The Apple Of God's Eye

June 9, 2011

The Correct Crucifixion And Resurrection Of Christ

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

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

Three Days and Three Nights

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

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

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

April 25, 2011

A Fate Worse Than Death!

What is the most terrible thing that could happen to a human being?

Did you know that there is a sin so great, so devastating in its awfulness, that even the great mercy of God cannot overlook it, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ cannot wash it away? A sin that can never be forgiven.

Jesus warned that it could happen. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mark 3:28-29, RAV throughout except as noted).

Who could commit such a dreadful sin, and subject themselves to such an appalling fate — to lose all hope of forgiveness and salvation?

Jesus addressed these stern words to self-righteous religious leaders of first century Jerusalem. They had developed an implacable contempt for Jesus. During his ministry, Jesus occasionally clashed with them, and several times he warned them of the dire consequences of their attitude. Finally, they trumped up charges against him and occasioned his crucifixion by the Romans.

But was this the unpardonable sin?

An unpardonable sin is by no means the special province of bigots. Have you ever noticed this scripture in the epistles of John, whose writings usually epitomize love, tolerance and forgiveness? “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that” (I John 5:16). (more…)

April 10, 2011

Now Carry It!

Filed under: Cross — melchia @ 8:52 pm
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Do you sometimes feel the burden of the world is on your shoulders? Christ did! Yet how many professing Christians do you know who believe that Jesus “did it all” for us on the cross — that His sacrifice did away with God’s law and freed us from any responsibility to keep God’s commandments?

Millions of Christians believe that this is exactly what happened! But is that what God’s Word really says? Let’s see.

If Jesus did it all for us, then why does He require us, on the authority of the New Testament, to repent of our sins and obey the commandments (Acts 2:38, I John 2:3-4)? If there is no law, how could we be guilty of sins of which we must repent?

No, there is much we must do. Jesus’ sacrifice was only the beginning of God’s plan of salvation. We have a great responsibility to fulfill as a result of that sacrifice.

What we must do is captured for us in the example of Simon of Cyrene.

He carried the cross

Remember that Jesus was required to carry His own cross up the hill of Golgotha, and this after an unbelievably painful and exhausting nightlong scourging by Roman soldiers. The Greek word for “cross” can mean a straight tree without its branches, or a stake.

At one point along the path, which was lined with gaping spectators, Jesus may have stumbled under the heavy weight of His own crucifixion stake.

Perhaps He dropped to one knee and inhaled deeply, refilling His burning lungs, and attempted to reposition the heavy tree or stake so He could rise again and carry it on.

But the strength Jesus had enjoyed in much better times was sapped, His body critically injured and weakened by the vicious beating He had endured. Jesus no longer even looked like a human being (Isa. 52:14)!

A burly Roman officer standing nearby observed the impossibility of Jesus’ continuing with the cross and looked menacingly at the crowd, evaluating who might be able-bodied enough to be drafted to help the exhausted carpenter carry His death instrument.

Out of the hooting crowd the soldiers pulled Simon of Cyrene, probably a large, stocky farmer who had come in from the country to keep the Spring Holy Days. “You — yes, you!” one of the soldiers screamed. “Get over here and carry this stake!”

Simon probably was thinking: Why do they have to bother me? I don’t want anything to do with this business. What if they nail me to the stake instead of Him? Say, this is heavy. Wonder what He did to deserve this? (more…)

March 25, 2010

The True Meaning Of The Passover

The Passover is perhaps the most important occasion of the year for true Christians, and this is why there is a dire need to understand its true meaning. If our observance of that memorial is off, it can affect the entire holy day season and the entire year.

Many assume that this first service of the Holy Day season (one of the most powerfully symbolic ceremonies in all of God’s plan), represents the forgiveness of our sins, washing our slate clean. But is this really what Passover is all about?  Do we go to the Passover to have our sins forgiven? No we don’t, as the Passover is a MEMORIAL of the crucifixion of Christ. All of our attention should be on the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us and who paid the penalty for our sins (John 1:29). We have to get our minds on our own difficulties, inadequacies, sins and limitations and focus on the price that was paid for those sins. If we do that right, we will realize how vile those sins are, that they costs the life of our Creator.

The symbol of the broken unleavened bread during Passover (I Cor. 11:23-24) reveals that Christ’s  body was broken for us so that we can be healed and raised to eternal life, as well as having our physical bodies healed in this degenerate world. He would take those physical penalties Himself so that we can have life more abundantly. So He gave His body to be broken and smashed. We have to focus on what the Lamb went through, so that we can be healed.

All in this world have earned only the death penalty. As Christians, we cannot bring these sins into the family of God. He cannot have the dross of bad character – self-will, impatience, self-trust – in His family. Christ made it possible to put those evils to death, so that we can live. If we break the law, we can have the opportunity to repent. So Christ died for us. (more…)

November 7, 2009

Jesus Christ Did Not Convert One Single Individual During His Ministry

Filed under: Jesus Christ — melchia @ 8:44 am
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www.bible-history.comReader Question: You made the statement in one of your posts that Jesus Christ never converted even one individual during His ministry. So then why does Luke 19:9 point out where Jesus said to Zacchaeus that today salvation had come to his house? Also, the thief on the cross was promised eternal life (Luke 23:43). What about this?

Answer: You probably have assumed that Jesus promised the thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember the thief had asked earlier, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). The plain fact is that Jesus has not yet come into His Kingdom (Luke 11:2; 19:11; I Thes. 4:13-17; I Cor. 15:23, 49-52). And after all, Christ died that same day and was in the grave — not Paradise — for a total of three days and three nights (Matt. 12:39-40; I Cor. 15:3, 4).

Rather, the correct wording of Luke 23:43 proves that Christ promised the thief (on the day of His crucifixion — that day) that the thief would eventually be (“shall… be”) in His Kingdom — Paradise — when it comes to the earth.

The inspired Greek word order with proper punctuation should read: “Verily I say to thee today, ‘With me shalt thou be in paradise.’ ” Notice that Christ’s use of the word “today” was stressing the time He made His promise, not the time of the fulfillment of the promise. The verse is not correctly punctuated in most English translations. Punctuation was added centuries after the original Greek was written.

Now, what did Christ mean when He told Zacchaeus that “this day is salvation come to this house…”? (Luke 19:9.) Christ was the direct Emissary of the Kingdom of God. He is the “Captain” of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). The Author and Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ, had come to Zacchaeus’ house.

But look further. Christ nowhere said that Zacchaeus was given God’s Spirit — or converted — that day. Unless a person has God’s Spirit he cannot be truly converted (Rom. 8:9). Zacchaeus was — by Christ’s visit — being offered an opportunity to learn about the Gospel which leads to salvation. But, being offered an opportunity to hear the announcement of God’s government is vastly different than actually being begotten and filled with God’s Spirit. Recall that Peter repeatedly heard that same announcement, but was not converted during Christ’s earthly ministry (Luke 22:32; John 7:39; 16:7).

There is, of course, little doubt that Zacchaeus was converted after the Holy Spirit was made available in general to the common people on the day of Pentecost — 31 A.D. (Acts 2).

The fruits of Jesus’ ministry — and the results of His death and resurrection — have opened the door that will eventually lead mankind to the knowledge of, and opportunity for, salvation. But Jesus during His earthly ministry did not come to convert the world.

October 7, 2009

Is The Holy Spirit A Person?

HolySpiritMillions  believe it fervently. Some of the world’s greatest minds have pondered and written about it. So why shouldn’t you also believe and accept the doctrine of the trinity — that the Holy Spirit is a person, just like God the Father and Jesus Christ?

But wait! What did they believe and what have they pondered? Did these “great minds” really prove the doctrine of the trinity to themselves, not to mention to others? Let the record speak for itself:

“We cannot doubt the existence among orthodox Fathers of different opinions on this mysterious subject until its final definition by the Church” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

It has always been a mystery, filled with controversy and difficult for everybody to comprehend. All scholarly attempts at understanding have only added misunderstanding! All theological attempts at clarity have only added confusion. See if you can understand this:

“Some said that there was but one substance in the God-head, others, three. Some allowed, some rejected the terms … according as they were guided by the prevailing heresy of the day and their own judgment concerning the mode of meeting it… Some declare that God is numerically three; others numerically one; while to others it might appear more philosophical to exclude the idea of number altogether in the discussion of that mysterious Nature which is beyond comparison, whether viewed as One or Three, and neither falls under nor forms any conceivable species” (The Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 127, ed. 1854).

Such ecclesiastical confusion reigned supreme until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. It was a hotly divided issue that had to be decided by a special meeting of that church almost 300 years after the crucifixion! Why?

Because all scholars admit that there is no reference to the trinity in the Bible, but it is only, as they say, “implied.” And even though the church had theoretically “decided” the issue in 325 A.D., scholars have still held differing opinions throughout the ages ever since that time!

Again why? Because this doctrine cannot be proven! “A fruitful cause of error in ancient and also modern times is owing to an attempt to explain or illustrate this doctrine, forgetting that it is a mystery to be received on faith, which cannot, from its own nature, be rendered intelligible to man’s intellect” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

Admittedly then, the trinity can be neither explained nor understood. Yet much is still written — and a topical Bible will give as many as sixty-five scriptures — to “imply” that the trinity exists and that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person!

Many Bible dictionaries, on the other hand, do not even mention the subject. The ones that comment on the “trinity” do so historically, not Biblically. Now that’s very interesting. Think about why. Why? Because the trinity is not in the Bible.

Why such confusion? Because of the age-old practice of attempting to interpret clear scriptures by unclear scriptures! Who would think to do it the other way around — to analyze and understand unclear scriptures on the basis of what can be easily understood from clear ones !?!

Let’s examine some of those clear, understandable scriptures to see what God’s Holy Spirit actually Is.

First: it is the power of God!

“Not by might, nor by power [of humans], but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). “I am full of POWER by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of MIGHT . . .” declared the prophet Micah (Micah 3:8).

Second: it has tangible assets:

It is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear (deep reverence and respect — not craven fear) of the Lord (Isa. 11:2).

Third: it is a gift.

After baptism, you are to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). It Is poured out. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17).”… On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:45).

Fourth: to be effective the Holy Spirit must be stirred up.

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God,” Paul reminded the young evangelist, Timothy (II Tim. 1:7).

Fifth: the Spirit of God can be quenched (I Thes. 5:19)

This language is taken from the way of putting out a fire, which may be put out by pouring on water; or by covering it with any incombustible substance; or by neglecting to supply fuel. If it is to be made to burn, it must be nourished with proper care and attention. So, the the Holy Spirit in a true Christian is here compared with fire (or a power) that might be made to burn more intensely, or that might be extinguished.

Sixth: it is the begetting power of God (Matt. 1:18; Rom. 8:9).

Seventh: it is God’s guarantee to us that He will fulfill His promise to us (Eph. 1:14) .

Eighth: it sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Ninth: it must be renewed (Titus 3:5-6).

And on and on. With not one characteristic even “implying” a “person.” Read these very clear scriptures describing the Holy Spirit again. Does a person do any of these things ? Is a person poured, quenched, renewed? Does a person live IN someone else or live IN people’s hearts? Hardly!

Some are confused by such scriptures as John 14:16-17; 16:7-8, 13. They ask why does the Bible use the pronoun “he” to describe the Holy Spirit if it is not a separate entity? In the above passages the Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Comforter.”

“Comforter” is masculine in the Greek — just like the many other inanimate objects, like stone, which are also masculine. According to Greek rules of grammar you must use a masculine pronoun to refer to a masculine noun. Since “comforter” is masculine in Greek, a masculine pronoun is used. That is why “he” is used in many cases where it refers to the antecedent “comforter.”

In some cases “he” is used in the King James Version where the original Greek uses “it.” The reason is that the translators believed in the Trinity themselves and interpreted rather than translated. John 14:17 is a good example. The pronouns “he” and “him” should have been rendered “it” as they are in the Greek. They refer to the word “spirit,” which is neuter in the Greek. Therefore, the pronouns which refer to them must also be neuter.

Notice Romans 8:16: “The Spirit itself beareth witness….” Here the King James translators have correctly translated the Greek pronoun in the neuter gender.

For further evidence proving that the Holy Spirit is not a person, see Matthew 1:20. Here we read that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Yet Christ calls God His Father, not the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). If the Holy Spirit were a person, it would be Christ’s Father. Proof positive that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the power God the Father uses — much as a man uses electricity.

Consider further! If the Holy Spirit were a person, Jesus Christ prayed to the wrong individual. Throughout the four Gospels, we find Christ speaking to God — not the Holy Spirit — as His Father.

Source: Tomorrow’s World, 1970

September 28, 2009

The Day of Atonement and Your Future

Scene one: A young woman walks through a semitropical garden filled with beautiful trees loaded with luscious fruit. Everything looks so good — so right.  But is it?

Suddenly she is confronted by a talking serpent who asks about God’s commands. Subtly, the serpent reasons with her until she decides to eat the fruit forbidden her by her Creator. Her husband then follows her example of disobedience.

From that time forward, mankind continues to be subject to Satan’s influence. Consequently, all humans sin and fall short of God’s glory.

Scene two: A young man, once strong and virile, is nailed to a stake. Blood oozes from deep, gaping lacerations in His body, wounds inflicted by a savage beating. Tormentors surround Him, arrogantly jeering, “He can save others, but not Himself!”

But the man’s mind is not on revenge; it is on the ultimate purpose of His suffering, which is to provide the sacrifice necessary for mankind’s salvation.

Finally, after many hours of suffering, death comes suddenly. Three days later He is resurrected. He rejoins His Father, where He serves as High Priest and soon-coming King for all humanity.

Scene three: The earth has been devastated. Plant and aquatic life are almost nonexistent. The human population has been reduced to a small fraction of its former size by the terrifying events of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

Everywhere there is destruction, but there is also hope. Jesus Christ has intervened in world affairs. One obstacle remains — the presence of Satan the devil, mankind’s enemy for 6,000 years.

To eliminate this threat to global peace, an angel is sent to bind Satan. Satan is taken to a place of restraint where he is prohibited from influencing mankind for a thousand years.

Is there a relationship between these scenes? The answer is yes. There is a profound relationship that can be understood by studying the meaning of one of God’s annual festivals — the Day of Atonement.

This Day is commanded

Most professing Christians don’t even know that this Festival of God exists. Many who have heard of it think that it is no longer to be kept. But what does God say?

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God…. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings’ ” (Lev. 23:26-28, 31).

This year the Day of Atonement falls on September 28. Some will reason that this command ceased to be in force after Christ’s crucifixion. Such reasoning is false! Jesus Christ did not come to nail God’s annual Holy Days to the cross (Matt. 5:17-18) .

The fact is that God’s festivals have only begun to be fulfilled. These days picture aspects of God’s plan of salvation (Col. 2:16-17), and must be observed by true Christians.

But what about the ritualistic laws that the Old Testament commanded with festival observance? Are they to be kept, or have they been fulfilled?

The purpose of the physical rituals God gave to ancient Israel was to remind the people of the need for the payment of their sins. The various sacrifices pointed ahead to the sacrifice of One who would come later in history as Savior of all mankind.

So the ritualistic laws were fulfilled by the events leading to and including Christ’s own sacrificial death. Therefore they need not be kept today, nor can they be, as there is no Aaronic priesthood to perform these physical duties (Heb. 9:8-10, 10:1-4, 9-12).

The ritualistic laws are no longer performed, but their various aspects still have symbolic meaning. For each festival, we seek to understand all the festival’s meanings, as revealed in the Bible, and as they relate to salvation.

The Tabernacle and the priesthood

Before we proceed with a study of these rituals and symbols, it is necessary for us to understand some things about the Tabernacle and the priesthood.

After making the covenant agreement with Israel, God told the nation to build a Tabernacle, which is a physical type of God’s habitation in heaven (Ex. 25-27, 30, Heb. 9:23-24). The Tabernacle consisted of an enclosed courtyard, containing an altar for animal sacrifices and a tent.

The tent was divided into two sections by a veil. The section behind the veil was called the “Most Holy” place or “Holiest of All.” The other section was the “holy place” (Ex. 26:33, Heb. 9:3). The most holy place represented God’s throne. Located here was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments and other items (Deut. 10:2, 31:26, Ex. 16:33-34, Num. 17:1-10). The lid of the Ark was called the mercy seat; this was where God manifested Himself (Ex. 25:22).

The job of high priest was given to Aaron; his sons served as priests. As time passed, other of his descendants held these positions. As priests, they performed various animal sacrifices and ceremonies on behalf of Israel.

Rituals for Aaron

On the Day of Atonement, special animal sacrifices and ceremonies were conducted. These are explained in Leviticus 16.

This was the only day when Aaron was allowed to enter the most holy place. Before doing this, he had to bathe and dress himself in his priestly garments (Lev. 16:4). Then he had to offer on the altar a bullock as a sin offering for himself.

Once this was completed, he took a censer, a vessel that held burning coals, from the altar and entered the most holy place. He then took incense, an aromatic compound, and placed it on the burning coals. Next he sprinkled blood from the bullock on the mercy seat, which represented God’s throne (verses 11-14).

Why did Aaron do these things? What did they picture? Aaron had to first make atonement for himself as a sinning human before God. The word atonement means “to make at one with.”

Washing himself pictured having his conscience changed to accept God’s standard of righteousness (Heb. 10:22). His linen coat symbolized living a righteous life (Rev. 19:8). The incense pictured prayers ascending to God (Ps. 141:2, Rev. 5:8). The blood represented the way sins are forgiven (Heb. 9:13-14, Rom. 3:25).

Aaron, the high priest, was a type of Jesus Christ, who is now our High Priest (Heb. 3:1). By living a sinless life, Jesus qualified to offer Himself as a sin sacrifice for all humanity through His crucifixion.

After Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple (the Temple had replaced the Tabernacle) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:50-51). The torn veil represented the fact that we are now allowed direct contact with God the Father through prayer (Heb. 10:19-22, John 16:23).

This contact is something that those living before Christ’s resurrection did not have; their access was limited to the Word of God, the God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ.

The two goats

Now that Aaron had completed sacrifices for himself, what happened next?

“The two goats he must place in front of the Eternal at the entrance to the Trysting tent [Tabernacle]; Aaron shall cast lots over the goats, one lot for the Eternal and the other for Azazel the demon; the goat that falls by lot to the Eternal shall be brought forward and offered as a sin-offering, but the goat that falls by lot to Azazel shall be set free in presence of the Eternal, that Aaron may perform expiatory rites over it and send it away for Azazel into the desert” (Lev. 16:7-10, Moffatt).

Whom did this slain goat, whose blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat and the altar for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:15-19), represent? The answer is Christ, who was slain and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins (Heb. 9:12, 22-26).

But Christ’s death has not completed the job of making atonement for the sins of humanity. Why? Because Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of most people. Consequently, mankind rejects the true Gospel, which includes accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and living a righteous life (II Cor. 4:3-4, Rev. 12:9).

So how will the job of atonement be completed? How will mankind be made at one with God?

The answer is revealed through the symbolism of the live goat — the azazel, in Hebrew.

Says The Comprehensive Commentary: “[According to] the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians … Azazel is the name of the Devil … the word signified the goat which went away.” The Azazel was the goat that was sent into the wilderness.

This Azazel is sometimes referred to as the “escape goat” or “scapegoat.” But these terms make the meaning unclear. Scapegoat has come to mean “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” This is not the case with Satan. He is guilty of influencing mankind into disobeying God (Eph. 2:2). And he will be punished for it — Satan will bear his own guilt! He will not be allowed to escape.

Symbolism,

The live goat was brought before Aaron, who, as we have seen, is a type of Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Aaron laid hands on this goat, confessing upon it the people’s sins. Then it was led by another individual into the wilderness where it was released (Lev. 16:20-22).

How is this symbolism going to be fulfilled? Jesus is coming to this earth again, this time to rule. He will order Satan bound and taken to a place of restraint for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

The world will then become free of Satan’s influence and responsive to God’s way of life; man’s sins will be laid to Satan’s charge. The change will be remarkable. Humanity as a whole will accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and live according to God’s law (Isa. 11:9). Finally, there will be universal peace, joy and happiness (Jer. 31:12-14).

What about fasting?

In addition to the symbolism of the sacrifices, there is another aspect of this Festival that we must consider. Notice Leviticus 16:29:

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who sojourns among you.”

What does it mean “afflict your soul”? The word afflict (Hebrew anah) is translated “humble” in Psalm 35:13, where David said, “I humbled myself with fasting.” So afflicting oneself means to fast.

Biblical examples show that fasting means to go without food and water (Deut. 9:9, 18, Esther 4:16, Acts 9:8-9). This is the only day when we are commanded to fast. It is so important that in the New Testament we see this Festival referred to as “the Fast” (Acts 27:9).

The purpose of fasting is to humble ourselves, to see our insignificance and realize our need for and utter dependence on God (Jas. 4:9-10). God does not hold us guiltless for the sins that Satan influences us to commit. We bear a responsibility for yielding to Satan’s temptations.

God wants you to examine yourself so you will recognize your shortcomings and overcome them. These are the conditions of a proper fast that will cause God to intervene on your behalf.

Keep this Festival

The Day of Atonement, then, is a solemn, serious occasion, and yet, because of what it pictures, this Festival is a tremendously positive and encouraging day.

Besides revealing vital understanding about God’s plan of salvation, the Day of Atonement can bring you much closer to God, if you obey God’s command to observe this day.

Don’t deny yourself this relationship with God. Decide now to keep the Day of Atonement!

Source: The Good News, August 1983

April 4, 2009

What Was The Hour Of Christ's Crucifixion?

This can be confusing because of the different methods of reckoning time used by the Jews and by the Romans during that period of history. But, there is no real problem once we have the key.

The Jews began the numbering of the 12 hours of night from sunset; the 12 hours of day were numbered from sunrise. The Romans began their count from midnight and again from noon, the way we commonly do today. Of the four gospel accounts, only the book of John uses the Roman reckoning.

In modern terms, Jesus was crucified about 9 a.m. To the Romans this was nine hours from midnight. To the Jews it was three hours from sunrise, hence it is called the “third hour” in Mark 15:25. Darkness covered the land at about 12 noon (to the Romans, 12 hours from midnight; to the Jews, six hours from sunrise, Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44; Matt. 27:45) The darkness lasted until 3 p.m. (three hours from noon in Roman reckoning; nine hours from sunrise to the Jews).

John 19:14 also mentions the “sixth hour.” This is the Roman reckoning and here refers to the time around sunrise. This, of course, was about three hours before the crucifixion. So, there is no contradiction. Each gospel account adds to the others when we understand how they were written. Please see Isaiah 28:9-13.

March 23, 2009

Did The Father Forsake Jesus On The Cross?

Did the Father forsake Jesus on the cross? The answer is yes, God really DID forsake His Son while He hung on the cross and it is important to understand why.

Except for Jesus Christ, all humans have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Sin, the breaking of God’s law, requires the penalty of death: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Sin also cuts one off from God: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does is will, He hears him” (John 9:31, RAV). Isaiah wrote: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2, RAV).

Nevertheless, when one does repent — change, turn around, go the right way, and overcome — God will hear and answer that person’s request.

So, did Jesus sin? Is that the reason the Father cut Himself off from His only begotten Son who poured out His blood and finally died on the cross? No, not at all. Jesus was perfect. He never sinned. Notice: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:21-22).

Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, willingly took on our sins and, by His shed blood and death, suffered the penalty of sin for us. While He was on the cross, Jesus bore the sins of all of humanity, paying the penalty for them. Therefore, Jesus was cut off from God while on the cross because sin separates man from God. If God the Father was going to accept Jesus’ one supreme sacrifice as payment for the sins of all mankind, He had to turn His back on the sinbearer — Jesus. He had to forsake Jesus and let Him pay the full penalty for our sins.

God so loved the world that He was willing to cut Himself off from His perfect, loving, and obedient Son so that the Son could bear the sins of the world. How great and wonderful God’s love is toward us!

But, remember, God forgives and applies Christ’s sacrifice to only those who have truly repented, those who are willing to turn from their evil ways, the very ways which made Christ’s supreme sacrifice necessary. Christ came to save man FROM his sins — not IN his sins.

Why did Jesus ask the question He asked? Didn’t He know that God had to turn His back on Him and forsake Him while He was carrying the sins of the world? Certainly, Jesus fully realized that God had to forsake Him if the world were going to receive an atonement for its sins. This was one of the reasons Jesus came into the world (John 3:16-17). Why, then, did He ask the question? The answer is that by so doing He fulfilled prophecy.

David too, in a time of trouble, cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Ps. 22:1).

These words, spoken by a man after God’s own heart hundreds of years before the crucifixion, prophetically applied to Christ. They foreshadowed the utter anguish Jesus felt when God the Father forsook Him.

March 3, 2009

The Cross Versus The Stake, Which One Is Correct?

Many have tackled the subject of whether Christ died on the cross or stake, yet as far as I can tell, there is still no conclusive answer among debaters. To say that it is assumed that the instrument of torture was a cross is a gross understatement. The vast majority believe this fact, but we have to remember that the majority is not always right.

When Christ came to earth as a human being, it was NOT the majority which believed what He said, but the minority. Remember, there were only 120 disciples at the time of Pentecost (Acts 1:15), even after Jesus Christ preached to multiple thousands and had the disciples teach far and wide. Then, as now, the vast majority is WRONG . The teaching about Jesus Christ as the central figure of the gospel is incorrect and glosses over the fact that Christ said he came to tell the world about the gospel, or message, from the Father. He, unlike Christian religions today, did not glorify himself.

The doctrine of the cross has been carefully cultivated from that ancient Babylonian Mystery religion furthered by a particular church at Rome. Anything coming from this paganised denomination masquerading as a religion is not something God would ever associate with his Son, or His true Church. This is the subject we will discuss now.

Different views on form of wood

The New Testament does not specifically describe the instrument upon which Christ died. Writers hold various views on the form of the device used in the public execution of Jesus, and differ about the meaning of the Greek word “stauros” (σταυρός) and xylon (ξύλον). Though these words do not indicate the precise shape of the instrument, they give us vital clues.

The following accounts use the Greek word xulon which, when translated “tree,” can also mean “a stick, club…or other wooden articles” (Strong’s).

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:30).

“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 10:39).

“And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre” (Acts 13:28-29).

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24).

Stauros defined

The word Xulon is unlike dendron which is used of a living, or green tree, as in Matthew 21:8; Revelation 7:1, 3; 8:7; 9:4 etc.  Stauros (an upright stake) can also be used in place of the word Xulon, the instrument to which criminals were nailed for execution.

A lot of the confusion arises from the English word cross, which believers try to forcefully insert into scripture.This word is “the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word ‘stick’ means a ‘crutch’…. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone…. There is nothing in the Greek of the N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber.” (The Companion Bible)

The Imperial Bible Dictionary also denies the connection to the cross: “The Greek word for cross, stauros’, properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] a piece of ground…. Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole, and this always remained the more prominent part.”

In his book, “The Non-Christian Cross,” John Denham Parsons wrote: “There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross.”

Hermann Fulda, another author, agrees in his own writings, “The Cross and Crucifixion”: “Jesus died on a simple death-stake: In support of this there speak (a) the then customary usage of this means of execution in the Orient, (b) indirectly the history itself of Jesus’ sufferings and (c) many expressions of the early church fathers.” Fulda also points out that some of the oldest illustrations of Jesus impaled depict him on a simple pole.

Pagan sources

It is the Catholic church which later capitalized on the imagery of the cross, and blatantly used it as a symbol of their faith contrary to the Ten Commandments they profess to keep. To the Catholic church, the sign and image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step can be taken without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. It is looked upon as a refuge from all dangers and the infallible protection from all powers of darkness. It is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High, which makes it such an abomination to God.

“To say that such superstitious feelings and worship for the cross ever grew out of the saying of Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ is absolute absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and a foolish pretence.” Those fully indoctrinated by that Romish Pagan (Catholic) mother church now support the use of the cross with relatively recent (though debatable in their connection) archeological findings and historical accounts, while wholly ignoring “the ancient Babylonian Mysteries which were applied by paganism to the same magic purposes, honoured with the same honours as the Catholic church gives it today. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T – the initial of the name of Tammuz.” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop)

The cross had further uses especially in Egypt. It represents the Tree of Life, the age-old fertility symbol, combining the vertical male and horizontal female principles, either as an ordinary cross, or better known in the form of the crus ansata, the Egyptian ankh (sometimes called: the Tau cross), which had been carried over into our modern-day symbol of the female, well known in biology.

Questions and Answers

There are some incidental arguements (parodied the same way) all over the internet which some state as proof of a cross over a stake, yet they can easily be explained.

1. Question: If Jesus was crucified on an upright stake, then why does John 20:25 say that “nails” were used as opposed to a single “nail”? And why did both hands of Christ show holes?

Answer: One nail through both hands leaves a hole in both the left and right hand. Though the word “nails” is used, [ἧλος or hēlos] implies the singular — “of uncertain affinity; a stud, that is, spike: – nail.”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible states: “That nails were used in the crucifixion of Christ, is certain …How many were used, whether three, as some, or four, as others, or more, as were sometimes used, is not certain, nor material to know. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions read, “the place of the nails”; that is, the place where the nails were drove.”

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2. Question: In view of John 21:18-19, how can a crucifixion be on an upright stake if the hands are outstretched?

Answer: Outstretched simply means fully extended especially in length. Hands can be outstretched up or sideways.

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3. Question: If Jesus was crucified on an upright stake, then why does Matthew 27:37 say a sign was put above Jesus’ head instead of above His hands?

Answer: Whether a sign is put above his head or above his hands, it would still constitute being above His head. This arguement is an agonizing way of splitting hairs.

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4. Question: The sign should have fitted three rows of properly readable letters from a distance. Could such a sign have fit in between the head and the points where the hands where pierced by either a ‘nail’ or ‘nails’.

Answer: The answer to this requires a small degree of common sense. Please reread the answer to the previous question.

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5. Question: The thieves that died with Him were described as being on the right hand and the left, as opposed to “at the side of” or “at His left and right”

Answer: This is merely colourful use of verbiage. “Right hand” is Strong’s # 1188 (δεξιός or dexios); meaning the right side or (feminine) hand (as that which usually takes): – right (hand, side). For example, Jesus who sits on the right hand (side) of God – I Pet. 3:22.

Conclusion

Some state that only Christ’s sacrifice for us — not the exact shape of the wood on which He died — is important. But I am not persuaded that the relative lack of detail on the subject in the Bible is proof that we should take this approach. I Thess. 5:21 admonishes us to prove all things.

Others say that the cross was used as a means to an end — the punishment or death of a criminal — therefore Jesus Christ did not choose his instrument of death. But didn’t He? Only people thinking carnally (without the Holy Spirit), would utter such a statement. Do not various prophecies of old (such as Psalm 22) point to the instrument of death before the event happened? Or do we simply ignore Old Testament prophecies because some erroneously believe they are no longer in effect?

We must remember that God is a God of miracles. He foretold the method of His death and would certainly know in advance that the symbolism of this pagan sign would be (and was) appropriated for the use by religion today. This does not however in any way mean that God would allow the physical use of the pagan cross in the death of His Son. Any student of the Bible who has even a rudimentary understanding of the loathing God has for anything pagan, will know this is a ludicrous assertion.

So the mere fact that the traditional cross figures so prominently in pagan religious custom today (which includes mainstream religion), ought to give serious pause for thought. The symbol, and the supposed means, were later substituted by a church which impersonated the “little flock” of Jesus Christ. The Cross was adopted in an attempt to make Christianity more familiar and “friendly” to the pagan converts.

I believe that God purposely left out the information on the shape of the “stake” because He knew pagan counterfeit religions would indeed appropriate the symbol of the cross. Yet lack of Biblical information on this subject is actually a strong indicator of faith needed, as well as vigorous study required, to understand that this symbol is NOT associated in any way with the true Church of God, including its very Head and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, true Christians do not wear crosses, as a mere physical object does not assist in worshipping God. Their use is needed to keep the mind of adherents physically focused on objects, rather than understand that their faith is dead and empty. True Christians deeply appreciate Christ’s sacrifice and God the Father’s eternal love for them in giving up His only Son. They walk by the faith of Christ, not by sight of eyes (II Cor. 5:7). The Bible plainly states that God is Spirit and we are to worship Him in both spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

February 27, 2009

Proof: Jesus Christ’s Killers Found

heartofwisdom.com/.../

heartofwisdom.com/.../

If I asked you straight out who killed Jesus Christ, would you be able to give a correct answer? Some say it was the Jews, others argue it was Pilate. Certainly no one involved would argue anything but their innocence. But as you read, let me throw a startling statement at you. There is evidence that you the reader killed Christ as surely as if your hands were on the spear that pierced His side. Not you alone of course, but every one of us is guilty. Here’s how!

Definite Proof

In Acts 2:5-36, it states that men from every nation dwelling gathered in Jerusalem (verses 9-11), to witness a great event. Most still talked about the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ; the great earthquake at the time of His death, and the rent in the great veil of the Temple. These were no ordinary circumstances. Indeed, some even said they had seen dead men, risen from their graves, walking the streets of Jerusalem.

So the buzz was in the air and the rumours were flying, until that Pentecost morning of June 18, 31 A.D., when a great rushing of wind sounded about the city. Running to the source of the sound, a crowd began forming around a house with an upper room. The door opened and the eleven plus one stepped forth — and others with them. There was a eerie silence as everyone held their breath waiting for an explanation.

Then, as those that came forth from the house began to speak, an amazing thing happened — every person, regardless of his nation or language, heard them in his own native tongue. You can guess that there was a lot of amazement and wonder at this? What did it mean? Between the confusing din, some even began to accuse the apostles of drinking too much wine — of being drunk!

It was time for an explanation and the man called Peter held up his hands, stilling the crowd. His voice, strong and powerful, boomed out to the crowd the first recorded sermon of the New Testament. He explained the circumstances and denied their accusations by preaching the Word of God, under special inspiration from God.

But do you suppose he tried to calm the crowd with soothing words? No, in fact, he started out by accusing the large group of crucifying Jesus Christ (verses 22 and 23). What a beginning, considering that these people from all over the earth had not participated physically in the crucifixion! Yet Peter said under inspiration, “You have taken, and [you] by [your] wicked hands have crucified and slain. He repeated himself for good emphasis in verse 36.

It doesn’t matter if we are not directly descended from these people, just as it didn’t matter to Peter that those gathered in front of Him had not physically participated in the killing of Jesus Christ. We are all just as guilty as the High Priest who blasphemed and condemned Jesus Christ to death (Mark 14:63-65); just as guilty as those who spat on Him; or as those who struck Him with fists, bludgeoning His face until it was raw and swollen. Yes, even as guilty as the man who scourged Jesus Christ with a cat-o’-nine-tails (Matt. 27:26) until His skin was ruptured and torn and His bones were exposed (Ps. 22:17), leaving Him just short of death.

At this point, Jesus Christ was not even recognizable as a human being. The scourging was preparatory to the most vicious death yet devised by man. Christ was nailed to a cross by nails that drove deep into the red, raw flesh, pinning His hands and feet to that stake. We also cannot escape blame for this act, nor the final indignity of thrusting the spear in Jesus Christ’s side. Then we helped raise the cross and dropped it into the hole, as Christ’s flesh tore on the nails when it hit bottom.

Are you confused as to how you and I individually participated in an event that happened roughly 2000 years ago? Let me explain. Are you a Christian, an atheist or something in between? Do you practice the faith of Islam, Judaism, Taoism or other religions? Or are you someone “morally” upright, yet never attend a church service? It doesn’t matter. Most people the world over, irregardless of religious leanings, beliefs, faiths and so on literally curse Jesus Christ every day of the year when they trample on God’s Holy Days, or His weekly Sabbath. They mock Jesus Christ when they fail to keep the law of God and spit in His face by trying to do away with the Ten Commandments altogether. Everyone, through their actions and words, is guilty of crying out “crucify Him” in a thousand different ways (Mark 15:13).

We have helped put to death the only Saviour this world has ever known! We have despised and rejected “… a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed. All we [all of us] like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:3-6).

Disobedience to God’s laws caused His excruciating death. Yet here is the love of God, that while we are going about our despicable deeds and evil behaviour, Jesus Christ was commending His love toward us. He died for us (Rom. 5:8). This sacrifice applies to all people, of all times. Can we comprehend what Jesus Christ – the former Word who was with God for all eternity (John 1:1) – endured? The God who had lived from eternity without beginning or end, without mother or father, without pain, and the very express image, brightness and character of the Father and His power. He sat down with the Father and made the plans to come to this earth and suffer that we might live!

This God of majesty, power and awesome splendour took the job willingly, predetermining to endure the cross that we might live (Heb. 12:2). He was made a mortal man to suffer death for you and for me! Think of how humbling it would be to come in the same weak flesh and blood as your creation, but with the ultimate purpose of destroying death, pain, sickness, disease and misery (Heb. 2:9, 14).

And while doing so, this great being was tempted just like we are tempted — conquering the downward pull of the flesh perfectly without sin (Heb. 4:15). It wasn’t without effort either, as He prayed and humbled Himself before His Father for strength, “… and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)

Those who deny Him fail to understand that all “nations [on earth] are as a drop in a bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance ….” (Isa. 40:9-15). Think about that. What is your net value to God? When all nations in totality are only a drop in a bucket, how significant are we, who are counted as specks of dust? Yet this great God sacrificed Himself for us! That is almost incomprehensible.

What’s Your Reaction?

So how concerned are you, or am I, over this terrible death? We have a responsibility which must be taken literally. God says it is He who calls us (John 6:44), and desires we realize the seriousness of our crimes, repenting of them (Acts 2:38). This does not apply to those who sin or drift along, nor to the scoffers and those full of pride and vanity. Not if we keep sinning! Not if we just drift along, or are filled with pride and vanity!

God desires humbleness (I Pet. 5:5-6) and will resist all other forms of character. When we exercise true repentance of our past misdeeds and are properly baptized and, by God’s Spirit put into the true Church of God, the living body of Christ — then we have God’s complete forgiveness.  He is able to blot out our sins, our transgressions — no matter how wicked we have been (Ps. 51:1). And yes, this despite all having participated in the killing of Christ. We indeed have a God of love and deep concern.

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