The Apple Of God's Eye

January 30, 2011

What Is The Biblical Name For God’s True Church

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The Bible gives the true name of God’s Church in 12 different places.

In five passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ — the Church as a whole — is indicated. Thus when speaking of the entire Church, including all its individual members on earth, the name is “the Church of God.” Here are these five passages:

1.  Acts 20:28 — the elders were admonished to “shepherd the church of God.”

2.  I Corinthians 10:32: “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.”

3.  I Corinthians 11:22: “Or do you despise the church of God…?”

4.  I Corinthians 15:9 — Paul wrote, “I persecuted the church of God.”

5.  Galatians 1:13 — here Paul repeats the statement he made to the Corinthians: “I persecuted the church of God.”

Nowhere is the true Church called after the name of some man or doctrine.

Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is called “the Church of God,” often in connection with the place where the congregation was located. Here are four more passages:

6.  I Corinthians 1:2: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

7.  II Corinthians 1:1: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

8.  I Timothy 3:5 — in speaking of a local elder in a local congregation, Paul wrote Timothy, “For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

9.  I Timothy 3:15: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.”

In speaking of the local congregations collectively — not as one
general Body, but as the total of all local congregations — the Bible name is “the churches of God.” Here are the final three verses:

10.  I Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

11.  I Thessalonians 2:14: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus.”

12.  II Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God.”

These verses prove the name of the true Church. Denominations not bearing this name could not be God’s true Church. And of all the churches that do bear the name, only one could be the true Church of God — that one that obeys all the commandments of God and maintains the faith delivered once for all time. All others are counterfeit, even though some know about the true name.

Since Christ is the Head of the Church, Paul also called the various congregations “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). But the actual name is “the Church of God.” It is kept in the name of the Father (John 17:11).

Source: The Good News, February 1986

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June 27, 2010

Is Jesus God?

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God is not merely one Person. God is a divine Family – only one Family – but more than one divine Person. Jesus Christ spoke of His divine Father as GOD. He said He was the Son of God (Matt. 27:43; John 10:36).

Jesus is called God in Hebrews 1:9, John 1 and elsewhere. All the holy angels are commanded to worship Jesus (Heb. 1:6), and none but God may be worshipped.

So the Eternal Father is a Person, and is God. Jesus Christ is a different Person and is God. They are two separate and individual persons (John 1:1). The Father is Supreme Head of the God
Family – the Lawgiver. Christ is the Word- the divine Spokesman.

In Genesis 1:1, the word for “God” in the Hebrew is Elohim. In certain contexts, it is a uniplural noun. It is uniplural, like such words as group, church, crowd, family or organization. Take, for example, the word church. You will read in I Corinthians 12:20 that the Church is only “one Church” – the “one body” – yet is composed of “many members.’’ Even though many individual persons constitute the Church, it is not many churches – it is only the “one Church.”

As explained in Gen. 1:1 the Hebrew word for “God” is Elohim. But, when the historical account first begins to record the fact of God speaking to the man He created, a new and different Hebrew
name is used. In Gen. 2:15 (and previous verses beginning in verse 4) the English words “Lord God” (in the King James authorized version) are translated from the Hebrew YHVH Elohim. The Hebrew Elohim already has been defined as uniplural.

But, YHVH is a name meaning “the Everliving,” or “the Eternal.”T here is no one word in the English language that translates it exactly. God always names beings what they are. Actually, YHVH means “the Self-Existent, Ever-living, Eternally Living, Creating One.” The “Lord” (YHVH) of the Old Testament in nearly every case is the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. That is, Christ was YHVH prior to His birth as a human of the virgin Mary. In John 1:1-3, this same Personage is spoken of as The Word – the Greek wort, is Logos, meaning “Word,” or “Spokesman. Jesus the Christ (Messiah) is, and always has been, the individual Person of the God Kingdom (Family) who is the Spokesman.

The Father of the God Family is the Head – the Lawgiver – the Creator. Yet He created everything by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9). Thus in John 1:3: “All things were made [created] by him” – by the Logos or Word, who is Jesus Christ (verse 14).

The specific Person of the Godhead who spoke to Adam, then, was YHVH – the Eternal – the One who became Jesus Christ.

So God is presently a Family of two Persons – God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. And the wonderful truth is that human beings may be born into this same ONE God Family as distinct, separate Personalities by a resurrection from the dead.

Jesus Christ was the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29) – having been born again when God the Father resurrected Him from the dead (Rom. 1:4).

February 15, 2010

Seven Proofs Of God's True Church, Part 2

Seven Proofs Of God’s True Church, Part 2

PROOF TWO: THREE DEFINITE SIGNS

This second major proof of God’s true Church is composed of three important sections.

1. Section one concerns the true name of the true Church
2. Section two is the understanding and observance of God’s seventh-day Sabbath
3. Section three is the understanding and observance of God’s annual Holy Days.

Section 1 — the True Name of God’s Church

Wherever Almighty God speaks of His true Church, identifying it by name — that name is almost always the same.

Jesus prayed, “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world [but not of the world], and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11). Jesus prayed the Father to keep His own true people in and through a particular name! Jesus prayed that name would be the name of the Father. (more…)

September 19, 2009

Did Jesus Hide The Truth About Salvation?

1When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was not to set up His Kingdom (John 18:36). Christ did not, at that time, come to restrain Satan from deceiving the world.

Contrary to what many have been taught, neither did Christ come to earth to call everyone to salvation. Rather, He came to deliver His Father’s message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That message included salvation through Christ. But Jesus did not try to get everyone to believe this wonderful message.

Notice the New Testament proof: Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to make hide the meaning of what He was saying, so the public would not understand.

” And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”  (Matt. 13:10-15, Mark 4:11-12).

Christ was plainly speaking ONLY to His disciples, not to everyone else. This point is made clear. In case there is any confusion about the point, the scripture says Christ spoke to the general public ONLY in parables (Matt. 13:34). It was NOT to clarify, but to confuse the issue to the masses. Why? Because it was not the time for most to be forgiven their sins and converted.

” And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?’  (Mark 4:10-13).

Even His disciples had problems with some of the parables and needed explaining. Those “without” means those not called at the present time – the masses. Christ preached the Father’s gospel to the masses as a witness. But He worked with only a few purposely called and chosen disciples, or students. They were the ones Whom He really wanted to understand the truth about salvation and His coming government on earth. And as it was then, it is so now – the message was only to His chosen people – His one true Church. It was not to a mass of confusing religions, of contradictory doctrines and squabbling denominations.

In fact, Jesus often tried to avoid the crowds that followed Him daily (Matt. 5:1, 8:18, 13:36, Mark 3:13, John 5:13, 7:10). He often told those whom He had healed not to tell anyone who healed them (Matt. 8:4, 9:30, 12:16, Mark 5:35, 36, 41-43, 7:35-36.  He did not want everyone to know who He really was (Matt. 16:20, Mark 3:1-12).

This is a point most of mainstream Christianity does not understand. For most of His ministry, Jesus actually avoided publicity. It was not God’s will for everyone to understand who Jesus was. Spiritual understanding will not be granted to the world until Christ removes Satan from earth’s throne.

It may freely be accentuated that Jesus Christ was successful in avoiding publicity, as after 3 1/2 years of preaching, and after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, only 120 disciples remained with Him (Acts 1:2-4, 15). The New Testament Church of God was started with these few disciples who would be trained so that they could teach and train others. Christ at first needed only a few teachers, so God called only a few at that time.

Remember, one can only come to Christ if God the Father purposely selects and calls him (John 6:44, 65). Now I know that some will ask, “What about one who really wants salvation – wants to believe in Christ – is willing to truly repent and come out of this world and be led by god’s spirit in a true commandment keeping Christian life. Do you mean this individual cannot come to Christ unless God calls him?”

Answer: That’s exactly what the scriptures say. Such a person is being called by God, otherwise he or she would have no such desire. However, most who think they are in that category have followed a false gospel, a false teaching and are deceived. They have a false idea of what salvation is, a false concept of repentance and a false idea of what God’s way is.

God foretold that He would indeed only call a few into His Church, and that His Church would continue to be small, and even persecuted (Luke 12:32, Matt. 10:16-17, 7:13-14, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12).

So it is that from Christ’s human ministry until His return to earth, God has called only a small minority of people. God’s Church through the centuries has continued to be small – an “embryo” of God’s  new civilization yet to come. That Church is in training to teach the world with and under Christ in the World Tomorrow.

August 30, 2009

What Is The True Name Of God's Church?

1The Bible gives the true name of God’s Church in 12 different places.

In five passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ — the Church as a whole — is indicated. Thus when speaking of the entire Church, including all its individual members on earth, the name is “the Church of God.” Here are these five passages:

1.  Acts 20:28 — the elders were admonished to “shepherd the church of God.”

2.  I Corinthians 10:32: “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.”

3.  I Corinthians 11:22: “Or do you despise the church of God…?”

4.  I Corinthians 15:9 — Paul wrote, “I persecuted the church of God.”

5.  Galatians 1:13 — here Paul repeats the statement he made to the Corinthians: “I persecuted the church of God.”

Nowhere is the true Church called after the name of some man or doctrine.

Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is called “the Church of God,” often in connection with the place where the congregation was located. Here are four more passages:

6.  I Corinthians 1:2: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

7.  II Corinthians 1:1: “The church of God which is at Corinth.”

8.  I Timothy 3:5 — in speaking of a local elder in a local congregation, Paul wrote Timothy, “For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

9.  I Timothy 3:15: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.”

In speaking of the local congregations collectively — not as one
general Body, but as the total of all local congregations — the Bible name is “the churches of God.” Here are the final three verses:

10.  I Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

11.  I Thessalonians 2:14: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus.”

12.  II Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God.”

These verses prove the name of the true Church. Denominations not bearing this name could not be God’s true Church. And of all the churches that do bear the name, only one could be the true Church of God — that one that obeys all the commandments of God and maintains the faith delivered once for all time. All others are counterfeit, even though some know about the true name.

Since Christ is the Head of the Church, Paul also called the various congregations “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). But the actual name is “the Church of God.” It is kept in the name of the Father (John 17:11).

August 22, 2009

What Is God's Name?

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God’s name is important! We must not use it lightly or irreverently — but with a genuine sense of reverence and awe (Exodus 20:7). But what is the name of the heavenly Father? What is the name of His Son, our Savior, the Messiah? It is important that we know. For there is only one “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Must we, as some claim, use only Hebrew names when speaking of the Father and the Son? Is salvation based on the pronunciation of God’s name in a certain language, or on a certain set of sounds? Are we unwittingly transgressing the Third Commandment when we say “Jesus Christ,” “God” and “Lord” — because these are not Hebrew names? There is no need for confusion. Read on and understand!

Sacred names?

The notion that we must use only God’s Hebrew names is of no ancient origin. Actually, the Hebrew-names teaching had its beginnings less than 50 years ago, in the late 1930s. At that time, proponents of the idea began to claim that it is gross sin to say the name Jesus Christ, which is an anglicized spelling of the Greek words lesous and Christos. Likewise, they declared it a sin to utter the phrase God the Father, for the English word God was said to be linked etymologically with pagan worship.

The Deity’s name, they alleged, must be spoken only in Hebrew. This is an important prerequisite for entering God’s Kingdom, they claimed. These same few teach that the sacred personal name of our heavenly Father is Yahweh (or, in its contracted form, Yah) and that the name of His Son is Yahshua the Messiah. The word Elohim, too, must be used instead of our equivalent English word God. They declare that when we pray or speak about the Father and the Son, we must use only these Hebrew names. It is wrong, they say, to translate the names of the Deity into English or any other language. In other words, we may freely read and discuss the Bible as translated into the English language in all terms except the names of God or Jesus Christ. Then we must speak Hebrew. Using substitutes for the names Yahweh and Yahshua, we are told, could deny us salvation.

Are Hebrew names the only ones acceptable to God? Is He insulted by anything else?

The tetragrammaton

First, let’s examine the name Yahweh, said to be the personal name of the Heavenly Father. In Exodus 3:15, the Creator introduced His name — YHWH — to Moses. (In many English versions of the Bible, YHWH is translated as LORD, usually printed in capital letters.)

Unrealized by many, the text of the Old Testament consists of consonants, no vowels. The original Hebrew of the Creator’s name as written in the consonantal text of this verse is spelled simply YHWH, not Yahweh. YHWH is often referred to as the “tetragrammaton,” meaning the “four letters.”

The name YHWH is derived from a form of the Hebrew verb to be. It has the same meaning as the name I AM, mentioned in the previous verse (Exodus 3:14). Hebrew scholars say YHWH could mean “he exists” or “he causes to be.” The English equivalents of this word would be “the Ever-living” or “the Eternal.”

Though we cannot be absolutely certain what the missing vowels in YHWH should be, many scholars believe that YHWH was probably vocalized originally as Yahweh.

The Jews, thinking the name YHWH too sacred to be uttered, ceased to even pronounce it after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, it was considered unlawful and blasphemous to utter it. When a Jew reciting orally came to YHWH in a scripture, he substituted the word Adonai (a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or “Master”) instead. The name of God, in other words, was written YHWH, but pronounced Adonai.

But one thing is certain. The pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH was not “Jehovah.” This familiar but erroneous name is a comparatively recent invention, devised by Peter Galatin (the confessor of Pope Leo X) in 1520. Galatin interjected the vowels of the word Adonai (a-o-a) between the four sacred consonants YHWH, producing the hybrid monstrosity YaHoWaH, which later became “Jehovah” in some English Bibles. It is a totally artificial name, formed by adding alien vowels to the Tetragrammaton. It has no claim to legitimacy.

Yahshua is Yahweh!

The first point that must be made in answer to those well-intentioned but misguided advocates of “sacred names” concerns their labeling the Father Yahweh as distinct from His Son Yahshua (which means “Yahweh is salvation”). They claim YHWH is the Father, and that the Son later had to be revealed.

The truth is that the YHWH of the Old Testament is the very One who became Jesus or, in Hebrew, Yahshua! Yahshua, or Jesus, IS Yahweh!

Jesus was the Word (Greek, Logos, “spokesman”) who was with God the Father from the beginning (John 1:1). The Logos was the Creator — “All things were made through Him” (verse 3). That Logos — the Creator — later became flesh and dwelt among us (verse 14). He then declared the Father (verse 18), whom no man had heard or seen before (John 5:37).

Notice further: In Deuteronomy 32:3-4, we read that YHWH (translated “Lord” in many Bibles in verse 3) is “the Rock.” In I Corinthians 10:1-4, we discover that the Rock was none other than Christ. In John 8:58, Jesus reveals that He is the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. In Hosea 13:4, YHWH says there is no savior but Him. YHWH, then, clearly is Jesus (Acts 4:12)!

Jesus (or Yahshua) was the God of the Old Testament. He was YHWH. With this understanding, one of the major tenets of the sacred names doctrine falls flat! Now look, at another major error in this false teaching.

Evidence from Old Testament

Though the vast majority of the Old Testament was inspired in the Hebrew language, Daniel and Ezra wrote portions of their books in Aramaic or Syriac, the prevalent language spoken throughout the Persian Empire and elsewhere during their time. It had replaced Hebrew as the language of common speech of the Jews.

When these men of God referred to the Creator in those passages, did they use the old Hebrew names, or did they translate them into Aramaic?

Nowhere in the Aramaic passages do we find the names YHWH or Elohim. An examination of the manuscripts reveals that in dozens of places the writers rendered the Hebrew names for God into the Aramaic word Elah. And it is just as proper that the Hebrew El and Elohim should be translated into the English word God.

Moreover, it should be noted that the name El was in use among the pagan Canaanites long before Moses penned the Pentateuch. In the cuneiform religious tablets excavated at Ras Shamra (the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit in northern Syria), for example, El (El the Bull) is described as the head of the Canaanite pantheon, husband of Asherah and father of all the other gods. If it is a sin for us to use the English word God because pagan Druids used it to refer to their idols, then, by the same reasoning, it is also a sin to use the Hebrew words Elohim and El.

Also notice that the Hebrew word Elohim is used 240 times throughout the inspired Old Testament to refer to pagan, heathen idols (see Exodus 12:12, Deuteronomy 6:14 and Judges 11:24, for example). This usage shows that it is just as permissible to use the English word God today for both the Creator and for pagan idols.

Apostolic example

But what about the New Testament books? The original inspired language of the New Testament was Greek. Greek was virtually a universal language in the first century, widely understood by both Jews and gentiles.

Much of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul, the apostle sent to the Greek-speaking gentiles who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. When Paul wrote in Greek to Greek converts, did he pause in mid-sentence and switch from Greek to Hebrew to write Yahweh or Yahshua when faced with a sacred name? Never!

Paul invariably used the Greek words for “God” (theos) and “Lord” (kurios). And he used the Greek name Iesous (Jesus). And so did the other writers of New Testament books, as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. In 665 places in the New Testament, the apostles translated the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word kurios.

There is not one New Testament Greek manuscript with the names of the Deity written in Hebrew!

In the face of these clear facts, “sacred names” proponents have no choice but to deny the New Testament was originally written in Greek. They assert — wrongly — that the whole of the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic (some even say Hebrew), and only later translated into Greek. At the time of this alleged translation, they claim, the sacred Hebrew names were wrongly removed and pagan Greek names substituted. The burden of proof is on them. The evidence? There is none — for it is a totally false notion, devised out of necessity to justify a false premise!

The Aramaic version of the New Testament available today is clearly a later translation from the original inspired Greek. The only copies of the original New Testament writings that have been preserved are in Greek — none in Aramaic or Hebrew.

More proof

Jesus said He came to reveal and declare the name of the Father to men (John 17:6, 26). Yet where do we find any discussion of its pronunciation? Where did Jesus say that Hebrew is the only name we must use? If pronunciation is so all-important, why did Jesus never say so?

Another point: Jesus prophesied that “many [deceivers] will come in My name” (Matthew 24:5). If the only proper form of his name is Yahshua, then Jesus’ prophecy has utterly failed — and He is a false prophet! Have many come in the Hebrew name of Yahshua? No — hardly any. But many deceivers have come in the name of Jesus Christ, which Jesus in this verse clearly calls His name.

In other words, Jesus was saying that false churches would use the true name. Jesus obviously is not concerned with the language in which His name is spoken; it remains His name. There is power and authority in Jesus’ name — the only name by which we may be saved.

Consider further: In John 17:11, Jesus asked the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” As we trace the history of the true Church through the ages; what name do we find it using? “The Church of God,” or the equivalent name in the native language spoken by members of the Church at any particular time! We do not find through history the name “Church of Yahweh” or some other Hebrew form. Either it is acceptable to use the non-Hebrew word God — or the Father failed to answer Jesus’ request!

What’s in a name?

What does the word name really mean, anyway? In Bible usage, a “name” signifies much more than merely a set of vocal sounds. Names convey meaning. They are given for a purpose. “Abraham,” for example, means “father of many nations.” “Israel” means “prevailer with God.” And Yahweh means “the Eternal.”

One’s name summarizes one’s authority, power, reputation and character. It is not merely a certain set of sounds or vocal vibrations that is important, but the meaning and power behind the name.

God’s name has profound significance. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains many divine names (some in Hebrew), each descriptive of some aspect of God’s character. Among them is El Shaddai, “almighty God,” as in Genesis 17:1, and Eloheseba’ot, “God of hosts,” as in Amos 5:27. The meaning of each of them is infinitely more important than its mere sound in Hebrew. God’s character remains the same — whatever the language may be.

Moreover, you need to understand that Elohim (God) is a family name (Ephesians 3:14-15)! It has a plural ending — allowing for more than one member in the one divine Family. We may also bear that name — the very name of God! We may enter the God Family by a resurrection.

Performance, not pronunciation

Salvation is not based on pronunciation! Those who would worship the sound of a name — treating it with superstitious and mystical reverence — make an idol out of that sound. Thinking they have some gift of greater knowledge, they actually miss the whole point and intent of the Scriptures, and engender needless strife and division.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Performance, not pronunciation, is of paramount importance to God. We honor His name by obeying Him, not by mouthing a certain sound. Do not be misled by the naive and misguided “scholarship” of those who would make a “show of wisdom.” Their teachings are not substantiated by the Word of God, but are based on a multitude of woefully misapplied scriptures. Speaking the names of God in Hebrew is not a prerequisite for salvation.

Take reassurance from the statement of the apostle Peter, who declared, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ [Christos in the original Greek], blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:14).

Source: The Good News, January 1986

June 18, 2009

Mystery Of The Ages: Free Book Clarifies Life's Unanswered Questions!

1One of the best books I have ever read is called, “Mystery Of The Ages,” by Herbert W. Armstrong. It really clarifies the most important knowledge ever revealed from the supreme Source of understanding—about man, his origins, his identity, the world around him—knowledge that has mystified humans since mankind first appeared on Earth.

I highly recommend this book as it is written in a straightforward manner, with no twisted scriptures, no private interpretations – nothing but factual truth, straight out of the word of God.

If you have an open mind, then you are ready for the true biblical answers to seven of life’s most puzzling mysteries:

1. WHO AND WHAT IS GOD?

God reveals himself in his Word, the Holy Bible, yet almost no one has understood it. The Bible, as author Bruce Barton said, is “the book that nobody knows.” The Bible itself is the basic mystery that reveals all other mysteries.

2. THE MYSTERY OF ANGELS AND EVIL SPIRITS

Is the existence of spirit beings fact or myth? Is there a devil? Did God create a devil? If there are holy angels, what is their purpose? Do evil spirits influence humans and even governments today? Do they affect your own life?

3. THE MYSTERY OF MAN

What and why is humanity? Is man an immortal soul? Do the dead know what the living are doing? Is man flesh and blood being with an immortal soul within? Is there meaning and purpose to human life?

4. THE MYSTERY OF CIVILIZATION

How did civilization develop? Why does our world of awesome advancement and progress also have such appalling evils? Why can’t the minds that develop marvels of science and technology solve the problems of human helplessness?

5. THE MYSTERY OF ISRAEL

Are the Jews the ancient nation of Israel? Why did God raise up one special nation? Are they God’s favorites? Does God discriminate against other nations? Is God a respecter of persons? What is Israel’s purpose in the divine order of things?

6. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH

Why should there be the institution of the Church in the world? Is it one Christ-originated Church, or does it consist of many differing denominations? Does it have government and authority? How could one recognize the true Church today?

7. THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Jesus’s gospel message was “the kingdom of God.” Is the kingdom of God something within each person? Is it something that may be set up in men’s hearts? Is it the institution of the Church? Or is it something else altogether?

These are the seven great mysteries that concern the very lives of every human being on earth. The plain truth of all these mysteries is revealed in this eye-opening book, and it is yours FREE for the asking! It is given away here.

June 12, 2009

Is All Animal Flesh Good For Food?

Were all animals made clean? What about the unclean animals shown to Peter in a vision? Here is a straightforward Bible answer, giving the New Testament teaching. This subject is important to your health and well-being! After thousands of years of human experience on earth, it seems there still is nothing people know less about than food.

Observe a little baby. It seems to think that anything and everything its little chubby hands can get into its mouth is good to eat—and everything baby gets his hands on goes straight to his mouth! How often must young parents take things away, and try to teach the lovely little bundle of humanity that everything one’s hands can touch is not necessarily good for the digestion!

We’re Just Grown-up Babies

Well, one might wonder if any of us has grown up! Most of us adults still seem to think that anything we can stuff in our mouths is good for food. About the only difference between us and the baby is that baby puts into his mouth whatever looks good, while we employ the sense of taste in deciding what goes into our mouths. In a very real sense, your stomach is your fuel tank. Your automobile’s tank is its stomach. You wouldn’t think of pouring just any fluid that will pour into the “stomach” of your car. You know that your car was not made to consume and “digest” fuel oil, water, milk, or kerosene.

Yes, we are very careful what we “feed” our automobile—and totally careless and indifferent about what we feed ourselves and our children!

What happens to the food you eat? In the stomach the digestive process takes place. And, once digested—if you have eaten fit and digestible food—a portion of the essential minerals and vitamins—the life-giving properties in the food—filter through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream to replenish and build up decaying cells, to provide energy, body warmth, good health.

Your body is wonderfully made! It is the most wonderful mechanism in the world.

But, just as you must use the right kind of gasoline in the gas tank and the right kind of oils and greases in the other parts of your car or otherwise impair its performance, so you must put the right kind of food into the most delicate mechanism of all, your body.

If you tried to oil a fine watch with axle grease, you wouldn’t expect the watch to keep good time.

And when you put into your stomach all kinds of foul things which the Great Architect who designed your human mechanism never intended, you foul up your body and bring on sickness, disease, aches, pains, a dulled and clogged-up mind, inefficiency and inability—and you commit suicide on the installment plan by actually shortening your life!

The God who designed, created, and made your body has revealed some essential basic knowledge about what meats will keep that body functioning in tip-top shape. Why does humanity refuse His instructions?

You Are Eating Poison

You don’t eat every plant that grows out of the ground. Some things that grow are poison, not food.

But did you know there are many kinds of poisons? Potassium cyanide will kill you very quickly. Some poisons will result in death within a few hours or a few days. But very few seem to know there are other poisons people mistakenly eat as foods which result in premature death after continuous usage for, say, ten, or thirty, or fifty years.

The only difference between these poisons we falsely call foods and potassium cyanide is the relative number of minutes, hours, or years it takes to accomplish its mission.

Just as every plant that God caused to grow out of the ground was not designed for food, so it is with animal flesh. Some will say, “Well, if swine’s flesh isn’t supposed to be eaten as food, what did God create swine for?” You might as well ask, what did God create weeds and poison vines for? Everything may have been created for a purpose, but not everything for the purpose of eating.

Now some believe that in the original creation—in the Garden of Eden—God did not intend any animal flesh to be eaten. God’s revelation on that point is vague, and many have argued it both ways. However, God has clearly revealed that certain animal meats are to be eaten as food now, in this age, and Jesus who came to set us an example did eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, and so do I.

What the Great Architect of Your Stomach Instructs

When the first written revelation of God came to man though Moses, God instructed man as to which kinds of animal flesh man ought or ought not to eat. You will find this list in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

This is a basic law—a revelation from God to man about which kinds of flesh will properly digest and assimilate in the human system, and which will not. It is not a part of God’s great spiritual law, summed up in the Ten Commandments. Neither is it part of the ceremonial, ritualistic, or sacrificial laws later abolished at the crucifixion of Christ.

It is necessary to recognize that God is the Author of all law, and there are countless laws in motion. There are laws of physics and chemistry. You know of the law of gravity. There is the great immutable spiritual law to regulate man’s relationship to God and to fellowmen—the law of love—the Ten Commandments. God gave His nation Israel civil statutes and judgments—national laws for the conduct of the national government. Israel was also His Church, under the Old Covenant. And for the dispensation then present God gave Israel rituals and ceremonial laws for the conduct of religious services, laws relating to typical and temporary sacrifices, meat and drink offerings—temporary substitutes for Christ and the Holy Spirit. Those laws, of course, ended when the Reality came.

Physical, as Well as Spiritual Sin

And then, we must realize, there are physical laws working in our bodies, regulating our health. This meat question has to do with these laws.

I know of men who make a hobby of bitterly accusing others of sin for eating pork, oysters, and clams. Let us get this straight and clear!

We usually speak of sin in its spiritual aspect. That is the aspect in which it is considered in the New Testament. The Bible definition of it is this: “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

The penalty for violation of that spiritual law is death—not the first, or physical death, but the second, or spiritual and eternal death in the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14).

Now the eating of wrong food is not a transgression of this spiritual law, and is not a spiritual sin. To violate the physical laws of health often brings the penalty of disease, disability, pain, sickness, and sometimes the first death. It is not necessarily spiritual sin.

That is what Jesus made plain, as recorded in Mark 7:14-23. Here Jesus was speaking of spiritual defilement, not physical health. Not that which enters into a man’s mouth, but the evil that comes out of his heart, defiles the man spiritually. What defiles the man—and he is speaking of defiling the man, not injuring the body—is transgression of the Ten Commandments—evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, blasphemy (verses 21-22). These things have nothing to do with the physical laws of health. He was making a point concerning spiritual defilements, not physical health.

Specifically, on the physical level, He was referring to a possible particle of dirt which might get on the food from dirty and unwashed hands—He was not here speaking of clean or unclean meats at all.

No Change in Structure of Animal Flesh at Cross

The animals whose flesh properly digests and nourishes the human body were so made in the original creation. No change was ever made in the structure of men’s bodies at the time of the flood, or at the time of Jesus’ death, or any other time. Neither did God make some sudden change in the structure of animal flesh, so that what once was unfit for food will now digest properly and supply the body’s needs.

The unclean animals were unclean before the flood.

Notice, before the flood, Noah took into the ark of the clean animals, to be eaten for food, by sevens; but of the unclean, of which he was not to eat during the flood, by two’s—only enough to preserve their lives. The inference is inescapable that the additional clean animals were taken aboard to be eaten for food while Noah and his family were in the ark.

Prior to the flood, clean animals were usually offered as sacrifices. Those who ate the sacrifices often partook of the animal flesh, but vegetables were the main constituent of diet. After the flood, God gave Noah not merely the green herb —vegetables—as the major part of diet, but of every type of living creature—clean animals, clean fish, clean fowl (Genesis 9:3 and Leviticus 11).

Genesis 9:3 does not say that every living, breathing creature is clean and fit to eat, but that “as the green herb have I given you all things.” God did not give poisonous herbs as food. He gave man the healthful herbs. Man can determine which herbs are healthful, but man cannot by himself determine which flesh foods are harmful. That is why God had to determine for us in His Word which meats are clean. Since the flood every moving clean, healthful, nonpoisonous type of animal life is good for food—just as God gave us the healthful, nonpoisonous herbs.

This does not give us permission to do as we please!

Not Ceremonial Law

The instruction in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, then, is not some ritualistic regulation for the Mosaic period only. Why do so many people have the idea that God is some great unfair monster who imposes foolish hardships on His people? Whatever God instructs us is for our good, not some nonsensical restriction for one period to be changed around some different way for other people of a different period.

Now for some specific instruction concerning mammals: “These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox [beef], the sheep [lamb], and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg [antelope], and the wild ox, and the chamois [mountain sheep]. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine [hogs], because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh . . .” (Deuteronomy 14:4-8).

Horsemeat is not fit for humans because horses not only do not have divided hoofs, but they also do not chew the cud.

Similarly, swine flesh—pork, ham, bacon, sausage, rabbit meat, etc.—is simply not fit for human consumption. The same is true with oysters, lobsters, clams, crabs, shrimp, crawfish, dogs, snakes, rats, and skunks.

The only seafood fit for food are fish having both fins and scales. Halibut has both and is clean. Catfish is a skin fish—unclean.

It’s all a matter of what we have become accustomed to doing. It seems strange and horrifying to hear that some Orientals eat mice as a delicacy. But many Orientals are horrified to hear that we eat nasty, slimy, filthy oysters! But some human grown-ups, like little babies, will eat anything they can get their hands on and stuff into their mouths.

At so-called “quality” grocery stores in large towns and cities, specializing in rare delicacies, you can purchase “delicious” canned rattlesnake—if you care for it.

So far as I am concerned, you may have my portion if you wish to try it. I do not care to eat it for the same reason I do not eat slugs, skunks, cats, or eels—for the same reason I do not eat poison ivy or weeds. Yes, and for the same reason I do not put fuel oil mixed with sand in the gas tank of my car!

The day will come when we will at last learn that eating greasy hog flesh and other unfit “foods” has been a prime cause of cancer and other deadly diseases.

What About Peter’s Vision?

But what about the sheet containing unclean animals which was shown to the apostle Peter in a vision (Acts 10)? Did this vision change the entire composition of all unclean animals, or of the human apparatus, so that these unfit things suddenly became nourishing food? Not at all!

The purpose of this vision was NOT to change God’s food and health laws which have been inexorably in motion from the beginning, but to show Peter “that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28). Why? Because the Jewish people had been taught to regard Gentiles like unclean animals—to have nothing to do with them.

It is time you fully understood this vision. It may well affect your health, happiness and eternal life. Open your Bible to the tenth chapter of Acts.

Notice that Cornelius was an Italian soldier—an uncircumcised Italian—a Gentile by race. To the strict Jews, he was to be regarded as an unclean man. But God looks on the heart. Cornelius gave “much alms” to the Jewish people (verse 2). God remembered his alms and revealed in a vision that he should send some of his servants to Joppa to contact Peter.

In verse 9, we find Peter was a man of prayer. While praying on a housetop, Peter became very hungry. Just before noon Peter fell into a trance. In vision he saw heaven opened and a sheet was let down to the earth. This sheet contained “all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air” (verse 12).

Notice this carefully. This sheet contained every type of animal imaginable, including wild animals—lions, tigers, hyenas, monkeys, skunks. And creeping things—snakes and lizards, vermin and spiders. And fowl like vultures and crows and eagles!

Peter was shocked by the sight of all these creatures. Then, of all things, God commanded Peter to kill and eat of these creatures! What did Peter say?

“Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean” (verse 14).

Peter had lived day and night with Jesus for over three years. He certainly understood from Jesus’ teaching that there were some creatures which are simply not fit for human food. That is why when this vision came ten years after the rituals and ceremonies were abolished at the cross, Peter refused to eat. He knew that God’s law of clean and unclean meats was still in full force and effect!

Now notice what the voice from heaven told Peter when he refused to eat: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (verse 15). It does not say that what God cleansed were these revolting unclean reptiles, fowl and wild animals. It does say that what God cleansed is not to be called common! But what did God cleanse?
What God Really Cleansed

In this vision which Peter saw, the voice from heaven spoke three times, then the sheet was received up into heaven again. And what did Peter do? “Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean” (verse 17). He did not immediately assume like so many people that God suddenly changed His laws ten years after the crucifixion!

Now notice what happened! “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them” (verses 19-20).

The voice from heaven in the vision spoke unto Peter three times because three Gentile men—two servants and a soldier (verse 7)—were at that moment on their way to see him. Peter went with them to see Cornelius. This is when Peter understood the vision! He confessed in verse 28 “. . . God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

“What God cleansed” were not those unclean animals, but those Gentile men, formerly regarded as unclean by the Jewish people.

Those unclean animals in Peter’s vision were used to symbolize the Gentile races of men. The Jewish people had been forbidden to associate with them because of their abominable practices. But now this wall of spiritual separation had been broken down and salvation was extended to the Gentiles. Peter finally realized that this was the meaning of the vision and said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (verses 34-35).

Yes, to be accepted with God, we must fear Him and work righteousness. What is righteousness? “. . . All thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalms 119:172). And among those commandments are the laws which tell us which kinds of flesh are clean and which are unclean!
Would You Eat Skunks and Rats?

But suppose God had been trying to tell Peter—and us—that he should eat all the things contained in the sheet that was let down in vision. Would you eat those “creeping things”—lizards, snakes, spiders? Would you eat skunks and hyenas? Of course you wouldn’t! Why? Because you have your own law of what you think is clean and unclean!

Common sense tells us that God did not intend for us to eat every creature. But we just aren’t willing to let our Creator tell us which meats will give us lasting health and strength, and which ones are injurious to our bodies, and will eventually bring on more sickness and disease. It is time we let God tell us what is clean and what is unclean instead of using our faulty human reason!

Some people, however, still want to argue with God. One text they will bring up is found in I Timothy 4:1-5. Read it carefully.

Notice that these “doctrines of devils” include “commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving. . . .” By whom? “Of them which believe and know the truth.” What is truth? Christ said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Then the Bible itself reveals the truth concerning which meats are good for food. We should not refuse to eat any food which, according to truth, God created to be eaten with thanksgiving. But this does not mean that all meats are healthful and fit for the human body.

Notice that the false doctrine is commanding to abstain from meats which are thankfully received by those who believe and know the truth—who know God’s Word. But God’s Word—the Holy Bible—tells us that there are some meats which are “unclean,” and are not to be received with thanksgiving!

Now consider what verses 4 and 5 tell us: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” What does it mean to be SANCTIFIED by the Word of God and prayer?

“Sanctify” is a word meaning to make holy, or set apart for a right use or purpose—to set apart as fit for human food.

Now which meats has God sanctified for human food? The only passages in all the Bible showing which meats God sanctified are found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Here you find that it is the “clean”—healthful—meats which are good for food. These are the only meats that can be received with thanksgiving and prayer!

There is not a single scripture showing that God ever set apart as fit for food any unclean creatures—snails, oysters, clams, snakes, octopuses, eels, horses, rabbits, or swine! Yet people eat these creatures without realizing the harm they are doing to their bodies.
Paul Instructs Vegetarians

Paul’s letter to the saints at Rome is often quoted as supposed proof that any kind of flesh food is good to eat. But is this what Paul really taught?

Turn to the beginning of the 14th chapter of Romans. Notice what the apostle is writing: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye”—don’t dispute with him and sit in judgment on him because of his weak understanding of the faith. Paul continues: “For one believeth that he may eat all things, another who is weak, eateth herbs [vegetables only]” (Romans 14:1-2).

Of whom is Paul writing? Of those who were vegetarians, as well as those who believed in eating both flesh foods and vegetables.

Paul was confronted with the same problem that we encounter today in carrying the gospel to the world. You would be surprised at the number of people who do not eat meat or even any animal products—milk, butter, cheese, eggs. Some have meatless days or days on which they will eat fish only. These are all people who, because they are weak in the faith, abstain from those clean meats which God originally sanctified or set apart in His Word for man’s physical nourishment.

The question confronting Paul was not that Christians at Rome contended that all unclean animals had now been cleansed by God—the common false assumption of today—but the real issue, according to verse two, was over the vegetarian belief held by some that no meats whatsoever should be eaten.

Paul was straightening out the brethren on this matter, telling them that none of those clean meats which had been created by God to be received with thanksgiving should be refused. He pointed out to them, however, that it would be wrong for the vegetarians to eat meat if they had doubts about it, thereby defiling their weak consciences. For he wrote: “. . . Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (verses 22-23).

We must follow what God has revealed to us to be right according to the Word of God. This does not mean that our consciences always tell us what is right—not at all. We have to continually study to learn what is right and wrong. But God thinks more highly of a vegetarian who might sincerely and conscientiously deny himself the clean meats, because he does not know the full truth, than He does a person who would do the right thing according to the letter, but who really believes in his heart that he is doing wrong.

So “to him”—the vegetarian—”that esteemeth anything to be common, to him”—the vegetarian—”it is common.” That is, it seems so to him. But it is not common in fact, nor to us, for we know that all clean meats are good for food. That is why Paul wrote: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing common of itself” (verse 14).

Notice that in this verse Paul used, according to the margin of the King James Version, the Greek word for “common,” not the Greek word for “unclean.” Why?

“Common” Does Not Mean “Unclean”

Many have carelessly assumed that Paul is writing about unclean meats in this 14th chapter of Romans. He is not! He is writing about the difference between vegetarians who regard that clean meats are common, and those who know that clean meats are of themselves not common.

In the Greek there are two different words used which are often carelessly translated “unclean” or “common.” Notice that in Acts 10:14 both of these words are used. The Bible does not repeat itself foolishly. Therefore these two words mean entirely different things.

The Greek word for “unclean” is akarthatos. It means “unclean and impure by nature.” The Greek word for “common” is koinos, which means “polluted through external misuse.” (See any of the Greek-English lexicons.)

Paul used the Greek word for “common” throughout Romans 14:14. He did not use the Greek word for “unclean.” In other words, Paul knew that no clean foods which God has sanctified are by nature polluted, but vegetarians who were weak in the faith—weak in understanding God’s Word—thought meats should not be eaten. To such a vegetarian—”to him,” not to others—that meat seemed to be polluted. His conscience defiled the meat for him; he would become upset if he were to eat meat. But that does not make the meat polluted in fact or for everybody else.

Notice Paul’s conclusion: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure”—that is, all things that God sanctified and gave us to eat are clean—”but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth . . .” (verses 20 and 21).

Paul is not recommending eating unclean meats! Quite the opposite. He is recommending not eating any meat at all in the presence of a vegetarian brother if he is offended!

When Is “Clean” Meat “Common”?

The only circumstance in which clean meats are ever common or polluted is when the clean animals have died of themselves or when the blood has not been properly drained. That is why the apostles and elders who gathered at Jerusalem forbade the use of meat from strangled animals and meat with the blood in it (Acts 15:20). This is New Testament teaching for today!

Such animal flesh was called “common” because it could be given to strangers or aliens in Old Testament times if those people wanted to eat it. They were the common and polluted people—the Gentiles—not the chosen and clean people, Israel (Deuteronomy 14:21).

In New Testament times, clean meat offered to idols was prohibited if it had been polluted by strangulation or if the blood were remaining in it. Otherwise the meat was permitted to be eaten if it did not offend anyone.

Paul devoted the entire 8th and 10th chapters of I Corinthians to instructions on not raising the question of meats offered to idols. “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake” (I Corinthians 10:28). In other words, if clean meats offered to idols were not polluted, you could eat of them unless it offended someone. Under those circumstances the meat became common, not to you, but to the other person who raised the question about idols. Notice: “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other” (verse 29).

That is why Paul said in Romans, “But to him that esteemeth any thing to be common [margin], to him it is common” (Romans 14:14).

Prophecy for the Future

What does the Bible say the people would be doing today? Notice: They that eat “swine’s flesh”—that is what most people are doing today—”and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together”—in the wrath of God—”saith the Lord” (Isaiah 66:17).

This is the fate of those who lust after the foods which God forbids us to eat because those meats will harm us. This is the fate of those “whose God is their belly” (Philippians 3:19).

Is it any wonder today, that with all our scientific knowledge, we have more doctor bills, more sickness than ever before in the history of the world? It is time we returned to God and began to obey His laws. He is our Creator. He made us. He knows what our bodies were made to utilize as good, healthful foods. He set the laws in motion regulating clean and unclean meats. It is time we began to obey them as Jesus and the apostles did!

God forbids also the eating of animal fat, or blood (Leviticus 3:17; 7:23-27). Butter, olive oil, and some vegetable oils and shortenings are acceptable, but animal fat should be cut off before eating meat. Cheaper hamburger is not good because it is mixed with much fat. Lard should never be used. These things will wreck any stomach in time.
What About Fish and Fowl?

The Bible itself defines which sea life is good food: “Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat” (Leviticus 11:9). In verse 10 it is further clarified: “And all that have not fins AND scales in the seas . . . they shall be an abomination unto you.”

“But which fish have both fins and scales?” is the question asked by many readers.

First, let us name the commonly known unclean fish—these are scaleless fish—which are not fit for food: catfish, eels, paddlefish, sculpins, sticklebacks and sturgeons.

These fish do not have true scales. Together with these creatures are other forms of sea life unfit for human consumption: abalone, clams, crabs, lobsters, oysters, scallops, shrimp, whale.

The most important clean fish—having both scales and fins—are: albacore, anchovy, barracuda, bass, blackfish, bowfin, buffalo, carp, characin, cod, croaker, darter, flounder, gaby, grayling, haddock, halibut, herring, jack, mackerel, minnow, mooneye, mullet, needlefish, perch, pike, salmon, sardine, shad, silverside, smelt, snapper, sole, sucker, sunfish, surf fish, tarpon, trout, tuna, weakfish, whitefish. If any question arises, consult such books as Field Book of Freshwater Fishes by Ray Schrenkeisen, which may be found in public libraries.

Some people, who are not competent to judge fish, have thought certain of these clean fish were without scales, but this is not true. One point to remember is that many fish have very small or minute scales near the head and the tail fin. In either case, such fish are clean and fit for food.

The second part of the question concerns fowl. Which birds are fit for human consumption? The answer is found in Leviticus 11:13-19 and Deuteronomy 14:11-20.

Each of these sections lists specific varieties of birds unfit for human consumption. No clean birds are listed. Only about two dozen unclean birds are listed out of thousands found the world over. These unclean birds illustrate the characteristics of all unclean birds. They fall into types, each of which is unclean “after its kind.” The question is, how do these unclean birds differ from those known to be clean or fit for human consumption? The characteristics of clean fowl are, of course, determined by the dove and the pigeon (Luke 2:24 and Leviticus 1:14-17) which were anciently used for sacrifice.

By comparing the differences between these clean birds and those listed as unclean, we can arrive at the following six characteristics of clean birds: 1) they must not be birds of prey; 2) they catch food thrown to them in the air, but they bring it to the ground, where they divide it with their bills, if possible, before eating it; whereas unclean birds devour it in the air, or press it with one foot to the ground and tear it with their bills; 3) they must have an elongated middle front toe and a hind toe; 4) they must spread their toes so that three front toes are on one side of a perch and the hind toe on the other side; 5) they must have craws or crops; 6) they must have a gizzard with a double lining which can easily be separated. (Consult articles in Jewish Encyclopaedia under “Poultry,” and “Clean and Unclean Animals.”)

Clean birds have all these characteristics; unclean birds lack one or more of these characteristics. If a bird lacks any one of these characteristics, it is unclean.

Besides the pigeon and dove, the following birds are clean: chicken, pheasant, quail, partridge, grouse, turkey, all song birds, ducks and geese.

Unclean birds not listed specifically in the Bible are roadrunners, woodpeckers and the parrot family (which divide their toes so that two are on either side of a perch), aquatic and wading birds and gulls which have no crops or craws, no double lining of gizzards, and often no hind toe or no elongated middle front toe.

It may not be spiritual sin to eat biblically unclean foods. Yet, if one deliberately does it out of lust of appetite, that breaks the tenth command and becomes sin. But in all events wrong food injures the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It defiles the BODY if not the man, and if we continue to defile our bodies God will destroy us (I Corinthians 3:17).

Source: Plain Truth, February 1980

April 30, 2009

Marriage And Divorce: What Does The Bible Teach?

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instituted marriage when He made a wife for Adam (Gen. 2:18). He instructed that a man ought to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and become one flesh with her (Gen. 2:24). God’s will is for marriage to last for life — with each partner loving, honoring, caring for, and cleaving to the other just as Christ loves and cares for His Church. The Bible teaches the sacredness of marital vows. 
 
But, we live in an imperfect world beset by human weakness, “hardness of heart,” unfaithfulness, wickedness, irresponsibility, and all such things. People do sin. Divorce occurs even though God “hates putting away” (Mal. 2:16). 
 
What does one do if he or she has already been divorced? When a person repents and is converted, all his past sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38; Ps. 103:1-3, 10-12). Any past divorce would 
be included, and the person would be free to marry again. 
However, Paul was also inspired to write that a converted person must not leave or divorce a mate (even one unconverted)  who is pleased to continue the marriage (I Cor. 7:10-13). To divorce a faithful mate and marry another is adultery (Matt. 19:9). Divorce and remarriage is not sanctioned once God has entered the marriage and bound the couple for life (Matt. 5:32). 
But what if an unconverted mate voluntarily leaves the converted Christian? Then, as Paul wrote, that Christian may be divorced (“loosed”) from an unbelieving mate and does not sin if he remarries (I Cor. 7:27-28). 
 
Although the unconverted world cannot receive Christ’s teaching, all who are His ought to obey Him implicitly, not only in refraining from divorce but also in using all their resources to build a truly loving relationship (Eph. 5:22-31; I Pet. 3:1-7). Our earthly marriages ought to picture the great love 
relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32). 
 

God instituted marriage when He made a wife for Adam (Gen. 2:18). He instructed that a man ought to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and become one flesh with her (Gen. 2:24). God’s will is for marriage to last for life — with each partner loving, honoring, caring for, and cleaving to the other just as Christ loves and cares for His Church. The Bible teaches the sacredness of marital vows. 

But, we live in an imperfect world beset by human weakness, “hardness of heart,” unfaithfulness, wickedness, irresponsibility, and all such things. People do sin. Divorce occurs even though God “hates putting away” (Mal. 2:16). 
 
What does one do if he or she has already been divorced? When a person repents and is converted, all his past sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38; Ps. 103:1-3, 10-12). Any past divorce would be included, and the person would be free to marry again. 
However, Paul was also inspired to write that a converted person must not leave or divorce a mate (even one unconverted)  who is pleased to continue the marriage (I Cor. 7:10-13). To divorce a faithful mate and marry another is adultery (Matt. 19:9). Divorce and remarriage is not sanctioned once God has entered the marriage and bound the couple for life (Matt. 5:32).
 
But what if an unconverted mate voluntarily leaves the converted Christian? Then, as Paul wrote, that Christian may be divorced (“loosed”) from an unbelieving mate and does not sin if he remarries (I Cor. 7:27-28). 
 
Although the unconverted world cannot receive Christ’s teaching, all who are His ought to obey Him implicitly, not only in refraining from divorce but also in using all their resources to build a truly loving relationship (Eph. 5:22-31; I Pet. 3:1-7). Our earthly marriages ought to picture the great love relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32). 

April 20, 2009

What is The Laying On Of Hands?

The laying on of hands is a symbolical act which sets individuals apart and signifies the imparting of spiritual blessings, authority, and power. In the Old Testament, a blessing was often conferred in this way. An example is Jacob’s laying his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh to pass on blessings they were to receive from God (Gen. 48:13-20).  

In the New Testament, a newly baptized person had hands laid on him for the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Notice in Acts 8:17-18 that after God’s ministers had baptized repentant converts, then “laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And … through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given.” Also see Acts 19:5-6 and II Timothy 1:6. 

The laying on of hands also accompanies an elder’s prayer for the afflicted. we read in Acts 9:17: “And Ananias … putting his hands on him [Paul] said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus who appeared unto thee in the way which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Another purpose for the laying on of hands is that of ordination. An example is found in Acts 6. Here seven men became deacons when the apostles prayed and “laid their hands on them” (verse 6). 

The laying on of hands, then, serves to show that God works through His ministers. This ceremony is mentioned as one of the basic doctrines of His Church in Hebrews 6:2.

April 1, 2009

How Leaven Pictures Sin — An Important Reminder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sin versus righteousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 19, 2009

Are Confessions A Biblical Practice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Homosexuality Destroys God's Gospel

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Given today’s liberal climate of pandering to homosexual conduct as normal behaviour, I doubt this post will be popular with the “politically correct” elite. But then again, the truth is seldom popular. Witness Jesus Christ, who was killed for  bringing the message of His Father. Yes, many seemed to believe “on” Christ, but only 120 “believed” Him – that is, they obeyed. Today also, many profess to believe in Christ, adore Christ, worship the name of Christ – yet who listens to or obeys God? Man has the audacity to actually do away with the 10 Commandments, when there is no clear scripture authorizing such a move.

Is this the end time?

It’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around a subject like the end time, when everything seems to be well in your world. North America still has a high standard of living and has enjoyed one for almost a century. However, all that is slowly coming to an end. The entire world seems to be in a financial free fall, but as this is mentioned, many seem to shrug it off as a concern that will right itself again. It’s just another cyclical event, right? Wrong! No one has ever seen the likes of what we are facing today. The experts admit they are dumbfounded and speechless. They don’t know what is going on because history has no precedent. It’s very easy to be casual about things such as these, but we are now witnessing the outer edge of the coming storm, prophecied in your Bible.

In Gen. 6:13, during the time of Noah, God said the end of all flesh was near. And so it is again, as we face another end –  the coming Tribulation as prophecied in the book of Revelation. Anyone with a little foresight should be able to recognize that this world’s problems cannot be solved by man. Yet no one wants to listen to God. There is very little humbleness in this world, and the Bible says mankind will experience destruction just short of destroying all humanity (Matt. 24).

Peter warns about homosexuality

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (II Pet. 2:6).

This warning was not for the first century Church, but rather the end time, about which Christ prophecied that “no flesh” would be saved alive if He did not return. Peter was inspired to write about this end time sick  Sodom-and-Gomorrah world.

So what is Sodomy? It is abnormal sexual intercourse between people. This was practiced widely in Sodom, known for some of the most vile sins ever committed by men. Today we have become so sophisticated that sodomy, or homosexuality,  is regarded as good, rather than the abomination God says it is (Rom. 1:22-23).

The Bible is clear in its condemnation of this lifestyle (Is. 1:10, 3:9, Jer. 23:14), and of the certainty of those sinners being severely punished (Is. 13:9, Jer. 49:18, Lam. 4:6).

Like Sodom of old, the scripture says we declare our sin as Sodom and hide it not. Today’s society is proud of the fact that it has collectively come out of the closet. The entire lifestyle is taught early on in school to be tolerated and any opposing views are squashed as being intolerant.

The most important thing on the minds of many people is the drive to legitimize and legalize homosexual marriage. People think if they can get caught up in their evil desires, they can forget about reality and about what God says. Yet, God gave us specific New Testament example in Peter (and Jude) about what happens if a city or nation is polluted with homosexuality. It is going to be destroyed the same way that depraved Sodom and Gomorrah were.

The twisting of the human mind

The sin of sodomy is the utmost twisting the human mind. God is NOT pleased about people being defiled in such a way. And that is exactly what it is – a defilement. God calls it an uncleanness – a dishonouring of the human body (Rom. 1:14).

Now it’s funny that most professing Christianity believe in the New Testament, yet here are specific warnings from God and even churches that claim to represent Jesus Christ openly advocate homosexuality – saying the Bible is silent on the issue, or worse, approves of it.

Let’s be real honest in our evaluation of this behaviour – it is not neither loving nor balanced; solid or sound minded. It is a depraved conduct – period. I understand that more and more courts of the land are approving of it, but they are defying the living God! They have pushed and pressured young, impressionable minds to accept this sick lifestyle and now “the whole head is sick (Is. 1:5).

The antithesis of hope!

Homosexual marriage is the antithesis of real hope. Why? because rather than being a “freedom,” it destroys families. Family is the most sacred of all institutions. When a family obeys God it produces strong, beautiful children which will amaze you. These are the backbone of nations. When families fall apart, nations fall.

Now many will argue that they have seen strong homosexual marriages with adopted children, which function better than some traditional families. That may be true, but it misses the entire point. Marriage and family are a God-plane relationship. It prepares us to enter our marriage with Jesus Christ. God is our Father, Jesus Christ is the Husband of the bride (God’s firstfruits) and the entire world will be likened as children in the God family. It is a family gospel.

Satan is the author of the “queer” movement. He understands that he will be deposed when Jesus Christ returns, that he has no opportunity in the family of God. He wants to obliterate family – destroy marriage and blot it out forever. He is the motivator behind the same sex marriage movement which is defying God to His face.

Anciently, when two angels visited Sodom in the guise of physical men, the perverted male population wanted to have sexual relations with them. They were so full of lust, that even as they were struck blind, they kept coming. Just as there was no  reasoning with such deviant minds then, so there is no reasoning with the homosexual movement today. There is no knowledge of God with them, so they have been given over to a reprobate [vain, empty, worthless – Strong’s # 96] mind (Rom. 1:28).

If you understand the gospel of God – which is about the family of God – you will understand the magnitude of this sin. We are now witnessing the destruction of the gospel of God – the good news of the coming family of God. Satan is desperately trying to blot out this hope from mankind by twisting and distorting the very foundation of family. But God turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes as an example and warning to us of what will happen if we turn wholesale to this sin. And as a nation, we have!

There is no greater physical warning in the Bible than this. God didn’t spare the sinning angels, nor the sinners in Noah’s day. Neither did He spare Sodom and Gomorrah.  We are living in such societies today and  God does not spare people who commit such vile sins. Think about it. Haven’t most people been dulled to homosexuality and other immorality in this world?

“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin…(II Pet. 2:14). They are hooked on sin like heroin – like the homosexuals in Gen. 19. Their willpower is destroyed.

The homosexual movement promises liberty, but they themselves are the servants of corruption (II Pet. 2:19). They never talk about God’s “law of liberty,” in Jam. 1:25. They offer a false freedom – a lawless liberty, which is really slavery. They talk about love, but it is a shallow, meaningless love not grounded in the law of God.

Homosexuality is NOT freedom, because it destroys the law of God and the gospel of God. It is part of the pornographic market which rakes in billions annually. And we need to call it what it is. First, homosexuals are not queer or gay, because those words soften or add legitimacy  – they are sodomites – as God calls them.

Some will say that this type of post is hateful, but the opposite is true. We are to love the sinner and yet hate the sin and I abide by that principle. I have nothing against people themselves, but I can’t condone the lifestyle.  Anyone who thinks our present problems are unrelated to the filth and degeneration present in society today is not thinking clearly. These problems will only intensify, they will not go away.  There will not be an economic upturn anymore – this is it – we have crested the hill and the way down is before us. God is now judging our nations for turning their backs on Him.

What an ugly picture leading to the greatest time of suffering ever in mankind’s history – the Tribulation – as described in the book of Revelation. Yes, that’s the same book no religion teaches about because of its perceived bad news. And contrary to scoffers, that won’t make it go away. In fact, God knew such attitudes would prevail today:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts (II Pet. 3:3).

Lange’s Commentary says this is referring to “the last of the last days.” So many will come in the spirit of scoffing and cursing (Ps. 109:16-17). What is causing this mass exodus away from God? Satan has been cast down and demons are racing about like mad dogs stirring up rage, clothing all in a scoffing spirit. It’s an ugly picture, but just like in the time of Noah, they refuse to listen, which actually fulfills prophecy.

There is good news though. Jesus Christ is returning and will overthrow the governments of this world, installing God’s government of peace and justice. Right and proper conduct will be taught from the basis of the law of God and the result will be true happiness.

March 16, 2009

What Is The Casting Of Lots?

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

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

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

Is It Biblical To Ordain Women As Ministers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25, 2009

Why Are There So Many Denominations In This World?

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

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

How Was The Church To Grow?

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

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

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

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

Most Of The World Is Deceived

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

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

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

World’s Influence Into God’s Church Foretold

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

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

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

Where Historians Get Confused

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

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

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

February 24, 2009

What Is The Biblical Name For The True NT Church Of God?

Have you ever noticed that churches in this world are often named after men, a devised system, or a kind of church government? The name may even offer insight into a significant doctrine they emphasize, or what men hope to make it — all-encompassing, universal or catholic. But is this the correct way to identify the true Church of God? After all, there is only one true Church of God – not thousands comprising a babble of confusing religions, beliefs, or doctrines!

So what are we looking for? I mean, the Bible should help us identify the name of God’s Church, right? Of course it does! Wherever that one true Church is, it will be named the “Church of God.” Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17:11, 12: “…Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me…. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name.”

A person’s name is important. When one acts in another’s name, one acts in his stead — by his authority. The name designates the source of the authority — it designates who the person is for whom one acts. It’s clear from the scripture above that the true Church is to be kept in the name of the Father, which takes the authority of His name. Since the name of the Father is God, the Church is simply named the Church of God. You can see why it would be important not to name it after a man or any other man-devised idea.

Twelve times in the New Testament, the Church is named the Church of God. In five such passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ — the Church as a whole — is indicated. Thus, when speaking of the entire Church, including all its individual members on earth, the name is “the Church of God.” Here are these five passages:

1. Acts 20:28: The admonition to the elders is to “feed the Church of God.”

2. I Corinthians 10:32: “Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.”

3. I Corinthians 11:22: “…or despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not?”

4. I Corinthians 15:9: Paul wrote: “I persecuted the Church of God.”

5. Galatians 1:13: This verse repeats the one last given — “I persecuted the Church of God.”

Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is called “the Church of God,” often in connection with the place or location. Here are four more passages:

6. I Corinthians 1:2: “The Church of God which is at Corinth.”

7. II Corinthians 1:1: “The Church of God which is at Corinth.”

8. I Timothy 3:5: In speaking of an elder in a local congregation, Paul wrote Timothy: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?”

9. I Timothy 3:15: “…Behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God.”

In speaking of the local congregations collectively, not as one general body, but as the total of all local congregations, the Bible name is “the Churches of God.” Here are the final three verses of the twelve which name the Church:

10. I Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.”

11. I Thessalonians 2:14: “For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus.”

12. II Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves glory in you in the Churches of God.”

In some New Testament instances, a descriptive adjective is added to the name, as the Church of God at Corinth, or the Churches of God in Judea. But that is not all. Many have appropriated God’s name (the Church of God), but are not proclaiming the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Neither are they teaching obedience to God’s Ten Commandments or repentance of transgressing that Law. They pervert nearly all of the doctrines found in the Bible to suit their own agendas, so by their fruits we understand that they are not representative of God.

While this is not an exhaustive study into the matter, it does provide oversight into the subject and gives a clear analysis from scripture into which direction we have to look in identifying His Church.

February 23, 2009

Is Door To Door Preaching A Biblical Practice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tomorrow’s World, July/August 1970

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