The Apple Of God's Eye

July 8, 2011

Do You Ignore God The Father?

hoax-slayer.com

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

1) They ignore God the Father

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

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

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

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

Now how else do they ignore God the Father?

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

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April 21, 2011

How Much Do You Hate Sin?

ionpsych.com

Being in the middle of the Days Of Unleavened Bread (2011), I am really impacted this year by how sin impacts my life, others around me and how God views my attitude towards it. Being sinless Himself, I need to realize that God also hates sin.

But what about me? Do I minimize sin? Do I justify the wrong I do by comparing my sins to someone else’s? What attitude should I have toward sin? As the Days of Unleavened Bread unwind, I need to seriously review these questions.

How Does GOD Look at Sin?

It is obvious that certain sins hurt people more than others. Adultery, for example, clearly inflicts greater and more lasting damage to more people than forgetting an appointment.

On the other hand, we must realize the evil of what many people may consider to be “small” sins. After all, sin is sin — wrong is wrong — evil is evil, no matter what the degree. To ask which of two sins is worse is about like asking which was more sinful — Sodom or Gomorrah?

Regardless of how “minor” or “small” men may think some sins are, God says: “For the wages of sin is death …” (Rom. 6:23). That’s death in the lake of fire! No sins, therefore, should be trifled with, tolerated, or secretly harbored. The ultimate penalty for ALL sin — whether large or small — is the same: Eternal Death!

That some sins exact an immediate penalty is clear. But the damage done by some “small” sins over a period of time can also be devastating. To compare one’s own sins with those of other people, to minimize one’s own sins, and in the process to seek justification for them is exceedingly foolish and spiritually dangerous!

The Apostle James warns: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he IS GUILTY OF ALL” (James 2:10). The converted Christian should seek out and eliminate every sin — every wrong thought — every evil way. He should not be hanging on to “small” faults just because they do not seem to be as serious as certain obviously great sins. (more…)

November 24, 2010

Proving The Existence of God’s Law

gpcw.org.au

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

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

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

December 27, 2009

Is Jesus Christ's Honour The Same As The Father's?

thelightandthetruth.com - Honour to the Father is revealed from the Bible.

A common thought today is that Jesus Christ deserves the same honour as God the Father. I believe this thought is rooted in the doctrine of the trinity, which of course makes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit one and the same. I won’t address this false doctrine in this article, as I have spoken of it here and here in detail already.

There is a scripture which some use to make Jesus Christ out to be on an equal level to God the Father. It is John 5:23, which states:

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

If we look at this verse superficially, then yes indeed, it does seem to point out that honour is applied the same way to both God beings. Now no one will deny that honour is due to Christ. He is the Spokesman, the Word of God and very God Himself. He has preeminence in all things, but NOT of Himself.

I know many will immediately jump on my saying as blasphemy, because the doctrines of mainstream Christianity teach the centrality of the gospel is Jesus Christ. But they are wrong, and their Bible proves it so. (more…)

December 17, 2009

Does God Compromise His Word?

Many today think to change the Bible to suit their own needs, desires, wants or beliefs. Some even say that we should throw out the Old Testament because it is not in force today. Nonsense! God says His word is truth (John 17:17), which means “all that God has spoken” (Barnes’ Commentary), or properly, “the word which is yours” (Vincent’s Word Studies). All the Bible is words spoken by the Word, later to become Jesus Christ.

In Gen. 2 we are introduced to the term “the Lord [YHVH] God” as the designation of the acting and speaking member of that “us.” This Being — the Eternal (which is the meaning of YHVH) — is every time the one who deals with mankind as the biblical message progresses. In Genesis 14:18, we meet this Person as the “king of righteousness’ (Melchizedek, in Hebrew), the “king of Salem” (peace). Proof? Suffice it to say here that of this Melchizedek “it is witnessed that he liveth” — that he is the Eternal (Heb. 7:8).

The point to notice, however, is that this Melchizedek, the YHVH, the one who later became Jesus Christ, becoming God the Son, was at that time the priest (compare Hebrews 7:1 and verses following with Hebrews 8:1) of “the MOST HIGH God” (Gen. 14:18-22). Now who was God MOST High, the one to whom the Eternal Himself was priest? Let Jesus Himself answer: “…My Father IS GREATER than I” (John 14:28).

Of course. But let’s be sure. Who was Jesus Christ the son of? “The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,” the angel told Mary before Jesus was begotten, “therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God…. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest …” (Luke 1:35, 32).

Luke 8:28 and Mark 5:7 verify that Jesus is the “Son of God most high” and “Son of the most high God.” The Father is mentioned twice more by this term in the New Testament — Acts 7:48 and 16:17.

One of the purposes of Christ’s coming to earth as a human was to reveal the Father (see John 1:18; 5:37; 8:19; 14:7; Luke 10:22). He would not have had to reveal Him if the God of the Old Testament, whom the Israelites had known, had been the Father.

Christ the Word

So as we have established, Jesus Christ is the Word of both the Old and New Testament. This word is both “tried” (Psalm 18:30 and “pure“(Prov. 30:5), and both words mean refined as a metal, purity.

John 10:35 has an interesting dilemma for those who wish to take parts of the Bible and throw it away. It says that the scripture cannot be broken (destroyed, dissolved, put off, # 3089 Strong’s).That’s a powerful statement of irrefutability. It’s all an issue of faith, which “comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17 ). If we don’t hear and obey, we will not have the faith added unto us to comprehend the word of God. That is why it is so easy for unbelievers and those weak in faith to understand the deep things of God. These people cannot understand because God has to bridge the gap between the physical and spiritual with His spirit. These people handle the word of God deceitfully II Cor. 4:2), which means “they may falsify; deceitfully corrupt or disguise the truth of God, The phrase seems to be synonymous with 2 Cor. 2:17 (falsify, adulterate, corrupt, etc)” – Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible. In other words, they compromise it for their own gain, not handling it in truth, as the very word of God (1Th 2:13).

Commentators are greatly divided concerning what part of the  word of God is meant to be adhered to; some supposing only revelation; others, the NT Gospel; others having varying interpretations. But God says all of His sayings are the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). Jesus Christ consistently referred back to OT scriptures. Why, if they have no value? Isaiah 40:8 says God’s word will endure forever and we are to live by every word that comes out of the mouth (Bible) of God (Matt. 4:4, Luke 4:4)). God also says He blesses those who hear His word and keep (obey) it (Luke 11:28).

True Christians do not pervert and wrest scripture, take from it or add to it. They point out the truth in it, without keeping back anything that is profitable, declaring the whole (Old and New Testament) counsel of God. Prov. 3:6 says we are to acknowledge God in all our ways  in order for Him to properly direct our path. Do we ignore this commandment because it is Old Testament? Doing so would be nothing less than self serving nonsense and ignores the fact that the entirety of the Bible is a plain and open interpretation of the word of God

Jesus Christ, the God of the Old AND New testaments, is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Heb. 13:8). He does not change, He does not compromise and expects us to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). There is no wishy washy middle ground, only a straight and narrow middle path (Matt. 7:14). Even a small compromise cause sa great stink (Ecc. 10:1). So in conclusion, it can be said that true Christians cannot compromise the word of God and still pretend to walk with Him (Amos 3:3). At this point, the Christian would only be fooling Himself, no matter how vigorously.

October 27, 2009

Who And What Is God?

The basic doctrine  The Bible clearly reveals God's nature, to those who will listen and believe. God is the eternal, supreme Creator. He is one God, but at present a Family of two beings, the Father and Son, who are alike as the loving, kind, merciful rulers of all reality, and who have opened their Family to all those humans who will be saved. Everyone knows His name,” observed one wise man, speaking about God, “but no one seems to know Him!”

True words, those. And ironic words, too. For in a modern world packed with Bibles of every translation and description, and even having the Word of God on computer, millions have indeed heard God’s name. But precious few seem to know much about the living God!  What a pity, because He reveals Himself fully in the Bible and we do not need to remain in ignorance of this absolutely foundational principle of Christianity. We have to know who the real God is and what He is like.

The usual teachings of this world

The non-Christian world has images of God — or of “gods” — that cover virtually every possible (or, rather, impossible) conception.

Some view God as an animal-like creature, or as the sun, or like a man but with six arms. Others think God is “everywhere,” meaning He is in water or sand or the wind. Still others think of Him only as a force, a great beginning power that has no personality, form or shape.

Even Christians argue among themselves. Usually, though, in Christian circles, believers think God is a trinity — a three-in-one God that they admit is a “mystery.” Further, they believe that this trinity is closed, that none shall ever enter within this sacred triumvirate of the God-realm.

Some, especially those who fancy themselves as cosmopolitan and educated, don’t believe God exists at all, or if He did, that He is now dead! Which, if any, of these ideas is correct?

The Bible teaching

Probably the place to begin is with God’s composition. We, of course, are human — that is, mortal and made of the elements. It is not so with God, for Scripture plainly says that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24, Authorized Version).

We know from other verses that beings composed of spirit, including angels, for example, are on a higher level of existence than we, and that such spirit is not limited by the physical laws of nature to which humans are bound (John 3:5-8, Deuteronomy 4:12).

But, although composed of spirit like the angels, God is not a mere angel. He is in a class, quite literally, by Himself: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).

And not only is God in a class by Himself, but He is higher in rank than all other things, since He is the Creator of all things, and it follows that the creator is above the creation.

Notice this very point, made by the author of Hebrews: “He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:3-4).

Time and again God confirms He is the only God, and a God above all else: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 45:5). “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:11).

God is also eternal (having no beginning or ending) and immortal (lives forever). Notice Deuteronomy 33:27, where God is called “eternal,” or Deuteronomy 32:39-40: “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I lift My hand to heaven, and say, ‘As I live forever… ‘ ”

Of course, it is natural for humans to want to see God or, if we cannot, to at least know what He looks like. Unless we can see at least a mental image of God, we cannot feel we know Him. Yet Scripture, contrary to the beliefs of many, says plainly and pointedly, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

Clearly, the prospect of seeing God in the flesh is nonexistent. But we are not left in darkness, for the very one who said no one has seen God, the apostle John, also said in the same verse, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He [Jesus Christ] has declared Him.”

One way Jesus declared the Father was through Jesus’ very presence on earth as a visible person. In response to Philip’s request that He “show us the Father,” Jesus said: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9).

We know from this verse and many others (such as Genesis 1:27) that the Father resembles human form, although He (like Jesus Christ, pictured in Revelation 1:13-16) is glorified in flaming brilliance, with hair white as snow, “eyes like a flame of fire,” with “feet … like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace,” and His face “like the sun shining in its strength.” And Ezekiel 1:26-28 says, ““Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.”

So according to various scriptures, God has a face, hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth and ears. He also has hair on His head and has a mind. Even though God is composed of spirit and not visible matter, He does have a definite form and shape. If you know what a man looks like, you have a good general picture of God.

Clearly, God is no pagan symbol – a rock or fish, no washed-out, pale stone statue dead on an altar, without any life whatsoever except for moss clinging to it through the centuries. He is like the sun, while retaining the general features found in humans.

Yet, such a powerful, brilliant, eternal, immortal, omnipotent being would be but a terror to us all if such a one were evil and wicked, a spiritual despot who wreaked havoc through the universe and only made humans to torment or to provide entertainment for His own fiendish schemes.

But our God is not such a God. He is the very opposite of that worrisome picture, so much so, that John, unable to find stronger words to describe God’s goodness, says, merely, “God is love” (I John 4:8).

And love is an outgoing concern for others — is God’s greatest single attribute, His greatest quality. Yet, it is not God’s only character quality, for, as the Bible shows, He is also full of “joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

And even that is not all, for it would require many more pages to quote verse after verse describing all God’s attributes — God’s loving forgiveness and mercy, His power, His zeal, His eternal, positive, immortal, immutable, unstoppable greatness!

God is filled only with desire to do good for us. In the face of such great news about God, it’s hard to imagine what could be said further. But the best is yet to come. And that “best” is this: God is a Family — a Family you can enter as a full member and child!

The fact that God is a Family should not have eluded so many professing Christians for so long. The Scriptures abound with references to God the Father and God the Son. Yet most have simply chosen to ignore the plain meaning of these verses and instead interpret such words as merely symbolic.

A great block to understanding that God is a Family is found in the common misconceptions about the Holy Spirit (misnamed “Holy Ghost”) being a person. Such a nonbiblical belief must be handled in detail elsewhere, but suffice it to say that such a belief chokes out the truth about the God Family by 1) adding a third person to the Godhead who has no assigned role as Father or Son, and hence does not fit the Family scheme (and thus diverts one’s understanding from it) as revealed in the Bible, and 2) creates the familiar closed trinity that so many Christians believe in.

Such a belief contradicts the greatest truth of God, that mankind can enter the God Family, under the authority of the Father and Son. This incredible truth is the plain teaching of God’s Word (John 1:11, 12, II Corinthians 6:17, 18, Galatians 4:5-7, Romans 8:14-17, I Corinthians 15:35-55, John 17:20-26).

Key verses

Although this is a large subject, it helps comprehension to remember, or even memorize, a few key verses. John 4:24 shows God is a spirit being. Isaiah 45:5 shows He is the only God. John 1:18 reveals that no one has seen God, but that the Son has declared Him. Revelation 1:13-16 describes God’s glorified body that shines with tremendous brilliance. And John 1:11-12 conveys the astounding truth that we can enter the God Family.

Yes, this world knows God’s name, but does not know Him. But those who will hear and believe the simple but exciting truths that flood from His Word can know both His name and who and what He is.

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

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

May 20, 2009

Is Michael The Archangel The Individual Who Later Became Christ?

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Is Michael, the archangel, is the individual who later became Jesus Christ? No, Michael is not Christ. He is the spirit being, “your prince” (Dan. 10:21; 12:1), sent to serve Israel. Michael and the other princes over the nations are all subject to Christ, who is Ruler under the Father.

The chief princes among God’s created spirit beings have great power and authority over the nations. But what is the limit of their authority? How far does their authority and power extend? In Jude 8 and 9 we read: “These filthy dreamers [evil men] … despise dominion [authority], and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil … about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord [Christ — who is Michael’s superior] rebuke thee.”

While evil men have little or no respect for those in authority, Michael, who is an archangel, showed respect to the office of authority of Satan the devil. By this scripture we can see very clearly that MICHAEL DOES NOT HAVE GREATER RANK THAN SATAN. If he did, he would have given the devil a command — he could have done the rebuking himself, instead of saying, “The Lord rebuke thee.” But Christ does have greater rank.

Matthew 4:10 records Christ’s statement to Satan: “Get thee hence, Satan.” Christ gave Satan a sharp command. He was in authority over Satan because He created him as the cherub Lucifer (Ezek. 28:15). Christ is the One through whom the Father created all things (Col. 1:15-16; John 1:1-3).

It is obvious that Michael could not have been Christ. Rather, he is an angelic being who is in authority over other
lesser angelic beings in God’s Government. He is one of the leaders among God’s faithful angels.

May 12, 2009

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

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

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

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

What does “saved” mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we have:

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

The Crux of the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

A maturing process

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

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

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

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

Sin leads to loss of salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2009

Fact: Christ Did Not Come To Convert The Nations

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The popularly held concept is that in His day Jesus tried to save everyone and that He instructed His Church to do the same. It is widely assumed that whenever Jesus spoke in parables He did so to make His teachings more understandable to the multitudes who heard Him. 

However, Jesus gave no such reason. When His disciples asked Him about one of His parables, He said, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without (the unconverted masses), all these things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11). 

Why? To make what He said easier to comprehend? No, just the opposite! He often used parables so 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” (verse 12). 

Now guaranteed, people will argue with these plain verses because of the common assumption that ALL the world is to be evangelized now. Mass altar calls for accepting christ are common in the evangelical sphere, but that conception is unbiblical. Although many where added tot he early Church in the days of the early Church, they were called by God so that His Church would have the necessary growth to carry His message to all nations, but only as a witness (Matt. 24:14). Nowhere did He say that His true ministers are to try to convert the nations. In fact, Christ Himself never employed mass altar calls. Only 120 disciples were present on the day of Pentecost. That is because often, when He employed parables, Jesus intentionally left the masses in their deception. He spoke in parables to cloud His message, not to make it easily understood. He Himself said so.

“For ye see your calling, brethren,” Paul wrote to the Greeks in Corinth, “how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (I Cor. 1:26). Simply put, everyone on earth is not now able to come to God to be converted. Jesus declared, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). 

The Father of whom Jesus spoke has not been drawing the majority of people. This is obvious from the condition the world is in. Jesus pointed out that the majority of humanity is walking in the way of destruction and that now only a few are finding the way to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).  

Although God is not calling every person now, by the time His plan is finished, everyone who has ever lived will have had the opportunity to understand and to accept or reject eternal life.

April 10, 2009

Does John 10:30 Prove God Is A Trinity?

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John 10:30 says: “I and my Father are one.”

Does this scripture really prove that, together with the Holy Spirit, God exists as a trinity? Not if the context is properly understood. Jesus here revealed that there is one Godhead, or one God Family, and that its members work together with one mind and purpose. That Family, however, is presently comprised of two individuals, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is clearly stated in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The “Word” or “Spokesman” was the One who later became Jesus Christ (see verse 14).

Hebrews 1 also shows conclusively that Christ was and is now God:

“God … Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3).

God says of Christ, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (verse 6). Only a member of the God Family is worthy of worship. But, the God Family is not limited to God the Father and Jesus Christ: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

Hebrews 2:7-8 shows that man, like Christ, was made for a while “a little lower than the angels,” but that he is to be crowned “with glory and honour.” Everything will be put “in subjection under his feet,” but “now we see not yet all things put under him” because the resurrection to immortality has yet to occur. The Family of God, then, will eventually be expanded to include all who choose God’s way.

Christians “now are … the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Paul adds, “This mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:53).

This plainly says that resurrected Christians, like Christ, will be immortal. When we are changed, our mortal bodies will become spirit bodies like His (Phil. 3:20-21). The Father and Christ are one — one united, holy Family. At the resurrection, we will be born into the one God Family and become one with them. There is NO trinity, but there is family. Scripture proves it!

April 2, 2009

Christianity Ignores God The Father – Do You?

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surroundedbygrace.blogspot.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now how else do they ignore God the Father? 

2. They preach Christ—but Him only. 

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

Now how do they of traditional Christianity preach? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 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 14, 2009

A Passover Examination

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

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

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

Does accepting Christ or baptizing save you?

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

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

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

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

Two conditions to be saved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repent…Believe…be baptized

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

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

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

David’s Repentance

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

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

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

What can a Christian do?

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

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

Annual Passover is great reminder

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

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

March 10, 2009

Is Baptism For The Dead Biblical?

The practice of being baptized for those who have died is based upon a wrong understanding of I Corinthians 15:29.

The inspired New Testament Church did not follow this practice, and the apostle Paul did not teach it. This custom was introduced into the professing Christian world about A.D. 150 by Marcion, a man who created his own religion and established his own church in Rome in A.D. 144. The Bible clearly shows that before a person may be baptized, he must first repent (Acts 2:38) and believe (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31, 33). The dead are not able to repent or believe, because “the dead know not any thing” (Eccl. 9:5).

Baptism is for the living. Baptism is a symbol whereby the living acknowledge their sins, figuratively die with Christ in a watery grave, and rise out of that watery grave to live a new (righteous) life through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:4; 8:9; Gal. 2:20). Baptism is also a symbol of the resurrection. To rise up out of the watery grave is to acknowledge belief in the resurrection of the dead (Rom. 6). To surrender one’s life to Christ now, to crucify the self now, to be baptized — all this is foolish unless there is a resurrection of the dead. If there were no hope of the resurrection, life could be summed up this way: “Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” Please compare I Corinthians 15:32. I Corinthians 15:29 now becomes clear.

The subject of the entire 15th chapter is the RESURRECTION. Paul cites the example of those who were baptized as one proof of the resurrection. Their actions symbolized their hope that they would live again. The resurrection is THE HOPE OF THE DEAD. “Why were they baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not?” seems to be Paul’s question in the King James Version. But, this verse is not correctly translated from the original inspired Greek. Paul is not talking about being baptized “in the place of” the dead, or “on behalf of” the dead, or “for” the dead.

The Greek word translated “for” is HUPER. This word has several meanings and can be translated “above,” “over,” “instead of,” “for the realization of,” or “for the hope of,” depending upon the context in which it is used. Notice the following example. Paul declared, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Greek word translated “of” in this verse is HUPER, the same word used in I Corinthians 15:29. In Philippians 2:13, HUPER cannot mean “instead of.” It would be senseless to say, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do INSTEAD OF His good pleasure”! Correctly translated, this verse says, “God worketh in you both to will and to do FOR THE REALIZATION OF His good pleasure.”

This is the translation given in “The Analytical Greek Lexicon”. What is God’s “good pleasure”? “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” declared Jesus (Luke 12:32). God works in us “in the hope of” giving us His Kingdom! Thus, the Greek word HUPER in I Corinthians 15:29, according to the context, should be translated “for the hope of.”

Notice the verse again: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the hope of the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the hope of the dead?. What is the hope of the dead? It is the resurrection! Paul is writing about baptism; baptism illustrates the hope of the resurrection. Baptism — arising out of a watery grave — is a symbol of the hope of the dead, which is the hope of the resurrection. This verse, then, has nothing to do with the false doctrine of baptism on behalf of the unbaptized dead.

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.”

——————

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.

——————

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.

——————

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).

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