The Apple Of God's Eye

March 14, 2011

Was Samson A Man Of God?

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One wonders, “How could God ever forgive Samson after the wretched mess he made of his life?” The life of Samson has always made good Hollywood copy. Some see a shaggy Samson chasing after bad women. They see him slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass in hand. They see a blinded, bitter Samson ending his life in a last fit of vengeance. But Hollywood has told us only part of the story — and that not very accurately. Let’s look into his life and find the answer. You will learn a vital lesson from the life of this man of God!

What we were never told on the screen is that Samson is going to be in the first resurrection with Abraham and David. He is going to RULE with Christ and all the saints on this earth!

While listing the faithful righteous, the Apostle Paul includes Samson with men like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Samuel and the prophets (Heb.11:32). Paul says these righteous men endured many trials through faith, “that, they might obtain a better resurrection”! (Verse 35.)

Let’s now examine his life and receive a powerful lesson of hope from our Maker.

The accurate historical account of Samson is found in the book of Judges, chapters 13-16. The setting is the land of Israel, in the 12th century B.C.

Samson’s Miraculous Birth

Samson’s birth was a miracle. His mother wasn’t able to have children, but that was no problem for God. Since Samson’s parents were still loyal to God at a time of spiritual decadence in Israel, they were chosen to have a son.

A messenger (13:6) was sent by God to give them the news concerning Samson. They were told their son was to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines who were occupying the land and oppressing Israel. They were given instructions on how to care for and rear the child. (more…)

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May 18, 2009

Does Eternal Punishing Differ From Eternal Punishment?

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socrates58.blogspot.com

Many people today preach about an eternal hell fire and eternal punishment. First, here’s the terse and brief summation of this popular belief, which I quote from the Encyclopedia Americana:

“… As generally understood, hell is the abode of evil spirits; the infernal regions…whither lost and condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishment… Some have thought of it as the place created by the Deity, where He punishes with inconceivable severity, and through all eternity, the souls of those who through unbelief or through the worship of false gods have angered Him. It is the place of divine revenge, untempered, never ending.”

Now where, and how, did this popular belief about hell originate? The Encyclopedia Americana states further:

“The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian and Christian theologians are essentially the same.” The Western religious leaders from Roman times through the Middle Ages borrowed the doctrine of eternal torture from the pagan philosophers. Certain writers of the Middle Ages had such tremendous influence on the Christian-professing world, that their writings and teachings came to be generally accepted and believed, until it became the doctrine of the Christian-professing world. Among these influential writers were Augustine and Dante Alighieri.”

An interesting book titled Dante, and His Inferno summs up the history of the Christian-professing doctrine of hell. This factual history is rather amazing! Dante lived A.D. 1265 to 1321. Dante, remember, wrote a tremendously popular book, titled Divine Comedy, in three parts – “Hell,” “Purgatory” and “Paradise.”

This from the aforementioned book of history:

“Of all poets of modern times, Dante Alighieri was, perhaps, the greatest educator. He possibly had a greater influence on the course of civilization than any other man since his day… He wrote, in incomprehensible verse, an imaginative and lurid account of a dismal hell – a long poem containing certain phrases which have caught the attention of the world, such as, ‘all hope abandon… ye, who enter here!’ This had a tremendous impression and influence on the popular Christian thought and teaching. His Inferno was based on Virgil and Plato.”

Dante is reported to have been so fascinated and enraptured by the ideas and philosophies of Plato and Virgil, pagan philosophers, that he believed they were divinely inspired.

Here is an article on Virgil, from the Americana: “VIRGIL, pagan Roman poet, 70-19 B.C. Belonged to the national school of pagan Roman thought, influenced by the Greek writers. Christians of the Middle Ages, including Dante, believed he had received some measure of divine inspiration.”

Plato was a pagan Greek philosopher, born in Athens, 427 B.C., a student of Socrates. He wrote the famous book Phaedo, on the immortality of the soul, and this book is the real origin of the modern belief in the immortality of the soul. In it, he acknowledges . .. three kinds of gods: superior, inferior, and intermediate.”

There is the general statement of the popular belief about hell, and where that belief came from – actually from the imaginations of pagans who DID NOT not God!

What about the billions of non-Christians?

Before we examine the common idea about hell to see whether it is true, consider one or two facts. On this earth are some 6,790,062,216 people (US Census Bureau). The most populous lands are China, India and other parts of Asia. In spite of missionaries from the West, actually more than half of air the people on this earth have never so much as heard the only name by which men may be saved – the name of Jesus Christ! Now is there some other way by which men may be saved? The Bible says there is not!

That means that thousands of millions of people on this earth have lived, and died, without ever having known anything about Christian salvation – without saving knowledge – never having heard the ONLY name by which men may be saved! Now think what that means! IF all unsaved go immediately to hell at death – the hell commonly believed in – then more than HALF of the people who have lived on this earth have been consigned there – and they are there, now, without ever having been given so much as a CHANCE to escape it!

Ask yourselves candidly, do you believe THAT is the plan by which an all-wise, all-merciful, loving GOD is working out his purpose here below?

Now what is the TRUTH?

We face this alternative: Either the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, by which the Creator reveals the truth on the subject, or else we must fling up our hands and confess we just don’t know – we are ignorant on the question – because no one has ever come back from such an ever-burning hell to tell us about it, and science knows nothing about it. We must believe what the Bible says, or we can believe nothing, if we are rational and honest!

Source: The Plain Truth, a955, Herbert W Armstrong

So why does Math. 25:41 quote an everlasting fire?

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”

The word translated “everlasting” in verse 41 is “aionion” in the Greek. This word comes from the root “aion,” which can mean “eternal” but often means “age.” In verse 41, the correct translation into English should be “age-lasting” fire.

During the Millennium — the “age” of Christ’s rule with the saints on the earth — the valley of Hinnom will be kept perpetually burning. The incorrigibly wicked, those who set their wills in persistent rebellion against God’s laws, will be thrown into that fire as a stern witness to the rest of the world (Isa. 66:24).

Gehenna was a place of destruction and death – not a place of living torture. Jesus was talking to Jews who understood all about this Gehenna or Valley of Hinnom. Utter destruction by fire was complete. Nothing was left, but ashes!  Every text in the Bible translated from this Greek word gehenna means complete destruction – not living torture – not eternal life in torment! The Bible says, in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is DEATH” – not eternal life in torture. The punishment revealed in the Bible is death – the cessation of life. Eternal life is the gift of God!

Then why have we been believing that punishment is eternal life in fire? And why have we been believing we already have eternal life and don’t need to come to God through Christ to receive it as His gift?

When Jesus spoke of being cast into “gehenna fire,” he was using this expression as an illustration of the “lake of fire.” This everlasting punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 is what the Bible elsewhere calls the “second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:3). Death for all eternity is eternal punishMENT. The Bible nowhere teaches eternal punishING. The wicked will be burned up and will become ashes under the feet of the righteous (Mal. 4:3).

That fire will be much hotter than Dante’s imaginary hell!

April 29, 2009

The Facts Behind The Fictional Da Vinci Code

 

150What do you know about “The Da Vinci Code?” Millions of words and thousands of commentaries have been written about a code that DaVinci might have created. So where do I begin to provide a meaningful commentary from a godly perspective on this craze? Perhaps with three words: “It’s a novel!” That means – simply and plainly – the book is a made-up story.

In 2006, this book was made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks. It was, of course, a highly controversial film that whetted the appetites of conspiracy buffs worldwide and fueled already present doubts and misconceptions of those who do not know or believe the Word of God.

The Da Vinci Code’s blasphemy is nothing new. It’s just another highly promoted, celebrity-enhanced, big budget effort to discredit God and His Word. It is a compilation of half-truths and heart-felt heresies being sold to biblically illiterate seekers, particularity in denominational church settings where gullible participants involve themselves for the love and acceptance of a compromised collective. Let’s have a closer look at the novel.

Is Judas the betrayer a myth?

This book is too poorly founded to even have the title of pseudo history. Dan Brown simply pulls things out of the air. The opening page’s claim of historical reality served to confuse millions, and reading further, one witnesses a radically different view of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. It even portrays Judas, not as a traitor to Jesus Christ, but as a hero. Imagine that!

There have also been headlines in the past about the gospel of Judas being found in Egypt. It is estimated to have been put there some nearly 2,000 years ago, with 13 sheets in 1,000 fragments being found. But is this really so important to all of us? Does our salvation depend upon a tattered and worn document, maybe a couple of thousand years old? Is there any credence we can give to those writings? Do we really know what these fraudulent documents are all about, and which ones to believe?

We have to be careful of a deeper deceit here. If  modern Christianity were preaching the truth the way it should, these writings would not have much of an impact at all. But the whole world is deceived, and that includes religion. We need to be proving all things in this very, very information-glutted age when there’s no telling what we may be reading.

The biggest problem however is that we simply don’t know the Bible. Do you know the difference between the real gospel and a counterfeit gospel? You have to, by proving all things, as God says. Organized religion won’t help you because their deceit is just shocking. And now people are digging these things out of caves, and somehow they capture the imagination of the world with what they find.

But do you know something? Every single one of them is really attacking the Bible, and attacking the Christ of the Bible. They’re anti-Bible, and they’re anti-God. But if we are going to be defenders of the truth for God, we’re going to have to begin to speak out on these issues.

Here is an excerpt from The Da Vinci Code:

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Some people may fall for such words, but they’re wrong and you can prove it! This character says: “History has never had a definitive version…” and that is absolutely, TOTALLY false! It has had a definitive version. The problem is they have rejected it! Does anybody have proof of what they say? Does ANYBODY really prove their view?

Christ taunts the critics by saying, “Well, PROVE Me now herewith! God isn’t backing down from the critics, and neither should we.

A different Christ

Now, obviously these are different views of Jesus Christ, and Christians are supposed to follow Him, but how can you do so if you don’t know Him and if you don’t know which books He inspired? And He absolutely, dogmatically states that He did! Do you honestly believe that His real teachings come from a lost gospel someone dug out of a cave? Does that really make any sense?

Notice 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now,  can you prove that? Do you know what scripture really is? Is the lost book of Judas, Mary, Philip, or Thomas scripture? No, they are not! Brown’s book focuses on goddess worship, or worship of the divine feminine. He ties this pagan mysticism to Mary Magdalene. I mean really, he would have us believe that Christ and Mary Magdalene were active participants in a pagan sex cult? Brown is so far out in left field, he takes his proof from Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” assuring gullible readers that it is Mary Magdalene sitting next to Christ, not John.

What is really diabolical about such statements is that Jesus Christ being involved in a pagan sex cult instantly disqualifies Him as being our Savior. Remember, He offered Himself as a sinless offering for all of mankind. If He was into such debauchery, we all  can fold up our tents and go fishing. There really wouldn’t be any more point in believing, would there? But there is not a single shred of evidence for what is being said!

Do you know your Bible?

If you don’t know the Bible, then some of these conspiracy theories start to sound pretty credible. I mean look, isn’t the Bible then just the work of men? Without scriptural knowledge, how do you dispel your doubts, even though Brown doesn’t offer any proof but just makes bold, blatant statements?

Now think about this! The author takes his proof from a Da Vinci painting, of all things! It would be ridiculously laughable, if this subject weren’t so serious! Is that really proof enough for the reader? Does such nonsense take precedence over the inspired Word of God? Does a painting by a man who didn’t know much about the Bible and God, in the first place really hold vital clues for us about God? Even if it did, who says this one interpretation is the right one? Wouldn’t many people have many interpretations? No, what we should look for are the bold statements made by Jesus Christ throughout the Bible. He tells us that this Bible was preserved, the Old Testament by the Jews, and the New Testament by the Greeks. That’s proven by the Bible, itself.

Was Mary a church leader?

Brown plays upon the Gnostic legends that Christ wanted Mary to head the Church, but Peter and the other apostles (painted as chauvinists) prevented this from happening after Christ’s death. Legends say Mary became a famous preacher founding Christian communities.

Notice, it is legend that says so. Nowhere in the Bible – our most reliable historical account of the life of Jesus – does it claim that Jesus and Mary were married. Nowhere in the writings of the early leaders of Christianity is there any reference to any such “marriage.” And amazingly, nowhere in the Gnostic writings – about which Dan Brown so endearingly speaks – is there an statement that Jesus and Mary were married. This error in Brown’s book makes Mary Magdalene out to be more important than Jesus Christ, and really, this fact has attracted a large feminist audience to the book.

But if you know anything about the Bible, then this is about as contemptuous as anything ever written. God the Father is in charge, and then Jesus Christ, not some human female. Luke 8:1-3 tells us that Christ actually cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. That should tell us something about her previous mental and spiritual condition, until God healed her.

Those same demons that influenced Mary now still roam this earth and heavily influence men, and even possess them. Doesn’t your Bible say that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)? But who believes that anyways?

Isaiah 46:9-10 says,

“I am God, and there’s none like Me.” There’s no one in God’s class! It is He that reveals secrets about what is to happen in the latter days…Dan. 2:38. You should be able to prove your Bible alone by comparing prophecy to news magazines or news sources! One-third of your Bible is prophecy, and 90% of that prophecy is being fulfilled today, so it’s easy to prove that God is prophesying today. The books of Daniel and Revelation are for the end time, as is the main focus of all the Major and Minor Prophets.

Why don’t we believe?

Secular and religious people stumble because they hate the government of God. In many cases, they don’t even know what it is. They assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a supernatural God — without the scientific proof they demand on material questions. Most fundamentalists believers simply assume that this book is NOT the infallible Word of God. Have they proven this fact? Absolutely not! Religious people lean the other way. They simply assume the Bible is right, and when pressed with heavy questions, they have no good answers. In either case. you just can’t make statements and not prove them. Does such a stance  even make sense? But God always offers proof, we simply have to look for it!

A warning for man today!

In John 5:39, Jesus Christ told the Jews in His day to search the scriptures, because in them is eternal life. This was a warning. If we, like the Jews of old, think we have eternal life, we aught to consider what happened to them. They entered into a holocaust, with all kinds of cannibalism, pain and untold suffering. This is merely a type of what’s coming upon the world in this end time – the great Tribulation. The Jews were warned but didn’t listen. They believed in a false religion without evidence or proof. They didn’t know Christ, and the world today doesn’t know Christ. They talk about His person, but they don’t talk about His message.

But shouldn’t we know that message inside and out? Christ said, “The scriptures testify of Me. “Search the scriptures,” He said. That means both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which are solidly intertwined together. Many New Testament quotes are from the Old Testament. Don’t throw it away because Christ said we ought to live by EVERY word of God (Matthew 4:4). Why would we be given half a Bible that is correct, and half that is not correct? Does this make sense? No wonder they err, not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29). They should know the scriptures, but they don’t, nor the power of God.

God says to “prove all things” and He gives people every opportunity to do so. The proof is abundant and it’s not even that hard to prove the Bible if we’ll just apply our minds and work at it. That knowledge than change our lives and we’ll know exactly what this Bible is all about.

March 3, 2009

The Cross Versus The Stake, Which One Is Correct?

Many have tackled the subject of whether Christ died on the cross or stake, yet as far as I can tell, there is still no conclusive answer among debaters. To say that it is assumed that the instrument of torture was a cross is a gross understatement. The vast majority believe this fact, but we have to remember that the majority is not always right.

When Christ came to earth as a human being, it was NOT the majority which believed what He said, but the minority. Remember, there were only 120 disciples at the time of Pentecost (Acts 1:15), even after Jesus Christ preached to multiple thousands and had the disciples teach far and wide. Then, as now, the vast majority is WRONG . The teaching about Jesus Christ as the central figure of the gospel is incorrect and glosses over the fact that Christ said he came to tell the world about the gospel, or message, from the Father. He, unlike Christian religions today, did not glorify himself.

The doctrine of the cross has been carefully cultivated from that ancient Babylonian Mystery religion furthered by a particular church at Rome. Anything coming from this paganised denomination masquerading as a religion is not something God would ever associate with his Son, or His true Church. This is the subject we will discuss now.

Different views on form of wood

The New Testament does not specifically describe the instrument upon which Christ died. Writers hold various views on the form of the device used in the public execution of Jesus, and differ about the meaning of the Greek word “stauros” (σταυρός) and xylon (ξύλον). Though these words do not indicate the precise shape of the instrument, they give us vital clues.

The following accounts use the Greek word xulon which, when translated “tree,” can also mean “a stick, club…or other wooden articles” (Strong’s).

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:30).

“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 10:39).

“And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre” (Acts 13:28-29).

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24).

Stauros defined

The word Xulon is unlike dendron which is used of a living, or green tree, as in Matthew 21:8; Revelation 7:1, 3; 8:7; 9:4 etc.  Stauros (an upright stake) can also be used in place of the word Xulon, the instrument to which criminals were nailed for execution.

A lot of the confusion arises from the English word cross, which believers try to forcefully insert into scripture.This word is “the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word ‘stick’ means a ‘crutch’…. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone…. There is nothing in the Greek of the N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber.” (The Companion Bible)

The Imperial Bible Dictionary also denies the connection to the cross: “The Greek word for cross, stauros’, properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] a piece of ground…. Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole, and this always remained the more prominent part.”

In his book, “The Non-Christian Cross,” John Denham Parsons wrote: “There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross.”

Hermann Fulda, another author, agrees in his own writings, “The Cross and Crucifixion”: “Jesus died on a simple death-stake: In support of this there speak (a) the then customary usage of this means of execution in the Orient, (b) indirectly the history itself of Jesus’ sufferings and (c) many expressions of the early church fathers.” Fulda also points out that some of the oldest illustrations of Jesus impaled depict him on a simple pole.

Pagan sources

It is the Catholic church which later capitalized on the imagery of the cross, and blatantly used it as a symbol of their faith contrary to the Ten Commandments they profess to keep. To the Catholic church, the sign and image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step can be taken without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. It is looked upon as a refuge from all dangers and the infallible protection from all powers of darkness. It is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High, which makes it such an abomination to God.

“To say that such superstitious feelings and worship for the cross ever grew out of the saying of Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ is absolute absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and a foolish pretence.” Those fully indoctrinated by that Romish Pagan (Catholic) mother church now support the use of the cross with relatively recent (though debatable in their connection) archeological findings and historical accounts, while wholly ignoring “the ancient Babylonian Mysteries which were applied by paganism to the same magic purposes, honoured with the same honours as the Catholic church gives it today. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T – the initial of the name of Tammuz.” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop)

The cross had further uses especially in Egypt. It represents the Tree of Life, the age-old fertility symbol, combining the vertical male and horizontal female principles, either as an ordinary cross, or better known in the form of the crus ansata, the Egyptian ankh (sometimes called: the Tau cross), which had been carried over into our modern-day symbol of the female, well known in biology.

Questions and Answers

There are some incidental arguements (parodied the same way) all over the internet which some state as proof of a cross over a stake, yet they can easily be explained.

1. Question: If Jesus was crucified on an upright stake, then why does John 20:25 say that “nails” were used as opposed to a single “nail”? And why did both hands of Christ show holes?

Answer: One nail through both hands leaves a hole in both the left and right hand. Though the word “nails” is used, [ἧλος or hēlos] implies the singular — “of uncertain affinity; a stud, that is, spike: – nail.”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible states: “That nails were used in the crucifixion of Christ, is certain …How many were used, whether three, as some, or four, as others, or more, as were sometimes used, is not certain, nor material to know. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions read, “the place of the nails”; that is, the place where the nails were drove.”

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2. Question: In view of John 21:18-19, how can a crucifixion be on an upright stake if the hands are outstretched?

Answer: Outstretched simply means fully extended especially in length. Hands can be outstretched up or sideways.

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3. Question: If Jesus was crucified on an upright stake, then why does Matthew 27:37 say a sign was put above Jesus’ head instead of above His hands?

Answer: Whether a sign is put above his head or above his hands, it would still constitute being above His head. This arguement is an agonizing way of splitting hairs.

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4. Question: The sign should have fitted three rows of properly readable letters from a distance. Could such a sign have fit in between the head and the points where the hands where pierced by either a ‘nail’ or ‘nails’.

Answer: The answer to this requires a small degree of common sense. Please reread the answer to the previous question.

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5. Question: The thieves that died with Him were described as being on the right hand and the left, as opposed to “at the side of” or “at His left and right”

Answer: This is merely colourful use of verbiage. “Right hand” is Strong’s # 1188 (δεξιός or dexios); meaning the right side or (feminine) hand (as that which usually takes): – right (hand, side). For example, Jesus who sits on the right hand (side) of God – I Pet. 3:22.

Conclusion

Some state that only Christ’s sacrifice for us — not the exact shape of the wood on which He died — is important. But I am not persuaded that the relative lack of detail on the subject in the Bible is proof that we should take this approach. I Thess. 5:21 admonishes us to prove all things.

Others say that the cross was used as a means to an end — the punishment or death of a criminal — therefore Jesus Christ did not choose his instrument of death. But didn’t He? Only people thinking carnally (without the Holy Spirit), would utter such a statement. Do not various prophecies of old (such as Psalm 22) point to the instrument of death before the event happened? Or do we simply ignore Old Testament prophecies because some erroneously believe they are no longer in effect?

We must remember that God is a God of miracles. He foretold the method of His death and would certainly know in advance that the symbolism of this pagan sign would be (and was) appropriated for the use by religion today. This does not however in any way mean that God would allow the physical use of the pagan cross in the death of His Son. Any student of the Bible who has even a rudimentary understanding of the loathing God has for anything pagan, will know this is a ludicrous assertion.

So the mere fact that the traditional cross figures so prominently in pagan religious custom today (which includes mainstream religion), ought to give serious pause for thought. The symbol, and the supposed means, were later substituted by a church which impersonated the “little flock” of Jesus Christ. The Cross was adopted in an attempt to make Christianity more familiar and “friendly” to the pagan converts.

I believe that God purposely left out the information on the shape of the “stake” because He knew pagan counterfeit religions would indeed appropriate the symbol of the cross. Yet lack of Biblical information on this subject is actually a strong indicator of faith needed, as well as vigorous study required, to understand that this symbol is NOT associated in any way with the true Church of God, including its very Head and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, true Christians do not wear crosses, as a mere physical object does not assist in worshipping God. Their use is needed to keep the mind of adherents physically focused on objects, rather than understand that their faith is dead and empty. True Christians deeply appreciate Christ’s sacrifice and God the Father’s eternal love for them in giving up His only Son. They walk by the faith of Christ, not by sight of eyes (II Cor. 5:7). The Bible plainly states that God is Spirit and we are to worship Him in both spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

February 23, 2009

Is Door To Door Preaching A Biblical Practice?

Everybody has seen people on busy street corners and in large public buildings zealously attempting to hand out religious literature to all passersby. And you yourself may have even had a person with a “Christian message” knock on your door. These are common, everyday occurrences; and most people, even if they don’t necessarily agree with their views, passively accept these door-to-door evangelists as part of Western Christianity.

But did you know that long before the coming of Jesus Christ, the pagan world had its door-to-door representatives? The ancient pre-Christian world teemed with different religious sects, all vying with one another for converts. Many of them were attempting to spread their doctrines and win new adherents by preaching from house to house. Plato remarked that “mendicant prophets go to rich men’s doors and persuade them that they have a power … of making an atonement for a man’s ‘own … sins … at a small cost” (Republic, 364 b-c). Not only did these zealous pagans preach, they also distributed a variety of tracts of a religious and moralizing nature.

Werner Jaeger, an authority on the influence of pagan culture on early Christianity, observes that “we have to reckon with the existence in Hellenistic times of religious tracts as a means of propaganda fides [propagandizing their faith] of many sects” (Early Christianity and Greek Paideia, London: Oxford University Press, 1969, p. 8). Members of such a sect would actually distribute their propaganda literature from house to house. This practice was widespread already in Plato’s day, some four hundred years before Christ. Plato reports about these door-to-door evangelists in no uncertain terms: “And they produce a host of books [tracts] written by Musaeus and Orpheus … according to which they … persuade not only individuals, but whole cities” (Republic, 364e). This was nothing other than the same door-to-door high-pressure evangelism so common among us today.

In fact, so ubiquitous had this practice become among the pagans — and so obnoxious and repulsive to the average individual — that the pagan author Plutarch felt it his duty to denounce it in his writings. In his Precepts for Newly Married People, Plutarch advises wives “not to admit strangers by the back door who try to smuggle their tracts into the house advertising a foreign religion” (Jaeger, p. 8). This denunciation demonstrates how common door-to-door tract evangelism had become. “Let them [the door-to-door preachers] be exterminated from her outermost threshold!” Plutarch thundered (Conjugal Precepts, c. 19).

All this goes to show that the distribution of religious tracts was an obnoxious pagan means of winning converts — and it antedated Christianity by as much as four hundred years! Such a way of “winning souls,” needless to say, is diametrically opposed to the practices and teachings of Jesus. Christ never preached from door to door. He did not hand out one religious tract. He specifically instructed His disciples, “Go not from house to house” (Luke 10:7).

John, the last survivor of the original twelve apostles, admonished the followers of Christ: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [which John preached and which only the one true Church of God preaches], receive him not into your house” (II John 10). No truth could be learned from the preachings or the writings of these disseminators of error. Paul warned about the type of fellow Plutarch wrote about. “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (II Tim. 3:6).

True Christians know and understand that God is the One who calls and converts people (John 6:44). They recognize, therefore, that it would be completely futile — and actually contrary to God’s will — to go out and attempt to win converts by force. The pagans of old, on the other hand, did not serve an active, living God. They had to do the converting themselves in order to gain followers, because their “god” was nonexistent, and the real God was not calling anyone to their religion. And, furthermore, they were not supported by God financially.

That is why, in the words of Plato, the mendicant preachers performed their services “at a small cost,” meaning they charged “a small fee.” Jesus Christ, who supports and finances the dissemination of His message so that it can go out without cost, said “freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). True Christianity does not go “door-to-door and so is uniquely different from the ways of the pagans!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, July/August 1970

February 22, 2009

Is the Eating Of Unclean Meat Condoned In NT Times?

In I Corinthians 10:27 it says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.” For many, this seems to clearly indicate that God now allows the eating of unclean meats. But if you carefully observe the context of the subject under discussion, you will find that this verse is actually addressing whether it is appropriate to eat meat that has been offered to idols.

We have to understand that Paul was speaking to newly converted Corinthians, whose daily ritual comprised sacrificing to various idols. The sacrificed meat from the pagan temples was usually eaten by the person who brought it. But if any was left over, the priests would sell to the local butchers.

Paul was teaching the Corinthians to abstain from these pagan sacrifices to devils (I Cor. 10:20), which was a sin. But, as he told them, there was no special significance to either the idols [made of wood or stone], or the meat that was being offered to them (v. 19). Therefore, the Corinthians did not need to ask if the meat they were buying at the market, or eating at the home of a non-believer, had been offered to idols. In fact, Christians were admonished not to ask, “for conscience’ sake” if the meat they were served had been sacrificed to an idol, as then eating it made them appear to compromise their beliefs.

Paul deemed the history of the meat, tied to pagan idolatry, as irrelevant, not the eating of unclean meats. This distinction must be made clear, as God’s dietary laws of Leviticus 11 are still applicable today.

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