The Apple Of God's Eye

April 14, 2011

God’s Holy Days In The New Testament

freebiblestudyguides.org

What do you mean, “New Testament Holy Days”? Weren’t the “Holy Days” Old Testament, Jewish observances, done away with at the cross?

It is logical to begin at the beginning, so we must check to see what days Christ observed. There was no record that He ever observed any of the well-known holidays observed by this pagan world.

What did He observe, then? When Jesus was 12 years old His parents took Him to Jerusalem to observe the Passover:

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast” (Luke 2:41-42).

Notice here that His parents traveled to this Feast annually; therefore, Jesus had been to this Feast several times before. He continued this practice with His parents as He was subject to His parents (verse 51).

And not only did they stay for the Passover day alone, but “fulfilled the days” (verse 43) — the seven Days of Unleavened Bread associated with the Passover (see Leviticus 23:4-6).

Why did His parents do this? Because they were devout Jews who “performed all things according to the law of the Lord [God’s law]” (Luke 2:39). Most Jews of that time were really not devout in their religious worship, but the parents God the Father chose to rear His own Son were.

About 18 years later, when Jesus was about 30 years old, we find that He was still continuing His parents’ practice as prescribed in the law of the Lord.

Notice John 2:13: “And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” Some people wonder why this is called the “Jews’ passover” when it is one of the feasts of God (Lev. 23:2). Two possible reasons exist: 1) Only Jews observed these days (gentiles did not), and 2) the Jews had made some changes regarding Feast observance since it was given to Israel in the time of Moses. (more…)

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March 19, 2011

How Sure Are God’s Promises?

like-arrows.blogspot.com

How can we be sure that God’s promises are true? Well first, we have to believe in the Word of God, that is is complete truth and understanding for us. The Bible says:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth – John 17:17

Many people scoff at such a statement without realizing that what comes of man, through the carnal senses, is always a mixture of truth and error. That which proceeds from God however is free of error, because  God is perfect (Matt. 5:48) and CANNOT lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore if He says something to us through His word of truth, it can be taken at full face value as His promises stand sure – Pet. 3:9.

Of course, this hinges on faith as well. Those lacking faith fail to wrap their mind around the concept of complete and utter trust in a supernatural being. But it is something the true Christian must do to please God. Without faith it is impossible to please God – Heb. 11:6.

So what is the biblical definition of this complete trust in God (faith)? Hebrews 11:1 states it this way”

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

“There is no verse in the Bible more important than this, for it states what is the nature of all true faith, and is the only definition of it which is attempted in the Scriptures. Eternal life (a promise from God) depends on the existence and exercise of faith, and hence, the importance of an accurate understanding of its nature.

The word rendered “evidence” – ἔλεγχος  elengchos – occurs in the New Testament only in this place and in 2Tim. 3:16, where it is rendered “reproof.” It means properly proof, or means of proving, to wit, evidence; then proof which convinces another of error or guilt. It is the evidence not yet seen, but which will surely come to pass. (more…)

March 15, 2011

What Does “An Eye For An Eye” Really Mean?

Filed under: Law Of God — melchia @ 6:43 am
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wjameskellymdiv.blogspot.com

Many have read the command in Exodus 21:24-25 with shocked amazement at the assumed cruelty of the God of the Old Testament. They suppose anyone causing a person accidentally to lose sight of an eye would immediately be seized, held down, and have his eye gouged out!

But is this true? Let’s understand the real meaning of these instructions.

The context in which we find this command of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is explaining the principle of just recompense for any wrong done. The very next verse shows that if a person causes his slave to lose his eye or tooth, the slave must be freed as a PAYMENT for the injury — workmen’s compensation. Verses 18 and 19 of the same chapter discuss the matter of one person injuring another. What is the punishment? “… he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” It was a matter of payment or recompense — not revenge by inflicting the same injury.

Then verse 22 shows that a person should be punished if he causes a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage. What is the punishment in this case? Again it is “. . . and he shall pay as the judges determine.” The whole context of the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” command is concerned with the matter of just recompense or payment for the injury caused.

The purpose of Christ’s teachings in the “Sermon on the Mount” was to magnify the Old Testament law, not annul it (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17-19). Since the intent of the law was love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40), Christ was better showing us how to love our fellowman.

In Matthew 5:38-42 Christ shows that a true Christian should be willing to suffer wrong done to him if necessary (I Peter 2:19-20). For instance, Christ paid a tax which really did not apply to Him (Matthew 17:24-27). Paul gave us the instructions that followers of God should be in complete submission to government authority even though it was unjust at times (Romans 13:1-7).

The instructions given to Moses about “an eye for an eye” were not some cruel yoke of bondage. They were laws set up to regulate a society in a fair and just manner. Christ was not doing away with the law as some have supposed — He was showing what a Christian’s attitude should be when unjustly wronged.

March 2, 2011

The Death Penalty Versus Euthanasia: One Is Condoned, The Other Condemned

stephenhicks.org

Euthanasia is a hot topic today, and realistically, it is a by-product of 20th century medical success. People who would have died in past times are now kept alive by advanced medical treatments.

Alongside the decision to prolong life, we have come up with  slogans like “the right to die,” “choosing not to suffer,” “death with dignity,” and “doctor-assisted suicide.” These are nothing less than softened expressions which take our mind off what we are really accomplishing! The time-honoured Hippocratic oath upon which the healing medical profession was founded and which in part reads  “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect,” is slowly being discarded in favour of killing people.

What I find highly hypocritical is that the same people who advocate euthanasia will bend over backwards to keep convicted killers alive. Now I know the two issues are separate in people’s minds, as they’ll say one prevents suffering and the other prevents injustice. However, let’s look at the commonality between the two – death at the hand of fellow man.

The Death Penalty Commanded

God, through the Old Testament of the Bible speaks with perfect plainness on the issue of capital punishment: “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exod. 21:12).

Genesis 9:6 and Leviticus 24:17 also give full authority to those sitting in judgment to execute a murderer. Deuteronomy 19:11-13 commands unsparing punishment for such a killer: “…deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.”

The subject has now been taken up in force by the overwhelmingly anti-death-penalty news media. In the growing national debate, death-penalty advocates are being made to look heartless and uncompassionate.

Let’s ask this fundamental question: Is the God of the Old Testament heartless and uncompassionate? The Bible says that God is a God of love (I John 4:8). So how could a loving God actually command putting someone to death?

Actually, when the death penalty is understood from God’s vantage point, it is one of the greatest acts of love there can be toward society—and the condemned criminal. (more…)

February 22, 2011

Historical Proof: Jesus Christ Really Lived!

bijuachan.webs.com

Is there evidence, apart from the Bible, that Jesus really lived? Actually, the accounts in the Bible, which are God’s inspired revelation to humanity, are proof enough. But extrabiblical sources also amply attest that Jesus lived, that He was born of a young virgin, preached the Gospel, performed miracles, and was condemned to execution.

Justin Martyr, a second-century theologian, wrote: “Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, 35 stadia from Jerusalem, in which Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registries of the taxing under Cyrenius your first procurator in Judea” (“First Apology,” Chapter 34).

Justin Martyr was referring to public records that existed in his day to demonstrate that Jesus was born in Judea. Of course, one would expect that a religionist such as Justin Martyr would naturally support Jesus’ authenticity as a historical person. But what about a historian who despised Christians?

Cornelius Tacitus, Roman historian, senator, consul, and governor of the province of Asia, wrote this concerning Jesus and His followers: “Nero … punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. But in spite of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome” (“The Annals of Imperial Rome,” XV, 44).

The fourth-century Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (named this because he turned from Christianity after being brought up in it) wrote a major work against Christianity in which he said this: “Jesus, whom you celebrate, was one of Caesar’s subjects. If you dispute it, I will prove it by and by; but it may be as well done now. For yourselves allow, that he was enrolled with his father and mother in the time of Cyrenius …. But Jesus having persuaded a few among you, and those the worst of men, has now been celebrated about 300 years; having done nothing in his lifetime worthy of remembrance; unless anyone thinks it a mighty matter to heal lame and blind people, and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany”(“Cyril Contra Julian,” VI, pages 213, 191).

These are reports from pagan Romans who despised Christianity. They had access to government records, and, if they could have disproved Jesus’ authenticity, they would have done so. But, they could not. Their writings are additional proof of Christ’s life.

What about the Jews? If Jesus did not exist, the Jews would have had no reason to reject Him! The Jewish historian Josephus admitted that Jesus, His disciples, and John the Baptist lived. He called John the Baptist “the good man” (“Antiquities of the Jews,” XVIII, 5, 2). Scholars recognize as genuine his account of the death of James, “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ” (Ibid., XX, 9, 1).

According to “The Jewish Encyclopedia” (1907 edition) and other sources, Jesus is also mentioned in the “Talmud,” the collection of Jewish tradition consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The sections of the “Talmud” which are said to be references to Jesus are Shabbath 104b and 116b; Sanhedrin 43a, 67a, and 107b; and Sotah 47a. You may also wish to read the article “Jesus of Nazareth” in “The Jewish Encyclopedia” (1907 edition), the article “Jesus” in the “Encyclopedia Judaica,” the articles “Jesus Christ” and “Talmud and Midrash,” which shows how the “Talmud” (Mishna) is organized, in “The New Encyclopaedia Britannica” (1981 edition), and the book titled “Jesus Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and the Liturgy of the Synagogue,” by Gustaf Dalman (1973).

These facts, all from sources outside the Bible, clearly substantiate the existence of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a myth. The Bible record is true.

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…)

January 12, 2010

Is The Day Of Death Better Than The Day Of One's Birth?

Filed under: Death — melchia @ 8:00 am
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Ecclesiastes 7:1 reads, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” What exactly does this mean?

Notice the strong parallel in this verse: The day of one’s birth is compared with precious ointment. There is certainly nothing wrong with precious ointment; Jesus even commended its proper use (Matthew 26:6-13). The point is that the day of one’s death is of far greater importance to God, assuming that our lives have been used properly.

Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul realized that he had “fought the good fight” and “kept the faith.” Therefore he had a crown of righteousness awaiting him (II Timothy 4:6-8).

If we as Christians run the Christian race successfully, as Paul did, we, too, will be able to say at the end of our lives that we have obtained an incorruptible crown (I Corinthians 9:24-27). The day of our death, then, will certainly be a greater joy to God than the day of our birth.

June 21, 2009

The Cross: A Symbol Of Faith Or Rank Paganism?

chr4.tripod.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.americanpresbyterianchurch.org/Rites%20..

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2009

The Apostle Paul: Commandment Breaker Or Keeper?

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

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

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

How to Begin

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

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

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

What Paul Clearly Taught

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul and the Fourth Commandment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Will YOU Do?

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tomorrow’s World, January 1972

Why Was Barnabas Called The Son Of Encouragement?

www.oneyearbibleblog.com

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

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

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

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

Barnabas’s unique qualities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reaching the gentiles

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

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

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

Enter Saul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul emerges as leader

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

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

What if Barnabas had dwelt on all these things?

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

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

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

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

Are you like Barnabas?

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

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

Source: The Good News, 1986

May 12, 2009

Once Saved, Always Saved: Are You Sure About That?

Today’s popular evangelical maxim “once saved, always saved” has transformed into a virtual “cheap and easy” salvation for millions. The gospel call to repent and believe – to diligently make a personal effort to persevere in the faith – has been overshadowed by the new doctrine that Christians can live just like anyone else in the world.  Gone are warnings to watch and pray, endure to the end, and to make your calling and election sure.

In their place are cool Christian clubs called churchianity, public shows of prayer, Christian rock bands, and young disciples in jeans and t-shirts spouting tender assurances of eternal salvation as a gift which God cannot take back. Never mind the ten commandments – everybody makes mistakes, so don’t don’t sweat it, we’re all under grace, right?

Is this the message of the Bible though? Is it really true that once a person has truly believed and put their faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are eternally saved? In other words, there is absolutely nothing that this person, can do which could nullify or forfeit that salvation. It doesn’t matter if that person kicks a dog, punches an elderly lady or robs a bank. No matter what his spiritual outlook – NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING will prevent him from a loss of salvation. Almighty God supposedly takes over his life to hold him, keep him, and sanctify him regardless of what point of the law has been broken.

What does “saved” mean?

A favourite OSAS phrase comes from the Book of Ephesians 2:8-9, to wit:

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

But what does it really mean to be “saved?” Not one single individual in the history of this world (besides Jesus Christ), has ever been saved—YET. Not Noah, Abraham, David, Peter, James, John or Paul. Not Ruth or Esther or Mary. These people are dead and in their graves – a pile of dust.

II Corinthians 2:15 speaks of those that “are being saved” — present tense. The verb, here, as inspired originally in the Greek language, is a present participle and should be translated, as in the RSV, “are being saved,” and not “are saved,” as in the King James version. The Moffatt, and other translations render this as “are being saved.”

To make it plain, notice the whole sense of the passage: “For we are unto God a sweet savour (fragrance) of Christ, in them that are saved (being saved), and in them that perish.” In other words, Christians are like sweet perfume or fragrance to certain others. If to those that are (already — past tense) saved, then also to those who are, already (past tense) perished. Now those already perished are not smelling anything. This is speaking of LIVING people. If those that “perish” are merely ON THE WAY toward perishing — but not yet perished — then, also those “saved” are BEING saved — on the way to the final salvation.

Then many, many scriptures speak of the salvation to come — of those who “shall be” (future) saved. Most passages referring to the TIME of salvation refer to it as taking place at Christ’s coming — as Revelation 12:10 and elsewhere.

In spiritual salvation, the blood of Christ — the death of Christ — paid the penalty we have incurred in our stead. And it saves us from this destruction (which is the second death) — that is, prevents us from having to pay it — if and when we repent, and accept Jesus as personal Saviour in faith believing (read Romans 5:8-10).

But, God’s gift of eternal life comes to us through Christ’s life (verse 10), through His resurrection and life — not by His death. His death paid our penalty of past sins in our stead. These sins had cut us off from contact with God. When Jesus’ sacrifice is accepted by repentance and faith, we are no longer cut off from God, but reconciled to Him — the connection or contact established, so that, through His Son’s life, He now can give us His Holy Spirit, and, at Christ’s coming and time of resurrection, eternal life. This, finally, preserves our life for eternity.

That is why God’s Word says, “he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13 and elsewhere).  One is already saved from the death penalty — eternal punishment — for sins that are past, upon repentance and faith in Christ — as long as he does not sin again! And he will! But, if and when he slips and sins again, then, upon repentance, he is again forgiven. Yes, again, and again and again! That is, as long as his attitude of heart is submissive to God, he has faith in Christ, and God’s Spirit continues to dwell in him.

So we have:

  1. “Justification,” which is forgiveness of sins that are past (Romans 3:24-25) — because Jesus paid our penalty, thus justifying — or vindicating — us.
  2. “Sanctification” (Greek, “hagiasmos”), meaning separation, a setting apart for holy use or purpose. This is a continual process — once so set apart — and leads to ultimate salvation — the change from mortal to immortal — from material composition to spiritual — from human to divine. Thus: “God hath … chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit …” (II Thes. 2:13), and “unto obedience …” (I Peter 1:2).
  3. Salvation by resurrection — eternal life.

The Crux of the Truth

OSAS says once we receive “God’s Spirit, we will be led to obey and please God. Is that really how it works? In Rom. 8:14, Paul comes to the crux of the whole truth, so far as the Christian life is concerned.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

God’s Spirit dwelling in the Christian is God’s own divine love, which can fulfill God’s Law. Thus what God has given him by grace – His righteousness within the Christian – may actually make him righteous! But notice, I said God’s Spirit in you can, or may put His righteousness within you!

Here is the all important point — God’s Spirit in the Christian will not force him to live righteously. He remains a free moral agent. He only has the spiritual equipment to live God’s way – his mind is open to spiritual understanding — that is, to live by the whole teachings of the Bible.

Notice Acts 5:32: “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy [Spirit], whom God hath given to them that obey him.” God says He doesn’t even give us his Spirit unless we obey!

A maturing process

Where the Bible does talk of Christians being “perfect,” it merely means “those matured in Christian experience and knowledge (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary). We are to be growing every day of our spiritual lives. And with God’s help we can obey His commandments.

God says: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). This verse should be translated, “Become ye therefore perfect….” It’s a process. Christ referred to this way of life as going through a narrow gate. “Because strait [difficult] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14).  None of us have received salvation yet. Salvation is something we don’t have now.

In Matthew 25, Christ spoke the parable of the talents. He gave one of the individuals five talents, one he gave two, and the other only one. The individual who received one talent ended up burying it. Notice Christ’s answer to that in verse 26: “His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed.”

This wicked person not only failed to grow, but he lost what God gave him! “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30). It’s not a matter of how much you get, it’s what you do with it.  God gives true Christians a wealth of spiritual knowledge. And to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).

Sin leads to loss of salvation

So how can one lose salvation? The OSAS crowd claims that if a person is not continuing or persevering in their faith, and growing in holiness, they could not have been saved to begin with. Thus, only those who have rightly been saved, are those who “are born again.”

But obviously all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), even those of the OSAS crowd. Sin is defined as the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). We are commanded to keep this perfect law, otherwise we cannot even know God. Neglect merely makes us out to be liars (I John 2:3-4).

Convoluted reasoning which says “law keeping” is a doctrine of works needs to be checked according to truths and provable facts in the Bible. True, Christ came so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. But belief is not the only condition to salvation. James 2:19 says “the devils also believe and tremble.” The mere belief of the devils (fallen angels) does not save them. Neither is repentance a do-it-once thing and then we just sort of cruise through God’s calling any way we like.

This does not mean the fight against sin is a perpetual game of Russian Roulette where we never know if we’re saved or not. The effort (through repentance) is guided by the scriptural “yardstick” of God’s law, which tells us how many or what kind of sins void our salvation. Yes, you read that right. Every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward (Heb. 2:2), just like it did with the angels. So the Christian must decide, and must exert will, to follow that way.

Jesus Christ said to follow in His footsteps and he kept God’s law perfectly. The Bible is also replete, from beginning to end, with proof of this, as well as those denouncing people who do NOT keep the law.

  • Exodus 32:33 (Old Testament) says: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’”.
  • Rev. 3:5,6 (New Testament) says: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels…. Clearly this means that God can take the eternal life, which they now think they have.

What this means is not just “….the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13). They  must actively decide whether to walk down that road — to be led by the Spirit of God — or to be led by the pulls of human nature. There is no “floating” Christian doctrine.

So all of this means “Once Saved, Always Saved” IS WRONG. God’s love of giving us eternal life is CONDITIONAL upon keeping His law. Getting saved is not a one time deal and it’s over with. It’s a lifelong project – sorry Pentecostals, you’re wrong.

If we think we stand, we may fall (I Cor. 10:12). An important aspect of conquering is preserving to the end – not as though we had already attained it or were made perfect (Phil. 3:12). We are to work out our own salvation (Phil. 2:12), and not sin deliberately for fear of the prospect of a fiery judgment (Heb. 10:26-29).

May 4, 2009

What Is The Enemy Of Faith?

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Did you know that you cannot please God without faith? So therefore faith, though not the most important  fruit of the Spirit (I Cor. 13:13), is called one of the weightier matters of the law (of God – Matt. 23:23). It is the power of God (I Cor. 2:5), given by God (Luke 17:5), which is all important to possess in order to have a relationship with our Creator.

Without faith we cannot be healed by God. The blind men of Matthew 9 were healed according to their belief (Matt. 9:29). The same applies to the woman who had a blood issue and was healed by merely touching the cloak of Christ (Matt. 9:20-22).

Faith of the smallest amount – that of the mustard-seed type – is said by Christ to be enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20)

“….Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do what is done to the fig tree (which withered at His word), but even if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, it shall be done.”

 The mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds (that they were used to), representing the feeblest faith. Yet the mustard-seed produced the largest of all herbs, showing an increasing and expanding faith, growing and strengthening from small beginnings, to perform the most difficult undertaking. There is a principle of vitality in the grain of seed stretching forward to great results, which illustrates the nature of faith (Albert Barnes” Notes On The Bible).

Was Christ merely being illustrative in these examples? Or was he saying that if we properly exercise the power of God, then nothing shall be impossible for us? The latter is the most probable scenario because these are Christ’s exact words in verse 20.

What exactly is faith?

Faith is one of the powerful fruits of the Spirit of God (Gal.5:22). In Heb. 11:1, it also gives us a detailed description of this power, calling it “the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.” So Christians have evidence, but they can’t show anyone. That very description of faith leads to much scoffing today by those who do not possess it, but it can be described in no other way.

Creation itself must be taken on faith (verse 3). We can see the results, but the process used to create it was something unseen (the power of the spirit of God). The Spirit world is actually more real than the physical world about us. What we see and feel is not the true evidence, though this is what science is based upon. Yet having the thing (the physical reality), and seeing it, is not faith. Faith precedes possession, because faith the assurance we will possess it. That is why we are to walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7). And that is exactly what critics find impossible to do, and therefore scoff at.

Looking further into Heb. 11, we see various acts of faith by people who lived and died in faith for what they believed. In verse 7, Noah was warned of God of things not yet seen. He could not see or feel what was said, yet still moved with fear. This was not a tiny display of faith, because he did this for  100 years.

Abraham also offered his only son by faith (verse 17). Again, this was not a minor action, but a real commitment. He had absolutely no physical proof that would justify sacrificing the one in whom God would make all the promises come to pass. He could not act on the five senses.

All the saints featured in Hebrews 11 died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them spiritually.

What is the biggest enemy of faith?

Here’s a question! What is the fastest way to destroy faith? I’ll describe it through an example. In Matt. 14:28, the disciples had some trouble believing it was Christ walking on the water. Peter doubted and asked Jesus to bid him come and walk on the water also.

This he did, but when he SAW (and felt) the wind pick, he became afraid. What happened to destroy his faith? It was the physical sensation of the wind. He began to  sink, now, once again bound by physical laws. Christ described this as a faith problem – “why did you doubt?” (verse 31).

So the enemy off faith is a focus on the material, which is seen and appears to the five physical senses. If we’re not sure we have enough faith, then we are called upon to test it, to make certain we stand firm (II Cor. 13:5).

The same faith through which Christ did all things seems to be lacking today. This is not because God denies it, but because even true Christians are closer to a materialistic world than to God. In our affluent societies, we don’t even need to ask God for most things, because when we desire something, we can buy it instantly – on credit. Yet where is God in all this? Do we ask for guidance, direction and help in our decisions? Are not our blessings from God? Should not our acknowledgments be to God? And even when we ask, do we ask amiss, because they are materially focused? (verse 3).

Materialism can get the best of any of us. We simply can’t serve God and material things at the same time (Matt. 6:24). In the parable of the rich man, (Matt. 10:17-23), even though the man had served God all his life, he could not let go of his riches. In other words, his priority was not on the work of God, but on what he owned. He relied on this and could not let it go. No wonder it is so hard for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom (verses 23-25).

A great example of avoiding this fault is studying Elijah’s prayer of I Kings 18:37, which was only about 20 seconds in length, yet the answer came crashing down instantly. It is obvious that Elijah spend many hours in prayer, study and fasting to get closer to God. He knew absolutely (by faith) that his short prayer would be answered when it mattered most.

Those who keeping consistent contact with God, asking Him for guidance in all things are told that they need not give thought to any want they should have, for God will provide for them (Matt.6:25). The power verse in this chapter is verse 33, which tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our preoccupation must be with the things of God (Col. 3:1). In other words, keep the mind focused on spiritual principles and God in our life to have faith given in a powerful way. The material things are not a sin and can be had, if we seek God first.

Again, without faith this would become an extremely difficult exercise to comprehend, much less practice. If we do not walk in the Spirit of God, we will be unable to resist the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

In Matt. 6:30, Jesus ties faith into overanxious worry about physical needs. He tells us He can do all things for us, if we just let him. But conversely, being overly tied to materialism leads to anxiety and a subsequent lack of faith. Material things are at odds with the spiritual things. Both are contrary to each other. The more we indulge in the flesh, the more we lose of the spirit (Gal. 5:17) The more we exercise the spirit, the more it pushes out the fleshly and we bear fruit – a stronger belief in the evidence we can’t see.

You can’t love Christ without faith

Think about this: you can’t even love Jesus Christ without faith! You’ve never seen Him, yet you are asked to believe what He says – unconditionally. There is absolutely no evidence to rejoice!

Here’s where two worlds (the physical and spiritual) diverge. The scoffer will take this opportunity to lash out at the ignorance of the Christian who believes. He has absolutely no idea what is being spoken of here; he cannot comprehend spiritual principles and must rely on  the five senses for his “reality.” God does not work with that person – He cannot. A human being must respond to God (the Master Potter) to be able to mould that individual. Clay that is unworkable is no good to the potter and must be discarded.

God DOES not give the Holy Spirit without repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). These are absolute conditions. Godly repentance means to stop sinning, to turn and go the other way —  to change your way of life! It has to come from the heart.  

So what is it we repent of? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law,” (I John 3:4).  And sin is breaking God’slaw, not human customs. No one is excluded. No man, woman or child has ever lived who hasn’t disobeyed and broken God’s law (Rom. 3:10, 23). Therefore, every person on earth needs to repent deeply and bitterly with all their heart and turn to God for forgiveness. To obey Him and keep His commandments — all His commandments — with zeal. For “He that saith, I know him {I am a Christian}, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).  

Do you fully comprehend what is being said? As a Christian, you should be doing this, as it comes from your own Bible. All those denominations/religions which say the law of God is done away with DO NOT have the Spirit of God guiding them, and they DO NOT have the faith of God, as outlined previously. So says your Bible!

Obedience to God also means keeping His Holy Days, the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, refraining from idol worship, pagan deities or customs (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day), and so on. Most religions fail to keep the standard God requires to have Him draw close in their lives. 

The Bible says the righteous shall live by faith (Rom.1:17). This is no arbitrary saying because whatever is not of faith is of sin (Rom. 14:23). Do those things Christ asks of you and God will intervene in your life. Then, when Christ returns, He will be looking for His faith in your life (Luke 18:8). Are you ready?

April 25, 2009

Redefining "Extreme"

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bumperstickers.cafepress.com/

Writing in the Washington Times today, Oliver North observes how, according to the U.S. government, you are more than likely a “right-wing extremist”:

According to the U.S. government, I am an extremist. I am a Christian—and meet regularly with other Christians to study God’s Word. My faith convinces me the prophecies in the Holy Bible are true.

I believe in the sanctity of human life, oppose abortion and want to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. I am a veteran with skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.

I own several firearms, frequently shoot them, buy ammunition and consider efforts to infringe on my Second Amendment rights to be wrong and unconstitutional.

I fervently support the sovereignty of the United States, and I am deeply concerned about our economy, increasingly higher taxes, illegal immigration, soaring unemployment and actions by our government that will bury my children beneath a mountain of debt.

Issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, the nine-page report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” is loaded with warnings about how everyday Americans could soon be considered enemies of the state.

“It is one of the most alarming documents produced by our government that I have ever read,” notes North, and one that you and I are not supposed to know about. Apparently, at the bottom of the cover page of the report is a warning that it is “not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know.”

North concludes with a grim and foreboding scenario:

According to this homeland security assessment, the most dangerous threat we face here at home isn’t from radical imams preaching violence in U.S. mosques and madrassas; Islamists recruiting in our prisons; Somali terrorists enticing young immigrants to become suicide bombers; or Hamas, Hezbollah or al Qaeda operatives plotting mass murder. No, according to the department, the real threat is what our government labels “right-wing extremist ideology.

April 16, 2009

President Obama Denies His Country’s Foundation

21“We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation,” President Obama said while in Turkey last week. “We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” These comments were similar to those in his inaugural address, when Obama referred to the United States—the largest Judeo-Christian nation on Earth—as “a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus.”

But the fact that the U.S. president chose to make this point while in a Muslim nation was especially significant.

“I don’t know what ‘we’ consider ‘ourselves,’” David Limbaugh writes on Newsmax.com, “but I do think we ought to examine that statement and why Obama felt compelled to make it a part of his world apology tour. Can you imagine the Saudi king coming to America and bragging that his nation is not Muslim? I assure you that he’s not ashamed of the Islamic character of his nation, even though his nation is demonstrably less tolerant of other religions.”

Limbaugh continues:

So is (or was) America a Christian nation? … [I]f we are talking about the ideals that led to the very colonization of this land, our declaration of independence from Britain, and the formulation of our Constitution, then the answer is certainly “yes.”

In the words of Prof. John Eidsmoe, author of Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers, “If by the term Christian nation one means a nation that was founded on biblical values that were brought to the nation by mostly professing Christians, then in that sense the United States may truly be called a Christian nation.”

Why does this matter? Simply because our dominant secular culture delights in demonizing Christianity, distorting its character, conflating it with less tolerant faiths, and associating it with all our societal woes. History revisionists have convinced many that we mainly owe our liberties to secular humanist ideals and those borrowed from the Greeks, Romans and the French Enlightenment.

To the contrary, our freedom tradition can be traced to our predominantly Judeo-Christian roots. …

Our constitutional framework of government can be understood only in the context of the framers’ predominantly Christian worldview. Although they believed in man’s dignity, they also believed in his depravity and that it would be possible to establish a scheme of individual liberties only if they imposed limitations on government.

Much of our Bill of Rights is biblically based, as well, and the Ten Commandments and further laws set out in the book of Exodus form the basis of our Western law. Indeed, English legal giants Sir William Blackstone and Sir Edward Coke both believed the common law was based on Scripture. …

Our ruling class today is dominated by those who no longer believe that our rights are God-given or that our liberties depend on effective limitations on the state. They are so divorced from true history and American statecraft that they fail to see the irony in their dissociation with and apologies for our Judeo-Christian heritage, which is responsible for making this the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth for people of all races, ethnicities and religions.

Source: Trumpet.com

April 4, 2009

Does God Forbid Hypnotism?

Hypnotism is the inducement of a sleeplike state during which an individual remains responsive to outside suggestion. In other words, a person under hypnosis temporarily loses full control over his thought processes and his actions. 

Christians should never to be involved in any such practices! The Bible says, “Gird up the loins of your mind” (I Pet. 1:13). We are to control our EVERY THOUGHT so that it is in obedience to 

Jesus Christ (see II Corinthians 10:5). This would be impossible to do in a trancelike condition during which one’s mind can be manipulated by outside suggestion. 

Rather than purposely allowing our minds to become blank and giving control to others, we are told to fill our minds with those things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, and of good report (see Philippians 4:8). God gives His people the spirit of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7).

April 2, 2009

Is There A Biblical Prohibition Against The Symbol Of The Heart?

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Graphicshunt.com

Is any biblical prohibition against using the symbol of the heart, since it is often associated with the pagan observance of Valentine’s Day?

 We should remember that it is God who made the heart. Reference is made to it many times in the Bible. God uses this organ as a SYMBOL of our attitude and thoughts, for example. 

The pagans merely adopted a stylized drawing of a heart as a symbol in their worship, as for Valentine’s Day. In fact, a number of other objects in God’s creation have been treated in a similar manner. But, the misuse of an object by this or that group, even if the people are atheistic, should not prohibit a Christian from putting it to a proper use. Based on this principle, it is not wrong to use the heart shape in jewelry, pillows, or other items. 

There is one other factor to consider — conscience. If a person feels that the heart symbol is “tainted,” so to speak, because of its connection with the pagan Valentine’s Day, then it would be wise to avoid its use. The Bible tells us, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).

April 1, 2009

Is The Bible True?

blog.catholic-convert.com/?m=20080416   

blog.catholic-convert.com/?m=20080416

DID the children of Israel REALLY cross the Red Sea? We are told in the Bible that Israel fled Egypt during the Days of Unleavened Bread. That they were driven out because the Egyptians had been SUPERNATURALLY PUNISHED by God. But at the last minute, Pharaoh changed his mind! It took yet another miracle to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt, says the Bible — the “miracle of the Red Sea.” DID THIS MIRACLE REALLY HAPPEN? 

Do Miracles Happen Today? 

It is time we asked ourselves if it takes a miracle TODAY for Christians to separate from this world, to come out of this world’s society, and to live as God has ordained? Those who say that the miracle of the Red Sea did not happen are, the same people who today say we do not have to rely on any supernatural power to overcome this world. 

The supreme lesson we must learn from the Days of Unleavened Bread is that, after Christ has PASSED OVER our mistakes and overlooks our past, we have to go through a period of separating from this world — and in this process we cannot extricate ourselves from this world WITHOUT A DIVINE MIRACLE. This miracle is something that God, not man, has to perform — just as God performed, according to the Scripture, THE MIRACLE OF THE RED SEA! God told the children of Israel, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Now let’s look through the story of what really took place during the seven days of Unleavened Bread — from the time the children of Israel left the land where they observed the Passover to the time they crossed the Red Sea. 

Modern critics have all kinds of theories as to the directions the children of Israel took when they journeyed in Egypt from the city of Rameses, where they met at the night of the Festival, to the Red Sea. One sometimes wonders where the children of Israel would have been taken had all the modern critics instead of Moses led them from Pharaoh! 

What portion of the land of Egypt did Israel journey through upon leaving? What is the route of the Exodus? Did the crossing of the Red Sea really occur? 

The Background of the Story 

Let’s turn, for the background of the story, to Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” 

Is this “river of Egypt” the Nile? 

Some modern critics tell us “no.” They claim it is, instead, a dry river bed, which flows only in the winter, in midst of the Sinai peninsula. 

But the Bible plainly declares it is the River OF EGYPT, not the river of THE SINAI PENINSULA. It is not the river of the Philistines. It is the river of EGYPT! There is only one river of Egypt — the Nile. 

If God had not given Abraham’s descendants dominion to the river of Egypt, but had given them only a dry river bed in the middle of the Sinai desert, then what right have his descendants — the British and other Western Europeans — had to build the Suez Canal? Why was it wrong for Nasser to have taken over the Suez Canal unless it belonged to Israel in the first place? 

The very fact that God used Israel to build the Suez Canal is in itself proof that the children of Israel should possess the land of Egypt to the Nile! 

Certainly from fulfilled prophecy the river of Egypt is the Nile. 

We have this confirmed in Joshua 15:4. This Scripture tells us that the border of the land in the south passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.” 

Also in verse 47, “Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof.” 

When we come to I Kings 8:65, we find the same border: “And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath [near the Euphrates] unto the river of Egypt” celebrated a festival. 

Now we want to find out if God ever caused the children of Israel to possess the territory east of the Nile. Was the land east of the Nile ever possessed by the children of Israel? 

Where Is Goshen? 

Notice what the Egyptians themselves promised for the children of Israel because of what Joseph did for them. Here is what we find in Genesis 45:10, “And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen,” says Joseph to his father at Pharaoh’s command, “and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast.” 

Jacob and all of the family of Israel could dwell in the land of Goshen. But — where is the land of Goshen? 

Modern scholars tell us that it is a small, semi-desolate area east of the Nile halfway between the Nile and the Suez Canal today. This is supposed to be the land with which God blessed Jacob in the land of Egypt. 

Because critics have assumed this is the land of Goshen, they cannot believe that there were 600,000 Israelite men, beside women and children, at the time exodus occurred. 

Of course in this area which the scholars tell us is the land of Goshen, there couldn’t have even been 6,000 men, beside women and children, with all of their cattle. The fact is, scholars haven’t understood where the land of Goshen is. 

Genesis 46:28 tells us more of the story. “And he [Jacob] sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen.” Jacob was coming down from Beersheba in Palestine into Egypt. “And they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up [northward] to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him.” 

Did you notice that Joseph was not in the land of Goshen? Joseph dwelt where Pharaoh was. And Pharaoh was at Memphis, the capital of lower Egypt. “Joseph made ready his chariot, AND WENT UP TO MEET Israel his father.” He went up to Goshen. He was going NORTH. Therefore, the land of Goshen was NORTH of the capital of Egypt at this time. 

Now verses 33 and 34 of Genesis 46: “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?” — Joseph instructs his father to say this — “That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” Egyptians often hired foreigners to tend to their cattle. So the purpose was to have the children of Israel dwell in the land of Goshen to tend cattle there. 

Chapter 47, verse 5 picks up the story. “And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; IN THE BEST OF THE LAND make thy father and brethren to dwell; IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.” 

Did you notice that Pharaoh said to the children of Israel, “The land of Egypt is before you, the best of the land, the land of Goshen.” This is the portion of Egypt that Pharaoh is actually turning over to the children of Israel because of what Joseph did! Remember, God told Abraham that his descendants were going to control land to the river of Egypt — the Nile. This is how God began to fulfill that promise! 

Now to verse 10: “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, IN THE BEST OF THE LAND, IN THE LAND OF RAMESES, AS PHARAOH HAD COMMANDED.” 

The best of the land, in verse 6, is called “the land of Goshen,” while in verse 11, it is called “the land of Rameses.” Obviously, then, the land of Goshen and the land of Rameses are the same! It is the best of all the land of Egypt. 

The Land of Rameses 

One of the titles belonging to rulers of Egypt was “Rameses.” This title, one of several applied to the rulers of Egypt, existed from the beginning of Egyptian history — long before the “Pharaoh Rameses the Great” of history, who actually began to reign about 790 B.C. 

Ancient Egypt was a feudalistic world. In feudalism the king claims theoretically to own everything. He leased the land out to his princelings and lords (who lease parts of their land to others of still lower rank), but the king reserves a certain portion for himself. 

Pharaoh naturally reserved the best land for himself — the land of Goshen. It belonged personally to Pharaoh. So Pharaoh was not taking land leased to his lords. He is granting this territory to Joseph, who was next highest in the kingdom, for his service. The fee for receiving the land of Goshen or Rameses is stated in verse 6: “And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over MY cattle.” 

Where were Pharaoh’s cattle? In the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses. Pharaoh knew that if Joseph could bless all Egypt as he had done, his family would also be bound to bless his own stock. But in so doing, the Egyptians granted the right of the children of Israel to this territory. And by command of their ruler all the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses, is given to the children of Israel — as partial fulfillment of God’s promise that Abraham’s seed should extend to the river of Egypt, to the Nile. 

Goshen During the Plagues 

Continuing the story with Exodus 8:22. Another dynasty has risen up; Moses is dealing with a new Pharaoh. One of the plagues is about to occur: “I will sever in that day,” God says, “the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou [Pharaoh] mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people: and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be.” 

And this sign did occur, “… the Lord did so” (verse 24). These flies contaminated and plagued all the land of Egypt where the Egyptians were, but the flies did not plague the land where the children of Israel dwelt. 

The land of Goshen is a particular territory where the children of Israel were dwelling. This was the land that had once belonged to the royal house. God makes a separation between that land and the rest of the land of Egypt. 

Verse 26, chapter 9 tells us almost the same thing: “Only in the land of Goshen, WHERE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WERE, was there no hail.” 

Now to Exodus 12:19, the night of the Passover. “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt” — this was midnight on the 14th day — “from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon [or the prison-house] and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And HE CALLED FOR MOSES AND AARON BY NIGHT, AND SAID, RISE UP, AND GET YOU FORTH from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said [if they were to stay there any longer], We be all dead men.” 

In verses 34 and 35 the story continues. “The children of Israel … borrowed of the Egyptians” among whom they had been living. The next night — the 15th of Abib — having “spoiled the Egyptians” and driven their cattle, the Israelites came to the city of Rameses. 

Stop for the moment and consider these facts. God told Moses, “Go not out of your houses until the morning.” 

Moses and Aaron naturally would have remained in their house this night — all of the night of the 14th. But Pharaoh, who was not a firstborn son, came out of his house by night to find Moses and urge him and all Israel to leave. 

Modern critics tell us that Pharaoh at this time lived in the city of Thebes in upper Egypt, the land of ancient Sheba. But they are wrong! Pharaoh’s headquarters was at the city of Memphis. The ruling dynasty in Moses’ day came from Xois in the Delta, but the capital of all lower Egypt was at Memphis. This is where the government administration originated. It was at Memphis that Pharaoh that night rose up and went to Moses, and said, “Get out of the land and all your people, and he was urgent on them.” 

Pharaoh could not have been far from where Moses was. That very night, he saddled his camel and went to Moses and Aaron! Wherever the children of Israel observed the Passover was a place very NEAR THE CITY OF MEMPHIS! 

Remember, Israel dwelt in all the land of Goshen, but they had assembled in one particular area to keep the Passover. From this area they journeyed on the daylight part of the 14th of Abib to the city of Rameses, and met there the next night, the night of the 15th! 

The Night of the Exodus 

“The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Ex. 12:37-38). 

From here the children of Israel left on the night of the 15th! (Deut. 16:1). 

Numbers 33:3 makes it even plainer. The children of Israel “departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS. 

Between the morning after the Passover and the next night, “the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so they lent unto them,” that is, PAID them, “such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians,” that is, they took their wages that the Egyptians withheld from them for nearly two centuries. 

Then they gathered at RAMESES. Where was this city? 

Let me read what Josephus plainly tells us. Josephus, “Antiquities Of The Jews,” Book II, Chapter XV. “So the Hebrews went out of Egypt, while the Egyptians wept, and repented that they had treated them so hardly … Now they took their journey by LETOPOLIS, a place at that time deserted, but where BABYLON was built afterwards, when Cambyses laid Egypt waste.” So Rameses was the city of Letopolis, which later under Persian rule, was called the city of Babylon. Did you know there was also a Babylon in Egypt as well as in Mesopotamia where Nimrod started his kingdom? 

What city is this today? Josephus, writing in Greek, calls this the city of Letopolis — a Greek name for Rameses. POLIS means city in Greek. A METROPOLIS is a “mother city.” So Letopolis was the city of Letona — one of the names of Semiramis or Easter, the Queen of Heaven. It is the same from which LATIN has come. So this was one of the cities dedicated anciently to the Queen of Heaven. No wonder it was also called BABYLON later! 

Smith’s Classical Dictionary Of Greek And Roman Biography” says of the city of Babylon in Egypt that it “is in later-times called Fostat OR OLD CAIRO, a fortress in lower Egypt on the right bank of the Nile exactly opposite to the pyramids of Giza, and at the beginning of the canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. 

The city of Rameses, built by the children of Israel in honor of the Pharaoh, was Letopolis, the very city which today the Mohammedans call Old Cairo! 

Notice the accompanying map. God gave the children of Israel the land all the way to the Nile River. The land east of the Nile toward Palestine was the land of Goshen. That’s where the cattle of Israel were grazing. 

The capital city of lower Egypt was Memphis. That is where Pharaoh had his court. 

The children of Israel, when they assembled in Kameses, were assembling at Old Cairo. Since they reached Rameses or Old Cairo on the night after the Passover, they must have assembled for the Passover a little to the south of Old Cairo — near Memphis, Pharaoh’s capital. Memphis is on the west side of the Nile. Old Cairo is a little farther north on the east of the Nile River. Old Cairo is but a suburb of modern Cairo today. It is just an old section of town. Most visitors are not even permitted today to see Old Cairo because it is such a ramshackle place — though it is not as deserted today as the children of Israel found it then. That is why they met there — because there weren’t Egyptians living in that area. 

Many Bible maps cannot be relied upon. They disagree with each other and with the Bible. The producers of these maps do not use the Bible as evidence, but their human theories instead! 

Josephus at least should know as much as the scholars today. And when you put his evidence with the Bible, it’s very clear that it had to be near the city of Memphis where they kept the Passover! As the congregation of Israel were leaving northward they gathered at the city of Rameses, which Josephus calls Letopolis — Babylon or Old Cairo in Egypt. 

Israel Builds Pyramids 

Israel naturally had their headquarters near Memphis because at Memphis, the Egyptian orders were issued. That is the region where the pyramids were built. Interestingly enough, as we go through the account of Josephus we find the following surprising facts. Josephus tells us in his “Antiquities Of The Jews” (Book II, chapter IX) that the children of Israel were forced to channel [make channels for the river], to build walls for the Egyptians and make cities and ramparts … they set them also to build pyramids after the pattern of the Great Pyramid, and by all this wore them out …” 

The majority of the pyramids start from Old Cairo and go SOUTH, not north. The children of Israel must have labored in the area centered at the region of Old Cairo and on south throughout the heart-land of Egypt. 

Notice a plain statement in the “Imperial Bible Dictionary” (published in England, Volume 5, subject, Rameses”): “Immediately south of this region of Old Cairo there is an area where there were ancient quarries in a rocky mountain, from which much of the material for the pyramids was procured, AND IN WHICH THE POOR JEWS ARE SAID BY MANETHO [an Egyptian historian] to have worked.” 

This confirms what Josephus tells us in his work entitled “Apion,” Book I, chapter 26. Near these quarries on the east of the Nile opposite Memphis is an area called “Mera-vad-Musa, or the ‘Habitation [or dwelling] of Moses.'” Moses was the leader and as he communicated back and forth with Pharaoh it is logical that opposite Memphis, where many of the lesser pyramids were build, Moses should have his headquarters — to this day bearing the name, “the Habitation of Moses.” 

Now continuing with the “Imperial Bible Dictionary:” “From thence [that is, MERA-VAD-MUSA or the Habitation of Moses”] they moved northward, passing, as Josephus says, by ancient Babylon or Old Cairo, and then by or over the site of modern Cairo, proceeding along the direct route to the land of Canaan, as far as Succoth, or BERKET EL HADJ, the ‘Pool of the Pilgrims,’ …” “Succoth” merely means booths — or an encampment. It was where Moslem pilgrims, to this day, can go from Egypt over to Mecca, the holy city of the Mohammedan religion. It is on the way that led out of Egypt to the wilderness of the Red Sea. 

But let us go on to Numbers 33 and read the rest of the account. “And they departed from Rameses [Old Cairo] in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month … and went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth. 

“And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness. And they removed from Etham, and turned again [literally turned back] unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol. And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF THE SEA into the wilderness, and went three days journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.” 

The miracle of the Red Sea! Did it really happen? 

What Road Did Israel Take? 

Now let us pick up the story with Exodus 13:17: “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through THE WAY OF THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES.” Here we have the first of several highways named. 

In ancient Egypt there were major roads which went out of Egypt. One was “the way of the Red Sea” which was southeast from the Delta. Another was “the way of Etham,” or “the wilderness of Shur” which went from Egypt through Beersheba. It was the road by which Jacob came down into Egypt. The third is “the way of the land of the Philistines” which went up from the coast through Gaza by the Mediterranean. See the accompanying map. 

As Israel was proceeding north through Old Cairo, they could have easily taken the way, or the highway of the Philistines — the Philistine highway. Many assume that this road must have been by the Mediterranean. They are wrong! The way of the land of the Philistines extended far into Egypt. 

While the Israelites were still in Egypt, they could have traveled by the road that led northward to the land of the Philistines. But, instead of taking that, near as it was, God said, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt,” GOD LED THE PEOPLE ABOUT THROUGH THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA. 

This is another road. This is the most southerly of the three major roads in Egypt. Instead of taking the northerly route which would have taken them through the land of the Philistines, or the middle route in an easterly direction through Beersheba, they took the road leading southeast into Sinai and Arabia. God led them, not straight north, but through the way of the Red Sea. 

This is the common road that even to this day the Moslem pilgrims take to the holy city of Mecca in Arabia. It is a road that has been used from the very beginning of time when human beings have dwelt in the land of Egypt. 

Continuing: “And the children of Israel went up harnessed [or, in ranks of five] out of the land of Egypt” marching up the road. “And Moses took the bones of Joseph [perhaps from the Great Pyramid just west of Old Cairo?] with him: for he had straightly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth,” the first stopping point on this road which went toward the Red Sea. And from there, they took their journey “and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness [of Sinai].” 

At this point, they could have gone straight out of Egypt into Sinai, and Pharaoh never could have caught them! All they had to do was to follow the road just as the Arabs do today — out of Egypt through the Sinai peninsula down through Arabia to Mecca. 

Here they were at the border of Egypt, just north of the Red Sea, not by the Mediterranean. What happened next? 

Now “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Ex. 13:21). It took them the seven days of Unleavened Bread to leave Egypt altogether. 

God “took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (verse 22). “And the Lord spake unto Moses (Exodus 14:1-2), saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they TURN [don’t continue, but turn sharply to the right] and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” They now camp by the seashore. 

Where Are These Places? 

The “Imperial Bible Dictionary” tells us again. “Pihahiroth, therefore, must have been the name of some natural locality, such as a mountain, or a range of mountains, a cliff, precipice, cape or promontory. It is said of the children of Israel, when [they were] overtaken by Pharaoh at the Red Sea, that they were entangled in the land, being shut in by the ‘wilderness’ or mountains (Ex. 14:3).” 

Israel could not have gone farther in its line of march. Pharaoh had them bottled up in front of the Pihahiroth range of mountains! Did God make a mistake in leading them by the hand of Moses? 

Israel ended up on an area at the upper portion of the Red Sea by the Gulf of Suez where there is a huge mountain range that comes right down to the sea. When they got into this area, it was like entering a bag. They could not go any farther by land. The only place they could go was out into the water because the mountain range comes right down to the seashore. 

Opposite Pihahiroth was Baalzephon. This must have been a city where Baal was worshipped. Zephon means “the north.” This was “Baal of the North” — the Baal that comes down from the north pole, clad in red and white every December 25! This was the ancient seat of Santa Claus worship. 

They also camped near Migdol. Where was it? 

Trumbull, in his book called “Kadesh Barnea,” page 377, reveals something about the city of Migdol: “A short distance to the northwest of Suez … there is a station, or a pass, known as El Maktal” — the Migdol. “It is directly on the line of the Hajj route.” The HAJJ is a modern Arabic term for “the way of the Red Sea.” The modern El Maktal is “near the track noted … as the ‘Way of the Bed’ween into Ancient Egypt.'” “Wilkinson judged ‘from its name and position,’ that this represents ‘the Migdol of the Bible.'” 

As they encamped before Pihahiroth, which is a mountain range, and Baalzephon, then Baalzephon was on the north, and Pihahiroth was the mountain range on the south. Then between Migdol, in the west, and the Red Sea, in the east, there is an area large enough for the children of Israel to be bottled up. 

The Red Sea is nearly 8 miles across here! There is a very extensive area — many thousands of feet wide — which could have opened up for the children of Israel to cross. 

Crossing the Red Sea 

Let’s continue with Exodus 14:3: “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” And God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, “And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.” Pharaoh overtook them camping by the Red Sea on what probably was the sixth day of Unleavened Bread. 

The Israelites were now frightened. They said in verse 12, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians. For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, THAT THEY GO FORWARD” — into the water? No! 

Notice: “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, AND DIVIDE IT: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” 

The miracle was wrought when Moses stretched his rod forth. The sea parted thousands of feet wide! Then the winds came in to drive back the waters and to build them up as a wall on either side! 

Now verse 21: “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back.” It was a miracle! Contrary to seasonal weather a strong wind blew “all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel WENT INTO THE MIDST OF THE SEA UPON THE DRY GROUND: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, EVEN ALL PHARAOH’S HORSES, HIS CHARIOTS, AND HIS HORSEMEN. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it.” 

Here was an area wide enough for 600 chosen chariots of the Egyptians to race through, beside a great many troops in order to capture the nearly 2,000,000 Israelite men, women and children. Verse 28, the waters “returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; THERE REMAINED NOT SO MUCH AS ONE OF THEM. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.” 

Egypt Left Desolate 

Pharaoh’s army was slain. There was not one left (Psalm 106:11). Read Exodus 15:4: “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are DROWNED in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 

God won the battle for the children of Israel. They were delivered out of the land of Egypt. They now rested on the peaceful shores of Sinai, where even today such names as “Ayn Musa” and “Ras Musa” testify to the Exodus. Not one of the Israelites perished, but all the Egyptians who pursued were overthrown. 

Josephus adds some vivid details to the same story! “The number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots, with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand footmen, all armed. They also seized on the passages by which they imagined the Hebrews might fly, shutting them up between inaccessible precipices and the sea; for there was … a [ridge of] mountains that terminated at the sea, which were impassable by reason of their roughness, and obstructed their flight; wherefore they there pressed upon the Hebrews with their army” (“Antiquities Of The Jews,” Josephus, page 76). 

A few verses in Psalm 77 are worth reading at this point. “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (verse 11). What were God’s doings? 

We find them in verse 16: “The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: THE LIGHTNINGS LIGHTENED THE WORLD: THE EARTH TREMBLED AND SHOOK. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leadest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” 

Thunder and rain and great lightning shook the land that night. In early morning the waters just poured in on PHARAOH AS HIS CHARIOT BECAME STUCK IN THE MUD AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA — AND HE IS THERE TO THIS DAY! 

Psalm 78 also tells us a little about it. Verse 12: “Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, IN THE FIELD OF ZOAN.” The word “field” here is properly translated elsewhere as “country” or “kingdom.” 

The “land of Egypt” is “the field,” or “the country,” or “the kingdom of Zoan.” Zoan gave its name to Egypt because it was the earliest city built in Egypt (Numbers 13:22 says that it was built 7 years after Hebron and was apparently the first city built in post-flood Egypt). 

The country of Egypt was named after Zoan just as Israel was often named after SAMARIA, or Judah was named after JERUSALEM. 

The miracles that God wrought WERE IN THE LAND OF EGYPT — in the land of Zoan. They mean the same thing! These miracles did not occur in some obscure field outside the city of Zoan near the Mediterranean! 

Egypt’s Historians Admit What Happened 

That is the story of the miracle of the Red Sea. And it is corroborated from the Egyptians’ own record of history! 

From the Exodus forward, Egypt was for almost four centuries overrun by Amalekites (or Hyksos, the Egyptian word for “shepherds”) and punished for having enslaved the Israelites. Even as late as the days of Saul and David the Amalekites dominated Egypt. 

In I Samuel 30 David meets an Egyptian slave left by his Amalekite master to die in the wilderness. “And David said to him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me …” (verse 13). 

The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho admits all this: “There was a king of ours whose name was Timaus [the Greek form of Thom, a king of the 14th dynasty]. Under him it came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts [the Amalekites], and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country, and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them …” (“Against Apion” by Josephus, Book I, Part 14). 

So the historical record of Egypt, when rightly understood, CONFIRMS THE BIBLE. There was neither Pharaoh nor army left to defend the country! They disappeared in the Red Sea without leaving a trace. Not until the days of King Saul did Egypt recover her former power (See “Ages In Chaos,” Vol I). 

The miracle of the Red Sea did happen! The Bible is true! And the same living God who delivered ancient Israel from the world will intervene miraculously for us today to deliver us from our enemies. If we trust him and wait upon him, we, too, “shall see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Source: Good News, July 1959, Vol. VIII, Number 7, Herman L. Hoeh 

How Leaven Pictures Sin — An Important Reminder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sin versus righteousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 14, 2009

A Passover Examination

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

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

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

Does accepting Christ or baptizing save you?

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

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

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

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

Two conditions to be saved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repent…Believe…be baptized

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

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

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

David’s Repentance

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

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

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

What can a Christian do?

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

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

Annual Passover is great reminder

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

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

March 7, 2009

Noah's Flood: Is It Believable?

Is the Flood merely a Hebrew myth? Does the biblical record of the Noachian Deluge and the Ark make sense in the light of modern, scientific findings?

During the past few hundred years, the credibility of the Bible has come under serious question. Many have found it difficult to believe in a book which speaks of Jonah and the “whale”; an extra-long day in the time of Joshua; Christ walking on water; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace; Adam and Eve; the Israelites crossing the Red Sea; and a host of similar accounts written in a positive, it-actually-did-happen fashion.

Perhaps the long biblical account of Noah’s Flood in Genesis has evoked more questions than any other. Is it unreasonable to believe in the Flood? In the Ark? Have modern scientific findings truly made the scriptural account out of date?

While the many ramifications of the Flood cannot be discussed here in length, this article will examine the main objections to the biblical Flood and the Ark. We will see that the Bible is consistent with other fields of knowledge. Scripture is reasonable! Let’s examine the various major questions voiced about Genesis 6-9 and see how recent data actually verifies this ancient record.

Was the Flood Local?

It has now become popular among many to think of the Flood as merely a limited regional event. During the past century, the once commonly accepted universality of the Flood met with great opposition. One by one leading scientists and theologians sided with evolutionary and uniformitarian concepts. Soon no place was found for a worldwide deluge. Surely, it was reasoned, if the Flood is a reality, it was only a local Mesopotamian event.

It is not my purpose to present a comprehensive biblical exegesis on the universality of the Flood. However, to assume anything else is clearly contrary to the weight of biblical revelation and reason.

The need for a sea-going Ark is a compelling reason to believe in the Flood’s intercontinental effects. Why command Noah to build an Ark when he could have simply migrated to a non-flooded region? Neither would it make sense to take animal representatives of all kinds aboard the Ark if only a limited area of the earth were to be inundated (Gen. 6:19-20).

The specific reason for the Flood was to destroy all air-breathing land life — especially man himself (Gen. 6:17). Archaeology demonstrates that man had migrated around the world. Anything less than a universal destruction would not have accomplished God’s primary purpose of the Flood. So it is logical to believe that the Flood was of universal scope when both Scripture and reason are considered.

Where Do You Get Enough Water?

But what, then, of the origin of the Flood waters? Is there enough water on the earth to entirely cover it? If one observes a globe carefully, he might come to the conclusion that “earth” is an inapt name. For instead of being mainly terra firma, its surface is over 71 percent water. We live on a watery planet.

In addition, bear in mind the oceans average 12,450 feet in depth, while the average surface height of the land is only 2,600 feet. The proportion is clearly overwhelmingly in favor of the ocean and not the land. We are not told in the Bible exactly how God flooded the earth. Remember the Flood was not a natural event. It was brought on supernaturally by God, though He used natural agents.

What are the natural facilities God could have used in accomplishing His purpose? Here are some of the possibilities: 1) Elevate the ocean basins and thus force water onto the land, 2) lower the continents as units, or 3) add water to the oceans from underground basins (see Scientific American, May 1966, article, “Water Under the Sahara.”) God undoubtedly used a combination of factors to bring about His will. In the same way, when the Flood waters receded, they would have drained back into the place God made for them — the ocean basins and underground reservoirs.

What About “All Those Animals”?

Did the Ark have sufficient capacity to carry representatives of all the land animals? Consider the stated size of the Ark. “The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits” (Gen. 6:15). Historical records for the exact length of the cubit in modern terms are vague. Our research places it at around 22.5 inches. If valid, this would mean the Ark was 563 feet long, 94 feet wide, and 56 feet high. Its three-million cubic-foot volume would have had a displacement in water weight of 66,000 tons. This is the same capacity as 1000 American railroad freight cars. That’s ocean-liner size!

But if the cubit were equivalent to 18 inches, there would still have been plenty of room in its 450-foot length, 75-foot breadth, and 45-foot height hulk. This would still have given it a 500 freight car, 1.5 million cubit feet, carrying capacity. It was not until the 19th century that larger vessels were constructed. It shows the existence of skilled knowledge and ability in that ancient world not again demonstrated until recent times. Archaeologists are confirming this generally unexpected level of knowledge as they find more and more evidence of advanced skills among early humans. (See such books as Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds by Charles Berlitz, Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1972.)

How much room did Noah need for “all those animals”? Some misunderstand, thinking that the Ark had to house representatives of every variety of animals. One pair of every KIND of unclean (unedible) and seven pairs of each clean KIND (edible) were taken aboard. Each “kind” of creature represented a number of varieties. For example, over 100 breeds of dogs have now been developed. They are all of the same Genesis “kind.” Only one pair of the dog kind needed to be on the Ark.

God originally put within each “kind” of creature a fantastic genetic capability. As time passed, more and more varieties appeared, but these variations of the same “kind” of creature did not all have to be aboard the Ark bodily. They were there genetically within the pair (or seven pairs, as the case may be) taken on the Ark.

It isn’t necessary to consider sea life. It survived in the Flood waters. There were also many other simple forms of aquatic life that were not harmed by water. Consider that some 60 percent of the animal kingdom live in the sea, and 28 percent of the animal kingdom are insects. The remaining 12 percent average the size of a rhesus monkey.

IF insects had to be taken on the Ark (and this is a moot question), with every pair of known modern species of insect given 16 cubic inches of space, only 21 freight cars of space would be required. (Counting Genesis kinds only, the required space is far less.)

Accurate estimates of the number of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species on earth today is about 18,000. (Again, recognizing that only kinds, not necessarily species, were included, there would have been far fewer actual animals aboard the ark.)

Most animals are unclean, and there were a pair of each unclean animal. But let’s be liberal and say 40,000 rhesus-monkey-size animals were on the Ark. How much space would be required to house them? A letter about animal housing was sent to the London Zoo. Their answer was: “Most animals can be maintained in very close confinement indeed for long periods and remain perfectly healthy. A rhesus monkey, say, can be maintained indefinitely in a cage about 2 ft., 6 inches cubed” (15 cubic feet).

If the cubit were 22.5 inches long, 40,000 cages, each large enough for a rhesus monkey, would have only taken up 20 percent of the Ark’s three-million cubic-feet carrying capacity. So it becomes plain that the interior of the Ark was totally adequate for the animals, the food supply, and the humans aboard it during the Flood.

How Did the Animals Get Where They Are Today?

Each isolated land mass or continent has animals or birds not found elsewhere. Australia has its kangaroo, koala bear, duckbilled platypus, and Tasmanian devil. North America boasts the beaver, rattlesnake, raccoon, turkey and opossum. South America offers the llama, capybara, and sloth. Asia has its peafowl and panda bear. Africa has the giraffe, hippopotamus and zebra. Certain island groups also have kinds of animals not found elsewhere. How did all these animals become segregated after leaving the Ark?

Consider that God — not Noah — originally brought the animals to the Ark (Gen. 6:20). It would not have been a difficult matter for Him to see to it that they also redistributed themselves after the Flood. God is the Originator of animal migration. It was His will that the animals — as well as mankind — replenish and repopulate limited geographical realms after the Flood (Gen. 9:1; 10:5; 11:8-9). It should be no surprise to see both men and animals even today basically segregated around the world. This principle ought to seem basic. All forms of life exist in the specific land areas where they can best flourish.

Neither are the major land masses of the earth as isolated as one might suppose. They have been even less isolated in the past. Witness the existing land bridge between Asia and Africa — the Sinai Peninsula — and Central America between the North and South American continents. The Bering Straits between North America and Asia are quite shallow. Thousands of square miles are covered by water less than 150 feet deep. Large areas of present ocean between Southeastern Asia, the East Indies, and Australia are less than 600 feet deep. This illustrates that such present-day isolated communities are not impossibly separated from each other by great expanses of deep ocean. This factor may play a part in animal migration after the Flood.

Also, as men travel and migrate, they traditionally take with them familiar plants and animals. Some go with them accidentally. Many animals have spread to new areas in this manner — the rabbit to Australia, the English sparrow and European corn borer to the Americas, etc. Recent discoveries are showing that much sea traffic existed in the ancient world. The Bible itself shows that Solomon’s ships plied the seas and brought back precious items and animals to the Middle East from great distances (I Kings 9:26-28; 10:22; II Chron. 9:10). It is logical to conclude that animals were shipped between other areas as well.

It has also been demonstrated that animals have reached isolated islands on floating masses of vegetation or on storm and flood debris. This has been pointed out by such authors as Rachel Carson in her now classic work, “The Sea Around Us.” Whenever an island emerges from the sea, it soon becomes the home of various sorts of animals and plants.

Where Is the Flood in Geology?

Prior to the nineteenth century it was commonly believed the Flood was responsible for practically all geologic phenomena. Whenever a fossil was found, the finder would immediately think of Noah’s Flood. But soon cracks in the idea developed. If Noah’s Flood was truly responsible for most or all of the earth’s fossils, then why isn’t the fossil record thoroughly mixed up?

Why do certain layers only contain certain fossils? Why, for example, aren’t dinosaur remains ever found mixed with tigers, lions and other forms of modern mammal life? Mammal remains are almost entirely missing from the world of the “terrible lizards.”

This enigma multiplies when one considers that the stratigraphic record can only be understood to represent a passage of time greater than the year of Noah’s Flood. The bulk of the geologic record represents a sequence of events which cannot be fitted into the short time span of the Flood itself.

For this reason, there was often a difference of opinion among theologians and nineteenth-century Bible-believing scientists as to where the evidence of the Flood is to be found in the rocks. Estimates have ranged from the entire geologic column to a thin clay layer at the site of ancient Ur! (Sir Leonard Woolley, Excavations at Ur, London, Ernest Bonn, Ltd., 1954.)

A proper understanding must begin with a knowledge of both the Bible and the earth’s silent, yet revealing, fossil record. The avowed purpose of God in the Flood was to destroy both man and beast from the face of the earth. This is clearly the reason God sent a flood of waters. It was a time of great extinction. This is the first vital clue. But we also need to remember that the Flood was a relatively recent event. Biblical chronology would place it about 43 centuries ago. Therefore we should expect to find the evidence for the Flood towards the top of the earth’s layered sequence.

The third clue involves man himself and his world. We live in a world of mammals, birds, and flowering plants. It should be a world quite similar to the pre-Flood world. The Ark, remember, housed representatives of all kinds of air-breathing land life forms. What we find around us today should fundamentally be the same type of life Adam and his pre-Flood descendants saw around them. It would be logical to expect certain varieties to become extinct in the Flood, but their kind and type should still be with us today.

In summary, we could expect to find geological evidence of the Flood by: 1) noting a time of extinction in the fossil record, 2) looking toward the top of the geologic sequence of rocks, and 3) looking for an extinction of animal types which are familiar to us today. What evidence is. there, then, in the geological column which would lend weight to the worldwide catastrophe precipitated by Noah’s Flood?

Extinction Mystery

Dr. George Miller, former supervisor of the famous Los Angeles La Brea Tar Pits, had this to say about the “sticky” problem of extinction.

“We have had two eras of mass vertebrate extinction in the world’s existence: that of the dinosaurs … and that of the large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene or Ice Age…. When that period was over, mammoths, mastadons and saber-toothed cats were extinct — all over the globe.”

It is a mystery. The saber-toothed cats, for instance, were very successful animals. They …. died out completely. Why? Catastrophe? Plague? Earthquakes? A change in environment or climate? We do not know.

“We do not know, either, the answer to the mysteries within the mysteries. For example: horses….spread throughout the world — reaching the other continents, we think, across the land bridge in which is now the Bering Strait. Camels followed almost the same pattern. Yet … both horses and camels became extinct in the Western Hemisphere. Horses remained wiped off the face of the Americas until the Spaniards reintroduced them a mere 500 years ago. Again, why?” (Holliday, Kate, West Magazine, July 30, 1972, “By Tar Preserved,” pp. 11, 14.)

This revealing quote gives some fundamental facts of paleontology — points we will do well to consider. Note there have been TWO times of mass vertebrate extinction in the entire history of the earth. The first was the extinction of the dinosaurs (and it could also be added, flying reptiles and marine reptiles). The second and more recent vertebrate extinction was that of mammals (commonly giant size compared with those living today).

The mammalian extinction is especially interesting. It is recent. Mammals are the dominant vertebrates of today. And, as might be suspected, their selective disappearance after a period of successful life is a mystery to science.

End of Giants

Take, for example, North America, where there was the imperial mammoth in the west and the mastodon in parts of the northeast. Further north, the woolly mammoth lived carefree along the fringes of the glaciers. North America was an elephant’s paradise.

But these giant, now extinct, forms of elephants were not alone. In that day of giants, we find beavers as big as bears, giant armadillos, giant ground sloths weighing as much as present-day elephants, bison with fantastic six-foot horn spans, the great saber-toothed cats and giant jaguars. These, along with horses and camels, vanished. Why? The land was well suited for them. The Ice Age was over. Yet about 70 percent of all native North American mammals with an adult body weight of over 100 pounds became extinct in a time of plenty.

About a hundred years ago, scientists began to see the magnitude of the extinction problem. Alfred R. Wallace, who developed the idea of biological evolution simultaneously with Charles Darwin, was struck by the abrupt, strange and recent decimation of mammal life. In 1876, Wallace noted:

“We live in a zoologically impoverished world, from which all the hugest, and fiercest, and strangest forms have recently disappeared … yet it is surely a marvelous fact, and one that has hardly been sufficiently dwelt upon, this sudden dying out of so many large Mammalia, not in one place only but over half the land surface of the globe” (Alfred Russel Wallace, Geographical Distribution of Animals, New York: Hafner, 1962, Vol. 1. p. 150).

Now after 100 years, scientists know the effect was worldwide. A global disaster struck the earth after the Ice Age that hit the animal kingdom very hard. South America lost nearly all its large animals. Europe and Asia suffered losses as well. The day of giant mammals had come to an end.

One writer wisely noted: “The dinosaurs and the saber-toothed cats did not die out because they had somehow failed. They apparently died out because of some powerful and unusual forces entirely beyond their control” (Science Digest, “The Great Dinosaur Disaster,” Daniel Cohen, March 1969, p. 52).

“Powerful and unusual” forces? Yes, indeed! And in the case of the recent mammal extinction, the agency appears obvious — the Noachian Flood! (The earlier dinosaur extinction has its place in time before the creation of man.).

We have seen how the scriptural record presents a viable solution to a long-standing scientific mystery. Although many details are yet to be clearly understood, the Christian can remain confident that the findings of science continue to support the words of Scripture.

Source: Robert E. Gentet, The Good News, December 1973

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