The Apple Of God's Eye

June 7, 2011

What You Need to Know About the New Testament Pentecost

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Pentecost for 2011 is almost upon us. This year it falls upon Sunday, June 12, according to God’s sacred calendar. As I observe it this year, I will again marvel at how this commanded Feast of God’s  has somehow become buried in modern Christianity.

Why did Christ and the apostles observe this important feast, called the “day of firstfruits”? What does it picture in the plan of God? Should Christians observe this feast today? If so, on what day should Pentecost be observed?

You may be surprised to know that Jesus Christ kept the Feast of Pentecost. So did the apostles, disciples and the New Testament Church. Why, then, do so few “Christians” keep this important feast? When and where did professing Christians stop following the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles?

Today, most professing Christians know very little about Pentecost. Yet many have heard of “Whitsunday” (or “Whitsuntide”), which is not even so much as mentioned in the Bible.

What exactly is Whitsunday? In the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1973 edition, article “Whitsunday”), we read:

“Whitsunday (Pentecost), one of the three major festivals of the Christian Church, celebrated on the Sunday that marks the 50th day after Easter, to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at the Jewish Pentecost following Jesus’ passion, resurrection and ascension (Acts 2) ….”

Whitsunday has usurped the place of Pentecost and obscured its true meaning. But Christ and His followers did not observe Whitsunday. This day is a mere invention of men — which, sad to say, has been instrumental in turning away the minds of believers from the all-important, God-ordained festival of Pentecost. (more…)

June 5, 2011

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…)

October 30, 2009

What Happened To The Biblical Office Of The Apostles?

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

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

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

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

Was the Apostolic Office Sealed?

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

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

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

More Apostles Ordained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…)

August 13, 2009

The Spiritual Significance Of Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 26, 2009

Visions, Dreams, Or Premonitions: Are They From God?

The Bible reveals that in times past servants of God were given visions and dreams for specific reasons and/or to convey special messages. For example, Jesus gave a vision of the future Kingdom on earth to Peter, James, and John, no doubt as a witness and encouragement both to them and to us (Matt. 17:1-9).

While God has used this means of communication in the past and will do so again (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28), we must realize that He uses it only when the circumstances warrant. Even then, such revelations are ordinarily directed to His ministers and specially chosen servants such as Jacob, Joseph, Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel (see Amos 3:7).

Today God speaks to us through the Bible. Please notice the following passage carefully: “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days [today] spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2, NKJV). Jesus Christ is the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14), and the Bible is the Word of God in written form. God the Father gave it to Christ. Christ, in turn, inspired both the prophets and the apostles, and they preserved it for us. Please see II Peter 1:21, Luke 1:70, and John 16:13. The Father’s will, commandments, and specific promises are revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. God, then, is actually speaking to us through His Word, the Bible.

It is not always easy to determine the origin of a vision, dream, or premonition which one might experience. Therefore, we must be very careful about ascribing to God any such communication — even if it is supernatural! We are warned to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1, NKJV).

Here is the way we should test the spirits: “When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony [the Bible]! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20, NKJV). Unless a dream or vision agrees completely with the Bible in its message and content, we can know it is not of God.

Some visions and dreams may simply be caused by mental or physical stress or the pressures of daily life. The Bible reveals that dreams may result from an upset mind (Eccl. 5:3.) If one has had a very troubled or busy day, he might be more likely to have vivid dreams that night. Ill health or memories of unpleasant experiences may also cause such dreams.

In situations where an unpleasant dream or vision causes distress, fear, physical sickness, or any such thing, I would advise seeking God’s intervention and healing. If Satan bothers us with bad dreams, we should ask God to rebuke him (Jude 9). We should also stay close to God in prayer and Bible study so that Satan cannot bother us (Jas. 4:7-8). God will grant us peace of mind if we walk with Him each day (Phil. 4:4-9; Isa. 26:3).

June 18, 2009

Why Was Barnabas Called The Son Of Encouragement?

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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 12, 2009

Is God Fair?

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Look at the world today! War, famine, pestilence! Poverty, inequality, hunger, want! Sickness, disease, suffering, death! Crime, graft, dishonesty, corruption! Insanity, degeneration, decay! Unhappiness, fear, wretchedness and woe!

How, so many are asking, can a supreme, all-powerful God of love permit such human woe? Why is He permitting civilization itself to crumble?

Is God Fair?

Listen! Some men are saying, “God isn’t fair!”—or “Is there a God, after all?” But what do you suppose men would say if God took away their right to think and do as they please? For God could never stop this awful carnage without forcing men to act according to His will—denying them a free will of their own!

It is men’s ways, so contrary to God’s ways, that have brought on this unhappy state. And they have brought on all the world’s sorrows and anguish in spite of the pleadings of God. He says, “Your ways are not my ways” (Isa. 55:8).

God’s ways, had they been followed, would have led inevitably to peace, happiness, prosperity and joy. God always has revealed to men His ways. Always He has pleaded with the human family. Suppose God had taken the only alternative.

Suppose He had forced men, against their wills, to have lived according to His laws?

Can’t you almost hear the defiant, rebellious, stiff-necked human race indignantly screaming at the Almighty: “You can’t cram your religion down my throat!” For it is a matter of religion. Can’t we see that had God followed that course, more than ever men would have shouted, “God isn’t fair!”

For six thousand years men have lived in defiance of God’s laws. Had God denied them this right to be wrong, men would have accused God of injustice, demanding freedom to follow their own ways.

God’s plan has for its purpose the creating of perfect CHARACTER in beings that are separate entities from God, yet members of the very family of God. Character cannot be created automatically by fiat—it must be developed through experience!

Nor could character be instilled without free moral agency. To achieve this great purpose—that of producing the supreme pinnacle of all God’s creation, sons of God having perfect character—man has to be convinced, of his own free will, that God’s laws are just, and that His ways are the only right ways for man! Man must turn to them, voluntarily! This lesson could be learned only by EXPERIENCE!

In the beginning, Satan appeared to contest the wisdom of God’s law. This law is, simply, love for God and love for neighbor, as defined in the ten broad principles of the Ten Commandments. A fundamental, spiritual, eternal law. The philosophy Christ taught is that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But Satan argued for the GETTING way. Competition, he argued, is the life-blood of activity. Self-desire provides incentive to endeavor. Vanity spurs to action. And so, in Satan’s philosophy, self-desire, competition, strife, provide the root-principle for accomplishment. The way of getting is the way of progress and advancement.

Had not God permitted this selfish way to be tried, tested, and demonstrated, God’s creatures could argue throughout eternity that they had been denied the better way.

The Devil’s Week

And so God turned over to Satan the first six days of one week, consisting of seven one-thousand-year days, in which to demonstrate the falsity of this way—the way of greed.

During the first six days of this week of seven thousand years Satan was permitted to retain dominion over all the earth. “Six days,” God said, “thou shalt labour, and do all thy work”—his work of deception and hate—”but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” Six thousand-year days have been permitted Satan for his labor of deception. Even then his dominion has been limited to the power of influence and suggestion. Never has God permitted even Satan arbitrarily to force men against their wills.

And so for nearly six thousand years men have been left free to accept the self-seeking competitive philosophy of Satan, or to follow the golden rule of God. And for six thousand years Satan has labored. And mankind has fallen for his delusion!

Satan’s philosophy is the philosophy of the world today. On it our present civilization has been built. A civilization men love and cherish, and for which they patriotically sacrifice their lives! A civilization developed on desire for self-gain, competition, strife! In it success is determined by how much a man has been able to get, not on how well he has served.

God has never left men in ignorance of the true way of life. Always He has made known the true values—the way of His spiritual law of love! Continually God has pleaded, with patience and in love. He pleaded through Noah in the days before the Flood. He set up a nation of His own on earth that pledged to follow His laws, dedicated voluntarily to God’s ways of life. But ancient Israel turned from God’s ways, and persecuted and killed God’s prophets!

God sent His only begotten Son to point men back to the true paths. And Him, too, men rejected and killed.

During these six thousand years since Adam, men continually have spurned God’s love, rejected His law, turned a deaf ear to His prophets and His true ministers. They have built a world after the false philosophy of Satan, replete with its pagan customs, traditions and beliefs. Today people are hopelessly engulfed in these false ways, but, being deceived, realize it not at all!

Satan is revealed as the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). The original inspired Greek should properly be translated, “the god of this age.” And this worldly civilization worships its God. The appalling fact unrealized by the world is that Satan, not the Eternal, is its god! The Creator God “is not the author of confusion,” we read in I Corinthians 14:33. Its real author is Satan, the world’s god! And so he has his many denominations and sects, all striving in a babylon of confusion!

The Devil’s Work

Today the people of organized religion refuse to hear the law of the Lord (Isa. 30:8-11). They demand that their ministers preach the soft and smooth things—the deceits! They have turned away from the truth, and are accepting and believing fables (II Tim. 4:2-4).

Yes, Satan has organized religion. He himself appears, not as a devil with horns and a tail, bearing a pitchfork, but “is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14). His ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness, appearing AS the apostles of Christ! (Verses 13, 15.) But they are preaching “another Jesus” (verse 4), in the power of “another spirit,” and deceiving men with “another gospel” than the true gospel of the Kingdom which Christ brought and Paul and all the apostles preached! (Gal. 1:6-7.)

Satan’s congregations go in for much form. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the POWER thereof: from such turn away,” plainly warns God’s Word! (II Tim. 3:5.) The present worldly order—its competitive principle, its customs and traditions, its political systems—are upheld by false churches within every land! Truly, all nations are deceived! (Rev. 12:9; 17:2; 18:3.)

Jesus Christ appeared 1900 years ago as a messenger bearing a message from God. He brought to an unhappy world steeped in false ways the “good news of the KINGDOM OF GOD.” A Kingdom now, soon, to replace these crumbling governments on earth!

That Kingdom today is near at hand—even at the doors! (Luke 21:31.)

Thank God, we are near the end of the six working days allotted to Satan’s dominion. God’s thousand-year Sabbath day is just about to dawn!

There is a saying that it is darkest just before the dawn. Now we see on every hand the final fruitage of men’s ways. Written in unerasable blood, in human misery, anguish and despair is the six-thousand-year record of experience!

Even now men will not heed this horrible lesson—not until they are forced to see it!

But, as Satan’s sixth “working day” closes, God is about to step in and supernaturally interfere!

The coming seventh millennium—typified by the Feast of Tabernacles—shall see Satan restrained. Christ will return to rule the earth with all the power of God. God’s new order for the next thousand years will restore peace, happiness, and joy.

Then men may look back over this present world, and compare! Never will God force a single human being, against his own will, into salvation and eternal life.

But, with the seven-thousand-year record of experience set plainly before seeing eyes, do you think anyone will want to return to these ways we seem now to love? Not many, you may be sure of that! Yet some, even then, will rebel.

Finally the world shall acknowledge, of its own free volition, that God’s ways are right. Christ, says the scripture, “learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8-9.) Even He who never did wrong! “And being made perfect”—through experience—”he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Some day we shall look upon God’s plan with breathtaking admiration and awe! The suffering of this present time shall have faded completely from mind. The lessons of experience we shall have with us for eternity! Finally humanity shall accept God’s ways of life, knowing that they are right ways. The happiness and joy we shall then experience cannot be conceived by our minds today! Through all eternity we shall worship and praise the Eternal God for His wisdom, His mercy, His love!

Do you think anyone, then, will look back and say, “God isn’t fair”?

Source: Plain Truth, January 1978

May 29, 2009

Capital Punishment, Mercy Killing, Self-Defense, Abortion: What's A Christian To Do?

The Bible reveals that God gives lawfully constituted civil authorities the right to carry out capital punishment in certain instances (Gen. 9:5, Ex. 21:12-17, Deut. 7:1-2, Acts 25:10-11). These “governing authorities” do not bear the “sword in vain” (Rom. 13:1-4).

But the New Testament teachings of Christ and His apostles make it clear that true Christian believers are not to be part of the secular governments of this world. Only those who don’t know the true God should be the executioners of the wicked.

Here, then, is the New Testament teaching for true Christians: We are not to bear arms or use swords or guns to enforce Caesar’s laws, avenge ourselves or punish evildoers. When the apostle Peter, with a sword, cut off the ear of a man, Christ rebuked him, saying, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52, John 18:10-11).

To the Christian, Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (II Cor. 10:3). Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you.”

The deceived billions on this earth “fight and war” but are unable to attain true peace (Jas. 4:1-2, KJV), because “the way of peace they have not known” (Rom. 3:17). But the true Christian “must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (II Tim. 2:24). He must set the proper example to the world.

“What about mercy killings (euthanasia), capital punishment, killing in self-defense, taking revenge, “just” wars, abortions (killing of unborn infants) and suicide?”

God, the giver of life (Gen. 2:7, Deut. 32:39), has the right to take any life if and when He chooses. But man does not have that power, unless God grants it to him. In numerous instances, God not only permitted His servants (prophets and civil leaders in the nation of Israel) to take life, but He actually commanded it under certain circumstances (I Sam. 15:3-33).

In New Testament times though, Christians are commanded never to avenge themselves, but let God do it in His own time and way (Rom. 12:19).

Mercy Killings or prolonging life

Are “mercy killings” permissible, since they are, supposedly, acts of mercy? No example in the Bible shows any people of God taking the life of another or their own, with God’s approval, either in acts of euthanasia or suicide.

God also does not say that we must give our loved ones drugs or oxygen or do all within our power, such as using various machines, to force them, contrary to nature, to live as long as possible, even when they are in great pain or totally unconscious.

Though God permits capital punishment to be carried out by those duly authorized, it is wrong for those in authority to abuse this power. They should not use this power to kill the just, as Herod did in the case of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29).

Abortions

What about abortions? Using abortion as an alternative form of birth control is tantamount to the practice of the ancient Canaanites and others, who slew their infants in sacrifice to pagan gods such as Baal in the mistaken belief that their gods would bless them for doing so. God gives us life, and only He can legitimately take it from us. Is it wrong to take a life, even that of an unborn. By doing so we  violate God’s Sixth Commandment?

April 1, 2009

How Leaven Pictures Sin — An Important Reminder

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them. God’s Holy Spirit had entered them, and the power of that Spirit was far greater than the forces of nature they had witnessed.

To their amazement, they could now speak words they had not spoken before. Quickly the news spread — here were men who could speak many languages. Thousands speaking different languages eagerly gathered to hear the apostles. What they heard shocked them. Many were deeply convicted by their guilt in the death of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

A mighty urge to do something stirred within them, and they asked the apostles, “What shall we do?” The reply echoed loud and clear: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Those early Christian converts began something that God’s true Church still practices — baptism for the forgiveness of sin. But how, exactly, should a true Christian deal with sin, both before and after baptism? This question brings us to our subject, the Days of Unleavened Bread.

To understand this Festival and its meaning and application to our lives, let’s go back in history. These days are commanded Because of famine, the descendants of the patriarch Israel ended up in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. There they became slaves (Ex. 1:8-11). Through a series of miracles, God finally released the Israelites from bondage. Among the miracles was the death of the Egyptian firstborn. To protect their own firstborn, the Israelites were required to begin keeping the Festival called Passover (Ex. 12:3-14). For Christians today, this Festival pictures our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.

Just after the Passover, God instituted another festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread (D.U.B.). This seven-day festival pictured the release of Israel from Egypt (verses 15-17). The D.U.B. were held yearly during Abib, which is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This month corresponds to the time of the Roman calendar months of March and April.

Both the 15th and 21st of Abib, the first and last days of the Feast, are “holy convocations” — days of rest and worship (Lev. 23:6-8). These days are still kept by true Christians today, and will also be kept after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming (Ezek. 43:2, 7, 45:21). This year (2009) they fall on April 9 and 15.

Leaven symbolizes sin During this Festival, all leaven and leavened foods are to be put out of the home and off the property (Ex. 12:15, 13:7). This includes yeast, baking soda, baking powder — all leavening agents, substances that produce fermentation and cause dough to rise.

The products of leaven are bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies and some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also use leavening agents. Of course, there is nothing sinful about these products themselves. Removing them from our homes is merely a symbolic enactment of removing sin from our lives.

Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex. 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtack and a number of flatbreads. But beware: Some foods that are sold as “kosher for Passover” contain leavening agents. If you are in doubt about whether a product is leavened, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper. If you are still unsure, ask someone experienced or don’t eat it. Remember: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened.

Far beyond the physical uses of leaven are the significant spiritual meanings. After being jeered at and tempted by the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus said to His own disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). The disciples didn’t know what He meant. Do you? The disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical bread, but He wasn’t. He was talking about the doctrine of the religious authorities, which led people into sin (Matt. 16:11-12, 23:13).

By way of analogy, this leaven of false doctrine has spread through the whole world as a tool of Satan’s deception (Rev. 12:9)! The apostle Paul also used leaven as a symbol for sin. A certain Church member was committing a serious sin and making no progress toward repentance. Paul said this person was like a little leaven that would affect the whole lump — other Church members — with his sinful way of life. The person was put out of the Church. Since Paul wrote to the brethren during the Days of Unleavened Bread, they would have already put out the physical leavening from their homes. Now he encouraged them to put out the leaven of malice and wickedness — sin. He told them to eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth — righteousness (I Cor. 5:1-8).

Sin versus righteousness

When you consider the nature of both leavened and unleavened bread, you can see several spiritual comparisons with sin and righteousness. Let’s notice them:

  • Living in sin is easy; being righteous is hard. Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is easier to eat than unleavened bread. Likewise, going the way of sin is easier than living righteously (Matt. 7:13-14). Obeying God is difficult even for a Christian, because you still have a carnal nature that wants to sin (Rom. 7:14-25). 
  • Sin exalts the self, righteousness builds humility. Leaven puffs bread up. The same is true of sin. It puffs up the sinner — his desire is to exalt himself rather than allow God to rule him (Ps. 10:3). When you choose to live God’s righteous way of life, you abase selfish desires. 
  • Sin’s pleasures are temporary; the benefits of righteousness endure. Leavened bread left out soon becomes hard and moldy. Unleavened bread lasts much longer. Spiritually, the pleasures of sin soon pass away (Job 20:12-16). The end result is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Righteousness, in contrast, brings both temporal and eternal blessings (Deut. 28:1-13, Ps. 15). 
  • Sin spreads easily; righteousness is built slowly. It doesn’t take long for leaven to spread throughout a loaf of bread. This is the way sin is — it spreads rapidly (Gal. 5:9), whereas building right character takes a lifetime. 
  • Sin is based on deceit; truth is the basis for righteousness. What you see is not what you get with a loaf of leavened bread. Air pockets give the impression that there’s more in the loaf than there really is. Sin also appears to be something it isn’t, deceiving the sinner into thinking he is getting something worthwhile when he is only earning the death penalty (Heb. 3:13). With righteousness there is no deceit, only truth (Ps. 119:151, 172).
  • Sin is more prevalent than righteousness. Most people prefer leavened bread because they find its tastes more desirable. Is it really better? Not necessarily — just more common. People are accustomed to it. Spiritually, the same is true. Most people prefer to live in sin. But you must reject sin, and choose to live a righteous life (Deut. 30:19).
  • Sin builds a false image; righteousness builds true character. As you have seen, leavened bread gives a false impression. So does the sinner. He may appear impressive on the outside, but is he? Read Matthew 23:27. True character is based on much more than outward appearance. It involves righteous living based on obedience to God’s Word (I John 2:5). Grow in righteousness 

What God is showing us through the analogy of leaven and sin, particularly at this time of the Days of Unleavened Bread, is clear: He wants you to escape the clutches of sin and lead a righteous life. But how can you eliminate sin and grow in righteousness? The following “three Rs” — recognize, resist and repent — can help.

  • Recognize sin. Can you recognize sin? Many cannot. Why? Most people overlook God’s simple, clear definition for sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4, Authorized Version). 

Discerning sin is a matter of applying God’s law. At the basis of God’s law are the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:6-21). Do you know what the Ten Commandments are? If not, how can you possibly expect to overcome and put sin — spiritual leaven — out of your life? God’s laws are real, working forces that guarantee good results when you are in harmony with them. They were given to be lived and acted upon, not ignored or outrightly rejected!

Beyond the basic commandments, God requires obedience to biblical principles referring to one’s conduct. While some things are not written in the form of a direct command, the underlying principle or spirit of the law is nonetheless just as binding (Matt. 5:17-48, Rom. 13:9)!

Under this category fall aspects of God’s civil laws and statements made by His apostles and patriarchs. Examine yourself, as II Corinthians 13:5 commands, and see how God’s laws expose the “leaven” in your character. Are you REALLY putting God first in EVERYTHING? Are you humbly submitting to His authority? Can you admit when you’re wrong?

  • Resist sin. We have already seen through the analogy of leaven that sin spreads quickly and easily. Therefore you must resist temptation before it turns into sin (Jas. 1:13-15). 

Doing this requires self-control — actively resisting wrong thoughts and replacing them with right thoughts (II Cor.10:4-5): In struggling against sin you may reach a point when you grow so battle weary that darts of self-pity and injustice pierce you. At such times it’s easy to think you’ve done all you can. Don’t be fooled. You can do more (Heb.12:4).

Throughout the Bible we see the number 7 used as a symbol of completeness (Gen. 2:2, Josh. 6:16, Rev. 16:17). In relationship to the Days of Unleavened Bread, the number 7 pictures the complete elimination of sin. You should earnestly strive to eliminate sin from your life (II Tim. 2:19).

  • Repent of sin. Even when you recognize sin and resist it, you will still find yourself falling into sin (I John 1:8). When this happens, what should you do? Strive not to sin, but when you do, seek God’s forgiveness. Upon real repentance — abandoning the wrong way and beginning to live the right way — God promises to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

Some would say not to try so hard — to just rely on grace. But what does God say? “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Will you overcome all sins all at once? Absolutely not! Some sins are so deeply and habitually rooted that they may take years to totally overcome. Don’t use that as an excuse to continue, but don’t dismay either. Ask yourself, Am I sinning as often as I once did? Does this sin have as much control over me as it once did? If the answer is no, you’re growing — making progress.

Today the world is in misery because of sin. Yet humanity rejects the very Festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread — that pictures the process that would lead them out of their sins. What about you? Are you going to keep these special days as God has instructed His people to? Will you be learning the many important lessons that the Days of Unleavened Bread are meant to teach you’? If you do work at ridding your life of sin, you will be greatly blessed, now and in the future as a member of God’s Family: “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death” (Prov. 12:28).

 

Source:  The Good News, March 1984, By George M. Kackos

March 31, 2009

Did The Catholic Church Change The 10 Commandments?

150Did the Catholic church change the ten commandments?

This is an important question, and the answer is clear when we are guided by God’s Word. There is no doubt as to the NUMBER of the Commandments. There are ten (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13; 10:4).

It is their CONTENT which is of vital concern. It was not until the fourth century A.D. that this confusion even began to exist. It was then that Augustine (Catholic bishop of Hippo in North Africa) devised a new way of presenting the Ten Commandments in order to allow the use of images and statues in religious worship. He dropped the Second Commandment altogether, divided the Tenth into two “commandments,” and then renumbered his revised list of ten.

Dropping the Second Commandment makes it appear that there is only one commandment against idolatry. But, there are two kinds of idolatry — and two distinct commandments prohibit these two major sins:

  1. The First Commandment forbids worship of anything in the place of God (Ex. 20:3).
  2. The Second Commandment is altogether different and forbids bowing down to, serving, or otherwise using statues in the worship of God (Ex. 20:4-6). The latter is the one Catholics do not like, for obvious reasons.

The following from the Catholic Encyclopaedia Vol. 4, p. 153 also confirms the deletion of the second Commandment and the change of the fourth.

“The church, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath of the seventh day of the week to the first made the third commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s Day.”

As mentioned before, in order to retain the correct number of commandments, Augustine made two “commandments” out of the Tenth (Ex. 20:17). According to Augustine’s mistaken idea, the Ninth Commandment is: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” and the Tenth is: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”

But notice how a New Testament servant of God was inspired to quote five of the Commandments — including the Tenth. Paul wrote: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not COVET,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Rom. 13:9, RAV).

Unlike Augustine, Paul made no distinction between coveting a neighbor’s wife and a neighbor’s house. Paul elsewhere wrote, “For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said,

‘You shall not covet'” (Rom. 7:7, RAV). Clearly, only one principle is involved, and only one commandment governs it.

Below is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church for comparison – Vatican.va

Exodus 20 2-17 Deuteronomy 5:6-21 A Traditional Catechetical Formula
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out
of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out
of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage.
1. I am the LORD your God:
you shall not have
strange Gods before me.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a graven image,
or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is in the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth;
you shall not bow down to them or serve them;
for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers
upon the children to the third and the fourth
generation of those who hate me,
but showing steadfast love to thousands of those
who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall have no other gods before me
. . .
You shall not take
the name of the LORD your God in vain;
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless
who takes his name in vain.
You shall not take
the name of the LORD your God in vain
. . .
2. You shall not take
the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God;
in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son,
or your daughter, your manservant,
or your maidservant or your cattle,
or the sojourner who is within your gates;
for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
and rested the seventh day;
therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Observe the sabbath day,
to keep it holy
. . .
3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day.
Honor your father and your mother,
that your days may be long in the land
which the LORD your God gives you.
Honor your father and your mother
. . .
4. Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill. You shall not kill. 5. You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery. Neither shall you commit adultery. 6. You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal. Neither shall you steal. 7. You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness
against your neighbor.
Neither shall you bear false witness
against your neighbor.
8. You shall not bear false witness
against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
or his manservant, or his maidservant,
or his ox, or his ass,
or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Neither shall you covet
your neighbor’s wife . . .You shall not desire . . .
anything that is your neighbor’s.
9. You shall not covet
your neighbor’s wife.10. You shall not covet
your neighbor’s goods.

Fourth commandment also changed

Notice also that the Catholic church has changed the fourth commandment to suit her Sabbath breaking. In 1562 the Archbishop declared that tradition now stood above scripture.

“The authority of the Church is illustrated most clearly by the scriptures, for on one hand she recommends them, declares them to be divine, and offers them to us to be read, and on the other hand, the legal precepts in the scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed into the Lord’s day. These and other similar matters have not ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He says that He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the authority of the Church.” — Gaspare de Posso Archbishop of Reggio, Council of Trent.

Most denominations falsely believe the fourth commandment refers to Sunday. The Catholic church however, the same one who changed this commandment in the first place, amazingly acknowledges this fact. Many of her official writings point to the fact that she changed the Christian worship from the biblical Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday.

Here are some revealing Catholic source quotes which show the incredible audacity of this  un-christian church:

  • “Is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.” — James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers (1917 edition), p. 72-73 (16th Edition, p 111; 88th Edition, p. 89).
  • “For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible.” — Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, p. 9, article “To Tell You the Truth.”
  • “The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. ‘The day of the Lord’ was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the (Catholic) Church’s sense of its own power…People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” — St. Catherine Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995.
  • “Question – Which is the Sabbath day? Answer – Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question – Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer – We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” — Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 3rd edition, 1957.
  • “It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” — Priest Brady, in an address reported in The News, Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 18, 1903.
  • “They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason…The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of Sabbath observance…The author of the Sunday law…is the Catholic Church.” — Ecclesiastical Review, February 1914.
  • “It was the Catholic church which…has transferred this rest to Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the (Catholic) church.” — Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.
  • “I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” — father T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, printed in History of the Sabbath, p. 802.

Change led to death of innocent people

Yes, the Catholic church brags about her authority being above the Bible. This brazen change led to the torture and death of between 50 and 150 million Christians accused of being heretics for 1260 years called the dark ages.

The following two quotes reveal who the Catholic church refers to as heretics

  • “He is a heretic who does not believe what the Roman Hierarchy teaches.” — The American Textbook of Popery, p 164 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).
  • “Heretics (those who are not members of the Catholic Church or who do not hold to Catholic doctrine) worship a God who is a liar, and a Christ who is a liar.” — St. Augustine, (quoted in “Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graca”, by Fr. J. P. Migne, Paris: 1866, 42:207).

The following quotes prove why they tortured and murdered innocent people.

  • “The church may by divine right confiscate the property of heretics, imprison their person, and condemn them to flames. In our age, the right to inflict the severest penalties, even death, belongs to the church. There is no graver offense than heresy, therefore it must be rooted out.” — Public Eccliastical, Vol. 2, p.142.
  • “A heretic merits the pains of fire…By the Gospel, the canons, civil law, and custom, heretics must be burned.” — The American Textbook of Popery, p 164 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).
  • “When confronted with heresy, she (Catholic Church) does not content herself with persuasion, arguments of an intellectual and moral order appear to her insufficient, and she has recourse to force, to corporal punishment, to torture.” — The Rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, H.M.A. Baudrillart, quoted in The CathoClic Church, The Renassance, and Protestantism, p 182-183.

Obviously, the Catholic church today does not officially follow this practice anymore, but she has the same doctrines that led to the murder of innocent people. She has not rejected that which she firmly believes in. Yes, a modern pope has made a concillatory public apology, but it was not sweeping in depth, and neither was it genuine.  And it did not acknowledge the MURDER of innocent people, only a general wrong comitted.

We have to realize that the Bible says we are to judge by fruits. NO CHURCH  can commit murder and at the same time have Christ as its Head. The commandments forbid it.

So the changing of two commandments (without scriptural guidance) show that her false popish heads have acted on mere human carnal impulses, rather than spiritual guidance through Jesus Christ. A final quote saying Catholics should follow the Pope even if he were Satan himself supports the notion that we have here the worst type of idolatry portrayed as a Christian church, giving us commands contrary to the Bible:

“Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom. He who rebels against our Father is condemned to death, for that which we do to him we do to Christ: we honor Christ if we honor the Pope; we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the Pope. I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him.” — St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222, (quoted in Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 5: “The Book of Obedience”, Chapter 1: “There is No Salvation Without Personal Submission to the Pope”).

Please try to find the command this person speaks of. Such mockery of scripture is an affront to anyone who seriously studies the Bible. So gross is the audacity of the Romish church, her popish head puts himself in place of God:

“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of human flesh.” — Catholic National, July 1895.

We should not sugarcoat this quote in any way. Its author does not, why should you? It means exactly what it says!

Conclusion

None of this post has to do with any animosity against those who are Catholics. They are simply misled and unaware of the facts because they are not spoken of or taught. But historical records do not lie.

It is the entire system of worship – the ancient pagan mystery religion – that I am against. To anyone sincerely seeking truth, this should be abundantly clear. The commandments are willfully changed and broken. Her doctrines willingly go against the written word of God. it couldn’t be plainer, yet millions upon millions on this earth are confused. This merely reinforces the scripture in revelation 12:9, where God says:

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world….

Note carefully what it says.  Don’t just gloss over this verse or spiritualize it away. Your Bible says it‘s the majority of the earth’s inhabitants who are deceived.  Now ask yourself this question: Are you one of the many who are deceived?

March 16, 2009

What Is The Casting Of Lots?

God gave ancient Israel the system of casting lots as a means of determining His will in doubtful matters (Num. 33:54; I Sam. 14:42; I Chron. 24:5). God would guide the outcome so as to reveal His will. This method was still in use in the time of Christ. The disciples used casting lots in determining whom God was selecting to fill the office vacated by Judas (Acts 1:15-26).

After the eventful Pentecost of A.D. 31, no further mention is made of casting lots. The apostles depended upon direct guidance by the Holy Spirit, which, among other things, was to guide God’s people into all truth (Acts 2 and John 16:13). Please also notice Acts 6:1-8; 13:1-3; 15:19, 28; and 16:6.

Today, as in early New Testament times, God uses the power of His Holy Spirit through His chosen ministers to reveal His will in important matters of concern to the Church on which the Scriptures give no definite command.

March 14, 2009

A Passover Examination

Every year, the Passover comes and goes. The world largely ignores this day, but even those that partake of it may view it as a matter of routine, while glossing over its deep meaning. The Passover is one of the most important occasions in a true Christian life, and its solemn meaning must be refreshed annually. That is why 1Corinthians 11:27-28 admonishes us to examine ourselves before we partake of its symbolism.

An important aspect of the Passover is how we partake of it. Jesus’ body was broken for us, for our healing. So we read in verses 29-30, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself not discerning the Lord’s body.”

Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible says many people interpret the word “unworthingly” to mean their personal qualifications; or to be “unworthy” or “unfit” to partake of the Passover. But the word “unworthily” ” (ἀναξίως anaxiōs) is used as an “adverb,” rather than an “adjective,” and simply refers to taking this ordinance in a proper manner, with a deep sense of our sinfulness, and our need of a Saviour and Redeemer.

Does accepting Christ or baptizing save you?

So although the world, in large part, does not obey of the biblical command to observe the Passover, the meaning of it has been appropriated and twisted. Quite a few denominations believe that if you are “saved,” you go to heaven when you die. Otherwise, they say you go straight to hell, a torture that continues eternally. But on the bright side — all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ, and the blood of Christ saves you. Bingo, there’s your ticket to heaven, right? Not so fast!

Let me set the record straight here — the blood of Christ does not save anyone! Such a statement is unbiblical. Romans 5:9 says we are “justified” (or rendered innocent), by the blood of Christ. In other words, it was shed for our forgiveness of sins past and we are reconciled to God the Father by the death of Christ. But we are to be saved by His resurrection, and through our own resurrection, made possible through Jesus Christ.

Others think if they’re baptized they’re saved. That is also not biblical. You are not a Christian merely because you’re baptized. Here’s Mark 7:6-9 says on the matter: “How be it in vain do they worship me.” Yes you can accept Christ, believe in Christ, worship Him, but still do it in vain. “…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men and making the commandments of God of none affect by your tradition.”

So how exactly are you saved? What is the biblical teaching on the subject?

Two conditions to be saved

Luke 13:3, 5 tells us exactly the opposite of what some denominations teach — regardless of how many times you’ve been baptised, or what you believe — if you have not repented you will perish. Read it for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you worship and accept Christ as your Saviour, nor how much you believe in Him. You must repent to be saved.

John 8:30-31 states: “As Jesus spoke these words many believed on him.” Here are people that believed on Christ, yet He said to them: “If you continue in my word then you may be my disciples indeed.” They were told to do something, not merely believe!

Notice the immediate reaction of the people. Verse 33 shows they began to dispute Him right away. They believed on Christ, but they did not believe what He said.

So just accepting Christ, just believing on Christ doesn’t save you. You have to believe what He says, and you have to repent.

Contrary to popular religious opinion, there are two official biblical conditions to be saved: (1) repentance and (2) faith.

Mark 1:14-15 shows that Jesus came into Galilee preaching, “…the time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand, REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the gospel.” A lot of people don’t fully know what that means. They say, Oh, I’ve repented; yes, I know I’ve sinned. But they haven’t really repented without a full understanding of what it means, and they are not Christ’s until they have the Holy Spirit of God, and they cannot have the Holy Spirit of God until they have repented.

Again, let’s let scripture verify this in Rom.8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man (or woman) have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” Pretty plain right? Verse 11 continues to show us that without the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and leading us, there is no salvation.

Another fact – without the Spirit of God, we cannot comprehend spiritual truths. So you read in 1 Corinthians 2, and beginning verse 9, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the mind of man,” [the spiritual truths], the things that God has prepared for us.” Then the next verse says, “But God has revealed them to us.” See it comes from God, but He reveals it by and through His Spirit.

Many understand a certain amount of the Bible, because so much of it is related to ordinary materialistic or physical knowledge, and much of it is history, which can also be readily understood. But when it comes to real deep Spiritual teaching, the natural mind of man cannot comprehend.

Repent…Believe…be baptized

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to a total of one hundred and twenty people. And Peter preached the first really Spirit inspired sermon by a human on that day. Then in Acts 2:37 it shows the people were “pricked in their heart.” They were really hit emotionally. “And said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” What are we going to do now, now that we’ve heard what we did and heard how Christ had been crucified. Then Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

There is no promise in the Bible that anyone will receive the Holy Spirit until after he has repented and been baptized, which is only an outward physical ceremony picturing your real repentance and belief. Going into the water pictures the death of the old self and as a type of the death of Christ. Coming back up out of the water is a picture of the resurrection of Christ and your coming up to live a new and a different, a much-changed type of life, going a different direction from this time on.

So real repentance means you have to admit you’ve been going in the wrong direction, believe you’ve lived wrong and done wrong – been wrong through and through. That is the type of repentance most have never admitted to, they merely accept what they believe is the truth in their own goodness and their own righteousness. These people haven’t got any more real salvation than a cat, a dog, or a cow.

David’s Repentance

A lot of people can’t understand how David could ever be called a man after God’s own heart. He shed so much blood, and deliberately disobeyed God in taking a census of His nation. And God really punished him for that. And another time he saw a woman taking a bath out of his window and told some of his servants to bring her over. She then became pregnant. So David committed adultery with another man’s wife and ultimately sent him up in the forefront of the battle where he was killed. David now became a murderer.

However, the 51st Psalm shows a prayer of David when he woke up and finally realized what had happened. Most people would say that had any man done those things, he’s no good, or God couldn’t use a man like that. Yet it is God who calls him a man after His own heart because David was crying out to God: “Have mercy upon me Oh God according to thy loving kindness, unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” Here he begins to admit how wrong he was. And further, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquities, cleanse me from my sin.” Now he’s confessing it. “For I acknowledge my transgression and my sin is ever before me.” And then, notice verse 10, where it says, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit in me.” He confessed his sins and David never did it again.

Every one of us has sinned. God knows every sin of man and all had better be forgiven before the Passover is taken. Eph. 2:1 shows that every person is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins because of walking in disobedience with Satan who leads with “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” That means some steps of examination have to be undertaken.

What can a Christian do?

And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins….” God wants to forgive us, but Christians who have the Holy Spirit, must confess their sins and repent, because that changes everything. God is then “faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23) but converted Christians are not in disagreement with Him. They don’t mean to sin, but often slip up, forgot, or maybe get careless.

God will grant forgiveness, but not to the Christian who doesn’t change his main attitude and main purpose. If repentance and acknowledgement is lacking, and if they continue on, pretty soon they’ll just be lost entirely.

Annual Passover is great reminder

It’s good to have this Passover season come once a year and to have Christians realize they make mistakes; maybe through thoughtlessness, maybe through a deliberate act. But as they come to realize it, they must repent quickly. No one should say, “I’m not worthy to repent.” You’re never too unworthy to go to God and ask for forgiveness, and ask Him to get you back on the track.

Now, it says, “let a man examine himself, and then let him take of that Passover.” We have to examine ourselves and we should before the Passover, to know that we are walking with Christ as we should be.

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 23, 2009

Is Door To Door Preaching A Biblical Practice?

Everybody has seen people on busy street corners and in large public buildings zealously attempting to hand out religious literature to all passersby. And you yourself may have even had a person with a “Christian message” knock on your door. These are common, everyday occurrences; and most people, even if they don’t necessarily agree with their views, passively accept these door-to-door evangelists as part of Western Christianity.

But did you know that long before the coming of Jesus Christ, the pagan world had its door-to-door representatives? The ancient pre-Christian world teemed with different religious sects, all vying with one another for converts. Many of them were attempting to spread their doctrines and win new adherents by preaching from house to house. Plato remarked that “mendicant prophets go to rich men’s doors and persuade them that they have a power … of making an atonement for a man’s ‘own … sins … at a small cost” (Republic, 364 b-c). Not only did these zealous pagans preach, they also distributed a variety of tracts of a religious and moralizing nature.

Werner Jaeger, an authority on the influence of pagan culture on early Christianity, observes that “we have to reckon with the existence in Hellenistic times of religious tracts as a means of propaganda fides [propagandizing their faith] of many sects” (Early Christianity and Greek Paideia, London: Oxford University Press, 1969, p. 8). Members of such a sect would actually distribute their propaganda literature from house to house. This practice was widespread already in Plato’s day, some four hundred years before Christ. Plato reports about these door-to-door evangelists in no uncertain terms: “And they produce a host of books [tracts] written by Musaeus and Orpheus … according to which they … persuade not only individuals, but whole cities” (Republic, 364e). This was nothing other than the same door-to-door high-pressure evangelism so common among us today.

In fact, so ubiquitous had this practice become among the pagans — and so obnoxious and repulsive to the average individual — that the pagan author Plutarch felt it his duty to denounce it in his writings. In his Precepts for Newly Married People, Plutarch advises wives “not to admit strangers by the back door who try to smuggle their tracts into the house advertising a foreign religion” (Jaeger, p. 8). This denunciation demonstrates how common door-to-door tract evangelism had become. “Let them [the door-to-door preachers] be exterminated from her outermost threshold!” Plutarch thundered (Conjugal Precepts, c. 19).

All this goes to show that the distribution of religious tracts was an obnoxious pagan means of winning converts — and it antedated Christianity by as much as four hundred years! Such a way of “winning souls,” needless to say, is diametrically opposed to the practices and teachings of Jesus. Christ never preached from door to door. He did not hand out one religious tract. He specifically instructed His disciples, “Go not from house to house” (Luke 10:7).

John, the last survivor of the original twelve apostles, admonished the followers of Christ: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [which John preached and which only the one true Church of God preaches], receive him not into your house” (II John 10). No truth could be learned from the preachings or the writings of these disseminators of error. Paul warned about the type of fellow Plutarch wrote about. “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (II Tim. 3:6).

True Christians know and understand that God is the One who calls and converts people (John 6:44). They recognize, therefore, that it would be completely futile — and actually contrary to God’s will — to go out and attempt to win converts by force. The pagans of old, on the other hand, did not serve an active, living God. They had to do the converting themselves in order to gain followers, because their “god” was nonexistent, and the real God was not calling anyone to their religion. And, furthermore, they were not supported by God financially.

That is why, in the words of Plato, the mendicant preachers performed their services “at a small cost,” meaning they charged “a small fee.” Jesus Christ, who supports and finances the dissemination of His message so that it can go out without cost, said “freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). True Christianity does not go “door-to-door and so is uniquely different from the ways of the pagans!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, July/August 1970

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