The Apple Of God's Eye

April 10, 2011

Now Carry It!

Filed under: Cross — melchia @ 8:52 pm
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thewindowshowsitall.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

He carried the cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2011

The Truth Of God’s Word

iandibook.com

The Bible is the inspired Word of God and as such is truth:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalms is also full of references to biblical truth, in particular, Psalm 119, which has four references alone.

Psalm 119:89- Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

And again:

Psalm 119:160- All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

And a few other references from both the Old and New Testaments:

2 Samuel 22:31- As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.

Luke 21:33- Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

One more:

Proverbs 30:5- Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Obviously the list goes on.  Those are just a few of the dozens of verses testifying to the reliability of scripture to guide our lives in conduct of morality and right and wrong.

Abortion and homosexuality are a denial of an absolute biblical truth.  Heading this perversity is a doctrine that has infiltrated our schools, our homes, the media, and the lives of every person in Western society –  evolution and the morality and worldview that it entails. With the idea that humans are nothing more than advanced animals comes the disregard for human life.  Abortion is a direct result of the success of evolution in our society.

Evolution and the Bible cannot mix, because they are fundamentally opposed to each other.  Evolution was invented for one purpose, and one purpose only- to provide people with an excuse to reject God.  That is it’s sole purpose. It goes against everything the Bible teaches, from creation to the sanctity of human life to the very existence of God.

Even so called Christians have tried to work it into the scriptures, with the result that some denominations have been made a laughingstock.

Evolution teaches that we are nothing more than advanced animals, and that homosexuality is just another way for evolution to keep mankind’s population in control. This is precisely why they compare humans to animals with seemingly homosexual tendencies. But comparing animals to humans is irrelevent, since animals do not possess the same level of intelligence as humans. And population control presumes that evolution can think, or act ahead of itself, which is preposterous. This sort of foolish talk is mere nonsense from blinded adherents.

The word of God teaches that mankind has a beautiful future with God, while evolution teaches that we have this short life and nothing else. Why would anyone choose the latter?

February 3, 2011

Have The Original Bible Languages Been Accurately Preserved?

thebiblicalworld.blogspot.com

God works through human instruments. He worked through a human, physical nation in preserving the Old Testament. That nation was the House of Judah, the people we call Jews today.

At Mt. Sinai, God gave the lively oracles to the “church [the physical national Israel] in the wilderness” through Moses (Acts 7:37-38, Authorized Version). Out of the 12 tribes of Israel, God chose and commissioned one tribe, the Jews, to preserve His Word. In Romans 3:1-2, Paul wrote: “What advantage then has the Jew? … Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”

The Jews have carefully preserved the original, inspired Hebrew Old Testament for us to this day. The basic reason, of course, is that only the Jews have kept an understanding of Hebrew. All the other tribes lost their language and do not speak Hebrew today.

But the Jews as a nation rejected both Jesus and the record of His message and life. Since the Jews would not preserve the story and message of God’s own Son, God led the apostles to use Greek, the most widespread language of their day, for the New Testament record. Greek was a highly developed, precise, accurate language, and was known throughout the Roman Empire. For centuries, the inspired original New Testament was copied and preserved in the Greek world for us today.

God has made it His responsibility to see that both Jews and Greeks have carefully copied the Scriptures from generation to generation. God has not left it to men to decide what is His Word.

Now, in this 20th century, God has raised up a work in the House of Israel — in the English-speaking world — to carry the. Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations. Neither the Jews nor the Greeks were willing or able to fulfill that commission.

To carry out His work through His true Church today, God has had His Word translated into the leading modern languages from the original Hebrew and Greek. Now all may hear and, if God is calling them and they are willing, understand!

Source: The Good News, April 1985

November 24, 2010

Proving The Existence of God’s Law

gpcw.org.au

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

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

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

March 18, 2010

Fulfilled Messianic Prophecies Prove Bible Is Accurate!

cardensdesign.com

For the gospel writers, one of the main reasons for believing in Jesus was the way His life fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Following is a list of some of the main prophecies:

  1. Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem – Old Testament, Micah 5:2 – New Testament, Matt. 2:1–6, Luke 2:1-20
  2. Messiah was to be born of a virgin – Old Testament, Isaiah 7:14 – New Testament, Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
  3. Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses – Old Testament, Deut. 18:15, 18-19 – New Testament, John 7:40
  4. Messiah was to enter Jerusalem in triumph – Old Testament, Zech. 9:9 – New Testament, Matt. 21:1-9, John 12:12-16
  5. Messiah was to be rejected by His own people – Old Testament, Isaiah 53:1,3, Psalm 118:22 –  New Testament, Matt. 26:3-4, John 12:37-43, Acts 4:1-12
  6. Messiah was to be betrayed by one of His followers – Old Testament, Psalm 41:9 New Testament, Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50, Luke 22:19-23 (more…)

January 11, 2010

Why Did God Kill In The Old Testament?

God Allowed Sinful Nations To Be Destroyed In Old Testament Times!It’s probably happened to you.  You were debating God, and someone pulled out the question, “If God is a God of love, how come he killed off so many tribes of non-Israelites in the Old Testament?”  Could you answer this question?

Many have unjustly accused God of being a murderer in the Old Testament because He either killed people or He allowed Israel to kill. However, this is a basic misunderstanding of the character of God, who does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. So why was this practice allowed then, and not now, in the New Testament? Let’s explain!

In I Samuel 15:3, God commanded Saul to “go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Why did God have to deal so harshly with these people, even down to little children and animals? Was this unjust, cruel, barbaric?

God said: “All who behave unrighteously are an abomination to the Lord your God. Remember what Amalek did to you [Israel] on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God” (Deuteronomy 25:16-18).

Notice how harsh and unfair the Amalekites were. They waited until their enemy was extremely weak, and even then, they attacked from behind, killing the laggers one by one. (more…)

December 22, 2009

Does Luke 16:16 Prove God's Law Is Abolished Today?

http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org - The link between the Old and New Testament is the law of God!

Many make long and eloquent arguements to prove that Luke 16:16 means God’s law has been done away.

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”

Some say the “law and the prophets” is a clear reference to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and that the New Covenant is dramatically different from the ‘ministration written on stones. So here, critics of God’s law wish to separate the Ten Commandments from what they say is a new moral code of the heart. But this is not what Jesus meant at all.

What, then, did Jesus mean by the statement, “The law and the prophets were until John?” When Jesus spoke of the “law and the prophets,” He was referring to the Old Testament, and meant that, until the coming of John the Baptist, the Old Testament scriptures were all that was available. The New Testament had not yet been written. It says nowhere that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God does away with the law of God. In fact, Christ says in the very next verse:

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”  (verse 17).

Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Jesus said it would be easier for them to perish or be destroyed than for even one tiny part of God’s law to pass away! THAT is the clear interpretation, and this is backed up by very clear scriptures throughout the New Testament – scriptures which are conveniently ignored by critics.

Christ is indeed talking about obedience to the law of God. Those who disagree say the Old Covenant is no longer in force, which of course by their interpretation nullifies God’s law through the New Testament covenant. No one can deny that the Old Covenant is dead, but that does not mean the law of God is dead. Let’s explain!

Which laws are in force today?

How can you know which laws are no longer binding today? Which laws are we to observe?

The Bible is a book about law, and even a cursory read of this book shows that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with His Father’s law! You can find many references in the Bible to the Ten Commandments, but you can also read a lot about the statutes and the judgments. Then there are the ceremonial rituals and offerings. But which laws are we supposed to observe today?

The mistake lies in assuming the Ten Commandments make up the Old Covenant and that when Christ came, the New Covenant did away with the Ten Commandments and established only grace and promises.

Another mistake is to assume that the Ten Commandments didn’t even exist until God gave them to Moses on tablets of stone; that are simply part of the ritualistic law of Moses.

To begin to understand the truth about the laws discussed in the Old Testament, we must first establish the fact that God’s law existed long before Moses at Mount Sinai! In fact, God’s law existed long before Adam and Eve. Few people realize this fact.

Statutes and Laws Prior to Moses

Abraham was commended for obeying God’s commandments. But it also said he kept God’s statutes and laws. What was this referring to?

Webster’s Dictionary defines statute as, “an established rule or law.” God’s statutes usually command or forbid certain things, in addition to the Ten Commandments. Gesenius’ Lexicon says this about statutes: “An appointed law, a statute, an ordinance…used of the laws of nature [as prescribed by God]…a custom observed as though it were a law.” God’s statutes are based upon the Ten Commandments.

Judgments are binding decisions by judges based on God’s previously revealed law. These decisions are used to settle similar future disputes and to render a sentence or verdict.

God gave statutes and judgments for the general well-being of the people—for the protection of everyone’s legal rights. They are all based on the principle of love toward God and love toward your neighbor.

The difference between them is summed up in these terms: “In general, the Ten Commandments apply to individual conduct, the statutes to national or church affairs, and the judgments to decisions rendered according to the principle of the Ten Commandments and the statutes.”

Law in effect prior to Moses

God’s law was very much in effect prior to the establishment of His covenant with Israel. God revealed His commands and laws to Israel because during their captivity, Israel had lost much of the knowledge of God’s way. They were in bondage to an idol-worshipping nation (Exodus 16:28). This was said before the nation even reached Mount Sinai! God gave them His truth at Mount Sinai because they had lost it. God had to reveal His law to them again before entering into His covenant with them.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exod. 16:28-30). God had to remind them that this was holy time and they weren’t to violate it by looking for manna. They had lost the knowledge that it had been established long ago (Gen. 2:2-3). Again, this instruction occurred before the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai.

The commandments were NOT instituted at Mount Sinai and were NOT part of the Old Covenant. So once the New Covenant arrived, it cannot annul what was never ratified under the Old Testament. In other words, the dissolving of the Old Covenant could not destroy what it did not bring into existence! The Ten Commandments, which God gave in written form to Moses on Mount Sinai, were not new. Only the codified form in which God wrote them was new.

What is the law of Moses?

The Bible, on several occasions, refers to the law of Moses, but it never says the law of Moses is the Ten Commandments. The law of Moses comprises the statutes and judgments God gave to Moses to give to the Israelites. The difference between the law of Moses and the law of God is that God spoke the Ten Commandments. Moses delivered the statutes and judgments.

Yet we read in Luke 2:22, 39 that the “law of Moses” is called the “law of the Lord.” This is because all law comes from God. He is the lawgiver. Remember that these statutes and judgments had no sacrifices with them originally. The sacrifices were added later. The law of Moses then had two parts: civil and ritualistic. The part given before the sacrificial laws we are to keep and never forget (Mal. 4:4).

When Christ defined the two great commandments in the law in Matthew 22, He quoted out of the “book of the law” (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), which we are told to remember. Christians are told to obey these two basic laws which God gave to Moses for the people. The civil law of Moses expounds how the Ten Commandments are to be applied. We are to keep this part, not in the letter only, but now in the spiritual intent, as brought out in Matthew 5-7.

Then why are we told in Acts 15 that the Gentile converts do not have to observe the law of Moses, except for four points? (Acts 15:5, 28-29). The answer is cleared up in Acts 21:21. The law called into question involved the customs, mainly circumcision, which were instituted long before the law of Moses. The spiritual intent is not done away today. Just like the Ten Commandments, they are still in force; but like the Passover, the manner of circumcision has been changed. It is now of the heart (Rom. 2:29).

This controversy did not involve the spiritual intent of the civil law of Moses, but the ceremonial additions to it. These scriptures are not saying that adultery or murder is okay now. The Ten Commandments are not being discussed or done away with here.

The four points mentioned here were originally part of the civil law; but they were also added to the ceremonial law to prevent these pagan customs from being practiced by Israel with their sacrifices. The Gentiles ate their sacrifices with the blood. They strangled their animals, presented them to their idols and committed fornication in their religious ceremonies. Because these four points were also included in the ritual laws, some new converts may have thought they were abolished along with the sacrifices when Christ fulfilled them. So the four points mentioned in Acts 15 had to be specifically declared to still be in effect. They remained binding after the abolition of the physical sacrifices and washings.

The civil laws regulating tithing, clean and unclean meats, sexual cleanliness and the annual Sabbaths, for example, are still in effect for the New Testament Church because they help explain what sin is.

Conclusion

God’s spiritual laws describe God’s character and enable us to know what God is like. Since the character of God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8), God’s spiritual law is unchanging. God has lived by this way of love for all eternity.

The only laws that are no longer binding are the ceremonial laws, fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2) in obedience to God’s eternal spiritual law.

We can’t ignore what Christ told a young man seeking the way to eternal life, “If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS” (Matt. 19:17). How clear!

September 19, 2009

Did Jesus Hide The Truth About Salvation?

1When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was not to set up His Kingdom (John 18:36). Christ did not, at that time, come to restrain Satan from deceiving the world.

Contrary to what many have been taught, neither did Christ come to earth to call everyone to salvation. Rather, He came to deliver His Father’s message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That message included salvation through Christ. But Jesus did not try to get everyone to believe this wonderful message.

Notice the New Testament proof: Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to make hide the meaning of what He was saying, so the public would not understand.

” And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”  (Matt. 13:10-15, Mark 4:11-12).

Christ was plainly speaking ONLY to His disciples, not to everyone else. This point is made clear. In case there is any confusion about the point, the scripture says Christ spoke to the general public ONLY in parables (Matt. 13:34). It was NOT to clarify, but to confuse the issue to the masses. Why? Because it was not the time for most to be forgiven their sins and converted.

” And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?’  (Mark 4:10-13).

Even His disciples had problems with some of the parables and needed explaining. Those “without” means those not called at the present time – the masses. Christ preached the Father’s gospel to the masses as a witness. But He worked with only a few purposely called and chosen disciples, or students. They were the ones Whom He really wanted to understand the truth about salvation and His coming government on earth. And as it was then, it is so now – the message was only to His chosen people – His one true Church. It was not to a mass of confusing religions, of contradictory doctrines and squabbling denominations.

In fact, Jesus often tried to avoid the crowds that followed Him daily (Matt. 5:1, 8:18, 13:36, Mark 3:13, John 5:13, 7:10). He often told those whom He had healed not to tell anyone who healed them (Matt. 8:4, 9:30, 12:16, Mark 5:35, 36, 41-43, 7:35-36.  He did not want everyone to know who He really was (Matt. 16:20, Mark 3:1-12).

This is a point most of mainstream Christianity does not understand. For most of His ministry, Jesus actually avoided publicity. It was not God’s will for everyone to understand who Jesus was. Spiritual understanding will not be granted to the world until Christ removes Satan from earth’s throne.

It may freely be accentuated that Jesus Christ was successful in avoiding publicity, as after 3 1/2 years of preaching, and after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, only 120 disciples remained with Him (Acts 1:2-4, 15). The New Testament Church of God was started with these few disciples who would be trained so that they could teach and train others. Christ at first needed only a few teachers, so God called only a few at that time.

Remember, one can only come to Christ if God the Father purposely selects and calls him (John 6:44, 65). Now I know that some will ask, “What about one who really wants salvation – wants to believe in Christ – is willing to truly repent and come out of this world and be led by god’s spirit in a true commandment keeping Christian life. Do you mean this individual cannot come to Christ unless God calls him?”

Answer: That’s exactly what the scriptures say. Such a person is being called by God, otherwise he or she would have no such desire. However, most who think they are in that category have followed a false gospel, a false teaching and are deceived. They have a false idea of what salvation is, a false concept of repentance and a false idea of what God’s way is.

God foretold that He would indeed only call a few into His Church, and that His Church would continue to be small, and even persecuted (Luke 12:32, Matt. 10:16-17, 7:13-14, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12).

So it is that from Christ’s human ministry until His return to earth, God has called only a small minority of people. God’s Church through the centuries has continued to be small – an “embryo” of God’s  new civilization yet to come. That Church is in training to teach the world with and under Christ in the World Tomorrow.

September 12, 2009

Ye Are Gods

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my.opera.com

Jesus Christ said, “You are gods.” What did He mean by that? That’s really an astonishing statement, yet if you talk to most Christians they would not understand what that means. And when Jesus Christ was trying to explain it to the Jews and others throughout history — the Jews anyhow, tried to stone Him, and tried to kill Him.

What exactly is it about that statement that makes people so angry? John 10 and verse 30 says, “I and My Father are one.” The Jews — like Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Pharisees — came to Jesus Christ at night and said that they knew He was a teacher from God. Christ was continually correcting the Jews and everybody else, and they heard Christ say He was one with the Father. So then the Father, or their God, would also be correcting them, and that made them very angry.

Of course they should have been repenting and not stoning or not criticizing. If we’re Christians, we have to follow Jesus Christ.

Notice verse 31-33 – Jesus answered them, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

So here they were getting ready to stone Him again because of what they called blasphemy. They already admitted He was a teacher from God — God in the flesh, and saw the miracles He performed. How could anybody think this was just an ordinary man?

Imagine, religious people trying to kill their Creator over, really, one of the most inspiring messages in all the Bible? Verse 34: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods.?” This statement is not true of angels. Christ didn’t talk about them being His son. And certainly animals don’t have potential like that. Human beings, as with most mainstrean religions, do not realize a human being is a magnificent creation with an awesome potential. This includes all races of men, as God is no respecter of persons.

Now let’s have a look at the psalm Jesus Christ quoted, and give you a little bit of a context or at least one verse that leads into that statement. Notice Psalm 82:5:

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: …

David is talking about the world in general here. And Christ quoted this very chapter… “neither will they understand.” It means they refuse to understand, and they go on and walk in continued spiritual darkness. Christ came to bring light, but they loved darkness, and they wouldn’t accept the message of Christ. It is the very same today.

There’s something wrong with human beings, and it’s called human nature. People refuse to hear what Christ had to say, even though they have an inspired Bible.

Now notice this amazing conclusion to verse 5. …”all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” Why? Because of this attitude or this human nature. That means all of the foundations of religion, all the foundations of politics, government, science, education, they’re all out of course.

Now truthfully, if all of the foundations of the earth are out of course (and this includes all of the mainstream religions), we’re talking about some major changes needed in our lives – in the lives of all on this earth. It is not a trivial matter. In other words, if the foundations are out of course, you’re building your house on sand, and it’s going to crash. It just simply won’t work.

Now, if you look around truthfully at what’s happening in this world, you’d have to say that’s true. All the foundations of the earth are out of course! Something is terribly, terribly wrong. And God says, “Okay, now I’m going to show you how to solve that problem and it’s not a problem that you can solve by yourself, take lightly or treat in a trivial way.

This is about our ugly human nature. Why are the politics on a wrong foundation? Why is science and education on a wrong foundation? Why religion? Because Christ said that the whole world is deceived by the devil (Revelation 12 and verse 9), and that he is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4 and verse 4). See, that’s getting to the heart of what this is all about.

In the very first chapter of your Bible, it says we are going to be made in the image or the character of God. That’s a process where we have to be willing to bring God into our lives and let Him rule us, or it can’t happen. From the beginning man has rebelled. Adam and Eve didn’t want God’s way. They wanted their own education, their own religion, their own politics. And God said, “Okay, but you’re going to run into problems you can’t even imagine.”

Now back to Psalm 82:6 to see what is God’s solution to these foundations being out of course:

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are [sons] of the most High.”

It says children in some translations. It should be sons. We’re sons of the most High. The word God there could read judges. That same Greek word is used over 1,300 times in the New Testament to refer to God Himself!”

Christ wasn’t talking about judges — He was talking about these Jews’ potential to enter the very Family of God! He was refuting their anger over His saying that He, a man, was God. ”

Christ said to the Jews, “if all of the foundations of the earth are out of course, how are we going to solve it? Yes, I say I’m the Son of God, but I also say you are gods! You have the potential to be God, or the Son of God, as I am a Son of God!”

Remember Genesis 1? It’s the animal after the animal kind, and then when He came to man He said, “Man is going to be made after the God kind!” We look like God today, physically, in His likeness, but we’re going to be made in His image or character. That’s where the solution is – not in going to heaven to waste our time strumming a harp on some far away cloud while looking with rapture at the face of God. No, Christ said we’re going to enter into and be born into the very Family of God.

And yet humanity does not understand it. All the foundations of the earth are out of course because of human beings who won’t allow God show them what their potential. Unfortunately, this means they will  have to suffer until they learn this lesson. The number one problem we have today is that of human survival.

Going back to John 10:35, we see it says the Scripture cannot be broken. The Old Testament and the New Testament cannot be broken. It’s God’s Word, and He’s promised to fulfill every single word of it! Why don’t we just believe what it says?  Because there’s something terribly wrong with human beings. God doesn’t want us to go through all of this suffering. He said, “You ought to become perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This is not happening in this world, not even in organized religion.

God says we’re being greatly influenced by the devil. That is the problem, and yet people don’t even want to believe in a devil. But your Bible says the devil is alive, well, and very active, and he has led man into all of these foundations of the earth being out of course. That is the main reason there has to be a different government on this earth, and that’s what Christ is about to institute. He will return very shortly, and He’s going to give us that government this time that nobody’s going to push aside. Just before human beings destroy all human life on this earth.

Let’s quickly go back to Gen. 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…” What it really says is that physically, we have those features that look like God. The animals on this earth do not. God made the the animal after the animal kind, and when He got down to man He said, “All right, let’s make man after the God kind.” We are here to become gods in the God Family, as God’s Son. We’re going to be the Sons of the Father. He says, “You are gods,” and that gets right at the heart of why we were created, and why we ought to be inspired and moved by these great truths.

August 21, 2009

How To Remember Scriptures!

Many have suffered needless frustration because of fruitless efforts to retain certain passages of Scripture in their memory. Perhaps you have tried and repeatedly failed to commit to memory important verses from our Maker’s Instruction Book.

On the other hand, the ability to remember chapter and verse and to dazzle others with this skill becomes a fetish with some! There are those who delight in “showing off” their capacity to quote from memory long sections of Scripture or even whole books of the Bible. Some might claim to have “the fastest Bible in the West” (or the East as the case may be!). On a moment’s notice these individuals will fire a rapid series of scriptural verses at their helpless victims, hoping to impress them with their spirituality.

Is this a proof of spiritual mindedness? Or is it rather merely evidence of great, toadishly swollen vanity?

Is Memorizing Word for Word Necessary?

Let’s be balanced! Let’s understand that salvation does not depend on one’s ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible! If it did, it is conceivable that none of the original apostles and authors of the New Testament would ever have qualified for the Kingdom of God!

Why? Because in the days of the twelve apostles and the writers of the New Testament, the Old Testament writings had not yet been divided into chapters and verses. In fact, it was not done until long after those men were all dead!

The sole exception to this was the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are actually songs. They were composed by a number of authors and originally intended to be set to music. Therefore it was necessary to divide them into chapters and verses for musical and poetical expediency. And as songs, of course, they were intended to be memorized. For ease of memorization the verses were sometimes arranged acrostically (alphabetically).

Now consider this fact: The New Testament authors quoted directly from the Psalms 116 times — yet in only one instance did they mention the chapter from which they were quoting! This one case is Acts 13:33: “…as it is also written in the second psalm…” The remaining quotes from the Psalms make no mention of either the chapter or the verse.

Other than those from the Psalms, the New Testament contains 167 more direct quotations from the Old Testament and, of course, no chapter or verse is referred to in a single instance. In some cases, when quoting from the Old Testament, the speaker or writer did not even mention the name of the person or the book he was citing. Take, for example, the time when Jesus Christ was being tempted by the devil. Jesus quoted directly from the Book of Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses, yet he did not even mention the author or the name of the book! Check that for yourself in Matthew 4:4, 7 and 10.

In other instances where the prophets of old are referred to, they are simply mentioned by name, but, of course, no verses or chapters are given. For some examples, read Matthew 2:17; 8:17; Luke 4:17.

The Bible was not divided into chapters until about 1250 A.D. when Cardinal Hugo composed a Latin concordance or index of the Scriptures. Over 300 years later, in 1560 A.D., the first Bible translation wholly divided into chapters and verses was produced in Geneva, Switzerland. It was known as The Geneva Bible.

It should be apparent, then, that the ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible like a human computer is not necessary, and is in some cases nothing more than sheer vanity! If, however, a person is gifted with an exceptional memory for scriptures, it is certainly to his advantage if he exercises his ability in right humility and for an honorable purpose. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an excellent memory!

It IS Important to Retain Knowledge

We are told to “grow in grace and in knowledge” (II Peter 3:18). As Christians, we should be continually increasing our knowledge of God’s Word. Peter also instructs us, “… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

Memory is therefore one of the important attributes that God has given to humans. For most people, however, remembering does not come easy. It seems many have difficulty retaining even the simplest things! Perhaps you have that difficulty.

If so, then you can take heart from this fact. Even though most of the Bible was not originally written with chapters and verses, the Bibles we use today are! And since they are, we can certainly take advantage of this valuable aspect of modern translations.

The present chapter and verse divisions do make it easier to locate the scriptures we need, and to do it in a systematic way without having to wade through whole books and sections of the Bible to find them. By increasing our memory of scripture locations, we can improve our overall knowledge of God’s Word and be better able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

We should stand in awe of the authority of the scriptures inspired by the great Creator of mankind! We should tremble before the Word of the living God! (Isa: 66:2.) We should fear to misuse, twist, or misquote the Bible! A fast, flippant answer, hastily given to “save face,” is often inaccurate and wrong! Therefore it is important that we come to really know our Bibles and develop the ability to use them correctly as Peter said.

Understanding More Important Than Rote Knowledge

It may be impressive to be able to “rattle off” dozens of scriptures from the Bible. But it is more impressive and vastly more profitable to have a good understanding of the Scriptures!

Of what value (spiritually speaking) is a man who has the capacity to cite from memory a large number of scriptures without understanding? An inexpensive concordance may be purchased for about eight dollars and likely contains a far greater list of scriptures than any man could normally memorize.

Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, recognized the transcendant importance of gaining understanding. He said, “… lift up your voice [pray] for understanding….” “… Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding.” He said we should “… get understanding” (Prov. 2:3; 3:13; and 4:5). There is a tremendous joy and a sense of exhilaration in realizing you have grasped and understood a spiritual principle for the first time!

Why is it so much more important to have understanding of the Scriptures than merely to be expert in locating and quoting them? Simply because the ability to cite verses and chapters from the Bible is merely a mechanical operation. But comprehending their meaning is a spiritual accomplishment! Read Romans 7:14 and I Corinthians 2:14 in connection with this.

Surely you can see that the important thing is to study for understanding, and not merely to memorize by rote!

Of course, it is also fine to want to increase your skill and ability in rapidly locating and citing scripture verses. And since it is, here are some pointers that will help you — if you practice them habitually — not only to understand, but also to be better able to recall verses of the Bible.

Get the Overview of the Bible

Many have failed to recall the location of certain scriptures because they have thought of God’s Word as a disjointed and disconnected collection of thousands of unrelated verses. Therefore, you should strive to see the Bible as an organized whole. Get the big picture! Learn the books of the Bible first and try to have a general idea of what they are about. Become familiar with the basic divisions of the Bible, the types of books, and the general subject of each book.

In order to get the overview of the Bible, you should at your earliest opportunity quickly read through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Studying just bits and pieces, here and there, will never enable you to grasp the broad picture — the panorama of the Bible.

To read the whole Bible through, you need to set up a program of Bible study. You should set aside a certain period of time each day to read perhaps five chapters. In order to be sure you don’t bog down, read rapidly to get the general idea of what each chapter is about. Don’t worry about little details. Skim more rapidly over genealogies and those areas where you may be tempted to lose interest.

As you read you’ll find the Bible coming alive with fascinating stories about the lives of godly men of old, gripping true exploits of Biblical heroes, and containing encouragement, exhortation, and valuable instruction in every part!

Study by Subject or Chapter

Many chapters in the Bible were made chapters because of a natural subject content. For example, I Corinthians 13 has been called the “love chapter” because it primarily deals with that subject. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 both discuss the Ten Commandments. Revelation 20, I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4 are concerned with the resurrection.

Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith” chapter. Psalm 51 is David’s psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 119 deals extensively with the Law of God. Isaiah 11 speaks in detail of the millennial reign of Christ. On and on I could go.

It is easier to remember the subject of an entire chapter than individual verses. But to really remember what is in entire chapters, you need to familiarize yourself with them by studying and poring over them. Doing this will help your overall ability to retain Bible knowledge! And when you do learn the overall content of some of these basic chapters, you will begin to more rapidly locate individual scriptures on the subjects covered in them.

Be Impressed With the Verses You Are Studying

If you were driving a nail into a board and you tapped very lightly on it with the hammer, it would not penetrate the wood very deeply. Your mind is the same way.

Our minds adequately retain for instant recall only those things that have left a deep impression on them. Unless you are sufficiently impressed with something the first time you hear or study it, chances are it will soon fade from memory. Therefore, you must allow the verses you are studying to make a deep mental impression!

If you merely read superficially over verses, simply skimming them, they will leave little or no impression! There is a proverbial saying to the effect that if you eat Chinese food, half an hour later you will wonder what you ate. If you study superficially, half an hour later you will wonder what you read!

It is imperative, therefore, that you dwell on and concentrate intensely on what you are studying! Let the words of the Creator sink deeply into the innermost recesses of your mind.

Associate What You Study with Real-Life Situations

Do not allow your Bible study to be merely academic or impractical. Relate what you are studying in the Bible to actual situations in this life. Relate it to history or future events in world affairs.

When you study prophecy (about one third of the Bible deals with prophecy) ask yourself, “Has this ever happened? Is it happening now? Or is it yet future?” Then, as you read the daily newspaper, and as things happen on the world scene, certain verses from the Bible will spring to mind!

When you study a section in the Book dealing with a law or some aspect of Christian conduct, ask yourself, “Am I obeying this? How can I perform this?” Then when you come up against a situation in daily life which involves that principle, the verse will come to mind.

If in your mind the Bible is relevant to life, both past and present, its verses will spring to LIFE! They will become living oracles which have a definite BEARING on human life in general — and yours in particular! This will make them much easier to retain and recall.

Meditate and Think on the Verses You Have Studied

The old cliché “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. After you have closed the Book, unless you continue to mentally digest its words, they will tend to fade from conscious thought. They will be crowded out by other things.

The example of King David of Israel applies in this case. He said, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my MEDITATION ALL THE DAY” (Psalm 119:97). David’s mind was perpetually on the things of God. Not to the exclusion of his responsibilities as administrator of the kingdom, but including those principles in his rulership as well.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). We are admonished by the Apostle Paul to think on (meditate on) the truth. (Phil. 4:8.) The more you do this, the more the verses and chapters of our Maker’s Instruction Book will become real “mind stickers”!

Drill Yourself in the Scriptures

To “drill” is to indulge in mental exercise aimed at perfecting facility and skill by regular practice.

Drilling yourself in the verses of the Bible is one of the finest ways of committing them to memory. Many have found the use of “flash cards” helpful in this respect. These can be made very simply by purchasing a supply of 3×5 index cards and writing or typing the scripture out in full on one side, and then the chapter and verse location on the other side. Use these cards for key scriptures you wish to recall.

Go through the cards regularly by reading the quote and then trying to recall its location by chapter and verse. Then turn the card over and check on yourself. You could reverse this process by reading the chapter and verse first and then trying to recall its wording. Since every translation varies, don’t necessarily try to memorize word for word, but just the key thought, subject, or point of the verse. This method will provide you with a helpful review of the scriptures and is a valuable means of aiding your memory.

Drill yourself also on the subjects of basic chapters such as those mentioned earlier in this article. You’ll find that repetition is indeed the best form of emphasis!

Ask God For Help

Jesus Christ promised His disciples: “But the Comforter (Greek paracletos — “one called alongside to help”) which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

God’s Spirit is intended to help and assist you in both understanding and recalling to mind the words of Jesus Christ. Utilize that help! ASK God to help you apply the principles in this article daily. Practice them and work on them faithfully. Develop right study habits and stand in awe of the words of the living God. As you continue to submit to God and respect His Word, He will help you in your efforts to study and retain scriptures.

But don’t become discouraged if you don’t become a “walking concordance.” Remember the ability to understand Scripture is vastly more valuable than the ability to merely quote it!

Source: The Good News, January-April 1971

July 2, 2009

Should A Minister Be Addressed By The Title "Reverend?"

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anunveiledface.wordpress.com

When we look into the Bible, we find the word “Reverend” refers ONLY TO GOD — not once is it applied to man. In Psalm 111:9 we read: “He (God) hath commanded his covenant for ever: HOLY AND REVEREND IS HIS NAME.”  God alone has a NAME worthy of REVERENCE. No man, including any minister, has a name worthy of such respect or worship.

You will not find a single place in the New Testament where Peter, Paul, John, James or any other ministers were ever called “reverend.” The use of religious titles, such as “Reverend,” began when the great apostasy set in at the close of the first century. Ministers put themselves “IN THE PLACE OF CHRIST.” Hence they took upon themselves the attributes and titles of divinity. God’s true ministers (in His one true Church) throughout the ages have never done so.

Notice the instruction of Jesus Christ in Matt. 23:8-11: “But you [Christ’s disciples], do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Our Savior commands that those He calls to serve the brethren of the church should not take upon themselves titles that arrogate God and Christ’s own titles and positions, such as “Teacher” and “Father.” Instead, as servants and brothers, ministers should live and work in humility as servants of God.

However, it is proper for ministers to be called, “Elder,” “Pastor” “Evangelist,” etc., for these are titles used in the New Testament. See Matthew 23:8-10.

June 14, 2009

The Violence Of Islam

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Editors Comment: I posted this article  from probe.org in its entirety because I thought it contained a good insight into a politically incorrect subject. Too many are willing to minimize what is plainly evident before our eyes today. Islam is not a religion of peace, though many practice it that way. From the outset, as the article states, Muhammad conquered with the sword and this philosophy is now manifesting itself again in a huge way worldwide. Any opposition is worn down through suppression – either violent or non-violent through political pressure by integration into other societies.
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On September 11, 2001 Americans found themselves confronted by an enemy they knew little about. We had suddenly lost more lives to a sneak attack than had been lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor and yet few understood the reasons for the hatred that prompted the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and part of the Pentagon. Even in the days that followed, Americans were getting mixed signals from the media and from national politicians. One voice focused on the peaceful nature of Islam, going so far as to argue that Osama bin Laden could not be a faithful Muslim and commit the acts attributed to him. Others warned that bin Laden has a considerable following in the Muslim world and that even if he was removed as a potential threat many would step in to replace him with equal or greater fervor.

Some argued that fundamentalist Muslims are no different than fundamentalist believers of any religion. The problem is not Islam, but religious belief of any type when taken too seriously. This view holds that all forms of religious belief, Christian, Jewish, or Islamic can promote terrorism. Robert Wright, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania writes that:

If Osama Bin Laden were a Christian, and he still wanted to destroy the World Trade Center, he would cite Jesus’ rampage against the money-changers. If he didn’t want to destroy the World Trade Center, he could stress the Sermon on the Mount. [1]

His view is that terrorism can be justified by any religion when people are economically depressed. He adds “there is no timeless, immutable essence of Islam, rooted in the Quran, that condemns it to a medieval morality.” [2]

This claim points to the question: Is there something inherent in Islam that makes it more likely to resort to violence than other world religions like Christianity or Buddhism? While it is important to admit that all religions and ideologies have adherents that are willing to use violence to achieve what they believe are justified ends, it does not follow that all religions and ideologies teach equally the legitimacy of violent means.

People have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, it is my position that it is not possible to justify these actions from the teachings of Christ Himself. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus Himself.

What about Islam? My contention is that Islam’s founder Muhammad, and the Quran, its holy book, condone violence as a legitimate tool for furthering Allah’s goals. And that those who use violence in the name of Allah are following a tradition that began with the very birth of Islam.

Muhammad

As mentioned earlier, there are followers in most of the world’s belief systems that justify the use of violence to achieve their religious or political goals. However, this says more about the sinfulness of humanity than it does about the belief system itself. It is important to look past the individual behavior of a few followers to the message and actions of the founder of each system and his or her closest disciples. In the case of Islam, this means Muhammad and the leadership of Islam after Muhammad’s death.

One cannot overstate the centrality of Muhammad’s example within the religion of Islam. One of the greatest Muslim theologians, al- Ghazzali, writes of Muhammad:

Know that the key to happiness is to follow the sunna [Muhammad’s actions] and to imitate the Messenger of God in all his coming and going, his movement and rest, in his way of eating, his attitude, his sleep and his talkGod has said: “What the messenger has brought–accept it, and what he has prohibited–refrain from it!” (59:7). That means, you have to sit while putting on trousers, and to stand when winding a turban, and to begin with the right foot when putting on shoes. [3]

Although considered only human, one Muslim writer describes Muhammad as “[T]he best model for man in piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue. . . .” [4] So it is important to note that Muhammad believed that violence is a natural part of Islam. Many passages of the Quran, which came from Muhammad’s lips support violence. Followers are told to “fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them (9:5),” and to “Fight those who believe not in God, nor the Last Day.” (9:29) Muhammad also promises paradise for those who die in battle for Allah, “Those who left their homes . . . or fought or been slain,–Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;–A reward from the Presence of God.” (3:195; cf. 2:244; 4:95)

While living in Medina, having escaped from persecution in Mecca, Muhammad supported himself and his group of followers by raiding Meccan caravans. His fame grew after a stunning defeat of a large, well defended, caravan at Badr. Muhammad was also willing to have assassinated those who merely ridiculed his prophetic claims. The list of those killed included Jews, old men and women, slaves, and a mother of five children who was killed while she slept. [5] Also, in order to violate a long-standing ban against warfare during a sacred month, he claimed a new revelation that gave him permission to kill his enemies. [6]

Violent expediency seems to have been the guiding rule of Muhammad’s ethics.

Early Islam

Muhammad’s life as a prophet was a precarious one. After fleeing Mecca and establishing himself in Medina, Muhammad was constantly being tested militarily by those who considered him a religious and political threat. Although at an initial disadvantage, Muhammad wore down his opponents by raiding their caravans, seizing valuable property, taking hostages and disrupting the all-important economic trade Mecca enjoyed with the surrounding area. [7] The turning point for Muhammad and his followers seems to have come in what is known as the Battle of the Ditch or the Siege of Medina. A large Meccan force failed to take the city and destroy the new religion. Suspecting that a local Jewish tribe had plotted with the Meccans to destroy him, Muhammad had all the men of the tribe killed and the women and children sold into slavery. [8] In 630 A.D. Muhammad returned to Mecca with a large force and took it with little bloodshed. He rewarded many of its leaders financially for surrendering and within a short period of time a large number of the surrounding tribes came over to this new and powerful religious and political movement.

Muhammad continued building his following by using a combination of material enticements, his religious message, and force when necessary. With the fall of Mecca, many other tribes realized Muhammad’s position as the most powerful political leader in western Arabia and sent representatives to negotiate agreements with him.

Muhammad’s death in 632, just two years after his triumphant return to Mecca, thrust an important decision on the community of believers. Should they choose one person to lead in Muhammad’s place or do they separate into many communities. The decision was made to pick Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s father-in-law and early supporter to assume the role of caliph or successor to Muhammad. Immediately, many who had submitted to Muhammad refused to do so to Abu Bakr. Several tribes wanted political independence, some sought to break religiously as well. The result is known as the Apostasy wars. At the end of two years of fighting to put down both religious and political threats, Abu Bakr had extended his control to include the entire Arabian Peninsula. Islam was now in position to extend its influence beyond Arabia with a large standing army of believers.

Violence and warfare seems to have dominated early Islam. Two of the first four caliphs were assassinated by internal rivals, and within the first fifty years of its existence Islam experienced two bloody civil wars. Rival tribal loyalties within and the religious struggle or jihad against the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires made the first century of Islam a bloody one.

Jihad

Historian Paul Johnson writes,

[T]he history of Islam has essentially been a history of conquest and re-conquest. The 7th-century “breakout” of Islam from Arabia was followed by the rapid conquest of North Africa, the invasion and virtual conquest of Spain, and a thrust into France that carried the crescent to the gates of Paris. [9].

From the beginning, Muslims “saw their mission as jihad, or militant effort to combat evil and to spread Muhammad’s message of monotheism and righteousness far and wide.” [10] Although many Muslims in America have argued that jihad primarily refers to a struggle or striving for personal righteousness, Bernard Lewis, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University writes that, “The more common interpretation, and that of the overwhelming majority of the classical jurists and commentators, presents jihad as armed struggle for Islam against infidels and apostates.” [11]

Although highly regulated by Islamic law, the call for every able- bodied Muslim to defend Islam began with Muhammad and has continued with the fatwas of Osama bin Laden in 1996 and 1998. Bin Laden argues that his attacks on American civilians and military has three specific complaints: America has placed infidel troops on holy soil in Saudi Arabia; America has caused the death of over a million Iraqi children since Desert Storm; and American support for the evil Zionist nation of Israel.

Regarding the history of jihad in Islam, an ex-chief justice of Saudi Arabia has written “[A]t first ‘the fighting’ was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory, . . .” Muslims are to fight against those who oppress Islam and who worship others along with Allah. [12]. He adds that even though fighting is disliked by the human soul, Allah has made ready an immense reward beyond imagination for those who obey. He also quotes Islamic tradition, which says, “Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidin who fight in His Cause.” [13]

Numerous passages in the Qur’an refer to Allah’s use of violence. A surah titled “The Spoils of War” states, “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you . . . they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.” [14] Another says, “O ye who believe! When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. . . .” [15] It adds that those who do will find themselves in hell, a significant incentive to fight on.

Muslims and Modernity

Islam was born in the midst of persecution and eventually conquest. Muhammad was adept at both religious and military leadership, but what about modern Islam? Do all Muslims see jihad in the light of conquest and warfare?

While it is probably safe to say that American born Muslims apply the teachings of Muhammad and Islamic traditions differently than Saudi or Iranian Muslims. The use of violence in the propagation of Islam enjoys wide support. Part of the reason is that the concept of separation of church and state is alien to Islam. Muhammad Iqbal, architect of Pakistan’s split from Hindu India, wrote, “The truth is that Islam is not a church. It is a state conceived as a contractual organism. . . .” [16] Responding to the inability of Islam to accommodate the modern world, an Algerian Islamic activist points to the example of Muhammad:

The Prophet himself did not opt to live far away from the camp of men. He did not say to youth: “Sell what you have and follow me. . . .” At Medina, he was not content merely to be the preacher of the new faith: he became also the leader of the new city, where he organized the religious, social and economic life. . . . Later, carrying arms, he put himself at the head of his troops. [17]

The powerful combination within Islam of immediate paradise for those who die while fighting for Allah and the unity of political, religious, and economic structures, helps us to understand the source of suicide bombers and children who dream of becoming one. Young Palestinians are lining up by the hundreds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to volunteer for suicide missions. Eyad Sarraj, the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, detects a widespread zeal. “If they are turned down they become depressed. They feel they have been deprived of the ultimate award of dying for God.” [18] Palestinian support for suicide bombers is now at 70 to 80 percent.

Islam and Christianity both require its followers to sacrifice and turn from the world and self. Yet while Islam equates political conquest with the furtherance of Allah’s reign, Jesus taught that we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. Christianity recognizes that the advancement of God’s kingdom is not necessarily a political one. The New Testament did not advocate the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Muslims are given the example of Muhammad’s personal sacrifice in battle so that Allah’s enemies might be defeated. Christians are given the example of Christ who gave His life as a sacrifice, so that even His enemies might believe and have eternal life.

Notes

1. Robert Wright, http://www.msnbc.com/news, 10/30/2001.
2. Ibid.
3. Norman L. Geisler & Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993), p. 82.
4. Ibid., 84.
5. Ibid., 175.
6. The Quran states, “They ask thee Concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: ‘Fighting therein is a grave (offense)’; But graver is it In the sight of God To prevent access to the path of God.” (2:217)
7. John Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam, (Oxford University Press, 1999), p 10.
8. Geisler & Saleeb, p. 79.
9. Paul Johnson, National Review, October 15, 2001.

10. John Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam, p. 13.
11. Bernard Lewis, “Jihad vs. Crusade,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2001.
12. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Humaid, “Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah,” http://islamworld.net/jihad.html, p. 4.
13. Ibid., p. 8.
14. Qur’an 8:65.
15. Qur’an 8:15-16.
16. Kenneth Cragg & Marston Speight, Islam From Within, (Wadsworth Inc., 1980), p. 213.
17. Ibid., p 228.
18. Eric Silver, “Bomber quit intelligence service to join Hamas two days before attack,” Independent Digital (UK) Ltd, 03 December 2001, www.independent.co.uk.

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 29, 2009

Capital Punishment, Mercy Killing, Self-Defense, Abortion: What's A Christian To Do?

The Bible reveals that God gives lawfully constituted civil authorities the right to carry out capital punishment in certain instances (Gen. 9:5, Ex. 21:12-17, Deut. 7:1-2, Acts 25:10-11). These “governing authorities” do not bear the “sword in vain” (Rom. 13:1-4).

But the New Testament teachings of Christ and His apostles make it clear that true Christian believers are not to be part of the secular governments of this world. Only those who don’t know the true God should be the executioners of the wicked.

Here, then, is the New Testament teaching for true Christians: We are not to bear arms or use swords or guns to enforce Caesar’s laws, avenge ourselves or punish evildoers. When the apostle Peter, with a sword, cut off the ear of a man, Christ rebuked him, saying, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52, John 18:10-11).

To the Christian, Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (II Cor. 10:3). Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you.”

The deceived billions on this earth “fight and war” but are unable to attain true peace (Jas. 4:1-2, KJV), because “the way of peace they have not known” (Rom. 3:17). But the true Christian “must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (II Tim. 2:24). He must set the proper example to the world.

“What about mercy killings (euthanasia), capital punishment, killing in self-defense, taking revenge, “just” wars, abortions (killing of unborn infants) and suicide?”

God, the giver of life (Gen. 2:7, Deut. 32:39), has the right to take any life if and when He chooses. But man does not have that power, unless God grants it to him. In numerous instances, God not only permitted His servants (prophets and civil leaders in the nation of Israel) to take life, but He actually commanded it under certain circumstances (I Sam. 15:3-33).

In New Testament times though, Christians are commanded never to avenge themselves, but let God do it in His own time and way (Rom. 12:19).

Mercy Killings or prolonging life

Are “mercy killings” permissible, since they are, supposedly, acts of mercy? No example in the Bible shows any people of God taking the life of another or their own, with God’s approval, either in acts of euthanasia or suicide.

God also does not say that we must give our loved ones drugs or oxygen or do all within our power, such as using various machines, to force them, contrary to nature, to live as long as possible, even when they are in great pain or totally unconscious.

Though God permits capital punishment to be carried out by those duly authorized, it is wrong for those in authority to abuse this power. They should not use this power to kill the just, as Herod did in the case of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29).

Abortions

What about abortions? Using abortion as an alternative form of birth control is tantamount to the practice of the ancient Canaanites and others, who slew their infants in sacrifice to pagan gods such as Baal in the mistaken belief that their gods would bless them for doing so. God gives us life, and only He can legitimately take it from us. Is it wrong to take a life, even that of an unborn. By doing so we  violate God’s Sixth Commandment?

May 18, 2009

Was Christ A Long Haired Nazarite?

Jesus was not a Nazarite.

Some have been misled by an erroneous interpretation of Matthew 2:23:

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Many have concluded that this prophecy had to be a written prophecy recorded somewhere in the Old Testament. This is an unfounded assumption.

Since they could not find anything in the Old Testament about Nazarenes, they guessed that some similar word must have been intended. Using this erroneous reasoning, they went one step further in their folly and assumed that this scripture was referring to the LAWS (NOT prophecy ) about Nazarites.

Notice that the prophecy said that Christ would be called a NazarENE, not a NazarITE. A NazarENE is one who lives in Nazareth; and a NazarITE is one who has a nazarite vow, which is described in Numbers 6. Many Bible students have been confused by the similarity of these two words, although they are not at all related in their meanings. They are just as unrelated in meaning as some of our English words of today that have similar sounds, such as “encumber” and “cucumber.”

Christ was a Nazarene, a man from Nazareth. He was not a long-haired Nazarite. A Nazarite was forbidden to drink wine, but Christ drank wine on numerous occasions. Either He was never a Nazarite — or He broke His vows!

The prophecy — that the Saviour would be called a Nazarene — was not “written” in the Scriptures. Matthew says it was “spoken by the prophets.” It was a universally recognized ORAL prophecy that was authoritatively preserved from generation to generation by the priests. It became a WRITTEN prophecy only in New Testament times.

One verse, however, contains an interesting play on words — Isaiah 11:1. The word “branch” here is from the Hebrew “nezer.” This word is very similar to the Hebrew word for “Nazarene.” Perhaps the Jews at that time understood this verse to refer to someone from Nazareth.

May 15, 2009

The Bible Explained

1The Bible contains history, prophecy, spiritual knowledge, wisdom and truth. Within its pages is the most needed key knowledge about the origins of all life. It is the basis of all true knowledge. No other book in the history of man reveals what this book reveals. It gives details about us—what we are and God’s intended purpose for all mankind.

The main flow of human history was written down in the Bible before it occurred. What happened to ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Persia, and Rome was recorded 2,000 or more years ago. What is happening and is sure to happen to modern powerful nations today was also written down in the Bible.

It also contains God’s divine revelation that mankind is not capable of discovering. Mankind is limited to acquiring material knowledge that comes by the five senses. Yet for man to live happily and peacefully with God and other humans, he needs spiritual knowledge. Only the Bible can provide this type of education. However, it does not contain all knowledge. It is simply the starting point.

Still, very few people, even most Christians, understand and believe their Bible in full (Colossians 1:26; Matthew 15:8-9; Luke 6:46) They have no idea it is an instruction book for mankind on how to be happy and successful. They do not believe it is  the literal “Word of God” (2 Timothy 3:16) — which is also one of Jesus Christ’s titles (Revelation 19:13).

Christianity in general disagrees as to what the Bible actually says on critical doctrines. The Christian world is thoroughly confused about Christ’s return. Even Bible scholars dissect the scriptures by picking out only a few verses, or small parts of verses, to support their own ideas. They read different meanings into the Scriptures, taking great liberties by ignoring clear rebuke. Others have worked tirelessly to inject meanings into verses to support their own false doctrines, mercilessly subjecting it to private interpretation against instructions to do so (2 Peter 1:20). It is no wonder that people cannot see the plain truth so simply presented within its pages. We are a society plagued with Bible illiteracy.

There is an explanation for this phenomenon. The Bible is actually not written to be understood by regular reading. It is best studied by subject; finding all the related scriptures on a topic, and accepting the plain meaning. It is also coded – with large swaths hidden from meaning by those not called. Several verses show that Christ Himself purposefully hid His meaning from the general public. (Matthew 13:10-11; Luke 8:10; Luke 10:21-24).

Still, the Bible is intended to be decoded by those whom God calls – his true Christians (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11). They understand that the Bible is 100% true, 100% of the time. (Psalms 119:160; John 17:17). It is their foundation of knowledge, covering principles for success and happiness for every situation they come across. (Psalm 111:10).

It is God’s desire to make His spiritual knowledge plain to any willing to see (1 Corinthians 2:9-14; James 3:15-17). Unfortunately, leaders in government, education and religion reject what God says is coming.

Here are some Bible stats:

  1. The Holy Bible is a book on fire as the world’s bestseller, with an estimated 6 billion copies printed between 1816 and 1992.
  2. The Bible has been translated into approximately 2,230 languages and dialects.
  3. Parts of the Bible are over 4,000 years old.
  4. The Bible was written over a 2,000-year period by about 40 authors on three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe).
  5. The King James Bible is divided into 39 Old Testament books, originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and 27 New Testament books, originally written in Greek. That’s 66 total.
  6. The King James Bible has: 1,189 chapters, 31,173 verses and 773,692 words.

The Bible breakdown:

SECTION BOOKS CONTENTS
The Law Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy God’s law, the history of ancient Israel, and prophecy.
The Prophets Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings. Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
History and prophecy for ancient and modern Israel.
The Writings Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations
History, prophecy, poetry and other writings.
The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Biography of Jesus’s life
The Acts Acts
Church history
The Epistles Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude
Letters from Christ’s apostles to their brethren
Revelation Revelation
Prophecy

April 18, 2009

Textual Criticism: The Folly Of Biblical Scholars

God Breathed?  

God Breathed?

The Bible—more than any other religious writings of similar age—has drawn intense examination. Critics write off this text as the uninspired writings of an unlearned people. They claim the Bible is full of contradiction and historical inaccuracies. Some go so far as to say that this book is a carefully contrived sham to keep tight-fisted control over mindless people. Others say the Bible is a work of fiction. What is truly appalling is that many theologians agree. Understand that there is nothing new here. The scriptures have been under violent attack for centuries—by scholars, philosophers, cynics and the religious.

A particularly noteworthy passage is the long ending of Mark 16:9-20, among many others which are attacked. Skeptics and critics alike have found grist for their mill in the assertion that Mark presents an inconsistency, and poses a problem in not properly fitting in after the eighth verse. However, leaving out the last verses poses the significant problemof the book not coming to an orderly conclusion, as does EVERY other book in the Bible. Human writings are filled with error, but the Bible is COMPLETE, INSPIRED and WHOLLY PRESERVED through the power of God. These verses are an INSPIRED PART of the Word of God. 

Proof of legitimacy

The longer ending to Mark’s gospel is quoted extremely early in church history. Mark 16:19 is quoted as part of Mark’s account by Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” (Bk. iii, 10, 6) between A.D. 182 and 188. It says:

“Also, towards the conclusion of his gospel, Mark says, ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven and sits on the right hand of God.”

Not only did Irenaeus accept it as a part of Mark’s gospel when arguing with “heretics,” but, says Hastings: “No writer before Eusebius is known to have rejected them, and their presence in all later MSS [manuscripts] shows that the successors of Eusebius, in spite of his great authority, did not follow his judgment in the matter.” (Eusebius was the court favorite and the church historian in the days of Emperor Constantine.) These facts point plainly to the great antiquity of the longer ending as preserved in the common English versions. 

There are allusions to these disputed  verses in even earlier writings, although not as true quotations. Some have traced various versions of Mark’s ending back to the earliest extant manuscripts. 

The rise of textual criticism

Hostility toward the Bible has a cause. It begins with modern Bible criticism, referred to as biblical scholarship. This sounds harmless enough, because it makes their occupation appear more acceptable.Yet it is noteworthy that the literature of other religions is not subject to scholarly scrutiny. Now why would that be? The answer is simple. The Bible claims to be the express Word of God, a claim no other religion makes. So if one could prove that the Bible is not the Word of God, then there would be no need to read or follow it. Isn’t that the real reason Bible scholars have worked so hard at uncovering any flaw which could be proof that it is not the literal Word of God? Critics will deny this assertion, but it’s the truth. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

“The decline of reformed scholarship started with  B. B. Warfield’s adoption of the Westcott and Hort textual critical theory and his redefinition of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy to make it apply only to autographs. Warfield’s concept of Sola Autographa unfortunately caught on, and became the new paradigm in the textual critical exercise of reconstructing (or rather deconstructing) the inspired text. 

A textual critic engaged upon his business is like a dog hunting for fleas. That’s because determining authenticity on the basis of style omits the fact that at least a 10,000 word sample is required to make stylistic determinations. Verses 9-20 of Mark 16 fall about 9900 words short of this, making the argument an exercise in despair.

Still, this does nothing to prevent critics from concluding that textual variations call the Christian traditions of inspiration and inerrancy into serious question. Their expectation is that God would prevent such variations as the scriptures are reproduced. And since variations do, in fact, occur they say, we must be mistaken about the meaning of the scriptures and ultimately the very character of God. 

Such misguided statements should be laughed off. As editors of current critical texts — textual critics are simply modernists who couldn’t make spirit-guided decisions if their life depended on it. They are no better than their texts — carnal men producing a non-spiritual text. They forget the admonition that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). To affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the original writings while casting doubt on the authority of the Bible is just plain silly”  (fepbc.edu.sg).

A unique book

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

“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. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

Look at the issue in context. “Of the 20,000 lines of Scripture in the New Testament only about 40 lines read differently between the accepted manuscripts. That means that only 0.2% of the New Testament is disputed. None of these affect any major doctrines and most are stylistic or spelling differences. Translation of the Bible also takes into account quotations from early church fathers who were close to the original manuscripts. There are around 86,489 New Testament citations by church fathers in the 2nd and 3rd century. These quotes cover the entire New Testament except for about 11 verses (churchhopping.com).

And given the absurdly small amount of text not quoted, does it seem believable that ALL scripture must be quoted to be counted trustworthy? Is there not enough information in a New Testament which far surpasses any other ancient document when it comes to consistency and accuracy of translation?

Yes the Bible comprises the full, word-for-word, truthful, inspired, inerrant Word of God, which is the supreme and final authority in doctrine and life. It is God-breathed, factual, free from error, pure, uncorrupted, eternal, and powerful. It stands out from all other books as THE preeminent book. It is not simply about God … but is FROM God; it is His message to us. We can trust that message because Jesus prayed:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17. That is why Jesus spoke of the jot-and-tittle infallibility (or verbal inerrancy) of the Scriptures in Matthew 5:18.

The Apostle Paul also spoke of the divinely inspired Scriptures in saying they were “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16-17). In other words, they were to be trusted in all things because they are for all true Christians, of all ages.

If we do not have an infallible and an inerrant Scripture, then our supreme and final authority of faith and practice is all a myth. It then also makes God out to be a liar. I for one will trust in the one who makes the grand claim of inerrancy, as both I and the critics face this mighty Being one day at the judgment. We don’t want to find out we’re wrong at that time, do we?

April 13, 2009

Was Jonah In The Belly Of A Whale, Or A Great Fish?

Editor’s Note: In this article I introduce two scriptures (Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40) to answer “apparent incongruities” (seemingly impossible scenarios) and to apply apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith) in affirming the trustworthiness of the Bible.

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

The “apparent incongruity” is the account of a reluctant prophet named Jonah who was swallowed by a fish and yet remained alive in its belly for three days.

 The Book of Jonah has been described as a parable, an allegory, and a satire. However, this is an extremely faithless approach to the scriptures. A large proportion of all modern criticism of the Bible comes from the assumption that miracles do not occur. Skeptical theologians explain every miracle in Scripture away by either tacit rejection or naturalistic explanation. This leads to such ludicrous, varied, and contradictory explanations that the biblical scholar finds ever further justification in the miraculous over the ridiculous!

There are plausible explanations for questions, but we must look at this event with knowledge of God’s miraculous power. Could He have prepared a great fish to be in the vicinity of the floundering ship, to swallow Jonah in the raging sea, then in the time appointed transport him to shore and vomit him up? Absolutely! As the all-powerful Creator God, He is in no way limited by what He created. 

But now what about the type of creature used to swallow Jonah? The original Hebrew wording of Jonah 1:17 is accurately translated in the King James Version as “a great fish.” The Old Testament translation produced by the Jewish Publication Society also refers to this creature as “a great fish.” 

We read that “The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17, King James Version).

Some controversy arises over the King James translation of Matthew 12:40. This verse says

“He (Jesus Christ) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, just as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” (Matthew 12:40.)

But the fact that Jonah was in the WHALE’S belly was only an assumption on the part of the translators. The New King James Version correctly renders this phrase as “in the belly of the GREAT FISH.” 

A whale is not a fish

Since a whale is a mammal rather than a fish, does this point to a contradiction between Jonah 1:17 and Matt. 12:40? No, and here’s why.

Realize that the Old Testament is written in Hebrew except for small portion in Aramaic (book of Daniel). The New Testament is written in Greek, not English. Neither the KJV or any other translation determines the meaning in English above the original language. Both “whale” and “great fish” are English translations of the original words.

Strong’s Dictionary says the Greek word translated “whale” is ketos (pronounced kay-tos), and means “a huge fish (as gaping for prey).” 

Smith’s Bible Dictionary” makes the following comments about the word WHALE: “Probably the fish which swallowed Jonah was some large kind of shark, or fish especially provided.”

“There are at least two species of Mediterranean marine life that are known to be able to swallow a man whole. These are the cachalot and the white shark. Both creatures are known to prowl the Mediterranean and have been known to Mediterranean sailors since antiquity. Aristotle described both species in his 4th Century B.C.” Historia Animalium (gotquestions.org).

 

The Easton Bible Dictionary says the “white shark is sometimes found 30 feet in length.” [Robinson, Lexicon  (from Barnes’ Notes)] states: “This event took place in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between Joppa and Tarshish, when he was fleeing FROM Nineveh. It is said that the “whale” seldom passes into that sea, and that its throat is too small to admit a man. It is probable, therefore, that a fish of the “shark kind” is intended. Sharks have been known often to swallow a man entire. The fish in the book of Jonah is described merely as a “great fish,” without specifying the kind . – Letusreason.org

The evidence supports the conclusion — that it was some kind of large fish, and not a whale, which swallowed Jonah. In any case, the Bible says God  God specifically “prepared” (mahnah—appointed, constituted, made ready) a great fish (Gesenius, 1847, p. 486). So another argument is that Jonah being swallowed was a divine miracle and thus the type of creature  God used could have been whatever sea life was available or He created a special (massive) creature to serve his purpose of causing Jonah to repent and to carry out His command of preaching.

“The same term (“prepared”) is employed to refer to additional direct manipulations initiated by God. He prepared a plant (4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement wind (4:8) [Wigram, 1890, p. 733]. George Cansdale was correct in concluding: “[T]here is no point in speculating about the full physical explanation of an incident that primarily is metaphysical, i.e., miraculous” (1975, 5:925, emp. added). McClintock and Strong agree: “[T]he transaction is plainly miraculous, and no longer within the sphere of zoological discussion” (1881, 10:972). Jonah’s survival after being inside a sea creature is no more remarkable than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the “burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:27).” (apologeticspress.org)

A similar instance can also be found in Book of Numbers, chapter 22, versus 28 through 30 where God gives Balaam’s donkey the power of human speech in order to have a conversation with Balaam.

March 27, 2009

First Day Of The Week: Sunday Or Saturday?

There was a theory circulated among certain Sunday-keeping groups that Sunday became the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ. As supposed proof, they mistranslate the original Greek phrase, usually rendered “first day of the week,” as “first of the sabbaths.” They claim that the first Sunday after the resurrection became the first “Christian Sabbath” — and that Saturday was the “Jewish Sabbath.

This idea is absolutely FALSE! No competent Greek scholars accept such a translation. But let the Bible itself disprove this fable. If the Sunday after the resurrection were the first “Christian Sabbath” — which it never could be — then any Sunday thereafter could not be the “first of the sabbaths,” but would of necessity be either the “second or third … or hundredth of the sabbaths!”

Look at Acts 20:7. The event recorded here occurred in 56 A.D. — 25 years after the resurrection! Yet the same original Greek phrase, translated “first day of the week” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, occurs here! This could not be the “first of the sabbaths” 25 years after the resurrection — since, by their theory, the first of the “Christian sabbaths” would have already occurred 25 years before the event recorded in Acts 20:7. Obviously the Greek cannot mean what they say it does!

Now look at I Corinthians 16:2. This letter was written in the late winter of 55 A.D. — almost 24 years after the resurrection — and the same Greek expression occurs here. This certainly was not the “first of the Christian sabbaths!” It would be 24 years too late! The answer is that the only proper idiomatic rendering of the Greek phrase is “first day of the week,” not “first of the sabbaths.”

But, it may be objected, is not the Greek word sάbbaton, translated “week,” the same word often translated “sabbath”? Of course it is, but the inspired Greek word may also mean “week” — because the sabbath determines the length of the week. The Greeks had two words for “week”: hebdomad and sάbbaton. Only the word sάbbaton is used in the New Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest,” “sabbath,” “week,” “seven.”

In Luke 18:12 the Greek word sάbbaton is translated properly as “week,” not “sabbath.” The Jews fasted “twice in a week,” Monday and Thursday, not “twice on a sabbath.” That would be foolish! This verse alone proves that the Greek word sάbbaton may mean “week.”

But there is even more proof. The English expression “first day of the week” comes from two different Greek idioms. In Mark 16:9, the original Greek is prootee sabbάton. It has only one meaning: “first [day) of [the] week.” In this verse sabbάton is the Greek singular possessive form of sάbbaton — and means “of the week.” Prootee means “first.” But in all other cases (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2) the Greek word sάbbaton, which may mean either “sabbath” or “week,” is in the plural.

The Greek expression translated “first day of the week” is, in these verses, mia toon sabbάtoon. It is an idiom and cannot be translated literally into English. It, too, means “the first day of the week,” but it refers to one particular “first day” — the Sunday upon which the wave sheaf was offered — the Sunday AFTER two sabbaths! Since the Greek word sάbbaton in these verses is in the plural, it may mean either “weeks,” or “sabbaths.”

Professor Sophocles, a Greek scholar, indicates in his Lexicon, p. 43, par. 6, that the expression means “[day number] one after the sabbaths.” Which sabbaths? The first high day or annual sabbath and the weekly sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread!

Here is the proof! The same plural form — sabbάtoon – is found in the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 23:15. In this verse the Greek for “the morrow after the sabbath” is epaύrion toon sabbάtoon and means idiomatically “the day after the sabbaths.” The Greek translators understood that you begin counting Pentecost from the Sunday after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They used the plural word sabbάtoon, meaning “sabbaths,” to make plain that the Sunday on which the wave sheaf was offered followed BOTH the first annual sabbath AND the weekly sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In other words, every New Testament writer was making especially plain which particular Sunday followed the resurrection — the Sunday after the two sabbaths, which in that year fell on Thursday and, of course, Saturday. In all these verses the original Greek, loon sabbάtoon, means idiomatically “AFTER the sabbaths” — and cannot be taken literally to mean “of the sabbaths.” It is a Greek idiom which uses the possessive plural with the meaning of “after.” The Greek translation of Leviticus 23:15 proved it!

Even in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2, the day referred to was the day the wave sheaf was offered. In 56 A.D., when the events in Acts 20 occurred, the Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath. The Days of Unleavened Bread extended from Sunday through the following Sabbath. The day of the wave-sheaf offering in that year immediately followed the Days of Unleavened Bread. That was the day Paul preached until midnight — beginning Saturday night immediately after the Festival was over (Acts 20:7).

Some translations incorrectly insert in Acts 20:7 the pronoun “we.” The overwhelming majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts have “they,” not “we.” The original Greek of Acts 20:13 indicated that Paul “had left arrangements,” prior to Luke’s arrival at Troas, for Luke to proceed in ship to Assos in order to pick up Paul.

I Cor. 16:2 also refers to the day the wave sheaf was offered at Jerusalem — just another indication that what was laid in store was fruit of the field, not money in a church offering-plate! The time those Christians began to harvest was “upon the day after the sabbaths” — upon Sunday after the early-morning offering of the wave sheaf. This precise history, not usually understood, clearly indicates that the New Testament Church continued to observe the sabbath and the annual festivals God gave, and that they always regarded Sunday as a work day.

March 16, 2009

What Is The Casting Of Lots?

God gave ancient Israel the system of casting lots as a means of determining His will in doubtful matters (Num. 33:54; I Sam. 14:42; I Chron. 24:5). God would guide the outcome so as to reveal His will. This method was still in use in the time of Christ. The disciples used casting lots in determining whom God was selecting to fill the office vacated by Judas (Acts 1:15-26).

After the eventful Pentecost of A.D. 31, no further mention is made of casting lots. The apostles depended upon direct guidance by the Holy Spirit, which, among other things, was to guide God’s people into all truth (Acts 2 and John 16:13). Please also notice Acts 6:1-8; 13:1-3; 15:19, 28; and 16:6.

Today, as in early New Testament times, God uses the power of His Holy Spirit through His chosen ministers to reveal His will in important matters of concern to the Church on which the Scriptures give no definite command.

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