The Apple Of God's Eye

July 8, 2011

Do You Ignore God The Father?

hoax-slayer.com

What are the two most universal errors in the proclaiming of the “Gospel” by the various sects and denominations of traditional Christianity today?

1) They ignore God the Father

2) They proclaim a false gospel—in which God the Father is mostly ignored. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that Jesus Christ, as God’s Messenger, brought. In other words, the message GOD THE FATHER sent to mankind by His Son and Messenger (Malachi 3:1) to mankind.

Jesus said plainly, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father . . . for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (John 8:38, 42). Again, Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10).

In the first sermon Peter spoke to gentiles, he said, “The word [Gospel] which God sent. . . preaching peace by Jesus Christ. . .” (Acts 10:36).

What has been proclaimed? MAN’S “gospel” about the Person of the Messenger, but omitting His MESSAGE, which came from God the Father.

Now how else do they ignore God the Father?

They preach Christ—but Him only. (more…)

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June 9, 2011

The Correct Crucifixion And Resurrection Of Christ

bible-archaeology.info

Many believe they know the details surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but if they follow the teachings of mainstream Christianity, they are wrong! This is a crucial fact to get correct, because it is the only SIGN of His messiahship that He would give to this “evil and adulterous generation.”

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly;so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”(Matthew 12:38-40).

Three Days and Three Nights

Matthew 12:38-40 clearly states that Christ would be buried for three days and three nights. Modern churchianity teaches the fable about a Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning resurrection. Yet reconcile yourself to a simple finger count  of nights and days, and you’ll quickly find that from Friday until Sunday morning, as commonly taught, is only two nights and one day, not three of each. This false teaching is NOT proof that Christ is the Son of God because His own words disprove it.

How has the Friday to Sunday myth come to be perpetuated so universally? Well, religious leaders point to the fact that Jesus was crucified the day before a sabbath day, concluding that this means He was killed on a Friday. But they couldn’t be more wrong!

Your Bible proves that the murder of Jesus occurred on Wednesday, April 25, in the year a.d. 31—not Friday. It also proves that the resurrection of Jesus occurred at sunset on Saturday evening, April 28, not at sunrise on Sunday. (more…)

June 5, 2011

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

toourgod.web.officelive.com

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

You’d better STOP—and check up!

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

. . . But are you sure?

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

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2011

What Did Christ Look Like In The Flesh?

pressthat.wordpress.com

The debate on what Jesus Christ looked like in the flesh has many contradictions. The Bible does not give an exact description of Jesus, but a simple study of the Bible shows that Christ could not have looked as modern pictures or movies represent Him.

As a human being, Jesus Christ was a Jew (Heb. 7:14) and looked like a normal Jewish man of His time. He was also a carpenter, working outdoors. That means He was tanned in the summer and wind-burnt in the winter, with a healthy, weathered look about Him. Since carpenters at the time of Christ were also familiar with stone masonry, Christ would have been muscular enough to carry and place large stones in homes and buildings. He was definitely not weak and feminine looking like modern pictures depict Him.

Bible description of Christ

The only Biblical description of Jesus Christ in the flesh is given as this: “[H]e hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2). In other words, Christ had no distinguishing features or handsomeness that made Him stand out in a crowd. He even used this fact to His own advantage many times. He was able to escape harm by blending safely into a mass of other Jews on more than one occasion. Remember also, Judas had to point Him out to the authorities with a kiss (Matt. 26:48-50).

It is also important to recognize that the Jews of Christ’s day considered it a great shame for a man to have long hair (1 Cor. 11:14). So Christ would never have looked like the pampered, long-haired, easy-to-point-out man modern pictures make Him appear to be.

Other than these conclusions, we have no more information about his actual physical countenance. In fact, anything else is a matter of speculation and uncertainty. The New Testament is likely silent on these points because it is more important to center attention on the message, rather than the messenger.

Idolatrous image of Christ

Still, there is a general “standardized appearance of Christ that is largely accepted today. The image of a fully-bearded Jesus with long hair did not become established until the 6th century in Eastern Christianity, and much later in the West. Earlier images were much more varied. Beliefs that certain images are historically authentic, or have acquired an authoritative status from church tradition, remain powerful in both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. The Shroud of Turin is now the best-known example, though the Image of Edessa and the Veil of Veronica were better known in medieval times.” (Wikipedia)

The modern depiction of Christ is wrong, of course, but that hasn’t deterred Christianity at large from  using that false image in an idolatrous way through pictures, on crosses, etc. But God wants us to think of Jesus Christ as He actually is today. The Bible states:

“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters” (Rev. 1:14-15).

As the living Son of God, Jesus Christ’s face shines with fiery brilliance. His spirit body burns like molten brass. We could not look into His face and not be harmed by the experience. All false representations of Christ through crucifixes, pictures and statues fail miserably to represent Him as He truly is. They are wholly false and must be discarded if true Christians are to worship God in spirit and in truth.

February 3, 2011

What Is The Origin Of April Fool’s Day?

kloonigames.com

April Fools’ Day — or All Fools’ Day, as it is also known is of ancient origin, although its exact origin is obscure. The custom of playing practical jokes on friends on a particular day or sending them on fools’ errands was practiced from earliest times.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica: “What seems certain is that it [April Fools’ Day] is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year’s Day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April. This view gains support from the fact that the exact counterpart of April-fooling is found to have been an immemorial custom in India. The festival of the spring equinox is there termed the feast of Huli, the last of which is the 31st of March, upon which the chief amusement is the befooling of people by sending them on fruitless errands.”

The practice of April-fooling long antedates Christianity, its roots buried in dimmest antiquity. Obviously, April Fools’ Day is of pagan origin!

Another source declares: “To find the practice so widely prevalent over the earth, and with so near a coincidence of day, seems to indicate that it has had a very early origin amongst mankind” (Book of Days, page 462).

Since the evidence is overwhelming that April Fools’ Day stems from ancient pagan custom and tradition, and since the Bible, the Word of God, nowhere teaches Christians to partake in observing such a day of mockery, foolishness, jesting and ridicule, and since God actually condemns foolish jesting in His Word (Ephesians 5:4), followers of Jesus Christ should have nothing to do with this custom.

God commands Christians, “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jeremiah 10:2, Authorized Version). Regarding worldly customs inherited from heathenism, God declares: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:17).

 

November 24, 2010

Proving The Existence of God’s Law

gpcw.org.au

Consider the all-encompassing magnitude of God’s law. It outlines, in broad detail, our right relationship with the true God to receive needed guidance, help and blessings; and also our right relationship towards human neighbours – including parents, children, husband or wife. This law provides for every human need for our own good in a living, active, continuous relationship with the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God.

When we mediate fully on the ten commandments, we can see that God provides the means for mankind to have pure religion, happy families, a right social life, and wealthy economies. Never did God intent that His law be oppressive or destructive. In fact, the law can be summed up in one powerful word – love.

Our loving God has given us a law only forbids those things that harm us. God will never force us to keep His law because He has made us free moral agents. God wants us to choose to follow Him and His ways. It is all for our good. Yet, many who call themselves Christians teach that Christ did away with the ten commandments under the New Testament. However, that does not square with Christ’s personal example. (more…)

April 30, 2010

What Is Truth?

netstint.com

Just before Christ was crucified, Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler over Jerusalem asked a question of Christ that has puzzled mankind for thousands of years. That question was, “What is truth?” It was a good question; a deep question even. But strangely, Christ didn’t answer him. Why not? Did He not have universal truth to give? He sure did, but there was a very specific reason He did not answer.

Many in this world believe the Bible is open to interpretation to anyone professing Christianity. That notion could not be more wrong. Christ did not answer because he had a vile and corrupt ruler in front of Him who hated the law of God. It doesn’t matter if people today say they are Christian; if they do not obey God, they are not Christians – period. We can’t just throw the law of God out the window when the Bible is obviously a book of law from beginning to end. Christ wants us to know that if He’s going to reveal what truth is, that we have to do something. (more…)

October 20, 2009

Fruits Of the Spirit Lead To Real Abundant Living

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Plain Truth, 1983

July 29, 2009

What Is A Real Christian?

Jesus clearly explained what a real Christian is like. He left no doubt. As we consider what he said, we need to ask ourselves why the qualities he described seem to be so difficult to find even in the Christian-professing nations of the world.

Take, for instance, one of Jesus’ teachings in what is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Luke 6. Surely nothing is more central to Christianity than this portion of the Scriptures. But how often do you see Jesus’ statement in verse 27 put into practice? It says: “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.”

Some of the most bloody battles in history have been waged by “Christian” nations. “No nations are more warlike than those which profess Christianity,” observed Pierre Bayle, a 17th-century French philosopher.

Professing Christians have even risen up in war against each other. They have impaled each other, burnt each other, blown each other to pieces on the battlefield, all the while praying to the same God for victory.

The English poet Shelley commented: “The same means that have supported every other popular belief have supported Christianity. War, imprisonment, assassination and falsehood; deeds of unexampled and incomparable atrocity have made it what it is.”

How can this be? The one who is supposed to be the Founder of the “Christian” religion — the One whom professing Christians call “Lord” — taught his followers, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28).

This instruction of Jesus certainly is not followed in times of war. But then it is hardly followed in times of peace either. Where is it put into practice in neighborhoods, in social circles, among the people you know on a day-to-day basis?

Jesus also said: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (verse 31). That has been called the Golden Rule. It is thought of as a good slogan to hang on the wall, or to dangle from a charm bracelet, or to teach little children.

But live by it? That’s something else! Jesus, however, did not mean it as a suggestion. He didn’t give it as a thought for the day. For Jesus it was a living law that he commanded his followers — Christians — to apply in their daily lives.

But Will It Work?

“Be ye therefore merciful,” continued Jesus, “as your Father [God] also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (verses 36-37).

Look around you. How often does merciful kindness govern what is said and done? Think of the competition and greed in business — the cheating, the gouging. A primary emphasis in today’s world is to get the advantage over others, even if it is necessary to hurt them a little to do it.

The political sphere resounds with name calling, propaganda and condemnation.

Gossip, judging and backbiting are ever popular themes in private conversation. Movies, novels and television programs — including children’s shows — dwell on the idea of getting even or seeking revenge.

Where is forgiveness stressed? Instances of genuine mercy from one human being toward another are remarkable and memorable because they are so uncommon.

Jesus’ teaching even applies to simple lacks of consideration such as a blaring radio, a loud motorcycle, littering the landscape with rubbish, damaging public facilities, spraying graffiti on walls — factors that make life unpleasant for others. Yet so commonplace are infringements of the principles Jesus gave, it makes one wonder: Where are the Christians?

Is This a Christian World?

The Bible describes what a society is like when its religion is a mere form, not having the power to change people’s lives. It reads like the front page of a newspaper.

“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it (II Tim. 3:2-5, RSV).

It all sounds so familiar! As Jesus was speaking, he knew there were some listening to him who would call him their “Lord,” who would profess to belong to him, but who would not put his teachings into practice.

These are the words of Jesus to them: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46.) A “lord” is a ruler, a master, one who is to be obeyed. In plain words, Jesus said: “If you don’t obey me, don’t call me ‘Lord‘!”

Too often people talk about “the Lord,” or “the Lord Jesus,” when they don’t have the faintest idea what Jesus said his followers are to do. Jesus exclaimed: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

That, in simple terms, is what makes a person a Christian. He or she does what Jesus said to do. He or she follows Christ. The ones who are allowed to become members of his spiritual family are “these which hear the word of God, and do it (Luke 8:21).

“Ye are my friends,” Jesus stated, “if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

Again, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Clearly, only a person who does what Jesus said to do has the right to call him “Lord.” That is the biblical definition of a real Christian.

A Way of Life

True Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs. It is not joining a church. It is not something to be practiced one day a week or at odd intervals.

It is a way of life. Early Christians referred to original Christianity as “the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25) and “the way of God” (verse 26). “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Christ declared (John 14:6).

True Christianity is the Christian way of life. No one can follow what Jesus taught without experiencing a marked change in life and life-style.

Notice how this fact is illustrated in the following example: A rich young man once came to Jesus and asked: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16.)

This man knew following Christ involves doing something. He asked: “What good thing shall I do?

Many today would have answered: “Why, there is nothing to do. Just accept Christ and it’s all done for you. There are no works involved in salvation.”

How different was Jesus’ answer! “And he [Jesus] said unto him … if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (verse 17).

There was no doubt that Jesus was talking about the Ten Commandments. When the young man asked, “Which ones?” Jesus named specifically the commandments having to do with showing love toward one’s neighbor. To this, the rich man responded that he had been keeping those commandments since childhood (verse 20). The young man, of course, had been reared a Jew. But he wanted to become a follower of Christ.

Which church today would not welcome with open arms such a wealthy and moral individual into its ranks?

But Jesus did not do so. He required in his followers true depth of conversion. He knew the young man had a problem — keeping in their true intent those commandments regarding love toward, giving to, one’s neighbor. So Jesus bluntly told him that his wealth was an obstacle to him, that he needed to get rid of it. Only after that could he become a follower of Jesus — a Christian.

Sadly, the young man departed, unwilling to change his attitude toward life.

Most people, it is true, do not have excess wealth as their major problem. The fact remains, though, that literally keeping the Ten Commandments is essential if you are to inherit God’s free gift of eternal life. So said Jesus!

Maybe you think you have been keeping the Ten Commandments fairly well — like the rich young man. Have you really? Try something. Read them off one by one (they are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) and see if there is not room for improvement in your life. In this materialistic, industrial age, you may be especially surprised at what the fourth and tenth commandments have to say.

True Conversion

Being a real Christian involves every moment of every day.

Every activity, every social situation, every endeavor, every goal and plan — Christ has revealed laws that bear on every facet of life. We are even to let our thoughts be ruled by the Lord Jesus, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” as the apostle Paul expressed it (II Cor. 10:5).

To some that sounds extreme. But it’s in the Christian Bible. The apostle Paul was only repeating what the Bible says time and again: To do God’s will is to follow his way of life totally. There is a price to pay, however, and for some that price may be too high. That price is surrender of the SELF.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts … ,” God says through the prophet Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:7-9).

A real Christian is one who seeks God’s way of life, his thoughts, his will. What Isaiah was describing was genuine repentance — the kind of repentance necessary to begin the Christian way of life. When multitudes asked the apostle Peter how to become Christians, Peter responded with the same thoughts (Acts 2:38).

But these inspired instructions are seldom followed today. Why? Why in the mass evangelistic campaigns of the world are people encouraged to make a spur-of-the-moment “decision for Christ” and to come forward in an “altar call,” and to be pronounced “saved” or “born again”? — when that is not how Peter said to receive the Holy Spirit, which is God’s free gift that leads to eternal life. No wonder such “conversions” often last only a matter of days or weeks!

Why Do So Few Know?

Here is where many people stumble. They begin to grasp what real Christianity is all about, then they look around them at the people they know. Or they think of individuals they have known in the past — friends, relatives, perhaps. And they use them as standards of comparison.

They say to themselves: “Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and my friend John did not literally obey Jesus’ instructions. But they weren’t ‘bad’ people either. They lived the way they thought was right. I’ll take my chances along with them and with the millions and millions of other professing Christians who are just average people. Surely God won’t deny eternal life or salvation to them! God is merciful.”

God is merciful. That’s true. But then what did Jesus mean when he said keeping the commandments and other lesser requirements are necessary to inherit God’s free gift of eternal life? He meant exactly what he said. Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and friend John and all the millions who have professed Christianity without ever understanding what it really is to become a Christian — a follower of Jesus Christ — will eventually have their opportunity to understand. They too will learn that it is necessary to keep the commandments. If it doesn’t happen during this life, then it will happen in a future period of judgment when God’s government rules the earth and all the dead who have not had an opportunity for salvation will be resurrected and given the opportunity to choose the way of life that is based on obedience to God’s laws — the only way to true happiness. That period of time is described in Revelation 20:11-13.

Every human who ever lived will have an opportunity to receive salvation. For most people that time comes after they have lived their entire lives and died. God is just not trying to save the entire world now. That’s why the Scripture says that in general, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this [in a future resurrection!] the judgment [not a sentencing, but a period of testing and judging — their first and only genuine opportunity for salvation]” (Heb. 9:27).

Jesus told his disciples: “Enter ye in at the strait [restricted] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many [the millions, the hundreds and thousands of millions] there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW [during this present age] there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). You probably have not understood this before.

Don’t make the mistake of judging what the Bible describes as true Christianity by the lives of people you have known who may not even have understood what real Christianity is.

To be a real Christian is simply to do what Jesus said to do. He showed the way to truly abundant living. His words are recorded in the Scriptures. But they will only profit someone who reads them there and follows them. “If ye know these things,” Jesus exclaimed, “happy are ye if ye do them (John 13:17).

Source: The Plain Truth, January 1983

June 14, 2009

The Violence Of Islam

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Editors Comment: I posted this article  from probe.org in its entirety because I thought it contained a good insight into a politically incorrect subject. Too many are willing to minimize what is plainly evident before our eyes today. Islam is not a religion of peace, though many practice it that way. From the outset, as the article states, Muhammad conquered with the sword and this philosophy is now manifesting itself again in a huge way worldwide. Any opposition is worn down through suppression – either violent or non-violent through political pressure by integration into other societies.
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On September 11, 2001 Americans found themselves confronted by an enemy they knew little about. We had suddenly lost more lives to a sneak attack than had been lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor and yet few understood the reasons for the hatred that prompted the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and part of the Pentagon. Even in the days that followed, Americans were getting mixed signals from the media and from national politicians. One voice focused on the peaceful nature of Islam, going so far as to argue that Osama bin Laden could not be a faithful Muslim and commit the acts attributed to him. Others warned that bin Laden has a considerable following in the Muslim world and that even if he was removed as a potential threat many would step in to replace him with equal or greater fervor.

Some argued that fundamentalist Muslims are no different than fundamentalist believers of any religion. The problem is not Islam, but religious belief of any type when taken too seriously. This view holds that all forms of religious belief, Christian, Jewish, or Islamic can promote terrorism. Robert Wright, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania writes that:

If Osama Bin Laden were a Christian, and he still wanted to destroy the World Trade Center, he would cite Jesus’ rampage against the money-changers. If he didn’t want to destroy the World Trade Center, he could stress the Sermon on the Mount. [1]

His view is that terrorism can be justified by any religion when people are economically depressed. He adds “there is no timeless, immutable essence of Islam, rooted in the Quran, that condemns it to a medieval morality.” [2]

This claim points to the question: Is there something inherent in Islam that makes it more likely to resort to violence than other world religions like Christianity or Buddhism? While it is important to admit that all religions and ideologies have adherents that are willing to use violence to achieve what they believe are justified ends, it does not follow that all religions and ideologies teach equally the legitimacy of violent means.

People have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, it is my position that it is not possible to justify these actions from the teachings of Christ Himself. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus Himself.

What about Islam? My contention is that Islam’s founder Muhammad, and the Quran, its holy book, condone violence as a legitimate tool for furthering Allah’s goals. And that those who use violence in the name of Allah are following a tradition that began with the very birth of Islam.

Muhammad

As mentioned earlier, there are followers in most of the world’s belief systems that justify the use of violence to achieve their religious or political goals. However, this says more about the sinfulness of humanity than it does about the belief system itself. It is important to look past the individual behavior of a few followers to the message and actions of the founder of each system and his or her closest disciples. In the case of Islam, this means Muhammad and the leadership of Islam after Muhammad’s death.

One cannot overstate the centrality of Muhammad’s example within the religion of Islam. One of the greatest Muslim theologians, al- Ghazzali, writes of Muhammad:

Know that the key to happiness is to follow the sunna [Muhammad’s actions] and to imitate the Messenger of God in all his coming and going, his movement and rest, in his way of eating, his attitude, his sleep and his talkGod has said: “What the messenger has brought–accept it, and what he has prohibited–refrain from it!” (59:7). That means, you have to sit while putting on trousers, and to stand when winding a turban, and to begin with the right foot when putting on shoes. [3]

Although considered only human, one Muslim writer describes Muhammad as “[T]he best model for man in piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue. . . .” [4] So it is important to note that Muhammad believed that violence is a natural part of Islam. Many passages of the Quran, which came from Muhammad’s lips support violence. Followers are told to “fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them (9:5),” and to “Fight those who believe not in God, nor the Last Day.” (9:29) Muhammad also promises paradise for those who die in battle for Allah, “Those who left their homes . . . or fought or been slain,–Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;–A reward from the Presence of God.” (3:195; cf. 2:244; 4:95)

While living in Medina, having escaped from persecution in Mecca, Muhammad supported himself and his group of followers by raiding Meccan caravans. His fame grew after a stunning defeat of a large, well defended, caravan at Badr. Muhammad was also willing to have assassinated those who merely ridiculed his prophetic claims. The list of those killed included Jews, old men and women, slaves, and a mother of five children who was killed while she slept. [5] Also, in order to violate a long-standing ban against warfare during a sacred month, he claimed a new revelation that gave him permission to kill his enemies. [6]

Violent expediency seems to have been the guiding rule of Muhammad’s ethics.

Early Islam

Muhammad’s life as a prophet was a precarious one. After fleeing Mecca and establishing himself in Medina, Muhammad was constantly being tested militarily by those who considered him a religious and political threat. Although at an initial disadvantage, Muhammad wore down his opponents by raiding their caravans, seizing valuable property, taking hostages and disrupting the all-important economic trade Mecca enjoyed with the surrounding area. [7] The turning point for Muhammad and his followers seems to have come in what is known as the Battle of the Ditch or the Siege of Medina. A large Meccan force failed to take the city and destroy the new religion. Suspecting that a local Jewish tribe had plotted with the Meccans to destroy him, Muhammad had all the men of the tribe killed and the women and children sold into slavery. [8] In 630 A.D. Muhammad returned to Mecca with a large force and took it with little bloodshed. He rewarded many of its leaders financially for surrendering and within a short period of time a large number of the surrounding tribes came over to this new and powerful religious and political movement.

Muhammad continued building his following by using a combination of material enticements, his religious message, and force when necessary. With the fall of Mecca, many other tribes realized Muhammad’s position as the most powerful political leader in western Arabia and sent representatives to negotiate agreements with him.

Muhammad’s death in 632, just two years after his triumphant return to Mecca, thrust an important decision on the community of believers. Should they choose one person to lead in Muhammad’s place or do they separate into many communities. The decision was made to pick Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s father-in-law and early supporter to assume the role of caliph or successor to Muhammad. Immediately, many who had submitted to Muhammad refused to do so to Abu Bakr. Several tribes wanted political independence, some sought to break religiously as well. The result is known as the Apostasy wars. At the end of two years of fighting to put down both religious and political threats, Abu Bakr had extended his control to include the entire Arabian Peninsula. Islam was now in position to extend its influence beyond Arabia with a large standing army of believers.

Violence and warfare seems to have dominated early Islam. Two of the first four caliphs were assassinated by internal rivals, and within the first fifty years of its existence Islam experienced two bloody civil wars. Rival tribal loyalties within and the religious struggle or jihad against the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires made the first century of Islam a bloody one.

Jihad

Historian Paul Johnson writes,

[T]he history of Islam has essentially been a history of conquest and re-conquest. The 7th-century “breakout” of Islam from Arabia was followed by the rapid conquest of North Africa, the invasion and virtual conquest of Spain, and a thrust into France that carried the crescent to the gates of Paris. [9].

From the beginning, Muslims “saw their mission as jihad, or militant effort to combat evil and to spread Muhammad’s message of monotheism and righteousness far and wide.” [10] Although many Muslims in America have argued that jihad primarily refers to a struggle or striving for personal righteousness, Bernard Lewis, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University writes that, “The more common interpretation, and that of the overwhelming majority of the classical jurists and commentators, presents jihad as armed struggle for Islam against infidels and apostates.” [11]

Although highly regulated by Islamic law, the call for every able- bodied Muslim to defend Islam began with Muhammad and has continued with the fatwas of Osama bin Laden in 1996 and 1998. Bin Laden argues that his attacks on American civilians and military has three specific complaints: America has placed infidel troops on holy soil in Saudi Arabia; America has caused the death of over a million Iraqi children since Desert Storm; and American support for the evil Zionist nation of Israel.

Regarding the history of jihad in Islam, an ex-chief justice of Saudi Arabia has written “[A]t first ‘the fighting’ was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory, . . .” Muslims are to fight against those who oppress Islam and who worship others along with Allah. [12]. He adds that even though fighting is disliked by the human soul, Allah has made ready an immense reward beyond imagination for those who obey. He also quotes Islamic tradition, which says, “Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidin who fight in His Cause.” [13]

Numerous passages in the Qur’an refer to Allah’s use of violence. A surah titled “The Spoils of War” states, “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you . . . they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.” [14] Another says, “O ye who believe! When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. . . .” [15] It adds that those who do will find themselves in hell, a significant incentive to fight on.

Muslims and Modernity

Islam was born in the midst of persecution and eventually conquest. Muhammad was adept at both religious and military leadership, but what about modern Islam? Do all Muslims see jihad in the light of conquest and warfare?

While it is probably safe to say that American born Muslims apply the teachings of Muhammad and Islamic traditions differently than Saudi or Iranian Muslims. The use of violence in the propagation of Islam enjoys wide support. Part of the reason is that the concept of separation of church and state is alien to Islam. Muhammad Iqbal, architect of Pakistan’s split from Hindu India, wrote, “The truth is that Islam is not a church. It is a state conceived as a contractual organism. . . .” [16] Responding to the inability of Islam to accommodate the modern world, an Algerian Islamic activist points to the example of Muhammad:

The Prophet himself did not opt to live far away from the camp of men. He did not say to youth: “Sell what you have and follow me. . . .” At Medina, he was not content merely to be the preacher of the new faith: he became also the leader of the new city, where he organized the religious, social and economic life. . . . Later, carrying arms, he put himself at the head of his troops. [17]

The powerful combination within Islam of immediate paradise for those who die while fighting for Allah and the unity of political, religious, and economic structures, helps us to understand the source of suicide bombers and children who dream of becoming one. Young Palestinians are lining up by the hundreds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to volunteer for suicide missions. Eyad Sarraj, the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, detects a widespread zeal. “If they are turned down they become depressed. They feel they have been deprived of the ultimate award of dying for God.” [18] Palestinian support for suicide bombers is now at 70 to 80 percent.

Islam and Christianity both require its followers to sacrifice and turn from the world and self. Yet while Islam equates political conquest with the furtherance of Allah’s reign, Jesus taught that we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. Christianity recognizes that the advancement of God’s kingdom is not necessarily a political one. The New Testament did not advocate the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Muslims are given the example of Muhammad’s personal sacrifice in battle so that Allah’s enemies might be defeated. Christians are given the example of Christ who gave His life as a sacrifice, so that even His enemies might believe and have eternal life.

Notes

1. Robert Wright, http://www.msnbc.com/news, 10/30/2001.
2. Ibid.
3. Norman L. Geisler & Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993), p. 82.
4. Ibid., 84.
5. Ibid., 175.
6. The Quran states, “They ask thee Concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: ‘Fighting therein is a grave (offense)’; But graver is it In the sight of God To prevent access to the path of God.” (2:217)
7. John Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam, (Oxford University Press, 1999), p 10.
8. Geisler & Saleeb, p. 79.
9. Paul Johnson, National Review, October 15, 2001.

10. John Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam, p. 13.
11. Bernard Lewis, “Jihad vs. Crusade,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2001.
12. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Humaid, “Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah,” http://islamworld.net/jihad.html, p. 4.
13. Ibid., p. 8.
14. Qur’an 8:65.
15. Qur’an 8:15-16.
16. Kenneth Cragg & Marston Speight, Islam From Within, (Wadsworth Inc., 1980), p. 213.
17. Ibid., p 228.
18. Eric Silver, “Bomber quit intelligence service to join Hamas two days before attack,” Independent Digital (UK) Ltd, 03 December 2001, www.independent.co.uk.

April 29, 2009

The Facts Behind The Fictional Da Vinci Code

 

150What do you know about “The Da Vinci Code?” Millions of words and thousands of commentaries have been written about a code that DaVinci might have created. So where do I begin to provide a meaningful commentary from a godly perspective on this craze? Perhaps with three words: “It’s a novel!” That means – simply and plainly – the book is a made-up story.

In 2006, this book was made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks. It was, of course, a highly controversial film that whetted the appetites of conspiracy buffs worldwide and fueled already present doubts and misconceptions of those who do not know or believe the Word of God.

The Da Vinci Code’s blasphemy is nothing new. It’s just another highly promoted, celebrity-enhanced, big budget effort to discredit God and His Word. It is a compilation of half-truths and heart-felt heresies being sold to biblically illiterate seekers, particularity in denominational church settings where gullible participants involve themselves for the love and acceptance of a compromised collective. Let’s have a closer look at the novel.

Is Judas the betrayer a myth?

This book is too poorly founded to even have the title of pseudo history. Dan Brown simply pulls things out of the air. The opening page’s claim of historical reality served to confuse millions, and reading further, one witnesses a radically different view of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. It even portrays Judas, not as a traitor to Jesus Christ, but as a hero. Imagine that!

There have also been headlines in the past about the gospel of Judas being found in Egypt. It is estimated to have been put there some nearly 2,000 years ago, with 13 sheets in 1,000 fragments being found. But is this really so important to all of us? Does our salvation depend upon a tattered and worn document, maybe a couple of thousand years old? Is there any credence we can give to those writings? Do we really know what these fraudulent documents are all about, and which ones to believe?

We have to be careful of a deeper deceit here. If  modern Christianity were preaching the truth the way it should, these writings would not have much of an impact at all. But the whole world is deceived, and that includes religion. We need to be proving all things in this very, very information-glutted age when there’s no telling what we may be reading.

The biggest problem however is that we simply don’t know the Bible. Do you know the difference between the real gospel and a counterfeit gospel? You have to, by proving all things, as God says. Organized religion won’t help you because their deceit is just shocking. And now people are digging these things out of caves, and somehow they capture the imagination of the world with what they find.

But do you know something? Every single one of them is really attacking the Bible, and attacking the Christ of the Bible. They’re anti-Bible, and they’re anti-God. But if we are going to be defenders of the truth for God, we’re going to have to begin to speak out on these issues.

Here is an excerpt from The Da Vinci Code:

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Some people may fall for such words, but they’re wrong and you can prove it! This character says: “History has never had a definitive version…” and that is absolutely, TOTALLY false! It has had a definitive version. The problem is they have rejected it! Does anybody have proof of what they say? Does ANYBODY really prove their view?

Christ taunts the critics by saying, “Well, PROVE Me now herewith! God isn’t backing down from the critics, and neither should we.

A different Christ

Now, obviously these are different views of Jesus Christ, and Christians are supposed to follow Him, but how can you do so if you don’t know Him and if you don’t know which books He inspired? And He absolutely, dogmatically states that He did! Do you honestly believe that His real teachings come from a lost gospel someone dug out of a cave? Does that really make any sense?

Notice 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now,  can you prove that? Do you know what scripture really is? Is the lost book of Judas, Mary, Philip, or Thomas scripture? No, they are not! Brown’s book focuses on goddess worship, or worship of the divine feminine. He ties this pagan mysticism to Mary Magdalene. I mean really, he would have us believe that Christ and Mary Magdalene were active participants in a pagan sex cult? Brown is so far out in left field, he takes his proof from Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” assuring gullible readers that it is Mary Magdalene sitting next to Christ, not John.

What is really diabolical about such statements is that Jesus Christ being involved in a pagan sex cult instantly disqualifies Him as being our Savior. Remember, He offered Himself as a sinless offering for all of mankind. If He was into such debauchery, we all  can fold up our tents and go fishing. There really wouldn’t be any more point in believing, would there? But there is not a single shred of evidence for what is being said!

Do you know your Bible?

If you don’t know the Bible, then some of these conspiracy theories start to sound pretty credible. I mean look, isn’t the Bible then just the work of men? Without scriptural knowledge, how do you dispel your doubts, even though Brown doesn’t offer any proof but just makes bold, blatant statements?

Now think about this! The author takes his proof from a Da Vinci painting, of all things! It would be ridiculously laughable, if this subject weren’t so serious! Is that really proof enough for the reader? Does such nonsense take precedence over the inspired Word of God? Does a painting by a man who didn’t know much about the Bible and God, in the first place really hold vital clues for us about God? Even if it did, who says this one interpretation is the right one? Wouldn’t many people have many interpretations? No, what we should look for are the bold statements made by Jesus Christ throughout the Bible. He tells us that this Bible was preserved, the Old Testament by the Jews, and the New Testament by the Greeks. That’s proven by the Bible, itself.

Was Mary a church leader?

Brown plays upon the Gnostic legends that Christ wanted Mary to head the Church, but Peter and the other apostles (painted as chauvinists) prevented this from happening after Christ’s death. Legends say Mary became a famous preacher founding Christian communities.

Notice, it is legend that says so. Nowhere in the Bible – our most reliable historical account of the life of Jesus – does it claim that Jesus and Mary were married. Nowhere in the writings of the early leaders of Christianity is there any reference to any such “marriage.” And amazingly, nowhere in the Gnostic writings – about which Dan Brown so endearingly speaks – is there an statement that Jesus and Mary were married. This error in Brown’s book makes Mary Magdalene out to be more important than Jesus Christ, and really, this fact has attracted a large feminist audience to the book.

But if you know anything about the Bible, then this is about as contemptuous as anything ever written. God the Father is in charge, and then Jesus Christ, not some human female. Luke 8:1-3 tells us that Christ actually cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. That should tell us something about her previous mental and spiritual condition, until God healed her.

Those same demons that influenced Mary now still roam this earth and heavily influence men, and even possess them. Doesn’t your Bible say that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)? But who believes that anyways?

Isaiah 46:9-10 says,

“I am God, and there’s none like Me.” There’s no one in God’s class! It is He that reveals secrets about what is to happen in the latter days…Dan. 2:38. You should be able to prove your Bible alone by comparing prophecy to news magazines or news sources! One-third of your Bible is prophecy, and 90% of that prophecy is being fulfilled today, so it’s easy to prove that God is prophesying today. The books of Daniel and Revelation are for the end time, as is the main focus of all the Major and Minor Prophets.

Why don’t we believe?

Secular and religious people stumble because they hate the government of God. In many cases, they don’t even know what it is. They assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a supernatural God — without the scientific proof they demand on material questions. Most fundamentalists believers simply assume that this book is NOT the infallible Word of God. Have they proven this fact? Absolutely not! Religious people lean the other way. They simply assume the Bible is right, and when pressed with heavy questions, they have no good answers. In either case. you just can’t make statements and not prove them. Does such a stance  even make sense? But God always offers proof, we simply have to look for it!

A warning for man today!

In John 5:39, Jesus Christ told the Jews in His day to search the scriptures, because in them is eternal life. This was a warning. If we, like the Jews of old, think we have eternal life, we aught to consider what happened to them. They entered into a holocaust, with all kinds of cannibalism, pain and untold suffering. This is merely a type of what’s coming upon the world in this end time – the great Tribulation. The Jews were warned but didn’t listen. They believed in a false religion without evidence or proof. They didn’t know Christ, and the world today doesn’t know Christ. They talk about His person, but they don’t talk about His message.

But shouldn’t we know that message inside and out? Christ said, “The scriptures testify of Me. “Search the scriptures,” He said. That means both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which are solidly intertwined together. Many New Testament quotes are from the Old Testament. Don’t throw it away because Christ said we ought to live by EVERY word of God (Matthew 4:4). Why would we be given half a Bible that is correct, and half that is not correct? Does this make sense? No wonder they err, not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29). They should know the scriptures, but they don’t, nor the power of God.

God says to “prove all things” and He gives people every opportunity to do so. The proof is abundant and it’s not even that hard to prove the Bible if we’ll just apply our minds and work at it. That knowledge than change our lives and we’ll know exactly what this Bible is all about.

April 8, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Born Of Water – And Of Spirit?

117Here is a verse which really confuses mainstream Christianity which believes in the false notion of going to heaven when one dies. In fact, there is not one verse in the Bible which backs up this assumption. John 3:5 states:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus here spoke of a literal birth — the entrance into the Family of God as a spirit being, and the process by which one attains that goal. It DOES NOT speak about going to heaven. Hence, both water and God’s Spirit are involved. 

What does the Bible say about being “born of water”? The apostle Peter explained that upon repentance one should be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Baptism pictures the washing away of past sins and the burial of the old self (Rom. 6). In addition, Ephesians 5:26-27 and John 15:3 show that Jesus Christ is sanctifying and cleansing His Church with the “washing of water by the word [the Bible].” Why? So He might present it to Himself as a Church without any spiritual blemishes.  The crowning glory of each person’s life will be his resurrection. Then the saints will be changed from mortal to immortal to become children of God.

I Corinthians 15:51-54 gives an amazingly clear description of this process. Jesus here attempts to describe this spiritual process to a carnal thinking Nicodemus. He explains that “what is born of the spirit is spirit.” This does not merely mean that we are renewed “like the Spirit,” or that we are renewed by the Spirit of God, while still in our physical forms. That would be trivializing what is really said here. Jesus Christ said that we are to literally be born into the family of God – to be Spirit beings in the Father’s family. This is made plain by the emphasis on the fact that none yet reside with God in heaven:

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even  the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

Further proof is in Acts 2:34:

“For David is not ascended into the heavens…” This despite David being long dead, and surely worthy of being in heaven as he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Could anything be plainer? We do not go to heaven or hell upon our death. Those doctrines are man made myths. But we do have the choice of eternal life in the family of God. If we understand, repent, are baptized (Acts 2:38) and then walk in the ways (commandments) of God, we will inherit eternal life as a Spirit member of the family of God. THIS is the concept Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus.

If we do not accept the conditions God imposes on us – in complete love – will not be written in the book of life and will end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). This IS NOT HELL. This concept is of God, who destroys the wicked quickly and with the least amount of suffering possible, to lose out on eternal life and joy with God. There is no such thing as suffering eternally with God, as He is a God of love, not hatred. It’s time we banish the foolishness of denominational doctrines meant to enslave man in pagan fears and superstitions. They only destroy the beautiful message of the gospel, which Jesus Christ died for.

April 2, 2009

Christianity Ignores God The Father – Do You?

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surroundedbygrace.blogspot.com/

There are two basic common and universal errors in the preaching of the “Gospel” by this world’s “Christianity.” What are the two most universal errors in the proclaiming of the “Gospel” by the various sects and denominations of traditional Christianity today? 

1. They ignore God the Father and they proclaim a false gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that Jesus Christ, as God’s Messenger, brought. In other words, the message God the Father sent to mankind by His Son and Messenger (Malachi 3:1) to mankind. 

Jesus said plainly, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father . . . for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me” (John 8:38, 42). Again, Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10). 

In the first sermon Peter spoke to gentiles, he said, “The word [Gospel] which God sent. . . preaching peace by Jesus Christ. . .” (Acts 10:36). 

What has been proclaimed? MAN’S “gospel” about the Person of the Messenger, but omitting His MESSAGE, which came from God the Father. 

Now how else do they ignore God the Father? 

2. They preach Christ—but Him only. 

Let me explain something here. There are two ways of life: 1) the way of getting, receiving, acquiring—the way of self-centeredness; and 2) the way of giving, of helping, cooperating, sharing, of outflowing love—which is the way of GOD-centeredness. 

Now how do they of traditional Christianity preach? 

Assuming that this is the only time of salvation, they plead with people, “receive Christ”—in other words, “get,” not “give.”  They believe the blood of Jesus—Christ’s death, gives life. But life cannot come from death! Notice Romans 5:10: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God [the Father] by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We are not saved—given eternal life—by Christ’s shed blood—by His death. We are only reconciled to God the Father by Christ’s death. 

How is that? The penalty of sin is death. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). There is one Lawgiver. Not Jesus, but God the Father! When we sin we are cut off from God the Father! That is what modern “Christianity” ignores. All have sinned. All have put an impassable wall between themselves and God the Father. We must be reconciled to God first, for it is He who has eternal life to give! 

How may we be reconciled to God the Father? By real repentance. Repentance is toward God the Father, and faith is toward Jesus (Acts 20:21). 

Once we truly repent, which means a complete change of attitude, way of life and purpose, then our faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood for payment of the penalty of our sins, destroys that impassable wall between us and God the Father—and we then may receive His Holy Spirit—after we have given our life, through repentance and faith, to Christ, who bought and paid for it by His death. Then our salvation—gift of eternal life—is made possible by Christ’s resurrection—by His life! 

But this world’s Christianity thinks it may receive eternal life from Jesus’ death, and from Jesus alone—leaving out the Father. 

And once converted—changed—what then? We must keep reconciled to God by obedience to His Law. If we make a slip, or fall down along the way, then if we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (I John 1:9). 

Of course, traditional Christianity has lost sight of God’s law and of what constitutes sin. They ignore the fact we must be first reconciled to God the Father! 

None can come to Jesus for eternal salvation, except God the Father first draws him! Jesus said plainly in John 6:44: “NO MAN can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” 

It is God the Father who decides whom He shall call. It is God the Father from whom we have cut ourselves off by transgressing His Law. It is the Father who has the Holy Spirit to give. The sinner must first of all, upon being called, repent—change his mind and attitude in regard to sin, and obedience to God’s way of life! 

How does God call one? He draws one (John 6:44) by the power of His Holy Spirit, working externally from outside one. Through His Spirit, God convicts one. On the very day Christ founded the Church, Peter had preached a Spirit-inspired sermon. Three thousand there were “pricked in their heart”—”they were cut to the heart” (Revised Standard Version); “it went straight to their hearts” (Moffatt translation). In other words their whole minds and attitudes were convicted of guilt and changed, ready for repentance—a complete change to God’s way of life. This led them to repentance toward God the Father. Then they believed on Jesus Christ, were baptized, and God the Father then gave them His Holy Spirit! 

Now what gospel did Jesus bring from God the Father? What was the message the Father sent to mankind by Jesus? In Mark 1:1, 14, 15, we read: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” 

Jesus proclaimed the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, based on the LAW OF GOD, to rule the whole earth, at Christ’s Second Coming—now SOON! 

The Kingdom of God is the divine born family of God, of which God the FATHER is Father of the entire Family. 

Today, by leaving God the Father out of their message, the churches of traditional Christianity do not know that a real and true Christian may be, in this life, only begotten by receiving the Holy Spirit—which is the begettal of God-life—and may be born a full God being, immortal, composed of Spirit, at the resurrection of the just—at Christ’s coming! 

In a word, by ignoring God the Father, they make the life, Gospel, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ utterly meaningless! 

Let’s be sure we have God the Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ both in the picture, as they, themselves, have placed themselves! 

Source: Plain Truth May 1980, Page 33,  by Herbert W. Armstrong 

March 17, 2009

What Is The True Definition Of The Temple Of God?

Paul told Gentile converts that they were the members of the house of God. He reminded them that the spiritual structure was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20). This is reinforced in verse 22, where it says true Christians are a holy temple in God. Jesus Christ is not returning to a material temple, but to the spiritual, glorified temple of the living God.

In I Cor. 3:9, the term “God’s husbandry” – (γεώργιον  geōrgion); or “tillage” is entirely unique, as this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly denotes a “tilled” or “cultivated field” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible). This shows we are also God’s produce, being harvested by Him.

But unlike what mainstream Christianity teaches, God requires something of us. Verse 13  shows our works (yes these are required) will be made plain. The time of judgment is just ahead of us and God will prove if His people (collectively the temple of God – verse 16) have been building  properly.

Why this requirement? Because the temple of God is Holy – it is where God dwells.  He wants to make sure the temple remains pure and He will not allow defilement, or sin, in this Holy place. This is probably a strange concept to many, because the prevailing thought is that a church is a building. But God clearly defines the Church as His people. It is where He dwells – in each believer.

Deut. 23:14  says wherever God is in the midst of, that place is Holy. Moses had to take off his shoes as God dwelled in the bush.

This is where God gets a little more insistent with His demands. In II Cor. 6:14, He tells true Christians they cannot dwell together with unbelievers. Who are these unbelievers? Again, contrary to popular opinion, there is no wider audience of Christians; there is only one Church of God. The remainder of supposed Christianity is deceived, bickering over pagan doctrines, beliefs and traditions of men. True Christians are to avoid anything that causes them to be mixed together with unrighteousness. When mixed, it is always the unrighteousness – the impurities –  which spread. These have to be eliminated so that the place of God`s residence remains Holy and pure.

Many in the world try to have it both ways, which is why God cannot  work with them. Verse 16 says either God dwells in true Christians or they are in the world. Only God dwelling in them makes them Holy. It is the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, not the brain or mind. (I Cor. 6:19). Body = soma (# 4983 in Strong’s) = the physical structure.

Our bodies were created to be a temple, or sanctuary for the Holy Spirit. God knows the cleaner, healthier and purer our house is, the more we will be able to use the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth is definitely, though not the only, factor to spiritual well being. Poor health also inhibits the ability to serve God.

The Corinthians had many vices – they said there was no evil in using what God gives. But just because we have a bodily appetite does not mean we  should use it. There is all kinds of sinful behaviour, even with that which is good and given by God. Sin is not the thing, but the wrong use of the thing.  I Cor. 6:12 says do not let anything master you or control you. The privilege carries with it the obligation of responsibility. There is a right and lawful use for everything, but we have to be careful of excess. The body is not created to serve those desires and be overpowered by them. Otherwise our god is our belly (Phil. 3:18).

We are joined to God in one Spirit (I Cor. 6:17). And since there are sins that affect the outside and sins that affect the inside, we are not free to do what we want with our body (verse 18). We are bought with a price – the body of Jesus Christ (verse 20) and we must glorify God in body and mind.

The first great commandment is to love God with heart, body and mind (Matt. 22:36-38). Then we are to love ourselves and others, which means we keep body and mind clean and pure (verse 39). That is hard in this world polluted by customs and trends of excess initiated by Satan (Eph. 2:2). It is he which  causes us to fulfill the desires of body and mind. Human nature involves mind and body.

We have to counter Satan by using the power of the Holy Spirit to lead moderate, balanced lives with fresh air, eating, exercise, and so on (Phil. 4:5). God does not want unclean things in our body. He is present and He wants to live in us, so the body has to be kept clean. Unless we are spiritually and physically fit, we cannot give service to God.

March 14, 2009

America Rejects Religion

deacbench.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html

deacbench.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html

The last generation of Americans has done what no others before it has accomplished — reject God in record numbers. According to the recently published  “American Religious Identification Survey” (conducted between February and November of last year), the number of people professing Christianity in the United States has dropped 10 percent since 1990.

Given the estimated growth of the American adult population since the last census from 207 million to 228 million, that reflects an additional 4.7 million “Nones.”

“Only1.6 percent of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic. But based on stated beliefs, 12 percent are atheist (no God) or agnostic (unsure), while 12 percent more are deistic (believe in a higher power but not a personal God). The number of outright atheists has nearly doubled since 2001, from 900 thousand to 1.6 million. Twenty-seven percent of Americans do not expect a religious funeral at their death.”

In other words, real religion  is dying, replaced by a self serving generic form of evangelicalism. This shift away from a belief in God represents a dangerous trend in America. Shifting away from belief in God means shifting away from the foundational principles which make up a nation, leading to its ultimate collapse.

During his 1796 farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” The second American president, John Adams, later said, “Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”

February 25, 2009

History Timeline Of World Religions And Its Founders

History Timeline Of World Religions And Its Founders

By: LetUsReason


2,085 BC. Judaism-Abraham

1,500 BC. Hinduism- no specific founder

560 BC. Buddhism- Gautama Buddha

550 BC. Taoism – Lao Tzu

599 BC. Jainism, Mahavira

30 AD. Christianity –Jesus Christ

50-100 AD. Gnosticism-

150-250 AD. -Modalism (Monarchianism)–Sabellius, Praxeus, Noetus, Paul of Samosata

325 AD. -After being persecuted for almost 200 years Constantine made the Church becomes a legal religion,  compromise begins to enter.

590 AD.-Roman Catholicism- Developed after Constantine; Pope Gregory?

610 AD.- Islam- Mohammed

1400 AD.- Rosicrucians-Christian Rosenkreuz  (1694 US) Rosicrucians- Master Kelpius, Johann Andrea

1515 AD.- Protestantism- (Reformers) Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin

1650 AD.- Tibetan Buddhism-Dalai Lama

1700 AD.- Freemasony- Albert Mackey, Albert Pike

1760 AD.-Swedenborgism- Emmanuel Swedenborg

1784 AD.- Shakers – Mother Ann Lee

1830 AD.- Mormonism – Joseph Smith

1830 AD.-Cambellites-Alexander & Thomas Cambell, Barton Stone

1838 AD.-Tenrikyo- Miki Maegawa Nakayama

1844 AD.-Christadelphians- John Thomas

1840-45 AD.-Millerites 2nd day Adventists –William Miller then became 7th Day Adventists

1844 AD.-Bahai- Baha’u’llah (Abul Baha)

1845-1870AD.- 7th Day Adventists-E.G. White

1848 AD.-Spiritualism – Kate and Margaret Fox

1870 AD.-Jehovah’s Witnesses- Charles Taze Russell

1875 AD.-Theosophical Society- H.P. Blavatsky, Henry Olcott

1879 AD.-Christian Science-Mary Baker Eddy

1889-1924 AD.-Unity School of Christianity- Myrtle Fillmore

1900 AD.-Rosicrucian Fellowship-Max Heindel

1902 AD.- Anthroposophical Society –Rudolf Steiner

1906 AD. -The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World

1914 AD.- Iglesia ni Cristo- Felix Manalo

1914 AD.- Oneness Pentecostalism- Frank Ewart, G.T.Haywood, Glenn Cook

1917 AD.-True Jesus Church. Founders Paul Wei, Lingsheng Chang and Barnabas Chang

1930 AD. -Black Muslims (Nation of Islam) –Wallace D. Fard

1927 AD.- Mind Science- Ernest Holmes

1934 AD.-World Wide Church of God- Herbert W. Armstrong

1935 AD.-Self Realization Fellowship- Paramahansa Yogananda

1954 AD.- Unification Church- Sun Myung Moon

1945 AD. -The Way -Victor P.Wierwille

1948 AD.- Latter Rain –Franklin Hall, George Warnock.

1964 AD.- Eckankar The Ancient Science of Soul Travel (Eck).  Founded by Paul Twitchell

1968 AD.- Hare Krishna (US)- Swami Prabhupada

1968 AD.- Children of God- David (Moses) Berg

1945 AD.-United Pentecostal International- Howard Goss, W.T. Witherspoon (can be traced back to 1914)

1944 AD.- Silva Mind Control –Jose Silva

1950 AD.-Urantia Book- Dr. Bill Sadler

1950 AD.-Lafayette Ronald Hubbard published his book Dianetics-SCIENTOLOGY

1954 AD.-Atherius Society (UFO’s)- Dr. George King

1955 AD.- Scientology- L. Ron Hubbard

1958 AD.- Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research- Henry Kinley

1958-1970 AD.- Church Universal and Triumphant –Mark and E.C. Prophet

1958 AD. -Henry Kinley begins (IDMR) the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research

1959 AD.-Unitariarian Universalist

1960 AD.-Transcendental meditation- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

1960 AD.-Enkankar- Paul Twitchell

1961 AD.– Unitarian Universalism was officially formed.

1965 AD.-Assembly of Yahweh-Jacob Meyer

1966 AD.- Church of Satan –Anton LaVey

1970 AD.-Findhorn Community –Peter and Eileen Caddy –David Spangler

1970 AD.- Divine light Mission- Guru Maharaj Ji

1973 AD.- CARP was established in the United States.  [The Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles] to introduce the teachings of un Myung Moon.

1974 AD.-Assemblies of Yahweh-Sam Suratt

1979 AD.-Church of Christ International – Kip McKean

1980 -1982 AD.- Tara Center-Benjamen Crème

1980 AD.- House of Yahweh (Abilene) Jacob Hawkins

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

Between The Testaments, Part 1

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

Just who were the Pharisees and where did their religious doctrines originate? In the Old Testament? If so, why did Christ so strenuously oppose their ideas? Is the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — a house divided? An examination of the period “between the Testaments” shows that while men may be divided — the Bible is not!

Much of the professing Christian world today suffers from the mistaken notion that Christ came to do away with His Father’s religion — the religion of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus Himself said, “Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (fill to the brim)” (Matt. 5:17).

Christ plainly said that He did not come to do away with His Father’s religion but to COMPLETE God’s revelation. Then why are so many confused on this point? Why do some mistakenly preach that the Law was “done away”?

One of the major assumptions in this connection is that most theologians ASSUME that the Pharisees and the other religionists of Jesus’ day were the representatives and the exponents of the revelation given to Moses — God’s Old Testament religion. But the Bible shows that the One who later became Jesus Christ was the Lord of the Old Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1, 3, see also Eph. 3:9 and Heb. 1:2). Just where and when did the Pharisees get their practices which Jesus condemned?

The Return From Babylon

Chronologically speaking, the last three authors of the Old Testament are Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi. These three men all worked among the Jewish community that had returned to Judaea after the Babylonian captivity. They were largely successful in bringing the people an awareness of God’s true religion. A body of priests (Aaron’s descendants whom God had ordained to be the religious leaders) was set up to guide the people in matters of religion. This company of men was known in history as the “Great Assembly” or “Synagogue” (“Knesset Hagedolah”). Due to the work of this body throughout the period of Persian dominance the Jews were living for the most part in accordance with God’s Law (Heinrich Graetz, “History of the Jews”, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1894, Vol. I, pp. 406-407).

Because of this, God granted them special protection and privileges by a series of miracles, at the coming of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. This is described in Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XI, Chapter X, Parts 5-6.

A New Way of Life

At his death, Alexander’s empire was divided into four parts (Dan. 8:22). Judaea first passed under rule of Ptolemies of Egypt and, later, the Seleucidae of Syria. Both of these were Macedonian (Greek) dynasties and were great exponents of the pagan, Gentile way of life known as “Hellenism.”

The basic philosophy behind Hellenism was this: Every man had the right to think for himself on any matter as long as there was not a real departure from the customs that were essentially Greek. This philosophy — freedom of thought or individualism, which is SEEMINGLY altruistic in-principle — resulted in myriads of confusing and contradictory beliefs among the Greeks in every phase of life. Every man was allowed his own ideas about the sciences, the arts, law and about RELIGION.

So varied were the opinions among the Greek scholars in the various fields of study that individuals took pride in contending with one another over who could present the greatest “wisdom” and “knowledge” on any particular subject. With the encouragement of the rulers, Hellenism spread rapidly in the Ptolemaic Empire. Judaea was by no means exempt.

Great Assembly No Longer in Authority

Within a score of years after the coming of the Greeks, the Great Assembly disappears from history as an organized body having religious control over the Jewish people. It is not known how the Greeks dismissed this authoritative religious body from its official capacity as teachers of the Law. But it is obvious that the authority of the Great Assembly was eroded and the Greek leaders forbade them to teach. Without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many Jews began to imbibe the Greek customs and ideas which were inundating the land.

“With the change from Persian to Greek rule (the Ptolemies were Greeks, remember), Hellenism made its influence felt, and came pouring like a flood into a country which had known nothing of it. There was no escape from its influence. It was present everywhere, in the street and the market, in the everyday life and all the phases of social intercourse” (R. Travers Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, Soncino Press, London, 1933, page 77).

Much of this Hellenistic influence came from the numerous Greek cities which were established under the Ptolemies. Most of these were on the Mediterranean seacoast or on the east side of Jordan. With the Great Assembly removed from the scene and this new culture substituted for the Law of God, the Jews began to absorb many elements of Hellenism. The Jews had no one to guide them in understanding the Law except a few isolated teachers here and there who lacked the official authority of the Great Assembly.

After a few years of this influence, the people literally came to a state of religious confusion. Some endeavoured to keep a form of the Scriptural teachings, but with Hellenism everywhere, it became almost impossible to adhere to the true form of the law of Moses. Almost everything the Greeks brought to the Jews was antagonistic to the laws of God, and, without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many of them began to tolerate these innovations and even, as time progressed, to take up many of the Greek ideas and customs themselves.

There Can Only Be One True God!

There are thousands of religions in this world, with the eight major ones comprising Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, and Taoism. Besides these, there are hundreds of sects, cults, beliefs, practices and man-devised idols of bizarre appearance.

For many people, religion is a system involving one supreme God. Other religions have a number of different gods, while some have no specific deity to be worshiped. There are also those who practice their religious beliefs in their own personal way, largely independent of organized religion.

Regardless of participation in a religion, only one God IS God. Therefore 99.9% of all worship is wrong because they abound with homespun ideas of God. Men prostrate themselves before carved stones, wood or even photographs – anything to which mankind has affixed the label “God.” None understand that their practice falls far short of the God of the Bible!

Now, you won’t hear many of them call their practice pagan, but neither did ancient Israel when they worshipped a molten calf at the base of Mt. Sinai (Exod. 32:1). They called it a feast to God (verse 5), even though this golden calf was a mere idol! How did the real God feel about this? Read it yourself:

“Thus they changed my glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass” (Ps. 106:20).

So that biblical occasion was prophetic of what mankind has done ever since. Modern religion is not much different from the ancient Israelites. There are thousands of gods called the true “God, with myriads of pagan idols, worships and practices running contrary to the Bible. Can all of them be right, or is it as Jesus Christ said: “ I will build My (singular) Church…(Math. 16:19). He does not speak of multiple churches or practices. Someone (or most) have to be wrong. Jesus Christ cannot be wrong!

Which God?

So here’s an analogy. If we have two objects (one true and one false), and call both by the same name, does it make both objects identical? Of course it doesn’t! In the same way, if people worship another god, he is still a false god, no matter if the name of the true God is affixed to him.

The Bible shows that we have to look behind the label “God” to see if the religion we practice is of the true God. He has to be defined, just as Moses had to define the true God from Isis, Osiris or Ra to the Israelites, all which all had the label of “God” (Ex. 3:13). This cuts through the bewildering array of denominational ideas of “God.” You need to be sure you have the right God — your Creator!

Creating Gods

The Bible describes the process of man creating his own gods.

“To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship” (Isa. 46:5-6).

Now Christians may argue with this, but don’t they believe that their Saviour has long flowing hair and soft features? Don’t they know that the Bible states that it is a shame for a man (their Saviour) to have long hair? (I Cor. 11:14).

Where do they get their ideas associated with the term “God”? It isn’t from the Bible! Rather, it was formed from childhood Bible stories, from what parents and friends said, from what was read. People don’t question what they have learned; what they have absorbed from their environment, observed about them at home from parents or heard spoken from the pulpit. Religious prejudices, loyalties and various teachings grow up with them, according to what other people in their lives have come to believe. Religion is also identified with social customs and taboos, so what is religion to one is nonsense to another.

Though a person may adopt a totally different set of convictions later in life, such changes are often based principally on the emotional knowledge that they contrast to former ideas. Few approach scripture with the attitude of correcting their misconceptions. Rather, they simply “choose new gods” (Judges 5:8). Yet, though people change, God says “I change not” (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8).

A different god for different circumstances

Each nation creates its own gods and they always resemble their creators in emotional makeup, power structure, image and patriotic leanings. The earth has a long history of gods who were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant — partial to the people who created them by assisting in robbing and destroying others. Their concept of God can be nothing but their own personal human ideas — unless they know where to go to find the real answer.

Others – free thinkers – have looked at history and spotted this flaw, ultimately concluding that there is no God. But this is an erroneous assumption based on faulty research. They did not look past the false gods that man created, and rejected their merciful, living Creator!

Is God Like Man?

If you really want to know if your “God” is God, then study the Bible, which describes His personal characteristics. God possesses feet (Gen. 3:8), hands (Ex. 31:18), ears (Isa. 59:1), and has a mouth (Isa. 58:14). Various other scriptures show God has feelings, emotions, reason and will. Man is created in the bodily shape and form of the real God (Genesis 1:26-27), with a creative mind like God’s for the vital purpose of being born into the family of God (I John 3:2; Ps. 17:15). Most of this world does not understand this plan of salvation and actually rejects it. But man is wrong in ascribing his wrong motivations to God:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

Though man resembles God in physical form, he has much to learn about the characteristics of God’s mind, which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22, 23). The Bible describes the characteristics of the natural human mind as adultery, fornication, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, murders, drunkenness, and similar things (Gal. 5:19-21).

This is important to understand as man has used his false religions to justify covering the earth with blood. Torture, killing, rape and other atrocities were perpetrated for service to this “god.” Great churches were built for worship false images, while dungeons housed prisoners in filth. Clouds were said to be filled with angels, while the earth was stocked with slaves. These acts of evil were done in the name of false gods; as were mistakes in astronomy, in geography, in philosophy, in morality. In other words, their gods were as wise or dumb as their creators, and had the same doctrines (a cruel hell fire or eternal torment) and values (many times murderous) as their creators.

Even today, many people continue to deny their Creator as an infinite fiend because of false assumptions. These belie the truth of God which states, “Love your neighbour” (Lev. 19:18). In fact, any man that hates his brother cannot love God, (I John 4:20). How then can most major religions today, which have a long and bloody history, claim to be guided by God? They are deceived by imputing their own evil nature onto their Creator.

The True Christian Approach

The teaching of the Bible states that a man must acquire God’s divine nature (II Pet. 1:4) and mind (Phil. 2:5) — and give up his own nature. Christ is the Captain and example of our salvation (Heb. 2:10, I Pet. 2:21), and He was  stamped with the very character of God, and with the mind of God (II Cor. 4:4; Phil. 2:5-7; Heb. 1:3). Any opinion of the nature or character of God that conflicts with this example is of our own creation! How unlike what we have just read.

God’s mind comes by the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which requires repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). It also requires us to discard our own thoughts and ideas of what God loves or hates, what He will do or won’t do. Everything else is invalid unless backed by God’s Word, the Bible! Otherwise, we are as guilty of creating God in our image as any pagan idol maker. Do we perceive the glory of the true God:

“The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6).

Why settle for an inferior product? If you want to know if your “God” is the true God, then search the scriptures and find the truth.

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