Yell Real Loud!

July 25, 2010

When you can’t discuss your idea civilly, because it makes no sense whatsoever, just yell real loud! When your idea is convoluted, illogical and refutable a thousand different ways, make the people you are trying to sell it to feel like they are simply not smart enough to grasp the brilliance of your concept, and intimidate them into swallowing it. When you have little or no evidence to back up your idea, just keep changing your “evidence” to fit with your lie, make it really complex so no one can understand it (except you) and then tell people they should “take it by faith” because, after all, it’s been (blindly) accepted for hundreds of years this way. Then attack the credibility of those who would disagree with you and are able to simply and logically refute your idea from scripture, by using scare words like “mind control,” “heresy,” and (my personal favorite) – “cult.”

Still today, after more than thirty years in the Christian ministry, I still hear the same old, tired rhetoric from the Protestant groups who, with strained futility, try to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. It is interesting though, that on the occasions I have had opportunity to speak with highly educated Roman Catholics (who happen to be the group that invented and instituted and promulgated the doctrine of the Trinity around the world at the point of the sword, beginning in the fourth century), they have no argument with me or anyone else who takes a Biblical dissention of the doctrine of the Trinity because they know, as is stated and documented in their own Roman Catholic Encyclopedia, that it was never taught in the Church of the First Century, that it is not a Biblical doctrine but rather a Church doctrine, and that it was the product of “doctrinal evolution” over four centuries. Yet, Protestant groups swear by it as the cornerstone of Christian faith, and vehemently condemn those who refuse to “take it by faith” even though they have not a shred of clear, simple, logical, Biblical evidence. How soon they forget their own beginnings. How soon they forget how their predecessors were labeled as “cultists” and slaughtered by the thousands. (Actually, many of their predecessors were tortured and killed for not accepting Roman Catholic triune theology. Check your history.)

The truth of the matter is that the word “trinity” appears nowhere in the Bible. The word “incarnation” appears nowhere in the Bible. The word “deity” appears nowhere in the Bible. The term “hypostatic union” appears nowhere in the Bible. (As a matter of fact it only began to appear in theological writings in their attempts to justify their illogical, fictitious, and un-biblical trinitarian teaching). The phrase “God the Son” appears nowhere in the Bible, while the phrase “Son of God” appears 46 times in the New Testament referring to Jesus Christ. He is also called the “Son of the Highest” once, “Son of the Living God” twice, “Son of the most High God” once, and “Son of the Father” once. The only way the Trinity can be proved by scripture is by……………….well, actually, it can’t be, without twisting verses around, taking them out of their context, adulterating the simplicity of the scripture with complicated theology.

There is a clear and distinct and vast difference throughout the Bible between God and His Son. Jesus Christ was tempted in all points according to Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15, yet God can not be tempted with evil according to James 1:13. God is spirit according to John 4:24, and for this reason no man has seen God at any time according to John 1:18. Yet, obviously, Jesus Christ was seen and he himself stated that he was not a spirit according to Luke 24:39. The number of places the scripture clearly shows the distinction between God and His Son, and the supremacy of God over His Son are too many to even begin to list in this article.

In the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his imminent suffering, Jesus Christ went to God in prayer three times, intensely asking “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” If he was God, would he not have known whether or not it was possible? Oh, and if he was God, who was he praying to? Oh, and if he was God, why did he need to pray? When he was hanging on the tree and uttered the words “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”, according to Luke 23:46, who was he talking to? Himself? When he bowed his head and gave up the ghost, did God die? And if God died, who raised Him from the dead? The whole idea of Jesus Christ being God makes no sense whatsoever, so, just yell real loud!

Salvation itself is dependent upon a man or woman believing that “God raised him from the dead,” according to Romans 10:9. Either Jesus Christ was dead or he wasn’t! It is an impossibility to believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, if you truly believe that Jesus Christ is God. For if God died……….but, wait a minute, how can God die? Oh yeah, he wasn’t really dead………but, uh, wait a minute, man’s redeemer had to suffer and die to pay the price for man’s redemption. Do you see how ridiculous it gets? According to Romans 5:12-19, by the sin of one man “death entered into the world,” and that the gift of God’s grace was “by one man, Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:12 states, “but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Perhaps why so many Christians are so defeated in life is that there god is sitting on his own hands.) Nothing in the scripture makes any sense whatsoever if Jesus Christ was God, but if he was the Son of God (as the scripture says) then everything makes sense, and the Bible can be easily understood and trusted as a source for truth.

Speaking of Jesus Christ and his current position in relationship to his Father, God, Acts 2:33 declares that Jesus Christ is by “the right hand of God exalted.” In Acts 7:55 and 56 it declares that Jesus Christ was “standing on the right hand of God.” Romans 8:34 declares that Jesus Christ is right now “even at the right hand of God” making intercession for us. Ephesians 1:20 declares that God “raised him from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” Colossians 3:1 declares that Christ “sitteth on the right hand of God.” Hebrews 1:3 declares that Jesus Christ “when he had purged our sins, sat down of the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 8:1 declares that “we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” Hebrews 12:2 declares that we are to look unto Jesus “the author and finisher of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I Peter 3:22 declares that Jesus Christ is “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God.” (It’s no wonder so many Christians are so defeated in life, their gods, all three – father, son, and holy ghost – are sitting on their hands. This is the testimony of the Word of God, deal with it, or just yell real loud.

The religionists and adulterators and corrupters of the scripture make a mockery of the beauty and simplicity of the wonderful and great accuracy of the Bible. They make a mockery of Jesus Christ’s FREEWILL choice to believe who he was according to the scripture and his FREEWILL sacrifice to redeem humanity. They make a mockery of Jesus Christ’s wonderful relationship with his Father, God. They make Christianity laughingstock and make fools of themselves with their illogical and convoluted and complex theology.

The Word of God declares in Hebrews 9:24 that Jesus Christ entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” It doesn’t say that he appears in his own presence! The Word of God declares that he appears in the presence of God – for us! Why is that so difficult to grasp? I Corinthians 15:28 declares that “when all things shall be subdued unto Him (God), then shall the Son (Jesus Christ) also himself be subject unto Him (God) that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” I Timothy 2:5 declares that “there is one God (not one God in three persons), and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus!” Deal with it, or just yell real loud!

Advertisements

Punctuation & Truth

July 6, 2010

Though the knowledge of God comes to us via various translations of the Bible. Much that is human comes with those translations as well. From what I have been able to gather, the first person to designate verses in the New Testament was a 15th Century Italian Dominican biblical scholar named Santi Pagnini. Though his system was never really accepted or used. A man named Robert Estienne did it again in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament. The first New Testament in English to use verses was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham. The Geneva Bible published in 1560 was the first English Bible to use chapters and verses in both the Old and New Testaments, and these divisions have been used ever since. Up to the second century, even the term “Old Covenant” was used by the Greeks when referring to the Hebrew Bible. The term “testament” came about from a transliteration into English from the Latin Vulgate, which designated the Hebrew Bible as “Vetus Testamentum.” The designation of the New Testament came about as a way of distinguishing between the Hebrew Bible, and the later writings. Neither of these designations or names is divine in its origin. These were the work of the translators over the centuries.

Even the names and order of the books varies from manuscript to manuscript, with the exception of the seven Church Epistles of Paul. The names and order of the books of the Old Testament, as they appear in English Bibles today, originated in the Third Century with the translation of the old Hebrew Bible into Greek, known as the Septuagint. For instance the words “Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus” are Greek words, not Hebrew. In the Hebrew Bible the book of Genesis is actually titled ‘Bereshith,’ or ‘In the Beginning.’ In English Bibles, the first verse of Genesis appears as “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In the Hebrew Bible however, the words “in the beginning” are actually the title of the book, with the first word of the first statement of the scriptures being “God.” “God created the heavens and the earth.”

Chapters, verses, chapter headings, marginal notes, center references, paragraph markings are all of human origin. They are not of divine origin, and while they may be good for reference, they are absolutely devoid of any and all authority when it comes to divinely inspired truth. The Word of God must be read for accuracy and logic and thought content, rather than the insertions and additions of man.

Punctuation is another critical example, and perhaps one of the most important to recognize and understand, because punctuation can dramatically alter the text of scripture, thereby changing its intended meaning, and seriously skew the truth of God. Punctuation of the texts was added over the centuries by the many different translators, editors, and revisers of the Biblical manuscripts, and all of them are even in disagreement with one another as to the punctuation.

The truth of the matter is that a person can make the Bible say anything they want it to by just punctuating it in just the right way, in order to substantiate their theology. One such example is found in the book of Acts.

Acts 21:14
“And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.”

The way that verse is punctuated in the King James Bible, it is saying that the person it is speaking of could not be persuaded, so they ceased trying, and said, “the will of the Lord be done.” We will need to closely examine this record, the context of this verse, the circumstances surrounding it, to see if the will of the Lord was done.

Acts 19:21
“After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

There are different usages of the Greek word pneuma, translated ‘spirit’ in this verse, in the Bible. Sometimes it is used speaking of God, who is Spirit. Sometimes it is speaking of His gift of holy spirit. Other times it is speaking of the spirit of man, or the soul of a man, his ‘heart’ (the seat of his personal life). Thus it is here in this verse, for it says that Paul purposed, he decided, it was in his heart to go to Jerusalem for the upcoming feast. He was after all of the stock of Israel, and of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5). He loved Israel. He purposed to go. It does not say that the Lord spoke to him, or an angel spoke to him, or that there was any kind of revelation from God for him to go. Let’s keep reading.

Acts 20:22
“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there.”

To be bound is not to be free. It is just the opposite. Paul was bound in the spirit. He was spiritually not free to go. Something was amiss about his going to Jerusalem, but he was determined to go. He had purposed in himself that he was going to go.

Acts 21:4
“And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.”

Now we see clearly the revelation manifestations of “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” (I Corinthians 12:8) in operation. These believers said to Paul through the spirit that he should not go to Jerusalem. They did not purpose this within themselves as Paul had, but they said this to Paul through the spirit, by revelation.

Acts 21:9
“And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophecy.”

While it does not say specifically what these believing women prophesied about, it is in the context of Paul going to Jerusalem, against God’s will.

Acts 21:10-13
“And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.”

God now sends a prophet down to Caesarea, all the way from Judea, to warn Paul, by revelation yet again, not to go to Jerusalem. Look at everything God is doing to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:13
“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Can’t you just hear Paul? “You’re breaking my heart.” “Please stop telling me what to do.” “I know what I’m doing.” “I’m willing to die for this thing.” I’ll bet he even got mad at people. Was he sure of himself? Absolutely! Was he sincere? You bet! Was he right? Absolutely to the contrary, he was dead wrong!

Paul was bound in the spirit about going. Disciples, by revelation, warned him not to go. He likely heard in the prophesying of Philip’s daughters to not go. God even sent a prophet, a man who had a gift ministry, to warn him again by revelation not to go. The believers begged him, everybody tried to get through to him. God did everything he could, but Paul had made up his mind as to what he was going to do. His perception was skewed, and he was in error. He was as sincere as a person can possibly be though. He did go to Jerusalem, and was almost killed, and as a result spent the rest of his life imprisoned under house arrest. He thought he was absolutely right in what he was doing, the course on which he had set, and, although he continued to receive tremendous revelation from God after he was imprisoned, the outreach of the Word of God in his life and ministry thereafter suffered because of his error.

After all the clear evidence of the scripture, was the will of the Lord done (as verse fourteen is punctuated)? Absolutely not! The translators, either not seeing the truth of God in the record, or out of a sincere but false sense of duty to cover for Paul, punctuated the fourteenth verse in such a way as to alter the truth of the Word of God. Since punctuation is not part of the divine origins of the scripture, we can change the punctuation of verse fourteen to properly demonstrate the truth of God that is clearly seen in this wonderful record.

Acts 21:14
“And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased saying the will of the Lord be done.” (Commas removed)

They gave up. Paul was set on what he wanted to do, what he purposed in his spirit to do. Their voices fell on deaf ears. Paul had made up his mind. So, they quit trying to convince Paul to do the will of the Lord, and they “ceased saying the will of the Lord be done.”

For questions, information regarding fellowship, or to support the work of The Bible Study Group, contact fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

Consistency & Challenges

June 15, 2010

I love Starbucks. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if there wasn’t a Starbucks on practically every corner of the city that I live and work, and every area where I am prone to travel. I know that I can walk into any Starbucks in the United States and get my ‘grande 170 degree Mocha with 1 pump of Raspberry and extra whip cream served in a venti cup,’ and it will taste exactly like the one I get every morning at the Starbucks in my neighborhood. Starbucks has all but cornered the luxury coffee market because of quality and consistency. No matter where in the world you travel, if there is a Starbucks, you can have your favorite drink, the way you like it, just like at the Starbucks back home.

In the rural area where I live, outside of the city of Colorado Springs, there is a Buddhist temple. Many people are surprised when they find out that we have a Buddhist Temple way out here in “cow-town.” I have had the opportunity to speak with the monks who live there because they frequent the same grocery store that I do. They dress consistent with the monks in every Buddhist temple around the globe. Their daily practices of prayer and meditation is consistent with every other Buddhist temple, and the teaching heard by their congregants at their regular meetings is consistent with every other Buddhist temple anywhere in the world.

Growing up in the Jewish religion in New York City, it was expected that when our family moved to Florida that the teachings in the synagogues in Florida would be consistent with the synagogue I grew up in, in New York. We never gave it a second thought. The teachings of Judaism will be consistent regardless of where in the world you visit a synagogue.

Muslims throughout the world know that no matter where in the world they happen to be, if they visit a Mosque, the doctrinal teaching, the reading and interpretation of the Koran, and the prayer and practices will be consistent.

Roman Catholics, for the most part, experience this same thing. No matter where they live or travel, they know that when they find a Roman Catholic Church in the area they are visiting, the doctrinal teaching and worship practices will be consistent.

However, if you are an Evangelical Protestant Christian believer, you will be hard pressed to find a church, anywhere, where the teaching is consistent with the church that you are used to attending. You don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of the teaching in any two supposedly ‘Christian’ churches being consistent, one with another. One teaches baptism in water. Another teaches baptism in the spirit. One church will operate the manifestation of speaking in tongues (albeit, most times erroneously and out of order, but they operate it just the same). Another church will teach that speaking in tongues is devilish. Some churches are ‘pre-tribulation,’ others are ‘post-tribulation.’ There are Monotheistic churches and Trinitarian churches. There are Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. What in the world is goin’ on?

The truth of the matter is that the dilemma facing the Christian Church in our day and time is the same dilemma it has faced for centuries. The dilemma of division and inconsistency of teaching began shortly after its beginnings. The Church didn’t even make it forty years before legalism, pride, ego, greed, divisiveness, idolatry, and, most damagingly, illogical and deceitful handling of scripture took root and spread like a cancer, leaving it in ruin.

The Apostle Paul, constantly throughout his life and ministry, had to confront and deal with these issues. In his epistle to the Corinthians he deals with egos, divisions, carnality, and that’s just in the first three chapters. He had to confront idolatry, heresies, and illicit sexual practices. He had to confront and ‘straighten out,’ as it were, their wrong usage of the manifestations of the gift of holy spirit, which wrong practices continue even to this day, queering the greatness, and diminishing the significance of what God made available on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, chapter 2.

Throughout his life, Paul would declare the Word of God, the doctrinal revelation that God was giving him, and then have to turn right around and, by revelation, write epistles of reproof and correction. He was constantly harangued and harassed by the theological intelligencia, the religionists, and the legalists, whom he referred to as vicious “dogs” in his letter to the Philippians. Sadly, he watched as the Devil racked and ruined the Church, eventually describing its decimated condition in his last known writing, his second letter to his young prodigy, Timothy, shortly before his death.

The history of the Christian Church is a sad and sordid record, full of envy and jealousy, idolatry and intellectualism, deceitfulness and abuse of power, even conspiracy and murder.

What the Apostle Paul experienced was not unique to men and women who are called of God to serve and speak for Him. Moses dealt with it as he led the children of Israel. The judges dealt with it, as did all the prophets. Even Jesus Christ dealt with it as the very people to whom he was sent to minister arranged for his execution.

Imagine the heartache, the sadness, the disappointment, the loneliness, and the discouragement. The record of the scriptures includes how sometimes the greatest of men can fall, and fall prey to the strategies of the enemy – Moses frustration with the Israelites, that led him to strike the rock twice at Meribah, and kept him from leading the people into the Promised Land, as recorded in Numbers, chapter 20. Samson’s loneliness, that led him to violate his oath to God to his unbelieving wife, and eventually lose his life as recorded in Judges chapters 13 through 16. David’s lust for the wife of Uriah that led him to conspiracy and murder, and resulted in many troubles, including the death of his child, as recorded in II Samuel, chapters 11 and 12. The unnamed ‘man of God’ who was deceived by a prophet that at one time walked for God, that led him to disobey the revelation that God had given him, resulting in his death as recorded in I Kings, chapter 13. Job’s fear, that led him to lose all, as recorded in Job, chapter 3, verse 25. The Psalmist’s envy at the prosperity of the wicked, that led him to write, “I was as a beast before thee,” as recorded in the seventy-third Psalm. The apostles, during the early days of the Church, allowed themselves to be ruled by their five-senses, human logic, which led them to conclude that somehow they couldn’t (or shouldn’t) “serve tables” and still teach the Word. Yet, they ended up choosing seven men who figured out how to do both, as recorded in Acts, chapter 6. Peter, James, and other of the apostles couldn’t get out from the legalism of the Mosaic Law as recorded in Galatians, chapter 2, and Acts, chapter 15. Even Paul, out of fierce devotion and love for Israel, misconstrued and ignored God’s revelation, which led to his arrest and imprisonment, as recorded in Acts, chapters 20 and 21. The only one who never fell prey was Jesus Christ, and it is he to whom we look for strength in those times of temptation.

These are not criticisms of these great men, upon whose shoulders the weight of leadership grew heavy, and without whom we would not have the knowledge of God’s revelation, but rather the record of God’s Word, “ensamples,” loving reminders that all are human, all are fallible, none are above reproach or the counsel of the Lord. Those called to teach and minister His Word pay a hefty price many times for the burden of leadership, and the road is laden with stumbling blocks and pitfalls. None of us are in a position to criticize. Prayer is the order of the day.

The truth of the matter is that the modern day dilemma of division and lack of harmonious consistency of doctrine and teaching evident in the Christian Church today is Satan’s doing. Satan’s great enemy and fear is the accurate knowledge of God’s Word. For that is how he is defeated in the lives of believers, and how men and women can be redeemed from his ‘death grip’ of eternal destruction. So, he, and his cohorts, work overtime to ‘trip-up,’ defeat, and disgrace those who bear the responsibility of leadership, and who carry the burden of ministering and teaching the Word of God. He knows no bounds when it comes to making believers look foolish and defeating them in every category and segment of their lives. He will stop at nothing to make Christianity laughingstock, by infiltrating it with illogical and deceitful handling of scripture, intellectualism, legalism, theology, pride and ego.

It is the great privilege and responsibility of the ministries in the Body of Christ to thwart Satan’s efforts until the return. These ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are gifts from God to His people. At various times, in various places, one or more of these gifts may be needed above others, but all work according to the will of God, like the President’s Cabinet members work “at the pleasure of the President,” and all of these ministries are among us today, and will continue until the return.

Ephesians 4:8, 11-16
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

MINING FOR TRUTH

May 6, 2010

Colorado is rich in both aesthetic beauty and Western history. Approximately nine miles west of the town of Gunnison here in our beautiful state, there is a ghost town known as Irwin. Irwin today is a photographable relic, but at one time it was a bustling mining camp known as Ruby. It was called Ruby because of the particular type of silver ore that was mined in the area. It was of such a nature that when it was processed it had a blood red color. To this day that area of western Colorado is known as the Ruby Mining District. Hundreds of miners were staking claims and digging in the area around Ruby during the eighteen-eighties, but because of someone getting “stuck in the mud,” Ruby would be the site of one of the greatest discoveries in Colorado mining history.

In “Greybeard’s Colorado; or Notes on the Centennial State, describing a trip from Philadelphia to Denver and back, in the autumn and winter of 1881-1882,” on pages 81 and 82 he talks about the discovery of the Forest Queen and Rudy Camp mines. A freight wagon driver, W.A. Fisher, had driven an ox-team all the way from the Potomac area in Maryland to the Gunnison area in Colorado where he was to make a delivery stop in the Ruby mining camp. While there he ended up literally getting stuck in the mud. Fisher was helped out of his predicament by a passerby named O.P. Mace. For his kindness Fisher promised Mace that he would give him a “half-interest in the first mine that he found.” The promise quite possibly was made in jest, and Mace thought little of it at the time, but a few short days later he was rewarded $100,000 for his kindness to this stranger.

It seems that Fisher, while in town unloading went “prospecting.” Now, you have to remember that at the time Ruby was bustling with hundreds of prospectors combing the area for evidence of veins of silver and staking their claims. Fisher, who was not a miner, went out that day and stumbled upon one of the largest producing veins of ruby silver in Colorado history. He actually discovered two veins. One he named “The Forest Queen,” and the other he named “Ruby Camp.” Keeping to his word, he offered either to his new friend Mace. Mace took the “Ruby Camp” claim, and a few short days later, before Mace had even dug ten feet into the vein, he sold it for one hundred thousand dollars (in the 1880’s). A short while after that Fisher similarly sold his interest in the Forest Queen to a group of Colorado businessmen and lawyers. The Forest Queen mine has since produced millions upon millions of dollars of ruby silver ore, and continues in operation to this day.

Hundreds of miners had combed the same area, walked over and right past those same veins of silver, dug all around them, but no one ever discovered the rich treasures of the Forest Queen or Ruby Camp mines because they never recognized the veins and dug at the right places.

The truth of the matter is that the great treasures of the Word of God are much like that. All of the Word of God is the truth (John 17:17). Every verse from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is divinely inspired (II Timothy 3:16), and as such is axiomatically inerrant (without error), but just like those hundreds of miners who walked right past those veins of silver of the Forest Queen and Ruby Camp mines, never seeing them, so too have so many sincere and devout men and women, theologians and scholars, walked right over the great treasures of the truth of God’s Word, never seeing them, because they have never dug at the right places, or used the right tools.

As I wrote in a previous article, “Consistency and Challenges,” the teachings of the majority of the world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam) remains consistent, nearly identical wherever you may travel in the world. Such is not the case however with Protestantism and Evangelical Christianity. Not only is Protestant and Evangelical Christian teaching not identical from church to church, or ministry to ministry, it is sometimes not even recognizable from street corner to street corner.

Biblical languages in light of biblical culture and expressions unique to the biblical peoples of the East is not taught, learned nor recognized, but rather a painstaking effort is continually made to alter the translation of the Scriptures to make it more easily understandable to the Western reader and fit with Western theologies. Great pains are taken to reform truth, than to reform men’s minds to recognize biblical truth.

Few have recognized nor been able to mine the great veins of truth from God’s Word because they begin digging with the tools of intellectualism, denominationalism, and biblical criticism, viewing the Scriptures through the filters and prisms of specific theological systems and denominational boundaries.

The Scriptures are the Word of truth, and as such they must be “rightly divided” (II Timothy 2:15) to mine out their treasures, and bring them to the surface, and harvest the truth of the Word. Scripture must be honestly and logically handled, first and foremost being viewed from a recognition and appreciation of its divine authorship and inerrancy. The mining for truth must never begin wearing the blinders of denominational boundaries, dogmas, and creeds, which only serves to substantiate those same boundaries, dogmas, and creeds.

The scriptures are not to be ‘used’ to prove or substantiate men’s deeply held beliefs, but rather ‘worked’ to recognize and understand the truth of the Word of God, that it might be believed and then held deeply. Men’s minds can then be reformed and adjusted accordingly.

For questions, information regarding fellowship, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group contact us at fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

I had sort of an ‘epiphany’ this morning while my wife and I were out running errands. This is always a great time of fellowship for us. We’re able to discuss family matters, business matters, and things concerning the fellowship in our home, uninterrupted. We started talking about a few records in the Word of God when I realized that we didn’t have a Bible in the car with us. (I felt naked. I keep a Bible everywhere). So, I stopped at WalMart and ran inside to buy an inexpensive Bible (large print of course these days). I paid $9.97 for it (plus tax), and as I was walking out of the store it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I just paid $9.97 for a copy of God’s scriptures, in my own language!

We have a mind-set and a system of values in the Occident that places great worth on the tangibles of life, the things a person possesses (or thinks they possess). We see bumper stickers that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” That man or woman may die with the most toys, but they are still going to be dead, and one thing is absolutely certain, the toys aren’t going with them to the next life. The lust for ownership and control of things in our society goes all the way back to the dawn of civilization. The first city was built by Cain (who was the first man to be born of the seed of the Serpent) in his quest to martial and control the finite resources.

Hardly anybody ever thinks about the intangibles of life until they are threatened with, or notice their loss. What is the love of a friend worth? What is the love of a spouse or a child worth? What price tag can be placed on a good night’s sleep? What valuation can be assessed to a sound mind? What monetary estimation can be made of eternal life, or answered prayer, or the knowledge of scripture, or a vital relationship with God – a relationship where He walks with us and talks with us, and the reality of that is more than just musical or poetic lyric?

What a sick person wouldn’t give to have health. What a lonely person wouldn’t give to have companionship, or a trusted friend. What an insane person wouldn’t give if they could experience sanity. What a paranoid person wouldn’t give to have peace of mind. What a destitute person wouldn’t give to have food, clothing, and shelter. What a person who is dieing wouldn’t give that they might live longer. What a man or woman who is spiritually dead (and recognizes it) wouldn’t give to have spirit, and to be reconciled to God. Maybe, just maybe, the best things in life ARE free. Well, sort of.

The truth of the matter is that most of the “best things in life” were paid for, and obtained for you, at great cost to someone else, on your behalf.

II Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A sound mind and freedom from fear is available to any man or woman who accepts what has been done for them, on their behalf, by Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 3:24
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Psalm 91:5-7
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

We are surrounded on every hand by negative and disturbing information and issues. Listen to media advertising, or the national and local news. I’ll wager more than half of what you see and hear is negative and full of potential dread. What is a good night’s sleep worth? What is it worth to be able to go to sleep free from sickness, worry, anxiety, doubts, or the fear of death? Only the knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ (and his complete and finished work on your behalf) makes this available.

Sanity, soundness of mind, freedom from fear and paranoia, and mental peace was paid for by Jesus Christ in the mental suffering he endured during his more than 40 hours of torture, suffering, and abuse.

Isaiah 53:4, 5
Surely he hath borne our griefs (pains), and carried our sorrows (sicknesses): yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Amen!!!

The prophet Isaiah, looking forward to the finished work of Jesus Christ said, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” It was upon him! He paid for it! He accomplished it for us! We have peace! What value do you place on knowing that? What price tag do you put on that?

The knowledge of God’s Word that makes known the complete and finished work of Jesus Christ that makes physical healing and mental wholeness, and so much more, (including eternal life, reconciliation to God, justification, sanctification, righteousness, and redemption) available to us, is not something we in any way earned or deserved. It is an unmerited privilege.

Society and the world in which we live has a mentality of entitlement. I came to the realization many years ago, that the knowledge of God via an understanding of the Scriptures is not an inalienable right to us as His sons and daughters. It is a privilege that is extended to all of us by the time and energy and sacrifice of those who are called of God to teach and to serve His Word to us on a silver platter.

I was cognizant and thankful of the sacrifice of men like William Tyndale, who for the terrible crime of translating the Bible into English so the common man could read it in their own language, was tied to a stake and strangled to death by an executioner, then had his body burned. Also, men like John Wesley, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and so many others, who gave their life in service to God, many times at their peril. I became overwhelmingly thankful for my mentors through the years, who gave their lives in service and teaching and personal sacrifice to make the knowledge of God so readily available to me as a young man, without charge. And for more than thirty years I have dedicated my life to being a tribute to my teachers and have continued to make that same knowledge of God available to others.

Those who hear the call of God to serve His Word and minister to His people most clearly, be it to their personal harm or not, make no apology, and have the least difficulty in accepting or explaining the sacrifice required to heed the call of God in their lives.

As I walked out of WalMart with that Bible I was nearly brought to tears as I thought of the opportunity of not just being able to walk into a WalMart (of all places) and purchase a copy of the book itself (for ten dollars), but the privilege of having a knowledge of God’s Word, His truth and will, accurately, not without the commitment, dedication, and service of others. Yet, how little value is placed on this most valuable of all things. It is true that the best things in life are free, to us, but not without cost to others.

For responses, information regarding fellowships, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group, contact – fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

Search the Scriptures

March 31, 2010

There is a significant difference between facts and truth. Facts are time relative. Facts, like theories, may change. What is factual today may not be factual tomorrow. Truth however is eternal. Truth is unchanging. Truth is etched in stone, so to speak. What is truth today will be truth tomorrow. The theories of men, no matter how intellectual the man or the theory, are by definition, theoretical. Theories are subject to criticism, correction, and change. Truth is truth. It is unchanging, unalterable, and not subject to criticism or correction. Men may, out of their own ego or ulterior motives, attempt to revise or alter truth but their attempts are foolish and only shine light on their ego and fractured logic.

Two parts of hydrogen, mixed with one part of oxygen will give you water. Why? Because it is truth. It will give you water today. It will give you water tomorrow. It will still give you water a thousand years from now. There has been no attempt that I am aware of to revise or alter the multiplication table. Two times two equals four. It equals four today. It will equal four tomorrow, it will equal four in ten thousand years because it is truth. One plus one plus one equals three. It equals three today, it will equal three tomorrow, it will equal three in ten thousand years, that is of course except in the case of post-fourth century Christian (so-called) thinking.

The Christian (so-called) intelligencia, since the fall of the Church in the late first century, as recorded in II Timothy 4:4, those who ‘turned their ears from the truth and were turned unto fables’, have been attempting to revise the multiplication table, postulating that three times one do not really equal three, it actually equals one. They finally solidified their erroneous arithmetic in the mid-fourth century at the Council of Nicea, and promulgated and forced it upon the world at the point of the Roman sword. Can you imagine what would happen if these same individuals stood before the ‘academic’ world today and proclaimed that one plus one plus one did not really equal three, it actually equaled one. They would be laughed out of the room, but somehow or other when it comes to men’s religious beliefs, logic and science and truth can allowably be set aside, and replaced with metaphysicals and the gobbledy gook and verbiage of theological speculation.

The Christian (so-called) intelligencia for centuries have been developing (making-up) and promulgating all kinds of terms, and vocabulary, and theories to justify their continued acceptance of, adherence to, and promulgation of paganistic doctrine – terms such as “incarnation,” “deification,” and (my favorite) “hypostatic union,” which means that somehow Jesus was fully man and fully God….huh? They’re way too smart for me. They actually have been making-up words to justify and prove their error. It has always fascinated me how seemingly intelligent men can set aside all logic and science and clear biblical evidence to justify their religious beliefs and metaphysical postulations.

As hard as I’ve tried. As thoroughly and as intensely as I (and many others) have read through the Bible. As many of the biblical reference materials (concordances, lexicons, biblical dictionaries, NOT theological commentary), as I have scoured through, I have never been able to find the terms “incarnation,” “deification,” ‘trinity,” or “hypostatic union” in any of these reference sources, never mind that none of these terms are found in the scriptures themselves. Yet, the truth of the matter is that Jesus Christ himself said, as recorded in John 5:39, to “search the scriptures,” and that the scriptures are “they which testify of me.” It is the scriptures that testify of him. Yet the ‘brains’ of Christendom can’t show any of the terms that they use (and made-up) to justify their erroneous, illogical fallacies (they’re not even ‘logical’ fallacies) in the scriptures, only in their own writings and theories, or in those of fellow ‘intelligent ones.’

Jesus Christ said that the scriptures testify of him. After his resurrection from the dead (according to scripture he was fully man and FULLY DEAD) while walking with two men on the road to Emmaus he began with the books of “Moses and all the prophets,” and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.” Where then are the terms “incarnation,” “deification,” “trinity,” and “hypostatic union” in the books of Moses, and all the prophets? And why, given such ample opportunity, did not Jesus Christ himself set forth these ideas and expound them from the scripture. Better question yet, why did not God Himself include these ideas and theories and terms in the scriptures? I guess He needed help from the intelligencia to explain to us simpletons who His “Son” REALLY was. I suppose God’s declaration of who His Son was in His Word isn’t good enough. God needed help from theologians to explain what He really meant to say. How arrogant!

Jesus Christ said that the scriptures testify of him. PERIOD! That ought to be good enough, but evidently is not. It seems that the scriptures, and the truth of God they contain, have been so long illogically and/or deceitfully mishandled by those in the pulpit that the masses have no choice but to TRUST their spiritual leaders and advisors (because, after all, it is all just so difficult to understand). People haven’t been taught how to follow their lord and savior’s instruction to “search the scriptures” for themselves. The masses have given up on the quest for spiritual truth and are content to eat the regurgitated food of antiquated and erroneous theology.

Now, I’m not a scholar, but I’m pretty sure that the deification of a man, or any other created thing is idolatry according to scripture (Romans 1:18-25). To those who believe and promulgate the deification of the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5), and the new, revised, modern math that one plus one plus one equals one, please expound on the following, trying to use only scripture to try and prove that God and His Son are actually one and the same (this ought to be good) –

I Corinthians 15:28
“And when all things shall be subdued unto him (God), then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him (God) that put all things under him (Christ), that God may be all in all.”

How is the Son also himself going to be subject unto God if they are one and the same?

I Corinthians 11:3
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

How can God be “the head of Christ” if they are one and the same?

I Timothy 2:5
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

How can Christ be the mediator between the “one” God and men, if they are one and the same?

Luke 23:46
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Who was he talking to when he said “Father,” and to whom did he commend his spirit to if they are one and the same?

Hebrews 9:14
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

How can Jesus Christ offer himself without spot to God if they are supposedly one and the same?

John 20:17
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

Jesus Christ stated that Mary’s God was also his God. How can they possibly then be one and the same?

These are just a handful of the hundreds of scriptures (which Jesus Christ himself said testify of him) that clearly show the FULL distinction of identity between God and His wonderful Son. The theoretical religious postulations of the Christian (so-called) intelligencia make a mockery of the beautiful simplicity of God’s Word and the identity of His wonderful Son. You can call all the post-fourth century doctrines and theories of men “Christian” all you want, But as I learned from a mentor many years ago, you can a label a jar “applesauce” on the outside but it doesn’t change the “sauerkraut” on the inside!

There is a battle that continually rages in the mind of the believer. There are two opposing sides that are constantly at war – the human versus the divine, the natural versus the spiritual, human intellect versus divine understanding, senses knowledge versus revelation knowledge. This never ending battle is the crux of Christianity.

In the record of the book of Genesis, when God originally formed, made, and created man (as man exists today), He gave man a body that was formed out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). He then “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became (was made) a living soul.” This soul or “breath of life” is nothing more and nothing less than that which gives life to the physical body (which is composed of the elements found in the dust of the ground). It animates the physical body. All living creatures share this same soul. Soul has nothing to do with whether a person is a believer or a non-believer, just whether they are an alive being or not. Non-believers have a soul. As do animals. In these two categories (body and soul), “they (man and beast) have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19)

The “created” part of the original man was God’s image, which is spirit (Genesis 1:26; John 4:24). Spirit is what gave man a connection with God. Spirit enabled man to have fellowship with God, to commune with God on a spiritual plane. The original man had a body, which was made alive by the “breath of life,” or soul, and he had spirit created within him. When man willfully disobeyed God, he forfeited that spirit (along with many other conferred rights including his second in command dominion over all of God’s creation). It is recorded that in the very day of his act of willful disobedience, the spirit in him died, and when this occurred he no longer had a connection with God. Man and God could no longer have fellowship. They no longer could commune together. Every human individual born since that time is born without spirit, having only a body and breath life, or soul. Man is born without a connection with God. He is born being at enmity with God. He has no fellowship with God and can not understand the spiritual things of God, or know God, for God is spirit. He is called in Ephesians a child of wrath. In I Corinthians 2:14 he is called a “natural man,” who “receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Man is condemned before God, and is in need of redemption from the moment of birth. Not because of what he does or does not do, but rather because he is an offspring of the man, Adam (Acts 17:26), who willfully disobeyed God, committing the crime of high treason, thereby handing over his God given rights to God’s archenemy, Satan (Luke 4:6), thereby turning the earth into a cemetery (Romans 5:12 and 19), and leaving all mankind thereafter to inherit this fallen state. Every human individual is in need of a savior from the moment they are born. Jesus Christ was God’s master plan, conceived and developed in love, to redeem man. God, for no reason other than His love for humanity, provided the necessary sacrifice, Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, who fulfilled all the necessary legal requirements to justify and redeem and reconcile mankind back to God. Now, any man or woman, by simply accepting and claiming what has been done for them, on their behalf, by Jesus Christ can be restored to fellowship with God, made whole by receiving spirit. To be made whole is the meaning of the word “saved” in Romans 10:9 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Greek – sozo; made whole).”

The truth of the matter is that after this irrevocable wholeness and fellowship with God is restored, a battle rages. It is the battle for the heart and mind of the one who has been restored to fellowship with God. It is the battle between the information received by the physical senses and the information received by the spirit and revelation of God. The mind of the one who has been restored must continually, day by day, sometimes moment by moment, be “renewed” (changed, conformed) to the revelation of God, His Word, else calamity results in the life of the one who has been made whole.

The “natural man,” the person having only a body and soul, is governed by their physical senses (since this is all they have), and never recognizes or realizes “the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.” Even that man or woman who has been made whole, who is “saved,” who has the spirit of God born within, and who has been previously and irrevocably restored and redeemed back to God, may fall prey to this snare of the Adversary, the god of this world, and allow themselves to become “carnal” in their thinking, allowing themselves to be ruled by their physical senses and human intellect. When this occurs, the things of the spirit of God, God’s moving, His revelation, is not recognized, realized, or respected even to the end of being deemed as “foolishness.” Such was the case in Acts 21:10 and 11 when the prophet Agabus came down from Judea to Caesarea to warn Paul by revelation that he should abandon his plan to go to Jerusalem. Paul did not recognize nor respect the revelation of God by way of Agabus, who was a prophet of God.

The oldest, most experienced, longest standing member of the household is just as susceptible to this trap as the newest born member of the family. There is no inoculation! This is why God has seen fit to give the Church “instruction in righteousness,” the seven Church Epistles, which contain doctrine (how to believe rightly), reproof (to reprove us where we begin to practice error), and correction (to correct us in those areas where we have been practicing error for so long that we have made a doctrine out of it, and bring us back to right believing). Error always “creeps in” due to our misconceptions regarding the practical side of this spiritual walk. No one dare ever set themselves above reproach or the reproof and correction of the Word of God. For this purpose, God has also seen fit to place five ruling “ministries” in the Church, of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11), “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Proverbs 19:21
‘There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

Proverbs 27:17
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

For questions, information regarding fellowship, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group, contact – fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

The Quest

March 6, 2010

The search for truth and self-purpose is perhaps the greatest of all human quests. The yearning for truth, the yearning to understand the reason for being, has been the inspiration of great poetic lyric. It has been the subject of masterpieces of artistic expression. It has been the driving force behind epic adventures. “Who am I in the grand scheme of the universe? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being? Is there a God, an Almighty Creator? Is there an intelligence and purpose behind the schemes of the universe? Or, is all of this that we see, that which surrounds us, the product of mere chance and happenstance, the result of unintelligible and random acts of mutation.” The reason for man’s yearning is set forth in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

The Word of God declares that He “hath set the world in their heart.” The word “world” in that verse is the Hebrew word ‘olam,’ which means ‘forever,’ ‘eternity,’ ‘of old,’ ‘antiquity,’ ‘everlasting,’ and this is its usage throughout the Bible. God has set eternity in the heart of mankind. Every human individual knows deep within themselves that there has to be something more, some greater purpose and meaning to life than just that which they experience and see around them.

It is like a void, a vacuum, in the depth of the soul of a person that they live with throughout their lifetime, endeavoring to fill it with temporary pleasures and carnal remedies, until they come to the knowledge of God, and humble themselves before the understanding of man’s purpose as declared in the scriptures, again in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

The word “duty” is italicized in the King James Bible because it was added by the translators, and as such may be deleted without affecting the truth of God. The word “fear,” as it is used throughout the Bible in this context, means a healthy and deserved reverence, awe, and respect. It is not used in the sense of terror or dread. We are not terrified or in dread of our God. We stand in awe of Him, and have a healthy and well deserved reverence and respect for our Creator. This is the whole of a man or woman, to reverence God and keep His commandments (His Word). This is the conclusion of the whole matter. The only heart satisfying reason for being. Anything less is a mere empty and painful existence.

Proverbs 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The ships that sail in the quest for truth and self-purpose must first be laden with awe and reverence and respect for the true God, or they will return with empty holds, or holds filled with worthless and counterfeit trinkets.

Nehemiah 8:8
“So they read in the book in law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”

In this great epic adventure of the quest for truth, man’s first port of call must be the accuracy of God’s Word, the scriptures – rightly divided and handled logically, simply, and lovingly. The first cargo secured must be the knowledge of God, not the religious traditions of men, theological speculations, or the mutterings of the intelligencia and the critics. Not the ‘testimonies’ of the devout, or the academic world’s opinion or analysis of the scriptures, but the scriptures themselves, understood in light of every word of God. This is how a man or woman truly lives.

Matthew 4:4
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Yet, throughout history, the great cargo of the treasures of God’s Word have continuously been thrown overboard as just so much worthless ballast, despised and rejected, even by God’s own people at times.

Jeremiah 2:13
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold not water.”

Hosea 4:6a
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.”

The truth of God’s Word has been cut up by the pen knife of a king of antiquity, as recorded in Jeremiah 36, even as it is cut up by the pens of modern theologians, to the end of being so muddied and confused that hardly anybody can understand it, or believes it, or can even read it today without the commentaries, study aids, or opinions of men.

II Corinthians 2:17a
“For we are not as many, which corrupt (adulterate, water down) the word of God.”

II Corinthians 4:2a
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully.”

The accurate knowledge of God’s Word, His Holy Scriptures, which the world, and religion, and sense-knowledge, pseudo-intelligent man treats with such disdain, is the first, and most valuable treasure we must fill our cargo holds with in our quest for truth and self-purpose.

Psalm 19:10
“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Proverbs 4:20-22
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

In man’s quest for truth and self-purpose, when his ships of discovery are laden first and foremost with a healthy and well deserved respect and reverence for the Creator God, and his first port of call is the accurate knowledge of God’s rightly divided Word, then his cargo holds will be filled with the genuine treasures of the knowledge of God, and he will understand his purpose and reason for being, and be satisfied and blessed all his days.

There is no mention of the sect of the Pharisees in the Bible before Matthew’s gospel. History records that the Pharisees emerged after the Babylonian captivity of 597 B.C. as a rallying point for the Israelites, to insure that they would never again find themselves in a similar situation. The Pharisees became the “watch dogs” of Judaism, the Jesuits of Jewish society. The children of Israel had lost much in the Babylonian captivity, and the Pharisees made it their job, and went to great lengths, to see to it that nothing like that ever happened again. At first their intent may have been honorable but it evolved into something quite cruel and sinister.

The Pharisees saw to it that the people stayed true to the law of Moses. To help with that, they developed a system of behavioral codes and traditions that were strictly enforced. The ultimate end, sadly, was that their traditions began to take precedence over the law of Moses itself. They even got to the place that they believed and promulgated that the law of Moses could not be understood without knowledge of their traditions.

The truth of the matter is that this same pattern can be seen throughout history. In the centuries that followed the early church and the ministry of Paul, the church of Rome had evolved to where not only could the common person not understand the Scriptures for themselves, but they had gotten to the place where the common person was even barred from having the Scriptures (in their possession or in their own language), from teaching the Scriptures, and from direct fellowship with God. The understanding and teaching of the Scriptures was reserved for a priesthood, and all had to go through a priest to receive God’s forgiveness and His blessings, as well as a knowledge of God (according to Roman church doctrine of course). Man’s point of contact with God, His written Word, was replaced by a “representative,” the top representative being called the “vicar of Christ.” The Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, arose as the enforcers of Roman church tradition and teaching. Human frailty, intellect, and the natural desire to identify with a group often causes men and women to live in fear, and wrongly base their approval before God, or their fellowship with God, on the approval of, or their fellowship with, a particular group, just as was the case in Jewish society in Jesus’ day. People lived in fear of the Pharisees, more than the fear of God. Enforcers always emerge.

A man that had been born blind was ministered to and healed by Jesus Christ. After interrogation by the family’s skeptical neighbors, he was brought before the Pharisees, the religious leaders. The Pharisees concluded that whoever had healed the man could not possibly have been of God because they had done it on the wrong day of the week, the Sabbath day.

John 9:13-16
“They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day. Others said, how can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.”

The Pharisees had gotten to the place, like it declares in Ezekiel 12, that even though they had “eyes to see,” they could not see, and even though they had “ears to hear,” they could not hear (God’s Word). They couldn’t get past their traditions and did not recognize the move of the spirit of God in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who was bringing deliverance to men and women all around them. These were sincere, devout, intelligent men, who were very knowledgeable of the law of Moses, but they couldn’t get past their own intellect to see the truth of God. The situation degraded so far that people became more afraid of the judgment of the Pharisees then they were of the judgment of God.

John 9:17-23
“They say unto the blind man again, what sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.”

This man had been born blind and Jesus Christ had healed him. You would think that his parents, of all people, would have had the courage to stand up for their son and the man who healed him, but fear of being ostracized kept them from doing so. Fear always keeps people from standing up. The truth of the matter is that nothing much has changed.

The Pharisees elevated their writings and traditions above the revelation of God’s Word, thereby making the Word of God of none effect.

Matthew 15:1-9
“Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

To elevate anything above the Word of God makes the Word of none effect in the lives of those who do. No matter how sincere, or intelligent, or devout. The Pharisees were sincere. They were devout. They were the intellectuals of their day. They worshipped God, but Jesus Christ aligned their worship to that which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying that it was “vain” worship. It was empty, void, and to no purpose, regardless of how clean, or sincere, or religious it looked. They ended up enslaving people rather than helping them. One of my mentors would say, “You can write apple sauce on the outside of the jar, but it doesn’t change the pickles on the inside.” Sincerity is never a guarantee for truth or authenticity.

The Pharisees also vilified Jesus Christ for his movement of God’s Word and his ministering to and healing of those in need, because he did it without their blessing, their traditions, and among the wrong group of people – publicans and sinners. They were especially indignant that Jesus Christ ate with these people.

Matthew 9:10-13
“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

To those of us living in the culture of the Americas these verses may not mean very much, but to cultures elsewhere around the globe, especially the Near and Middle East, they are very significant because the food they ate would have been salted. In the Bible, eating salt with someone represented an irrevocable and binding covenant between the two parties, representing their love, support, and protection for one another. To this day, in many cultures and nations around the globe, when dignitaries or government leaders meet, they oftentimes partake in what is known as the Ceremony of Bread and Salt. This ceremony is practiced in Slavic nations, as well as Russia, and many European and Asiatic cultures.

I know of Christians who say that they do not fellowship or “hang-out” with people outside of their church. Jesus Christ however set the example for how to move the knowledge of God’s Word, and minister to the dieing, bringing them deliverance and healing. He moved among and wholly dedicated himself to “publicans and sinners,” even to the end of eating salt with them, and I love him for that. How are we to bring the knowledge of God’s Word to people if we are not out among them, if we sit in our homes, or offices, or churches, only fellowshipping with “the righteous,” waiting for people to come to the altar of our knowledge? Jesus Christ said that he came not “to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” and he admonished the Pharisees, saying, “go ye and learn what that meaneth.”

Perhaps the words of N.T. Wright regarding the “if ye have love one to another” of John 13:35 are appropriate: “We are bound to cringe with shame at the way in which professing Christians have treated each other down the years. We have turned the gospel into a weapon of our own various cultures. We have hit each other over the head with it, burnt each other at the stake with it. We have defined the ‘one another’ so tightly that it means only love the people who reinforce your own sense of who you are.”

CATACLYSMIC EVENTS

March 4, 2010

The tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004, recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, destroyed so much and killed so many. I am deeply saddened and pray for those who have lost loved ones, and businesses, and property. I am also appalled, though not shocked, by the insufferable ignorance of so many claiming to be Christian, and their unbiblical, unloving, unfounded, and unimaginable comments regarding these occurrences. It seems that every time there is a cataclysmic event of such massive proportions, on radio talk shows (both Christian and secular) and in the press I constantly hear and read a multitude of commentary that these events are some how God’s wrath on all these “sinful” nations. Do they actually believe that there was not one Christian in these places, not one innocent person?

It seems that whenever these types of things happen, it is a “sign of the end of the world.” As I watched the reporting on the events in Haiti, I actually heard Sean Penn say on one of the major networks, “God has been bullying these people for decades.” At first I thought, “what an idiot!” But, hey, let’s be honest, if what the “Bible thumpers” are saying is right, then Sean Penn’s conclusion is logical.

It is amazing how “Bible thumpers” love to thump the Bible on the outside but never get around to reading it on the inside. One of the most basic tenets of Christianity and one of the most fundamental verses in the Bible is John, chapter 3, verse 16, which states, “For God so loved the world…” In the First Epistle of John (not the Gospel of John), chapter 1, verse 5 it states that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Again in the First Epistle of John, chapter 4, verses 8 and 16 state, “God is love.” I could go on a great while showing from the scripture the enormity of the love of God for humanity, but suffice it to say that God was not responsible for these destructive events.

The Truth of the Matter is that the Bible declares that there are two gods. One is the true God, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The one who is light and in whom is no darkness. The one who is love and who loves humanity. The other god is “the god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), Satan, who blinds and deceives and convinces men and women that the true God is responsible for the things for which he himself is to blame. One of Satan’s greatest weapons has been to hide the Biblical truth of his acquired authority and power in the earth (Luke 4:5,6), and his having the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). Satan’s power and authority in the world is evident, though not permanent. There is a day coming….

The Truth of the Matter is these events happened because of things that occurred thousands of years ago, as recorded in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, verse 2, when God’s perfect creation “became without form and void” due to catastrophic events in the spiritual realm. God did not create the heavens and earth this way, it became this way. The prophet Isaiah clearly states that God did not create it this way (Isaiah 45:18). The prophet Jeremiah speaks of these cataclysmic events (Jeremiah 4:23,24), as does the Apostle Peter in his epistle (II Peter 3:5,6). In the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 22 it states “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” What occurred in Indonesia, and Haiti, and Chile were tragedies caused by the shifting and movement of plates deep beneath the earth’s surface, the groaning and travailing in pain of the creation, not God’s wrath!

As for these events being a sign of the end of the world, may I again suggest reading the Bible instead of thumping on the cover (II Thessalonians 2:1-4; Acts 1:7).