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Startling Change in Doctrine (Audio)

 

Back in 1996, it came as a shock to one Seventh-day Adventist to discover, based on official declarations in the Church’s Ministry Magazine (Journal for ministers) and the Adventist Review (Periodical for the general church membership), that there was a major change in doctrine from the position that was held by early Adventist pioneers.

So significant was the change that the author of the Ministry article opined that “Most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination’s Fundamental Beliefs.” Ministry, October 1993, p. 10

In recounting his experience, the shocked church member expressed his concern in an audio message that same year.  Although recorded almost a quarter century ago, the issues remain relevant.  Were the Adventist pioneers wrong?  What did the well-known Adventist messenger Ellen G. White think of the fundamental principles that were held by the church at that time?

These questions and more are addressed in this candid presentation made over two decades ago by a sincere Adventist when the matter came to his attention.

When God Withholds Forgiveness (Audio)

 

One of the most foundational bases for Christian faith is the fact that God forgives.  If there was no forgiveness, all hope would be lost because we are all sinners – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

We have been given the assurance that God will forgive the vilest sinner and will cast his sins to the bottom of the sea and will remember them no more – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19).

But strangely enough, the Bible also speaks of instances where persons will be turned away by God.  This presentation examines a few such cases and should help us to determine what might be the reasons and put us in a better position to avoid being turned away.

The real Jesus and how He conquered

To ask the question, “Who is Jesus and what has He done?” might evoke an answer such as, “Jesus is Lord and He saved us from our sins”.  But what do these things really mean?  When asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).  To this response, Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.(Matt. 16:17).  Jesus spoke of the great achievement that He would make, and indicated how his Father would respond, in the following words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17)It is not that the Father did not love His Son before His Son laid down His life, but the Father loves Him even more, on account of this great achievement.  The result was that the Father not only “raised Him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1) but has “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9) – so, Jesus is indeed Lord.  We will elaborate a little more on the great achievement of Christ and His present position.

Everyone likes to identify with winners.  So, it is easy to identify with Christ when we are told that Jesus is Lord.  But have we stopped and thought of the real conquering achievement of Christ?  Apart from the fact that He is the Son of God and before He came to earth He had, “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”, the angels, (Heb. 1:4), have we thought of the main reason why He is now exalted in heaven? Let us hear the inhabitants of heaven speak.

How Jesus conquered

John was weeping when he saw that no man “in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth” was worthy to take a book from the hand of “him that sat on the throne(Rev. 5:1-4) and open it. But then, John was told: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book” (Rev. 5:5).  When John looked, this conquering “Lion” was really “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).  The Lamb came to “him that sat on the throne” and took the book. Immediately, the inhabitants of heaven burst out in rejoicing, saying:

Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:9-13).

The conquering Lion had prevailed and was therefore, worthy.  But what was the great achievement that qualified Him?  The answer was that He died – He yielded His life to the powers of earth and the powers of darkness, allowing himself to be killed, when He could have delivered himself (Matt. 26:53).  By doing so, Jesus provided the one irrefutable argument that discredits Satan’s rule on this earth, since there was absolutely no justifiable reason for the Son of God to have been killed.  It all happened under Satan’s watch, as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Satan must answer to God the Father, who “sits on the throne” as the Creator and King of the universe.

Role in creation

It should be noted that “one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2) who is the Creator – in reality, and not by mere designation or as an assumed role.  This is evident as the angels in heaven worshiped Him saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11).  The Creator is described as the One “who liveth for ever and ever” (Rev. 4:9), distinct from Christ, the Lamb, who came and took the book out of His hand, and is described, in another context, as the one who was dead, and is alive” (Rev. 2:8). 

It is important to know who the Creator is, as the final message to the world includes a call to Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.(Rev. 14:7)This is a reference to God the Father, the “Ancient of Days”, who presides over the Judgement (Dan. 7:9, 10).  When God spoke to Job, God demanded of him, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding…..When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) From this, it is evident that the sons of God and the morning stars were present at the creation.

Christ was also present but unlike the other beings who were present, Christ was actively involved in carrying out His Father’s will in the work of creation – God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1, 2); “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:2, 3)Christ was therefore the agent by whom the Creator carried out His work of creation.

Many persons have cited the Hebrew word “Elohim”, translated “God”, in the Genesis creation account to suggest that God is not one person, but more than one person.  In support of that view, reference is further made to God’s statement, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness(Gen. 1:26). But the Bible clearly states that God, who “made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2), did so by His Son who is “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).  Therefore, God – the One who has a Son in His “express image”, said to His Son, “Let us make man in our image”.  How does the idea that God is not an individual Being enter the picture?  It is clearly one person speaking to another person – God speaking to His Son.

Thus, it should be clear that when the Bible says that there is one God (Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord – Deut. 6:4), it is a statement indicating that there is one Supreme Being – one individual being – not a number of beings in unison that make up God.  The Jews who coined the word “Elohim” and used it to refer to God, did not hold a concept of God as more than one person or as a composite of several persons.  So, how do those who have embraced the word come to interpret it to mean more than one person? Is ancient idolatry and polytheism alive and well in Christianity, under different branding? Care should be taken to avoid changing the meaning of words and using them to distort the intended meaning.

Behind the scenes

Remember, when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6, 7).  Satan presented himself before the Lord as the one who represented this territory called earth, when the sons of God presented themselves before God, as though he (Satan) was in charge on earth, of course, subject to God’s authority.  In the wilderness of temptation also, Satan took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain and “sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – (Matt. 4:8, 9)Satan had usurped the dominion that God had originally given to Adam and was exercising that dominion contrary to God’s will.

By Jesus allowing himself to be killed by Satan and his evil host, Satan has been discredited.  Hence, in the judgement, the dominion over this earth will be taken away from Satan (Dan. 7:26).  Christ appears before the Father – the “Ancient of Days” – and, as the Son of Man, Christ receives the kingdom or entitlement to rule on this earth (Dan. 7:13, 14).  Although Satan had usurped the authority that God originally gave to Adam, Christ came as the second Adam, the new head of the human race, to claim back the dominion and be our King (Heb. 2:6-9).  So, we will be kings and priests, and Jesus will be our King – King of kings and Lord of lords – subject to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Conclusion

In conclusion, let us know the real Jesus and how He conquered.  He came from heaven where He was the Son of the Sovereign God who is King of the universe.  He came to earth as a human being, where He conquered through a life of humility and ultimate death as a Lamb to the slaughter.  He was raised from the dead by His Father (Gal. 1:1) and has now been “highly exalted” at the right hand of His Father where He intercedes for us.  He will soon be given the kingdoms of this world and He will return to claim it.

At the second coming of Christ, the dead in Christ will be raised and with the living saints, who will be changed from mortal to immortality, be taken to heaven to spend a thousand years.  After the thousand years, we will come back to earth with Him.  Satan and all evil will then be destroyed, and the earth will be restored to perfection (1 Cor. 15:22, 23; Rev. 20:1-21:5; Rev. 15:2, 3; Rev. 4:2-6).  We will live with God and Christ forever, in the newly restored earth – “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22).

Christ himself will also be subject to His Father – “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

May the Lord help us to know the real Jesus and how He has conquered; and further, grant that we might overcome with Him and share in the glories of the earth made new – “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21).

“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

Jesus Christ, now Mediator, soon to be King

The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the Son of God – a true offspring, like a prince, dearly beloved by God, His Father.  God sent Him into the world, that through Him, we might be saved – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Although God’s only begotten Son died, in fulfilling His mission, it was “God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

Jesus’s mission to save humanity has three distinct phases: 1. Prophet; 2. Priest; 3. King.  When He came to earth as Prophet, He came to a sinful territory dominated by the enemy and was therefore like a “lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7).  He was not a Priest at that time.  Now, He is Priest (High Priest).  He is not yet King but soon to be.  He will be given a kingdom – this earth, where He will reign as King.  These points will now be established from the scriptures.

Prophet

When God spoke from Mount Sinai, in the days of ancient Israel, the people were afraid and begged Moses to ask God to speak to them through a mediator.  God agreed, but Moses could not be that mediator, notwithstanding the fact that God spoke through Moses to them.  Moses was an imperfect mouthpiece.  God said, He would raise up a Prophet like unto Moses, and would put His words into His mouth – “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18). 

That Prophet was His only begotten Son, the only one who is just like Him – “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).  When His Son came into the world, God spoke from heaven again, this time to Jesus’s disciples, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, telling them to listen to Jesus – “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt. 17:5).

While Jesus was on earth, as Prophet, He was not a priest – “For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” (Heb. 7:13, 14); “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law” (Heb. 8:4).

Priest

After completing the phase of His work as Prophet, Jesus took up the next phase of His mission as High Priest.  In order to do this, He died, and His Father raised Him from the dead – “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:23, 24).

He then ascended to heaven to the right hand of God, His Father, where He serves as our Advocate who intercedes for us before God and the angels of heaven – “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32, 33); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).

This work of representing our case before God so that we may obtain forgiveness for our sins and to obtain from God the spiritual gifts to enable us to live above sin and be empowered to minister to others is entailed in Jesus’s role as High Priest.  This is what Jesus ascended to heaven to do – “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 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? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Heb. 9:11-15).

We can come boldly before the throne of God because we have an Advocate in the courts of heaven, provided for us by God Himself because of His great love for us – “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16).

King

In the latter days of earth’s history, Jesus, still in His capacity as High Priest, will appear before the Father to receive a kingdom – “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan. 7:9, 10); “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13, 14).

Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and have accepted the testimony of His life concerning His Father, that God is love, and will be fully reconciled to God, will be the citizens of Christ’s kingdom – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21, 22); “the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:26, 27).

When the list of subjects of Christ’s kingdom (in the Book of Life) is made up and the names that do not belong are blotted out and He receives the authority to take the kingdom, Jesus Christ will return to claim it – “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15); “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.” (Rev. 19:11-16).

Time to repent

It is now time to repent of and put away our sins, while Christ still intercedes on our behalf.  The time will come when He will lay aside His priestly garments and put on His kingly robes.  At that time, it will be declared: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:11, 12).  At that time, human probation would have closed and the time to repent would have passed.

The Bible predicted that Christ’s ministration would be taken away (from the minds of people) and an abomination would be set up in its place – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11); “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Dan. 11:31).  This activity was future to Jesus’s day, since Jesus said: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matt. 24:15).  An earthly priesthood would be set up to divert people’s attention from the priesthood of Christ and other mediators would be set up in place of Christ, so that people would look to men rather than look directly to Christ as the only true Mediator – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

As a part of this taking away of the daily ministration of Christ, Jesus Christ is represented as being other than our High Priest at this time.  The focus is either on the role that He has already fulfilled or on the role that He is yet to fulfil in the future.

Regarding the role that He has already fulfilled, people are made to believe that the death of Christ is all there is to salvation; that no other work is necessary, thereby removing the need for Him to be seen in His present capacity as High Priest.  But we are told that, if Christ is not risen, not only is our faith vain, but our sins would remain – “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 Cor. 15:17, 18).  If all our sins have been cancelled only by the death of Christ, then we would be saved regardless of whether He rose from the dead.  But that is not the case.  He had to be raised from the dead to function as High Priest; and it is only by the ministration of a Priest that our sins are removed from us.  This was typified in the ancient sanctuary ministration. In every case, where a sacrifice was offered for sin, it was said: “and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:20, 26, 31).  Without the ministration of the Priest, the sacrifice is meaningless and achieves nothing.

Regarding His future role, various titles are given to Christ, many of which seem to be giving homage to Him but distracting our minds from His real role at this time.  An extremely popular one is to laud Jesus as King.  Sounds good.  But there is only one King of the Universe – God, the Father.  Jesus never pointed to himself as the King of the Universe or as the Most High; rather, as the Son of the Most High, giving supreme honour to His Father, who sent Him into the world to save us.

During the judgement, which takes place before the second coming of Christ to earth, Christ receives the kingdom of this earth from God, His Father.  It is after He receives the kingdom that He is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects.  God, His Father, remains Sovereign of the Universe.  The message is therefore, to beware a false representation of Christ as the one true God.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, pointed to His Father as “the only true God” (John 17:3), whose will He came to fulfil – not to point to Himself as that only true God.  We worship Jesus Christ on the instructions of the Father (John 5:22, 23; Heb. 1:6).  In heaven, as it will be in the new earth, God and Christ alone are worshipped – “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22).

“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

 

 

 

Love of religious establishment above truth

One of the saddest and most awful occurrences in human history occurred nearly two thousand years ago when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was brutally and mercilessly killed by those who professed to be the chosen people of God. Every well-thinking person would do well to seek an explanation for such an awful paradox, lest ignorance and lack of understanding should break down possible safeguards against the repetition of similar anomalies in their own experience.

An explanation of such an awful paradox can be found in the phenomenon of misplaced affection; and specifically, love of religious establishment above love of truth. On the one hand was Jesus Christ who was the embodiment of truth, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. On the other hand, was Caiaphas, the designated spiritual leader of God’s professed people – the chief representative of the religious establishment. In between were the people, many of whom had seen the righteousness, innocence and blameless life of Christ but were also fully persuaded of the legitimacy of the religious institution to which they were committed.

Sometimes we must choose

What an awful choice for one to be called upon to make. Indeed, it would have been preferable if both were on the same side. But unfortunately, as it was then, so it has been on so many other occasions, not excluding the present, that institutionalized religion is not always aligned with truth. Thus, individuals, at times, are faced with a choice. The decision which prevailed on that fateful day, which culminated in the ignominious death of Christ on Calvary’s cross reveals the little appreciated truth that the majority is not always right.

Some persons, to avoid the unpleasant task of making such choices, make an unspoken rule for themselves that the church is always right. Unfortunately for them, their silence or indifference does constitute a choice which, though proven to be right in some instances, is also proven to be wrong in others. In which case, the individual stands either vindicated or condemned before God.

 The lessons

The lessons of Calvary are many. Calvary should impel religious leaders to be humble, recognizing that truth is not always the preserve of the religious elite. Jesus Christ was rejected largely because of his humble earthly beginnings and continuance. He was not educated in the schools of the rabbis. He did not court the favour of the religious establishment or patronize its leaders. The religious leaders felt that their authority was being bypassed and therefore, sought and succeeded, to some measure, in ridding the world of Him whom they considered to be a threat.

The lesson for the people at large who profess a religious faith is that a religious order, culture or establishment stands justified only when it is aligned with truth. Truth stands pre-eminent and is not always enunciated or embraced within the religious establishment to which one is committed. The choice with which one is faced is sometimes unpleasant, but nevertheless, weighted with eternal consequences.

When religious organizations that represent God find themselves embracing error, they should make the necessary adjustments so that they can stand with greater credibility in advancing their mission and avoid leading their members down the slippery slope of rejection of truth, because no one knows how far it will take them or where it will end.

Popular error

One very popular error that is based on assumptions, rather than on any clear biblical foundation is the idea that the “one God” of the Bible is a unity of three persons rather than one Person who is supreme. This concept, called the Trinity is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.

Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the “one God” of the Bible is not a Person but a unity of three.  According to that view, when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this biblical?  And is it important?  Most churches think it is important and hold it as a required belief.  Those who do not hold to that view also consider the matter important because, in their view, the Bible says otherwise.

The Bible says: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). And Jesus said the same, in His prayer to the Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)God the Father commanded all to worship Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, in the same way that we worship Him, the Father, but He never told anyone to worship the Holy Spirit.  And worshipping the Holy Spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Are persons, by worshipping and praying to the Holy Spirit, unwittingly breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)?

As we reflect on Calvary and on the fact that the chosen people of God were so misled as to crucify the Son of God, preferring rather that the criminal Barabbas be released instead, we should ask ourselves, do we love truth more than we love our religious traditions and establishments?  Most importantly, we should not be dismissive of questions that are raised regarding the legitimacy of any position that we have taken.  The questions that are raised might just be a wake-up call from God for us to get in line with truth.

“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

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Do They Make a Trinity?

What is at Stake

It is popularly assumed that Father, Son and Holy Ghost make a Trinity; further, that the Trinity concept is difficult to explain but should be accepted by faith. But, does the supposed difficulty in explaining it really expose us to embracing questionable ideas that could be detrimental to accept? First of all, what is the Trinity and why is the question important? Consider this. On the assumption of a Trinity, people worship the Holy Ghost alongside the Father and the Son. Is this a valid position? Could we, unwittingly, be offering worship where it does not belong – making us guilty of idolatry?

This is a critical matter because the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3). Repeatedly, God has warned against idolatry and has punished individuals and nations for practicing idolatry. God has made it clear that He is the only true God; “there is none else” (Isa. 45:5).

Jesus said the same, as He prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

Notwithstanding that, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3) and God, the Father, commands both us and angels to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6).

But there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should worship the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit), neither is it said that we are allowed to do that. People do it on an assumption that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God.

What the Trinity Concept is

The Trinity concept is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But in essence, they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity. Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the idea is that when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, since we are allowed to worship the Father and the Son, the assumption is that we should then be able to worship the Holy Spirit as well. But is it true that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal? Does the Bible teach that? And does the Bible teach that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Let us see for ourselves what the Bible actually says.

What the Bible Teaches About God

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. A few clear references will show this. Jesus said: “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).

He said again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49). One might say: Oh, that was in reference to the Son only in His human state. But that is not true. Before the Son came to earth, it is said of Him, that His Father “anointed” Him (Heb. 1:9) and the Father “appointed” Him (Heb. 1:2). Further, the Bible tells us: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7).

It is very obvious. The Father is greater than the Son.

Further, after sin and death are done away with, the Son himself will be subject to the Father – “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Therefore, the Father is greater than the Son at all phases: before the Son came to earth, while He was on earth, and after He left the earth, continuing into eternity.

Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31). And God the Father is reported as saying to the Son that “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9). Jesus, Himself, referred to the Father as “my God” (Rev. 3:12; John 20:17; Matt. 27:46). So, this concept of co-equality is totally unscriptural.

This is not to say that the Son is not to be worshipped. The Father says that we are to worship His Son.  And the Son exercises the authority of His Father.  The relationship is similar to a king and a prince.  God, the Father, is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son is the Prince of the universe.  In another sense, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, will be King of this particular territory in the universe called earth.  He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects who will reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10).

But as for the Holy Spirit, it is a different matter. While we need the Holy Spirit, nowhere is it ever said that we should worship the Holy Spirit.

Further, Christ the Son, is greater than the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). And “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).

So, Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter.

Even in the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).

The concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being co-equal is totally false.

Further, the Bible tells us who the one God is. We are told:

“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). The idea that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is totally unscriptural.

Before concluding, we should consider two passages of scripture that people misconstrue and read into them things that they do not actually say, in order to promote a Trinity concept.  The first is: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). They say, there you go, an appeal is made to the authority of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so they must be co-equal.  If that is the case, then what do we say of this one: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things(1 Tim. 5:21)?  An appeal is made to God, Christ and angels.  So, does that mean angels are co-equal with God and Christ?  Absolutely not!  So, in a similar way, the baptismal commission of Matt. 28:19 does not show that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal.

The other passage is: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.(1 John 5:7). Did it say, “these three are one God”? No, it did not!  The verse immediately following it tells what the oneness is that is being referred to.  It is oneness in terms of agreement – And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.(1 John 5:8).  So, neither of these passages support or justify a Trinity concept.

Conclusion

What the facts show is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not make a Trinity.

The Bible is clear that there is only one Supreme Being, and that is the Father – “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). When the Bible says that there is one God, it is a reference to the Father and the Father only.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is of the same nature as God and is worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. But He is, has been and will always be subject to and submissive to His Father. The Holy Spirit, however, is not to be worshipped as God. And one should not try to confuse the issue by saying, Oh, the Bible says that “God is a spirit”, so it’s really God we are worshipping when we worship the Holy Spirit.  “God is a spirit” means that God is a spirit-being.  That’s His nature.  We do not worship God’s nature; we worship God, Himself, as a Person.

This will remain true even into the new earth of which we are told: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22). May the Lord help us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not to be drawn unwittingly into idolatry, giving worship where it does not belong.

Finally, if an organization that represents God finds itself teaching error, it should make the necessary adjustments in its teachings so that it can stand with greater credibility in carrying out its mission.

“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

 

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

Satan Targets the Bible

From before sin even entered this world, Satan has sought to target God’s word. Quoting scripture as a means of deceiving people is not a new strategy of Satan.  He did it with Jesus Christ, while tempting Him in the wilderness, and even before that, sought to quote God’s word in order to tempt Eve – “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).  Satan’s strategy is not to present God’s word for instruction or guidance, but rather to change the meaning of it or cast doubt as to its authenticity. Our only safety is in embracing the unadulterated word of God, as Jesus did.  In response to the Devil’s temptations, Jesus’s response was always to refer to God’s word: “It is written . . .” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).  This article exposes a plot to neutralize the Bible and explains why Satan’s target is particularly, the King James Version of the Bible.

Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author, lecturer, astrologer and mystic, best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy (1928), wrote:

“To make things right we will have to undo much that is cherished error. The problem of revising the Bible shows how difficult it is to do this. For the last hundred years we have been trying to get out an edition of the Bible that is reasonably correct; but nobody wants it. What’s wanted is the good old King James version, every jot and tittle of it” Manly P. Hall, “Asia in the balance of the scales”, Horizon. The magazine of useful and intelligent living. Articles by Manly Palmer Hall Philosopher. Vol. 4,  No. 1, (Spring 1944).

The “last hundred years” from the date of publication of Hall’s article would have been 1844. It is interesting that around that time there were reported activities by the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic order that was created to fight the Protestant Reformation, to pursue an objective to take control of the Bible. The Jesuits were reported as saying:

“Then the Bible, that serpent which, with head erect and eyes flashing fire, threatens us with its venom whilst it trails along the ground, shall be changed again into a rod as soon as we are able to seize it; and what wounds will we not inflict with it upon these hardened Pharaohs and their cunning magicians! what miracles will we not work by its means! Oh , then, mysterious rod! we will not again suffer thee to escape from our hands, and fall to the earth! For you know but too well that, for three centuries past, this cruel asp has left us no repose; you well know with what folds it entwines us, and with what fangs it gnaws us!”The Jesuit conspiracy. The secret plan of the order. Detected and revealed by The Abbate Leone. With a preface by M. Victor Considerant, member of the National Assembly of France, and of the Municipal Council of the Seine, Page 98 (1848).

The book speaks of a Jesuit meeting held in 1825 in Chieri, Italy.

18 years after the meeting, Constantine von Tischendorf went for a prolonged meeting with the Pope. One year later, (1844) he claimed to have found a Bible manuscript called the Codex Sinaiticus in St. Catherine’s Monastery. He presented it to Pope Pius IX who praised it. This manuscript along with the Codex Vaticanus found in the Vatican Library forms the basis of most modern translations of the Bible.

 

Two streams of manuscripts

Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and other manuscripts of similar reading, which account for less than 50 out of over 5000 know Bible manuscripts, can be traced back to a stream of manuscripts emanating from Alexandria, Egypt, where critics edited Bible manuscripts.

In contrast, the Textus Receptus (Received Text), which accounts for more than 5000 known manuscripts, can be traced back to a stream of manuscripts emanating from Antioch, Syria, where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), and where the Apostle Paul was based.  These have come down through the persecuted church in the wilderness to the Protestant Reformers and through the Reformers to us, in English, as the King James Version (KJV). It was not translated by King James personally, but was done under his authority by a team of 47 (initially, 54) of the best scholars of the day, many of whom were fluent in the original Biblical languages, drawn from Oxford, Cambridge and other institutions of eminent scholarship, thus acquiring the designation also, as the Authorized Version.

Footnotes in the New King James Version (NKJV), which is not the same as the KJV, provide a list of numerous verses that are missing from most modern translations and verses that have been altered, compared to the King James Version.

The NKJV was described by the publishers as a transition Bible for those who are seeking to move from the KJV to a more modern version. Copyright for the NKJV is owned by Thomas Nelson which has now been acquired by HarperCollins Publishers who are also the publishers of The Satanic Bible. Copyright owners have rights to revise the text at any time and have so far published several revisions of the NKJV.

The changes are not inconsequential. Consider, for example, Matt. 5:22. Three words are missing from the NIV compared to the KJV, which makes Jesus “subject to judgment”, based on the NIV. The KJV says “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”. The NIV omits “without a cause”, saying “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment“. Jesus got angry and chased the money changers out of the temple for a cause and was therefore justified. But the NIV would make Him “subject to judgment” for doing that. The NIV makes no mention of Lucifer but refers to the one who fell from heaven as the “morning star” (Isa. 14:12), a title that is used elsewhere in the same version to refer to Jesus (Rev. 22:16), making Jesus the one who fell from heaven.

The King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is the crowning achievement of the Protestant Reformation, reflecting the collective effort of many reformers such as William Tyndale who was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English.

The KJV has no copyright owner as it is in the public domain and is not subject to revision. Many persons who have memorized scripture over many years are now being forced to unlearn that which was etched in their memory, by the constant use of modern versions in their churches.

The Bible prophesies that the time will come when the word of God will become scarce – “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).

Now is the time to memorize the scriptures rather than shift to versions of the Bible that are constantly changing and subject to corporate ownership.  God’s warning is clear, that we should not add to God’s word nor take away from it – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6); “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city” (Rev. 22:19).

“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

 

 

Rebuilding the Temple – Prophets, Priests and Rulers

The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem by those who returned from exile in Babylon was accomplished through the cooperation of prophets, priests and rulers.  The temple was started and finished under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who led the first group of exiles who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem based on the decree of Cyrus, supported by Joshua the High Priest, under the instructions of God through the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah.  After the temple was finished, other servants of God such as Ezra and Nehemiah built the city and erected its walls.

Haggai the Prophet

The word of the Lord through Haggai the prophet:

“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways…Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord…Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” (Haggai 1:1-15)

Zechariah the Prophet

The word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.  And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (Zech. 3:1-7).

“This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (Zech. 4:6-9).

The Spiritual Temple of the Last Days

In our day, there is a temple to be re-built and there is a New Jerusalem that we will live in that will have walls of Jasper – “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (Acts 15:16, 17); “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5); “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2); “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” (Rev. 21:18).

Jesus Christ has gone back to heaven and is preparing the city.  But the temple, we must play our part in building – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3); “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev. 11:1-7).

Sealed for the Final Conflict

When the temple is finished, there will be a hundred forty and four thousand sealed – “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:1-4).

Those who are sealed will have to contend with the Beast and his Image but they will overcome and be delivered – “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is…And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:8-14).

Prophetic Message to Priests, Rulers and People

Prophets, Priests and Rulers all have a part to play.  But we must get it in order – Prophets first, then Priests and Rulers.  The Prophet is the one who receives messages from God and passes it on to the Priests and Rulers who govern the people.  Unfortunately, the Prophet is not always popular with the Priests and Rulers and people often regard the word of the Priests and Rulers more than they do the Prophets.  But God’s word is: “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chron. 20:20).

God promised to raise up a Prophet like Moses, but when He came, the Priests and officers stirred up the people and together they pressured the Rulers to kill Him – “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18); “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.” (John 19:4-6).

The witnesses of the last days will likewise be killed and, like their Master before them, will rise again after three days – “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” (Rev. 11:7-14).

Interesting times are ahead – “Solemn events before us are yet to transpire.  Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth.  Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us.” (Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 982.)

“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

Creeds and Rituals – Does Truth Matter?

An experience recently has led me to ask, “Does truth matter?”. The question seems almost redundant since there is hardly anyone who would deny that truth matters; but claiming to believe something and believing it are two different things.  One of the greatest evidences that truth matters to someone is that person’s willingness to act on it.  My recent experience has led me to think that one of the reasons people do not seem to act on truth is that it is easier to simply follow creeds and rituals, norms and customs.  It is not so much that they do not care about truth or that they are unable to discern between truth and error.  They just don’t think about it.  It is easier to just drift along with the tide.  In church settings, creeds and rituals help to foster that attitude of just going along without giving serious thought, because after all, those matters have been thought out by others already. Right?  Is that a good enough basis to just go along?  Let’s see.

Here is my experience: I was at an Anglican church at an anniversary church service to commemorate the founding of an institution.  The service included a communion ritual. The Leader read certain words and the Congregants were expected to respond by reading the words projected on a screen.  To my surprise, the Congregants read without hesitation words indicating that the bread and wine were transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ.  It seemed like a Roman Catholic Mass rather than a Protestant Communion.

Transubstantiation and Mysticism

The shock came from my recollection that one of the main issues that ignited John Wycliffe, who is considered the Morning Star of the Reformation, in his opposition to the Church of Rome, was the issue of transubstantiation.  One of the significant differences between the Roman Catholic Mass and the Protestant Communion was that the Catholics believed in transubstantiation, whereas the Protestants didn’t.  Transubstantiation is the belief that the priests can convert the bread and wine to the literal body and blood of Christ by the pronouncements that they make over those substances.  The Protestant belief, originally embraced by Anglicans, was that the bread and wine are only symbols of the body and blood of Christ; they do not become the literal body and blood of Christ.  But here, in a supposedly Protestant church, the Roman Catholic belief was being recited effortlessly.  What was the reason?  The Roman Catholic belief had been incorporated into a Creed and a Ritual.

The case of the bread and wine being transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ illustrates the nature of mysticism.  Mysticism takes us away from the realm of reality because it is incompatible with the literal reality that we know.  To our real senses, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine.  No chemical test will show any difference before and after the priest makes pronouncements over them.  Yet mysticism says a literal transformation would have taken place.  It defies logic and common sense.  But persons are told, never mind, it’s a mystery.  You’ll never be able to understand it from a literal point of view.   Creeds and rituals pave the way for mysticism; and mysticism destroys faith that is based on reality.

Mystical Beliefs Rejected

Today, the lure of mysticism has led many to lose faith in the reality of many aspects of Christian faith.  The prophet to the remnant church wrote in 1904 that for 50 years every effort was being made to overthrow the faith that was delivered to the movement that God raised up in 1844 – “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59).  Among the mystical beliefs that were rejected by the early pioneers of the remnant church was transubstantiation; and thankfully, the Movement still rejects it as unscriptural.  But there are other mystical beliefs that are constantly being urged upon the faithful from Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism.  Among them are the following:

  1. The Trinity, which makes God’s love in giving His only begotten Son senseless.  If God is three in one – a unity of three coequals in age and power, then one could never be the son of any of the others, except in a sense of role-play or make-believe.  The extent of God’s love is manifested in the fact that He gave His only begotten Son – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32); “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9).
  2. The death of Christ as an atonement, which makes Christ’s intercession senseless.  It is Christ, in His capacity as our High Priest, who intercedes or makes atonement based on the merits or arguments that the sacrifice provides.  The sacrifice itself is not the atonement – “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering…And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering…and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:27-31).  But if the sacrifice itself is the atonement, then there is no need for a priest.  It was part of the doing of the Little Horn power to remove Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf from the minds of people and cast it to the ground – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11). [Note: the word “sacrifice” was supplied by the translators – “ministration” is more appropriate, since Christ was offered only once (Heb. 9:28) – there is no “daily sacrifice” of Christ except in the Roman Catholic mass, which is counterfeit.]
  3. The righteousness of Christ as a gift that someone simply receives, which makes repentance senseless.  Righteousness is a state of character that is formed based on what one believes.  One can be declared righteous based on what one believes, since one’s belief is an indication of the state of one’s heart and mind, which determines one’s actions and motives.  If you have the righteousness of Christ, it means you are righteous as Christ is, and no action of yours can be regarded as sinful unless Christ is sinful; so, the need to repent does not arise, since Christ is sinless.  But the truth is that righteousness is based on believing Christ, which leads us to repent of our sins and practice righteousness.  It is not something that someone can just give to you and you have it – “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:10); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:22); “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
  4. Someone living inside of you, which makes the idea of personal accountability senseless.  Christ dwelling in you, as opposed to sin dwelling in you, is easily understood as a reference to the mind and character that you have, whether it is Christlike or sinful.  But to treat Christ as being inside of us personally makes Him the driver who is responsible for what we do, sin and all.  Christ does not take charge of people’s lives and then hold them accountable for what is done in their lives.  Everyone must give account of himself before God for all actions that are done in his body as those actions are his, and not someone else’s acting through him – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36); “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12); “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6); “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16:27); “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

Bible Foundation of Faith

We are reminded that the faith of the pioneers was firmly laid – “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 1, p. 206.)

So, does truth matter? Do we simply go to church and repeat creeds and rituals without thinking about the sense of what we are saying or doing?  In order to maintain a form of faith, many find it easier to do that.  Otherwise, they will give up faith that seems to make no sense.  Can one keep faith and still make sense?  If it is a faith that is based on mysticism, the answer is no.  But a faith that is based on reality will make sense.  Biblical faith is based on reality and does make sense.  If our faith is going to be strong enough to stand in the last days, we must give up mysticism and be real.

For the early pioneers, the Bible was their only creed.  They recognized the need to study the scriptures for themselves and seek to understand.  The disappointment of 1844 was still fresh in their minds and so they were mindful of their fallibility.  The disappointment might have been a blessing, because they recognized that popular opinion was not always right – it had led to their disappointment, thinking, like others that the earth was the sanctuary; only to realize after the disappointment that the Bible taught no such thing.  They recognized that the moment they set up a creed, there would be a tendency for blind submission without intelligent thought and understanding.  So, they avoided it.

Once creeds and rituals are established, they tend to perpetuate themselves.  Institutions that operate based on creeds and rituals are often impervious to change.  One may well ask, what if the Church of Rome had taken stock of itself, when John Wycliffe challenged the doctrine of transubstantiation or Martin Luther questioned the sale of Indulgences, and had simply discontinued those beliefs and practices?  Would there have been a need for open protest?  Perhaps not.  Instead, they condemned the messengers.  The result was that Wycliffe, Luther and others were forced to break away.  Quite differently, when Rachel Oakes Preston challenged the Adventists about their keeping Sunday rather than the Seventh day Sabbath, Frederick Wheeler, then William Farnsworth and others such as Joseph Bates accepted the Sabbath truth and the Adventists became sabbath-keepers.  What was different?  One body had relied on creeds and tradition while the other, fresh from a major disappointment, knew that their only safeguard was in studying the scriptures.   May the commitment and the example of the pioneers in maintaining the scriptures as their creed still inspire the modern movement.

Today, we have statements of belief.  We do not call them creeds; but do we just drift along with them with the view that they have all been worked out already?  And are we mindful when subtle changes are made to them?  One remembers when the introit for worship was followed by the song “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name” until someone came and said, let’s use instead, the invocation, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”, then gradually it shifted to an invocation to the Holy Spirit.  Has anyone asked whether those invocations are scriptural? Or do people just drift along?

We have been admonished that we should be able to give a reason at all times to anyone who asks about the faith we hold – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).  In order to stand in the last days we must be sealed – “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

 

Unity upon a false premise

In unity, there is strength.  However, the only unity that will last is that which is built on the truth.  From the moment Lucifer rebelled against God in heaven, there has been a constant conflict between truth and error.  The conflict was spread to this earth when Lucifer who, by then, had become Satan – the Devil – led Eve to doubt God’s word and through Eve led Adam to disobey God’s explicit instruction.  The conflict continues today and will ultimately give rise to a grand unity of Satan, “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies”, who will be gathered together to make war against Christ and His people (Rev. 19:19; see also Rev. 16:13, 14).  The entire world will turn against the true followers of Christ, as Christ said to His disciples, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9).  But Christ will return and destroy the world confederation and deliver His people (Rev. 19:11-21).  Our only safeguard is to know the truth and follow it.

 

The Basis of the WCC

The following is taken from the official website of the World council of Churches:

“The WCC’s 1948 inaugural assembly declared: “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour”. Soon this formulation gave rise to questions, and requests for a clearer definition of the Christ-centredness of the churches’ common calling, a more explicit expression of the Trinitarian faith and a specific reference to the holy scriptures. The result was the re-formulation, adopted by the Third Assembly (New Delhi 1961), which still stands:

“a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.””

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/about-us/self-understanding-vision/basis” retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Episcopal Church

The following is taken from the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers:

“The Episcopal Church is one of the 147 founding churches of the World Council of Churches (1948).  The WCC has roots that reach back to the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement and to the conviction, which took hold at several places during the late nineteenth century, that something must be done to heal the divisions which have hampered witness to the Christian faith.

Today there are 349 member churches.  They live in very different political, economic, and social conditions.  Many of them – Anglican, Orthodox, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Old Catholic, etc. – have a long history.  But member churches also include “younger” Pentecostal bodies, independent churches in Africa, and united churches.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but it cooperates with the WCC through a Joint Working Group, several programs, and membership in the Commission on Faith and Order, and has delegated observers at major meetings.

Membership is open to any church which is able to accept the WCC “Basis”, provided its signs of ecclesial character meet standards acceptable to two-thirds of the churches already in membership.  The “Basis” declares:  “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.”

(https://www.edeio.org/world-council-of-churches-wcc.html, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (EDEIO) website).

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church

The following is taken from the official website of the world Council of Churches:

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a denomination of conservative evangelical Christians. The church arose out of the eschatological expectations of the middle nineteenth century (epitomized by the Millerite Movement), but was only formally organized in 1863. The Millerites had set October 22, 1844, for the return of Christ. With the failure of this date, the movement fell into disarray. One of the small Adventist groups adopted the Seventh-day Sabbath, reinterpreted the events of 1844, and became, in due course, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The roots of Adventism, however, go back much further – to the Reformation and the church of the New Testament.

Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. In essence, the Bible is their only creed, though they do have a statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs, which is subject to revision at any General Conference World Session, as new light is received or better language is found, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs include the Trinity, believers’ baptism, spiritual gifts, death as an unconscious state until the resurrection, and the New Earth as the home of the redeemed after the millennium. SDAs are creationists and believe that man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of the Biblical creation week. With the entry of sin, God’s plan of salvation was put into effect. In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, his suffering, death and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept the gift of salvation may have eternal life. Since the very beginning, Seventh-day Adventists have been consistent advocates of religious freedom for all, and have taken a lead in its international promotion, including at the UN.

Global mission and evangelism are essential elements of the SDA ethos. The church is intent on sharing the good news of justification, righteousness by faith, salvation through Jesus Christ, and his imminent return. As a result, the SDA Church is probably the most widespread Protestant denomination, with work in over 200 countries. Though cradled in North America, less than 8 percent of her membership today resides there, and there is considerable growth in various parts of the world. Adventists wish to live lives of service to God and humankind. To help achieve this goal the church owns and operates many institutions: over 6,000 schools (from kindergarten to university), 720 hospitals and health-care facilities, publishing houses, and health food factories. Media centres (worldwide satellite TV and radio) have been established in recent decades. Adventists believe in a healthy lifestyle, which includes a good diet (many Adventists are vegetarians) and abstention from harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco products. Adventists also promote public health. The church operates the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which is well-known internationally for its work on behalf of disaster victims and third world development projects.

The SDA church sees herself not as a federation of local or national churches, but as one world church. There is an effective form of representative government. The church’s polity provides for four key organizational levels: 1) the local church, a united body of individual believers, 2) the Conference, a united body of local churches, 3) the Union Conference, the united body of several conferences (a larger territory, often a nation), 4) the General Conference, the worldwide body whose constituent units are the approximately 100 Unions. The General Conference operates through its 13 Divisions (branch offices).

Seventh-day Adventists “recognize those agencies that lift up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world” (General Conference Working Policy, 075). They enter into fellowship with other Christians and practice open communion. They believe that in a certain sense they are a prophetic movement with a time of the end message centering on the “eternal gospel” to give to the world. While they welcome opportunities to dialogue and reach better understanding, they have not formally joined the organized ecumenical movement by becoming members of councils of churches. They do, however, in many cases have observer, consultant, or advisor status. Adventists wish to preserve and protect their unique identity and give life to their God-given evangelistic and service mission.

The office of the general conference is located in Silver Spring, USA. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is comprised of 14 million baptized believers, representing with children a fellowship of some 25 million Adventists.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches.

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/seventh-day-adventist-church, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Catholic church

The following is taken from the official website of the World Council of Churches:

“Catholics believe that the church was founded by Jesus Christ as part of the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. Christ’s proclamation and inauguration of the kingdom of God led to the gathering of disciples. His death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit definitively established the church, with which he promised to remain until the end of time (cf. Matt. 28:20). Jesus entrusted to this community the mission of preaching the gospel and of “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

Because the church is, in God’s hands, a means of bringing about the communion of all those who, with the help of God’s grace, would accept the proclamation of the good news, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) taught that “the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, paragraph 1). This constitution goes on to affirm that the whole community has an active role to play in proclaiming and handing on God’s word, in worshipping and celebrating the sacraments and in serving the mission Jesus entrusted to it……

According to the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae of 2005, the Catholic Church numbered 1,085,557,000 persons, or 17.2 percent of the world’s population. Of these, 13.2 percent of Catholics live in Africa, 49.8 percent in North and South America; 10.5 percent in Asia, 25.7 percent in Europe and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

 

The Catholic Church has never been a member of the World Council of Churches, but is actively participating in the ecumenical movement in different ways. Learn more

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/the-catholic-church, retrieved July21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica which defines who is a Catholic Christian

The following is taken from Wikipedia:

“The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as Cunctos populos), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman Emperors…

Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II on 27 February 380.[1] The edict came after Theodosius had been baptized by the bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica upon suffering a severe illness in Thessalonica.[3]

EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS[4]

— Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Thessalonica, retrieved July 21, 2019).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica marked the official definition of who the Catholic Church considered a heretic – namely, one who did not believe in the Trinity.  This was the basis on which persecution was launched on a widespread basis.  It will be observed that as soon as the World Council of Churches adopted as its Basis in 1961, a concept that was in harmony with the definition of Catholic Christian, as defined in the Edict of Thessalonica, within a year, in 1962, the Second Vatican Council was convened, and out of it, the other churches of Christendom were declared to be no longer designated as heretics but rather as separated brethren.

 

Foundation of Seventh-day Adventist Faith

In 1904, Ellen White writes, “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59)

Notice that in 1904, the foundation of faith had been firmly established. “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (1SM 206.4)

 

At that time the Seventh-day Adventist Church officially had a non-Trinitarian statement of Fundamental Principles as was repeatedly published in the Annual Yearbook of the church.  The first Fundamental Principle as was published in the 1889 Yearbook was: “That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.  Ps. 139:7”. They did not elaborate further on the identity of the Holy spirit.  The second Fundamental Principle identified Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  This was clearly a non-Trinitarian perspective.

 

The Bible gives further clarification regarding the Holy Spirit, called the Comforter.  The Comforter that is sent is a messenger or representative who ministers under Christ’s instructions – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7); “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).

 

Like the angels of God, the Comforter appeared as a flame of fire and enabled miracles to be done – “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2, 3).; “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb. 1:7); “The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us.” (White, Ellen G., The Desire of Ages, p. 143).

 

We need to know the difference between the spirit of God that fills us (God’s mind, character and power) and the Comforter who is an agent sent to minister to us.  This will serve as an antidote against the alpha of deadly heresies, which promotes the idea that God is personally inside of people and inside other entities – as opposed to being personally in heaven.  It will also preserve us against the omega of deadly heresies that destroys the identity of God by making God a unity of three rather than a sovereign being who presides over the universe and sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us.

 

The angel of Revelation 18 who brings the latter rain outpouring of God’s power does the same type of work that the Comforter came and did in the outpouring of the early rain of God’s power at Pentecost.  We are told by revelation to Ellen G. White that “Angels were sent to aid the mighty angel from heaven” in the outpouring of the latter rain (White, Ellen G., The Story of Redemption, p. 399). We may similarly understand that other angels worked in support of the mission that was carried out by the Comforter in the early rain outpouring.  We are not expected to worship the angel of Revelation 18; neither are we expected to worship the Comforter.  There is no basis in scripture for anyone to place the Comforter or the angel of Revelation 18 as co-equals with the Most High, who sent His only begotten Son into the world.  The Bible says there is: “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6).  This is the person that the Bible refers to as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3).  Further, we worship Jesus, the Son of God because God, the Father, commands us to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6) – and no one else.

 

The issue is not whether or not there is a third person and eventually even a fourth, (the angel of Revelation 18).  The issue is the status of the third being, and also the fourth.  There is one Supreme Being, the Father, who is above all, who has given His Only begotten Son the authority to exercise all His power and has commanded us to honour His Son as we honour Him (John 5:23; 1 Cor. 15:24-28). This authority, He has given to none other.”

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not fully accepted by the other churches while it stuck to the Biblical definition of God, as was held by its pioneers.  Up until 1980, the baptismal vow spoke of God as follows: “I believe in God the Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit”.  This was changed to say: “Do you believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons?” Was something wrong with the first formulation? Certainly not, from a Biblical standpoint.  It was generic and did not even deny the Catholic formulation, even though it did not specifically declare it.  But the second formulation goes beyond what the Bible says and includes some element of speculation as there is nowhere in the Bible that defines God as three in one.  But most specifically, it accords with the Catholic definition as declared in the Edict of Thessalonica and as embraced by the World Council of Churches.

 

Will we hold to the truth without wavering or will we do otherwise in order to be accepted by the world confederation that will ultimately turn against God’s faithful people?  The choice is ours.  But all is not lost.  In 2005, the Seventh-day Adventist Church adopted an alternative form of the Baptismal vow that has only three statements.  This allows the pastor preparing the candidate for baptism to avoid binding the candidate to an unscriptural vow.  We must hold fast to the truth especially at this time, as this will be the measure of our loyalty to God.  This wholehearted commitment to God, above institutional commitment, is the essence of the new covenant experience (see article “Religious Liberty and the New Covenant” at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/2018/03/18/religious-liberty-new-covenant/.

 

“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

The Law of God and the Law of Moses

There has been much confusion regarding references to the law in the Bible, especially in Paul’s writings.  One of the reasons for the confusion is that, oftentimes, no distinction is recognized between references to the Law of God and the Law of Moses.

In seeking to better understand especially Paul’s writings, the following points should be noted:

The Law of God

Firstly, the Law of God is specifically the Ten Commandments.  These are sometimes referred to, simply, as the law or as the commandments, and embody moral principles –

“he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 13:8, 9); “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Luke 18:20); “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12).

The Law of Moses

Secondly, the Law of Moses is specifically the traditions of the Jews.  These included penalties for breaking the Law of God, rules regarding ceremonies and observances, health laws and civil laws –

“But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6); “And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you. . . Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 23:1-6).

Issue in the early church

Thirdly, there was an issue in the early church as to whether or not Christians should be required to observe the Law of Moses –

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5); “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:1, 2).

Paul’s teaching

Fourthly, Paul’s teaching was that the Law of Moses was not required for Christian believers but adherence to the Law of God is required –

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19); “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” (Rom. 7:22); “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (Rom. 7:25); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:27); “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” (Rom. 2:21-25).

Relating to Paul’s writings

How then should we relate to Paul’s writings regarding the law?  Some people think that Paul’s writings are confusing because in some instances, it appears that he supports keeping the law, for example, he said: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31); but in another instance he seems to be saying that the law is done away, for example, he said: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal.3:24, 25).  But Paul was not confused.  The key to understanding his writings regarding the law, is to appreciate the issue that had arisen in the church that he sought to address and then establish whether he was referring to the Law of God or the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was for the Jews, but the Law of God is for all humanity and stands forever.

“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

 

Bahamians were not sinners above others

As we mourn the loss of life in the Bahamas, one cannot avoid the usual question, “Where was God?”  Some have asserted that it was God’s judgement on the Bahamians and that they were warned.  Insurance companies and others classify such disasters as “Acts of God”.  But Jesus’s response to a report that was made to Him about a disaster should be instructive.  Jesus asked, “think ye that they were sinners above all . . .?”.  He continues, “I tell you. Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4, 5).

While expressing sympathy for our Bahamian neighbours, I take the opportunity to make four points:

Presence of sin

Firstly, disasters of this kind are caused by the presence of sin in the world; not by acts of God – “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Rom. 8:22).  Since sin entered the world, there has been death and destruction on the whole creation, affecting both good and bad.

Secondly, the Bahamians and others who suffer in disasters of this kind are no more sinners than all others – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23).

God hears

Thirdly, when we repent and cry unto God for help, He hears and answers – “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.” (Joel 2:17, 18).

Fourthly, it is prophesied in the Bible that disasters and pestilence will get worse till Jesus Christ returns – “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. . . And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:7-9, 14).  Even scientists are predicting that disasters will get worse, as evidenced by climate change phenomena.

What then should we do?  We should seek God as a refuge, in addition to whatever practical measures we can take to mitigate disaster.  Love our neighbours and do not be judgemental nor seek to impose our beliefs on them but rather persuade them to seek God as a refuge because we are all in this together.

 

“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