The Apple Of God's Eye

April 21, 2011

How Much Do You Hate Sin?

ionpsych.com

Being in the middle of the Days Of Unleavened Bread (2011), I am really impacted this year by how sin impacts my life, others around me and how God views my attitude towards it. Being sinless Himself, I need to realize that God also hates sin.

But what about me? Do I minimize sin? Do I justify the wrong I do by comparing my sins to someone else’s? What attitude should I have toward sin? As the Days of Unleavened Bread unwind, I need to seriously review these questions.

How Does GOD Look at Sin?

It is obvious that certain sins hurt people more than others. Adultery, for example, clearly inflicts greater and more lasting damage to more people than forgetting an appointment.

On the other hand, we must realize the evil of what many people may consider to be “small” sins. After all, sin is sin — wrong is wrong — evil is evil, no matter what the degree. To ask which of two sins is worse is about like asking which was more sinful — Sodom or Gomorrah?

Regardless of how “minor” or “small” men may think some sins are, God says: “For the wages of sin is death …” (Rom. 6:23). That’s death in the lake of fire! No sins, therefore, should be trifled with, tolerated, or secretly harbored. The ultimate penalty for ALL sin — whether large or small — is the same: Eternal Death!

That some sins exact an immediate penalty is clear. But the damage done by some “small” sins over a period of time can also be devastating. To compare one’s own sins with those of other people, to minimize one’s own sins, and in the process to seek justification for them is exceedingly foolish and spiritually dangerous!

The Apostle James warns: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he IS GUILTY OF ALL” (James 2:10). The converted Christian should seek out and eliminate every sin — every wrong thought — every evil way. He should not be hanging on to “small” faults just because they do not seem to be as serious as certain obviously great sins. (more…)

Advertisements

April 29, 2010

Aquiring The Ability To Make Satan Flee!

jointventures-empire.com

God only deals with one type of person – he that is humble. That is why the scriptures say God resists the proud (James 4:6). But an often overlooked aspect of this verse is the end part: …”Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

How is this possible? How do we resist Satan? There is only one way to drive this powerful and evil being away. If you submit to God, then Satan will flee from you – because he knows the power of God. Conversely, those that fail to do this will be in bondage to Satan’s desires. God’s will is that we obey Him, in all ways. That includes living by the commandments of God, something to irritates many who profess to walk the Christian life.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.” (Jam. 4:8) (more…)

January 21, 2010

The Human Mind Versus Animal Brain: Is There A Difference?

Did you ever wonder about the vast difference between human mind and animal brain? The physical brain of the higher vertebrates in the animal kingdom is essentially the same in physical form, design, constituency, as human brain. The brains of whales, elephants, dolphins are larger–and chimp almost as large. Yet the output of the human brain is indescribably greater.

Many passages of Scripture show that there is a spirit in man (e.g., I Cor. 2:11). Spirit is not matter, and man is matter. To distinguish it from God’s Holy Spirit. For simplicity, we can call it the “human” spirit,” which imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain. The spirit cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel. The brain sees through the eye, hears through the ear, etc. The “human” spirit cannot of itself think. The physical brain thinks.

What, then, is the function of this “human” spirit? It is NOT a “soul.” But, 1) it imparts the power of intellect–of thinking, and of MIND power, to the human brain; and 2) it is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human MAN and divine GOD.

Many speak loftily of human worth as of supreme value in itself. They speak of the “god” within you–of tapping the innate hidden resources within yourself. They teach SELF-reliance, self-glorification. But in fact, they are smugly ignorant and unaware of the true values and the incredible but real human potential. Human life is at once of infinitesimally less value than they suppose, and at the same time of supremely greater potential than they know.   (more…)

October 20, 2009

Fruits Of the Spirit Lead To Real Abundant Living

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

Why do some religious people feel that their religious life must be one of giving up all the fun and enjoyment of living — that in order to please God, they must endure a life of morbid gloom? For that matter why do some nonreligious people feel that to become a Christian would mean a life of living painful penance?

Much of traditional Christianity traditionally has preached the many don’ts — don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t play cards, don’t go to the theater, don’t drink a drop of wine, don’t do this, don’t do that!  Where do people get all these distorted ideas about the religion of Jesus Christ? Certainly not out of the Bible.

They know nothing of the Jesus of the Bible, who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Somehow a lot of people have received a lot of weird and false ideas about Jesus Christ — I mean the Jesus of  your Bible. Actually, I think almost no one knows what the Bible says about him.

It seems most people think sin is the thing that is best for us, but which a stern, wrathful God denies us. Why don’t people know that God our Creator has never forbidden us a single thing that is good for us — never said “don’t” about a single thing except that which is going to harm us to our own hurt. What God does command us not to do are the very things that bring on unhappiness, frustration, pain, suffering and a life of morbid gloom.

Let’s get this matter straight. The real Jesus Christ said he came to bring us happiness and joy! Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). And he came that we might enjoy full, abundant life eternally. God Almighty intended the real Christian life to be happy. Jesus said, “My joy I leave with you” (John 15:11).

There is a way of life that causes peace, happiness and joy. God the great Creator set that way as an inexorable law — an invisible spiritual law — to produce peace, happiness, joy, abundance! There is a cause for every effect. In this unhappy confused world we have discontentment, unhappiness, wretchedness, suffering. The world is full of that. It should be full of peace, happiness and joy. There’s a cause. People don’t like God’s law. That law is the cause of peace and everything desirable and good. People want everything that is good and desirable. They just don’t want to obey that which would cause it! They want to be right, but they don’t want to do right.

Christ came to call people to repent. Repent of what? Repent of causing unhappiness, strife war and pain — and then to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And what kind of results will the Spirit of God produce in you?

I’ll tell you first what it won’t produce. It won’t produce the morbid, unhappy, painful, gloomy life that many think is the Christian life. Let the Bible tell you what “fruit” it will produce in you. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal.5:22-23)

Look at that more closely: “the fruit of the Spirit”– this is the Spirit of God. This is the Holy Spirit that God imparts only to those who have repented — that is, turned from that which has caused unhappiness, morbid gloom. discouragement, frustration, emptiness. On the contrary, that fruit of the Spirit is first of all LOVE. And the second fruit is JOY! Joy is happiness, brimful and running over. That doesn’t sound like an unhappy, empty, gloomy life, does it? And God’s Spirit is not static. It flows spontaneously from God into and through His people, and out from them, making others happy and joyful.

The very first result produced in your life by God’s Spirit is love. Love is a righteous love of and for others. It will mean your face is beaming. It’s an outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others. It will mean that you are really giving out — that you are radiant and happy. And love results in joy — that’s the second of these fruits. The third is PEACE. Instead of an attitude of hostility, instead of going around quarreling, being resentful and bitter, angry and arguing, you’ll be in an attitude of peace — peace in your mind and with your neighbor and with your God.

Next comes longsuffering. That means patience. How much has impatience made you unhappy? Probably impatience makes more people unhappy than almost anything else! If you can really come to have patience, you’ll be acquiring one of the things that will allow you to be happy and make life worth living.

Then next is gentleness. That makes others happy and automatically adds to your happiness. And then goodness and faith! Faith is confidence — not self-confidence, but reliance on the supreme power. It means that the supreme power of God is working for you. It means reassurance. It means assured hope instead of doubt, fear, discouragement.

Now this is not to say that there are never troubles in the Christian life. Far from it. There will be persecutions. Jesus Christ was persecuted. He said, “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” That comes from without. But unhappiness is something that springs from within. Happiness is a state of mind; happiness is within. And the person who does have this inward peace — this joy, this patience and love, and absence of resentment and bitterness isn’t going to be anywhere near as disturbed and unhappy as when he didn’t have them. You’ll always face problems — but you’ll have faith and God’s help in solving them. But problems and tests of faith are good for us — the very building blocks of perfect spiritual character.

I know that the Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” but the same scripture adds, “but the [Eternal] delivereth him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19).

It’s true Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” It’s true he suffered — he knew what suffering is. But his suffering and grief were not caused by pain others inflicted on him — not from resentment, or being hurt by others — but by his love for others. He suffered because they were bringing so much suffering on themselves. But he also was a man of boundless joy, and he said, “My joy I leave with you.”

Yes, he said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Source: Plain Truth, 1983

August 27, 2009

Why Does God Get The Blame, But Never The Credit?

claimdynamics.com

claimdynamics.com

We live in a funny world. When things go wrong, God is to blame, but when they go right, we will not give due credit. Take for example the innocent deaths of children dying the world over: It must the fault of God, because he created us and now has deserted mankind, right?

Or what about when a devastating tornado or hurricane hits a small town and wipes it off the map, or the 9-11 disaster: “Where is He when we need Him,” is the oft repeated cry, or “it’s an act of God,” putting God in the position of being accused. Airlines also invoke God when weather causes flight delays or accidents – it’s not the fault of the airline – blame God.

Then there’s insurance policy clauses, contracts or wildfire’s, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. Some people scream at the heavens, or bury their head in their hands and cry, “Why, God?”  Others seek to cast blame, even for those things which are not of human origin.  In legal and insurance realms the reference is made to Acts of God, which may or may not be insurable. Someone’s got to be blamed, even if no fault is found!

Conversely though, when we find ourselves in a life threatening bind, a big financial constraint or when we are emotionally distressed, we invoke God’s name for help. At this time, we may have no other recourse – no one is watching so what harm can a small prayer do, right. If He exists, then perhaps he will help us, because we’re essentially good aren’t we?

Process theology to the rescue

Now comes the school of religious thought called process theology. These modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these tragedies, or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them, has vexed religious counselors for centuries. And well it may. Because people simply do not understand that question!

If God is all good, if God is love, he wouldn’t want humanity to suffer, would he? And if God is all powerful, as the Bible says he is, why doesn’t he stop suffering? Why doesn’t he prevent it?

The credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they contend, has grown weary of religious spokesmen trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things – and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, God is all powerful and he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called process theology in an attempt to explain this apparent paradox.  God, they say, is entirely loving, but is lacking in power.

They say nothing of the real purpose of life. They say nothing about the restoration of the kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

The Origin and Purpose of Life

But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering?

In all the religions of this world – the many different religions we call non-Christian, and even the religion of Christianity – not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is he a trinity? Is God one person? They just don’t understand.  Not one religion on earth fully knows what and why man is. Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any?

Notice what God says about all this in Isaiah chapter 40, beginning with verse 17:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?… It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers [that is to God]; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

“… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might [there it speaks of God’s might, his power], for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (verses 17, 22, 25-26).

The earth turns on its axis. The different seasons regularly come. It is the power of God that is causing all of that. And that is mighty power.

And God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind, but in form and likeness of God. There is a very special purpose for man on earth and when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today.

Notice, now, Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God [Lord there is the name of the one that became Christ] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul.”

Man Must Choose

The man that God created now had to make a choice.

Character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right as from wrong, of truth as from error, of good as from evil. To choose the right, or the good, and to reject the evil – even though he might want to do the evil – to have the will to do the good, that is character.

God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And He is reproducing that character in man. How is that divine character going to get into something made out of the ground? God placed a human spirit in the first man. That human spirit could have a relationship with God, who is spirit.

But God placed before that man two choices, symbolized by two trees in the garden of Eden. The one tree was the tree of life. How does God give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. The person that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are his (I John 5:11-12).

If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are “none of his” (Rom. 8:9, last part). And, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make immortal] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

God made us mortal, but he made us to become immortal. And God required that the man had to make a choice, because character had to be built in the man! Character is built through choice.

The other tree, the other choice before man, symbolized the way of man’s taking to himself – deciding altogether by himself – the knowledge of good and evil. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians 2:9 we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” – in other words, spiritual knowledge.

God reveals these things to us only by his Spirit. The Spirit of God reveals God’s knowledge – spiritual knowledge and spiritual character. But man decided to take the basis of that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error, by himself.

So, in punishment, God at that time closed up the tree of life. In other words, he shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

God had set out a 7,000-year plan and purpose in which to develop the godlike character in man, made from the dust of the ground. God’s purpose is to make us immortal like God, until we become God as he is God. That has got to come through human experience, but it has to come from God, with our consent, our desire, our decision and our wills.

I John 3:1-2 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [here is the fact that God loves us], that we should be called the sons of God [ultimately to be born of God, though now begotten of God; for God is reproducing himself, and we’re called the sons of God]:… now [even right now] are we the sons of God [but only begotten, not yet born], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in other words, what we shall be one can’t see yet]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Man is clay to be molded

The purpose of God is character building. That is why he made man of matter. We could be molded spiritually, in a body of earthly clay, into divine character. We read in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Even Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait [meaning in the grave], till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:14-15).

Job knew he was the work of God’s hands. We all are the clay. God is the potter. A potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants. Now God will – if we put ourselves in his hands, if we surrender to him, and to his will – take us and mold and shape us into the godlike character of love.

God is love. God will put his divine love in us, a love with which we were not born. It is a gift of God through his Holy Spirit.

We sow what we reap

Notice Isaiah 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!… Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?… ”

What about the theologians reasoning that today’s divided Christianity is God’s religion, that this is God’s world, and God isn’t powerful enough to stop all of evil?

God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said whatever we sow we shall reap. God has told his people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that. He told ancient Israel that. And Jesus Christ told us that. If we sin we will have to reap the consequences. God allows it. He allows suffering and the pain of sin for a good purpose.

God has given man a mind to think with. He gives man revealed knowledge in the Bible. Man can take that knowledge and learn to go God’s way. That is necessary for the development of character so we can become like God.

In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name [Jesus said], saying, [that] I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.”

How can they do that? Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They make the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition (verse 3).

The commandments of God are the right way to live; they reveal God’s way of life. Human beings have not kept the commandments of God. They have said, and many preachers are saying today, that the commandments of God are done away.

The commandments of God are the way of love, of love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God, the last six how to love your neighbor. That is the way God lives and the way Christ lived while on earth.

But in Jeremiah 50:6 God says that the shepherds, the ministers of this world, lead his people astray and deceive them. That is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the deceived theologians can’t seem to understand why God allows all this suffering from disobedience till we learn our ways are wrong.

God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves, and because we have failed to develop the kind of character needed to become his children, to be glorified, to be given the gift of eternal life so as to live in happiness and peace and joy. There’s no other way for peace.

Man has brought all this on himself, in defiance of God! Man has been shaking his fist at God, telling God he won’t obey God and going his own way, the way that has seemed right to a man. It’s all a matter of cause and effect. It’s the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God.

But God will show man whether he has power. God will finally deliver man from the evils of today’s civilization by his divine powers and establish his kingdom of peace over all the earth.

August 6, 2009

The Law Of Ordinances Versus God's Spiritual Law

Does Ephesians 2:14-15 do away with God’s Spiritual Law? Definitely not! It is not the law of God that has separated us from God.  It is the violation of that law – sin – that separated us.  That is the meaning of Ephesians 2:14 – “and hath broken down the middle wall of partition”

Notice that the words “between us” have been added and are in italics.  Granted that there was a physical wall in the temple which separated the Jews who were “near” to God from the Gentiles who were “far off,” but merely reconciling Jew with Gentile would not reconcile us with God.  It is our relationship to God that counts!  The only wall referred to in Scripture is the wall that separates man from God.

Notice Ezekiel 43:8. Because of idolatry — sin, God says, “there was a wall between Me and them” (margin).  That wall of sin – the natural ENMITY in the human heart and in society is broken down. Christ paid for it by sacrificing His own life for ours – “having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY” — having paid for sin and making possible the receipt of the Holy Spirit to conquer the carnality of man, the carnal opposition of society with its ways.

Jesus said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Through the power of the Spirit in our lives, we, too, can overcome the world, its customs, its false teachings, its heathen dogmas masquerading in the name of Christ, the dictates of society! That is what Christ abolished — “Having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY, even the law of commandments in ordinances”.  Notice it!

The enmity against God is expressed by commands in the form of “ordinances” — “dogmasin,” in the Greek — the very commandments of men, human tradition, heathen customs, the dictates of society, which Paul condemned in Colossians.  That is what Christ abolished through His sacrifice.  The Gentile Ephesians did not know the law of God — they never practiced the law of Moses.  It was their frightful sins which separated them from God.

Now they were reconciled to God, forgiven of their past sin. They had the Spirit of God to overcome themselves and to overcome the world around them, with its human traditions, its human dogmas, its human commandments which were in opposition to God and to His law!  There is certainly not one word here about the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments being annulled.

June 24, 2009

Evolutionists Versus Creationists: Who Has The Truth?

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

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

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

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

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

The real beginning

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

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

Roles Reversed

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Must Choose!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When This Truth Will Prevail

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

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

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

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

Source: The Plain Truth, February 1983

June 21, 2009

The Cross: A Symbol Of Faith Or Rank Paganism?

chr4.tripod.com

The hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” portrays the cross as the identifying sign of everything for which Christianity stands and around which Christians should rally in their fight against the forces of evil.

Throughout the world, people universally regard the cross as THE symbol of Christianity. Churches have crosses atop their steeples, on their walls, windows and doors. Catholics and Protestants wear crosses on necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, keychains and items of clothing. People in some churches “cross” themselves by touching the forehead, breast, and then each shoulder to form a symbolic cross in carrying out certain religious rituals or in blessing themselves or others. Some think the sign of the cross to be effective in warding off evil spirits and for generally protecting believers from harm.

So is it okay to wear a cross as a symbol of our personal faith? Is it OK to assume that the early Christian Church revered the cross as part of its religious observance? Check any encyclopedia or historical reference work on this subject. It makes for an interesting study for those who are not afraid to face the truth.

The cross, in many shapes and forms, was used centuries before Christ by abject pagans! Notice a few of the many examples:

  • In the British Museum is a statue of the Assyrian king Samsi-Vul, son of Shalmaneser. Around his neck is an almost perfect Maltese cross. On an accompanying figure of Ashur-nasir-pal is a similar cross.
  • The ancient Greek goddess Diana is pictured with a crosses over her head, in much the same way that the “Virgin Mary” is represented by many medieval artists.
  • Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, is often pictured wearing a headdress adorned with crosses.
  • Different types of crosses were used in Mexico centuries before the Spaniards arrived.
  • The Egyptians used cross symbols in abundance, as did the Hindus.

The shape of the two-beamed cross had its origin in ancient Chaldea and was used to represent the god Tammuz. Tammuz is the deified Nimrod, the first man to lead the opposition against God after the great Flood. He founded the city of Babylon, and along with his mother/wife Semiramis, founded the pagan Babylon mystery religion—the origin of all false religion today. The Egyptians used crosses in abundance, as did the Hindus.

The surprising thing is that the Christian use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine, three centuries after Christ. Archaeologists have found no Christian uses of the symbol before that time. According to one writer, “By the middle of the third century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had transvestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, article “Cross“).

“In the papal system, as is well known, the sign of the cross and the image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step almost can be taken, without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness. The cross is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High; and for anyone to call it, in the hearing of a genuine Romanist, by the Scriptural term, “the accursed tree,” is a mortal offense. To say that such superstitious feeling for the sign of the cross, such worship as Rome pays to a wooden or a metal cross, ever grew out of the saying of Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”—that is, in the doctrine of Christ crucified—is a mere absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and pretense. The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source.”

“The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by paganism to the same magic purposes, was honored with the same honors. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians—the true original form of the letter T, the initial of the name of Tammuz—which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, as found on coins, was formed as in No. 1 of the accompanying woodcut (below), and in Etrurian and Coptic, as in No’s. 2 and 3. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol. To identify Tammuz with the sun, it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun, as in No. 4; sometimes it was inserted in the circle, as in No. 5.” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop, page 197).

www.americanpresbyterianchurch.org/Rites%20..

There is an enormous body of evidence proving that the cross is not a Christian symbol but has its roots in rank paganism. Some will argue, however, that we may use the sign of the cross because it represents the manner in which Jesus Christ died, or that they are not using it today to worship a pagan deity. However, using it as a Christian symbol is a product of syncretism, (the blending of pagan traditions and methods of worship with the true worship of God), something God strongly condemns.

Before entering the land of Canaan, God told the Israelites,

. . . take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.” You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:30-31)

Does the cross even represent the manner in which Jesus Christ died? I have argued against this in another article on this blog. The Bible does not specifically state which method the Romans used in the crucifixion of Christ, and as far as I can tell, no one has yet conclusively proven on what shape of instrument of torture Christ was crucified. Does it even matter? We have to consider if it is even appropriate to use the very tool that was used to kill our Savior as an emblem of our faith. If Jesus Christ had been killed by hanging, would we use a gallows or a noose as a symbol of our faith? If He had been beheaded, would we use a guillotine? It makes no sense to parade the instrument of shame and death before the world and be proud of it.

Satan the devil knew long before Jesus was born that Christ would die by crucifixion (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14; Psalm 22:16). He has deceived the entire world (Rev. 12:9) into worshipping a false Christ by making the cross a popular symbol of worship.

Most importantly, God forbids the use of any item that takes the place of faith. He instructs His true followers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), and forsake all of this world’s false religions, rituals and pagan symbols of worship. This includes the cross, which assists only to add to a dead, empty faith. As the apostle Paul exhorted, Christ’s true followers walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7).

April 8, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Born Of Water – And Of Spirit?

117Here is a verse which really confuses mainstream Christianity which believes in the false notion of going to heaven when one dies. In fact, there is not one verse in the Bible which backs up this assumption. John 3:5 states:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus here spoke of a literal birth — the entrance into the Family of God as a spirit being, and the process by which one attains that goal. It DOES NOT speak about going to heaven. Hence, both water and God’s Spirit are involved. 

What does the Bible say about being “born of water”? The apostle Peter explained that upon repentance one should be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Baptism pictures the washing away of past sins and the burial of the old self (Rom. 6). In addition, Ephesians 5:26-27 and John 15:3 show that Jesus Christ is sanctifying and cleansing His Church with the “washing of water by the word [the Bible].” Why? So He might present it to Himself as a Church without any spiritual blemishes.  The crowning glory of each person’s life will be his resurrection. Then the saints will be changed from mortal to immortal to become children of God.

I Corinthians 15:51-54 gives an amazingly clear description of this process. Jesus here attempts to describe this spiritual process to a carnal thinking Nicodemus. He explains that “what is born of the spirit is spirit.” This does not merely mean that we are renewed “like the Spirit,” or that we are renewed by the Spirit of God, while still in our physical forms. That would be trivializing what is really said here. Jesus Christ said that we are to literally be born into the family of God – to be Spirit beings in the Father’s family. This is made plain by the emphasis on the fact that none yet reside with God in heaven:

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even  the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

Further proof is in Acts 2:34:

“For David is not ascended into the heavens…” This despite David being long dead, and surely worthy of being in heaven as he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Could anything be plainer? We do not go to heaven or hell upon our death. Those doctrines are man made myths. But we do have the choice of eternal life in the family of God. If we understand, repent, are baptized (Acts 2:38) and then walk in the ways (commandments) of God, we will inherit eternal life as a Spirit member of the family of God. THIS is the concept Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus.

If we do not accept the conditions God imposes on us – in complete love – will not be written in the book of life and will end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). This IS NOT HELL. This concept is of God, who destroys the wicked quickly and with the least amount of suffering possible, to lose out on eternal life and joy with God. There is no such thing as suffering eternally with God, as He is a God of love, not hatred. It’s time we banish the foolishness of denominational doctrines meant to enslave man in pagan fears and superstitions. They only destroy the beautiful message of the gospel, which Jesus Christ died for.

March 27, 2009

Does God Hear The Prayer Of Sinners?

All people have sinned and cut themselves off from God (Rom 3:23; 5:12). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2, RAV). So to answer the question, no, God does not hear sinners (John 9:31, first part), and will have no fellowship with them (II Cor. 6:14; I John 1:6). He hears only those who are righteous (John 9:31, last part).

But there must be a way for sinners to come to God — or else we could never become righteous. How can sinners seek God? Isaiah answers:

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” But how do we call upon God? Well, we ourselves cannot do it. there is no such thing as a feeling to go the right way, or an altar call. It is God Himself who has to call us (John 6:44). This last scripture has to be one of the most ignored in the Bible, yet that makes it no less plain. Only God can call us into His work. If he has not done so, then all those who profess to be with God are deceived.

Barnes’ Commentary On The Bible says “the word ‘draw’  is used to denote such an influence from God as to secure the result, or as to incline the mind to believe.” That’s right, it is not the person who makes up their mind, but God who reaches out and “draws” that individual in.

Strong’s says the word “draw” means to literally or figuratively drag someone. But even so, there must be evidence (fruits – Matt. 7:20) such a person has indeed been called by God and is walking with God. The answer is:

“Let the wicked forsake his [own] way, and the unrighteous man his [own] thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7, RAV).

But what is true repentance? It is more than saying ” I’m Sorry.” The person must forsake the way he has been living and begin to obey God. He must desire a life long commitment of obedience to God while at the same time having a Godly sorrow for past sins. Once he has repented of going the wrong way then God begins to work with that person, giving him His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32), without which the deep things of God cannot even be understood (I Cor. 2:10).

After repenting and being baptized (by God’s ministry), a person is no longer a sinner in God’s sight because he has been forgiven. His prayers are now fully answered by God.

March 17, 2009

What Is The True Definition Of The Temple Of God?

Paul told Gentile converts that they were the members of the house of God. He reminded them that the spiritual structure was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20). This is reinforced in verse 22, where it says true Christians are a holy temple in God. Jesus Christ is not returning to a material temple, but to the spiritual, glorified temple of the living God.

In I Cor. 3:9, the term “God’s husbandry” – (γεώργιον  geōrgion); or “tillage” is entirely unique, as this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly denotes a “tilled” or “cultivated field” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible). This shows we are also God’s produce, being harvested by Him.

But unlike what mainstream Christianity teaches, God requires something of us. Verse 13  shows our works (yes these are required) will be made plain. The time of judgment is just ahead of us and God will prove if His people (collectively the temple of God – verse 16) have been building  properly.

Why this requirement? Because the temple of God is Holy – it is where God dwells.  He wants to make sure the temple remains pure and He will not allow defilement, or sin, in this Holy place. This is probably a strange concept to many, because the prevailing thought is that a church is a building. But God clearly defines the Church as His people. It is where He dwells – in each believer.

Deut. 23:14  says wherever God is in the midst of, that place is Holy. Moses had to take off his shoes as God dwelled in the bush.

This is where God gets a little more insistent with His demands. In II Cor. 6:14, He tells true Christians they cannot dwell together with unbelievers. Who are these unbelievers? Again, contrary to popular opinion, there is no wider audience of Christians; there is only one Church of God. The remainder of supposed Christianity is deceived, bickering over pagan doctrines, beliefs and traditions of men. True Christians are to avoid anything that causes them to be mixed together with unrighteousness. When mixed, it is always the unrighteousness – the impurities –  which spread. These have to be eliminated so that the place of God`s residence remains Holy and pure.

Many in the world try to have it both ways, which is why God cannot  work with them. Verse 16 says either God dwells in true Christians or they are in the world. Only God dwelling in them makes them Holy. It is the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, not the brain or mind. (I Cor. 6:19). Body = soma (# 4983 in Strong’s) = the physical structure.

Our bodies were created to be a temple, or sanctuary for the Holy Spirit. God knows the cleaner, healthier and purer our house is, the more we will be able to use the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth is definitely, though not the only, factor to spiritual well being. Poor health also inhibits the ability to serve God.

The Corinthians had many vices – they said there was no evil in using what God gives. But just because we have a bodily appetite does not mean we  should use it. There is all kinds of sinful behaviour, even with that which is good and given by God. Sin is not the thing, but the wrong use of the thing.  I Cor. 6:12 says do not let anything master you or control you. The privilege carries with it the obligation of responsibility. There is a right and lawful use for everything, but we have to be careful of excess. The body is not created to serve those desires and be overpowered by them. Otherwise our god is our belly (Phil. 3:18).

We are joined to God in one Spirit (I Cor. 6:17). And since there are sins that affect the outside and sins that affect the inside, we are not free to do what we want with our body (verse 18). We are bought with a price – the body of Jesus Christ (verse 20) and we must glorify God in body and mind.

The first great commandment is to love God with heart, body and mind (Matt. 22:36-38). Then we are to love ourselves and others, which means we keep body and mind clean and pure (verse 39). That is hard in this world polluted by customs and trends of excess initiated by Satan (Eph. 2:2). It is he which  causes us to fulfill the desires of body and mind. Human nature involves mind and body.

We have to counter Satan by using the power of the Holy Spirit to lead moderate, balanced lives with fresh air, eating, exercise, and so on (Phil. 4:5). God does not want unclean things in our body. He is present and He wants to live in us, so the body has to be kept clean. Unless we are spiritually and physically fit, we cannot give service to God.

March 3, 2009

The Cross Versus The Stake, Which One Is Correct?

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

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

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

Different views on form of wood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stauros defined

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

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

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

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

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

Pagan sources

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

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

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

Questions and Answers

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

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

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

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

——————

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

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

——————

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

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

——————

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

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

——————

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 28, 2009

Does I Peter 4:6 Say The Gospel Was Preached To The Dead?

itoncaskets.com/

itoncaskets.com/

The key to understanding I Pet. 4:6 is in knowing the identity of the “dead” spoken of by Peter. At the time Peter wrote this epistle (about A.D. 67 to 69), multiple thousands of Christians had already been living according to the way of life that was preached by the apostles. In the span of time after the apostles’ preaching began, some had lived a Christian life and had died. Many had suffered martyrdom at the hands of unscrupulous religionists or pagan civil leaders.

When did these dead have the Gospel preached to them? Obviously, they had the Gospel preached to them while they were yet alive. The Bible shows that “the dead know not any thing” and that “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Eccl. 9:5, 10). Clearly, the dead cannot receive any communication whatsoever. Preaching is for the living, not the dead.

There is one other sense in which the Gospel is preached to those who are “dead.” In this case, the term “dead” is used in reference to people who have not repented, and thus have not been forgiven by God. They are still “dead” in their trespasses — they have not yet received God’s Spirit, which is the down payment of eternal life. Jesus mentions such people in Luke 9:60. Paul explains further in Ephesians 2:1 by saying that such people are “dead in trespasses and sins.” Some who exist physically are dead spiritually because they have not yet heeded the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The Church of God has been commissioned to preach the Gospel as a witness to the world (Matt. 24:14). Yet, most people have not yet been called by God and do not heed that message. They remain both in ignorance and in sin. They continue to live and be judged by the standards men devise, rather than “according to God in the spirit.”Each of these individuals will ultimately be given an opportunity to receive salvation.

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.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.