The Apple Of God's Eye

March 5, 2011

Spiritism: Fraud Or Fact?

Can men actually communicate with departed spirits? What about the witch of Endor? What does the Bible say of spiritism?

Granted, there is trickery and deception. Houdini, one of the greatest trick artists of modern times, exposed numerous frauds. So also have Thurston, Walsh, Gearson and many others. Some leading spiritists have been convicted of plain dishonesty or common fraud and imprisoned. Yet not all spiritism is fraud or sleight of hand!

When all the frauds, the tricks, the deceptions are carefully and scientifically sifted out, there remains something to be accounted for—some real supernatural events that cannot be explained away!

Wicked spirits in control

Whether or not human beings like to admit it, the Bible plainly teaches that supernatural powers control and operate this world. The apostle Paul was inspired to write that human beings must struggle “against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, Authorized Version, marginal reading).

Jesus Christ never contested Satan’s claim that all the nations of the world were his. Said Satan: “All this authority” —the control of the nations—”I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be yours” (Luke 4:6-7). Little wonder, then, that spiritism should be manifest in a world controlled and operated by spirits in high places!

Modern spiritism had its birth at Hydesville, N.Y., in 1848. It began with the famous Rochester knockings heard by the Fox sisters. Now, spiritism has obtained millions of followers. It is a religion masquerading under the name of Christianity. (more…)

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August 13, 2009

What If Adam Had Taken Of The Tree Of Life?

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

“What would have happened to the world if the first human, Adam, had taken of the tree of LIFE?” That is a question I have never heard or read of being answered. But elsewhere than in Genesis the Bible does at least imply the answer, partially. It seems almost no one ever thought to ask that question. Would we not have lived in a different world?

You now live in a world of awesome progress, development and accomplishment. Yet this same world is filled with appalling evils. Crime, violence, immorality multiply. Discontent, unhappiness, frustration fill human minds. WHY this astounding paradox?

Amid 20th century scientific and technological advances approaching the miraculous — amid tremendous advances in production of increasing knowledge and its dissemination, we live in a world half literate, and half in abject poverty, living in filth and squalor.

WHY? Why cannot mankind solve his problems and eradicate his evils?

The die was cast at the very foundation of the world. Late 19th and 20th century intellectual progress has turned to and accepted the theory of evolution as the basic premise on which knowledge production and advancement is based. But knowledge development has been paralleled with escalating evils. Evolutionary ideas have not led to the increasing of, but the rapid elimination of well-being. Evolution cannot give us the answer to this mysterious paradox. It gives humanity NO HOPE for the future.

The only answer lies in the incident of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. The only explanation of this world’s paradox and the meaning of the purpose of human existence lies in understanding of that incident, which in fact was the foundation of this world.

Yes, WHAT IF the first man Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, instead of the forbidden fruit?

Adam was required to make a choice. In that choice the die was cast on the whole 6,000-year human society up to this time. The CAUSE of every evil experienced by the billions of human lives during these 6,000 years lies in the decision made by the human father of all mankind.

Yes, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of LIFE?

Look at that pivotal incident of all human existence. The forbidden tree was to result in DEATH. It was the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. On man’s taking to himself that knowledge, God closed off the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24) from all mankind until Christ, the second Adam, came. The exception to this were the prophets of ancient Israel for the writing of the Bible.

What did the forbidden tree really mean? That knowledge has no connection with material knowledge. Man was created with a mind capable of acquiring knowledge concerning matter — dealing with wood, metals, agriculture — the sciences and technology. Good and evil are concerned with relationships with other minds.

Man was made to have and need a relationship with his Maker — the supreme mind. He was made to engage in relationships with fellow humans — who have minds. Good and evil concerns MIND in relationships with other minds. But man’s mind was not a finished creation. It contains a spiritual content, not present in the brains of nonhuman vertebrates. Animals are equipped with instinct, but not thinking, reasoning, knowing minds. The human mind not only can receive knowledge of the material and its use, but also ATTITUDES in relation to other minds. That is, attitudes of love or of hate. Attitudes of self-centeredness and vanity; attitudes of envy, jealousy, animosity, competition, strife and violence; attitudes of rebellion or, on the other hand, attitudes of outflowing love, humility, reverence for God, obedience, cooperation, helping, serving, sharing — concern for the welfare and good of others.

God Lives and Works

God the Creator from eternity has existed as God — a supreme spirit Personage — and the Word — also a supreme spirit Personage, willingly and by nature subservient to God in love. Constituting the God family, these two exist eternally (John 1:1-5, 14). They lived! How did they live — by what relationship? God loved the Word who 1,986 years ago became Jesus Christ. The Word loved God. Two can’t walk together except they be agreed. They were in perfect harmony. Neither can two continue happily together except one is leader or head. God has always been head over all.

Living, they were doing. What have they been doing? They have been CREATING. Planning, designing, bringing into existence — positive constructing, not destroying. They worked thus together in love, peace, harmony. God created all things BY the Word who became Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

This way of LOVE, peace, cooperation always was their way of life. That way of life became the supreme LAW of the universe — for law is merely the WAY of life. People make laws to regulate their lives. There is a basic law or constitution on which every government is based. Even games in sports have rules. So outflowing LOVE is the foundational LAW of the government of God. Sin is the transgression of that law.

Adam transgressed that law — he sinned — when he rejected the tree of LIFE and continuing contact with God and chose, instead, to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil — the knowledge of HOW to live in relationship with other MINDS — both God and human. Thus he rejected the law of God.

Now, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of life? God closed off the tree of life until Christ the second Adam came to redeem mankind. Jesus said, “I will build my Church.” He chose 12 disciples. (The word disciple means student, one being taught.) Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He promised them they would receive the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31, the Holy Spirit came with a supernatural display (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is the divine spiritual sperm, which impregnates with eternal LIFE (Rom. 8:11). Also it is the LOVE of God shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

What Did the Tree of Life Symbolize?

Therefore, the tree of life in Eden symbolized the Spirit of God, which imparts eternal LIFE. Adam was not created with eternal life. In that respect, his creation was not yet complete. Human creation is still going on!

IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, he would have received that LIFE just as the true Christian may today — by receiving the Holy Spirit. Only, Adam had not yet sinned — until he disobeyed. He would have needed no repentance as we do today. But he would have BELIEVED God. He would have received the Holy Spirit — the LOVE OF GOD, which divine love fulfills God’s law.

What more? Like Christians today, he would have become an HEIR of God. He would have been begotten to become a child of God, not yet born.

In I Corinthians 2:9, we read that the knowledge of spiritual truths, attitudes and purposes of God cannot be seen by the eye nor heard through the ear. All knowledge receivable by humans enters the mind through the five senses. But (verse 10) God reveals spiritual knowledge through his Spirit. Without the Spirit of God in combination with our human spirit, no human can comprehend spiritual knowledge. That is the reason the greatest, most intellectual, most highly educated minds CANNOT UNDERSTAND the Bible — which imparts spiritual knowledge.

Therefore, as the forbidden tree was one of knowledge leading to death, so the tree of LIFE was one of spiritual knowledge leading to immortal LIFE. What Adam took to himself was spiritual knowledge, which his mind, without the Holy Spirit of God, was not capable of comprehending. He decided for himself what is right and wrong. But Satan influenced him, through Eve, to decide selfishly.

Consequently, he decided what he thought was right or wrong in relation to others from an attitude of self-centeredness — not from that of outflowing love toward others.

The tree of LIFE — symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit — was shut off and CLOSED to humans until Christ. Thus the foundation of this world — this civilization — was laid. Man has acquired material know-how to produce awesome progress, especially in this 20th century. But his progress is materialistic and physical. The uncompleted human mind has been capable of that. But the human mind has been only HALF there!

In relationship to God, what little mankind knows has been perverted by Satan. Man has been selfish in his relationship with people. He has lived the way of GETTING, not GIVING. He has been filled with greed, animosity, competition, violence, destruction. He has destroyed all of God’s earth his hands could touch or change — polluted the air and the water, worn out the soil. But WHAT IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE which God freely offered him?

“He Would Have … “

He would have received the Holy Spirit of God. He would thus have been given a spiritually comprehending mind. He would have continued in close relationship with God, especially in the Person of the Word, later designated as Yahweh, who would have revealed knowledge and truth progressively to Adam as he was able to absorb and understand it. He would have received the LOVE of God, God’s divine love for fulfilling the law. He would have received the FAITH of God, and even spiritual POWER to resist evil and for self-control.

But, would Satan have been banished from the earth at the time? From here on many questions may arise that God has not as yet revealed to us in the Bible. But some answers are evident, and others indicated by what is revealed.

Christ, the second Adam, resisted and rejected Satan in the great temptation (Matt. 4). But he did not take over the throne of the earth from Satan at that time, although he had qualified to take it over.

We, who do receive the Holy Spirit, are not made immortal at once, nor even in this mortal life. We must continue to overcome, to grow in grace and spiritual knowledge, and we must endure to the end of this mortal existence before we shall be made immortal. So it is indicated surely that Adam would have continued as a mortal, having God’s Spirit, until God’s righteous character had been developed in him. Eventually he would have been made immortal, Satan would have been deposed and Adam would have sat on the throne of the earth.

He would have been taught by God continually. He surely would have learned to teach Cain, Abel, Seth and other children, from the cradle, in God’s way of life and in resisting Satan.

God has not revealed it all. But we may know it would have been a far different world than that which Satan has deceived.

What DID and WILL Happen

But the first human, Adam, did not take of the freely offered tree of LIFE. So what is important to us is what did, and will happen.

God’s PURPOSE in creating and putting on earth the human family was and is to reproduce himself — to create in and through the human family his own GOD FAMILY WITH PERFECT SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, to have the human family born into the GOD FAMILY. God’s PURPOSE stands. It shall be accomplished. But how?

God’s own perfect character can only be created in us by him, but with our own individual free choice, decision and will. The first Adam did not then acquiesce in that decision and free will. He yielded to Satan and opposite character through his wife Eve.

Thereupon God moved swiftly to do certain things.

First, he shut off access by humans to the tree of LIFE — to immortality. God was not willing that humans should live eternally in the unhappy torture of perverted minds and the consequences of sin.

At the same time, so that sinning man be not lost from God-like happiness and the possibility of being born into the God family, it was thereupon necessary — at the very foundation of the human world — that Christ should come, be born human, and through death pay the penalty for the sins of all humans who repent and turn to God’s way of life.

Simultaneously, it was appointed that all humans should die, but after this, through a resurrection, come to judgment (Heb. 9:27) in which the book of life could be opened (Rev. 20:12) — and, that as in Adam all should once die, so in Christ should all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22) and then judged.

In due time, nearly 4,000 years from the foundation of this world, Christ came. He said, “I will build my Church.” As a foundation (with the prophets), he called and taught his 12 disciples. He commissioned them, as apostles, to teach all whom God would call. To them, upon repentance and belief, the Holy Spirit would be given, begetting them as sons of God. Even then, the Holy Spirit was still closed off to all except those chosen and drawn by God.

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium.

After this shall come the Great White Throne Judgment when all not called previously shall be resurrected in the judgment and come to understand what only a privileged few, who are called now, already understand.

Undoubtedly, billions of humans finally shall be born into the God family.

Source: The Plain Truth, March 1983

August 2, 2009

The Love Of God Versus Fake Love

www3.uakron.edu

www3.uakron.edu

Love – perhaps no word in the English language is used more often or is more misunderstood. When people in this world talk about love, it usually comes from an emotional standpoint, or a feeling. But God’s love is vastly different. In large part, the people of this world lack love – any love. Think about it. How many today openly exhibit outgoing concern for others? How many are willing to give of themselves — to sacrifice — for the benefit of others around them ? Most human relationships do not exhibit this kind of love. They are damaged by the “get as much for me as I can” philosophy that has prevailed throughout history.

From the beginning we have been subject to these selfish pulls, authored by the fallen archangel Satan the devil. Cain murdered his brother Abel because he lacked brotherly love. His heart was filled with jealousy because he wanted to get rather than give to his brother.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah also reveals a breakdown in human relationships. The angels visiting Lot in the form of men were threatened with homosexual acts by Lot’s neighbors! Why did this situation exist? The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah lacked love. Their problems went much further than homosexuality — the moral, social and spiritual fabric of their society was ripped beyond repair (Ezek. 16:49-50). There were not even 10 men of good character in Sodom (Gen. 18:32).

The end time — the time in which we now live — is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30). We see the same breakdown in human relationships. One in three U.S. marriages ends in divorce, and the surviving marriages are often unhappy. Homosexuality is increasing. Child abuse is a serious problem worldwide. Labor unrest abounds. Wars divide the nations of our planet.

All these conditions indicate a lack of love. They show that the world is going the way of the get philosophy rather than the give way of life. All these breakdowns in human relationships produce the same thing — unhappiness! Unhappiness for the person failing to show love, and misery for the person experiencing the lack of love.

Educators, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and religious leaders vainly attempt to determine the underlying reasons for the present state of man. But only one source strips away human reason and gives us the true answer: God’s Holy Word. The Bible reveals the cause of breakdowns in human relationships: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1). The conditions in the world persist because man has rejected the way of God! People cut off from God are subject to the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 1:18-32).

What about the Church of God?

But can God’s Church lack love? God calls this Church age the Philadelphian era (Rev. 3:7). The word philadelphia means “brotherly love.” However, Christ warned that because of the sinful environment around us, even true Christians may be affected by this world. We as Christians live in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. This environment weakens our ability to love one another.

The environment of ancient Corinth was extremely corrupt as well. It was notorious for sexual looseness. Christians in that city were adversely affected.

Paul wrote that the Corinthian church was full of envy, strife and division (I Cor. 3:1-3). One man committed incest with his stepmother; this was not a hidden sin but one that was freely accepted by other members (I Cor. 5:1-2). Church members were unable to resolve their problems among themselves, and foolishly went to the judges of the world (I Cor. 6:1).

What love produces

These problems reveal a church lacking proper love. In response, Paul showed them how love should work in the Church — what it should produce among Church members.

The Church is one spiritual Body made up of many members, each of them important — just as a physical body is made up of different but equally important parts. With this established, Paul showed the need for appreciating one another. In fact, those who appear the least deserving of appreciation are to be shown the most! The purpose for this attitude among Christians is to produce unity and empathy for each other (I Cor. 12:13-26). Furthermore, this atmosphere of brotherly love stimulates the love of God.

What, then, is love? Love begins with the keeping of God’s law. Many people today think God’s law is done away. But the Bible reveals that it is only through the knowledge of God’s law that we know what sin is (Rom. 3:20, I John 3:4). We enjoy the fruits of God’s love by putting His law to work in our lives (Rom. 2:13, Jas. 1:22). God’s law doesn’t harm your neighbor — it helps him. Keeping God’s law shows him love (Rom. 13:8-10).

More than that, God’s love is a product of God’s Spirit working in us (Rom. 5:5). By utilizing His Spirit and the tools of prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting we produce obedience to Him and develop right attitudes and approaches to life. Then those around us are affected by the godly love that flows through us.

These character traits of godly love are beautifully described in I Corinthians 13, where love is broken down into the attributes it produces in Christians and the benefits it offers people around them. Each part is worthy of careful consideration. For our purposes we will substitute the word love for the King James term charity.

  1. Love suffereth long (I Cor. 13:4). Patience is needed when things go wrong, so we will suffer without anger or discouragement. It comes from understanding the other person’s weaknesses, just as God understands our weaknesses and exhibits great patience toward us. How much happier we all are if this trait is practiced, because it produces a more relaxed feeling within ourselves and others. God expects us to have the same mercy for others as He does for us (Rom. 2:1-5).
  2. Is kind (I Cor. 13:4). Kindness is responding to the needs of others. Much of Christ’s life was spent meeting the needs of others through healings and other miraculous events. He performed miracles out of compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32), which is a combination of sympathy for someone in distress and a desire to alleviate his or her problem. Jesus acted out of deep sympathy and sorrow for the plight of those around Him (Isa. 53:3-4). So ought we.
  3. Envieth not (I Cor. 13:4). Envy prevents us from rejoicing at the successes of others. It cripples personal relationships (Prov. 27:4). It led to Christ’s death at the hands of the Jews (Matt. 27:18). How much better it is to be grateful for the accomplishments of others! It builds much warmer and more secure relationships. It helps others reach their full potential without fear of hurt. Aren’t you happier when your successes are appreciated? When envy is removed, appreciation is possible.
  4. Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (I Cor. 13:4). Love eliminates pride, which separates us from others because we feel superior. Feelings of self-superiority should warn us that love is missing in our lives; this separates us from God and men (Prov. 16:18, 29:23). When pride is eliminated, love replaces it and draws us together, because we hold other people in higher esteem than ourselves. We see our own weaknesses more clearly and focus on the strengths of others. We can share our fears and failures with others (Jas. 5:16). Humility is an important ingredient in producing godly love.
  5. Doth not behave itself unseemly (I Cor. 13:5). Good manners are an expression of love. They show our concern for others when we act out of humility. We should question our actions to see if they are done in good taste. God tells us to show honor and follow the rules of custom (Rom. 13:7). Our society has faltered in this trait and discarded etiquette and proper behavior.
  6. Seeketh not her own (I Cor. 13:5). God’s love acting in us will make us more generous; we will have the give attitude that motivates God Himself. We will think as much or more of others as we do of ourselves. The way of selfishness and get has caused all this world’s evils, but a Christian will not demand to have his own way at the expense of others.
  7. Is not easily provoked (same verse). Love eliminates wrong anger. When God gave us His Spirit at baptism, He intended that we conduct ourselves according to His character and that we be of the same mind as Christ (I Tim. 1:7, Phil. 2:5). Christ was compassionate, sympathetic, slow to anger (Neh. 9:17). Should not we be so in dealing with the unconverted and even our brethren? There is a time for righteous indignation (Eph. 4:26). Christ Himself was angry on occasion, but He channeled His aggression perfectly. Wrong anger results from our lack of patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy and unselfishness. One who controls his anger is better than the mighty (Prov. 16:32). Remember that a soft answer eases the tension of an angry confrontation (Prov. 15:1).
  8. Thinketh no evil (I Cor. 13:5). God’s way is one of forgiving and forgetting the evil deeds of others, when repented of. It replaces unnecessary suspicion with trust. This approach builds friendship. Stop and analyze how much this world suffers because of evil thought.
  9. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (verse 6). A person filled with love doesn’t like to see others sin and suffer the consequences. Instead he enjoys the truth that frees a person from sin and unhappiness. As Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  10. Beareth all things (I Cor: 13:7). Love doesn’t avoid obligations. It is willing to take on responsibilities. Bearing one another’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Jesus gladly took upon Himself the burden of being our Savior (John 10:17-18). It required a tremendous sacrifice, but His love for us made it possible. We need the same love for others.
  11. Believeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Believing all things doesn’t remove us from reality. It makes more real to us that God is about to usher in His perfect government to replace today’s pitiful societies. History has shown that we cannot believe in man’s ways, but we will soon all believe God. We are frequently too negative — we doubt instead of believe.
  12. Consider God’s optimism. He said that, for a rich man, entering the Kingdom of God was harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. True, with men this is impossible. But, Christ said, with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:23-26). When you are burdened with trials and troubles ask yourself, “Do I believe God?”
  13. Hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Christian love is filled with hope for the future. There is the hope generated by God’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. There is the ultimate hope of God’s Kingdom being established and having a part in it. We are to lay hold of this hope (Heb. 6:18) — when we are filled with it we will radiate happiness.
  14. Endureth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Love endures hardship. It helps us have the right attitude when things are difficult. True Christianity causes all things to work for good (Rom. 8:28). Endurance is essential for salvation (Matt. 24:13). We must have it to face the frightening events to precede Christ’s return to earth.

God is love

Relationships work well when love is present in them. When it isn’t, unhappy relationships exist. This is true among marital partners, family members, friends, casual acquaintances, fellow employees and members of God’s Church. We all need love to make our relationships work.

God is love (I John 4:8)! Love literally emanates from Him. Everything God has created for us and is doing through us is done in love. What greater example of love is there than the fantastic plan God has designed to change humans into literal members of the God Family?

By following Christ’s example and obeying God’s laws, we can have the right relationships among ourselves. By submitting ourselves to God we can be prepared to enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God will be based on love — and we must grow in God’s love to be there! “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:9).

Source: Good News, 1981

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