The Apple Of God's Eye

May 5, 2011

Ask, Seek, Knock – Say What?

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One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Luke 11:9-10. There are here three different forms presented that have to do with prayer. It goes something like this:

” And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

Persistence, perseverance and importunity are stressed  in the short breakdown of the three directives of Luke 11:9-10:

1.   Ask — this first word is the action (with the idea of present time). The Greek aiteo means “ask for, demand, as in asking for petition.” The promise is Greek didomi, the common word for “give.” “Ask and it will be given to you.”

2.   Seek — this second word means “result,” even though it may look like an action term.  The Greek zeteo means ” ‘seek, look for’ in order to find.” The corresponding result is expressed by Greek eurisko, literally meaning “find, discover, come upon,” and can also refer figuratively to “intellectual discovery based upon reflection, observation, examination, or investigation. Seek — leave no stone unturned — and you will find (what you look for – emphasis mine).”

3.  Knock — this word expresses the figure of seeking by knocking on a door until it is opened, just like Jesus’ parable of The Friend at Midnight. “Knock and the door will be opened to you.”

These three word pairs seem to show distinctions between them and appear as a good example of Hebrew synonymous parallelism. Each reinforces the other in the ways we are encouraged to think of our seeking from God — of petitions, of finding what eludes us, and of obtaining an audience. We are to pray without ceasing — shamelessly, if you will. In season and out of season, not flagging in our prayers until we receive the promise, or until God answers.

Jesus teaches a similar lesson in the Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8), where the parable is told “to show [his disciples] that they should always pray and not give up.” I don’t know about you, but I need this lesson of persistent, faithful, unstopping petition until the answer is received.

  • Ask with confidence and humility, but also with persistence and perseverance, stressed through pleading and petitioning.
  • Seek with care and application. This involves action on our part, diligently searching and examining the scriptures and laboring to understand the will of God. He desires that we back His true work on this earth, and so we seek God’s promises for us. Then, when physically seeking a job, we have to undergo due diligence in finding where the jobs are offered
  • Knock with earnestness and perseverance. Search the scriptures for God’s will that He answers the prayers of His people as a fundamental principle taught throughout the Bible (James 5:16; John 16:23). In  asking God to help us in find work, we have to do our part in looking for the job and getting to the interviews to have doors opened. In other words, we actively endeavor to obtain our needs.

Thus, all of those who obey the command will receive. Not a single one will be ignored or brushed aside. b. In the parable of the “Unjust Judge” Jesus stressed persistence, but he added, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him…?” Luke 18:1-8

In other words, if an unjust judge would avenge a widow (whom he doesn’t care about) because of her persistence, surely God would avenge His own elect (those whom He has called and especially cares about) because of their persistence. That God answers the prayers of His people is a fundamental principle taught throughout the Bible. James 5:16; John 16:23

“For everyone who asks receives”

April 6, 2011

What Is A Christian’s Business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 2, 2010

Effective, Fervent Prayer: Deepening Our Relationship With God

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Praying is getting to know God because we communicate with Him. Christians should pray daily and as often as possible. Besides equipping ourselves with the armour of God, prayer is the essential element that keeps the armour strong. (Eph. 6:18)

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the great jewels of the Bible. Every verse has deep meaning and hows us how to pray effectively to have a life filled with the love, faith and power of God.

Tithe Your Time In Prayer

Luke 11:2-4 is what we commonly call the Lord’s prayer and shows how Jesus Christ gave His disciples lessons in effective prayer.

We should give God a tithe and offering of our time. There are 1440 minutes each day, which means 144 minutes each day to God – giving 48 minutes of prayer, meditation and study. Throw in an offering of 12 minutes, and we have 1 hour of each daily. A Christian needs 1 hour of prayer daily to win the battle against Satan, the world and himself. (more…)

April 27, 2010

God Condemns The Rich Man

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The title to this posts may be somewhat ambiguous, so let me explain.

None of us know what tomorrow may bring – only God does. We are totally helpless. In fact, He says our life is like a vapour, here a little while and then gone. That really puts the atheist point of view into perspective. What is our purpose and our meaning in life? Does the atheist know? Are we here merely to exist for a brutally brief period of time and then vanish as if never being here at all?

Some may say yes, and try to build their legacy in this lifetime. All that is irrelevant. Name me some important bankers of the 1920’s or 1930’s. At the time, they were important, well established and recognized men in their community and even within their country if the bank was big enough. Now, no one even knows their names. In fact, even in the very banks they worked, it is hard to find present day employees who are versed on these men.

So now the question of relevance becomes somewhat more important than legacy. I’m sure in their lifetime, these men were movers and shakers, making long-term plans for business. But God says:

“Go to now, you that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow… (more…)

April 16, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

November 12, 2009

How To Have God Answer Your Prayers

www.webexhibits.orgCan we take God’s Word literally? Does God mean what He says in it?

Jesus thought so. He said, “Thy word is TRUTH” (John 17:17). The apostles constantly taught and acted as if God’s Word were literally true. They also believed every word of God (Matt. 4:4).

To get results in your prayers, you should believe in the God of the Bible. Believe His Word is truth. And be willing to act on God’s Word and His commands.

The Bible reveals seven basic conditions which you should fulfill to be certain of answered prayers. What are they?

Seek God’s Will

In James 4:1-4, the apostle showed that the people of this world fail to receive help because they often neglect to ask God’s help. And when they do, it is only to ask for their own selfish ends. To ask selfishly is to “ask amiss.” You can expect no answer to such a prayer.

To get an answer, follow Jesus’ example when He said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). But can you know God’s will? “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).

Study God’s Word as Paul commanded Timothy (II Tim. 2:15). Then you will begin to think more as God thinks. You will come to know what God’s will is in every circumstance. If you believe and know that God is love, that His will is for our good, then you will want to pray according to God’s will.

You need not always have a specific promise in the Bible to know that something is God’s will. Through experience and guidance, you will learn how to apply the principles of God’s revealed will to any situation which may arise.

The point is that you must pray according to God’s will to receive an answer. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (I John 5:14-15). God’s Word reveals that by fulfilling this condition you know that God will answer your prayers!

Asking according to God’s will is the overall, fundamental condition of answered prayer. All other conditions could be grouped under this one because they are the specific points of God’s will in regard to prayer. The following six, together with and magnifying this first condition, will ensure answered prayers.

Believe God

Most people do not realize that a lack of faith is simply a disbelief that God will keep His promises or back up His Word. Have you ever thought of it that way?

Real FAITH is not an emotional “feeling” that you generate by thinking certain thoughts over and over. You don’t “talk yourself into,” or “think yourself into” real, believing faith. Godly faith is simply your willingness – through God’s help – to quietly, patiently trust God to perform His Word. Abraham had that kind of faith. The apostle Paul wrote of him: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21).

James was inspired to write that a man must have faith to receive answers to his prayers (James 1:5-7) . A man who wavers will not receive an answer. “For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord” (verse 7).

God has made hundreds of promises in His Word which we can claim. Do you completely TRUST God to keep His promise to heal, although consulting a doctor for help and advice as to what physical law you are breaking? If you really believe God will heal, then trust Him to do it! Faith without works is dead (James 2:20). To have answered prayers, you must have faith – and you must act on that faith.

Be Fervent

It is common in our day for parents to teach their children memorized prayers. The father often mumbles a hurried, routine prayer of thanks at the table. The minister either reads or recites from memory an eloquent prayer which sounds very impressive. Is God impressed? The “fruits” show that God rarely hears such prayers, for they are usually not answered.

This is so because people don’t put their hearts into their prayers (Hosea 7:14). They don’t “cry out” to God with their whole being as the ancient prophets did – and as Christ did when He prayed.

On the evening before His crucifixion, Jesus needed strength from God for the coming ordeal. He needed to get really close to God. He knelt down and began to pray that God’s will, not His own, would be done. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). He prayed earnestly – with all His heart.

In James 5:16, we read, “The effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” We have to pray fervently, earnestly, zealously, if we expect God to hear.

Fear and Humility

Man has a cocksure, self-sufficient attitude and thinks he can get along fine without God. He neither fears God nor respects God’s Word as an authority in his life. He is vain, egotistical, self-important. Is it a wonder that God fails to answer the prayers of such men?

The very first prerequisite to knowledge of God is to fear Him and respect His Word. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

Carnal man needs to realize that he is only dust until he receives the Spirit of God, which is the begettal to eternal life. Eternal life is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23), not something we already have. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

We need to fear God, realizing that our lives are in His hands. We should be humble, realizing that any gifts or talents we may have are ours because God gave them to us. When we can approach our Creator in that attitude – respecting His power and authority over our lives – then He will hear our prayers.

When Christ was in the human flesh, even He feared God as we should. “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Heb 5:7). When we fully realize our own helplessness, then we will cry out to God as we should.

Peter wrote “be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5). The attitude of humility and godly fear is vital in prayer, and at all times.

Be Persistent

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus spoke a parable to teach us that we should always pray, and never give up hope. He showed that even an unrighteous judge would finally hear the pleas of a widow who kept coming to him. So we should keep praying to God, even though He doesn’t answer right away.

God has made many promises in His Word. But He has nowhere said that He will perform them at the time, or in the way that we choose. Sometimes it is very good for us not to have our prayers answered immediately. God is building patient faith into our characters.

James was inspired to write, “the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3) . If God doesn’t answer your prayers immediately, exercise patience and keep praying until He does answer.

Don’t nag at God. He has supreme wisdom to know when and how would be best to answer your prayers. But if you have prayed as you should, He WILL answer. God always keeps His promises! So be persistent. Keep praying in faith, and God is bound to perform His part.

Obedience

A sixth condition of answered prayer is one which is neglected and violated consistently by most professing “Christians.” This hinges directly on the before-mentioned fact that very few people today really know the true God. People do not look to God as the AUTHORITY in their lives. Instead, they make a “god” out of this world’s society and its customs, traditions, and religious practices.

God inspired Paul to write, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom. 6:16). If you obey the ways of sin practiced in this world, you are putting this society and its pagan customs in the place of the true God!

God wants more than “lip service.” He requires OBEDIENCE !

If you haven’t learned to fear the true God and accept His Word as the authority in your life, then you don’t even really know God. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

How can men persistently refuse to keep God’s commandments, and then expect Him to answer their prayers? Peter answers, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3:12).

Sin is simply breaking God’s Law (I John 3:4). God will not hear the prayers of those who persist in sin – in evil. If people would obey God, they would get answers when they pray. Then God wouldn’t seem so far away, so unreal – as He probably does to most of you? Think it over. Then do something about it.

Does God ever hear the prayers of the unconverted? Yes, He does. God himself has blinded the eyes of many to the truth at this time (Rom. 11:7-8). It is His responsibility that they don’t know the truth yet. So God does sometimes hear and answer the prayers of those who obey as far as they know.

The lepers and cripples who came to Jesus to be healed didn’t know all of God’s truth. But they did realize that Jesus was sent from God and could heal. And they acted on what they knew. So it is a matter of your heart or attitude. If you come to God in a humble, repentant spirit and are determined to obey Him to the best of your knowledge, He will hear your prayers. But this is no excuse for anyone who knows the truth to disobey God!

True Christians can have a special confidence that God will answer their prayers if they are obedient. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (I John 3:22).

Use Christ’s Name

The seventh condition of answered prayer is the correct use of Christ’s name. This is a greatly misunderstood subject, and the use of Christ’s name is often abused.

After Jesus had been with His disciples for over three years, and had taught them God’s will and how to obey it, He said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). These verses give us the privilege of employing Christ’s name – asking by His authority – when we pray to God. But most people misunderstand how we can ask “in Jesus’ name.”

When our government sends an Ambassador to another country, he is given authority to carry out certain business in the name of the United States Government. He can act in the name of our government because it has conferred on him the authority as its chosen representative to carry on certain business on its behalf. His authority is limited to do only what the government has specifically authorized him. If he exceeds his delegated authority, his actions are null and void and will not be backed up by his government.

That is the way we are to ask things “in Jesus’ name.” Christ has given His ministers the duty of performing certain functions in His name – or by His authority. We can rightfully ask for things “in Jesus’ name” only when we know that it is His will – that His authority stands back of it.

Just rattling off the words “in Jesus’ name” to a prayer that is contrary to God’s will and Christ’s will is of no avail whatsoever.

Those who abide in Christ and are God’s children have the privilege of praying in Christ’s name. Jesus explained, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). The words of Jesus Christ MUST abide in us to have what we ask for granted. That is, we must obey what

Yes, Jesus’ words must abide in you. You must ask according to His Will. You must abide in Him – belong to Him. “Now if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). And God gives His Holy Spirit to them that OBEY Him (Acts 5:32).

So to pray in Jesus’ name, you must at the same time be yielding to His will to the best of your knowledge. “In Jesus’ name” means by His authority. You are praying through Him as your High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16).

Christ – our High Priest – was tempted in all points like we are (verse 15). He understands our weaknesses. It is His revealed will to give us of His Spirit (Luke 11:13) and to help us live a more abundant life (John 10:10). You need to study God’s Word to know the principles of His will, that you may ask by His authority.

Praying in Jesus’ name is a great privilege. Use Jesus’ name correctly, and your prayers will be answered because of the authority conferred through Him.

Action Will Follow

If you faithfully conform to these seven conditions of answered prayer – with God’s help, you may then have absolute confidence that God will hear and answer your prayers. You will be changing, growing closer to God each day. You will be actively seeking and doing His will.

This intimate contact with the Creator of Heaven and Earth will give you a peace of mind and quiet confidence that nothing can destroy. But your confidence will not be in self, but in the greatest power there is. In every trial and problem, you have the right to call on the Supreme Power – the active, living God who reveals Himself in the Bible.

God has inspired an example of how He heard and answered even the prayers of an unconverted man because that man was in a right spirit, and had obeyed what he knew. In II Kings 20:1-11, we read the account of how king Hezekiah was about to die and sought God’s deliverance.

God’s own prophet, Isaiah, had told Hezekiah that he would die. But Hezekiah knew that God was an all-merciful God, and that he had obeyed God the best he knew how and could.

So Hezekiah “wept sore” and besought God’s intervention (verse 3). He put his heart in his prayer!

In spite of the fact that He had previously told Isaiah that Hezekiah would die, God heard and answered Hezekiah’s fervent prayer! He added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life!

What a result of prayer! But was that all? No. Hezekiah did not doubt God’s power to intervene and act as this world does. He made a further request that God would give him a special sign that he would be healed (verse 8).

God’s servant, Isaiah, gave Hezekiah the choice of the sign – the shadow would either go forward ten degrees, or backward ten degrees. Hezekiah said it would be harder for the shadow to go backward ten degrees. “And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward” (verse 11).

Because of Hezekiah’s faith, obedience, and fervent prayers, God Almighty not only healed him and added fifteen years to his life, but He actually caused the sun to reverse itself in the heavens!

This was not an “optical illusion.” God’s miracles are real! “For with God NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE” (Luke 1:37). If you believe that God’s Word is truth, this should inspire you to pray as never before!

October 17, 2009

Sabbath Questions: How To Keep God's Sabbath Day Holy!

Do you keep God’s Sabbath holy? Do you find the Sabbath a real delight and joy? Or is it a day of “bondage” or question to you? How often have you wondered if you have broken the Sabbath by a particular act or thought? How many times have you felt condemned about the Sabbath?

Should you attend a funeral, a wedding, a movie on the Sabbath? How do you take care of unconverted relatives who drop in unexpectedly on the Sabbath? Is it okay to have a family outing on the Sabbath? How many dishes should you wash? This is just a sampling of some of the many questions asked regularly about the Sabbath.

Since God’s Sabbath is special HOLY time set aside by God, you need to understand it, know its purpose and meaning to you as a true Christian. Too often, the tendency is to the two extremes — either treating the Sabbath too lightly as the world does, or becoming completely Pharisaical — afraid to move on the Sabbath.

Petty Arguments

Because of the many supposed complications in keeping the Sabbath, men have excused themselves from keeping it — saying it is too difficult. Of course, these are only their puny excuses to keep from obeying God, but many of the questions which come up are derived from these petty arguments. You need to understand them. Once they are cleared up completely in your mind, you will be ready to understand how to keep the Sabbath as God intended!

Fire on the Sabbath

They say you cannot build a fire on the Sabbath according to Exodus 35:2. Then what about people who live in cold climates? Won’t they freeze to death? If this is true, then God made the Sabbath too harsh, and it should not be kept — according to the rebellious, carnal mind!

Notice Exodus 35:2 with the context around it. Verse three says, “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” From the original Hebrew, this word, “kindle,” means a consuming flame, a flame that would devour — that is, a great, roaring fire! The question is why would you need such a fire on the Sabbath? Read the rest of Chapter 35 and you will see. They were building the tabernacle and needed a fire large enough to work metal!

Haven’t you ever looked out on the Sabbath day and noticed some trimming you would like to get done on your lawn, or have a job you would like to get finished — and catch yourself wanting to get it done in spite of the Sabbath? This is exactly what the Israelites were doing. They were so zealous for the tabernacle that Moses even had to tell them to stop bringing materials. God knew that if He did not stop them, they would work right through the Sabbath on the Tabernacle.

This was not a cooking or household heating fire! It was an industrial fire. The same principle holds true today. There should be no industrial fires kindled on the Sabbath. On the other hand, fires of the proper type were commanded by God to be kept burning! Notice Leviticus 6:13: “The fire shall be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” Hence a sacrificial fire (from which the Israelites cooked their meat and grain) remained burning on the Sabbath! God was not even discussing a cooking, sacrificial or personal heating fire — but a fire which is used for work that should be done only on one of the other six days provided for that purpose.

Sabbath Day’s Journey

The Sabbath day’s journey question seems to stipulate that a true believer should travel no more than the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12) about 2,000 cubits or approximately seven-eighths of a mile. But yet almost all the Sabbath keeping people who attend church around the world travel many times that distance each Sabbath! Does this mean they are breaking the Sabbath each week by attending church?

If you will check carefully, you will find that this reference is the only place in the entire Bible a “Sabbath day’s journey” is mentioned. This was a common expression of the Jews at that time, but was never employed by Christ and his disciples. It was derived as a custom by the legalistic Jews from Exodus 16:29: “…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

The explanation of this is found in Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, page 573, under “Sabbath day’s journey”: Acts 1:12. The law as regards travel on the Sabbath is found in Ex. 16:29. As some departure from a man’s own place was unavoidable, it was thought necessary to determine the allowable amount, which was fixed at 2,000 cubits or about 1,000 yards, from the wall of the city. The permitted distance seems to have been grounded on the space to be kept between the ark and the people, Joshua 3:4, in the wilderness, which tradition said was that between the ark and the tents. We find the same distance given as the circumference outside the walls of the Levitical cities to be counted as their suburbs. Num. 35:5. The terminus a quo was thus not a man’s own house, but the wall of the city where he dwelt.

Notice it is not a law of God, but simply a tradition of the Jews! Since God required attendance at Sabbath services, they had to leave their homes or tents and travel to the tent of meeting. It just happened that the distance from the fringe tents to the center of the encampment where the tent of meeting was, measured about 2,000 cubits. Rather than strive to understand and obey the principle of the Sabbath, they punctiliously set about on their own to draw up definite physical limits for Sabbath observance.

God has never set on his people a “Sabbath day’s journey”!

Ox in the Ditch

Christ said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”  (Luke 14:5.) From this, many have argued that their job was an ox in the ditch because it requires them to work, or they work at a job which has “regular emergencies” requiring work on the Sabbath.

They reason that God surely would not want the men to lose their jobs which provides for their families and also enables them to continue to give offerings to God’s Work. Some have gone so far as to work on the Sabbath, then give that whole day’s pay as an offering, to avoid losing their jobs. But these persons have not known that God says, “Hath the Eternal as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Eternal? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam. 15:22).

God is not interested in sacrifices or offerings at the expense of disobedience to His laws!

But what about the ox or ass in the ditch? How often should you expect it to happen, and what does it really mean and how does it apply today to people who don’t own oxen and asses?

First, you need to understand literally what an “ox in the ditch” means. Since the ox and the ass are rather sure-footed creatures, the odds against them regularly being stuck in a ditch are quite high. When you add the fact that the Sabbath is only one day out of a total of seven, the odds go even higher. Normally, in order to have an ox in the ditch, you have to have the following factors: It must be Sabbath, you must have some kind of severely inclement weather (snowstorm, rainstorm, etc.), and you need a clumsy ox!

Rest assured that if the ox is in the ditch on the Sabbath, Christ makes it very clear you should pull it out. But an ox in the ditch on the Sabbath is a very rare occurrence — that is, a genuine emergency.  Normally, a farmer can go through a whole lifetime and be able to count on one hand the number of oxen (cattle) or asses he has pulled out of a bog or ditch — and the odds are seven to one against it being on the Sabbath.

The principle of the ox in the ditch obviously includes such genuine emergencies as personal injuries, burning houses, power failures, accidents and other occurrences which would entail injury, loss of life or personal property.

The principle does not include, however, the person who “pushes his own ox into the ditch” by acquiring or keeping a job where he knows he will be required to work on the Sabbath each week, or by “putting off” work which should have been done during the week. Nor does it include harvesting or plowing on the Sabbath — even if there has been bad weather or machinery breakdowns during the week. God says, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing [better translated, “plowing” — see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #2758} time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Exodus 34:21).

Jewish Ritualism — Pagan Permissiveness

By their strict adherence to certain physical limitations they (not God) placed on the law, the Jews consistently broke the spirit of the law. One story is told of how the Pharisees, to prohibit a profit from milking on the Sabbath, decreed that the cows should be milked on a rock so the milk would not be gathered in a bucket and sold. This apparently worked fine until one enterprising person began milking his cow on a rock — which had been placed in the bottom of a bucket!

Christ scorched them with the truth, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers”  (Mat. 23:4). They were totally carnal and could not see nor understand the principles behind the law.

On the other hand, the pagans have rejected completely God’s laws, thinking they could make up for it with self-flagellation, pilgrimages, enforced fasts, assuming that is what God wants. They have completely forgotten what God is like.

Our so-called “Judeo-Christian” society has inherited a strange mixture of this ill-conceived “marriage.” This is what the people of God must come out of! We have grown up being too lax in some things — thinking we had to be punished for nonsensical things — and too strict and legalistic in others. We must come out of this and strive to learn the right balance of living and keeping the Sabbath from God!

From the Beginning

God ordered the Israelites at Mount Sinai to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy! (Ex. 20:8.) They were to remember how the Sabbath began and what it was all about from the beginning. Genesis 2 describes the Sabbath as the day God hallowed by resting. He rested the seventh day after working six — thereby setting the perfect example.

It was done for man — for his well-being and benefit. It is not nearly as complicated as some think!  “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” states Christ (Mark 2:27). It was created after man for his good and physical and spiritual health — not before man with a long list of stringent requirements and harsh bondage!

FIRST a Day of Rest and a SIGN!

It is a day of rest for God and man! God set us a positive example by taking extra pains to set aside this special space of time — holy to Him — as His time, belonging to Him, It was so important to Him that He set it up as a special sign to man, to be observed throughout his generations.

Notice Exodus 31:12-17: “… Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations…. Ye shall keep the Sabbath…for it is holy unto you… It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel FOREVER: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

A sign is an identifying mark, or brand. God’s people were to have been identified throughout their generations by the keeping of God’s Sabbath. A mark or brand shows ownership. God “bought” the children of Israel out of the bondage of abject slavery to the Egyptians. His token of ownership became the Sabbath Day! “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual COVENANT” (Ex. 31:16).

Why would His people be different, strange and even “peculiar”? Because of this covenant! “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine,” says God! (Ex. 19:5.) He continues, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:2).

In an evil world fraught with wretchedness, misunderstanding, and separation from God the Almighty Creator, only His people, Israel, would have His sign, His identifying mark or brand of the Sabbath day. The world lost sight of the Creation and the True God because they did not have His sign of Creation, the Sabbath!

God worked six days creating physical masterpieces on earth, and rested the seventh,  creating the spiritual masterpiece — the everlasting sign and symbol of creation with Him as Master of creation! When rebellious man lost sight of that sign of creation, he lost sight of God!

When Israel later lost sight of the Sabbath, they too lost sight of God with disastrous results! Notice Jer. 17:27, “But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched!” The result was the sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (See Jer. 52:12-30). God’s people lost His protection!

Type of the Millennium

God’s people today still are to have this sign and covenant with their Creator! “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). The original Greek word for “rest” here is “Sabbatismos” which means a literal Sabbath observance! It denotes a literal cessation from labor as a type of the far more important meaning of the Sabbath.

But notice Heb. 4:5: “… As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest [Gr. “Katapausin“]” — and again, “And God did rest [“Kata­pausin”] the seventh day from all His works” (verse 4). In addition to a Sabbath observance, “Katapausin” literally means “the act of giving rest; a state of settled or final rest” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon by Bagster). It can also mean a place of rest, place of abode, dwelling, habitation.

“For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest [i.e., final rest or habitation], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day?” This is the millennial rest, a time of final settling down, cessation from the 6,000-year struggle of man in a sin sick world. “For he that is entered into His [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (verse 10). A day with God is as a thousand years (II Pet. 3:8), and this represents that final SEVENTH-thousand-year rule of peace and rest under Jesus Christ!

The Personal Application

Theologists have for years argued the technical “meanings” of the Sabbath, but how does it apply to you, personally? How does it affect your weekly life? You cannot understand the ultimate meaning of the Sabbath without first knowing and applying the Sabbath properly in your own life!

It is a time of relief and relaxation from your regular daily work and cares. God did not intend man to slave his life away seven days a week. He made man to need a day of rest and recuperation from a vigorous, work-filled week. Far from a day of bondage, it is a day of freedom — freedom from daily cares and problems; freedom from the stress and frustration you have already endured for six long days.

Notice God’s positive instruction on the Sabbath: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:13-14). Here are three important facets to keeping the Sabbath.

Let’s analyze them:

1. YOUR ways. This means course of life, mode of action — that is, your employment, enterprises, finances, the more serious business of making a livelihood. You should not involve yourself in doing what you normally do during the week — those things by which you feed, clothe and care for yourself physically. This includes working at your job or business, working around the house, sewing, cleaning, washing the car — all the things that pertain to your physical maintenance during the normal course of the week.

This is the day to be about God’s ways! You rest from doing your ways. Devote this time to God’s business of eternal life. The Sabbath gives you extra time to study and meditate about God’s course of eternal life, His principles and mode of action. You will need all the knowledge about God’s business you can acquire if you hope to be an active and living part of it one day!

2. YOUR pleasure. Your desire, delight, that which you take extra pleasure in doing — hunting, fishing, golfing, swimming, cards, movies, boating — those things which take up the majority of your “leisure” time. This would also include the many time-consuming hobbies such as the “ham” radio operator, woodworking shop, stamp collecting, etc. Of course, it would be impossible to list all the hobbies and activities available, but you know what yours is. Whatever your pleasure, or leisure-time activity is, you should not engage in it on the Sabbath.

You should engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. What is God’s pleasure? It is His creation — planning, working and building for the future of eternity! “… for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Just as you have or may have had an absorbing interest in your hobby or leisure-time interest and all of its interesting facets and details, God has an absolutely absorbing interest in His creation and all its myriad facets! He gives us the Sabbath to learn to have an interest and pleasure in His creation. His pleasure — the true and lasting pleasure — is to become our pleasure!

3. YOUR words. This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We talk about what we are thinking. Our words show what is going on in our minds and hearts. This is obviously the most difficult of all! We may cease our ways and our pleasures, but it is much more difficult to cease thinking or talking about them!

Really, it is no problem just to rest and do no physical exertion on the Sabbath. Some people regularly do this seven days a week! You must serve God with your mind. Those who can’t or don’t control their minds call the Sabbath bondage, because they can’t wait ’til sunset to be about their ways and pleasures which they have been thinking about all day anyway!

Once you are able to get your mind and thoughts on God’s pleasure and God’s ways on the Sabbath, you will find out what real delight and joy in the Sabbath is! “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:14).

How do you accomplish this? Devote your Sabbath time to Sabbath service, extra Bible study,  extra prayer and especially extra meditation! This is your one time in the week when you don’t have to worry about getting to the job, making payments, working out schedules, cleaning house and all the other things you find that takes away from your study, prayer and meditation during the week. This is free time — free from all your daily cares and worries — free to be completely absorbed in God and His word.

However, there is one more basic element necessary to make all this possible — that is preparation.

Preparation for the Sabbath

Many do not or cannot properly observe the Sabbath because they have not understood when or how to prepare for it. On the Sixth Day of the week— Friday to us—God said, “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe (boil) that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” (Ex. 16:23).

The preparation day is the time to get everything ready for the Sabbath so you won’t even be tempted to do it on the Sabbath. Specifically mentioned are baking and boiling — or, the heavier cooking and household duties. The principle here includes everything which can be done before the Sabbath begins such as cooking a roast, baking a cake or pie, cleaning house, getting chores done, etc.

Obviously, there are some things which cannot be done before the appointed time on the Sabbath. Common sense will tell you which would be easier, to fry an egg on Friday, store it in the deep freeze, thaw it out the next morning and eat it, or to simply wait until Sabbath morning to cook and eat. But the items which will keep for a period of time such as roasts, bread, etc. should be prepared ahead of time.

Keep a Checklist

Many find themselves run “ragged” on Friday trying to frantically get everything done only to collapse in a heap Friday night to discover something they forgot to get done! This can all easily be avoided if each member of the family will make a checklist of everything he must get done to prepare for the Sabbath. Then, each week, all he has to do is run down the list in a rapid, organized manner to get everything done.

But remember, the preparation day is only one day. Don’t make the mistake of leaving everything — house-cleaning,  baking,  cooking,  grocery shopping, car washing, etc. — until that day! Do this and you will find the Sabbath a day of total collapse rather than a peaceful day of rest and relaxation with enough energy to communicate with God! It is to be a day to prepare for the Sabbath, not a day to catch up on what you should have been doing all week.

Plan to have everything in readiness to truly greet God’s Sabbath — making sure there are no other things pressing on your mind or schedule. Only when you have everything done and out of the way can you really become absorbed in the Sabbath as you should. Plan it this way and you will be amazed at how much more you delight in the Sabbath. You don’t have to go to work, nor worry about the endless trivia which clutters up every normal week. This is the day to completely put all that away from you!

A good checklist will help you accomplish this. Just sit down and think it over carefully. Then prepare a list you can use every Friday, and you will be amazed at how much easier and more simple your preparation becomes.

What About the Many Questions ?

The main reason God has never “listed” in the Bible any “do’s and don’ts” for the Sabbath is that He wants us, as individuals, to learn to think, be personally responsible and use the principles He has given us. It is too easy to lose sight of the goal when you have a myriad of legalistic lines drawn up for you. But once you know and can apply the principles, you will be able to almost automatically answer your own questions.

Just remember some very basic questions to ask yourself: “Is this in God’s service? Is this a genuine emergency, or can I put it off till tomorrow? Should I have already done this as a part of preparation? Have I prayed about this and thoroughly gone over the principles in my mind?” If you find there is some question which still bothers you after thoroughly studying it out, you should seek advice from one who should know more about the principles of Sabbath-keeping — your local minister.

Apply these principles and you will soon find that God’s Sabbath is one of His greatest gifts to mankind — a gift for rest, peace, knowledge and true delight!

Source: The Good News, 1968

August 19, 2009

Your Faith: It May Be The Death Of You!

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

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

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

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

“Not According to Knowledge”

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

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

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

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

The Problem of Translation

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

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

“In” or “Of”?

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

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

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

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

Preposition Changes Meaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Baptism — What Then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see what a difference the preposition makes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Need the Faith of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putting Faith to Work

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

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

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

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

The Plain Truth, 1984

August 6, 2009

What Constitutes Idolatry, As Outlined In The Second Commandment?

The Second Commandment reads, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord [Eternal] thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:4-6).

Man is continually looking for a physical means of worshipping God. That is exactly what this scripture forbids. Worship of God is spiritual. God continually forbade Israel to use any form of idol or image in worship.

Of course, God does not condemn art or sculpture. We are, however, not “to bow down” or “serve them.” In other words, objects should not be used for the purpose of worship. This includes crucifixes, sculptures, etc.

Clearly, this command also forbids pictures and images depicting Jesus Christ. If God’s Holy Spirit is leading you, you should not need a picture of either your Father God or Jesus Christ to properly connect with your Father in prayer. Aside from that, the modern conception of Christ as an effeminate, longhaired hippie is not based in reality. Jesus looked like the typical Jew of His day.

Of course, these things are only physical applications of this Commandment. In fact, anything that you allow to come between you and God can become an idol. Most men place themselves above God, which is a form of self-idolatry. Anytime you allow something to become more important than obeying God’s law of love, that has become an idol to you, and is a direct violation of the Second Commandment.

July 25, 2009

Ten Crucial Daily Questions For Spiritual Survival!

herbert_w_armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9, 2009

You Are What You Think!

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infinitygoods.wordpress.com

Did you ever hear someone speak out foolishly, sometimes instantly regretting what is said? Yes, that person may apologize, but the scriptures have a few words to say about what we so quickly let fly out of our mouths:

“A good person produces good from the good treasure of his heart, and an evil person produces evil from an evil treasure. For it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

Who thinks about their daily thoughts as evil – a sort of poison chalice? We should because thoughts, if left unguarded, will rule us with persistence. Why? Because we are what we think about. Thinking about things that are positive, just, honest and so on are completely foreign matters to most people. The mind loves to justify itself; gratify, satiate the ego. iIt does not like to think about others.

Let’s have a look at two competing scriptures – one with a godly mind:

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

And one with the mind of carnal man:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)

It is this second mindset which dominates most people on earth. We don’t generally think about what we think about – by that I mean our thought processes are generally involuntary – a freefloating smorgasbord formulated by what we see and touch. They may be many tiny thoughts we don’t remember thinking, but the result is either positive or negative.

Now think about this. All those tiny thoughts which are obviously formulated, but which we may not realize are there, could produce significant results. If we tend to think negatively, then we are generally so afflicted. If positive, then the other way around.

Thoughts on others

What about how we think about others? Prov. 23:7 tells us that “as we think in our heart, so we are.” If we harbor negative thoughts in our heart about people, then we cannot love them. It is hard to disguise what we think about and somewhere, sometime, our negative thoughts spill out to someone. We may feel remorseful, but that doesn’t make the situation any less real – we do not like that person. Apologizing at this point is wiping bug remains off the front of the car – a never ending job. We know, even if we get the car spotless, the bugs will continue to commit suicide on the grill.

So how do we get out of this vicious, negative cycle? Biblically, we are admonished to think “soberly (Rom. 12:3), which means to be of a sound mind, or moderate. (Strong’s # 4993, coming from # 4998). We are told not to think of ourselves more highly than we aught to think. In other words, drop the ego. Imperfect, negative thoughts can be stopped, with the power of the Spirit of God.Without that power, it becomes an exercise in futility.

Then, the next step is to meditate on things which are positive. This requires some effort and most people are lazy thinkers. They would rather do anything else than put some effort into thinking. but do so the true Christian must. Phil. 4:8 tells us how:

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

What does this all mean? Let’s explain:

  1. True thoughts are generally something proven. We must make sure that our thoughts are not half-truths, or presumed truths.
  2. Honest thoughts can be trusted not to meditate predominately on the self, but to direct attention outwardly towards the care and consideration of others.
  3. Just thoughts are equitable in character, act, or innocent, holy, righteous. They reflect the mind of God and the way He thinks.
  4. Pure thoughts are considered innocent  (Strong’s # 53), meaning chaste, clean and pure. They are the opposite of our arch enemy Satan, who loves to make us break the spirit of the law.
  5. Lovely thoughts or of a good report are right thoughts flowing out of our mind, waiting to bloom for the benefit of the thinker.

Remember that Jer. 17:9 says all mankind has a desperately wicked heart (mind), where the self always thinks it is right. It takes effort and concentration to open the door of our mind to these Phil. 4:8 thoughts. They produce an orderly way of thinking, or better thoughts which produce the character of God.

If in doubt, go about your daily life and as you do so, remember what you thought about after doing something. Our thoughts are the father of our actions. All actions begin with a thought process. Examine your life and your surroundings, they are the reflection of your mind. Is it orderly, or untidy? Are your friends positive or do they have criminal tendencies? Do they curse God in their everyday speaking? Is this really just innocent banter, or the reflection of a passive resistance to God?

The Bible tells us to think as Christ thought, and even to take on the very mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We can’t so that if we open ourselves up to wrong thinking, producing weeds in the garden of our mind.

True Christians must examine their thoughts daily, and meditate on what is produced in their life, at work, in study, prayer and everywhere else. Is it the fruits of the spirit blossoming (Gal. 5:22-23), which produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” Once mastered, these become automatic reactions to our interaction with others. But weeds take time and effort to eliminate, as they take deep root and seldom like to relinquish their hold. Don’t allow them to find a home in the first place.

Learning to control our thinking teaches us to control our circumstances. Sift, sort and analyze  everything passing though the mind for value. Then our action, which are dictated by these thoughts, will have value. It is immeasurably important to build a future on right thoughts, which have produced right actions.

July 8, 2009

Is It Permissible For Christians To Fight In Self-Defence?

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thediaperheads-kellyfamily.blogspot.com

Jesus said, “Resist not evil … whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). Does this mean Christians must never defend ourselves?

The Bible makes it clear we are to live by God’s law of love in every aspect of our lives. Therefore it would never be right for a Christian to fight back with the purpose of inflicting bodily injury, even if provoked.

Nonetheless, the use of RESTRAINING FORCE may at times be necessary and advisable. For example, if someone tried to strike you with a club, it would not be wrong to restrain the attacker if you were able.

The best defense is to avoid circumstances which are dangerous or threatening. In case of emergency, we should quickly ask God, in prayer, for protection and deliverance. God hears those who are faithful to Him (see Hebrews 11:6 and I John 3:22).

But, what of “turning the other cheek”? Does that mean Christians are to be pushovers and doormats? Certainly not! Jesus Christ was not. Jesus had the wisdom to know when to avoid confrontations and when to challenge injustice and evil. He forced the money changers out of the temple. Yet, He submitted to the most horrible verbal and physical abuse and finally allowed Himself to be crucified (thereby fulfilling His commission). But, through it all, Jesus set us an example of the type of attitude we ought to have, no matter what the circumstances.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). What should a Christian do in the face of evil and injustice? The answer is, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (verse 21).

If we have a godly attitude and a proper personal relationship with God, we can have total confidence that He is
watching over us and will protect us from harm and evil according to His will (see Psalm 91).

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 13, 2009

Seven Proofs Of The Existence Of God!

Filed under: Evolution,God — melchia @ 3:53 am
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There is a delusion gripping the minds of people today. It holds them in its sway, deceiving them, making them veritable slaves. It is the concept of “no God.”

Sir Julian Huxley, grandson of the famed evolutionist, has stated: “There is no longer either need or room for supernatural beings capable of affecting the course of events in the evolutionary pattern of thought. The earth was not created, it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body.”

Is there “no longer any need for a concept of God”? Is the Bible merely a collection of Hebrew fables, or the dynamic living Word of an intelligent, all-wise Creator Being? Here are seven proofs to counter this claim.

Proof Number One

Is the Bible totally out of harmony with all science? Do modern-day discoveries in the sciences render the Christian helpless to reconcile his belief with the “enlightened age” in which he lives?

The first Positive Proof of the existence of God is so broad, so all-encompassing, so diverse in its many ramifications that it is possible only to barely scratch the surface in this article. However, there can be no clearer way to substantiate this proof than to quote from a typical college textbook which discards the Biblical record. In the foreword material, the authors offer various explanations as to the origin of the earth:

“Our own galaxy, which we remember is but a tiny part of the universe, has probably existed a million, million years.

“But some progress has been made in attempting to explain how and when the sun and its nine planets came into being. The study of the solar system gives us at least a clue to the origin of that part of the universe most important to us — the earth. The explanation commonly accepted today is called the Hypothesis of Dynamic Encounter formulated about 1900 by T. C. Chamberlain and F. R. Moulton of the University of Chicago. In brief it suggests that our solar system had its birth when the sun was approached by another huge star. The latter, through the operation of the law of gravitation, detached from the sun great masses of flaming gas. The orphan masses from the parent sun gradually cooled and crystallized to become the nuclei of planets. These continued to revolve around the sun, held in their orbits by the gravitational pull of the parent body. The evolution of the earth to its present state was very gradual” (Wall-bank and Taylor, Civilization Past and Present, Vol. I, page 31).

Even though it is outdated in certain respects, I quote this statement in full for a very special reason. Let’s go back and carefully ANALYZE what we have just read. Notice carefully the italicized words in the quotation you have just read. We have such words in the opening phrases as “probably, some progress has been made, attempting to explain, at least a clue, explanation commonly accepted, and the “suggestion” of a “hypothesis” — the very word itself meaning “we guess.”

Then, in very careful wording, having begun with a number of “possibles” and “perhapses” the book begins to tell of definite past occurrences which are said to have taken place. But let’s analyze further this very vital first proof of the existence of God.

In the very beginning the writers, even though beginning with many attempts to explain, clues and guesses, admit the existence of our solar system, a “sun,” another “huge star,” the “operation of the law of gravitation,” great “masses of flaming gas,” and admit that these gases “gradually cooled.”

They also mention how these gases “crystallized” and then continued to “revolve around the sun, held in their orbits by the gravitational pull of the parent body.” What a fantastic array! Here is a tremendous, limitless, imagination-defying expanse — an entire universe. Here is a whole solar system, a huge sun, the operation of certain, definite, immutable, unchangeable LAWS. Here is a supposed collision between gigantic, breathtakingly huge astral bodies, resulting in the supposed formation of our present solar system.

Think of it! All of these myriad laws — of heat, light, energy, motion, the rotation of astral bodies, the laws of gravity, and myriad other laws, entirely too numerous to mention — are admitted to exist. Where to begin? Is it an attempt to explain the existence of our present solar system? Decidedly not. Scientists and astronomers tell us that our solar system is only one of many such systems in our great galaxy called the “Milky Way.” However, even our galaxy is only one of myriad galaxies, which form only a part of the vast, limitless expanse of the universe. Our planet, astronomers assure us, is merely a third-rate planet in a second-rate solar system, lost in the expanses of seemingly limitless space.
Do you begin to comprehend? By what law did one star approach another? By what law did heat gradually cool? By what law was there a “gravitational pull”? By what law was there the existence of the “operation of the law of gravitation”?

Yes, there it is. In dissecting and looking carefully into the statements of some of the preposterous hypotheses which have been advanced, you begin to see that in every case the writers have begun with an orderly, law-abiding universe, governed by irrefutable laws. The existence of law, unchangeable, immutable, irrevocable, unseen and yet active, absolutely demands the existence of a great lawgiver.

“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy …” (James 4:12).  That Lawgiver is God!

Proof Number Two

Before seeing this next amazing, irrefutable proof, it is first necessary to state, in simple terms, the meaning of the word “evolution.” Of course, there are many processes called “evolution.”

The process of development of music from simple to complex is, in a sense, an “evolutionary” process as is true in all technological inventions. This has perhaps led many to assume such a development is also true in organic, living material.

Here is one such stated idea:

“Evolution is the gradual development from the simple, unorganized condition of primal matter to the complex structure of the physical universe; and in like manner, from the beginning of organic life on the habitable planet, a gradual unfolding and branching out into all the various forms of beings which constitute the animal and plant kingdom” (Richard Swann Lull, Organic Evolution, page 6).

Evolution theorizes from the beginning of organic life — already having LIFE with which to begin. It does not now show, nor has it ever shown, nor will it ever be able to show, how life itself first CAME into existence.

The theory of evolution (the word “theory” means “we think”) states simply that all life forms that we know today, including humankind, have gradually evolved from the most simple life forms to the complex, intricate, interdependent species we see about us today, each reproducing according to its own kind.

Evolution postulates that life evolved in a “gradual process,” by “resident forces” into the complexity of life we see about us today. And herein, at the very basic trunk of the tree of all evolutionary thought, lies one of the greatest proofs of God!

Evolutionists, geneticists, biologists, scientists in any field whatsoever have never been able to demonstrate, nor to offer the slightest evidence that the not-living can make itself into the LIVING. It is true that certain laboratory experiments have taken place in which supposed “dead cells” are said to have been “revived” and brought back to life by the means of certain chemical compounds. In other experiments, scientists have diligently tried to produce organic type compounds called amino acids. This, however, is a far cry from “spontaneous generation.”

There is a broad, gaping, yawning chasm of separation between life and death. The great gap between the not-living and the living is so broad, so insurmountable, so unfathomable by man, that evolutionists can only “suppose” and guess, offering vague, ethereal, nebulous “theories” as to how life for the first time “might have” begun accidentally! However, on the other hand, there is an absolute, demonstrable law of science which comprises the second major proof of the existence of a life-giving God. That is the law of biogenesis!

“Bio” means life! “Genesis” means beginning. This law, then, is a law concerning the beginning of life. This law, simply stated, is the absolute law that life comes only from life. That the not-living can never give rise to, give birth to or produce the living.

There is perhaps no law known to science that can be any more firmly and easily demonstrated than the law of biogenesis. The very existence of life demands a Life Giver!

God states dogmatically, “And the Eternal God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

Almighty God — the Life Self-Existent, the One who has life, who is Life, who was before all things — imparted life to the first man and set within man, the animals, and all plants the cyclical character of life which enables them to reproduce according to certain set laws. God is the great Life Giver!

Proof Number Three

Many of these amazing proofs of the existence of an Almighty God “overlap.” That is, each is, to a degree, interrelated with the others. The third major proof of God can be stated quite simply from the quotation you saw under Proof Number One.

You will notice that evolutionists, in trying to substantiate their theory, always BEGIN with an orderly universe and the existence of matter. Notice the so-called Theory of Evolution BEGINS with matter, laws, and “simple” life.

What is matter? Matter occupies space and has weight. It is not always necessarily seen, since certain gases, and even the air which you breathe, are also classified as “matter.”

Until recently, scientists talked of the law of the “conservation of matter.” However, with the discoveries in nuclear physics, and following Madame Curie’s experiments with radium, scientists have now found there is a certain amount of “disintegration” in matter!

This deterioration of uranium is a scientific fact! Uranium (U238) gradually disintegrates through many intermediate states into lead (Pb206). Uranium, as you may well know, is radioactive and gives off energy in the form of radiation.
Gradually, over a period of seemingly limitless years, this radioactive material disintegrates into lead! There is no proof of any new uranium coming into existence today!

Hence science has firmly established that there has been no past eternity of matter! Matter must have at sometime come into existence. It had to have been, at some time, created.

Creation, then, the very existence of things, absolutely demands and requires a Creator. That which is made requires a Maker. That which is produced requires a Producer. Therefore, the third great proof is that the creation requires a great Creator.

Proof Number Four

The One who is quoted in the first person as being God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:24-25).

Scientists have attempted to show the evolutionary pattern by “comparative embryology,” by a study of selective breeding, genetics, and various other aspects of biology.

However, without taking the tremendous amount of space necessary to even faintly scratch the surface of such a broad subject, suffice it to say there is an absolute, irrefutable, immutable, unchangeable law, which absolutely prohibits a jump from one kind to another kind!

There are hundreds of different varieties within a certain species, and while there may be small, tiny dogs, such as the Mexican Chihuahua, and also huge dogs such as the St. Bernard or the Great Dane, they are still dogs! They are not cats, or horses, nor are they even beginning to show a gradual trend toward developing into another species. They are all of the same kind.

Comparative embryology tries to point out that the beginning embryos of fish, polliwogs, and humans look very much alike. This is absolutely true. But while it proves absolutely nothing for the case of evolution, this does offer a STRONGER proof of the existence of God. Scientists are defied to attempt to make the embryo of a fish turn out to be a polliwog, a man, or anything other than a fish of the exact same kind of fish which laid the egg in the first place.

Proof Number Five

Look about you. You live in a complex, intricate and interdependent world. It is a world of great design. You have never seen an ugly sunset. You have never seen an ugly scene in the desert, in the mountains, at sea, or anywhere on the surface of this entire earth, unless it were a scene made ugly by man. All is in harmony. Life, as we know it, is entirely interdependent upon other forms of life. Nothing lives or dies to itself.

The question to the evolutionists is: Which “evolved” first, the corn or the bee? Did the bee evolve slowly for thousands, millions or billions of years independent of the cornstalks, the flowers and the pollens from growing things which are his life source?

Did the flowers, grasses, trees, and grains all evolve slowly and gradually over a period of millions or billions of years independent of the little bee, upon whom they must rely for their very continuation of life?

These are totally insurmountable, and unanswerable questions to the evolutionists! The old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is a question which the evolutionist feels worthy only of disdain. Why? Simply because he cannot answer it.

It is better, from his point of view, to merely scoff, make fun of and attempt to dismiss such a question when he cannot answer it.

This total interdependency of all life forms — the tremendous design within this universe shows a common Beginner, one main Architect, one great Designer with an overall framework of a plan of creation into which all life forms fit.
Nothing lives or dies to itself. Each living thing, whether plant or animal, when it dies, supplies further life for other living things. Observe a forest. A tree grows, finally dies and falls, only to become part of the fallow forest floor, supplying life-giving elements for the young trees which it had sown in its lifetime.

This great universe, and the complex intricate earth on which you live and draw breath, is a world of great design. It is a world of such complex and intricate design as to take the very breath in beginning to investigate even the minutest part.

The cleavage properties of minerals, the wings of a bird or a fly, the beauty of a sunset, the facets of a quartz crystal, and above all, the marvelous, tremendous masterpiece of all design, the human body, all point out that for such intricate design, there had to be an eternal Designer. Design in the universe proves the existence of a Designer!
[Photo Caption – Left: Even when magnified 100 times, the titanium alloy (top) still follows a definite pattern of construction. Slightly oxidized iron crystals (below) have been enlarged 10,000 times, revealing even more intricacy. Right: From the tiniest metallic crystals to the most gorgeous sunset, everything is in perfectly designed harmony.]

Proof Number Six

This sixth proof of the existence of an Almighty God is perhaps the most astounding of all. It is fulfilled prophecy!
About one full third of your Bible is prophecy; and while most of that one third pertains to our present day, there are many, many prophecies which have already been fulfilled, and which are presently BEING fulfilled.

God sent His prophets hundreds of years ago to such major cities as Babylon, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Tyre and Sidon. These prophets — simple human beings who had been commissioned with a message — foretold the decay, fall and particular type of fate which was to befall each of these ancient cities.

And without fail, in every single instance, exactly at the time prescribed, all these things HAPPENED! The very fact that God is able to foretell the future, and bring it to pass, is a great proof of His existence!

Proof Number Seven

This last proof is perhaps the greatest proof of all to true Christians. It is the proof of answered prayer. However, since the skeptics, atheists and doubters have never prayed, and hence have never had prayers answered, they continue to DOUBT.

Now take George Mueller’s example.

George Mueller is dead now, but he was a great man of FAITH. He founded five great orphanages and other charitable institutions in Bristol, England. He started out, as FAITH always does, with a very small work, without any financial backing, and absolutely no means of support, except to get down on his knees and send up a believing prayer to God.
For nearly seventy years George Mueller continued that great work, and it grew into a tremendous institution until it housed thousands. Every dime for feeding, clothing, sheltering, and schooling those thousands of orphans came in only one way — as a result of believing prayer.

Altogether he received more than a million four hundred thousand pounds — that was about seven million dollars — sent to him in answer to his prayers!

Real answered prayer is NOT the mere working out of events as a result of “concentration.” Many people seem to assume answered prayer is merely an accomplishment as a result of “positive thinking” or a psychological adjustment.
This is a gross error!

Real answered prayer is a direct, miraculous supernatural intervention from Almighty God! It is the result of obedience to God’s laws, asking according to His will, and then believing in faith until the answer comes.

These seven, irrefutable unchallengeable PROOFS of the existence of Almighty God represent only the minutest beginning of the subject. They are, nevertheless, proofs. It’s about time people quit assuming — it’s about time they began to really PROVE all things.

It’s about time YOU said with Job, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Source: Tomorrow’s World, October 1971

April 20, 2009

What is The Laying On Of Hands?

The laying on of hands is a symbolical act which sets individuals apart and signifies the imparting of spiritual blessings, authority, and power. In the Old Testament, a blessing was often conferred in this way. An example is Jacob’s laying his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh to pass on blessings they were to receive from God (Gen. 48:13-20).  

In the New Testament, a newly baptized person had hands laid on him for the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Notice in Acts 8:17-18 that after God’s ministers had baptized repentant converts, then “laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And … through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given.” Also see Acts 19:5-6 and II Timothy 1:6. 

The laying on of hands also accompanies an elder’s prayer for the afflicted. we read in Acts 9:17: “And Ananias … putting his hands on him [Paul] said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus who appeared unto thee in the way which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Another purpose for the laying on of hands is that of ordination. An example is found in Acts 6. Here seven men became deacons when the apostles prayed and “laid their hands on them” (verse 6). 

The laying on of hands, then, serves to show that God works through His ministers. This ceremony is mentioned as one of the basic doctrines of His Church in Hebrews 6:2.

February 23, 2009

Seven Rules To Right Decisions

by Albert J. Portune

Tomorrow’s World, June 1969

How many times has your life, your happiness, your self-respect been upset and disturbed because you’ve made a wrong choice, or an unwise decision? Looking back on our past all of us can remember choices we had or opportunities that presented themselves – and we wish we could go back and CHANGE what we did.

How would you like to be able to make the right choice – EVERY TIME? You can, you know, if you apply the right principles EVERY TIME! The principles for making right and wise decisions are available to you. If you are willing to diligently apply them each time, YOUR LIFE can become a series of successes in the decisions you have to make. Are you willing to learn these principles?

Life Is Choice

Life is a series of decisions. You can’t begin a day without making choices. What time to rise, what clothing to wear, what to have for breakfast, what course of action for the responsibilities of the day, etc., etc. The majority of our decisions are routine and dictated by routine and preset requirements of job, school, weather and environment. Most of us do well enough in these routine decisions. It is the bigger, more unusual decisions that affect our lives where we become vulnerable and need to make the RIGHT decision. Decisions like: Whether to buy a new car and which kind – whether to quit your job and move to another area – whether to go into business for yourself – whether to add a room to your house or buy new furniture – whether to go to college, or take a trip to a distant place.

Sadly enough, many have faced major decisions in life, chosen unwisely and found their lives in a shambles which took time and tears to remedy. Making wise decisions is not a matter of chance. Some people are not just “lucky” while others are unlucky. Success in choices depends on basic factors. Those who are “lucky” have their luck in accidentally or intentionally using the right principles in making their choices. If you KNOW the right principles and apply them, you eliminate most of the elements of chance. Success is assured because you have eliminated the risks.

The Right Source

Most people, faced with important decisions make the same fundamental ERROR! This error is common to man because man is basically a self-centered creature. He usually depends on himself for the inherent ability to arrive at a conclusion. The Word of God – the Bible – which is the book about man, but inspired by man’s Creator – God who knows man intimately, most accurately describes this basic fault in man.

“Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN that walketh to direct his steps.” These words were written, under the inspiration of God by His prophet Jeremiah, chapter 10 verse 23. The fundamental, underlying basis for making right decisions lies OUTSIDE the pole of the man making the decision. This seems remarkable, but it is nonetheless true.

Whenever we have a decision to make, the first thing we usually do is to ASSUME WE have the basic ability to come to that decision. In reality, God’s Word makes clear we ought NOT to rely upon our own abilities alone. True, we may have to use the abilities God has given us, but directed by God – not ourselves.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto thine OWN understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Wisdom is truly realizing the basic nature in man. Few people have discovered this basic nature. Most people feel they are benign creatures, basically good, gentle, having outgoing concern for others, generous, kind, considerate. Hence, being all this, they certainly could be relied upon to make a decision which would take all factors into consideration. But, unless God’s spirit has opened their minds most people don’t know they are inherently by nature selfish, covetous, greedy, full of vanity, deceitful, proud and wicked. It is true, you know.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:” and “the carnal mind is enmity AGAINST GOD: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be” (Jer. 17:9 and Rom. 8:7). Those who have come to know God have learned this about themselves and have come to the first point of wisdom which is NOT to depend on this source for a decision.

Leaning to this source for a decision will ALWAYS tend to lead us to a wrong decision. This source of wisdom will always tend to a decision or a choice that flatters self, looks good to others, makes the “big splash,” satisfies lust or exacts revenge. Truly the Proverbs describe this end: “There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25).

Rule One: Ask God FIRST For His Wisdom

So, the first rule in the SEVEN RULES to wise decisions is to GO OUTSIDE of self to God to get the wisdom. Any other first step would be foolish. God alone knows just the right course of action you should take ! No one else does! He should be the first source.

You will have other steps to follow, but unless they are guided by God they may avail you nothing. In fact following all six other rules could lead you to ruin without God directing them.

“…. the Lord is a God of knowledge and by HIM actions are weighed” (I Sam. 2:3).

When you are confronted with an important decision in your life, go to a private place and pray to your Father in heaven. Tell him about your decision – how it affects you, what are the alternatives that lie before you. Admit to him in prayer that you LACK the ability and wisdom you need and want His omniscient help and wisdom.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it [wisdom] shall be given him” (James 1:5). Admit in your prayer that without God’s help you would tend to choose the course of vanity, lust, pride, envy and retribution. Tell Him you want His mind and attitude – an attitude of service, concern for others, love, patience and mercy. If the decision is profound enough, add fasting to your prayers so God sees that you truly care and want to be guided by Him.

Solomon an Example

When Solomon became King of Israel after his father David, he knew he was faced with many momentous decisions. The responsibility of ruling a mighty nation and making all the decisions that are part of being a monarch weighed heavily upon him.

What was the first thing Solomon did? His actions are an EXAMPLE for us – recorded in the Word of God. “And Solomon said unto God, Thou has shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead … for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can JUDGE [decide for] this thy people, that is so GREAT?” (II Chron. 1:8-10). Because Solomon sought God FIRST and acknowledged Him as the source of RIGHT DIRECTION, God granted him wisdom and knowledge to make right decisions and choices. God blessed him and the nation Israel over which he ruled (verses 11:17).

No matter how large or small a decision we have to make, we should always go to God FIRST and acknowledge Him as the source of direction, wisdom and knowledge to make the right choice. Even if we must make a quick – rapid-fire – decision, we always have time – even if it is only an instant – to pray within ourselves, “Father, help me to see Your will.”

Rule Two: Get Examples From the Bible

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His LAW [the Bible] doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and WHATSOEVER HE DOETH SHALL PROSPER” (Psalm 1:1-3) .

The Bible — God’s Word – is an instruction book for man and a history of man’s mistakes, successes, rewards and punishments. It runs the full gamut of human experience. In the Old Testament, when God was bringing Israel out of Egypt, the people had to make many decisions. Some were right – many were wrong! These examples are priceless in helping us avoid making similar mistakes in decisions we must reach.

Some of the wrong decisions which led to disaster for the people are recorded a second time in I Corinthians in the 10th chapter. Notice what the apostle Paul says about these occurrences: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (verse 11).

By a deep knowledge of God’s Word – through constant study and meditation – we have a backlog of experience to draw upon. We certainly can profit by the mistakes others have made, and also from their wise decisions. Seek in your knowledge of God’s Word, or by meditating further on it, to find a basic principle that relates clearly to your choice or decision. Try to determine how your reasoning may be similar to a specific example in God’s Word.

Jesus’s Example

Jesus, under severe temptation from Satan to make a wrong decision, knew this principle well. When the Tempter sought to entice Jesus to choose immediate world rule – showed him alluring world kingdoms to tempt Him – Jesus said: “IT IS WRITTEN, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus also said twice more “IT IS WRITTEN !”

We should follow His example! Jesus knew God’s Word. He drew heavily upon it to make His choices. The unjust judges of this world follow this principle even if their choices may be wrong. No judge presiding over a court case ever comes to a decision without knowing the decisions that have been rendered previously in similar cases. Lawyers always rehearse previous court cases for what has happened in the past.

We have literally hundreds of “court cases” upon which God has rendered His verdict – IN THE BIBLE. Yet far too many of us neglect to seek that knowledge from God’s Word and apply it to our decisions. Far too many of us just do not know God’s Word well enough.’ Therefore we make wrong decisions on points for which there are direct examples in the Word of God.Your best insurance to guiding your steps through your changing pattern of life is a deep and profound knowledge of God’s Word. “Thy Word is a LAMP unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Rule Three: Get all the Pertinent Facts

In most decisions you will have time to carefully consider all the factors. Too many times when a decision needs to be made we “leap before we look.” This is another universal error most people make – they don’t take enough time to consider all the facts!

Basic “high-pressure” salesmanship is designed around this human weakness and natural human lust. Ninety percent of purchases made are “impulse buying.” People go “shopping” without a factual study of the type, quality, price, performance and need factors already clearly defined. Therefore they are prime targets for the fast talking line of the high-pressure salesman – and in HIS backyard – where his glittering gadgets have you spellbound.

Not that we’re specifically talking about decisions on buying, but it is an excellent thing to remember that the item you are tempted to buy will still be there tomorrow or the next day or next week. Only your desire to HAVE IT makes you feel like you must get it NOW. The salesman knows that too.

One key which will save you many headaches and pocketbook pains is learning to “wait 24 hours” especially in reference to impulse buying. Every salesman knows a person is most apt to buy on the spur of the moment after he has been pushed “off balance” by his basic desire to possess plus the strong “pitch” he has just been given. But if you will say, “I’ll think it over” – leave the store – go home and wait until tomorrow – most likely many factors will come to you which you were unable to consider under the pressure of the moment.

This key also applies to any choice you have to make. We are always “off balance” until we have carefully weighed ALL the facts. Whatever time you have before you must decide, use it to weigh carefully all the alternatives that lie before you and the costs or actions they demand. It is always good to accumulate a written list of all the pros and cons. It will serve two purposes. One: you won’t forget the unpleasant aspects which we are so often prone to nullify or treat lightly. Two. it will force you to take the time to consider the factors in detail, which, again, we are usually reluctant to do. Be sure you get the FACTS. Don’t be satisfied with guesses and assumptions. If there are FACTS to get, get them. It’s your life!

Rule Four: Seek Wise and Abundant Counsel

In getting the facts, we should again remember not always to lean to our own knowledge of the subject. We should seek those who have the most accurate information relative to our choice. Let us suppose you are considering a change from one area of the country to another. This involves a change of job – change of home – change of school for children – change of climate – change of cost of living – and many, many other things. A wise decision cannot be reached without learning what these factors are like in the new area. One way to learn these facts is to ask or counsel with someone who is an AUTHORITY on these factors in the new area.

In every case seek wise counsel from a reputable authority or sources you can rely on. Don’t rely on backyard advice or “water-cooler wisdom” for a decision in your life. Don’t be satisfied with one opinion only! A primary principle from God’s Word shows us to seek wise counsel: “WHERE NO COUNSEL is, the people fall: but in the MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS THERE IS SAFETY” (Prov. 11:14).

Many times we feel it is a sign of weakness to ask for help and opinions. This is again vanity and self-centeredness. Even in the largest corporations the wisest executives seek out advisors and counsellors to help them make wise decisions.

Rule Five: Make a Definite Decision

In applying the preceding rules, we will have come to the place where we are ready to make a definite decision: Now is the time! We have asked God for wisdom and direction; we have searched His Word for examples and lessons. We have gathered and weighed all the facts and eventualities. We have sought authorities, wise and abundant counsellors. The choice or decision should now be CLEAR. Make that decision DECISIVELY – POSITIVELY! Don’t vacillate! Don’t waver!

Again God’s Word gives us the example. “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed … A double minded man is UNSTABLE in all his ways” (James 1:6, 8). This brings us to the sixth rule.

Rule Six: Have Faith in the Decision

Faith is one of the most powerful forces we can employ to cause circumstances to turn out right. Once we have come to a decision based on God’s principles we can have FAITH it will work out correctly. We should EXPECT our choice – to turn out RIGHT and GOOD. We can have ABSOLUTE FAITH that it will!

“Faith is the substance of things [or conclusions] HOPED FOR, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

Believing is now our part! The whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a testimony of those who made choices and decisions in their lives toward an ultimate goal and they attained them THROUGH FAITH! Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, ALL THINGS are possible to him that BELIEVETH”! (Mark 9:23). Trust your decision. Trust the God who led you to it. Believe it will turn out as planned. Expect it to! HAVE FAITH.

Rule Seven: Work Diligently for the Desired End

The last rule is where many fall down. The right conclusion to a decision is NOT AUTOMATIC! We must go all out to bring the desired end to reality. In the course of obtaining all the facts and getting wise and abundant counsel we will have discovered many things to DO !

Now that we have made our choice and have faith that it will work out, we need to roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK! Another basic principle from God’s Word will help. Wise Solomon learned from God: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccl. 9:10).

Here is where many of us fail. We do not diligently and systematically go step-by-step through every phase of effort toward the desired goal! Resolve, in every choice or decision, to thoroughly and judiciously do your part.

There is never a time in your life when you can afford to NEGLECT these principles. Write them down on a card and carry them with you. Learn them – make them a part of you. Put them into practice in your life.

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