January, 2020

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If you want the Holy Spirit….

Jesus tells us what to do if we want the Holy Spirit – ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

When Jesus wanted His disciples to have the Holy Spirit, He told them that He would ask the Father on their behalf – “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 14:16, 17).

The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit goes where He is sent and speaks only what He hears – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

In keeping with Jesus’s instruction and with His own example, if we want the Holy Spirit, we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit.  Further, we should ask in Jesus’s name, since no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).

Many people want the Holy Spirit but seem unable or unwilling to follow Jesus’s simple instruction.  They pray to the Holy Spirit or express their request to the Holy Spirit in song.  They ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill them or fill the room where they are rather than ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit and who’s will the Holy Spirit carries out.  We should not run the risk of God ignoring us or risk other spirits coming in with counterfeit manifestations to deceive people and confirm them in their misplaced adoration.  God bears with us in our ignorance, but commands us to repent.  He will not bear with us forever, if we know better and continue in error.

We should not be like Cain who tried to replace God’s explicit instructions with his own reasoning and expect that God should simply accept any and everything that we choose to offer to God.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Private interpretations of Scripture

The Bible warns against private interpretations of Scripture in the following words:

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Pet. 1:20).

This warning is of particular importance today as the word of God has become Satan’s prime target in no less a way than in the days of our first parents, Adam and Eve, when the Serpent asked, “Yea, hath God said…..?” (Gen. 3:1).

Many people might not recognize it, but the Protestant Reformation was not primarily over any specific doctrine as much as it was about the word of God itself, which affects all doctrines.  Forty-three years after his death, John Wycliffe, known as the Morning Star of the Reformation, had his bones dug up from where they were buried and were burnt and the ashes scattered into a nearby river, from whence it was borne out into the ocean.  For what reason?  Rome was so upset that Wycliffe had set in motion a tide that they had long sought to stifle – the word of God being made available to every man in his own language.  Even though the translation was from the edited manuscripts that originated in Alexandria, Egypt, the precursor to the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate, there was enough exposure to the truth, available from it, that would give the opposers of truth a serious problem.

Tyndale and the KJV

William Tyndale was burnt alive at the stake, for translating the Bible into English,  from the purer text that was handed down from generation to generation, through the church in the wilderness, from Antioch where “the disciples were called Christians first” (Acts 11:26).  Tyndale’s dying words were: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes”.  God answered Tyndale’s prayer shortly after, by putting it in the heart of the king to lift the ban on the scriptures being made available in the native language of the common people – the same ban that Tyndale had violated that cost him his life.  Tyndale’s version is the precursor to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible that we have today.

Tyndale had previously expressed his desire to have people understand the scriptures for themselves, in a discussion with a priest, who had expressed the view that the common people were incapable of understanding the scriptures and had to be dependent on the interpretations given to them by the priests.  In response, Tyndale made his famous statement: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

Tyndale’s vision was accomplished through the technology of the printing press, which made the Bible available to the world like an unstoppable tide.  Even today the KJV remains a best seller.

However, in more recent years a carefully laid plan to subvert the influence of the scriptures has been gaining ground.  The plan was to gradually replace the purer text that forms the basis for the KJV with the edited texts that Rome uses.  This plan was expressed in the Preface of a Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation published in 1816 as follows:

“It is almost three hundred years since James Archbishop of Genoa, is said to have translated the Bible into Italian. More than two hundred years ago, in the days of Charles V the French king, was it put forth faithfully in French, the sooner to shake out of the deceived people’s hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses.”  – Preface, Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, 1816.

The Waldenses were among the persecuted people of God who preserved God’s word, which we now have as the KJV.  While, many Protestants today, treat the KJV as just another version only less modern than the others, Rome is not of that view.  They know the difference and consider it important.

The plan would accomplish three things, among others, in one blow: 1. There would be conflicting translations of the text, that would lead people to question the veracity of all the texts; 2. People would be less inclined to memorize the text because of the many renderings of the same verse; 3. People would make there own private interpretations, being facilitated by the different translations, thus, leading people back to a reliance on the interpretations of priests and theologians, in their search for certainty.

Private interpretations

Private interpretations of scripture come in various guises.  Today, it has become fashionable to hear preachers say, “I like how this translation puts it….”  So, they can choose what they want to hear the scriptures say, just by using the translation of their choice.  There is no set way anymore.

Another popular strategy is to take the historical accounts of scripture as allegories – you choose what message you want the story to tell, rather than take the account primarily as fact.  So, for example, when the Apostle Paul was in a ship that seemed about to run aground during a storm, and Paul said: “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:31), the ship supposedly means the church; hence, regardless of what happens, the message is “stay in the church”.  That message may be fine, and it may be possible to use other means to establish that in some way, but the truth is that the story had nothing to do with the church but rather, it was an account of an experience that Paul had.  Of course, the ship ended up being wrecked and everyone had to abandon it, but usually, the analogy is not taken that far.  It is more accurate to say, based on numerous scriptures, that we should abide in the truth.  It is only the truth that will stand the test of time.  And it is the truth that will keep the church faithful to its mission.

Don’t be deceived

In the last days, it will be critical that we commit the scriptures to memory and remain with the purer text that was preserved by those who were willing to give their lives to preserve it.  Jesus warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4).  He went on to say: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).  Jesus overcame the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness by repeatedly appealing to the word of God, saying each time, “It is written…”  But if there is uncertainty as to what is written, or we do not have it etched in our memory, how will we be able to use the scriptures as a sword to cut through errors and temptation when we most need it?  Don’t forget, Satan was quoting scriptures too.  But he was misrepresenting God’s word, primarily by quoting only a snippet of it and leaving out the rest of what was said or changing the context in which it was said.

It is interesting that even in the greatest uncertainty, God always makes an easy way.  Amid the flood of various translations and uncertainty as to text renderings, the KJV is not easily mistaken for another version.  The very things that people claim make it archaic, the Thee, thou, thine and ye, are the very things that make it hard to miss it.  So, we need not be confused to mix up the translations that came from edited manuscripts with those that were faithfully preserved by God’s persecuted people.  As the famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon said: “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”.

At this time, as we approach the final test, when the shaking will take place and only those who cannot be shaken will be left standing, it is imperative that we hold on to the word of God so that we might be sealed, as we are told:

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161).

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

What is so Important About a Day?

It is sometimes queried of Sabbath-keepers: “Is the day you worship so important? Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters? Don’t you believe that it is those who have clean hands and a pure heart who will see God, whether they worship on Sunday or Saturday?” These are questions which many people ask, and which deserve answers. Accordingly, this presentation seeks to address these questions. It is hoped that sincere persons will look carefully into the answers that are now given and will find them beneficial in their quest for truth.

Keeping A Day Holy

The first thing, it is not an issue of the day you worship. Christians ought to worship God every day, whether by themselves or in company. It is a question of which day you keep holy. Man cannot make a day holy, only God can make a day holy; and a day cannot be kept holy if that day is not already made holy by God. God commands us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…. the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God tells us to keep one day holy and tells us which day He wants us to keep holy.

Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. It does not mean that the Sabbath is a day of fasting or that one should not respond to emergencies, especially where life is threatened, on that day.  Jesus kept the Sabbath and yet He asked the Pharisees, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5).  But one should neither plan nor carry out normal business on the Sabbath that could be arranged for another day.

In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).  The Sabbath is observed from sunset on the sixth day to sunset on the seventh day“from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:32).

For All time

Spending this special time with God was not just an Old Testament thing or a Jewish thing, it was intended for all time. This is clearly indicated by the command that Jesus gave to His followers concerning the destruction of Jerusalem that He was prophesying would take place. He told them that when they saw a certain sign, they were to flee into the mountains in order to escape the destruction (Matt. 24:15-18). However, he went on to say: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). The destruction took place in AD 70, almost 40 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and yet the followers of Christ were to pray that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath.

Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.

It is evident also, that Jesus’s warning was intended for all His followers and not only for the Jews, as there were Christians in Jerusalem and not only Jews.

While the LORD expects us to worship Him every day, He does not expect us to keep every day holy. He has given us six days for legitimate toil and labour and has requested one day only to be set apart for holy use (Ex. 20:9,10). It is not any day that we choose that God will accept. This is clearly seen in the experience of the children of Israel when God fed them with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).

God provided manna from heaven for them six days every week for forty years. On the sixth day a double portion was provided, some of which was to be kept over until the following day which was the Sabbath, since none was provided on the seventh day Sabbath. Hence, on the seventh day Sabbath, a specific day every week, a day that God Himself had determined independent of their thoughts or wishes, no manna fell from heaven. Some persons decided to do their own thing, ignoring the specific day that God had chosen and went out looking for manna on that day. God was very displeased with them and asked, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Ex. 16:27, 28).

A Clean and Holy Life

The question is asked; “Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters?” The answer is yes. But what is a clean and holy life? Is refusing to keep God’s commandments and His laws a manifestation of a holy life? The Word of God says no. Jesus tells us what righteousness is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang (hinge) all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Also, Jesus tells us how we may know whether we truly love God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).

Let us not, like some of the children of Israel in the wilderness, seek to do our own thing. If we set aside the specific day that God has set apart to be kept holy and, in its place, set up our own, God will be just as displeased with us as He was with them. We can be sure which day God has set apart to be kept holy because God has preserved the Jewish people with the tradition of Sabbath-keeping from the days in the wilderness, when God Himself showed them which day was the Sabbath, until the present day, so that nobody should be in doubt as to the matter of which day.

Reason for the Sabbath

Perhaps we might have a better appreciation for the Sabbath if we understand the reason for it and how it came about. Exodus 31:17 gives us an idea. It says: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” You may ask, how can God rest and be refreshed when He neither slumbers nor sleeps? To understand this, one has to go back in thought to the creation week. Man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was the very first day after man was brought into existence and Jesus tells us that “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). On this very first day of man’s life God ended His work and spent the day in fellowship with Adam and Eve, this lovely pair, just created, beautiful and pleasant to interact with. This was the refreshing experience that God had on that very first Sabbath.

God had a wonderful experience and He blessed the day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). To sanctify means to set apart and make holy. This shows that God wants to repeat this experience with His children every week. Notice that this day is special because of the special experience that God had on that first Sabbath day, on account of which He highly esteems that day. But the setting apart of the day becomes meaningful for us, only if we make ourselves available for that special interaction with God. It is a great disappointment to God and a great loss to ourselves when God makes Himself available for special interaction with us and we are too busy tending to all manner of other interests at that particular time.

It is perhaps similar to a case where a man (God) is greatly in love with a woman (us) and makes a special date with her to spend pleasant and quality time with her only to find, when he arrives, that she did not consider it important, did not get herself ready but instead made herself busy with other things and just tells him that she has no time for him now. Perhaps he would not be wrong to conclude that she doesn’t really love him. One might say that God is not like that, He is available all the time. Yes, He is available all the time, but He makes Himself available in a special way on the Sabbath, which is not the case on other days. An example of God turning his attention to His children in a special way at a particular time is seen in the experience of Adam and Eve.

Special Interaction

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the biblical account says: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8,9). From this it is seen that although God is every-where in Spirit and knows everything without having to ask, yet He came in a special way to meet with Adam and Eve. Why should we think that God does not come to meet with us in a special way also, even although He tells us to use the sixth day specifically for the purpose of preparation?

One might ask whether it is not clean hands and a pure heart that is required of us rather than giving attention to a special day. The real question is this: How are we going to develop clean hands and a pure heart without close fellowship and communion with God? And how do we expect to have close fellowship and communion with God if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity at the particular time that God sets apart for special fellowship and communion with Him? This is not to say that we cannot interact with God at other times, but He has sanctified the Sabbath, which means that this time is set apart for special interaction with Him, just like He had it with our first parents on that first Sabbath day.

This is the reason the Bible says: “Hallow (reverence; keep holy) my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). It says as well, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” (Ezekiel 20:12). To sanctify means to make holy. Hence, keeping the Sabbath holy has an integral function in the process by which holiness is accomplished in one’s life.

Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. As with your tithe, in which you give a tenth of your increase, to signal that you have acknowledged God as having first call on your material resources, so with the Sabbath, you signal that God has first call on your time.  May God richly bless you to this end.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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