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

mountjoybible.blogspot.com

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…)

June 5, 2011

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

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Practice does not make perfect. Yes, you read that right. It is perfect practice that makes perfect. If we practice wrongly, we will not become perfect. God expects us to practice in a perfect way and if we aren’t practicing perfectly, we have no shot.

Matt.5:48 says we are to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. These instruction come from Jesus Christ. This takes a lot of practice and work, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is expected of us.

Humanly, success is neither a function of genetic uniqueness nor hard-work.  It is instead a function of taking our inherent endowments and refining our craft through deliberate practice. According to Geoff Colvin’s book “Talent Is Overrated: What really Separates World Class Performers From Everybody Else,” the defining characteristic of the deliberative approach to practice are: (1) designed to specifically improve performance; (2) can be repeated; (3) provides continuous feedback; (4) is demanding mentally; and (5) is hard and pushes us continously beyond our comfort zone.  Top performers are detail oriented and never satisfied.

And so it has to be with the Christian. We have to view ourselves differently from the way other people do, become more specific in spiritual goals and strategies and set ourselves against a standard that’s impossible for others to achieve. None of this can be done by human power alone. As God states:

“…. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech.4:6)

Jesus Christ does not want a bride that is not ready (Eph. 5:20). He wants one without spot and blemish. We are in training to become perfect.

So You Think You’re Safe Under God’s Grace?

toourgod.web.officelive.com

The chances are that you, if you believe you are a Christian, are today on mighty dangerous ground!

You’d better STOP—and check up!

Open your Bible! Take a look at the real Christians back in the days of Peter, John and Paul—and compare! Take a look at the power in the original true Church—in the lives of those Christians. See how your life stacks up!

. . . But are you sure?

You think you are under God’s grace? Safe and secure for all eternity? Well, listen! “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he FALL”! So warns God’s Word (I Cor. 10:12). It’s time to realize you are going to be finally judged by the very word of God. You need to see to what standard you must measure up.

Jesus told His disciples, just before He ascended to heaven, that they should receive power when they were converted.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” (Acts 1:8).

Do you have that same POWER today? Did you ever study closely to see what that power is? Have you ever been concerned about how you may receive it?

Have you ever checked to see whether you need it? It’s time you did, for without it you are not truly Christ’s! (more…)

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…)

April 6, 2011

What Is A Christian’s Business?

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When Christ was 12 years old He asked His parents after they had been searching for Him for three days, ” How is it that ye sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

What was that business and why did no one else grasp the deep meaning of this sentence? Even today, the world is unaware of the living, resurrected Christ’s preoccupation and concern for His Father’s business.

Christ came to do His Father’s work, and true Christians must know what this means and how they can be involved in their Father’s business – their real livelihood. Here is the biblical meaning of what Christ meant:

“My meat (food or substance) is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34)

God’s work is of primary importance to Him. True Christians today are to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33). They are called not just for salvation, but to support the work of God, which Christ died for.

This is no small incidental or half-hearted matter to God, as He states in John 5:17: “My Father works hitherto, and I work.” If we are to follow Christ, we have to work also because God works through human instruments. That means supporting the true body of Christ in prayers, study, meditation and financial means.

Those who argue this concept fail to understand  God’s government because their hearts are not in His work. They resort to selfish arguments to back up inconsequential and spiritually lacking efforts. They look only to their own interests, exhibiting few fruits in their life to enable spiritual growth. God says:

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt. 6:21).

If Christ lives in the true Christian (Phil. 2:5), then whatever Christ is excited about, the Christian will also want to be doing. This requires the power of the Holy Spirit, without which we can do nothing (John 5:30).

March 29, 2011

Trinitarians: False Teachers With False Doctrines

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The central doctrine of most Protestant and Catholic churches for many centuries has been that of the trinity. This doctrine is so important that the Catholic Encyclopedia states: “This [the trinity], the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God’s nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she [the Catholic Church] proposes to man as the foundation of the whole dogmatic system.”

Both Catholic and Protestant theologians quote Theophilus of Antioch (circa 180 A.D.) as the first person to write about this most important doctrine. But isn’t it strange that such a major doctrine was avoided in religious writings for nearly two centuries? That is almost as long as the United States has been a nation!

Furthermore, Theophilus’ allusion to the traditional trinity — “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” — is quite nebulous at best. Notice what Theophilus wrote in commenting about the fourth day of creation in the first chapter of Genesis: “And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, “Theophilus to Autolycus).

Here is the first statement by a theologian that is supposed to teach the doctrine of the trinity. But does his statement really teach this?

Read it — simply. He does not say that God is a trinity of PERSONS, or that the Holy Spirit is a part of that trinity. He just refers to God, His Word and His wisdom.

Theologians have tried to imagine into this unusual statement “their trinity” — and yet even the editors of the Ante-Nicene Fathers state in a footnote that the word translated “wisdom” in English is the Greek word sophia which Theophilus elsewhere used in reference to the Son, not the Holy Spirit.

Theophilus could not possibly have gotten the idea of a trinity from the Bible — if he really did have a trinity of persons in mind, which appears unlikely from the preceding statement — as the Bible nowhere even alludes to God being a trinity.

From the time of Theophilus, it was several hundred years before this doctrine became a part of the Catholic dogma. It was in the last twenty-five years of the FOURTH century that “what might be called the definitive trinitarian dogma ‘one God in three persons’ became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Holy Trinity).

From this it is evident that this “central doctrine” of Catholicism and Protestantism was not a part of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) during or prior to the time of Jude, but was ADDED by later theologians.

The doctrine of the trinity was not what Jesus Christ “came upon the earth to deliver to the world.” He came to preach the Good News of His soon-coming Kingdom, to establish His true Church, to give His life as a sacrifice for all who repent, and to give God’s Holy Spirit to those who are baptized — the Spirit that empowers believers to be ONE with the Father and the Son!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, September/October 1970

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…)

May 10, 2010

Use Your Sin Filter

God has given the true Christian a very effective filter against sin. We wear it continually and are to use it to bear up to the standard of God. One of the ways we do this is through immersing ourselves in the word of God. That way we recognize when sin creeps into our life. Obviously we want this filter to be as tight as possible, allowing no penetration of impure materials.

Looking into scripture, we can find the things that filter out evil:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8)

None of these things dwell on anything that is against the law of God, and therefore all are spiritually pure. (more…)

February 18, 2010

What Is Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit?

Only three places in the Bible mention “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”: Matthew 12:22-32, Mark 3:20-30 and Luke 12:10. The Greek word in these verses means “to speak abusively, defame, vilify.” Certain people of Jesus’ day blasphemed the Spirit by attributing the power and works of God to the devil — by saying Jesus cast out demons by an unclean spirit.

Blasphemy against the Spirit of God is not pardonable. The reason is this: We can come to repentance only when the Holy Spirit convicts us that our ways have been wrong and that God’s ways are right. If we reject, by not repenting, the Holy Spirit and the works it does, we are rejecting the only channel through which we could qualify for God’s gift of grace. The unpardonable sin is the one unrepented of.

Falling away after once having the Holy Spirit is also unpardonable (Hebrews 6:4-6). Falling away means turning from God’s way of life after sincerely embracing it, or rejecting Christ’s sacrifice, which makes it possible for humans to receive God’s Spirit after repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). It is possible, as I Thessalonians 5:19 shows, to quench the Spirit in us.

Many have worried needlessly about this question. No one who has blasphemed the Spirit of God wants to do the works of God. He hates them! But as long as one is truly repentant, wants to live God’s way of life and strives to overcome, he or she has not committed the unpardonable sin.

February 16, 2010

Is The Catholic Church the Original Church Of God?

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Jesus Christ did not found many denominations! Christ said, “I will build my Church.” He did built it! One Church, commissioned to preach and to publish His Gospel — the very Message He brought from God — to all the world!

But what do we find today? Hundreds of different and disagreeing sects, all founded by men, each professing to teach the truth, yet contradicting and disagreeing with all the others — a modern religious Babylon!

But what is a “sect”? According to Webster, it is “a group that has broken away from the established Church.” Who established the Church? — Christ! Today’s host of sects or denominations have broken away from that established parent Church — they teach different doctrines and observe different practices!

The religious sects of Jesus’ day were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Samaritans. They had broken away from the true parent Old Testament Church established by God through Moses. Jesus joined none of them. On the contrary, He called His disciples out of them! The Greek word “ecclesia,” translated “Church” in English, has the meaning of “called-out ones.” (more…)

October 7, 2009

Is The Holy Spirit A Person?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First: it is the power of God!

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

Second: it has tangible assets:

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

Third: it is a gift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tomorrow’s World, 1970

October 1, 2009

Why The Religions Of This World Do Not Understand God!

1Well, I have an interesting title, yet the subject is absolutely true, though most will not believe it and may even violently argue it. There is a reason though why I make such a statement, and it does not stem from my own opinion, but from the word of God.

God says the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9. It is desperately wicked. This includes the mind of ALL men – even great leaders, statesmen and religious heads such as the Pope, Dalai Lama, Mohammed and so on. It does not matter what we are involved in, our mind is at war with God (Rom. 8:7). The mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; and it is not subject to the Law of God. Little wonder then that modern Christianity is throwing the law of God out the window in favour of grace. Who wants to listen to that outdated talk, right? So half the Bible is now invalid because we decide we want a religion of convenience, rather than necessity.

It’s not merely in religious circles that we display the dangerous trait of following other men. God says cursed is the man that trusts in man (Lev. 17:5). That’s right, because men lead us astray. They propagate their own set of beliefs, values and judgments on others, usually formulated in a lukewarm way to be pleasing and easy to follow. That, as God says, they walk after own lusts (Jude 16); their own ways.

Why so much confusion today?

The religions of this world can be defined very broadly as “any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life.” They include the great monotheistic religions, Eastern religions; and Neopagan religions; a wide range of other faith groups, spiritual paths, and ethical systems. There are also sub-Christian, quasi-Christian and anti-Christian groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, cults and sects.

Then there is Christianity which many define in a much more exclusive manner. This term can be defined as: “An individual or group who sincerely, thoughtfully and devoutly believes that they are Christian.”

Not one of these thousands of bickering experiences with so many various doctrinal differences are from God. Sure, members of all different religions can appeal to religious experiences as validating their beliefs. Christians may claim to have had experiences of the triune God, or of Jesus; Hindus may claim to have had experiences of Vishnu, or Ganesha; Buddhists may claim to have experienced transcendence, or unity with the universe. Each of these claims to have experienced religious truth, but they cannot all be valid, for these various religions are mutually inconsistent, and so cannot all be true.

If not all of these claims are valid, then it must be exactly as Christ said – there is only ONE true Church (Matt. 16:18), and the rest are deceived.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The word “church” literally means “those called out,” and often means an assembly or congregation, NOT a building. It is applied to Christians as being “called out” from the world — the whole body of believers. But it also implies a singular Church. The word “my”Church is # 3450 in the Greek, which means “me, or mine (own). It does not mean all combined religions.

However, men want do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25), even though religion means we follow God and do as He wants, not as we want (Deut. 13:18). It is the mind of God which must be in us (Phil. 2:5), led by the Spirit of God. It cannot be our own convictions, feelings or moral beliefs. And this can only be achieved if it is God who calls us (John 6:44). We ourselves can’t just decide to become a Christian – that is NOT what your Bible says. Neither are WE to convert others. Go back to John 6:44 and see that it is GOD who calls us – into His one true Church. It is not my place to tell anyone where to go or what to believe, but only to point out the truth.

What is truth? God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and this truth sets us free (John 8:32). It allows us to repent and be baptized to receive the Holy Spirit of God, after being called out of this world (Acts 3). ALL will eventually receive this calling, but most after the resurrection to life.

We will continue to have suppression of truth because the Bible says it is so (Rom. 1:18). Such do not seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).

Why is the Bible correct?

The Bible is radically different than all other so-called sacred literature. It asserts that it is the divinely inspired writings of a supreme Deity. No other sacred literature makes such a claim. It is full of personal quotes from a very active, living God. Here is an example:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The God of the Bible declares the supremacy of His own power. There is none like Him. He is capable of initiating and carrying out a purpose on Earth. A real understanding of God’s purpose shows that there are stupendous and wonderful things ahead for all mankind.

The Bible asserts that it alone contains the divine revelation of that plan—that the Almighty God directed all the writing. Here are some examples:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27). God told Isaiah, “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever” (Isaiah 30:8).

The expression “time to come for ever and ever” is best translated latter days—or our time right now! The entire Bible carries essential knowledge that only God can make known to mankind. This sole piece of sacred literature contains the historical record and prophecies about how God is working out His plans.

The literature of other religions is not subject to scholarly scrutiny simply because the Bible claims to be the express Word of God. No other religions make such a claim for their literature. The Bible speaks out with God’s authority because it is the literal Word of God. Critics may deny this fact, but it is the truth.

August 9, 2009

The Three Resurrections Explained!

Resurrection - From Mortal To Immortal

The 1st Resurrection - From Mortal To Immortal

Throughout history, man has had a fascination with death and the afterlife. Will you and your loved ones live again? Do you have an immortal soul, as so many professing “Christians” believe?

The biblical teachings on life and death have been primary targets of Satan the devil from the beginning. The first recorded lie was that man would not die, (Gen. 3:4) and man has believed the “immortal soul” lie ever since.

Consider the domino effect of this one lie. If man has an immortal soul, he cannot die; if he cannot die, he cannot be resurrected! Furthermore, the Apostle Paul wrote that if we deny the resurrection of the dead, we deny the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, leaving us totally without hope (I Cor. 15:13-14, 19).

The Immortal Soul Lie

When Satan told Eve that she “would not surely die,” she was deceived. Both Eve and Adam subsequently chose to reject the revelation that God had given them. Mankind refuses to accept God’s revelation about death and resurrection to this day, relying instead on his own human reasoning. Modern “Christianity” commonly accepts the immortal soul lie without a shred of evidence and with plenty of proof to the contrary!

Gen. 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This word soul in no way implies immortal life. The word is nephesh in Hebrew and is translated “a breathing animal.” It is used throughout the Old Testament to describe creatures such as cattle, fowl, whales — and man. Ecclesiastes 3:19 shows that man dies just as the animals do.

The soul is physical, composed of matter and it can die. We see this point emphasized throughout the Bible. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Our temporary physical existences are also compared to withering grass that is blown away by a gust of wind (I Pet. 1:24; Ps. 103:13-16).

The Bible shows that all who die — which is everyone –, will eventually be resurrected. The question is not if a person will be resurrected, but when.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order” (I Cor. 15:22-23).

Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected. He is the “firstborn among many brethren,” (Rom. 8:29) and has made the resurrection of everyone who ever lived possible. A careful study of God’s word reveals that there are three resurrections yet to come.

What follows is a brief overview of the biblical teachings concerning the resurrections.

The First Resurrection

The first resurrection is reserved specially for a) the dead in Christ and b) those that are Christ’s at His coming. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:16-17). These are those that belong to Jesus Christ; those who have repented and received the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). These people will live forever and reign with Christ throughout the Millennium, as shown in Revelation 20:5-6.

The Second Resurrection

Revelation 20:5 shows when the next resurrection will take place: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” As we can see, at the end of the 1000 years, two things will happen. Firstly, Satan, who will have been imprisoned throughout the Millennium, (v.3) will be released from his prison and, secondly, everyone else who has ever died will be resurrected. Most of humanity will be brought back to life in this resurrection, as described in Ezekiel 37:1-14. They will then finally have God’s truth revealed to them and be given their chance to become a part of God’s Kingdom. This period of time is called the Great White Throne Judgment.

Only one passage reveals the duration of the Great White Throne Judgment: Isaiah 65:17-25. In verse 20, we read, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” From this point on, no more infants will be born. There will then be two classes of people: “the child” and “the sinner.”

“The child,” in this instance, refers to a person who is righteous. We are to enter the Kingdom of God as a little child (Luke 18:17). Why, then, does the prophet Isaiah say that the child will die?

Because it is given to all men to die once. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). The temporal, physical existence of the righteous will end. Those that fall into the category of “the child” will become the spirit-born sons of God, just as those that were Christ’s at His coming did in the First Resurrection. They also will be “changed in the twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:51-52).

The Third Resurrection

The Third Resurrection is a resurrection to the second death. The prophet Daniel spoke of this resurrection: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus Christ calls it the resurrection of “condemnation” (John 5:29).

Everyone will be given the opportunity to repent and become a part of God’s family, but not everyone will accept it. Those that are not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, ending their existence forever (Rev. 14:10). Malachi 4:3 adds that in the end the ashes of the wicked will be under the feet of the righteous. The incorrigibly wicked will have died the second death, from which there will never be a resurrection (Rev. 20:14-15). This is a merciful act on the part of their Creator. These people would be miserable eternally if they had immortal life, so God mercifully end their lives, leaving only the “smoke of their torment” to ascend forever (Rev.14:11).

Incredible Human Potential

When the resurrections have finally taken place, those left alive will have an immortal soul — one composed of God’s Holy Spirit rather than dust. The resurrections are, in fact, the fulfillment of our incredible human potential. In his book, The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong wrote about that awesome future:

“When born of God, we shall be Spirit, no longer human flesh and blood. We shall be given power! As Daniel revealed, the saints then shall take the kingdoms of earth’s nations and rule them for the first thousand years — establishing world peace and Divine government under Christ.

“And after that? The passage in Hebrews 2 shows that then, again under Christ, we shall be given power to rule over the entire vast universe — literally all things. For that is the power that has been given to Christ and will be ours as joint inheritors with Him!

“Yes, there is a life after death for those obedient to God — a Spirit life of incredible potential beyond our wildest dreams! Can we humans grasp the awesome portent of these astounding truths? Attaining immortal life should be our all-encompassing goal. For that is the gift and desire of our merciful Father and His Son Jesus Christ.”

What a glorious vision of the future!

July 25, 2009

The Plain Truth About Speaking In Tongues

Editors Comment: I was going to write on this subject, but this article from TheTrumpet.com is so insightful, I would have a hard time covering more bases. Therefore I have posted it in its entirety, with a live link back. Happy reading!

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002520_id2520w360h240_ju2t0oA little over 100 years ago, the modern Pentecostal Movement began in the American Midwest and gained popularity a short while later during the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California. The new religious movement soon spread across the country and even overseas. Today, the Pentecostal Movement claims over 500 million adherents worldwide, nearly half as many as Roman Catholicism. Pentecostal churches comprise the second most powerful denomination among all professing Christians.

Many Pentecostal groups claim that their religion is of God, and that the “latter rain” of the Holy Spirit is now falling on the souls of men. Some believe that “speaking in tongues”—i.e. the intense shouts, babbling and utterances of members of certain of their congregations—are modern demonstrations of the New Testament “gift of tongues.”

But is the presence of “speaking in tongues”—or glossolalia, as it is termed technically—evidence of God’s Holy Spirit? Or are these outlandish manifestations of emotional shouts, dancing, speaking gibberish, and fainting spells a ridiculous and dangerous counterfeit?

This question is of no small importance. Many feel such “speaking in tongues” is proof that one has the Holy Spirit, or at least evidence that one has achieved some superior level of spiritualism. Is this true? You need to know.

The Basic Doctrine

The late Herbert W. Armstrong made it plain that “the gift of ‘tongues’ spoken of in the Bible is the ability to speak of God in other languages—languages that are foreign and previously unknown to the speaker” (Tomorrow’s World, February 1972).

In other words, the gift of tongues is the God-given, miraculous ability to speak in a human language that one has not learned in any normal manner. But it is certainly not those demonstrations of emotional and indecipherable gibberish that some religious groups today call “speaking in tongues.”

Usual Teachings of This World

The 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the “gift of tongues, also called glossolalia (from [the] Greek glossa, ‘tongue,’ and lalia, ‘talking’), [includes] utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious excitement. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected, the tongue moves without the conscious control of the speaker, and unintelligible speech pours forth. According to religious interpretations of the phenomenon, the speaker is considered to be possessed by a supernatural spirit, is in conversation with divine beings, or is the channel of a divine proclamation ….

“In addition to the religious interpretations of glossolalia as a supernatural occurrence, various psychological interpretations have attempted to explain it as a natural occurrence. It has been suggested that it is a charlatan’s technique, a neurotic or psychotic symptom, a form of epilepsy, or, most commonly, a hypnotic phenomenon resulting from religious excitement.”

Often, the so-called “tongues experience” occurs at an intense, emotionally charged religious revival called a “tarry meeting,” where the “spirit” is said to be “called down” or “worked up.” Generally such “working up” consists of frenetic repeating of certain phrases like “Glory, hallelujah!” or “Sweet Jesus!” With jazzy hymn-singing and the rhythmic, ecstatic chant of these repetitious utterances, the congregation is gradually whipped into an emotional frenzy.

Suddenly one or two or more in the group are “overcome with the spirit” and begin shouting gibberish. Usually this includes waving of the arms, jumping around, shouting or even writhing on the floor. One or another of the congregation may rise to “interpret” what a speaker is saying, usually attributing to the person great praises for God and other spiritual insights.

Some groups view this experience as absolute proof one has the Spirit of God. Others allow that Christians who do not speak in tongues in this manner may have the Spirit, but that those who do speak in tongues have obtained a higher degree of the Spirit with such “inspired” speaking. Glossolalia is a greatly prized spiritual goal in all tongues-speaking circles.

Some believe that such tongues-speaking is related to the episode of the “tongues of fire” in Acts 2:3. Others believe it to be the “baptism of the Spirit” predicted by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). Beliefs differ, too, as to whether the utterances mean anything in any language. Some believe the utterances to be the “tongues of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Others say the languages are unknown and cannot be known. Still others believe such utterances to indeed be known foreign languages spoken today, or at least previously known languages such as ancient Hebrew.

Most all who do such speaking take the greatest pride in the fact that they “spoke in tongues”—not in what they babbled that might have been meaningful. Few, it seems, stop and ask themselves whether their “gift” agrees with the biblical definition of tongues.

Let us “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and see what the Holy Bible reveals about the tongues question.

The Bible Teaching

The place to begin is in Acts 2. The first 21 verses of this chapter form the crux of the Bible doctrine of tongues. Here, written nearly 2,000 years ago, is a record of the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a multitude.

Prior to the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, and shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ promised the original 12 disciples—who later became apostles—that they would receive miraculous spiritual strength after the Holy Spirit had come into their minds following His resurrection (John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 1:8-9).

While Christ was with His disciples in the flesh, He was their actual, physical “Comforter.” For about three and a half years, the Holy Spirit had been dwelling with the disciples in the person of Christ. Jesus told them that after His death and ascension they would receive “another Comforter”—the gift of the Holy Spirit; and it would dwell within them even as it had been evident in Him.

Notice that the receipt of this Holy Spirit was conditional upon the disciples’ obedience. Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 show us that they were instructed to wait (or “tarry,” as it states in the King James Version) in Jerusalem until the appointed time. (The word tarry comes from the Middle English tarien, meaning “wait.” It does not imply a “tarry meeting” or modern “revival.”) The disciples would not have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit had they ignored or disregarded this specific command. After all, God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

The day God established for this special bestowing of His Spirit was on His annual festival of Pentecost—also known as the feast of weeks or feast of firstfruits—which was observed 50 days after the day on which Christ was resurrected. The word pentekoste is a Greek word meaning “50th [day],” or “count fifty.” Leviticus 23:15-21 tells us that Pentecost is an annual holy day which true Christians are commanded to observe every year in the late spring. Strangely, and significantly, the modern Pentecostal groups of this world do not even keep this biblically commanded day!

After Christ’s ascension, Acts 2:1 shows that 120 of His own disciples were faithfully and harmoniously gathered “in one accord” at church services in Jerusalem, as they had been directed, on that day of Pentecost in a.d. 31. Also assembled in Jerusalem on that special holy day, besides the disciples, were other devout men—Jews from all over the Roman Empire. Some were Parthians, some Medes and Elamites; others were from Mesopotamia, Rome and Arabia. Though they were not yet disciples of Christ’s, all of them understood that if they had not obeyed Jesus’ specific command to meet there in Jerusalem on that particular day, they would not have been eligible to receive the Spirit of God.

Pentecost, A.D. 31

At last, when the day of Pentecost had “fully come,” something truly amazing happened. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit arrived with a great display of power! (Acts 2:2-4, 8, 11).

With a loud sound, as of a mighty windstorm, the Spirit of God entered the room wherein the disciples were seated! It also came with the appearance of divided tongues of fire!

Have you ever seen anything even remotely like this in your life? I certainly haven’t. Yet, in this instance, this supernatural event happened—so says your Bible!

Imagine the excitement that ensued. Word of this momentous experience must have spread over the city. A multitude of Jews, amazed, came hurrying to the place. They wondered, for something mind-dazzling began to happen: God’s Spirit filled all 120 of Jesus’ disciples and enabled every one of the Jews—though they hailed from many different regions and spoke diverse dialects—to understand what was said! (Acts 2:6).

Every man, woman and child who came near heard the disciples speak in his or her own language! Those of the Parthian dialect heard the disciples, all of them, speak the Parthian language. The Medes, on the other hand, heard the same disciples speak the language of the Medes. Of course, what the disciples were saying was actually “all Greek” to those who had traveled in from Greece!

Then Peter, the chief apostle, stood and delivered a sermon (Acts 2:14-21). Again, the tongues he spoke in were known languages of the day that were clearly understood by those listening. The listeners marveled because Peter, to their ears, seemed to be speaking in their native, local dialects, although he obviously hadn’t learned all these languages by going to school or through some other normal method of study.

Obviously, Peter was not speaking incomprehensible, meaningless clack. He did not work up the crowd with rhythmically chanted, vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Further, we see no descriptions of wildly gyrating bodies, waving hands or people rolling around on the ground.

Concerning this utterly unique and amazing account of the gift of tongues, Mr. Armstrong concluded that “the miracle was in the hearing as well as the speaking” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Other Biblical Accounts

Besides the account in Acts 2, other instances of speaking in tongues are recorded in the Bible. One such time was on the occasion of the first outpouring of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). The account is brief, but verse 46 clearly states that those listening heard those speaking in tongues “magnify God.” In telling the apostles of it, Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning,” and, “God gave them the like gift as He did unto us” (Acts 11:15, 17).

On this occasion, the Gentiles received the power of the Holy Spirit by the ceremony of baptism and the laying on of hands by an ordained minister—in the same manner God gives the Holy Spirit to His begotten saints today. Peter did not say that the Holy Spirit came unto them with the same manifestations as it did on Pentecost in a.d. 31.

The gift of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles did not come suddenly from heaven, as the sound of a mighty wind, appearing as cloven tongues of fire. Aside from being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, the nature of which is not here described, there is no similarity between these two experiences. The only reasonable conclusion is that these tongues again were known languages of the day.

In one other recorded case, men spoke with tongues upon being filled with the Holy Spirit. That was after Paul had baptized the Ephesian believers and laid his hands on them (Acts 19:1-6). Again, these tongues were known languages of the day; there is nothing to indicate the other accompanying manifestations as upon the original day of Pentecost.

Some modern tongues-speakers quote Matthew 3:11, contending that glossolalia is evidence of the “baptism of the Spirit.” John the Baptist’s reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit however, does not refer to tongues as some separate baptism in addition to one’s initial receipt of the Holy Spirit. It is, instead, a reference to that very act of receiving God’s Spirit after repentance, which baptizes us into the true Church of God (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Gift of Tongues

The book of 1 Corinthians has much to say about the subject of tongues. The gift is mentioned in verses 1 and 10 of 1 Corinthians 12, but verses 27-31 are the most critical.

In verse 28, Paul lists the governmental offices of the church, including the ranks of apostle and prophet. Then, beginning in verse 29, through a series of rhetorical questions, Paul decidedly proves that not all have the gift of tongues (or any of a number of other gifts for that matter). Clearly, having the gift of tongues cannot be the only proof one has God’s Spirit. Nor is it proof of superior righteousness, for verse 31, along with 1 Corinthians 13, declares absolutely that love is a greater gift of the Spirit than speaking in tongues! 1 Corinthians 13:1 says that even if one has the power to speak in the “tongues of … angels,” he is spiritually worthless unless he has love.

It is important to note that these verses do not imply that the Corinthians spoke in angelic language. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, Paul lists a number of incredible feats, all of them beyond human capability (i.e., moving mountains with faith, and understanding every single mystery of life). He wanted the Corinthians to see that even if they could do certain things far beyond their normal abilities, it still wouldn’t make them righteous unless they were filled with and expressing godly love—which is an unselfish, outgoing concern for others (agape in the Greek). It is clear that Paul spoke of the tongues of angels also as something beyond the Corinthians’ natural abilities, just like moving mountains.

Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is devoted entirely to the tongues topic. Numerous verses defeat the arguments of modern tongues-speakers, proving that Paul wrote these words to downplay and control the gift of tongues, not to exalt it.

Verse 1 encourages normal, inspired preaching over the gift of tongues. The following verses stress that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to edify and benefit the audience, not the speaker. This, of course, is vastly different from modern tarry meetings and revivals, where the one who speaks in tongues is in the limelight while the rest of the congregation just sits back and watches the strange goings-on. These modern acts of glossolalia are generally more like freakish circus sideshows than a proper church service. No real educating takes place.

Verses 10-17 stress the need for the audience to understand the words, and thus make plain that the words should be capable of being understood. Paul is clearly writing of common human languages of the day.

Verse 23 makes the same point a different way. Paul warns against speaking in a language the audience doesn’t understand, saying that to do so would make one who is an unbeliever or unlearned think the believers were crazy. It wouldn’t make sense for a minister of God to speak Spanish to an audience if they didn’t understand the Spanish language!

The remaining verses clear up any modern misunderstandings on this question.

Verse 27 limits the number who may speak in tongues at any one time to two or three who must take turns. (This is what must have occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-11.) It demands calm order in the service—all things being done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40), in a godly manner and with proper decorum—which is the very opposite of the emotionally charged atmosphere of a tarry meeting.

Verse 31 says that tongues should be used one by one in turn—not at the same time in devilish confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is not the author of confusion and disorder.

Verse 32 states that the one who speaks in tongues is in control of his faculties at all times. This is the very opposite of certain Pentecostals, who give themselves over to tongues-speaking and are for a while controlled by the phenomenon, so much so that they may not remember or even know what they said “while under the influence”!

Finally, verse 34 states that women are forbidden to preach in the church at all. Such is not the case today as many “tongues-speakers” are women.

In summary, we’ve looked at the commonly accepted beliefs about modern “speaking in tongues,” examined the pertinent Bible verses and extracted the key points. Obviously, modern tongues and biblical tongues are not only different, they are in fact opposite.

The biblical gift of tongues is given for instruction; the modern display of “tongues” is enacted for display and vainglory. One is at a preaching service where people are to be edified by the content of the speech; the other at an emotional tarry meeting. One is vocal only; the other is linked with wild physical movement and uncontrolled shouts. One is considered a lesser gift; the other a badge of “righteousness” to brag about. The Bible tongues are real languages; modern tongues are not. One is always under control; the other is worked up to uncontrolled frenzy. One is done in turn by two or three men at the most; the other usually degenerates to disorderly confusion.

What About Today?

Have you ever wondered why God ever gave the gift of tongues, and whether the genuine gift still exists today?

Evidently the gift of tongues was given for the same reasons as other miraculous manifestations in early Church history. It was to call attention to the initial outpouring of God’s power, to attract attention to the gospel message—not to the speaker—and to aid in the spreading of the gospel in a part of the world peppered with people who spoke many different languages (Acts 2:5).

Despite claims to the contrary, people today are not seen to speak miraculously in languages they did not learn through formal instruction. However, the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, cited by Peter in Acts 2:16-21, may indicate God’s servants will again exercise that gift at a future time of God’s own choosing.

Key Verses

The main Bible verses about this subject of tongues are contained in a few easily remembered sections of Scripture. Acts 2:1-21 shows the first outpouring of tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost. Acts 10:44-48 describes the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentile Christians.

1 Corinthians 12 contains various scattered statements about tongues, while chapter 14 records the Apostle Paul’s instructions about and limitations regarding tongues.

Undoubtedly people can be led astray from the truth if they allow their own thoughts and emotions and evil spiritual influences to dictate their beliefs, rather than God’s precious word. Though these modern “tongues-speakers” may be sincere, they are sincerely deceived.

As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We have no word of condemnation for these ‘Pentecostal’ people, as they call themselves, because they are unable to repeat the same accompanying manifestations as described for the day of Pentecost in a.d. 31″ (ibid.). Modern tongues-speakers are utterly incapable of reproducing the incredible miracles which occurred that day. At best, all they can do is pretend to imitate, or counterfeit, the gift of tongues.

From the beginning, Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), has blinded most of mankind to God’s truth. The devil has led many astray through counterfeit spiritual experiences. In fact, Satan has deceived the entire world (Revelation 12:9). But true Christians are told to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the true litmus test. God’s word is the standard by which we should judge all things (John 17:17). “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19-20). The “law” and “the testimony” are the Old and New Testaments—the Bible!

Those who search for deeper spiritual experiences by trying to “call down another Pentecost” or “work up the spirit” in their tarry meetings today are simply deceived by Satan.

Satan the devil has been cast down to this Earth (Revelation 12:10). True Christians cannot be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18), and must be wise enough to discern that the “tongues” experience witnessed on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, is not being repeated today.

June 29, 2009

The Tongue: An Unruly Evil

“Show me a Christian that has tamed the tongue,  and I’ll show you a perfect man.”

True Christians are God’s ambassadors on earth. Their citizenship is in heaven and they represent and speak on behalf of the true God of the universe. So God wants to teach them to speak like Him, which means knowing how to rule the tongue.

“For we all make many mistakes, and if anyone makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also” (Jam. 3:2, RSV).

We all make mistakes, but mistakes should not be our way of life. If Christians are able to bridle the whole body, then Christ can rule over them.

“Behold we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm; whithsoever the governor listeth”(verses 3-4).

A whole ship can be guide through waves and storms with a little rudder. Our tongue expresses what is in our mind – and if we can just control our tongues, we actually guide our whole being and demonstrate a great deal of character.

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of inequity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell”(verses 5-6).

Hell comes from the Greek word Gehenna, and refers to the lake of fire. God is talking about His begotten sons here, whose eternal lives are at stake. The expression “whole body”, speaks of defiling our whole being — setting the body of Christ on fire — making it a world of inequity. Just by the wrong use of our tongue, we can talk ourselves right into the lake of fire.

Why is it so important to tame our tongue? Because those whom God is working with now will teach every person who has ever lived. Christians need the mind of Christ to direct everything they say. Jesus Christ continually spoke uplifting words while He was here on earth. This is the mind that must be in Christians. They must learn to exercise wisdom in this area. They must learn to say things that will encourage people and lift them up.

A parent also can alter the entire direction of a child’s life, just by the words he speaks to the child. Once your communication turns negative, the cycle quickly becomes destructive. This is the time to repent and watch the tongue. Christ holds the Christian parent accountable for every word he utters.

In general, manking cannot control the tongue and has turned this world into tohu and bohu. It is ruled by deceitful and desperately wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9).

James teaches us about the tongue as no other book in the Bible does. The tongue should express the thoughts of Christ’s mind (Phil. 2:5). But good or bad, the tongue expresses what is on the mind.

“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”(Jam. 3:7-8).

Our tongue is full of lethal poison, and no man can tame it. Only God can. Notice: “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:9).

James emphasizes the fact that we are made in the likeness of God. We look like God and were also created with a mind that  animals dont havein order to develop the mind, or image, of God! Man has a much higher potential than any animal which can’t be given the love or wisdom of God! But to achieve that potential, he must learn to control the tongue. That takes the character and mind of Christ. The more you get that mind in you, the more you overcome your human nature and become a force for good!

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (verse 10). Do we bless God, but don’t talk like Him? Do we  love to praise God and “love Jesus”—but at the same time, commit unlawful acts? That is like bitter and sweet water coming from the same fountain, and God will have none of that!

We are ambassadors for Christ. We speak for Him. Do we talk like God? Do we talk like the Bible? Is our speech grounded in God’s Word?

“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (verses 11-12). God demands that we speak the truth. How incongruous would it be to receive bitter and sweet water from the same fountain.

Water is a type of God’s Holy Spirit. We must let God’s Holy Spirit produce pure thoughts in our minds—not contradictory thoughts of confusion.

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (verse 13).

A good conversation is coupled with wisdom, which is the mind of God. This is edifying and uplifting and shows the fruits necessary for Christian growth. God makes a big deal out of a little member of our body. True Christians should take note and make the necessary chanhes to please their creator. Nothing else will satisfy God. And nothing else will bring the reward of eternal life.

June 24, 2009

Evolutionists Versus Creationists: Who Has The Truth?

2Evolutionists and creationists are at it again! Each claims to have the answer to the puzzle of creation. But does either represent true science or true religion?

Evolutionary doctrine is deeply ensconced in today’s schools as a legitimate part of most science classes. It is no longer presented as an unproven idea or theory. It is presented as fact. When children go to school they are usually taught the theory of evolution as the only intelligent answer to existence. Virtually all science teachers speak about it as dogmatically as though they saw evolution happen. Class instruction is done so effectively that students generally are embarrassed to admit before their peers that they still believe in a Creator God.

But what if creation were taught in schools? Which version would be taught? Could creationists agree on the exact version to include in the school curriculum?

Liberals, calling themselves theistic evolutionists, consider the Genesis account symbolic or allegorical. They would insist that God brought about the creation through the process of evolution.

Fundamentalist groups, often called scientific creationists, are in the forefront of a crusade to free school children from the evolutionists’ firm grasp. They would teach that all creation, including the sun, moon and stars, took place very recently — hardly more than six or seven thousand years ago. They seek scientific evidence to show that the fossil beds and fossil bearing strata were nearly all laid down during a Flood in the historic past. They contend that life forms were separated and arranged into sequential layers by the water’s turbulent action.

The real beginning

However, the Bible teaches that creation took place anciently — “in the beginning.” That when the creation first appeared the angels were so enthralled with its magnificence they “sang together and … shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). That God placed an archangel on earth to administer God’s government in love and concern. He rebelled (Ezek. 28:15-16). Destruction came to the earth. Then God’s Spirit moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2) and God began to recreate today’s realm. This time he gave mankind (rather than the angels) dominion over the physical creation.

It is obvious that no single version of creation will satisfy this world’s differing religious groups. So, even if creationists were given equal forum with evolutionists, what version would be taught? Even if a compromise could be worked out, who could be trusted to teach it convincingly enough to compete successfully with evolutionary teachings?

Roles Reversed

The problem that we face in education today is just the reverse of that which men faced a few centuries ago. At that time the church sat above the government in matters of education. Few dared to teach anything contrary to the religious dogma because of its backing from the civil government! When discovery or experimentation uncovered facts that were contrary to traditional teachings, the church not uncommonly vigorously repressed them.

When men were finally freed from that oppression in the pursuit of truth, the liberated world assured itself that it would not again come under such bondage. Educational institutions that were once part of the church became a part of the state. It is under state control that most schools now carry out the mandate of teaching future generations what the adult society considers the ideals of life.

The doctrine of evolution, timidly suggested by Charles Darwin, came just at the right time. It was seized upon and promoted beyond Darwin’s wildest dreams. It became instantly popular and has continued to grow in influence simply because it was the nearest thing to a plausible explanation of creation without a creator.

Interpreting the will of the adult generation to be the desire to be free of hindrance from doing what they want to do, educators feel safe only in taking the evolutionary approach. By denying God’s role in creation, freedom to do as one pleases seemed complete. But, there remains a problem. How can one explain the evidence of God’s creation without the Creator?

This is why not all scientists are evolutionists. A significant number of scientists now acknowledge that the magnificent, intricate universe is so extremely well organized and complex that it requires a supreme designer and sustainer in order to exist. Some freely admit that the God of the Bible is the only intelligent answer. A few even worship him in truth.

The question then becomes, not whether to include religious views of creation in the classrooms, but whether evolution should continue to be taught as a scientific theory of origins. Evolutionists know that the question of origins lies outside of the scope of natural science.

You Must Choose!

If you believe evolution, you must believe that man has no ultimate purpose in the universe. But if you believe in creation, you have a unique choice. You can believe you were created to spend eternity in idleness and ease in heaven, or that you were created for a grand purpose — of becoming a son of God (Heb. 1:1-5, 2:6-10, Rom. 8:29). Most creationists thoughtlessly assume the former view. They do not know we humans were born to become sons of God and that our creation is not yet complete!

We are created in the form and shape of God, but out of matter. We are not yet spirit. Before God will complete our creation and give us eternal, spiritual LIFE from his very own person, we must develop godly CHARACTER. Or we would not be fit to be his sons. This is what human life is all about! Evolution knows nothing of it. Most creationists are blinded by their false ideas of Christ and his message and have not understood it.

God cannot create righteous, godly character by fiat. This has been demonstrated by the creation of angels. God created angels as perfect spiritual beings, but some turned sour and chose to do evil (Ezek. 28:14-16, Rev. 12:3-4). Chief among them was the archangel Lucifer.

We humans were created as fleshly beings and given TEMPORARY physical life so that if we turn sour we will not live forever as evil beings. This physical life was made to ebb away and our bodies to grow old and die.

It is in this physical state of existence that God works in a chosen few, now, to build the type of character that is required of sons of God. We have our part, choosing God’s ways and his laws, striving against temptation and resisting the devil and the practices of this world. This, if you please, is the tree of life of Genesis 2:9 and 3:22 that Adam and Eve rejected.

Only those whom God now calls and works with can enter the process of further creation. When God calls us he sets before us the same choice as he set before Adam and Eve. He says to us just as clearly as he said to ancient Israel: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).

You cannot create righteous character within yourself by yourself. God must do that in and through you by his Spirit, which is his very nature. You must become willingly and wholeheartedly oriented toward God, like clay in the hand of the Master Potter (Isa. 64:8, Jer. 18:1-6, Rom. 9:20-21). You must TRUST him to shape you into what he decides. You cannot start until the Potter singles you out and begins to deal with you.

Only then, if you become soft and pliable through the addition of God’s Holy Spirit, can you begin to be shaped into the CHARACTER of God. If you turn away, to remain lumpy and hard, he will cast you aside and work with other clay.
The ways of God are outlined broadly by the Ten Commandments and are enlarged upon throughout the rest of the Bible. The example of how to live by them successfully and perfectly was first demonstrated by Jesus Christ (I John 2:6), who blazed the trail for all who henceforth will live God’s spiritual way.

When This Truth Will Prevail

One day truth will be taught in all schools. It will be God’s truth as recorded in the Bible. Not false religions of men. It will be truly scientific. It will acknowledge not only the Creator but his laws and his authority. It will teach us all that there is to know about the creation around us; how and why it was put here, and what our role shall be according to God’s exciting plan and purpose.

In that day enlightenment will be so complete that it will make today’s knowledge explosion seem like the popping of corn by comparison! Here’s how it will be brought about:

When Christ returns to the earth to bring the whole world peace, he will come to set up the kingdom of God. It will be a world-ruling empire and Christ will be its “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:6, 16; 20:4). When forced to think about God’s perfect laws of love and happiness, people will become more enthralled with life than they have ever imagined that they could be.

Stubborn evolutionists, confused creationists — and all men alike — will be ashamed that they strove so hard to deny God’s way while they clung to their own folly. What a wonderful day that will be!

Source: The Plain Truth, February 1983

June 18, 2009

Why Was Barnabas Called The Son Of Encouragement?

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The apostle Barnabas bent over the bloodied body, perplexed and distressed. At the first moan and stir of what had appeared to be a corpse, the little coterie of Christians gasped in disbelief. Then the short, stocky torso turned. Paul slowly sat up among the blood stained stones.

An ecstatic Barnabas helped Paul to his feet. Paul had survived a stoning. Astonished, the group heard Paul announce he was alright, and watched him turn back toward the city again (Acts 14:19-20).

Such was the character of the man God chose to get the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the known gentile world. But what of the character of his relieved and grateful partner? What was the role of Barnabas in the Work at that time? What value does his example hold for us today?

Some may be surprised to learn that Barnabas was the major human instrument God used to employ Paul in the ministry, and to get the gentile Work off the ground.

Barnabas’s unique qualities

Barnabas was genuinely humble. He was able to see the good in others. Because of this, he became a prime factor in the growth of the early Church. Cultivation of his qualities in our lives can enhance our impact as Christians today.
Scripture makes some unusual statements about Barnabas. One concerns the special name he was given by Church leaders — a name that seems to have characterized his ministry.

In the early weeks of the fledgling Church, the wealthier converts sold real estate and other possessions to share with the more needy brethren. Curiously, the only person named as an example of this generosity was a certain Joses. We are told that he “was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)” (Acts 4:36).

The use of this name Encouragement is significant. The Greek word has also been translated “consolation” or “comfort.” John 14:26 uses a slightly different form of the Greek:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” (Authorized Version).

The name Barnabas, then, has essentially the same meaning as the word Jesus used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The personification of encouragement as the “father” of Barnabas is also significant. He must have manifested this trait in an outstanding way. This unique individual was a warm and encouraging person. He was positive and uplifting. He was able to see the best in people — to overlook the differences that could produce personal prejudice. This very virtue was used to open the possibility of membership in the early Church to converts of all nations.

Reaching the gentiles

Jesus Christ had shown His intent, just before His ascension to heaven, to ultimately reach all nations with the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 28:19-20). After He provided His Church with sufficient human and material resources to evangelize foreign lands, Christ had a major hurdle to overcome. Many Jews were prejudiced against non-Israelites. Many felt superior, being the chosen of God, and harbored bias that would have weakened their willingness to reach out to gentiles.

God revealed first through the leading apostle, Peter, His will for the gentiles, through the incident of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). Yet the Jews were still hesitant to admit that God must be dealing with gentiles (verse 28). There was some plain foot-dragging going on.

Whom would God use to get things going in the Work to the gentiles?

Enter Saul

Saul of Tarsus had been public enemy No. 1 to the Christians. He led a gestapo-like group of Jewish zealots on a crusade to completely eradicate the Christians (Acts 8:1). While on his way to Damascus, Saul was struck blind and brought to repentance by Christ Himself (Acts 9:1-22). Jesus made it clear He had chosen Saul to “bear My name before Gentiles” (verse 15).

After a narrow escape from would-be assassins at Damascus, Saul went to Jerusalem to join himself to the Christians there. But his reputation as their chief tormentor kept him on the outside looking in (verse 26). God began to use a certain man to champion the cause of suspect Saul.

Barnabas had perhaps believed Saul’s story, perceiving in him the Holy Spirit. Or he had heard of his conversion and powerful preaching in Damascus. He was able to put aside fear and bias to see the good in Saul. Barnabas stuck his neck out to help Saul win acceptance from the apostles (verse 27).

But Saul’s time had not yet come. After more threats on his life, Saul was sent home to Tarsus. God let a number of years go by while He further prepared His Church for the entrance of the gentiles. Growth continued, but no real effort was made to take the Gospel to gentile lands. Something did finally happen far up the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in a gentile city called Antioch.

When the Church was scattered after the initial severe persecution, some of the believers journeyed as far as Antioch and took up residence in various gentile cities. These brethren witnessed to Jews only, until certain ones of them preached to some Greeks. God backed up their effort, and “a great number believed” (Acts 11:19-21).

When the Church leaders at headquarters in Jerusalem heard this news, they decided to investigate, and selected Barnabas for the trip (verse 22).  He arrived at Antioch and found that the Work of God among the Greeks was genuine. Being the positive, warm fellow he was, Barnabas was delighted. He “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (verse 23). Unhampered by pride and preconceived notions, he could see the potential for good in gentiles. Barnabas lived up to his name, welcoming the new converts.

Another unusual statement is found in the following verse. Luke was so impressed with Barnabas that when he compiled the book of Acts, he stated, under inspiration, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (verse 24). Barnabas was filled with the Holy Spirit, known also as the Comforter, which his name meant. He literally stands out for his special ability to see the good in others and encourage them.

Acts 11:24 ends with, “And a great many people were added to the Lord.” The growth was so rapid that Barnabas realized he was overextended. Assistance was needed to properly pastor the new brethren and allow additional growth. Barnabas was about to make a second major move that would ensure the great impact of Saul of Tarsus on the future of gentile Christians.

Remembering what had been prophecied about Saul, Barnabas realized that now was the time, and that Antioch was the place, to activate Saul’s ministry. So, “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul” (verse 25). Together they returned to Antioch, staying there for a year. Saul probably acted as a kind of associate pastor, subject to the leadership of Barnabas. When the two are mentioned together, Barnabas is named first (verse 30).

Meanwhile, “The word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). By the time chapter 13 opens, we find five ministers operating out of Antioch. God’s time had come to expand the Work into other parts of the world.

While the ministry there was fasting and praying about this matter, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit made it plain that God had set apart Barnabas and Saul for a special mission (Acts 13:2-3). A new phase of the preaching of the Gospel was about to unfold.

The pair took along young John Mark and set sail for Cyprus, Barnabas’ home country. It is ironic that a major change in the roles of Barnabas and Saul occurred on this very island. They preached the Word at Salamis on the eastern end, then crossed the entire island to the city of Paphos (verses 4-6). Here, the party encountered Elymas the sorcerer. It was through a confrontation with this false prophet that assistant Saul became leader Paul.

Paul emerges as leader

Elymas withstood the efforts of the missionaries to preach the word to an interested deputy of the country. “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?’ ” (verses 9-10).

Paul, perhaps remembering the impact of his own bout with blindness on the road to Damascus, used God’s power to smite Elymas with blindness. On this occasion he stood out as a dynamic spokesman. But consider Barnabas’ position. He had been in charge over Paul. He had championed the cause of Saul and helped him into the fellowship of the Church. He was the one who dug Saul out of the woodwork at Tarsus and reactivated him. He was the pastor at Antioch. He was the leader of this evangelical tour.

What if Barnabas had dwelt on all these things?

Barnabas had to decide there at Paphos whether to humble himself and submit to God’s greater purpose. All we know is that verse 13 simply records, “Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga.” Previously it had always been “Barnabas and Saul.” Now it was “Paul and his party.” Paul was the leader. The entire focus of the rest of the book of Acts is on Paul. But let’s focus on the example of Barnabas.

Perhaps he was willing to admit that Paul had certain characteristics that were better suited for the job at hand. Barnabas was a warm and encouraging sort, which is a necessary quality of leadership. But he may have been of such a temperament that he tried to avoid confrontations. On the other hand, Paul was like a seething volcano, always ready to erupt with powerful, convicting preaching or debate, and never backing down from a battle.

Perhaps Barnabas realized this once and for all at Lystra, the city on that first missionary tour where Paul was stoned. Watching beleaguered Paul struggle to his feet and head right back into the city may have convinced Barnabas of the unique qualities Paul possessed.

At least it is safe to say that he had a similar attitude to that of John the Baptist. Submitting to the new leadership of Jesus Christ, John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Barnabas practiced what Paul later preached: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

Are you like Barnabas?

Barnabas’ humility is also seen in his freedom from feelings of prejudice. Had he been biased, perhaps Paul would not have gotten anywhere with those at Jerusalem. Barnabas was willing to welcome into the Church brethren of other nationalities and cultures. He didn’t let petty differences keep him from serving God’s people.

God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Barnabas manifested this same attitude by seeing the good in people. He dwelt on positives. He saw potential for the future. Exactly how much he had to do with Paul’s development, and therefore with the growth of the gentile Work, we don’t know at this time. We do know enough that we can benefit from his sterling example. What else, after all, would you expect from a man called the Son of Encouragement?

Source: The Good News, 1986

June 12, 2009

Is All Animal Flesh Good For Food?

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

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

We’re Just Grown-up Babies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Are Eating Poison

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

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

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

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

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

What the Great Architect of Your Stomach Instructs

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

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

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

Physical, as Well as Spiritual Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Change in Structure of Animal Flesh at Cross

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

The unclean animals were unclean before the flood.

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

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

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

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

Not Ceremonial Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What About Peter’s Vision?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Common” Does Not Mean “Unclean”

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Is “Clean” Meat “Common”?

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

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

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

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

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

Prophecy for the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Plain Truth, February 1980

May 24, 2009

The First "Christian" Trinitarian

The central doctrine of most Protestant and Catholic churches for many centuries has been that of the trinity. This doctrine is so important that the Catholic Encyclopedia states:

“This [the trinity], the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God’s nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she [the Catholic Church] proposes to man as the foundation of the whole dogmatic system.”

Both Catholic and Protestant theologians quote Theophilus of Antioch (circa 180 A.D.) as the first person to write about this most important doctrine. But isn’t it strange that such a major doctrine was avoided in religious writings for nearly two centuries?

Furthermore, Theophilus’ allusion to the traditional trinity — “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” — is quite nebulous at best. Notice what Theophilus wrote in commenting about the fourth day of creation in the first chapter of Genesis:

“And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, “Theophilus to Autolycus”).

Here is the first statement by a theologian that is supposed to teach the doctrine of the trinity. But does his statement really teach this? Read it — simply. He does not say that God is a trinity of PERSONS, or that the Holy Spirit is a part of that trinity. He just refers to God, His Word and His wisdom. Theologians have tried to imagine into this unusual statement “their trinity” — and yet even the editors of the Ante-Nicene Fathers state in a footnote that the word translated “wisdom” in English is the Greek word sophia which Theophilus elsewhere used in reference to the Son, not the Holy Spirit. Theophilus could not possibly have gotten the idea of a trinity from the Bible — if he really did have a trinity of persons in mind, which appears unlikely from the preceding statement — as the Bible nowhere even alludes to God being a trinity.

From the time of Theophilus, it was several hundred years before this doctrine became a part of the Catholic dogma. It was in the last twenty-five years of the FOURTH century that “what might be called the definitive trinitarian dogma ‘one God in three persons’ became thoroughly assimilated INTO Christian life and thought” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Holy Trinity”).

From this it is evident that this “central doctrine” of Catholicism and Protestantism was not a part of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) during or prior to the time of Jude, but was ADDED by later theologians. The doctrine of the trinity was not what Jesus Christ “came upon the earth to deliver to the world.” He came to preach the Good News of His soon-coming Kingdom, to establish His true Church, to give His life as a sacrifice for all who repent, and to give God’s Holy Spirit to those who are baptized — the Spirit that empowers believers to be ONE with the Father and the Son!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, September/October 1970

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