on the fast track to sainthood. By issuing a decree on his virtues, Benedict moved him closer to beatification, which is the first major step toward sainthood. But this should not in any way be seen as a “hostile act” toward Jews, said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi a few days after the pope’s move.

The Jews, of course, disagree, especially since the decree was made several weeks before the pontiff visited Rome’s synagogue. Jewish organizations and historians have led an effort over recent years to stop the beatification process—to no avail. (more…)

November 28, 2009

Should Christians Protest Civil Laws?

bayarealawyers.com

You can study the Bible from cover to cover and you will not find one instance where one of God’s servants ever led a protest against a human government. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let every [person] be subject unto [obey] the higher powers”(Rom. 13:1). The Revised Standard version translates it: “Let every person be subject tot he governing authorities.”

No matter what country you live in, you are to obey the governing authorities in everything. – except, of course, any requirement to disobey God’s higher law. Thus we are to comply with all laws, even traffic laws and income tax laws, that don’t cause us to disobey one of God’s laws.

As the apostle Peter told the Jewish authorities of his day, “We ought to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

Regarding the paying of taxes, true Christians are to obey the established tax laws of the land, no matter how seemingly unfair. In principle, we should claim every tax exemption the government allows – but we should never protest taxation by refusing to pay what is required.

Jesus Christ set us an example to follow. The people of His day detested the Roman tax system. But Jesus Christ paid His taxes (Matt. 17:24-27). He taught: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

True Christians are subject to the government of man and no government should find occasion to find them guilty of not obeying its laws.

September 14, 2009

What is The Role Of Righteous Angels Today?

1In Genesis 1:1 we are told that “God created the heaven and the earth.” But physical matter — this earth, the stars, the galaxies — was not the first thing God created.  In fact, before bringing the material universe into existence, God created the angels (Job 38:4-7), called “stars” in Rev. 1:20.

Revelation 12:4-9 also speaks of the angels who followed Satan’s rebellion as the “stars of heaven.” And in Isaiah 14:12 we learn that Lucifer, before he sinned, was called “son of the morning” or “day-star,” as some Bible margins render it.

Angels are individually created beings. They cannot marry and reproduce (Matt. 22:30), but are called “sons of God” because God created each angel as a separate, immortal spirit being, and in that sense is the angels’ Father (Heb. 12:9). And so we find the angels shouting for joy at the creation of the earth, long before the creation of man. They were joyful because the earth was to be their home or abode.

However, the Bible also speaks of angels who sinned and you have probably not heard of that before. It is stated plainly in your Bible though (II Pet. 2:4, Jude 6). How many angels remained obedient to God? The Bible indicates that two thirds of the angels did not follow Lucifer (now Satan) in his rebellion against the government of God (Isa. 14:12-14, Ezek. 28:13-15). These countless millions of angels are God’s servants, helping to carry out His plan for mankind.

Appearance of Angels

The Bible also describes various types of angels whose appearance and function differ. For instance, there are cherubim at God’s throne (Ps. 99:1). There are also lesser known seraphim (Isa. 6:1-7). There are also “beasts” and “elders” surrounding God’s throne? Rev. 4:2-11. (more…)

July 26, 2009

Was Jesus A Jew?

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

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

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

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

July 23, 2009

The Destruction Of Satan?

gonelental.blogspot.com

gonelental.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

July 8, 2009

Is It Permissible For Christians To Fight In Self-Defence?

thediaperheads-kellyfamily.blogspot.com

thediaperheads-kellyfamily.blogspot.com

Jesus said, “Resist not evil … whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). Does this mean Christians must never defend ourselves?

The Bible makes it clear we are to live by God’s law of love in every aspect of our lives. Therefore it would never be right for a Christian to fight back with the purpose of inflicting bodily injury, even if provoked.

Nonetheless, the use of RESTRAINING FORCE may at times be necessary and advisable. For example, if someone tried to strike you with a club, it would not be wrong to restrain the attacker if you were able.

The best defense is to avoid circumstances which are dangerous or threatening. In case of emergency, we should quickly ask God, in prayer, for protection and deliverance. God hears those who are faithful to Him (see Hebrews 11:6 and I John 3:22).

But, what of “turning the other cheek”? Does that mean Christians are to be pushovers and doormats? Certainly not! Jesus Christ was not. Jesus had the wisdom to know when to avoid confrontations and when to challenge injustice and evil. He forced the money changers out of the temple. Yet, He submitted to the most horrible verbal and physical abuse and finally allowed Himself to be crucified (thereby fulfilling His commission). But, through it all, Jesus set us an example of the type of attitude we ought to have, no matter what the circumstances.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). What should a Christian do in the face of evil and injustice? The answer is, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (verse 21).

If we have a godly attitude and a proper personal relationship with God, we can have total confidence that He is
watching over us and will protect us from harm and evil according to His will (see Psalm 91).

June 21, 2009

The Cross: A Symbol Of Faith Or Rank Paganism?

chr4.tripod.com

The hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” portrays the cross as the identifying sign of everything for which Christianity stands and around which Christians should rally in their fight against the forces of evil.

Throughout the world, people universally regard the cross as THE symbol of Christianity. Churches have crosses atop their steeples, on their walls, windows and doors. Catholics and Protestants wear crosses on necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, keychains and items of clothing. People in some churches “cross” themselves by touching the forehead, breast, and then each shoulder to form a symbolic cross in carrying out certain religious rituals or in blessing themselves or others. Some think the sign of the cross to be effective in warding off evil spirits and for generally protecting believers from harm.

So is it okay to wear a cross as a symbol of our personal faith? Is it OK to assume that the early Christian Church revered the cross as part of its religious observance? Check any encyclopedia or historical reference work on this subject. It makes for an interesting study for those who are not afraid to face the truth.

The cross, in many shapes and forms, was used centuries before Christ by abject pagans! Notice a few of the many examples:

  • In the British Museum is a statue of the Assyrian king Samsi-Vul, son of Shalmaneser. Around his neck is an almost perfect Maltese cross. On an accompanying figure of Ashur-nasir-pal is a similar cross.
  • The ancient Greek goddess Diana is pictured with a crosses over her head, in much the same way that the “Virgin Mary” is represented by many medieval artists.
  • Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, is often pictured wearing a headdress adorned with crosses.
  • Different types of crosses were used in Mexico centuries before the Spaniards arrived.
  • The Egyptians used cross symbols in abundance, as did the Hindus.

The shape of the two-beamed cross had its origin in ancient Chaldea and was used to represent the god Tammuz. Tammuz is the deified Nimrod, the first man to lead the opposition against God after the great Flood. He founded the city of Babylon, and along with his mother/wife Semiramis, founded the pagan Babylon mystery religion—the origin of all false religion today. The Egyptians used crosses in abundance, as did the Hindus.

The surprising thing is that the Christian use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine, three centuries after Christ. Archaeologists have found no Christian uses of the symbol before that time. According to one writer, “By the middle of the third century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had transvestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, article “Cross“).

“In the papal system, as is well known, the sign of the cross and the image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step almost can be taken, without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness. The cross is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High; and for anyone to call it, in the hearing of a genuine Romanist, by the Scriptural term, “the accursed tree,” is a mortal offense. To say that such superstitious feeling for the sign of the cross, such worship as Rome pays to a wooden or a metal cross, ever grew out of the saying of Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”—that is, in the doctrine of Christ crucified—is a mere absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and pretense. The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source.”

“The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by paganism to the same magic purposes, was honored with the same honors. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians—the true original form of the letter T, the initial of the name of Tammuz—which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, as found on coins, was formed as in No. 1 of the accompanying woodcut (below), and in Etrurian and Coptic, as in No’s. 2 and 3. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol. To identify Tammuz with the sun, it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun, as in No. 4; sometimes it was inserted in the circle, as in No. 5.” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop, page 197).

www.americanpresbyterianchurch.org/Rites%20..

There is an enormous body of evidence proving that the cross is not a Christian symbol but has its roots in rank paganism. Some will argue, however, that we may use the sign of the cross because it represents the manner in which Jesus Christ died, or that they are not using it today to worship a pagan deity. However, using it as a Christian symbol is a product of syncretism, (the blending of pagan traditions and methods of worship with the true worship of God), something God strongly condemns.

Before entering the land of Canaan, God told the Israelites,

. . . take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.” You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:30-31)

Does the cross even represent the manner in which Jesus Christ died? I have argued against this in another article on this blog. The Bible does not specifically state which method the Romans used in the crucifixion of Christ, and as far as I can tell, no one has yet conclusively proven on what shape of instrument of torture Christ was crucified. Does it even matter? We have to consider if it is even appropriate to use the very tool that was used to kill our Savior as an emblem of our faith. If Jesus Christ had been killed by hanging, would we use a gallows or a noose as a symbol of our faith? If He had been beheaded, would we use a guillotine? It makes no sense to parade the instrument of shame and death before the world and be proud of it.

Satan the devil knew long before Jesus was born that Christ would die by crucifixion (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14; Psalm 22:16). He has deceived the entire world (Rev. 12:9) into worshipping a false Christ by making the cross a popular symbol of worship.

Most importantly, God forbids the use of any item that takes the place of faith. He instructs His true followers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), and forsake all of this world’s false religions, rituals and pagan symbols of worship. This includes the cross, which assists only to add to a dead, empty faith. As the apostle Paul exhorted, Christ’s true followers walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7).

June 18, 2009

The Apostle Paul: Commandment Breaker Or Keeper?

www.art.com/MILLIONS of professing Christians assume Paul taught Christians to disobey the Ten Commandments. If you keep the Law of God, it is claimed, you are under a curse! You probably have heard this teaching from childhood and have assumed it to be true.

To be sure, many have sincerely thought and assumed that this is New Testament teaching. But God commands us to quit assuming — to “prove all things …” (I Thess. 5:21).

Does it make any difference to God whether you obey Him?

How to Begin

Some of what Paul wrote is admittedly difficult to understand. Peter was inspired to say that Paul wrote “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable WREST, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:16).

But on the other hand, Paul also wrote much which is clear, plain and EASY to understand. In those passages it would be impossible to misunderstand what he is saying.  The logical way to understand Paul’s teachings about the Ten Commandments is to go first to his plain, clear, straightforward statements on this subject. Only when we first understand these, are we ready to intelligently study Paul’s more difficult passages.

However, because the natural mind of man has a built-in hostility toward God and His Ten Commandment Law (Rom. 8:7), men don’t follow this logical approach. Instead of understanding Paul’s difficult statements in the light of his PLAIN, CLEAR, easy-to-understand words, many do just the opposite. They totally discard, reject and IGNORE Paul’s direct, straightforward, UNMISTAKABLE statements about the Ten Commandments. They then twist and distort his more difficult-to-be-understood statements.

What Paul Clearly Taught

Now what are some of Paul’s clear statements about the Ten Commandments? One such statement is found in I Corinthians 6:9-10. Here Paul warns: “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers… nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

In this one short passage the Apostle Paul names the breaking of FOUR of the Ten Commandments — idolatry, adultery, stealing and coveting — and dogmatically states that any found guilty of breaking these commandments will not inherit God’s Kingdom! And he warns us not to deceive ourselves by thinking otherwise!

Notice another unmistakably clear and easy-to-understand passage: “Now the works of the flesh … are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry… wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

This passage repeats two commandments — those pertaining to adultery and idolatry — and adds one more — the command against murder.

This makes a total of FIVE commandments which Paul has specifically and unequivocally stated Christians must keep if they are to inherit or enter God’s Kingdom. And since idolatry, which is mentioned in both of these passages, automatically breaks the first commandment, which is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3), Paul has actually commanded obedience to six of the Ten Commandments in just two short passages!

Now turn to Colossians 3:5-9. This passage reads: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of DISOBEDIENCE… But now ye also PUT OFF ALL THESE: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. LIE NOT one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”

This scripture names and condemns disobedience to two more of the Ten Commandments — bearing false witness, or lying, and taking God’s name in vain through blasphemy and filthy talk. (See also Ephesians 4:29.)

Next open your Bible to Ephesians 6:1-2. Here we read, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise.” This is a direct quote from the commandment in Exodus 20:12. Yet here Paul explicitly COMMANDS Christians to obey it!

This makes a total of NINE commandments which Paul has distinctly and separately named as being binding on Christians. Only the Sabbath command is left. Let’s see what Paul taught about it.

Paul and the Fourth Commandment

Every argument imaginable has been advanced against the command to keep holy the day God made holy (Ex. 20:8). Some want to use time as they please. They don’t want God telling them what to do! Some hate this command more than any other, it seems. It is the “test commandment” to show who God’s people really are.

Did Paul obey this commandment? Did he personally keep the day God made holy — and did he teach others to obey it? Let’s not just guess or assume. Let’s examine the Scriptures and “prove all things.”

In Acts 13 we have the account of Paul and Barnabas coming to Antioch in Pisidia. There they “went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on” (Acts 13:14-15).

Then Paul stood up and spoke, preaching Christ to them.

“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the GENTILES besought that these words might be preached to them THE NEXT SABBATH” (verse 42).

Now since Paul was preaching “the grace of God” (verse 43), here was his opportunity to straighten out these Gentiles. Notice what Paul did.

“And the NEXT SABBATH DAY came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (verse 44). Here Paul waited a whole week in order to preach to the Gentiles upon the day God made holy!

But this is not the only passage showing that Paul obeyed this commandment. In Acts 18:1-11 there is the account of Paul living with Aquila and Priscilla for one and one-half years (verse 11). During this time we read that he “reasoned in the synagogue EVERY SABBATH, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (verse 4).

Notice it! This New Testament passage tells us that Paul labored the six working days and taught in the synagogue every Sabbath for one and one-half years!

Likewise in Acts 17:2, Paul “as his manner was, went in unto them, and three SABBATH DAYS reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” It was Paul’s MANNER — his CUSTOM — to keep God’s day holy. Did he follow Christ in this? Certainly! Jesus, “as his custom was… went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY” (Luke 4:16).

It was Christ’s custom to keep the Sabbath. Paul followed Christ and he commands Christians: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Paul kept the fourth commandment and he commands Christians to follow him in this regard.

For a final clincher of this fact, turn to Hebrews 4:9. Here, according to the original inspired Greek, Paul makes the direct statement, “There remaineth therefore a sabbath observance to the people of God.”

This passage is obscured in the King James Version which reads, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” But the word translated “rest” comes from the Greek word sabbatismos and, as the marginal readings in many Bibles show, means “keeping of the Sabbath observance.” Because the King James translators didn’t believe this verse meant what it said, they translated sabbatismos by the obscure word “rest.”

This verse, then, tells us point-blank that those who really are God’s people will be keeping holy the day He made holy.

What Will YOU Do?

The evidence is overwhelming! Paul personally kept ALL TEN of God’s Ten Commandments. In doing this he followed in the steps of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul could say, “Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Christ taught obedience to the Law. In John 15:10 Jesus said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments….” He says to His true followers, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”

The question for us today is: Are WE willing to follow Christ, too? If we, like Paul, are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and Christ lives His life in us by His Spirit, Christ IN us will still keep God’s Ten Commandments, for He is the SAME, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

There are hundreds of additional New Testament passages covering obedience to God and His Law, both from the writings of Paul and others. We have, however, given sufficient information to prove conclusively and beyond a shadow of a doubt that Paul DID teach obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Don’t be deceived by those who teach disobedience! Many who hate God’s Law are very skillful at putting a clever twist on certain of Paul’s more difficult passages to make it appear that the Ten Commandments are “done away.”

Heed Peter’s warning! Don’t be deceived!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, January 1972

Why Was Barnabas Called The Son Of Encouragement?

www.oneyearbibleblog.com

The apostle Barnabas bent over the bloodied body, perplexed and distressed. At the first moan and stir of what had appeared to be a corpse, the little coterie of Christians gasped in disbelief. Then the short, stocky torso turned. Paul slowly sat up among the blood stained stones.

An ecstatic Barnabas helped Paul to his feet. Paul had survived a stoning. Astonished, the group heard Paul announce he was alright, and watched him turn back toward the city again (Acts 14:19-20).

Such was the character of the man God chose to get the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the known gentile world. But what of the character of his relieved and grateful partner? What was the role of Barnabas in the Work at that time? What value does his example hold for us today?

Some may be surprised to learn that Barnabas was the major human instrument God used to employ Paul in the ministry, and to get the gentile Work off the ground.

Barnabas’s unique qualities

Barnabas was genuinely humble. He was able to see the good in others. Because of this, he became a prime factor in the growth of the early Church. Cultivation of his qualities in our lives can enhance our impact as Christians today.
Scripture makes some unusual statements about Barnabas. One concerns the special name he was given by Church leaders — a name that seems to have characterized his ministry.

In the early weeks of the fledgling Church, the wealthier converts sold real estate and other possessions to share with the more needy brethren. Curiously, the only person named as an example of this generosity was a certain Joses. We are told that he “was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)” (Acts 4:36).

The use of this name Encouragement is significant. The Greek word has also been translated “consolation” or “comfort.” John 14:26 uses a slightly different form of the Greek:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” (Authorized Version).

The name Barnabas, then, has essentially the same meaning as the word Jesus used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The personification of encouragement as the “father” of Barnabas is also significant. He must have manifested this trait in an outstanding way. This unique individual was a warm and encouraging person. He was positive and uplifting. He was able to see the best in people — to overlook the differences that could produce personal prejudice. This very virtue was used to open the possibility of membership in the early Church to converts of all nations.

Reaching the gentiles

Jesus Christ had shown His intent, just before His ascension to heaven, to ultimately reach all nations with the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 28:19-20). After He provided His Church with sufficient human and material resources to evangelize foreign lands, Christ had a major hurdle to overcome. Many Jews were prejudiced against non-Israelites. Many felt superior, being the chosen of God, and harbored bias that would have weakened their willingness to reach out to gentiles.

God revealed first through the leading apostle, Peter, His will for the gentiles, through the incident of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). Yet the Jews were still hesitant to admit that God must be dealing with gentiles (verse 28). There was some plain foot-dragging going on.

Whom would God use to get things going in the Work to the gentiles?

Enter Saul

Saul of Tarsus had been public enemy No. 1 to the Christians. He led a gestapo-like group of Jewish zealots on a crusade to completely eradicate the Christians (Acts 8:1). While on his way to Damascus, Saul was struck blind and brought to repentance by Christ Himself (Acts 9:1-22). Jesus made it clear He had chosen Saul to “bear My name before Gentiles” (verse 15).

After a narrow escape from would-be assassins at Damascus, Saul went to Jerusalem to join himself to the Christians there. But his reputation as their chief tormentor kept him on the outside looking in (verse 26). God began to use a certain man to champion the cause of suspect Saul.

Barnabas had perhaps believed Saul’s story, perceiving in him the Holy Spirit. Or he had heard of his conversion and powerful preaching in Damascus. He was able to put aside fear and bias to see the good in Saul. Barnabas stuck his neck out to help Saul win acceptance from the apostles (verse 27).

But Saul’s time had not yet come. After more threats on his life, Saul was sent home to Tarsus. God let a number of years go by while He further prepared His Church for the entrance of the gentiles. Growth continued, but no real effort was made to take the Gospel to gentile lands. Something did finally happen far up the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in a gentile city called Antioch.

When the Church was scattered after the initial severe persecution, some of the believers journeyed as far as Antioch and took up residence in various gentile cities. These brethren witnessed to Jews only, until certain ones of them preached to some Greeks. God backed up their effort, and “a great number believed” (Acts 11:19-21).

When the Church leaders at headquarters in Jerusalem heard this news, they decided to investigate, and selected Barnabas for the trip (verse 22).  He arrived at Antioch and found that the Work of God among the Greeks was genuine. Being the positive, warm fellow he was, Barnabas was delighted. He “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (verse 23). Unhampered by pride and preconceived notions, he could see the potential for good in gentiles. Barnabas lived up to his name, welcoming the new converts.

Another unusual statement is found in the following verse. Luke was so impressed with Barnabas that when he compiled the book of Acts, he stated, under inspiration, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (verse 24). Barnabas was filled with the Holy Spirit, known also as the Comforter, which his name meant. He literally stands out for his special ability to see the good in others and encourage them.

Acts 11:24 ends with, “And a great many people were added to the Lord.” The growth was so rapid that Barnabas realized he was overextended. Assistance was needed to properly pastor the new brethren and allow additional growth. Barnabas was about to make a second major move that would ensure the great impact of Saul of Tarsus on the future of gentile Christians.

Remembering what had been prophecied about Saul, Barnabas realized that now was the time, and that Antioch was the place, to activate Saul’s ministry. So, “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul” (verse 25). Together they returned to Antioch, staying there for a year. Saul probably acted as a kind of associate pastor, subject to the leadership of Barnabas. When the two are mentioned together, Barnabas is named first (verse 30).

Meanwhile, “The word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). By the time chapter 13 opens, we find five ministers operating out of Antioch. God’s time had come to expand the Work into other parts of the world.

While the ministry there was fasting and praying about this matter, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit made it plain that God had set apart Barnabas and Saul for a special mission (Acts 13:2-3). A new phase of the preaching of the Gospel was about to unfold.

The pair took along young John Mark and set sail for Cyprus, Barnabas’ home country. It is ironic that a major change in the roles of Barnabas and Saul occurred on this very island. They preached the Word at Salamis on the eastern end, then crossed the entire island to the city of Paphos (verses 4-6). Here, the party encountered Elymas the sorcerer. It was through a confrontation with this false prophet that assistant Saul became leader Paul.

Paul emerges as leader

Elymas withstood the efforts of the missionaries to preach the word to an interested deputy of the country. “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?’ ” (verses 9-10).

Paul, perhaps remembering the impact of his own bout with blindness on the road to Damascus, used God’s power to smite Elymas with blindness. On this occasion he stood out as a dynamic spokesman. But consider Barnabas’ position. He had been in charge over Paul. He had championed the cause of Saul and helped him into the fellowship of the Church. He was the one who dug Saul out of the woodwork at Tarsus and reactivated him. He was the pastor at Antioch. He was the leader of this evangelical tour.

What if Barnabas had dwelt on all these things?

Barnabas had to decide there at Paphos whether to humble himself and submit to God’s greater purpose. All we know is that verse 13 simply records, “Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga.” Previously it had always been “Barnabas and Saul.” Now it was “Paul and his party.” Paul was the leader. The entire focus of the rest of the book of Acts is on Paul. But let’s focus on the example of Barnabas.

Perhaps he was willing to admit that Paul had certain characteristics that were better suited for the job at hand. Barnabas was a warm and encouraging sort, which is a necessary quality of leadership. But he may have been of such a temperament that he tried to avoid confrontations. On the other hand, Paul was like a seething volcano, always ready to erupt with powerful, convicting preaching or debate, and never backing down from a battle.

Perhaps Barnabas realized this once and for all at Lystra, the city on that first missionary tour where Paul was stoned. Watching beleaguered Paul struggle to his feet and head right back into the city may have convinced Barnabas of the unique qualities Paul possessed.

At least it is safe to say that he had a similar attitude to that of John the Baptist. Submitting to the new leadership of Jesus Christ, John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Barnabas practiced what Paul later preached: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

Are you like Barnabas?

Barnabas’ humility is also seen in his freedom from feelings of prejudice. Had he been biased, perhaps Paul would not have gotten anywhere with those at Jerusalem. Barnabas was willing to welcome into the Church brethren of other nationalities and cultures. He didn’t let petty differences keep him from serving God’s people.

God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Barnabas manifested this same attitude by seeing the good in people. He dwelt on positives. He saw potential for the future. Exactly how much he had to do with Paul’s development, and therefore with the growth of the gentile Work, we don’t know at this time. We do know enough that we can benefit from his sterling example. What else, after all, would you expect from a man called the Son of Encouragement?

Source: The Good News, 1986

June 4, 2009

Life after Death: It's Not What You Think!

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Few things have intrigued mankind as much as the concept of an afterlife. After about 75-80 years, death is the surest thing in anyone’s life. Eventually, everyone has to face that fact, but what follows death? The popular belief is that an immortal soul continues to live on, either in heaven or hell. Yet is that what the Bible teaches?

Return from the afterlife?

Let’s review what happens when a man dies. First, some people claim that they have experienced “life” after they had supposedly died and returned to tell about their unusual experience.

Though many of these happenings are understandably astounding and seem to contradict what the Bible says about
death, the whole idea of this so-called “life after life” experience is based on the premise that these people died.

According to the medical profession, these individuals were clinically dead. However, medical science has not yet agreed on what constitutes actual death in a human being. Real death, according to the Bible, is total and complete unconsciousness — without memory, feeling, knowledge, or perception (Eccl. 9:5, 10; Ps. 6:5). Therefore, it is evident that those who were revived to relate their experiences were not actually dead, but simply in an unconscious state.

Furthermore, science has discovered that the human brain and nervous system are actuated by electrical signals and impulses. The brain is dependent on a steady supply of blood and oxygen to function properly. When circulation and respiration are impaired or interrupted for even a few minutes, the brain begins to malfunction, and will eventually cease functioning altogether.

It is thought by some researchers that the strange lights, sensations, perceptions, and the like, associated with “coming
back from death” may be attributable to the electrical malfunctions of the brain and nervous system associated with the
trauma of nearly dying.

The fact is: we don’t really know, but there is one undeniable truth – these people did not come back from the dead.

The truth about death

In Romans 6:23, we read that “the wages of sin is DEATH,” not everlasting life in either heaven or hell. Real death, as we have already seen from the Biblical account, is a total and complete unconsciousness — without memory, feeling, knowledge, or perception. Why does it say this? Because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the doctrine of going to heaven after you die is complete and utter nonsense:

  1. “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
  2. “For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.” So we see that David also, a “man after God’s own heart” is still in the grave. Surely, he deserves a place in heaven if there was such a place to go after death?

The commentaries (as well as critics), get all convoluted about this verse. Because of the inherent belief of heaven for the saved, they cannot come up with a unified conclusion. They reason that this verse merely means t is the body that is in the grave, but not the soul. But they reason around the plain language of the Bible.

No immortal soul

Death is the effect, or “wages” earned, for living the way of sin. The reason man has to die is sin. Sin causes death. Every man is subject to death because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Thus every man is destined to die.

But when he is dead, God informs us: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Note that there is no work, no device, no knowledge and no wisdom in the grave. The dead know nothing — they are simply dead! Solomon was also inspired to write, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing…” (verse 5, Revised Standard Version).

Those in the grave cannot do anything and their souls don’t praise God, as many believe. That is reserved for those living (Isaiah 38:18-19). The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, which simply means a living, breathing creature. When God created mankind, man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). He didn’t possess an immortal soul, but became a living, breathing creature. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the life of animals — “every living creature” — in Genesis 1:21, 24 and 2:19. Like the animals, man does not possess an immortal soul.

When an individual dies, his body simply returns to dust (Genesis 3:19) — just as an animal does when it dies (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20). When God created man, He created him in His own image and likeness. In the Creator’s great wisdom, He created man with a temporary physical existence — subject to decay and death — so that, should he reject God’s way of life, man would mercifully cease to exist for all eternity.

At the re-creation, recorded in Genesis, God created two physical trees — symbolic of two ways of life — two choices (Genesis 2:9). God then clearly instructed man regarding which choice he should make (verses 16-17). He told him that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death! But man did not believe his Creator. Instead, Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan’s lie that they would not die — that man is an immortal soul — that they already had eternal life (Genesis 3:4-6). Disobeying God, they incurred the death penalty. Twice God records in the book of Ezekiel that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

A change after death

But there is an actual life after death. No, I’m not contradicting myself. The patriarch Job posed the question: “If a man die, shall he live again?….” He then answers his own question by stating, “…all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (Job 14:14). Job was expecting a change — a change to what?

The Bible reveals that, ultimately, everyone dies physically. The Apostle Paul stated: “[l]t is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). All men die physically — all suffer the first death. As all die physically, all will, at some time, be judged. God will judge all humans according to a plan — a time order — at different periods of time. Each of God’s judgment periods is followed by a resurrection. The Bible shows that all mankind will be resurrected in one of three resurrections.

The first resurrection

God records in 1 Corinthians 15, also known as the resurrection chapter, that “as in Adam all DIE, even so in Christ shall ALL [the same “all”] BE MADE ALIVE. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (verses 22-23). At this time only God’s people are being judged (I Peter 4:17). Following this present period of judgment, all “they that are Christ’s at his coming” will be resurrected or changed (1 Corinthians 15:23, 52). These verses refer to the first resurrection, that of the saints, or firstfruits, called out of the world now, to be changed to spirit life at the return of Christ. This is the change Job awaited.

The second resurrection

But what about the rest of humanity — those not called and being judged now? I Corinthians 15:24 focuses on another resurrection — the second resurrection — that will occur at “the end” of Christ’s millennial rule on Earth. In contrast to the first resurrection, this is a resurrection to physical life and a 100-year period of judgment (Isaiah 65:20) for all those cut off from a relationship with God during Satan’s 6,000-year reign on Earth.

We find a more detailed description of the nature of this resurrection in Ezekiel 37. God is not a respecter of persons and will provide every human with the opportunity to get to know Him, choose to and learn to live by His laws, and — after a period of growth and overcoming — be born into the Family of God. This will be the greatest resurrection in terms of numbers. At this time, the billions who have lived cut off from God during Satan’s dominion will be given their opportunity to learn and become a part of God’s awesome plan for mankind.

The third resurrection

Following the second resurrection and judgment of those in it, is another resurrection — the third resurrection, also to physical life. This resurrection is reserved for the willfully disobedient who cling to the way of sin. They are resurrected to be condemned to death. Only a loving God would devise such a merciful plan that prevents man from living in eternal misery and causing misery to those around him.

All three resurrections are described in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation.

Born again produces change

So the change spoken of in the bible can only be undergone if we are born again. What does it really mean to be born again? Christ made it very plain: “That which is born of the flesh IS flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit” (John 3:6). And physical flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). We must be born again, or changed to immortal spirit.

March 19, 2009

Are Confessions A Biblical Practice?

Christians are to confess their sins to God — not men. Notice David’s example in Psalm 51. No man can forgive sins. Neither has any man been given the office of mediator between mankind and God. This office is held by Jesus Christ alone. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Wherefore he [Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). The apostle Paul also wrote in I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man CHRIST JESUS.” Thus, as stated, confession of one’s sins ought to be made to God — not to a fellow human being — such as a priest.

Where did this practice start? A detailed confession to a bishop or priest appeared early in the history of the Catholic church. In the 5th-century discipline, the practice was to hear confessions at the beginning of [pagan] Lent and to reconcile the penitents on Holy Thursday. Gradually, however, the practice of reconciling, or absolving, sinners immediately after confession and before fulfillment of penance was introduced. By the end of the 11th century, only notorious sinners were reconciled on Holy Thursday. Often, those guilty of serious sins put off penance until death approached. To correct this abuse, the fourth Lateran Council (1215) established the rule that every Christian should confess to a priest at least once a year. In modern times the Roman Catholic Church teaches that penance is a sacrament, instituted by Christ, in which a confession of all serious sins committed after Baptism is necessary. The doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox churches concerning confession agrees with that of the Roman Catholic Church (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article  “Confessions”).

The message of Sacramental Confession is so important to the Catholic church, that Pope Benedict XVI in a pre-Lenten audience with Confessors, urged them to preach the necessity for all Catholics – and to seek the sacrament themselves. He repeated that admonition urging the faithful to “invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.”

However, it is NOT the Virgin Mary who is our intercessor! The Bible takes a radically different stance than that of this false pagan church. John wrote that when we sin, we have an advocate with God the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous (I John 2:1-2). He is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess to Him (I John 1:7-10). Therefore, we can come boldly to His throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

The Scriptures do tell us that we may confess our FAULTS to one another — so we can pray for each other (Jas. 5:16). But there is a difference between seeking a brother’s help in overcoming a fault — human weakness — and confessing sins of the past. The latter should not be done because only God can forgive sin. And humans do not forget, as God willingly does when our sins are removed (Heb. 8:12).

Some try to use John 20:23 to prove that persons in ecclesiastical offices have the power to forgive sins. This verse reads: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (New King James Version). However, it does not mean that mere men can actually forgive sins in a spiritual sense. God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 5:21-24). Christ spoke these words to His future apostles in the context of the Church authority He was giving them (see John 20:21) — the power to disfellowship those who were dissenters or heretics (see I Corinthians 5:2 and I Timothy 1:20) and bring them back into the congregation upon repentance (II Cor. 2:6-10).

March 16, 2009

Is It Biblical To Ordain Women As Ministers?

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As this subject is no doubt going to raise some emotional ire, I would like to preface it by saying that my approach is based on the Bible, not on opinions or feelings. God has a preordained way of teaching us spiritual aspects in this physical life, and we have to approach this with a humble attitude.

There is not much room for error on this subject, as the Bible is more than clear in its explanation. The apostle Paul’s instructions were: “I permit no woman to teach or to have [exercise] authority over men; she is to keep silent” (I Tim. 2:12, RSV). Also see I Corinthians 14:34. Paul is explaining that it is not proper for women to exercise administrative or ecclesiastical authority over men within the Church. In other words, women were NOT to become Church elders or give sermons.

Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible says this of the subject: ” This rule is positive, explicit, and universal.  The meaning cannot be mistaken; (compare I Tim. 2:11-12).

And John Gill’s Exposition Of The Bble states: By this the apostle would signify, that the reason why women are not to speak in the church, or to preach and teach publicly, or be concerned in the ministerial function, is, because this is an act of power, and authority; of rule and government, and so contrary to that subjection which God in his law requires of women unto men. The extraordinary instances of Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, must not be drawn into a rule or example in such cases.

THAT is the crux of the subject – rule and government of God – in the Church of God. Such a subject will not sit well with modern women who are in positions of authority over men in a business/governmental climate. I don’t think I have to state what feminists will think. However, that makes no difference to what God thinks, or what He desires in His true Church. And this is why those churches which allow women preachers can easily be weeded out as NOT being inspired by the Holy Spirit. This practice is simply unbiblical.

There is also the admonition of I Cor. 11:3, which says (godly) women are to be under obedience to their husbands. This verse clearly defines the structure God desires in the family (see also Eph. 5:22, Tit. 2:5, I Pet. 3:1). For “under obedience,” translate, “in subjectation” or “submission,” as the Greek is translated (Eph. 5:21-22, 24). Again, the Bible is clear that the authority in the family rests upon the man.

So, does this mean that the husband is to lord it over the wife. Are these instructions to the denigration of women? Absolutely not! Paul uses the relationship of a man and woman to describe the relationship of Christ and the Church. The husband is a type of Jesus Christ in the family and the wife is a type of the (future) bride of Christ (the Church) – see Eph. 5:22-24. Christ died for the Church (and the world at large) and so proved His love for His people. So the relationship of love which prompted Christ to give His life, is the same the man ultimately has for his wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is a heavy responsibility.

Critics usually fail to see a crucial aspect of God’s government. Man and woman are equals; neither being inferior or superior. But the Scriptures clearly reveal the subordination in authority of the woman to the man from the  beginning.

However, subordination has nothing to do with inferiority. Christ is not inferior to the Father, but He is subordinate, and under authority, to the Father. The woman is not inferior to the man, but she is subordinate. There is no loss of equality; there is a distinction of  her God-given role.

God gave the woman to man as “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18,20). Paul later describing the relationship of man and woman stated, “…woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman, but woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7-9).

Are there women in Scripture who have had positions of authority? Yes, Deborah (Judges 4:4), Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Huldah  (II Kings 22:14), and Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), are all identified as prophetesses, and Deborah also as a judge (Judges 4:4). Does any of this contradict New Testament instructions for the Church? No, because we do we not read of any Levitical priestesses. The law specifically revealed that it would be “Aaron and his sons” (Exodus 28:3-4) who were to serve as priests. God’s design for the Levitical priesthood was that it would be of the men, not the women. These women served in extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes in time when there was a clear lack of proper manly leadership.

The Bible also includes examples of instruction collected from outstanding women. Included are Hannah’s prayer, Miriam’s song, and the teachings of Lemuel’s mother.

The New Testament does give precedent for the ordination of deaconesses (see I Timothy 3:8-11 and Romans 16:1, RSV). Apparently, Priscilla and Aquila, who served under Paul’s administration, were deacon and deaconess. In the Church at that time was a very powerful and effective teacher named Apollos. Apollos’ knowledge was imperfect, though, and “… when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26, RSV). Here we find a woman and her husband together teaching a man the way of God more perfectly. Notice also Paul’s instruction in Titus 2:3-5.

In conclusion, all humans are equal, but not all persons have the same responsibilities and duties. Husbands and wives have distinct roles in their relationship, but share equality in God’s promises of eternal life.  The Spirit of Christ can never contradict itself; and God’s government is there to promote peace, truth, and order in the church, to seek that which is good for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to its welfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.

February 25, 2009

Why Are There So Many Denominations In This World?

This is one of my pet peeve topics. Why are there so many denominations today? Does anyone question the legitimacy of all these quarrelling and bickering sects founded by men? None agree with each other and most teach different things, yet all proclaim to teach the truth. Your mother can go to the Catholic church and your brother may attend a Protestant church down the road with his wife, even though he is Lutheran. Is this what Christ sanctioned when He started His Church? Did he found many denominations? Listen to His words: “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).

He did exactly that built one true Church, which was commissioned to preach and to publish His Gospel — the Message He brought from God — to all the world!

How Was The Church To Grow?

Most people believe that God’s true Church is probably a huge, powerful organization, exerting powerful influence on the world. Nothing further could be true! Rather, Jesus called it the “little flock” (Luke 12:32).

In His final prayer, Jesus prayed for His Church, not for the world. In fact, He said that the world would hate those belonging to His Church (John 17:9-16). Members are described as being strangers and foreigners in this world — ambassadors, yet never being “of” the world! The true Church of God was to be persecuted and scattered (John 15:20, II Tim. 3:12).

That’s a hard concept to swallow in the civilized portions of the world that pride themselves on tolerance. But Jesus Christ said after He was smitten (crucified), the “sheep” — His Church — were to become scattered! (Mark 14:27, John 16:32).

This persecution and scattering began early in the Church’s tenure (Acts 8:1) and continued throughout history. Despised and scattered by the world — it was never separate and always spoke the same thing. It was never made up of many differing sects, a fact overlooked by historians because they never knew where to look for the true Church — for they didn’t even know what the true Church is.

Most Of The World Is Deceived

You might argue with my last point, but in the Bible, all the prophecies foretold apostasy, deception, and division. Christ himself said “…many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4, 5.)

Did you notice that? It was the many who were to be deceived, and the few who were to become true Christians, not the other way around! This condition is again pictured by Christ saying, “”Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

It’s not up to you to believe me, but if you’re a Christian, you had better believe your Bible. All humanity has become deceived by Satan (Rev. 12:9), the god of this world. He appears, not as a devil, but as an angel of light, proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ. “Believe on Jesus and you will be saved,” is the common altar call. But what about the Bible admonition of repentance, and being baptized for the remission of sins to be saved? (Acts 2:38). Why is this scripture lost on much of Christianity?

World’s Influence Into God’s Church Foretold

In Acts 20:29-30, Paul delivered to the elders (ministers) of the Church at Ephesus a final message. He told them that immediately after he left Ephesus, there would come within the local Church congregations false ministers to make a prey of Christians. And even from those elders already in the Church congregations some would pervert the doctrine of Jesus to secure a following for themselves. Peter also warned the churches about this problem (II Peter 2:2).

Although numerous deceivers, called Gnostics, left the Church, drawing away disciples after them, there was an even more dangerous apostasy which infiltrated the true Church. Paul told the Evangelist Timothy, that there would be congregations which would not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts” — would do what they please and elect ministers who for the sake of money would preach fables of mysticism and sun-worship that were engulfing the Roman Empire(II Timothy 4:2-4). The letters of Paul were twisted by them to give another meaning than intended (II Peter 3:15-16).

Here’s the odd part. Instead of leaving the local congregations and forming their own sects, as some Gentiles did at first, the false preachers remained within the congregations and soon began to expel the true Christians (III John 9 and 10), who alone comprised the true Church. They were being put out of the visible, organized congregations. They were the scattered ones of whom John said: “Therefore the world knoweth us not” (I John 3:1).

Where Historians Get Confused

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the deaths of the apostles, something incredible happens. The true Church almost disappears from history, and false churches arise! Historian Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, in his book The Story of the Christian Church, page 41, says: “We would like to read of the later work of such helpers of St. Paul as Timothy, Apollos and Titus, but all these… drop out of the record at his death. For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D., with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of peter and Paul.”

So what happened to the true Church which was lost out of sight by most historians? It did not disappear, but continued to exist from the time of Christ until the present. This is a promise from Christ Himself: …I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

You can find it by looking for a small Sabbath keeping Church which keeps ALL of God’s commands, faithfully preaches about the Kingdom of God, as well as warning the world through prophetic vision. That should be no mystery, but yet it is!

February 22, 2009

Is The Wearing Of Jewelry Forbidden In The Bible?

Some wrongly apply 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to mean that women are not allowed to wear jewelry. But that is not what the scripture implies. Please note:

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” I Peter 3:3 also discusses “plaiting the hair.”

These scriptures refer to a Greek custom of intertwining gold strands through the hair. Today, this could be applied to many of the outlandish hairstyle we see. It has nothing to do with women normally braiding their hair.

Further, neither do these scriptures forbid the use of jewelry. Paul is merely condemning the wrong use of clothes and jewelry, not the items themselves. A woman who places her primary emphasis on her physical attire, while neglecting her spiritual character, fails to grow in humbleness.

Many scriptures such as Exodus 3:22 show that God allowed the use of jewelry, where He instructed the Israelites to take away jewels of gold and silver from the Egyptians and to put them on their sons and daughters. In Ezekiel 16:11-13, God says that He figuratively bedecked Israel with earrings, bracelets, a crown and other jewelry.

So, modest use of jewelry is not condemned in the Bible; only such use of jewelry as detracts from a woman’s character should be rejected. Real beauty is in the heart, and radiates outward in modesty, with proper clothing and jewelry of good taste and quality. This is right and proper in God’s sight and reflects the real jewel, which is a humble spirit, a contrite heart and virtuous character.

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