The Apple Of God's Eye

July 31, 2011

God’s Required Qualifications For Grace!

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Some Christians believe we should still keep much if not all of the law. Some say that because Jesus fulfilled the law we are not bound at all to any of it. Like most polarizing issues, a right understanding is found in allowing God to guide our Bible study.

.There is a distinction between a birthright and grace we ought to understand. A birthright is normally passed on from father to eldest son. There are no conditions which the recipient is required to meet. The son does nothing to qualify for it. He receives it as his right for no other reason than he happened to be born his father’s son. He has a right to it without earning it or qualifying to be worthy of it. He could however, disqualify himself to keep, or even to receive it.

But the gift of immortality received by grace does have qualifying conditions. It is not your right, or mine, to receive the gift of eternal life. Think what conditions would result if it were. A rebellious, defiant, hostile, God-hating criminal or atheist could shake his fist at God and say:

“Look, God! I hate you. I defy you! I refuse to obey you! But I demand your gift of eternal life! It’s my right! I want to receive all the power of a son of God, so that I can use that power to oppose you! I want to make your family a house divided against itself. I will cause friction, hostility, hatred, unhappiness among all your children. I demand that power, as your gift, as my right, so that I may abuse that power – use it for evil!” (more…)

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June 7, 2011

What You Need to Know About the New Testament Pentecost

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Pentecost for 2011 is almost upon us. This year it falls upon Sunday, June 12, according to God’s sacred calendar. As I observe it this year, I will again marvel at how this commanded Feast of God’s  has somehow become buried in modern Christianity.

Why did Christ and the apostles observe this important feast, called the “day of firstfruits”? What does it picture in the plan of God? Should Christians observe this feast today? If so, on what day should Pentecost be observed?

You may be surprised to know that Jesus Christ kept the Feast of Pentecost. So did the apostles, disciples and the New Testament Church. Why, then, do so few “Christians” keep this important feast? When and where did professing Christians stop following the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles?

Today, most professing Christians know very little about Pentecost. Yet many have heard of “Whitsunday” (or “Whitsuntide”), which is not even so much as mentioned in the Bible.

What exactly is Whitsunday? In the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1973 edition, article “Whitsunday”), we read:

“Whitsunday (Pentecost), one of the three major festivals of the Christian Church, celebrated on the Sunday that marks the 50th day after Easter, to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at the Jewish Pentecost following Jesus’ passion, resurrection and ascension (Acts 2) ….”

Whitsunday has usurped the place of Pentecost and obscured its true meaning. But Christ and His followers did not observe Whitsunday. This day is a mere invention of men — which, sad to say, has been instrumental in turning away the minds of believers from the all-important, God-ordained festival of Pentecost. (more…)

February 17, 2011

Conversion: Sudden Experience or Lifelong Process?

Filed under: Conversion — melchia @ 8:17 am
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The Plain Truth, April 1977

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At times I have expressed the idea I think many millions have come to believe and on which they are staking their eternity. It is this: You are on a journey on a railway train. It is your life’s journey, whether long or short. At the end of the line, because of Adam’s sin, the switch is automatically thrown to send you directly down to hell, where you will be burned alive — constantly burning, yet never burning up because you are an immortal soul that can’t die. Or, as millions also believe, it will shoot you directly to “purgatory.”

But, if at any point in your life during the journey you “accept Christ as your Savior,” then at the instant of that sudden experience, in whatever manner such experience takes place, the switch at the end of the line is suddenly thrown to shoot you immediately up to heaven. And there you shall live FOREVER in idleness and ease, in glorious surroundings of splendor, with nothing to do — no responsibilities anymore — nothing but to be enraptured with the delight of gazing continually on the face of Christ your Savior. A man once said to me: “Let me see if I can define your belief as contrasted to what you claim many millions of others believe.” Then he explained the belief of the many approximately as I have stated it just above.

“But you believe,” he continued, “that after one is initially converted, accepting Christ, he must then live a life of obedience to God’s way, struggling against himself to overcome all wrong ways and growing spiritually in Christ’s knowledge and in grace — thus training himself and qualifying to carry an important responsibility in the next life. You believe that when he dies, he is dead, will not go to heaven or hell, but will come to life again by a resurrection from the dead, and he will be here on earth. Then he will have immortality, and he will be rewarded according to what his works were in this life — the biggest reward being to have conferred on him the heaviest and most important responsibility. Is that what you believe?”

“Well, not exactly,” I replied, “but you are not too far off.” (more…)

February 7, 2011

Was Jesus Really Tempted In All Things?

Scripture tells us that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15).

Yet we know He wasn’t crippled or handicapped. He didn’t live through old age. He wasn’t forced into retirement and then forced to try to make ends meet on a pension.

How, then, can Jesus understand all that humans go through?

What about the myriad temptations and problems with which this modern world confronts us? Jesus didn’t live in a society quite like this — far from it, in fact.

If we are to come boldly to God’s throne of grace (verse 16), how can we be sure that Jesus understands what we feel and mean? After all, He is God — an immortal, almighty spirit being — we are mere flesh, and very weak. If Jesus has never experienced the exact sufferings that we do, how can He understand our personal needs?

Sure, we realize that Paul said most trials are common to all (I Cor. 10:13). And in Christian fellowship we are often surprised and comforted to find someone else who has gone through similar difficulties as ourselves.

Yet we each have experienced unique pains, trials and sufferings that we feel no one else can properly understand. And we may even wonder whether God Himself can. Is God able to really appreciate the depth of troubles we go through?

Peter tells us that Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example (I Pet. 2:21). In what specific sufferings did Jesus lead the way? What confidence can we have that He does understand the personal traumas of each and every one of His people? Let’s look at the facts. (more…)

April 16, 2010

What Are The Conditions For Receiving God's Implanted Word?

James 1:21 is an interesting verse, in that it tells us to put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness (RSV) to receive God’s implanted word. So there are a few conditions attached to understanding what God says, namely getting rid of things that choke and pollute His word right out of our life.

Why does God’s word have to be implanted? Because as we nurture it, deep growth is experienced and roots form. In other words, God desires change and conversion. He wants us to be different today than we were yesterday. Christians cannot remain static spiritually.

So how does this process happen? Good Bible study for one thing brings God into our life. Deep prayer, fasting and meditation on the things of God are also extremely necessary for His divine nature to grow in the Christian. There is simply no way to receive it intellectually.

Another condition verse 21 speaks of is receiving God’s word with meekness. Having a childlike, teachable mind provides the fertile soil for God to implant His word in our mind and produce spiritual growth. God wants to make us “partakers of His divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). Then only will His word grow to the point where we come to think and act like our Father. Then only do we grow in the grace and knowledge of God (II Pet. 3:18), to the point where we think and act like Him (Matt. 5:48).

January 16, 2010

Why The Resurrection Instead Of Going To Heaven?

Most people believe that Christ completed God’s plan of redemption by dying on the cross. But if salvation was made full and complete by Jesus’ death, then why does the Bible still speak of a resurrection from the dead?

We often hear the saying, “Christ died to save sinners,” but this is not even a Biblical quotation. If you believe that Christ’s death imparts to us eternal life — that the blood of Christ — His death, actually saves or imparts everlasting life, then you are wrong in your assumption. Nowhere in the Bible does it say this is so!

So why did Christ Die for us ? First, realize that all have sinned and the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)! The Bible definition of sin is the transgression of God’s law — summed up by the Ten Commandments (I John 3:4). It was established by God for the happiness of man, something that has eluded him in a world of strife and war, fear and worry, poverty and want, discontent and suffering.

This world believes God’s salvation merely imparts eternal life! Jesus said He came that we might have eternal life, yes. But He also said something more: “I am come,” He said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Not merely continuous existence — but a life full of happiness for all eternity! (more…)

December 21, 2009

Grace: Do You Really Understand It?

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Few professing Christians really understand what grace is. And no wonder, because rather than searching the Bible on the subject, they get bogged down in debate over whether it does away with God’s law, as God’s unmerited pardon for sin.

The New Testament Greek word translated “grace” is charis and holds a variety of meanings not dealing directly with the grace of God toward man. It can denote pleasure towards someone (Luke 2:40), kindness or goodwill toward another (Acts 7:10), favor (Acts 2:46-47), or express thankfulness (I Corinthians 15:57). Finally, charis can also be used to denote a gift or favor done as an act of goodwill (Acts 25:2-3).

But the New Testament writers applied this word in a new sense to describe what God is doing for humanity. Those whom God calls (John 6:44) are given the chance to repent and accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Then, upon being baptized, they are given God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), which enables them to develop godly character and ultimately be born into the very Family of God (I John 3:1-2). Charis is an all-encompassing word for this whole process of conversion that is being accomplished by God’s power.

Why is grace necessary?

Grace essential to salvation because it is the free gift of God, through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and all efforts to earn salvation are futile (verse 9). This is because of several obvious reasons:

  • First, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) — sin being the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4) — and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We have all earned the death penalty. And just as any government today realizes, the violation of law cannot go unpunished, or anarchy would ensue. Similarly, our regret and subsequent good behavior can never pay the penalty for sin, because the penalty is death. And God’s laws are enforced. God does not compromise with sin by allowing a way of life that leads to unhappiness, misery and death to go unpunished. The penalty for our sins must be paid.
  • Second, not only have we sinned, but man by himself is incapable of overcoming sin. Paul said in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Our best efforts are futile unless God gives us the help we need.

God’s grace toward us begins when God begins calling us. Unless God opens our minds, we cannot understand His purpose (John 6:44). Paul commented, “God … called me through His grace” (Galatians 1:15).

The very fact that one understands the truths of God as revealed in the Bible is because of God’s grace. But being called is just the beginning of grace.

The process of conversion requires more than understanding. It requires change, or repentance. We must freely choose to obey God — and unless God shows us what to repent of and the importance of obeying Him, we cannot repent. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance,” Paul explained in Romans 2:4.

But being sorry for sinning, and changing, is not enough. So God’s grace continues with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [an atoning sacrifice] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness” (Romans 3:23-25).

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin, which is death, in our stead. Christ’s sacrifice is the supreme expression of divine grace. It is totally unmerited (Romans 5:6-8).

Christ’s sacrifice frees us from the penalty of breaking God’s law. But it does not do away with the law! Think: Would God now allow the violation of laws that necessitated the death of His own Son? Of course not.

Grace does not nullify God’s law. Rather, grace is necessary because God’s law is eternally binding. As Paul explained: “Shall we continue in sin [the transgression of God’s law — John 3:4] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) Continuing in sin would mock Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice.

Unmerited but not unconditional

Here is where many misunderstand. Grace is unmerited but it is not unconditional. There are two conditions: repentance and faith (Mark 1:5, Acts 2:38). Although we can never earn salvation, God does set certain requirements for receiving His grace.

Once God, by His grace, reveals to us the need to repent and humbly accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, we must do our part. We must voluntarily yield ourselves to God, admitting where we have been wrong, and make the necessary changes. Then we must be baptized as an outward expression of our repentance and faith (Romans 6:3-6).

Don’t misunderstand — God’s grace is free and unmerited, but if we refuse to change our lives — to obey God — He is under no obligation to bestow His grace upon us. God will not allow Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be taken lightly.

The process continues. Peter tells us we must now “grow in grace” (II Peter 3:18, Authorized Version). Grace is unmerited pardon for sin, but it is much more. For if grace were merely the unmerited forgiveness of sin, how could we grow in grace except by sinning more? No, we must, while coming under God’s grace, overcome sin.

If you are truly under God’s grace, you will be striving diligently to obey God’s commandments. Paul said: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

We are to develop godly character by growing and overcoming in order that we can ultimately be born into the very Family of God. But we cannot do this alone (Matthew 19:25-26). We need God’s Spirit. And His Spirit, by His grace toward us, is a gift (Acts 10:45, 11:17).

God’s Spirit gives us the power we need to develop character. But we must work at it. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10).

To grow in grace is to overcome sin through coupling God’s Spirit with our own efforts. Without God’s help, overcoming sin would be impossible.

Finally, after we have developed godly character through God’s Spirit, one final act of grace is bestowed upon us — eternal life! We deserved death, but will receive life eternal. As Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The world is deceived into believing in a shallow, limited concept of God’s grace. True grace is more than the forgiveness of sin; it is the total process of salvation.

Peter summed it up beautifully: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen…. I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand” (I Peter 5:10-12).

October 6, 2009

The Eternal Habitation Of God

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bwzone.wordpress.com

Isaiah 57:15 contains one of the most incredible phrases that a human mind could possiblyunderstand. These few words describe God as “One that inhabiteth eternity.”  Considering the overwhelming significance of these words, let’s investigate what “inhabit” and “eternity” mean.

The Hebrew word translated “eternity” is ad. Ad can be translated “eternity, forever, everlasting, always.”  The English word “inhabit” in Isaiah 57:15 comes from the Hebrew verb shakhan — which can mean “to rest, live in, continue, dwell, settle, inhabit.” The word shakhan gives the impression of comfort and confidence. In various contexts the meaning includes the complete possession, occupation and fulfillment of the object inhabited.

And so, much like the human family abides in, dwells in, continues in and inhabits the earth, the God family rests in, abides in, dwells in, continues in and inhabits eternity!

In the same manner that physical beings can control and comprehend a specific plot of space, spirit beings can control and comprehend an eternity of time. Just as the earth is the arena for all the activities of the human family, eternity is the arena for all the unimaginable activities of the God family.

Grasp the fundamental difference: Just as physical beings employ the vectors of space, spirit beings employ the vectors of time. (This is why God equally speaks of 1000 years as one day and one day as 1000 years — II Peter 3:8.)
Jesus Christ is called the Father of Eternity — which is a way the phrase “the everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6 can be translated. And incredibly, the Bible actually states that human beings have the potential to be like Christ (John 17:22). Like God!

“Beloved, now are we 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).

God says as a son in His family, all will eventually possess, envelop, encompass, occupy and fulfill eternity, in the same manner as they today can physically possess, envelop, encompass, occupy and fulfill a comfortable home or a soft easy chair.

That is a fundamental truth that the religions of this world cannot accept, They are locked into doctrinal disputes which have nothing to do with what Christ actually spoke about; concepts such as going to heaven or hell, the trinity, pagan holidays (Christmas, easter, etc). NONE of these are biblical, yet all of them are universally accepted among Christian denominations.

What is eternity?

Eternity is a long time. Could it get boring?  If it could, it would!  There’s plenty of time available! If boredom would develop — even a little bit — we’d be in deep trouble. Eternity would become a literal hell! As a matter of fact, that is precisely the fate reserved for Satan and his demons — hell — an eternity of boredom: “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13).

If eternity is to be spent gazing blissfully up into God’s face in heaven, or having our every wish immediately fulfilled — as many religions teach — after a few months (or after a few octillion years, it doesn’t really matter). life would get unbearingly boring.  And once life got boring, it would be sickeningly and fiendishly terrifying. Because there would remain nothing but an unending eternity of boredom to come — with death a wonderful but impossible way of escape (see Luke 20:35-38). This would indeed be the ultimate torture.

But our Eternal Father has a better idea. He has designed a plan in which eternity will not grow progressively more boring. But, as unbelievable as it seems, eternity will grow progressively more exciting, more scintillating, and more enjoyable as each eon follows eon.

In Ephesians 2:7 God reveals “that in the ages to come he [God] might chew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 16:11 multiplies this simple but profound concept: “… In thy presence is fulness of joy; at [in] thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

The words “pleasures” and “for evermore” in Psalm 16:11 are somewhat unusual. Note the numerous meanings of each:

“Pleasures” is translated from the Hebrew word naeem meaning: “pleasant, delights, agreeable, lovely, beauty, glory, pleasures.” “Forevermore” is translated from natzach, a Hebrew root which can mean: “forever, perpetuity, permanency, truth, faithful, overseer, entire, perfect, complete, surpass, excellency, glory.”

Now combine them together in your mind’s eye in order to begin to barely approach the really great time that God has in store for us for eternity.

Men are shackled to time

Man is  constantly hounded by time because he does not have life, only a temporary physio-chemical existence. It feels like life because it is all he knows – this limited physical body needs to recharge daily.

God wants us to realize the temporary nature of all things physical – the nature of matter. It’s all in bondage to decay. Everything in us does not want to accept that fact. We don’t want to believe it, despite the evidence.

Do we realize how short and temporary life is? The Bible says we are like a fading flower, like a fleeting shadow. Another analogy is that we are like an alarm clock that is constantly running down to death. We die daily and are one breath away from death. That is why the Bible says our years come to an end in a flash, like a tale told (Ps. 90:5).

There is simply no guarantee that we will see 70-80 years of life and there is no way to predict how long we live either. Compare the days of your life to an hourglass with sand draining from top to bottom. Now imagine the top being opaque and hard to see through. You would have no idea how much time is left. There may be a lot but there may also be very little.

Now consider if you are married and how you feel about your wonderful wife and children. Do you understand that you marriage covenant is a temporary agreement only, until you die? You will see 100% disruption and destruction by death, abandonment, split-up, or old age.

Use time wisely

God tells us to number our days (Ps. 90:12), which is akin to asking God to teach us to understand how short life  really is and how certain it is to come to an end and motivate us to use our time wisely. The better perspective we have with time, the better we will put it to use.

If we are wise with the use of our time on this earth, then God rewards us with rulership in His Kingdom (Math. 25:20-21). Basically, God says if we sue this small amount of time (our life) in a faithful way, He will give us eternity with “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away…” (I Pet. 1:4).

God (through His human servant) then proceeds to explain the contrast between the physical and the spiritual by saying:

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away (I Pet. 1:23-24).

In other words, what is waiting for us has eternal (and very positive and joyful) consequences, while the end of the physical life offers only decay.

The nature of God

Psalm 90:2-4, II Pet. 3:8) shows that to God,a thousand years is as a day and a day as a thousand years. What does that mean?

It is all about our approach to time. Our destiny is to become members of God’s family – with a mind oriented towards eternity.  1000 years can go by as a single day to God. Figures are arbitrary. Paul may well have said one second is as a trillion years.

We can only be in one place at one time, but for God time is multi-dimensional. He can dwell in one moment for as long as He chooses or move one moment to another at will. He is not restricted by time, which is why he can listen to all our prayers at the same time.

In these prayers, true Christians have special access to Christ. But what if  all desire to have access at the same time? The answer is that we will have time without limits. Eternity is not an endless amount of seconds, minutes and hours. It is timelessness – to have all limitations removed.   You can inhabit eternity to have all problems resolved.

Time versus eternity

God puts limitations in the lives of humans so that they have to prioritize. Seek first the kingdom of God to eventually be rulers over many things. Man has to manage his time because he are in bondage to it. And precisely because he is limited to time, he must do all he can with limited resources. Don’t waste a single day. Our body is a temporary tent and we have to make the best use of it (II Cor. 5:1).

We crave permanence and stability – we crave eternity. God has shackled us to decay and we don’t want to think about something not being permanent. How often in this life have old age and death, tragedies and separations disrupted and seemingly obliterated forever the supreme joys of deep family satisfaction and quiet family happiness? One hundred percent of the time!

Every family that has ever existed has eventually been destroyed by death. The death of husband, wife, parents, children, brothers, sisters — whether at premature or elderly ages — is always the most piercing and the most permanent of human tragedies.

Well, the time is coming — soon — when such misery will never again darken the door of any home. And even more fantastically stirring, most members of almost every family in all human history, having been ripped apart by death, will become reunited! And this time they will be forever inseparable.

God’s Word has the answer to death: “… Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:54, 55.)

Never again will the corruption of disintegrating change alter the serenity of family life. Never again will separation, disease, old age and death bring that grinding despair known to every human being. This is why verse four of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Revelation is so emotionally stunning:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

All the epochs of human obituary — in childhood, in youth, in the prime of life, in middle age; all the ways of human death by war, by accident, by disease — will all be eradicated. Full families — your family — will for the first time be really together — grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren. All will be in the prime of their spiritual lives, working, living and enjoying life as a close-knit family, as part of the overall family of God. Forever. And ever.

But this life is just a stepping stone to something far greater. Ps. 36:7 says all will eventually be abundantly satisfied. There will be no death or disease in the World Tomorrow.

Make the best use of all we have and all the time we have. Number our days and soak up all moments. It may be our last opportunity to do so. We are one breath away from death, so this little sliver of time is a gift. Use it to attain eternal life.

August 19, 2009

Your Faith: It May Be The Death Of You!

MILLIONS of people already claim to believe in Jesus. Hundreds of thousands more in all parts of the world will “receive Christ” this year — or rather, they will think that they have received Christ.

They will, as they say, “give their hearts to the Lord,” and believe that they are at last saved. And they will be wrong!

It may come as a shock, but the gospel that is commonly preached today is not the same message that Jesus brought nearly 2,000 years ago. He was not then — and he is not now — trying to convert the world. Neither is he trying to get people to “accept him,” “believe in him” or “receive him” before it is too late.

This is a deceived world. Deceived people are sincere. They don’t know they are deceived. If they did know, they would not be deceived! It is because many are deceived that we read of those who have a “zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

“Not According to Knowledge”

That statement is as true today as it was when the apostle Paul wrote it more than 1,900 years ago. You’ll see ample evidence of it just by looking at the religious book department of nearly any bookshop. Never before have so many Bible translations, Bible helps, Bible dictionaries, Bible atlases, concordances and commentaries been available. But the world is as confused as ever.

Many new translations of the Scriptures have been published. They have been painstakingly executed by scholars with a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages.

The faithful Authorized King James Version, with its “thees” and “thous” and “verilys,” has been somewhat cumbersome for many.  These modern versions are rendered in modern English, with contemporary grammar and punctuation. They have corrected, in general, the few translation errors that crept into the older versions, and overall, they are useful tools for Bible study.

But although they have solved certain translation problems, they have unfortunately created some new ones. You need to know about one of them in particular. It is not a case of the translators misunderstanding the original word, as sometimes happened in the Authorized Version. Rather, they seem to have misunderstood what was meant by what was written, or worse, eliminated references to some words, while inserting others to conform to wide held, though erroneous beliefs.

The Problem of Translation

You see, translation — any translation — is to some extent an interpretation. Language is not just words — it is also thoughts. Translation is not just a case of swapping words — the translator’s job is to convey the thoughts expressed by one language into another.

Bible translation is particularly complex. The structure of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages is different from modern West European languages. It can therefore be difficult to render the exact thought and nuance of expression of the ancient Scriptures into modern languages. There are some places where modern theologians and scholars have made a significant error in their rendering into modern English some verses in the epistles of Paul.

“In” or “Of”?

When Paul discussed the subject of faith and its relationship to salvation, he frequently used the Greek expression “pistis Christou.” In the Authorized Version, this was translated “faith of Christ.” Most modern versions, however, change this to “faith in Christ.”

Grammatically, it is an arguable point, since the original Greek does not use either of the prepositions in or of. The grammatical sense is derived rather from the ending of the words themselves. However, in English, a preposition is needed. It should not surprise us that the translators of the modern versions preferred in to of. It seemed to them to make more sense, since the focus of modern Christian belief is a gospel about Christ, accepting him and believing in him.

From that point of view, it was presumably felt that “pistis Christou” could adequately be rendered “faith in Christ.” Consequently, the expression and thus the thought, “faith of Christ,” does not appear in these modern versions, as it did in the older Authorized Version.

What difference does it make? It makes all the difference in the world — the difference between being a real Christian, and thinking you are one.

Preposition Changes Meaning

Remember that old expression “For the want of a nail the battle was lost”? It could also be said of these new translations, “For the want of a preposition, a life could be lost.” Perhaps I can demonstrate the difference it makes by this analogy.

Suppose your wristwatch breaks. You take it to a reputable watchmaker, whom you know you can trust, and you ask him to repair it. You leave your watch with him, in complete confidence that he will return it to you in good working order.

You have, in other words, complete faith in that watchmaker. He has learned how to repair watches, and he will do it for you.

This, in effect, is how many people are taught to look to Jesus Christ. They trust in him, and believe that his love, his goodness, and his mercy and holiness will save them when the time comes. But that kind of faith — however sincere — is not enough to save you.

But supposing, when you took your broken watch to be repaired, this happened:

The watchmaker agrees that your watch is broken. But he says, “If I just repair this for you, you have learned nothing. I know how to repair watches, but it is important that you learn something about it, too. We will repair it together.

“I will do a part of the work, the part you cannot do by yourself, and I’ll show you how to do what you must learn to do.”

Now the situation is different. No longer do you just need faith in the watchmaker’s skill — you are going to need some of his skill as well.

It is the same with faith in and of Christ. Of course, we must have faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter, speaking to the crowds in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, urged them to believe that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).

Many believed Peter, and asked, “What shall we do?” (verse 37, Authorized Version). “Repent, and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ,” replied Peter, “for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].”

So far so good. As a result of having faith in Christ, many today are told to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Then they think they are saved. But there is more to it than that.

After Baptism — What Then?

Many scriptures show what you do after you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice will determine whether you will be ultimately saved.

Let’s now take a close look at some of these scriptures that have been mistranslated in the generally excellent new translations and see exactly what it was that the apostle Paul taught. Then you will understand why the phrase “faith of Christ” carries the right choice of preposition when rendering these verses into English.

First, Romans 3:22. This verse is breaking into the middle of a thought. We should go back two or three verses to pick up the thread of Paul’s discussion. The church at Rome in Paul’s day was a mixture of different ethnic groups, and there was a controversy among them.

The Jews thought that they were superior to others since they had had the law of God delivered to them. The non-Jews on their part were critical of the Jews for not keeping that law. Note that the discussion did not center around whether or not the law should be kept, but rather, how it could be kept.

Paul’s epistle put everything in perspective. He showed that a Christian must quit sinning. Breaking God’s law is sin (Rom. 3:20, and see also I John 3:4). Paul pointed out that all — Jews and gentiles — had broken the law. Nobody (except Jesus Christ) ever lived a life without sinning in some way. Therefore, no one could consider himself justified — guiltless and worthy of salvation — as a result of his conduct. Let’s pick up the story in verse 21.

The New International Version explains it rather well. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law [apart from human “righteousness”], has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify” (Rom. 3:21, New International Version throughout, except where noted).

In other words, there is a way to come up to God’s standard of righteousness (the Ten Commandments) apart from the impossible task of trying to keep the law perfectly through your own strength or your own faith. How can you do it?

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in [should be translated of] Christ to all who believe” (verse 22).

Do you see what a difference the preposition makes?

Having repented of your past sins, you can’t continue to sin. Paul makes that very clear in Romans 6:1-2, in any version or translation. You are to live a new life free of sin (Rom. 6:4). But how, if you can’t keep the law by your own strength or your own faith? The answer is you have to have an added faith. But from whom, and what kind of faith?

Since you can never be justified by your own unaided attempt to keep God’s law or attain his righteousness, if you have believed in Jesus Christ you have a new way to become righteous. Instead of relying on your own strength, you can ask God for the help to become righteous (i.e., to obey the law). God has promised to develop in you the same faith that Jesus had — the faith of Jesus Christ!

This is an important point. If you look up the word faith in a dictionary, you will find it says something like this: “confidence, trust or belief in the promises or statements of another.”

Everyone has some faith — although it varies from individual to individual. Some find it easy to believe — others, perhaps because of previous letdowns and betrayal, find it hard to put “confidence, trust or belief” in anyone or anything.

But even the most faithful are not faith-full enough by their own strength or their own faith to save themselves from sinning in the future. Look at Ephesians 2:8. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves …. ” How then?

Continuing in Ephesians 2:8, … it is the gift of God.”

Here is then a level of faith that goes far beyond the “confidence, trust or belief” that your human mind must first exercise in having faith in Christ to forgive your guilty past.

This new, higher level of faith is the gift that God gives, through the Holy Spirit, which one receives through the laying on of hands after baptism.

Jesus had that kind of faith. And because he did he had total trust, confidence and belief in God. Thus he was able to live a life that was blameless. Jesus never sinned. He was often tempted, but he always resisted. He knew how to get the strength he needed to reinforce his own inadequate human strength.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death …” (Heb. 5:7).

Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven for the strength to resist sin. And such was the relationship of trust, love and confidence between Jesus and his Father, that he always received that help.

Jesus Christ and the Father had lived in harmony for an eternity before Jesus came to earth as the Son of God. He had no doubts that what his Father promised, he was able also to perform (see Romans 4:21).

That is the kind of faith that we must have if we are to receive our eternal reward. God expects us, if we are his sons and daughters, to live as Jesus did.

Jesus set the example. His life is the standard by which we must measure performance — not in some dreamy, sanctimonious way, but in the practical down-to-earth circumstances of daily life. A true Christian should ask, Is this the way Christ would react? Is this what he would have done? Am I following his example?

If not, your behavior must be changed to conform with Jesus’ example as recorded in the Scriptures. You will need to ask God for the faith to do this — the same faith that he gave Jesus Christ to face and conquer problems.

With that faith, when temptation comes, you will have the strength to put aside your natural human impulses and make the same kind of decision that Jesus did in similar circumstances.

That’s why Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [you guessed it — it should be of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, Revised Authorized Version). Once the right preposition is put in, these modern versions become clear.

Think back to the analogy of the watchmaker. Christ wants you to learn to do the things he did. He wants you to share in his skills. He wants you to know the same confidence and trust in God that he had.

He doesn’t want you just to be grateful to him for doing it. He wants you to have the experience of overcoming sin, looking to God for the spiritual strength, just like he did. Why?

Why You Need the Faith of Christ

Look at Philippians 3:8-11. Here we find Paul explaining to the Philippians how grateful he is to be called as a part of God’s Church.

He had to give up many things, including a position of power and prestige, in order to be an apostle. “… I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in [read of] Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

So Paul knew that his resurrection from the dead would be preceded by God building in him the same kind of faith that Christ had. He knew that only then would he know the “power of resurrection,” as Jesus Christ has known it.

Paul was not saying that he was trying to earn his salvation by his own faith. That is what those who are deceived by a false gospel do when they rely only on their faith in Jesus. It is plainly evident throughout his writings that Paul knew he could never do that.

A Christian cannot gain salvation by his works through his own faith any more than he can by simply having faith in Christ. This is a vital point that so many who claim to be Christians do not understand.

Salvation is God’s free gift, but he will not give it to those who cannot handle it properly (any more than you would give a bicycle to a child who refuses to obey the traffic signals).

Ministers today concentrate on getting people to “accept Christ,” while they neglect to teach the need for receiving Jesus Christ’s faith as a free gift to enable us to obey God.

Putting Faith to Work

When Jesus Christ returns to this earth to enforce peace, the world is going to be in a terrible condition. But thankfully, the worst will be over. Jesus Christ will begin the task of guiding and teaching all mankind God’s way of life and the way to eternal life.

There will be a lot of work ahead for those whom God has called in this present life to understand his purpose. They will be resurrected and made immortal when God intervenes in world affairs to reestablish his government over the whole earth. They will be working with Jesus Christ, doing what he does. They will be teaching, helping and encouraging others to overcome human weaknesses, that they also may be given eternal life.

Such teachers must be experienced — there will be no place for enthusiastic amateurs. The time to build that experience through the faith of Jesus imparted by the Holy Spirit is now.

That is why a Christian, whose hope is the resurrection from the dead, needs more than just his faith in Jesus. He must share in the life of Christ, living as he did, learning as he did. To do that successfully, he needs the faith of Jesus Christ.

The Plain Truth, 1984

August 13, 2009

The Spiritual Significance Of Numbers

Numbers are used in Scripture, not merely as in Nature, with supernatural design, but with spiritual significance, which may be summarized as follow. (The whole subject may be studied in Dr. Bullinger’s work on Number in Appendix 10 from the Companion Bible).

One – denotes unity, and commencement.  The first occurrences of words or utterances denote their essential significance, in interpretation.  Words that occur only once, in the originals, are emphatic and important.  First day, Light.  The first occurrences of all important words and expressions are noted in the margin.

Two – denotes difference.  If two different persons agree in testimony it is conclusive.  Otherwise two implies opposition, enmity, and division, as was the work of the Second day.  Compare the use of the word “double” applied to “heart”, “tongue”, “mind”, etc.

Three – denotes completeness, as three lines complete a plane figure.  Hence, three is significant of Divine perfection and completeness.  The third day completes the fundamentals of creation-work.  The fourth, fifth, and sixth days are the counterpart and repetition of the first, second, and third, and correspond respectively.  (See the structure of Gen. 1, p. 3.)  The number, three, includes resurrection also; for on the third day the earth rose up out of the deep, and the fruit rose up out of the earth.

Four – denotes creative works (3+1), and always has reference to the material creation, as pertaining to the earth, and things “under the sun”, and things terrestrial.

Five – denotes Divine grace.  It is 4+1.  It is God adding His gifts and blessing to the works of His hands.  The Heb. Ha’aretz (the earth), by “Gematria” (i.e.  the addition of the numerical value of the letters together) is a multiple of four, while Hashamayim (the heavens) is a multiple of five.  The Gematria of Caris (charis), the Greek for Grace, is also a multiple of five.  It is the leading factor in the Tabernacle measurements.

Six – denotes the human number.  Man was created on the sixth day; and this first occurrence of the number makes it (and all multiples of it) the hall-mark of all connected with man.  He works six days.  The hours of his day are a multiple of six.  Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah six years.  The great men who have stood out in defiance of God (Goliath and Nebuchadnezzar and Antichrist) are all emphatically marked by this number.

Seven – denotes spiritual perfection.  It is the number or hall-mark of the Holy Spirit’s work.  He is the Author of God’s Word, and seven is stamped on it as the water-mark is seen in the manufacture of paper.  He is the Author and Giver of life; and seven is the number which regulates every period of Incubation and Gestation, in insects, birds, animals, and man.

Eight – denotes resurrection, regeneration; a new beginning or commencement.  The eighth is a new first.  Hence the octave in music, color, days of the week, etc.  It is the number which has to do with the LORD, Who rose on the eighth, or new “first-day”.  This is, therefore, the Dominical number.  By Gematria (see above), ‘JJjjIhsous (Jesus) makes the number 888.  It, or its multiple is impressed on all that has to do with the Lord’s Names, the Lord’s People, the Lord’s works.

Nine – denotes Finality of judgment.  It is 3×3, the product o 989 f Divine completeness.  The number nine, or its factors or multiples, is seen in all cases when judgment is the subject.

Ten – denotes Ordinal perfection.  Another new first; after the ninth digit, when numeration commences anew.

Eleven – denotes disorder, disorganization, because it is one short of the number twelve (see below).

Twelve – denotes Governmental perfection.  It is the number of factor of all numbers connected with government :  whether by Tribes or Apostles, or in measurements of time, or in things which have to do with government in the heavens and the earth.

Thirteen – denotes rebellion, apostasy, defection, dis-integration, revolution, &c.  The first occurrence fixes this (Gen. 14:4); and the second confirms it (Gen. 17:25).  It, and its multiples, are seen in all numbers, and in the Gematria (see above) of all names and passages that are associated with rebellion, &c.

Seventeen
– denotes a combination of spirit and order (10+7).  It is the seventh prime number (as 13 is the sixth prime number).

Other numbers follow the laws which govern the smaller, as being their factors, sums, products or multiples :  e.g.  24 is 12×2, a higher form of 12.

25 = 52.     Grace intensified.
27 = 33.     Divinity intensified.
28 = 7×4.    Spiritual perfection in connection with the earth.
29 = 33.     Intensifying of Divine judgment.
30 = 3×10.  Divine perfection, applied to order.
40 = 10×4.  Divine order applied to earthly things.  Hence, the number of probation.

The four perfect numbers, 3, 7, 10, and 12, have for their product the remarkable number 2,520.  It is the Least Common Multiple of the ten digits governing all numeration; and can, therefore, be divided by each of the nine digits, without a remainder.  It is the number of chronological perfection (7×360).

July 25, 2009

Ten Crucial Daily Questions For Spiritual Survival!

herbert_w_armstrong

These questions below are crucial for every true Christian to ask daily in their life of battling Satan, society and self. I strongly believe that Herbert W. Armstrong was spiritually inspired to pose these questions to the Church of God.

Source: by Herbert W. Armstrong, Co-Worker Bulletin, February 14, 1941.

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1.  Did I awake spiritual, in a happy, prayerful attitude, and was I watching to keep my mind from wandering this morning?

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2.  Have I, this day, kept my mind clean, my thoughts and contemplations on “the things above,” in continuous happy, positive, prayerful attitude?

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3.  Have , as a “babe in Christ,” partaken three times today of spiritual food by submissive Bible study and earnest prayer ALONE with God? Have I grown closer to God? Have I grown today in grace and knowledge?

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4.  Have I walked by faith, asking God for wisdom and guidance in all things, committing every little problem to Him, trusting Him with it?

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5.  Have I exercised self-discipline, denying impulse, doing what God’s word shows I aught to do instead of what I wanted to do?

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6.  Was my speech and conversation today kind, cheerful, soft?

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7.  Have I exercised patience today? Have I been charitable towards others, showing tolerance and love, or resentment, jealousy and anger?

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8.  Have I, while putting spiritual interests first, been diligent in performing regular material duties today, doing my very best?

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9.  Have I made the most of my time, or been weakened by unwatchfulness?

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10.  What have I done for God’s work and for others? Have I spent anything today to please myself that could have been saved for God’s cause?

June 18, 2009

The Apostle Paul: Commandment Breaker Or Keeper?

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

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

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

How to Begin

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

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

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

What Paul Clearly Taught

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul and the Fourth Commandment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Will YOU Do?

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tomorrow’s World, January 1972

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).

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